Sunday, February 21, 2021

Finnish Chili

You never associate chili with the Nordic countries, do you?

I give you that with the influx of tourists, especially Americans, you can find chili but it’s not a common menu item.

Harri Merimaa Puukko Set

I love chili and after begging for a while I was informed, if I cut up the chuck roast, my wife would make chili.  As a bonus I could cut the meat in any size I wanted.  I have almost religious view about chili meat size and shape.

I grabbed my puukko and went to town.  That’s the Nordic connection.

Knife meet meat
I have a set of Harri Merimaa puukko knives.  The set has the curious name of Double Big Hunting (Knives).  Harri is from Bothnia, a providence of western Finland and is a third generation knife maker.  I think they are very nice knives and I'm very happy to have them.  

Of the two available I selected the larger 154 mm (6 inches) long blade.  Both knives are handled with dyed curly birch capped with elm wood.  The blades are high carbon steel.  I first washed the protective oil off the steel with hot water and soap followed by plenty of hot water rinses.  Someday I tell you about a camping trip that had a little detergent left on a fork.  I really need to get food grade protective oil.

"A knifeless man is a lifeless man.”  Nordic proverb.

First steps to chili

The Nordic countries have a rich knife history.  In that extreme climate environment, the inability to use a knife to make a bowl, a cup, build fire and prepare food once meant you would die.  Today’s social institutions have changed some of that, but move to the edges, to the small villages and hunting camps and you’ll find that rule still enforced.

You can still find that in America, in hunting camps, back in the woods and mountains where your survival depends on you and the tools you have on you.  A good fixed blade is one of the best and simplest tools the prepared mind could ask for.

Just as an aside, the puukko is the only civilian item which can be openly worn as a part of a soldier's combat gear without breaching the regulations of the Finnish Defense Forces.  This is because puukkos are traditionally considered to be very personal items and the military does not supply conscripts with them.  Most bring their own with them. 


The thin saber grind blade quickly reduced the semi-frozen meat to various sizes and shapes according to my internal chili recipe.  Since I prefer very lean meat in chili, I carved out as much of the fat as possible.  Despite the blade size and being an inch wide the puukko efficiently dissected and removed the fat from the meat.

It didn’t take too long. The handle fit my hand well.  The gloves were just to protect the meat from a number of cuts and scrapes I have recently acquired.  I didn’t develop any hot spots and I just loved the way the blade parted the meat.  If Moses would have been standing there with me, he would have wondered by God hadn’t give him a puukko at the Red Sea.

Chuck roast cured, shaved, sliced ready for the pot

I’d give a puukko a chance if I were you.  It’s not the glitz or the super steel everyone seems to be nuts about.  It’s a design shaped by hundreds of years living in harsh environments.  Perhaps there is a lesson in that.

Lunch is served.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Spy 27

 Spyderco likes to play with steels.  Companies like Crucible encourage that.  Each knife company will find what they think is the best edge geometry, hardness, heat treatment and machining for their knives.  So for Crucible it’s like having dozens of development labs.  Companies like it because the steel junky habit is hard to shake and every steel promises to be the ultimate knife steel, until the next. 

People like myself benefit.  While 440C stainless is a good steel, there are much better, newer steels dragging the market forward.  I’ll get a better knife out of it, so will you.

Spy27 was first introduced Jan 2020

Working with Crucible® Industries, Spyderco has produced a powered metal steel called CPM SPY27. Powder metals produce small grain size and more uniform distribution of alloying elements.  Both are important for quality steel.  Let’s peak inside the hood.

  • Carbon 1.25%                    
  • Chromium 14%         
  • Niobium 1%          
  • Molybdenum 2%             
  • Vanadium 2%               
  • Nitrogen 0.1%
  • Cobalt 1.5%          
The rest of the story is iron.

