Knifemaker Spotlight: Karambit Specialist Richard Derespina

One of the most interesting parts of my job as a custom knife dealer is learning about custom knifemakers and what brought them into custom knives. Richard Derespina had the unusual combination of having jobs not only in the security industry, but also as an illustrator. His involvement with the Philippine martial art of Kali introduced him to custom knives. His martial arts background combined with his design abilities led him to making his first knife.


custom knives

(Top) Richard Derespina’s Model 1 Karambit has a 3 1/4-inch blade made of 1/4-inch-thick 154CM steel and has black-and-gray textured G-10 scales. Paul Bos’ heat-treated satin bevels are hand sanded to 400 grit and double-ground zero edge. His Kydex sheath is 7 1/2-inch OAL. Retail is $350. (Bottom) Richard Derespina’s Model 3 has a 4-inch blade and S30V 3/16-inch-thick Paul Bos–heat-treated black-and-orange-textured G-10 scales with bead-blasted flats hand-sanded to 400-grit satin bevels. His Kydex sheath is 8 1/2-inch OAL. Retail is $325.


Derespina is known as one of the best karambit makers. The handle ergonomics and balance of his knives let you know that his knives are meant for serious work. To some people, holding the knife in a reverse grip will seem unusual. However, for those who understand the functions of the knife, they will find it an effective design.


Derespina makes kris-style knives, as well as fighters, kitchen knives, daggers and Bowies, and has started making short swords. His knives have a tactical look. The majority of his handles are made from synthetic materials, such as Micarta, G-10 and carbon fiber. On occasion, he will use a para-cord wrap for his handles, as well as exotic, stabilized woods and titanium.


Derespina’s favorite handle material is G-10 due to its workability, strength and light weight. Derespina prefers stain-resistant steels because they are practical and user-friendly. He uses D-2, ATS-34 and 154CM, and occasionally S30V and 440C. His steel of choice is D-2, since it offers some stain resistance, but also has good cutting ability and durability. He also does some embellishing, primarily jewelling of the blade. This is usually seen on the flats but, on occasion, he will also jewel the bevels and sometimes grind texture/strokes into the blade, giving the blade a design-look to it. All of Derespina’s knives come standard with his handmade Kydex sheath.


The first knife I ever bought from Derespina was his Model 1 Karambit. I like the ergonomics of this knife, which is comfortable and a natural extension of your hand. His Parong karambit, which Derespina calls his Model 3 Karambit, retains the original idea of a karambit, but the wider hollow-ground blade gave the use the option of the knife being used for “utility” purposes. As a plus, the orange-and-black G-10 was cool.


Derespina’s show plans include the Blade Show and the New York Custom Knife Show. His price range is from $200 to $475. Delivery time is 14 months. Check out Derespina’s work at You can contact him at 917.843.7627 or email


Text by Les Robertson