How to Become a Member of the Guild

Applying for membership of the Knifemakers Guild of South Africa is a major step forward in your knifemaking “career”.

We all have different reasons for being members of the Guild but the most important reasons are to make the best quality knives possible and to submit our knives for peer group evaluation during the annual Guild show.

The question is often asked : What does the Guild offer me?

In the first instance, it provides an opportunity where the quality of your knives are evaluated to a standard of excellence. New members often remark that they view knives in a total new light after admission as for the first time they understand what Guild member knives really look like.

Secondly, the Guild provides for a peer evaluation and recognition forum. No other system will ever be more objective and valid to truthfully assess quality and performance. Peer recognition is also the most valued acknowledgement of your work.

Thirdly, the Guild presents an annual Guild show, usually in August, where Guild members are invited to show their knives. This is a major opportunity to present your knives for peer acknowledgement and to offer your knives for sale to collectors, special guests and members of the public.

Members further enjoy multiple benefits which vary from member to member. Strong friendships are forged, members are invited to other member’s workshops to discover new or different ways to improve their knifemaking and to add value to the guild by making meaningful contributions to the art and craft of knifemaking.

Membership of the Guild also serves as a guarantee of quality to buyers. Should a buyer be unhappy about the quality of the knife purchased, the Guild will ensure that the maker rectify the quality concern.

Your application will be the first step to have the quality of your workmanship evaluated.

We do expect the highest quality of workmanship and this will never be compromised. You must achieve an average of 75% on the five knives submitted for evaluation. Should ANY ONE of the five knives not reach the minimum standard, irrespective of the standard of the other knives, the applicant will NOT pass. The final score of the applicant is not disclosed.

Download Application Form

Recommendations and Requirements

  1. 1. Take time to make a thorough study of the evaluation schedule. Select the process best suited to your methods of knife making. Make sure you understand how your work will be evaluated.
  2. 2. The primary criteria for evaluation will be fit and finish.
  3. 3. The evaluation schedules have been designed to assess the applicant’s ability to craft a knife of high quality.
  4. 4. Blade steel must be a recognised blade steel and technical specifications as well as hardening and tempering methods must be described.
  5. 5. Although the choice of bolster and handle materials are important regarding the design and purpose of the knife, no points will be awarded for fancy, rare or expensive material, other embellishments or engraving. Incorrect choices of material or poor workmanship may however lead to lower scoring on certain criteria. It is recommended that you do not add any embellishments or engraving.
  6. Together with your knives the panel requires a well-presented document depicting diagrams of your knives, showing and/or describing all the design, internal workings and technical features. Where possible photo’s at various stages of your knife, one photo directly after hardening and another showing components before final assembly.
  7. 6. Your application must be accompanied by two letters of certification and recommendation from Guild members. The Guild member must certify that :- 1)The applicant made the knives, 2) he/she has seen the finished knives, 3) he/she is of the opinion that the knives are of Guild quality and 4) the applicant is of sound character.
  8. 7. Remember all fixed blade knives require sheaths, also made by you.
  9. 8. Folding knife makers must submit 5 folders, of different designs.
  10. 9. Mechanisms must however contain a positive locking mechanism in the open and close position, either Back lock, liner lock, Slip joints may be submitted for evaluation.. Friction folders and spring backs do not qualify according to the criteria above and for purposes of this evaluation. No kit knives may be submitted.
  11. 10. Stock Removed Fixed blade makers must submit 4 knives of different design, PLUS the prescribed boot Dagger, or Combat Dagger. The prescribed design must adhere to the proscribed designs given in all aspects, shape and dimensions.
  12. 11. You may submit a mixed bag of folders and fixed blades. Should you decide to submit a mixed bag, one of your fixed blades must be one of the prescribed daggers.
  13. BOOT KNIFE - Designed by Piet Grey

