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Tiktaalik launches the first compact set of professional quality stainless steel cooking knives specifically designed to travel.
Tiktaalik launches the first compact set of professional quality stainless steel cooking knives specifically designed to travel.
Tiktaalik launches the first compact set of professional quality stainless steel cooking knives specifically designed to travel.
204 backers pledged $53,820 to help bring this project to life.

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THE FIELD KNIFE SET - Professional Quality Camping Knives.

$53,820

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A note to Press: Press release and Full Resolution images are available for download at: www.tiktaalik.com/press

Hello and welcome. With this campaign, adventure gear company Tiktaalik has the pleasure of announcing the launch of its very first product here on Kickstarter. The Field Knife Set was born out of a desire to evolve, simplify and distill the traditional cooking knife into a tool equally appropriate for indoor and outdoor use without compromising on performance or quality.

This is a compact set of professional quality cooking knives that are optimized specifically for travel; more lightweight, more compact and easier to clean. If you love to cook and you’re looking for a compact set of high quality cooking knives that are just as useful on the road as they are at home, then you will love these knives. 

The Field Knife Set was designed specifically for outdoor and travel use. They are therefore much more compact than standard kitchen knives. In order to achieve this, the traditional grip has been reduced to a bare minimum of what is necessary.

The Field Knife Set consists of three of the most commonly used kitchen knives: a small paring knife, a serrated knife, and a compact chef’s knife. Each knife is optimized for outdoor cooking and travel but unlike most other camping knives on the market, they are of such high quality they can also be used all day, every day, even at home. The set will come in a compact aluminum case for compact storage and travel use. 

I love cooking and I love doing so in the outdoors. This project was born out of my dissatisfaction with the lack high quality knives designed specifically for outdoor cooking and travel. Many of us who love to cook outside, and refuse to compromise on quality, make a habit of bringing our knives from home simply because there aren't any high quality, camping specific alternatives.

With the Field Knife Set my intention is to create a new, hybrid product category designed specifically around outdoor cooking and adventure travel, but yet is equally appropriate for every day use at home. It's camping gear that you can use 365 days a year.  

1. No grip allows for a thin and compact design. 2. Rounded edges increases comfort. 3. Hole for hanging. 4. Tapered handle improves ergonomics. 5. Finger notch improves grip. 6. Compact blade design.
1. No grip allows for a thin and compact design. 2. Rounded edges increases comfort. 3. Hole for hanging. 4. Tapered handle improves ergonomics. 5. Finger notch improves grip. 6. Compact blade design.

So why doesn’t the Field Knife design have a grip? The short answer is that if a kitchen knife is held correctly, in the manner that most Chef’s hold a kitchen knife, you are much less reliant on the grip itself. There are many ways to hold a knife but what it really comes down to is what type of knife you’re using and what specific activity you’ll be using it for. That will determine how you hold the knife. 

Chefs use what is called ‘the professional grip’, which I will show you in a short video further into this Kickstarter campaign. Most people have a tendency to hold a Chef’s Knife in what is generally referred to as the hammer grip. The hammer grip is great when you need to have a firm grip and apply great force, such as carving wood or fighting a bear. It is, however, not the best way to hold a Chef’s Knife. The hammer grip reduces control on a tall Chef's knife and creates fatigue during extended use. For cutting softer products, such as vegetables, meat and fish, you rely less on the grip because chopping and dicing require flexibility and a loose, relaxed grip so that the knife can pivot.

By omitting the traditional grip on the Field Knife design and making it more into a cutlery style tool, several advantages are gained:

Lightweight - By omitting the grip the overall weight is greatly reduced, which not only creates less fatigue while using the knife, but it also makes it easy to carry a slim, high quality cooking knife on a backpacking trip.

Compact - Without grips the bulk is greatly reduced. With the Field Knife design you can stack 3 knives in the same space that would be taken up by one traditional cooking knife.

Easy to Clean - With no grip it takes less than 10 seconds to properly clean a Field Knife. No dishwasher needed.

Improved Ergonomics - With the exception of the cutting edge, the Field Knife design has a full round all the way around the edge. This greatly increases comfort during use. The finger notch is designed to aid comfort when holding the Field Knife in the professional grip.