Chromium, niobium and vanadium form small, hard, dense carbides that help stabilize iron grains against deformation.  But if too much chromium is used to form carbides, the corrosion resistance suffers.  Adding a little nitrogen allows for the formation of nitrides, which are also very small and very hard.  All of this is combined with a specific and I’m sure proprietary heat treatment. 

Para 3 Lightweight in Spy27

The Para 3 has been come a very popular knife.  The handle is a fiberglass reinforced nylon is stable and very resistant to solvent.  The bidirectional grip provides a solid locking grip in wet and slippery conditions knives often find themselves in.  The clip holds the knife in your pocket tip up, (my favorite), and is reversible for left or right carry.

That’s a feature I like!

Bi-directional grip grabs the hand

Look, the blade is just under 3 inches long and open the knife is almost 7.25 inches.  Why almost?  Face it America, the world uses metric so that’s what products are scaled to.

The knife weighs in at 2.4 ounces and it so trim you’ll forget it is in your pocket until you need it.

The Spy27 steel blade is a satin flat grind favorite by sharpeners everywhere.  The locking mechanism is Spyderco’s compression lock which I also like.  Liner locks are fine, but I prefer to keep my skin out of the path of closing knives blades.

There was a time when Spyderco made their new experimental production (I know – contradicting terms) models with a blue handle.  In any case this blue FRN handle Para 3 is made in Golden, Colorado. 

It's a good looking Spyderco!

Frankly the thumb hole is a generous one half inch in diameter but the knife doesn’t open quite as easy as I remember the early Delicas and Enduras.  There doesn’t appear to be lubricated bronze spacers to ease the blade opening, but still I like the knife.  I pick up the knife and the knife grips me back.  The jimping on the back of blade is aggressive and I like that too!  The Para 3 Lightweight has good looks, but it isn’t designed to live its life in a pocket.  It is meant to work in your hand.  It isn’t my knife to use and try, but you can find one at it’s minimum advertised price of $140 just about anywhere.

Spy27 could be the new base steel at Spyderco.  Just sayin’ you might want to get in on the ground floor.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Three to Go

I just picked up a little hawkbill folder called the Isonzo from MKM and it’s pretty cool.

MKM stands for Maniago Knife Makers a consortium of knife makers in Italy.  I followed the Google links and ended up at CONSORZIO COLTELLINAI MANIAGO.  They are a group of 46 small cutlery companies all located in Maniago Knife District.  They have been in the market worldwide since 1960. The company is headquartered in Maniago itself, around 70 miles from Venice.

The Isonzo was designed by Jesper Voxnaes, a custom knife maker out of Denmark.  Italian laws are different and businesses can be organized differently.  This 'brand' is a collection of four of the top knife manufacturers in Italy working together to consolidate and strengthen their commercial contributions to foreign markets.  I suspect this allows each company to use excess capacity to their advantage in foreign markets.

The knife sports an aluminum spacer you can use as an oversized lanyard hole.  This is always an excellent idea working over water or deep snow.  The short 2.25 inch blade is made from Bohler N690 stainless steel and has a jimped thumb ramp for precise control.   The blade smoothly rotates open on ball bearings.

Bohler N690 is a high carbon martensitic stainless steel.  The vanadium (V) forms incredibly hard and fine carbides that pin iron grain boundaries in place and resist deformation, increasing the steel’s strength.

C          Si         Mn      Cr        Mo      V         Co

1.08   0.40       0.40   17.30     1.10    0.10     1.50

You can open the Isonzo with either the flipper or the elongated thumb hole.  The blade is locked open with a secure stainless steel liner lock.  It opens with an elongated thumb slot or compact flipper tab and is secured with steel liners in the grip. The non-slip handle is made from synthetic fiberglass reinforced nylon with a textured surface and an ergonomic shape, offering a secure grip even when wet.

The closed knife is carried tip up and the wire clip is reversible for left or right-hand carry.  All in all it is a sweet knife.   The Isonzo comes in a variety of blade shapes serrations and handle color, but I’m excited about the increased cutting power of a hawk nose blade and the blue color.

