Sunday, March 17, 2019

Chinese Lum


Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I thought I would do something in green to commemorate the saint that drove the snakes out of Ireland and caused so many others to see them.

It was October 2002 and Knives Illustrated published my very first knife article. It was about the green handled Spyderco Lum.  I wonder what I would say now if I was writing the article.

Knife illustrated
2002 cover with my article, and no, I didn't make the cover.

I’d tell you more about the steel.  Its Japanese steel designed by Takefu Special Steel Co. Ltd aimed at Japanese chefs.  But since the steel is cooked with 1% carbon, 15% chromium, 0.2% vanadium, 1.5% cobalt, and spiced with 0.5% manganese and 1% molybdenum, it was soon popular with many knife companies.

Spyderco Lum folder


At the time it was a super-steel but now is considered simply really good steel.  It compares well with ATS-34 and 154CM but the higher vanadium levels produce smaller grain size and better stain resistance and toughness.   We’re talking edge retention improvement here.  Spyderco told me the hardness was in the 58-60 Rc range.  The blade was offered as a plain edge as mine was or fully serrated.

The blade is a flat grind with a tapered leaf shape associated with many of Lum’s designs.  The green Almite-coated handle is chamfered to soften both the looks and provide a comfortable grip.  The knife is set up for right carry with an option to alternate between tip-up and tip-down.  I’m a big fan of tip-up carry so I never changed it.

Back of Lum folder, spyderco




Almite is an anodic oxidation process of aluminum with very good hardness.  

Bob Lum was born and raised in Astoria, Oregon and between hunting and fishing and his work as a freelance photographer he developed a keen eye for blade shapes and edges.  He started making knives in October 1976 and is considered the popularizer of the "tanto" style which he based on older classic Japanese style.  The interest in tantos has not faded.  They have generated a love-hate interest in the knife community and will remain an important blade option. 

spyderco lum
Bob Lum's chop.  A nice touch of class.



Lung cancer took Bob on December 4, 2007 at age 64. 

Shakespeare wrote “..the good is often buried with their bones.”  He is wrong in this case.  Many of Bob’s designs and sketches are still being uncovered and sold to top end knife companies.  His son and wife are involved with producing his ideas and you can find them at http://www.boblumknives.com/welcome.html




I still carry my Lum.  It has become a dress knife and I wear it for weddings, funerals and anytime I need to notch up my attire beyond business casual.  Spyderco still has Lum designs, but if you want a green Lum Chinese folder, you’re in for a search.  Good Luck!



Monday, March 11, 2019

Remington Knives


 Most of us think of shotguns when we read about the Remington Arms Company.  Founded in 1816 in upstate New York, Remington holds the record for the nation's oldest continuously operating manufacturer.  It still operates in the original, but updated plant, in Ilion, NY.

Remington also makes some of us think of knives as well.  It’s only natural that a cross-over product is popular with the blade and gun crowd:  the Bullet Knife.

Bullet, knife
Has a buck look, doesn't it


The first Bullet knife was introduced in 1922. Many variations of this collectible knife have been created since that time.  These knives are often produced in limited qualities creating demand and keeping the price up as well.  They are highly collectible.   More modest lines are also created for users with limited resources who want a quality knife, but not a special edition.

It should be no surprise in this day and age that Remington does not actually make their knives.  Like S&W they license their brand.  I will not say anything unkind about S&W knives.  For the price they are a serviceable knife.

Buck Knives has the current license and will be producing the 2019 Remington Cutlery lineup.  In 2017 they acquired the Remington license and have continually produced quality knives with the Remington stamp.

Tactical knife


It should come as no surprise that 420J2 blade steel will be the principle blade steel.  Buck has extensive experience with it and produces a solidly performing blade.  420 steels range in carbon content between .15% and .40% with 12-14% chromium.  The steel reaches a hardness of 57RC after suitable heat treatment. Buck is famous for their proprietary heat treatment.  420B ( 420J2 ) is an economical, highly corrosion resistant stainless steel also used in diving knives.

A super steel?  No.   But one you can count on?  Yes.

Remington is doubling their Buck-produced tactical knife line for 2019.  You can find assisted opening, tanto and partial serrated blades as well as the classic drop point and plain edge, all with 420J2 steel

Remington knife
A nice EDS knife


EDC Line
While I carry what might be considered a tactical EDC, Remington also has a smart line of EDC.  These are medium to small pocket knives you can utilize at work, church and play without anyone thinking twice about it.

All Remington products are backed by a Lifetime Warranty. Find out more at www.RemingtonCutlery.com

Friday, March 1, 2019

Knife Review: ZT450CF


Ah…Belarus, a small Eastern European landlocked country best known for its Stalinist architecture and grand fortifications.  If you’re stopping for a tour, make sure you visit KGB Headquarters looming over Independence Square and the many Great Patriotic War monuments commemorating the country’s role in WWII.

Sounds bleak, doesn’t?  Especially the tour of KBG headquarters which could last 20 to 30 years.

Zero Tolerance, Knife, Belarus
I really like the carbon fiber handle.

From this country comes Dmitry Sinkevich, knife maker and artist.  His knife designs are snapped up by companies like Spyderco and Zero Tolerance.  It only takes a simple look to see why.

Let’s look at his design, the ZT 450CF for example.  The knife sports a 3.25 inch slice of CPM S35VN.  More on this steel later.  The blade is a saber grind, drop point with a long false edge and flipper.  The blade glides open on KVT ball bearings.  The front of the handle is carbon fiber and backed with titanium.

