Monday, May 22, 2017

Small Cuts

The WRCA Knife Expo ends with a whimper yesterday.  Sundays are usually slow days as the foot traffic is very low.  It’s also an excellent day to bargain.  Sellers want to earn a little money, even if it’s just enough to buy gas, so they can be haggled with.

I got a deal on an old Benchmade Panther.  It’s old, from the 1990s and it’s ugly.  I’ve got to do a little research but I think there’s at least a blog in it, maybe more.

On Saturday I stopped by Mickey Yurco’s table.  Mickey is a remarkably creative edge maker and martial artist.  He also has a quirky sense of humor and stage presence that makes stopping at his table always interesting.

Ask him to demonstrate one of the few knots used in the fighting arts.  It’s called the dragon knot.  You’ll be surprised.

Yurco Hatchet, the sheath has a quick draw function


I’ve previously bought several of his knives and hatchets and have been very pleased.  I understand Boker has picked up two more of his designs.  Congratulations, Mickey!

Mickey's first Boker collaboration, the knife that is.  The meat was dinner. 

I just got one of his single edge razor blades.  It’s ground from titanium and is about 3cm long by 2.3cm wide and about 0.15cm thick. 

Mickey Yurco
This is a closer shave than I ever want!


Mickey gave it a small lanyard and put a round patch of skateboard tape on one side.  The blade is a chisel grind.  Titanium isn’t the best metal for edge retention, but it is non-magnetic and its small size lets you carry it in your wallet as a true last resort weapon.  It’s designed for grappling where you’re going to make pressure cuts and not slices, stabs or chops.  Of course, all the targets are soft tissue.

holding Mickey's razor
Contact Mickey for your own interesting knife!


I bought it because it’s cool!  Also, it suggests to me the OSS lapel knives from WWII.  Somewhere I have an “original” Blackjack plastic OSS lapel dagger. 


There’s plenty of room for creative knife ideas!

Monday, May 15, 2017

You need a what?

Something from a co-worker who seems to know me pretty good!


Got a knife


Friday, April 28, 2017

Boker Mini Kalashnikov Auto

Boker knives are some of the hidden gems in the knife market.  Mostly because they don’t have the advertisement clout others do.  But smart thinkers and cagey knife users should be thinking about the Boker brand.

Boker traces its roots to tool manufacturing the 1800s in Germany.  Swords were the name of the game, but they diversified into other edged products.  The family owned company sent representatives to America and opened up manufacturing in America.  They both shared the “Tree Brand“ logo.

During the Second World War the Solingen plant was destroyed and Boker USA took control of the trademark.  In the 1950s the German factory was rebuilt.  Over the years the American company closed.  The German company changed hands but in 1986 Boker reacquired the rights to the American brand and established facilities in Denver, Colorado.

Boker has manufacturing  in Germany (of course!), Argentina, Taiwan and China and now in the USA.  They produce three basic levels depending on the price point: Boker, Magnum and Boker Plus.

I once did a special order of a special knife to commemorate the customer’s son-in-law’s military promotion.  It was a beautiful Damascus bladed folder.  The blade was carved from 300-fold forged Damascus steel from the barrel of a German Leopard 1 tank.


The knife came in a nice wood presentation box with the instruction and history in German.  The buyer was very happy, as his son-in-law spoke German for the Army.  I have a friend who spoke German for the Army; he was a spy.  I didn’t ask any more questions.

So if your introduction and thoughts about Boker are from the Magnum $7 knife pile, think again.

Boker Mini Kalashnikov automatic
Boker's switchblade
I just got my hands on the Boker Mini Kalashnikov auto.  I’m very impressed.  Here’s the stats:
Blade:       drop point
Steel:        AUS8
Blade Length:    2.5 inches
Handle length:  3.5 inches
Weight:    2.1 ounces
Handle:   reinforced nylon
Country of origin: Taiwan

The Boker website claims the handle is aluminum but they also claim the blade is wood.  Hummm, someone’s website has been hacked.