The suggested retail price is $99 but most manufacturers have a MAP or minimum advertised price.  You can find this knife on “sale” for $85.00.

Ash Viper Stockman 

This is part of Roper’s knife line dedicated to rough stock rodeo events.  Ask any cowboy, these events involving bucking bulls and horses and you need a strong grip to take the ride.  The Ash Viper sports a rough saw cut handle, stainless steel bolsters and a D2 blade.  Drop one in your pocket and you can almost feel the cowboy in you.  (The over sleeve says 1065 carbon steel, but the website says D2.  Go with the website.  The over sleeve is generic.)

Roper Knives is one of several brands owned by the American Buffalo Knife and Tool Company, a family owned company out of Sweetwater, TN.  While hardness isn’t mentioned, I suspect they have an RHc of around 56 to 58. 

The handle is sawcut G10 and houses a 3-inch clip point, 2inch spey blade and 2.25 inch sheepsfoot blade .  The liner is brass. 

D2 steel is a high carbon, high chromium tool steel with extremely high wear resisting properties. The high percentage of chromium gives it mild corrosion-resisting properties so a wipe with food friendly oil is a great idea.

I like the feel and the weight of the knife.  I’ve seen Roper in high end catalogs and in fine stores.  If you like stockman patterns and you like slip joints you’ll like this knife.  You can find it for $24.00


Rough Ryder Knives is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. And they have changed their name from Rider to Ryder.  It may have something to do with the condom brand Roughrider or not, I’ve always wondered.  For their 25th anniversary they have picked up their game and I’m impressed with the quality of the knives.  Will they keep this quality?  I don’t know.  But I’d buy while they are available.

Yes, they are made in China, the home of the coronavirus.  I'm not concerned with the politics of off shore production or the evils of communist China. If these are your reasons not to buy Rough Ryder then nothing I could say will change your mind.  I will say I find the quality and appearance amazing for $22.00

The trapper style knife has a reverse frosted clip point blade and polished spey blade.  Both are 3.12 inches long and are separated by a brass liner.  The bolster, as well as the pins and shield, are nickel.  The closed knife is 4.12 inches long and I really like the ram’s horn scales.

The blade is listed as 440A stainless steel.  That’s a little of a disappointment, but don’t let that stop you.  440A is a high carbon martensitic stainless steel that possesses good strength, moderate corrosion resistance, and excellent hardness and wear resistance.

The typical chemical composition is

C  0.6 – 0.75%

Cr  16-18%

Si  1%

Mn  1%

You can find it at with a great price.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Merry Christmas

A year ago we stood here looking forward to the New Year, 2020.

Wow, what a dumpster fire 2020 has been.  Still, we made the best of it and now we look forward to Christmas and New Year in 2021.  Some of us aren’t coming to the new year and they will be missed. 

I want to wish everyone a safe and Merry Christmas and a healthy New Years.  Stay strong, stay sharp and stay healthy, 2021 will be a year for opportunities.

Saturday, December 5, 2020



I just got CRKT’s newest Minimalist, the Cleaver.

CTKT's newest Minimalist, the Cleaver

You might think of it as a neck axe, but I think of it as a planing edge.  It weighs only 1.7 ounces.  Too light to actually chop, too small to generate swinging energy, but the 2.3 inch long edge can make clean slices and the cleaver head allows you grasp the handle front end for….

Okay, it’s a bit of a toy.  But it is still a very icey toy.  CRKT makes quality knives.  They are, dollar for dollar the best buy in any price range.  As with the other six Minimalist the finger grooves fit a surprisingly wide range of hands.

The blade is made from 5Cr15MOV and the elemental break down is:

Carbon - 0.45-0.50%

Chromium – 14.75%

Molybdenum – 0.68%

Vanadium – 0.10%

Manganese – 0.45%

This China’s equivalent of the German X50CrMoV15 steel, one of the most popular kitchen knife steels in mainstream German knives.  I’ve got to admit the sprinkle of vanadium, which forms very fine and hard carbides, ups the quality of this steel.