  14. BLADE Use any accepted blade steel, 4mm thick.
  15. BOLSTER The bolster is of one-piece construction and is elliptical in section. No faceting or other ornamentation is shown. This is left to the maker’s discretion.
  16. TANG The tang is 10mm wide where it joins the blade so that two rivets can be used to attach the bolster. This construction can gain maximum marks, but is optional.
  17. SPACERS Not shown but is optional.
  18. POMMEL The shape as per drawing must be lathe turned and its diameter must be 10mm where it joins the handle.
  19. LOGO Must be applied where indicated.
  20. HANDLE Material left to maker’s choice. In selecting handle material consider the risk of shrinkage of certain materials as this will have an impact on fit. The shaping of the handle in this plane is left to the maker. The side view however, must conform to the drawing.
  21. SHEATH In designing the sheath, bear in mind that a boot knife is carried concealed.
  22. Or   COMBAT DAGGER – Designed by Kevin Harvey
  23. The dagger is designed with strong construction in mind, especially tang and point geometry.
  24. Guard and pommel from makers own material selection, both 12mm bar stock.
  25. Handle of makers own choice. Oval in cross section all over and smooth for comfort and grip.
  26. Cutting edge to be thin, less than 0,5mm.
  27. No embellishments. Emphasis on symmetry and close fit and finish.
  28. Hollow grinding, any blade grind is acceptable but a hollow grind with a small diameter wheel is preferred
  29. Tang to be solid knife steel right through, 5mm thick, with brass plug to secure pommel by drilling and pinning after final gluing and assembly, OR solid knife steel at least 2/3 of tang length with soft steel extension (silver soldered or brazed, not welded).
  30. BLADE
  31. Use any accepted blade steel, 25 x 5mm thick at ricasso.
  32. Blade profile tapering gradually down its entire length.
  33. Small tapering flat extending ricasso down centre of the blade 75mm, symmetrical on both sides.
  34. GUARD
  35. The guard is of one piece construction, stock size 55 x 16 x 12mm. Slot to fit tang 20mm at shoulder. Oval 55 x 14, at blade, curved slightly back on quillions (finger guards). Oval 25 x 16 at handle side.
  36. TANG
  37. Solid steel tang : Drill 6mm hole at pommel end before hardening and plug with brass after hardening to accept 3mm pin through pommel and plug. File small notch in 6 mm hole to prevent plug from rotating whilst drilling 3mm hole.
  38. Soft steel extension tang: Grind diagonal angle to increase solder area in tang, approximately 2/3 from blade. Extend tang after hardening with mild steel 10 x 5mm, silver soldering or brazing (not welding) to knife steel. Drill 3mm hole through pommel and tang assembly after gluing.
  40. Fit decorative spacers on both sides of handle to complement handle.
  41. POMMEL
  42. One piece construction, stock size 28 x 18 x 12mm. Mill slot in pommel to accept tang 10 x 5mm. Shape pommel 23 x 12mm oval at handle and 28 x 12mm at end and 18mm long.
  43. LOGO
  44. Must be applied where indicated.
  45. HANDLE
  46. Material left to maker’s choice. Shape oval handle, 90mm long including spacers with oval 30 x 16mm in middle.
  47. SHEATH
  48. In designing the sheath, bear in mind that it is a combat dagger which should be suitably firm, securing the dagger in the sheath and probably worn on the side.

12. Bladesmiths must submit four knives (one their own damascus dagger), and have passed their performance test. Refer to the marking schedule for detailed instructions. Your five knives must be of different designs, to demonstrate your ability to design and make more than one type of knife.

13. You may submit a mixed bag of folders and fixed blades. Should you decide to submit a mixed bag, one of your fixed blades must be one of the prescribed daggers.

14. Forged blade applicants may NOT submit a mixed bag.

15. All knives must be of your own design and “kit” knives where the blade or components are pre-cut and purchased will not be allowed.

16. Due to the annual Guild Show, we do NOT accept applications after 31 May. Please allow at least two weeks for evaluation.

17. The applicable nonrefundable evaluation fee that is equal to the annual guild membership fee for the year, should accompany your application. This amount includes evaluation and annual membership to March of the next year if your submission passed. Bank detail : ABSA ; Account 4056808599; Branch code 632005

18. The knives should be very securely packed in a strong re-usable container, as they have to be sent around the country to committee members. Points of daggers / fighters should be especially well protected.

19. Your submission package should contain:

• your knives, with their sheaths

• a copy of the receipt of payment of your evaluation fee to the guild,

• your performance test knife and its certificate if you are submitting forged knives,

• your two letters of recommendation from guild members,

• a copy of the receipt of payment to the guild,

• cleaning kit for forged knives,

• Description for each of your knives describing heat treatment, construction, design considerations, materials etc. as well as relevant photos of various stages in making your knives.

• and your application form.

20. Deliver your knives to :

John Arnold, 14 Phillip street, Poortview, Roodepoort. 1424


Albie Wantenaar. 62 Holzgen Street Brackenhurst Alberton 1448

Please remember to phone or e-mail John with the necessary tracking numbers.

 Tel:      Mobile: +27 82 389 2772 Email:


Members of the evaluation committee are : : Albie Wantenaar, Gavin Dickerson and John Arnold

We would like to wish you every success with your application and don’t forget, ask for advice from other Guild members and ask them to coach and guide you through the process.

Download Application Form

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