There are many things to consider when purchasing a knife, especially with an investment on the level of a custom handmade blade. Here is a list of some things to consider.
Steel Selection - There are many kinds of steels that can be used for a knife, but probably the biggest decision you need to make is if you are looking for the best cutting performance or the least amount of maintenance. This is kind of a Ferrari vs. Honda question. Both are good cars but one is economical, will still get you there but maybe lacks in performance. The other is bar none the best user experience, but will require more care. Click here to learn more.
The Handle - If you plan on using your knife frequently and for extended periods, like any hand tool, you want it to feel comfortable. We strive to make our handles very ergonomic, but all hands are a little different. Hold the knife as you would use it and see if you can notice any "hot spots" that seem to stand out. Also holding the knife with a "pinch" grip or any other grips you might use. If something stands out to you when you first pick a knife up, odds are it is going to really bug you after extended use.
The Blade - Select a blade that fits your intended purpose. A meat clever is not going to be easy to filet a fish with. This might be an extreme example, but think about what you do the most. Is it chopping veggies, butchering meat, filleting fish? One knife will probably not excel at all kitchen tasks but an 8" chef knife will do a fair job. Add a pairing knife and you will be able to tackle most things. Also consider length. Don't purchase a 10" chef knife if you are a beginner. Pick a length that you feel comfortable wielding and will give you the most control but still be efficient and long enough to cut through the widest variety of items.
Weight & Balance - This is probably overlooked the most but has a major effect in a knifes usability. A light blade will feel fast and easy to use, a heavier, robust blade will chop better. If a blade is balanced properly it can live somewhere in the middle. Generally we shoot to having the balance of our blades at the makers mark, close to the handle to blade transition. This make a heavy blade still feel very controllable. Some prefer more weight forward or back and we can accommodate those requests. Most of our knives will include a picture that shows where the blade balances for reference.
Handmade vs Production - Production knives are great at providing economical tools at large quantities. Generally they can replicate a level of quality that is acceptable in a very efficient and quick manner. Those interested in a handmade knife are looking for something different and unique. We can't speak for all handmade knives, but we strive for a high level of attention to detail and craftsmanship at every step of the process - from design through execution. The goal is not efficiency or volume but rather artistry, quality and a rewarding user experience. If you are interested in a functional and unique show piece that will put a smile on your face, a handmade custom knife might be for you. If you don't "get it" or think the prices are outrageous then a production knife might be a better option for you.
**Just a tip - I never want to discourage you from buying handmade products, but be wary of cheap, handmade knives. The amount of time and investment needed to handcraft a high quality knife from high quality materials can be excessive (we know this first hand :). This is why knives made from reputable makers are expensive - you will get what you pay for.