It has a Rockwell ‘C’ hardness of 55 to 57.  This should be relatively easy to resharpen on an ordinary stone and still hold an edge.  I will not be the first to tell you, always resharpen when you think it is getting dull, not when it is dull.

Like All Minimalist it comes with a neck sheath

CRKT calls this Minimalist “…high-carbon stainless steel cleaver (that) … safely rips through food packets or clothing thanks to the false front edge. The hole in the blade pays homage to the hanging hold on the old style kitchen cleavers.”  Well, they have to say something!

It is clear that CRKT and my definition of high carbon steel are different.  440A contains 1.1% carbon.  That’s in the high carbon steel range.

It’s made in China and as I said before it’s almost a toy, unless you need an edge.  When you need an edge, well, you work with what you have.  With the sheath you can drop the Cleaver in a pocket, duct tape inside your first aid kit, wear it under your shirt and it will be available if you need it.

Back Side
It would not be my first choice going off the pavement, but I always remember the end of the Tom Hanks movie “Cast Away” when he holds up a Swiss army key chain knife and mutters that everything would have been so much simpler with that knife.

You can find one for yourself under $40 at:





Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Switchblade or Automatic

Do you say ‘switchblade’ or ‘automatic knife’?

Sounds like a George Carlin question.  Switchblade is warm and fuzzy.  Automatic is hard and cold.

To me, this is what I consider a switchblade.  It’s a classic Italian stiletto.  It clicks open with a menacing double click.

A classic switchblade what would be carried by the Jets or the Sharks.

This is not an expensive one; I couldn’t find a maker’s mark.  The blade is stamped “rust free” so I assume it’s stainless steel and is too dull to even cleanly open envelopes.  I remember when knives came relatively dull and you put the kind of edge you wanted.  But I don’t want to sharpen it and alter the ‘factory edge’.  It has the classic release button which allows a leaf spring to fire the knife open, a slide safety and a horn handle.  I got it as part of an estate I purchased and kept it because the knife was unlocked by depressing a tab on the knife’s butt. 

But say automatic to me and I got to go with Pro-Tech knives. 

Pro-Tech Knives, LLC is a family knife company owned and founded by Dave Wattenberg.  They have been building high quality American Made knives since 1998.

Pro-Tech produces about 12,000 knives per year and its most famous models are the Godfather, Godson, and the Runt J4.  You’ll see Pro-Techs in the hands of the U.S. Military and law enforcement including the Secret Service and US Marshall's Service.  You’ll also see them in the hands of collectors and anyone demanding high performance from an automatic knife.

(Hint:  Get yourself a collaboration between Pro-Tech and Boker.  It’s a sweet little auto. You will not be disappointed!)

I’ve always wanted a Godfather.  Not any of the variations.  I wanted the Tuxedo.  For years I watched the one with an actual Ivory insert.  But then, when we were still relatively ivory friendly, it was out of my price range.  But the ivory micarta, that was just too powerful of a call.  I went with the black blade to compliment the black and white motif.  I can’t help but think of Dino, Sammy, Frankie and the rest of the Las Vegas rat pack when I see it open.

Pro Tech 's Godfather It's pissy eligant!

It’s a big knife.  Take it down a step and you’ll see the Godson and I found one I liked. Same good lines but I went with Bruce Shaw’s Steampunk copper insert. 

Steampunk?  It is a visited reality in which Jules Verne’s world still exists.  It just matured a little and discovered sexy.

If you needed to cut the mooring line a dirigible and escape in your velociped, this is the knife you need 

Shaw received his art training at Cal-State University at Los Angeles and graduated as a mechanical engineer, and what could be a better background for Steampunk?  He started engraving in 1978 and has been engraving full time since 1984.  The copper plate features engravings of gears and mechanisms of a mechanical watch some of which drive one of his classic skulls.  It was a limited edition and I was just lucky enough to be in the right place.