Balance - These blades are very well balanced in your hand which reduces your effort and strain during use.   

A very important design aspect of a cooking knife is the quality of the steel that is chosen. The harder the steel, the longer the knife blade will keep a sharp edge. Most high end manufacturers use a 52-56 on the Rockwell Hardness scale. For the Field Knife Set I chose the highest quality steel I could get my hands on; Swedish Sandvik steel. Sandvik is a Swedish steel manufacturer founded in 1862. With a hardness range of 54-61 HRC, Sandvik 12C27 steel is the recommended grade for hunting knives, camping axes, surgical blades, as well as high end chef’s knives.  

This is a vital part of any set of kitchen knives. A versatile instrument used for basic work that provides greater control than a larger knife when peeling and slicing. The Paring Field Knife is design to be very compact and lightweight. It has a 3.5” (89MM) blade length with a total length of 6.85” (174MM) and a total weight of just 1.2oz (35 grams).  

Useful for cutting soft products with a hard crust (bread) or tough skin (sausages and tomatoes). The teeth of the wavy edge allows for greater pressure to be exerted on the object being cut. The Serrated Field Knife is designed to be very compact and lightweight. It has a 6.1” (155MM) blade length with a total length of 10” (254MM) and a total weight of just 2.5oz (70 grams).  

This is the work horse of the field kitchen. It’s the most used and versatile of the set, designed with a broad blade that curves upward towards the tip which allows the knife to rock for fine mincing. The Chef’s Field Knife is designed to be very compact and lightweight with a shorter blade that allows for greater control and efficiency. It has a 6.25” (159MM) blade length with a total length of length of 10” (256MM) and a total weight of just 3.5oz (100 grams).  

In addition to the Field Knife Set we are also making a very special version of the Chef's Field Knife here in Oregon. The Tiktaalik by Carter Chef's Knife is hand forged by Murray Carter’s experienced apprentices under his direct guidance and supervision. In traditional Japanese fashion, The Carter Chef’s Knife uses a san-mai construction. It is hand made using a Hitachi White Steel #1 from Japan laminated with a SUS 410 Stainless Steel. This steel is specially made for Carter Cutlery in the oldest factory of its kind in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan.          

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Most people have a tendency to hold a Chef’s Knife in what is generally referred to as the hammer grip. The problem with holding your knife in a hammer grip is that your wrist becomes out of alignment with your palm and fingers, making it harder to control the movement of your knife. In addition you exert a lot more energy as it forces you to move your whole arm.

Before being able to have good knife skills, you need to understand the proper technique for holding your knife. A proper grip will give you more control and accuracy over your basic cuts and it will also keep you from cutting yourself.

To hold your knife in a professional grip, start by pinching the knife blade where it transitions into the handle, between your thumb and index finger. Some people will pinch with the index, middle finger and thumb. Either way will work. Next, slip your middle finger (if you’re doing a single finger grip), or ring finger (if you’re using a two finger grip) up behind the bolster of the knife. The bolster is the vertical piece of blade that connects to the handle. 

Continue by lightly wrapping the rest of your fingers around the handle of the knife. These fingers are more for support; the focus of the grip should be on pinching the blade. Keep your grip nice and loose. Gripping your knife too tightly will lead to excess tension in your hand, wearing you out quickly and affecting the accuracy of your cuts.  The proper way to hold a kitchen knife is surprisingly easy once you get used to it and it will make using your kitchen knife a much more enjoyable experience.  

The more you use your kitchen knife, the more you need to maintain its sharpness. Learning how to sharpen your own knives correctly takes practice but trust me when I say that it is well worth the effort. Unfortunately there are no short cuts here. Many of the knife sharpening contraptions that are intended to make it easier often do more harm than good.  

Personally, I follow Murray Carters recommendations and techniques for how to sharpen your kitchen knives and I highly recommend that you do the same. The best way to sharpen a knife is to do so by hand using a Whetstone, also called a Japanese Water Stone and it is not as intimidating or difficult as it may sound. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Download the Blade Sharpening Fundamentals Video.  