Automatic knife from Boker Knife
Clip side
The blade shows the same powerful spring action I’ve seen in Benchmade autos.  Block the blade from completely opening and when the obstacle is removed, the spring still has enough force to finish the opening and lock the blade in place.  The pocket clip is reversible and the handle sports a lanyard hole. 

finger grooves
The finger grooves really provide a grip so you can concentrate on using the knife and not holding the knife

The finger scallops fit my hand pretty good for a small knife.  And between the scallops and the jimping on the blades spine and handle you get a very good grip.  The blade release is a basic plunge lock system.  This system has been used for many years and is very dependable if you keep it clean.  But isn’t that true of all machinery?


Boker Automatic knife
The open back allows for easy cleanup and makes oiling the spring much simpler.

I suspect it uses a coil spring and the knife has Torx screws so you can replace the spring if necessary.

I have come to like auto more and more.  I don’t suspect they open any significantly faster than the assisted or many of the tactical knives.  But I do think pushing a button is a gross motor skill and doesn’t require the fine motor skills which are lost under the influence of fight/freeze/flee conditions.

I wish I could take it for a drive, but it isn’t mine.  I have no doubt it would serve me well.

It retails for about $55 but you can get it for less if you shop around.  I’ve got two for sale, but that’s another story. 


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Ready…. Set… Count!


Guinness records just established a category for the world’s largest knife collection.  They decided it takes at least 2100 unique knives to define a large collection.  So now you know.  If someone asks you if you have a large collection the answer is mostly likely “no.”

The current record holder is Luis Bernardo Mercado (Fremont, CA.) who comes in at 2175.  Congratulations, Luis!

These knives represent 6 continents, 29 countries and 400 different brands and custom makers and 50 years of collecting.

The process of documenting the size of your collection isn’t trivial.  Perhaps that’s a new category for Guinness: most difficult documentation.  Of course as soon as you win this one, it’s likely the documentation of your documentation would cancel out your win.


Luis started collecting at five, so it may be too late for some of us to attempt to claim that title for ourself, but he’s confident the title is only transitory as he’s the first to claim it.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Spring Sharpening

With the arrival of warm weather my grass has redoubled its effort to make my yard an uneven carpet of green.  Before getting the lawn mower out I needed to resharpen the blade.

I’ve stopped taking it to a lawn or garden center and getting the blade resharpened.  I bought a little attachment for my Dremel tool.  The attachment screws on to the front of the tool and come with a special diameter grinding stone.  A guide helps me hold the blade angle and lets me grind out the really dull and damaged
areas. 


sharpening the edge
Start your sharpening!


 On my electric lawn mower the blade rotates at 3600 times a minute.  A rounded edge will cut the grass by tearing it, but cleanly cut blades make for a better lawn.  Better looking grass without significantly increasing my work load is my goal, so sharpening the blade makes sense.

I clamp the blade down on a sheet of plywood and run the Dremel grinding stone over the old edge several times until the old discoloration is gone and so are the majority of nicks and gouges in the edge.  I use the plastic guide to hold the angle, but perfection isn’t required.  A fine dry stone pulls the wire edge off the other side.  I should mention my mower blade is a classic chisel grind.  I test the sharpness by shaving the edge of the plywood board I use as a work station.

sharpened grass cutter blade



The last step before reinstalling the blade is to check the balance.   If one side of the blade was significantly heavier, the mower would vibrate and damage itself, perhaps even break a blade.  The heavy side just gets another pass and a second balance check.  Repeat as required.


Since I was in sharpening mode I got out my Ken Onion Work Sharp blade grinder and sharpened my hatchet. 

As you know I recently discovered my SOG camp hatchet was extremely dull but luckily my friend Derrick brought his Gerber hatchet.  Having a fire in the fireplace as part of the evening’s entertainment and as a back-up to winter storm power failures is a nice luxury.  The price you pay for this is splitting wood into suitable burning size.  A sharp hatchet is required and mine needed a good sharpening. 