If you think of the Godfather and Godson as part of a family of knives, then the limited production of their Rockeye Auto PK custom has to be the hippy uncle from the LSD 70s.

Dude, it's time for the Airplane on next!  They follow Cream.

The Rockeye line was designed by Les George.  Les started making knives in 1992 and found a kindred soul in master builder Stan Fujisaka of Kaneohe, Hawaii to show him the ropes.  Sadly, Stan passed away on New Year’s Eve just a few hours before the arrival of the new 2014.  One has to wonder what kind of knife shows they must have in the afterlife. 

Having served in the Marines with a wide variety of jobs, Les has developed well-defined ideas about what how knives and tools should be made for use.  You can see this in the strong blade and handle of the Rockeye line.

The handle was anodized by Peter Kellett, who may be best known for his unique, one of a kind art of amazing designs of metal guitars and Pro-Tech knives.  I was told, but can’t confirm, that only four, maybe eight of these knives were made and again I was at the right place.

If you had a cousin knife from the Deep South, maybe New Orleans or the swamps of Florida, it would be the TR-3 Alligator.  The Tactical Response 3 is a favorite with law enforcement and military.  They are hardworking knives with a 3.5 inch blade, an automatic knife that is slender and fits nicely in the pocket.  But I can almost guarantee none of them are carrying the TR-3 purple alligator.  Artist Peter Kellett returns to marry a purple alligator and a mother of pearl release button to a tactical knife. 

I hear to tell chicken taste like gator.  Where can I get me some?  

I like the style of Pro-Tech knives.  I especially like their custom or ‘arty knives’.  You can go to their website ( and find some amazing knives.  How about a left-handled Godson in basic black?

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Doctor, Doctor!


What knife do you carry during the Covid-19 pandemic?

There are a lot of options to choose from.  I’m going with Steel Will’s Plague Doctor!

Steal Will Plague Doctor
The Plague Doctor is a tactical level knife from Steel Will

Steel Will offers three levels of pocket knives.  First is their EDC.  Up a notch is their Outdoor line followed by their Tactical line.  I don’t know the difference.  I’m cynical enough to know “Tactical” products are usually black and cost more.

The Plague Doctor is a product of the fertile mind of the mysterious designer Vaeringi.  At least he is mysterious to me.  I was unable to find a first name or any kind of bio. 

The knife is a frame lock, with G-10 scales available in OD green and black.  I went with green G-10.

STeel Will Tactical Level Plague Doctor
Who says photos don't lie?  The lighting conditions produced a black blade and not the silver satin steel blade it should be.

The blade is made from D2 steel, a high carbon, high chromium die steel and is the highest carbon alloy tool and die steel in production.  The steel contains 1.5% carbon, 12% chromium, 0.75% molybdenum and 0.9% vanadium and a smattering of other elements.  It is the chromium and vanadium that is of interest.  Both form hard, tiny carbides that pin the grain boundaries, and provide strength and edge retention.  The chromium forms a thin, tough transparent metal oxide that protects the steel from rust.  D2 is right on the edge of being stainless, so it benefits from an occasional wipe with oil.  D2 was popularized by Jimmy Lile and later by Bob Dozier.

The knife blade sports a flipper that rotates to form a deep guard for the index finger.  The top of the blade has a riser with jimping providing a friction surface for your thumb.  A depression in the handle feeds your thumb into the jimping. 

There is no opening stud on the blade.  This knife was designed to open with the flipper.  Not enough of the closed blade is exposed to grasp it and open the knife slowly and politely.  Politeness be damned, it’s a fighting knife.

Steel Will Plague Doctor clip side
The clip is reversible, but not interchangeable.  Steel Will gives you a second Clip.  All you need is a T-6 torx and a drop of loctite.