Order the King Water Stone Set.  

If you don't feel comfortable doing it yourself you can always use the Knife Sharpening Service.

The standard version of The Field Knife Set will be packaged inside a thin, travel-friendly aluminum box between two Richlite cutting boards. One cutting board has cut-outs for the knives to fit inside and the other one lays on top. The dimensions of the complete set inside packaging will be approximately: 11” (276mm) x 5.4” (136mm) x 0.56” (14mm). The Field Knives that are sold individually, including the Tiktaalik by Carter Chef’s Field Knife, will be packaged in a thick, die-cut card sleeve.

Richlite is made in the USA with a high-quality, NSF (National Sanitary Foundation) - certified wood fiber composite. This nonporous food preparation surface does not harbor bacteria and is dishwasher safe. It is knife friendly, heat and stain resistant and virtually maintenance free. Only FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) - certified wood fiber is used in this commercial grade composite for a healthy and sustainable environment.  

The Field Knife Set will also be available without the aluminum case and the cutting boards. In this set the knives are individually packaged inside die cut card stock sleeves as shown above. Each sleeve is less than 0.25" thick. This option is great if you think you'll be using the knives more at home or if you think that you won't be needing the cutting boards.

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Many other great ideas have been prototyped that are related to The Field Knife Set. A successfully funded campaign will not only allow the Field Knife Set to go into production but it will also give these other, peripheral ideas a chance to come to life. Shown above is a magnetic wood block prototype that was designed to allow you to store the knives in your kitchen at home when you're not traveling or using them in the outdoors. The magnetic wood block is currently not scheduled for production but a successfully funded campaign will significantly increase the likelihood of that happening.

My good friend Jason is a professional Chef with over 20 years experience who has started up several very successful restaurants here on the already competitive food scene in Portland, Oregon. To help me improve the design and provide honest feedback, Jason has been putting the Field Knife Set to good use both in the outdoors and at home for the past 6 months. Here's what he has to say about them.

“First of all, they are super comfortable in hand. The super slim profile, small size and unobtrusive handle make for a great tool. Second, they are sharp, and keep a good edge. The quality of the steel makes for a good sharp blade. Third, they look great! Thanks for making a truly great knife” 

- Jason Barwikowski

Blanks in the review process at the factory.
Blanks in the review process at the factory.

The Field Knife set started out as an idea that developed into a series of sketches. Once a desirable shape had been achieved for each of the knives, cardboard mock ups were made in order to verify ergonomics and comfort. Each knife was then translated into a detailed CAD model that was sent to the factory which goes through a 13 step process in order to produce a prototype out of stainless steel. 

This process is as follows: Material Preparation > Blanking > Piercing > Wire Cutting > Flattening > Flat Grinding > CNC > Vacuum Heat Treatment > Flat Grinding > Bevel Grinding > Polishing > Laser Engraving > Sharpening.

Knives being prepared for the Vacuum Heat Treatment process.
Knives being prepared for the Vacuum Heat Treatment process.
Knives going into the Vacuum Heat Treatment Chamber.
Knives going into the Vacuum Heat Treatment Chamber.
Blanks in fixture, ready to be machined with a CNC.
Blanks in fixture, ready to be machined with a CNC.

The Carter’s Chef Knife goes through a different process. These knives will be hand forged from Carters custom laminate steel > annealed > cold forged > quenched > tempered > ground > polished and finally hand sharpened.

This project really could not happen without you. The funding goal for this campaign is relatively high, and that is for one simple reason. This goal is the exact amount needed in order to Kickstart the very first production run. Our campaign funding goal is determined by a rather significant minimum order quantity requirement by our factory partner. There are also tooling costs both for the knives and for the packaging. That is why I am relying on Kickstarter and all of you in order to help me bring this great product to life. You financial support will ensure the successful launch.

By contributing to this campaign, you are actively funding the following: 

The creation of a great product - A successful funding means that we meet our or minimum order quantity and are able to initiate the first production run of this great product. 

An idea - Simplifying, evolving and distilling the kitchen knife so you can take it with you wherever you go. The first in a line of outdoor products designed to be used every day, all year long. 

