Woody’s Max Franklin is a keeper. Frank “Woody” Bridwell made this knife just for me. No, he didn’t know it at the time. You see, I didn’t order it specially made to my specs. But when I picked it up earlier this year at Woody’s table at the International Custom Cutlery Exposition in Fort Worth, Texas, I knew right away this knife was meant to be mine.


The model was the Custom “Woody” Max Franklin Utility Knife. Woody has also called it a Field and Stream as it’s about the size usually categorized as a bird and trout knife.

This full-tang fixed blade knife is about 7 ¼ inches overall, with a 3 ½-inch drop-point blade and 3-inch cutting edge. It not only had the right balance in the hand, but it had the right balance of beauty, usefulness, and affordability. I took it home with me.

“This is a knife that will get used a lot because it’s a knife you won’t mind carrying a lot.”

The Max Franklin Utility Knife is one of Woody’s standard models. It’s named for the one who originally designed it 25 years ago, and Woody says it’s his number one seller.

The right blend of woody handmade cutlery balances

The knife fit very well in the author’s hand, making it a knife he’s likely to choose to carry often.

“It’s basically an all-purpose field knife,” said Woody. “I think it’s a good bird and trout knife, it’s a good skinner, and it’s lightweight.”

He makes it fitted with various handle materials and usually with 1095 high carbon tool steel. Mine came with stabilized curly maple handle scales with green liners and a 416-layer Alabama Damascus steel blade. There is some file work on the blade spine, an attractive touch that also lends some gripping surface for the thumb.

The handle is finished with three mosaic pins and a brass tube that serves as a lanyard hole. Accompanying the knife is a nice, hand-crafted leather sheath made by Jennifer Campbell, like Woody, a resident of Lyman, South Carolina.

The right blend of woody handmade cutlery balances

This particular Max Franklin Utility Knife is made of 416-layer Alabama Damascus steel.


The knife was sharp—good ones are—but what separated this from other knives I saw that day was how well it fit my hand. The handle is very rounded and slightly thicker right where it sits in my palm. Fit and feel is a very subjective thing with a knife, and this one was right for me. Cutting tasks are easier, especially during long sessions, and a knife is easier to control safely if it fits your hand well. This one did.

I tried the knife on various materials around the house and on a recent camping trip. Of course it cut everything very well. What stood out, however, was how the knife felt like an extension of my hand. I really enjoyed using this knife.

The right blend of woody handmade cutlery balances

While the knife-and-sheath combo is sized to ride comfortably in a front pants pocket, it’s likely to see more time carried on a belt.


Woody’s website states, “This knife is highly favored by big game guides in the Australian outback.” According to Woody, he has quite a good customer base in Australia. I’ve never been there and I’m not likely to go ever because of their restrictive gun laws, but that doesn’t take away from this being a great do-it-all knife to use wherever your travels take you.

Frank “Woody” Bridwell is a third generation knifemaker who learned his craft from his father, who was a farmer, textile worker, and hunter. Accompanying his dad on hunting and fishing trips or exploring the woods on his own, Woody’s a constant companion was a pocketknife.

I like a fixed-blade knife such as this sized for everyday carry. This Woody custom provides enough blade and—just as important—enough handle to be a go-to knife for most applications. It will fit, sheath and all, in a front pants pocket if you need to be discreet in town. But this is a knife that will ride more often on a belt for hiking, camping, and hunting adventures. And it’s one you’ll be proud to hand across to your friends around the campfire when you want to show off a bit.

The right blend of woody handmade cutlery balances

This full-tang knife has green liners under the handle scales.

This is a knife that will get used a lot because it’s a knife you won’t mind carrying a lot. At a price beginning at $179.95 for the 1095 carbon steel model, you get a custom knife for the price of a factory blade. There are a couple of other knives on Woody’s website and on his Instagram page (@WoodyHandmade) that are very appealing to me. After my experience with the Max Franklin Utility Knife, I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase another knife from this maker.

And be sure to check back with KnivesIllustrated.com for more of the latest news from the knife industry.


Woody Handmade Cutlery



Maker: Woody Handmade Cutlery

Model: Custom “Woody” Max Franklin Utility Knife

Type: Full-tang fixed blade

Steel: 1095 standard; 416-Layer Alabama Damascus

Blade Length: 3.5 inches with 3-inch cutting edge

Blade Configuration: Drop point

Overall Length: 7.25 inches

Handle: Stabilized curly maple

Other: Custom leather sheath

MSRP: Starting at $179.95

He began collecting knives, and eventually the interest in making his own blossomed. In addition to the skills he picked up from his father, Woody also studied under master knifemaker Marv Palmer of Hemlock, Michigan.

The right blend of woody handmade cutlery balances

The author tested the knife by cutting various materials, including this nylon strapping.