I went with the OD green because it wasn’t black.  There is a fine texture on the G-10 to help with grip but not so much you’ll sand the inside of your pocket.  Steel liners support the scales and one side forms the liner lock.  The lock takes a pretty solid bite out of the back of the blade.  The blade pivots on what appear to be bronze washers.  I’d put tiny drop oil on them too.

Let’s summarize the knife specs:

  • Blade Length: 3.43" with a cutting edge that’s 3.54"
  • Closed Length: 4.96"
  • Overall Length: 8.31"
  • Blade Material: D2 Tool Steel
  • Blade Thickness: 0.14"
  • Blade Style: Drop Point flat grind
  • Handle Material: OD Green G10
  • Handle Thickness: 0.51"
  • Weight: 5.4 oz.

Steel Will Plague Doctor, OD Green
The liner lock engages its full thickness on the back of the blade.  The steel liners make this a solid knife!

You can get you own Steel Will Plague Doctor for just under $80.00 at

It’s a lot of knife for a reasonable price.

Steel Will is a division of Sports Manufacturing Group (SMG), an American company located in Huntington Valley, PA.  The knife was manufactured in China and despite my feelings about China due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is a quality knife.  I would have no trouble carrying this to a knife club meeting or taking it off the pavement. 

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Boker's Pocket Knife

Mickey Yurco is an interesting fellow.  He’s been making knives for a number of years and has a number of unique concepts.  His current creation is a fixed blade knife he and Boker Knife call The Pocket Knife. 

Mickey's fixed blade "The Pocket Knife"

The first thing you notice when you open the box is the graceful saber grind drop point blade tapering to a point.  The egg-shaped handle is depressed by about 26 degrees from the center blade line.  More on that later.  The handle also sports a cutout that accommodates your index finger.  The egg-shaped handle is constructed of black G-10 and has a slight palm swell making it easy to grip the knife.  The upshot of this design is a knife that locks into your hand and the allows your wrist to be at its neutral position where you have the most strength and control of the knife.

Clearly it was a designed for a purpose. 

Let’s look at the specs, shall we?

The knife is made from 440C stainless steel.  The blade is 3.3 inches long with a 0.15 inch thickness and overall length of 6.8 inches.  The finger groove acts as a stop to keep your hand off the sharp edge.  The bend also helps to keep the knife from slipping forward or backward in your hand by converting either motion to a push into your palm or a press into your closed hand.  A large lanyard hole is available, always a good idea when working over water or deep snow.  

The knife seems to want to nessle deep into the palm of my hand

440C isn’t a super steel.  But it is the best of all the 440 steels.  It is also the steel everyone compares their newest steel to.  Frankly a well-made, well-tempered knife of 440C will give you all the performance the majority of us will ever need.

No discussion of steel is complete without a formula sheet:

440C contains:

  • 0.95-1.2% carbon
  • 16-18% chromium, 
  • 0.75 molybdenum,
  • 1.0 manganese and
  • 1.0 silicon.

 This formulation provides high strength, moderate corrosion resistance and good edge retention.  Some of the chromium and carbon form tiny carbides on the grain boundary.  Iron also can form carbides, but they are not as effective as chromium carbide.  These grains are very hard and resist the shear needed to displace the steel grains.  This is what gives steel its strength.

The remaining chromium forms a transparent thin film of chrome oxide that limits rust making the steel discolor or stain less.  Still an occasion drop of food grade oil is always a good idea.

The results of this chemistry and heat treatment gives The Pocket Knife a Rockwell hardness c scale of 57-58. 

The sheath is made from strong light weight kydex

The sheath is fabricated out of kydex and sports what I think is a unique attachment device, the Ulticlip.  This clip allows you to fasten a variety of holsters and sheaths to pants without a belt.  The sheath slips into your pocket and locks on to the edge and provides a secure platform to draw the knife.  The knife sheath is designed so you can set it up for left or right pocket carry.  Mine arrived set up for left side.  I may leave it that way.

The Ulticlip is relatively new but quickly becoming a go-to solution for anchoring whatnots

The way back story.