A larger vision - This is the first step in my attempt to start up company that aims to specialize in high quality adventure gear.

By supporting this campaign you will be one of the very first to own The Field Knife Set. In addition to receiving a one-time discount exclusive to Kickstarter you're also offered a unique opportunity to purchase the knives individually. I will also be offering the first 50 Field Knife Sets at a special early bird pricing.

  • March 2014 - The idea is hatched. 
  • June 2014 - Paper templates and CAD is generated - The final design takes shape. 
  • September 2014 - Factory selected. 
  • November 2014 - First Round Prototypes Received. 
  • February 2015 - Second Round Prototypes Received. 
  • April 2015 - Media Announcement. 
  • June 2015 - Kickstarter Campaign Launch. 
  • July 2015 - Kickstarter Campaign End.
  • August 2015 - Final round of Production confirmation samples are received.
  • December 2015 - First Product Delivery.

For the past 13 years I have worked professionally with product design and development, both in a corporate environment and as a consultant. During this time I have won several design awards and been awarded multiple patents. The defining qualities of my work are inherent in my thought process and methodology. My passion for carefully editing and subtracting inessentials allows for a more clear communication of the essence and purpose of a particular object or design solution. It is also a process that I find very satisfying. I have a great passion for exploring and understanding the natural world. My desire to understand context and meaning holistically applies to my work just as well as it does to life in general.

The name Tiktaalik /tɪkˈtɑːlɨk/ comes from the fossil of an extinct lobe-finned fish from the Devonian period (about 375 million years ago) that was discovered on Ellesmere Island in Nunavut, Canada in 2004. The word itself is Inuktitut and the name in the context of this brand symbolizes a creature driven to explore the world outside of its own element. In much the same manner, Tiktaalik is a brand for those of us who live with a sense of urgency to explore the world around us. 

     Stay connected to TIKTAALIK on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. There are lots of exciting, useful and innovative product concepts in the pipeline so make sure you sign up for the Tiktaalik Newsletter so that you'll be notified.

A very special thank you, in no particular order to those who have helped me with this project: Erin Dvorak, Eric Lynn, Ray Gordon, Jason Barwikowski, Kai Fuhrmann, Adam Lin, Brian Hall, Shannon Pratush, Marco Murillo, Murray Carter, Matt and Leigh Capozzi, Scott Brady and the entire team at Overland Journal, Tristan Stoch and the team at Cineastas, Michael Prstojevich, Ed Sanman, Paul DiNapoli, Drew Downie, Gabriela Baiter.

Risks and challenges

Product design and development is what I do for a living. That’s the good news. With 13 years of professional experience in product design and development I am very familiar with managing a process like this. That said, unforeseen challenges can and do sometimes come up but I am experienced in managing these set backs when they occur. At this stage the product has been in development for some time with a reliable manufacturer and we have gone through several iterations of prototypes in order to resolve the remaining issues and make the product the best it can possibly be. The product is getting dialed in and will have confirmation samples prior to product shortly after the campaign closes. My marketing plan has already been put in place and packaging is in development as well. I have also selected a local partner to help me with packaging and fulfillment so all in all this project is well on its way.

One thing worth mentioning is that I don't have the luxury of having an entire team of people dedicated to this project. It’s just me wearing all the hats; designing, developing, photographing, communicating, managing and making sure the project is tracking on schedule. I have very high standards and a strict attention to detail so rest assured that it is in good hands. If you have any issues related to the quality of the product, contact me and I will do my very best to resolve it. Thank you for supporting this campaign.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 5 or more About $5

    ONE VIRTUAL HIGH FIVE. I will salute you and shed a tear of gratitude in your honor while chopping onions. In addition you'll also receive exclusive updates of the development of The Field Knife Set. Thank you for your support.

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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    ONE ANODIZED ALUMINUM BOTTLE OPENER - Support this campaign by purchasing this hard anodized aluminum bottle opener shaped after Tiktaalik Roseae, the extinct sarcopterygian (lobe-finned fish) from the late Devonian period that my company is named after. It's a great little mascot and it's functional too. Made with love and care (and hours of tumbling) in Porland, Oregon.