Every fire deserves a sharp hatchet

 I selected the course belt and an angle of 25 degrees as a starting place and ran a black marker pen over the edge.  The marker helps me see what I’m doing and where I’m taking metal off.   A couple of passes and I had removed the entire marker pen.  I flipped it over and did that side. 

dull SOG camp hatchet
Before sharpening, note nicks in blade


The blade looked good so I changed to a medium grit.  That took a little more off and I was satisfied.  But how you really tell if your axe is sharp?

I decided performance was the only way.  I grabbed a section of a landscaping tie and a length of pine 2X4 and tried it out.  I was less than impressed.

The hatchet didn’t cut the wood fibers, but crushed them.  Definitely not sharp.  I changed the angle to 10 degrees and repeated the process.  This angle worked better. 


bye-bye nicks!


While I was touching up the edge I noticed the cutting edge wasn’t centered in the blade’s secondary bevel.  This typically happens when one side of a blade is sharpened more than the other.  I played with it for a while and discovered one side the bevel is flat ground while the other is slightly convex.  This bevel asymmetry is the cause for the non-centered edge.


I worked on the edge a bit more and called it finished.  It’s not perfect, but it’s sharper than it was.  Chopping pine boards may not be the best material to judge hatchet performance.  I’ll look around for actual logs to try it out.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Wandering Thoughts

Let's go meandering!

I just had another person ask me if my Spydercos were real. 

I’m getting tired of this.  I am an honorable knife dealer and would not sell you a knife you didn’t want, just to make a sale.  Nor would I sell you a counterfeit or broken knife.  I buy from one of the largest wholesalers in the country and they buy directly from the knife makers.

I’m going start telling those asking me that question, “If you want to buy counterfeits, you’re going to have to go elsewhere.”

This is a growing problem.  Last January, Spyderco sued the Kittery Trading Post for selling counterfeit Military and Paramilitary identified by Kittery as Spyderco clones.  Now maybe you think it’s cool to own a counterfeit, after all you paid $35 for a $100+ knife.  Until it fails, breaks or you find you have to sharpen it all the time.  Maybe you trade that counterfeit to a buddy (who you really don’t like, otherwise why would you take advantage of him?) for something they have or to settle a loan.

But you know, you’re hurting the knife community.  You’re making a statement about what kind of person you are and what kind of people you want as friends…  I hope you eat shit and die on your birthday.

Thread Vs Tread
Thread means a fine cord made of two or more twisted fibers. 
Tread means to trample on or crush underfoot.  It’s also the part of the tire contacting the ground.
Language changes, so I looked  them up in the Encarta Dictionary just to make sure I knew the differences..

I just saw the back of his sweatshirt.  It had a very nice libertarian statement about being race, religion, and gender blind and emphasizing a true patriot loves his country but not necessary his government. 

I agree with many of the things sweatshirt stated.  It ended with the famous quote from the Gadsden Flag that even non-history buffs surely remember.

But the real quote is “   tread on me.” and not as his sweatshirt stated, “…thread on me.”
Perhaps it’s a quote from a historic group of embroiderers.

Kydex continues to rule in the knife sheath and gun holster world.  It has a lot of advantages and a few disadvantages.  It doesn’t stretch out of shape, rot from exposure to water or corrode brass fittings because it doesn’t have leather’s fatty acids and it’s strong and difficult to puncture.  I really like the puncture resistance aspect.  A fall in the outdoors can be dangerous enough, but cutting yourself because the knife split its leather sheath can be fatal.

Having said that, leather is quiet and doesn’t make a scratchy sound when brambles brush across it.

I saw a kydex worker at the last Medina gun show and he had an interesting partial solution to the holster/sheath dilemma.   You know what that dilemma is, don’t you?