Mickey has been seriously studying martial arts since the early 70s.  By 2000 he became interested in knife combatives as taught in Martial Blade Concepts.  Despite being in law enforcement, Mickey realized that even with CCW not everyone can carry a firearm, but most of us can carry a knife.  Mike Janich has developed an evolving concept of using a small legal knife for self-defense.  These concepts were attractive to Mickey and evolved into “The Pocket Knife.”  I’ll let Mickey tell you about it.

The wrist is in the neutral position and aligned with the long bones of the arm for maximum strength. 

“It was designed to be carried to the far right (just like my politics) of the front right pocket.  A fixed blade can be drawn and deployed faster than a folding knife.  Picture a normal stance with your thumbs in your pockets.  Your hand is now on the knife handle.  It is an inconspicuous way to quickly unsheath the knife. The small egg shaped handle fills the air pocket in the palm allowing a good grip.  The small handle also stays out of the way when not in use. This little blade is also a great shape for everyday mundane tasks from opening mail to cutting a steak at the Outback.  An email I received from Boker stated that it was a popular knife at a German Knife show.  I am pleased with their interpretation of my knife.”

I thought the knife needed to be a little lower in my pocket, so I moved the clip up one notch.  I like it lower in the pocket.  Yes, I will probably scratch the G-10 handle, but as I see it as a tool, I’m okay with that.

Sharp out of the box

I also did a little cutting with mine.  Cut a little rope, reduced cardboard to smaller pieces shaved a little wood.  I think it would make a great pork chop knife.  I’d take it for a walk off the concrete, for weekend at a cabin, or just simply heading out.

I think it’s a pretty cool knife.  Spend 5 minutes with Mickey and you’ll see how dangerous a knife can be in trained hand.  But even I know, that going up against someone with a couple inches of sharpened steel in their hand makes most people think twice.

You can get one for yourself for $60.00 at Boker.  Just follow the link:

You can also find the Ulticlip to modify your current holsters, sheaths and whatnots at:

Saturday, June 27, 2020

When it Rains.....

Ken Onion made his first knife in 1991 and hasn’t looked back.  He is a prodigious innovator holding 36 design patents on different items including locks, mechanisms, and knife designs.

Ken Onion Designed Rain Paring Knife

And frankly, I really love his designs.  So when I had the chance I picked up a kitchen knife from his Rain collection from Chef Works.  The instantly visible, the most striking aspect of the knife is the highly polished blade with a textured rain drop pattern.  Hence the name.  The pattern on the blade is designed to reduce food drag caused by surface tension and drag coefficient by creating multiple pockets of air.

Beats me.  I know drag coefficient is used in calculating friction forces which resist movement. I’m sure if you spent 8 hours a day cutting food, you’d want reduced food drag too!

Reverse paring knife
The blade is on top

The business end is a 3 inch reverse paring blade made from Carpenter’s DBZ-1 stainless steel.

DBZ-1 isn’t made from exotic elements.  The bulk of it is iron.  Carbon is between 0.6 and 0.75% with chromium falling in line with 12.5 to 15.3%.  There’s only 0.75% molybdenum  and a smattering of other elements.  The key to this martensitic steel is that it is designed to produce a network of fine carbide particles throughout the steel.  This produces a steel that takes a remarkable edge and holds it.

The most interesting part is the reverse edge.  The curved blade has the sharp, business edge on the top of the blade.  You need to be careful gripping the knife, because the finger grooves are on the opposite side from the edge.  I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to put my thumb on the razor sharp edge.  Just be real careful with this one.

They even warn you in the box.

The handle is shaped from G-10, a high-pressure fiberglass laminate.  It is made by stacking multiple layers of epoxy resin soaked fiber glass sheets and curing under high compression.  G-10 is the toughest of the glass fiber resin laminates.  It is almost indestructible.