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    ONE PARING FIELD KNIFE - This offer is for one high quality professional grade pairing knife made from Sandvik Swedish stainless steel (12C27).

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    Pledge $115 or more About $115

    ONE CHEF'S FIELD KNIFE & ONE RICHLITE FIELD CUTTING BOARD - This offer is for one high quality professional grade Chef's Field Knife made from Sandvik Swedish stainless steel (12C27) and one Richlite Field Cutting Board. The Field Cutting Board dimensions are: 10.8" (274mm) x 5.3" (134mm) x 0.25" (6MM).

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    Pledge $199 or more About $199

    ONE FIELD KNIFE SET - EARLY BIRD SPECIAL This offer is for one high quality professional grade Paring Field Knife, one Serrated Field Knife and one Chef's Field Knife made from Sandvik Swedish stainless steel (12C27). The set comes in an aluminum box with two Richlite cutting boards.

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    Pledge $199 or more About $199

    ONE FIELD KNIFE SET - This offer is for one high quality professional grade Paring Field Knife, one Serrated Field Knife and one Chef's Field Knife made from Sandvik Swedish stainless steel (12C27). Each knife in this set will be packaged in its own card stock sleeve.

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    Pledge $249 or more About $249

    ONE FIELD KNIFE SET - This offer is for one high quality professional grade Paring Field Knife, one Serrated Field Knife and one Chef's Field Knife made from Sandvik Swedish stainless steel (12C27). The set comes in an aluminum box with two Richlite cutting boards.

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    Pledge $265 or more About $265

    ONE TIKTAALIK BY CARTER - CHEF'S FIELD KNIFE - This offer is for one Chef’s Field Knife by Murray Carter who is a 17th generation Yoshimoto blade smith. This version will be hand forged by Murray Carter's experienced team here in Oregon under his direct guidance and supervision. It will be hand made using Hitachi White Steel #1 that is laminated with SUS 410 stainless steel in a traditional San-Mai construction.

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    Pledge $490 or more About $490

    TWO FIELD KNIFE SETS - This offer is for 2 Field Knife Sets. Buy one for yourself and give one as a gift. Each set includes a high quality professional grade Paring Field Knife, one Serrated Field Knife and one Chef's Field Knife made from Sandvik Swedish stainless steel (12C27). Each set comes in an aluminum box with two Richlite cutting boards.

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    Pledge $505 or more About $505

    ONE FIELD KNIFE SET + ONE TIKTAALIK BY CARTER CHEF'S FIELD KNIFE - This offer is for one Field Knife Set which includes one high quality professional grade Paring Field Knife, one Serrated Field Knife and one Chef's Field Knife made from Sandvik Swedish stainless steel (12C27). The set comes in an aluminum box with two Richlite cutting boards. This pledge also includes one Chef’s Field Knife by Murray Carter who is a 17th generation Yoshimoto blade smith. This version will be hand forged by Murray Carter's experienced team here in Oregon under his direct guidance and supervision. It will be hand made using Hitachi White Steel #1 that is laminated with SUS 410 stainless steel in a traditional San-Mai construction.

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    Pledge US$ 699 or more About $699

    Dinner in the Field with Chef Jason Barwikowski. One Field Knife Set included. Travel and lodging not included.

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    Pledge $729 or more About $729

    THREE FIELD KNIFE SETS - This offer is for 3 Field Knife Sets. Buy one for yourself and give two away as gifts. Each set includes a high quality professional grade Paring Field Knife, one Serrated Field Knife and one Chef's Field Knife made from Sandvik Swedish stainless steel (12C27). Each set comes in an aluminum box with two Richlite cutting boards.

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    Pledge $1,199 or more About $1,199

    FIVE FIELD KNIFE SETS - This offer is for 5 Field Knife Sets. The big family pack. Buy one for yourself and give the rest as gifts. Each set includes a high quality professional grade Paring Field Knife, one Serrated Field Knife and one Chef's Field Knife made from Sandvik Swedish stainless steel (12C27). Each set comes in an aluminum box with two Richlite cutting boards.

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Funding period

- (30 days)