The problem any holster seller has is never having the right holster or sheath and too many of the ones nobody wants.  Add the problem of color or design and it’s a small wonder anyone wants to sell holsters/sheaths. 

This maker had several large clamshell-like wooden crates on wheels containing his kydex press, sander, band-saw, buffing wheels, jig-saw and heat source.  It was like bringing your factory to the show.  Next to him he had a table with several previously made holsters for some of the more common guns.  He had just finished making a knife sheath when I came by.  He also did a very nice, compact holster for a Sig with a light on it.

I didn’t ask prices, but it can’t be cheap to make holsters/sheaths during the show and have to transport all that equipment.  Still it’s an interesting development.


I suspect the real answer to custom-fit holsters/sheaths will be a laser scanner interfaced to computer driven 3-D printer.  You read it here first!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Axe And You Will Receive


I recently spent an extended weekend in a cabin in southern West Virginia.  It is beautiful country filled with rugged trails and incredible views.  The cabin had a brick lined fireplace and a wood pile was available, so I made use of it.

In anticipation of chilly nights and warm fires I packed my SOG hatchet.   It didn’t work very well.  Despite the small amount of cutting I did several years ago, my hatchet was dull.  Using that axe really brought out the true meaning of the expression, “Firewood warms you twice.  Once when you cut it and again when you burn it.”

Fortunately my nephew brought his hatchet, a smaller and much sharper Gerber.  It didn’t take too much work before I realized that my SOG made fast work of splitting quarter logs in to eighths, but was crappy for making the thin pencil-like sticks need to build fires.  The Geber made nice pencils of wood but failed to impress the larger quarter logs.

Two hatchets
The Gerber is noticeable lighter and compact than the SOG

The two hatchets would complement each other (after I re-sharpened the SOG), but you really can’t completely interchange them.

The Gerber has a small head resembling a flat grind Regular Wisconsin while the SOG has what appears to be a modified double bevel Virginia. 
axe head
Gerber hatchet head


Don’t be confused, think of grind the same way as you think of knife grinds.  Axe head style defines the shape and appearance of the axe head.  Historically, some heads worked better than others for specific jobs.  What worked for splitting long logs into quarters or fence rails, wasn’t the best design for log bucking.   Some axe heads just develop a regional interest and became known by that name.

SOG axe head
SOG hatchet head


My cutting experience indicated the Gerber might be a great hatchet for backpacking.  It weighs in at 22.4 ounces and is 14 inches long.  Not a bad combination for carrying in a pack.  The small size limits its practical use.  Need to cut a tent pole or cut down branches into small burnable size?  Great!  Quarter a four inch diameter log, not so hot.  Typically, after you drive the hatchet into wood, you would pull the handle to one side or the other to rotate the metal head to act as an expanding wedge.  This action causes the crack to propagate down the wood.  The short handle made it feel like I couldn’t produce enough torque to turn the axe head and the split wood.  The handle is a fiberglass composite and I felt queasy about using it as a lever arm.

My dull SOG weighs in at 33 ounces and is 16 inches long.  The steel is a 1055 steel.  It is too heavy for very much backpacking.  Car camping, sure bring it along, but why not bring a three quarters length axe and really chop wood?

The SOG’s weight and steel handle gave me confidence I wasn’t going to break anything but the log when I twisted the hatchet handle to pry wood apart.  The dullness made it difficult to cleanly split the wood into pencil size kindling.

The SOG camp axe has a RC hardness of 50-55.  Not bad for a hatchet, but I noticed that after several days of chopping wood the edge had several dents.  Clearly a sharpening stone or file should be this hatchet’s constant companion.

Pick the right tool for the right job!


All I could find on the Gerber was that it has been replaced by a new and improved version.  The hardness wasn’t published.  But I wouldn’t be afraid to carry it into the woods.


So, I learned I need to look after my hatchet better and that proved what I already knew: the right tool makes any job easier!