This is a glamorous knife.  The blade catches the light and winks as you move it.  The handle with it’s finger grooves feel really good.  It was Blade magazine’s Kitchen Knife of 2013.
But you better watch that blade.  You may not shoot your eye out, but you’ll cut you finger off.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Bingham Knife

The knife caught my eye at a knife show and it came home with me.  But what did I get?  Well, it always starts with tang stamp and a reference book.  “W. Bingham Co  Cleveland O” was all I could read.

Mystery W. Bingham Knife

Cleveland at the turn of the 20 century had a glowing reputation as a hardware mecca.  There were four major distributors, one of which was The W. Bingham Co, which was one of the Midwest's largest hardware concerns.  It was founded when William Bingham and Henry Blosson bought out the hardware stock of Clark & Murfey in April 1841.

They opened their own store at Superior and W. 9th street and later expanded by erecting a new building nearby in 1855.  They also incorporated as the W. Bingham Co. in 1888.

In 1915, Bingham discontinued its retail operations and built a new wholesale warehouse at 1278 W. 9th St.  Although Bingham expanded its line of goods, its major business always remained hardware supplies and conducted business over 12 states. On 15 June 1961, Bingham closed its warehouse, but a group of Bingham officers, headed by Victor E. Peters, acquired the company's industrial division and renamed it Bingham, Inc.  Eventually the company stopped making industrial tools and became a distributor only.  Ownership traded hands with brokers and money managers and was finally bought by Formweld Products Co.  Some form of the company remains in operation in Solon where it continues to distribute tools to area manufacturers.

The blade has been polished but retains the rust pits.  The jog in the handle can be seen.

The first google reference I found was for a forged and fraudulent W. Bingham Co, knife. That didn’t give me any warm and fuzzy feelings.  The second was an Etsy ad for a $300 Bingham knife.  It was, as all Etsy products will tell you, rare and unique. 

A lot of distributors carried knives with their tang stamps which were made for them, not by them.  Cutlery companies exist to sell knives with your tang stamp.  One only has to look at early Spyderco’s made in Seki City.  Spyderco didn’t build a factory, they hired some to make it for them.  This is an honorable business practice, if properly identified.

Not a sealed end like doctor knives

As for the type of knife, well that’s still up for discussion.  It has squared butt, like a doctors, but it is pinned in place and not solid like a doctors knife.  About half way up the handle the entire handle takes a little jog sideways in the plane of the handle.  It’s not quite like a gunstock, because both sides jog and it’s a very small jog.  The main blade is a thin flat blade with a shallow false edge.  This style is often referred to as a long spear or physician blade.  The second blade is small despite the large channel it sits in.  Both blades open from the same end like a trapper, but the blade and knife handle are wrong, wrong, wrong for a trapper.  

Not a Trapper!

It’s like, in my unfounded opinion, you wrote up a description of what the knife should look like and someone else drew the sketch and made it.

The knife is lined with two brass side scales and a brass center scale.  The scale covers, I suspect, are a celluloid swirl of white and olive green.  Each blade has its own back spring. 

The blades have seen better days.  One of my common remarks is, if owners had just wiped down the metal surfaces with a drop of 3 in 1 oil… but they didn’t.  The blades and springs had rusted and someone scoured them rust free and ruined the collectable nature of the knife.  Even the back of the springs has been polished shiny.  As much as I hate rust, these scoured blades, so shiny and pitted just look wrong.  The defiler would have done better to just oil and carefully rub off the crusty rust and not gone after the pitted rust.

Each blade has it's own spring

I don’t think the knife was made by W. Bingham Co.  I think it was made for them.  It’s a link to Cleveland and part of the confusing history of knife making when companies were bought, sold, reacquired.  Today we expect some longevity in companies, but even that isn’t true.  New companies emerge and old names are sold.  Companies that were silent jobbers have launched their own brand using the experience they have gained making knives for other companies. Established companies use the excess capacity of smaller companies struggling to get a foothold, to boost their production or try out a new idea cheaply.  Names and brands are not guarantees if they were ever.