Spencer Alan Reiter is a full time soldier with the US Army currently stationed at Ft. Polk, LA -- though he'll be retiring to his new home and shop in Creswell, Oregon in just a few months.

Just a couple of years ago, he decided to try his hand at knifemaking and he discovered that he's got quite a talent for it. It just two years, he's become a very in-demand knifemaker. Most of his knives are fixed-blades. But, he has done one balisong and says he wants to make more balisongs when he can get some time amidst all of the orders for his popular fixed-blade knives.

This is Spencer's first attempt at a balisong. I've often said that the balisong is deceptively-complex. At first glance, a balisong knife looks very simple; it's just a blade, two handles, and maybe a latch. There's no spring and no elaborate locking mechanism. What's complex about a balisong knife is geometry. Everything has to fit perfectly. Tiny fractions-of-an-inch makes the difference between the perfect balisong and a piece of trash.

The first thing you immediately notice about this knife (shown here with a classic Benchmade 42 for comparison) is that it's big... really big!

  SAR Bali #1 Benchmade 42
Overall length Open  12 1/4" (31.12cm) 9 1/2" (24.13cm)
 Blade Length (ATKI Protocol)  5 3/4" (14.61cm) 4 1/4" (10.80cm)
 Overall Length Closed  7" (17.78cm) 5 1/2" (12.70cm)
Overall Width  1 3/4" (4.45cm) 1 1/8" (2.86cm)
 Handle Thickness  1" (2.54cm) 1/2" (1.27cm)
Blade Stockde  5/32" (4.0mm) 1/8" (3.18mm)
 Weight  11.4 oz. (324.4g)  4.2 oz. (118g)

Most people find the Benchmade 42 to be about the perfect size balisong for manipulation. I think just about anyone with but the largest hands will find SAR Bali #1 just too big for advanced manipulation. On the other hand, some people find the classic 4" balisong such as the Benchmade 42 just to short for practical use. SAR Bali #1 certainly gives you a good inch-and-a-half more blade than a 42.

Making a larger knife is a good idea for a first balisong effort. When dimensions are overall larger, small errors make less difference. On the other hand, larger dimensions will tend to amplify fundamental misunderstandings of a knife's function. So, making a larger knife helps a maker confirm his fundamental understanding without having to be quite so perfect in the details.

Mr. Reiter assures me, though, that once he gets settled into his new shop and clears some of his backlog, he intends to make some smaller balisongs.