Keen: A compact, durable, and retractable utility knife.

Created by Dan Provost & Tom Gerhardt

Keen is a compact, custom machined utility knife. Satisfying to use, full of thoughtful details, and built to last a lifetime.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Monthly Update
8 days ago – Wed, May 22, 2024 at 09:39:05 AM

Hey folks,

Time again for a monthly production update! First things first, we plan to send the Backerkit surveys out in about two weeks. This survey is your chance to pick the color Keen you want, select any add-ons (like a pack of replacement blades), and let us know your shipping address. We will send an update when that goes out with the instructions for filling that out.

In terms of production updates, things are going great! Production of the metal parts is complete. They sent us a sample just to confirm everything is correct, and it was all looking good. Those parts and getting packaged up and will be shipped to us shortly. Once they arrive, we will inspect them, then send the bodies and back doors off to our Cerakote guy in Dallas to have them coated in their respective colors. This will take a couple weeks, at which point we will receive them back and begin final assembly, packaging, and shipment! And regarding the Cerakote, in the last update we mentioned that the Cerakote test batch shipment was lost by UPS, but thankfully it was eventually recovered. We evaluated the samples and they look fantastic, really happy with how the coating is going on these. 

We also approved the final sample for both the blade and the packaging, so production on both of those is rolling. Dan recorded a little video showing off the final packaging, which you can see below.

All-in-all, things are moving along nicely. Again, stay tuned in a couple weeks for instructions on the Backerkit survey!

Until next time,

—Tom & Dan

Monthly Update
about 1 month ago – Fri, Apr 26, 2024 at 11:14:37 AM

Hey folks! 

Back with our monthly update. Once again Tom recorded a video to show where we are with production samples and the packaging. 

If you don't want to watch the video, here is what is discussed therein: 

  • Tom review's the set of sample production parts our manufacturer sent. They look really great, and the finish is really nice. 
  • Tom goes over a minor issue that the manufacturers found, and what they are doing to address it. On some parts, there was a slight bit of friction at the end of the travel when extending the blade fully. They are solving the problem by using a smaller bit size when milling out the "mouth" opening on the front of Keen.
  • We sent production parts to our Cerakote guy so he could coat them to confirm that the finish on the production parts is suitable for this process and looks good after being Cerakote'd. They coated them and shipped them back to us, but they seemingly got lost in the email. :( So we are working to track down that shipment or we will just send another shipment to be coated again.
  • We approved the packaging sample for production, after a few rounds of iterations. When we got the first sample, it was great, but surprisingly heavy. We wanted to see what we could do about reducing the weight. The first thing we tried was a foam insert, instead of the stacked boards. This definitely reduced the weight, but we didn't love that the packaging was no longer recyclable. The solution we came to is replacing the bottom layer of boards with corrugated cardboard. This looks visually the same as before, but reduces the weight, and remains recyclable. Win win! 
  • Still hesitant to give firm timelines at this point, but we are definitely rounding third and on the home stretch. 

That's it for this month! Really happy with how this is turning out. It will be very exciting to start shipping Keen out. We are holding off on sending the Backerkit survey (where you give us your address and tell us your color selection) until we get a little closer to shipping. 

Until next time!

—Tom & Dan

Monthly Update
2 months ago – Thu, Mar 21, 2024 at 08:45:24 AM

Hey folks!

Back with another monthly update. We don’t have too much to report, as we’ve just been in the throes of production. Our manufacturer just informed us they will be sending us production samples in early April, and we should expect production to be finished by mid-April. So that’s coming up pretty soon here! After we get those parts, we will send the bodies to our Cerakote guy in Dallas, and then once they are coated we can begin assembly, packaging, and shipping! 

The packaging for Keen is coming along nicely too, our supplier sent us this video of the sample they made to make sure we were all on the same page. They are sending us the sample so we can evaluate in person, as well as some black foil stamp samples so we can dial those in exactly how we want. Once that is all approved we can begin production on the packaging. 

That’s all for now! We are happy with how things are progressing along. The two of us are still using our prototype Keens every day, and continue to find it an invaluable tool. We can’t wait to get them into your hands. 

Until next time,

—Tom & Dan

Monthly Update
3 months ago – Fri, Feb 23, 2024 at 10:52:33 AM

Hey folks!

Back again with another monthly Keen update. Tom once again recorded a video update, this time talking all about the packaging for Keen, as well as for the replacement blades. 


If you don’t want to watch the video, here is what is discussed within:

  • We have finished designing the packaging for Keen and submitted it to our manufacturer; we are waiting on samples from them. 
  • The packaging is quiet, subtle, and refined. We are really happy with it! The Keen sits in a die cut tray within a “jewelry box,” which is then slipped into a thick paper sleeve. Lots of subtle debossing, embossing, and foil stamping throughout. 
  • We also designed the packaging for the 10-pack of replacement blades, which is a translucent clear box (feels very Muji) with a sticker wrapped around it. 
  • Unsurprisingly (if you know us), we are having a custom utility blade made instead of choosing something off the shelf, but we are basically just doing this to have tighter control of tolerances. Keen is still compatible with any basic utility blade you would find in a hardware store. The blade will have our Studio Neat logo laser engraved on it, and is a harder grade of steel which holds its sharpness for longer.
  • Tom also shows a minor update to the blade placement affordance on the tray piece, we changed it from little pill shapes that echo the utility blade outline to two arrows, which we think are much more clear. 
  • Production is underway, and once they have made some they will send us some samples to confirm everything is as expected. 

That’s all for now, things are humming along. Have a lovely weekend! 

Until next time, 

—Tom & Dan

Monthly Update
5 months ago – Fri, Jan 12, 2024 at 12:01:45 PM

Hey folks! 

Time again for a monthly update on Keen production. We hope you all had a lovely holiday and a good start to the new year. 

For the update this month, Tom put together this great video going over the production samples. What’s good about them, what needs to be fixed, etc. The video is 12 minutes long, but worth it if you enjoy learning about the production process and all of the little details in Keen! 


If you don’t want to watch the video, here are the TLDW bullet points:

  • We received the production samples, and evaluated them thoroughly. In general they are very good, and we are pleased with the finishes and machining. 
  • There were a couple errors that the manufacturers made (getting a dimension wrong). We have sent them the corrections, and they are already making the sample, which will deliver back to us soon. 
  • We modified the magnet design for the little magnet that holds the blade in place. Now it won’t require glue, which is a huge win for ease of assembly. 
  • The laser etching of our logo on the interior of the door is not perfect yet, so we’ll look to improve that in the next iteration. 
  • We decided on a blade manufacturer and received samples of those. 

Here are the next steps:

  • Review the revised samples, and approve for production if everything looks good. 
  • Production will likely take 30-60 days.
  • After we receive the parts, we send them to our Cerakote guy in Dallas to be coated, and then we receive them back to do final assembly. 
  • Finalize packaging design and begin production (we will share more about that in the next update). 

That should be it for now! All in all, really great progress, and we are excited to be on the precipice of beginning production. 

As always, thanks for following along!

Until next time, 

—Tom & Dan