The clip is reversible and provides a relatively low profile look when pocketed.

This makes for a very trim and graceful knife weighing in at 2.45 ounces. 

The lock mechanism is a standard frame lock, but because titanium can’t be hardened to the same values as steel, the locking bar sports a small steel insert that serves two functions in addition to locking the knife open.  One, it takes the wear of contacting the steel blade and two, acts as a stop to prevent the bar from being pushed out beyond its elastic limits.  The insert, in case you were wondering, is replaceable.

Dmitry Sinkevich, knife
The carbon fiber is striking.  This is a very nice Gent's Knife.


S35VN is martensitic steel which contains 3% vanadium and 0.5% niobium in addition to chromium.  All three elements are carbide formers, but chemical properties favor the formation of vanadium and niobium carbides over chromium.  These two carbides are harder and finer in size than chromium carbide and reinforce the steel more. 

Tests by CPM indicate the steel has better edge retention, less wear and more corrosion resistance than many steels including 440C and D2. 

knife
I like the open back and the green spacers are just for fun and very cool.


The knife is strikingly impressive in my opinion.  It fits my hand and the blade flicks out on the KVT ball bearing.  The knife is set up for tip-up carry and the clip is reversible for left or right carry.

I can’t take it for a test run, as it’s not mine to use.  If ZT would like to send me a writer’s sample, I’ll run some cutting tests and expand this. 

The Sinkevich ZT450CF is light, trim and comfortable to use knife which is, bladed with a techno steel to give you long life and edge retention.  Frankly, at the retail price of $245 it looks like a bargain. 


Monday, February 25, 2019

Provoke


A recent episode of the “The Rookie’ shows one of the characters showing his last resort knife to his training officer.  It resembles a Benchmade 175BK push dagger.  It’s a short story arc that helps support the longer main arc.   

Still, one can see why real LEOs will carry a last resort weapon.  They don’t have a room of script magicians to write them out of the problem.  These weapons are usually very simple to use.  Any tool that requires year to learn and five years to master will fall outside the definition of ‘tool-of-last-resort.’

Karambits have this tool potential.  The ordinary user can slip his little finger onto the loop and hold it in a hammer fist and simply claw his way out of danger.  Placing your thumb on the back of curved spine will give you a little more feedback.  Are we not trained to touching things with our thumb?  The same almost autonomic reflex helps guide the blade.

Held in the reverse grip, the blade juts out of our fist like a prehistoric claw, perfectly situated for close infighting moves. Small wonder folding karambits are so popular.  Closed, they are easy to conceal, a basic impact weapon and open, it becomes so much more.

In the hands of someone with more training than I, the karambit has multiple applications.  The dull spine can be used use to trap and control opponent’s arms and balance, making a range of other physical responses available.  The razor edge lets you transition from physical control to higher levels of force almost instinctively. 

Folding karambits have some problems.  Opening isn’t always easy and fingers can get in the way of the edge.  Lock and pivot points wear and fail from applying load on the spine or side of the blade.  All knives direct the load into the handle but the twisting load generated by using the blade as a control device can cause handle failures.

Joe Caswell, karambit
CRKT's Provoke, designed for LEO and people in dangerous places



Many of the devices used to open the blade as you remove it from your pocket don’t assist you opening the karambit if you are holding it in your hand as an impact tool.

CRKT has taken Joe Caswell’s design and produced the Provoke It is a unique knife that may change how we open and close folding knives.  Your fingers are never in the path of the blade when opening or closing.  The blade is firmly locked in place by two stout arms.

closed Provoke, knife, karambit
The front of Joe Caswell's innovative folding karambit 


The problem is opening from the pocket draw.  The optimal opening has the index finger through the ring and the dull spine against the palm of your hand.  The thumb presses the back pivot point and the blade pops open.

Caswell, folding karambit
Back side of the Provoke.  The clip holds the knife deep in the pocket.  What you see doesn't look like a clip.


Here’s a right and left hand draw with opening showing the finger movements I use.  It looks clumsy when shone slowly to reveal finger movement.  It’s not.  Practice for ten minutes and it will feel completely natural to you.


Left side opening.  I needed to pivot out of the camera view to show the opening.  You really don't hold it like a soiled tea bag. 



Right side opening.  The knife must slide from the thumb to the index finger


It’s not an inexpensive knife and has limited general application.  Its cutting edge design and manufacturing has built in a high degree of reliability.  It is last-chance-tool to claw your way out from under the casket lid. 

Find yours at https://www.crkt.com/provoke.html.  MSRP is $200.00.  Cheap at that price.


Saturday, February 2, 2019

The Finnish Butterfly


After college and having found a real job I discovered I had a little extra spending money.  I was entranced by a red handled folding knife that could be best described as a butterfly knife from Finland.  Of course I satisfied that itch.

Puukko Folder, Finish butterfly knife
Hackman Folding Puukko

The blade doesn’t have a tang stamp and the only identification is “Hackman Finland” molded into the red plastic handle.  The 3.75 inch blade is a saber grind with a small secondary bevel that forms the actual cutting edge. 

The blade is an unknown stainless steel.  I’ve had it for years and no evidence of rust has appeared, despite the minima care I’ve given it.  And the plastic has also held up quite nicely.  I filed a small choil in the blade to separate the edge from the ricasso.  It was thought, with some justification, that without the choil you would damage your sharpening stone by chipping away it’s edge. 

In retrospect I realize was all I really accomplished was to add a stress riser in the blade.

Hackman was a cutlery and cookware company founded in Finland in 1790.  Later it was bought by the Iittala Group.  In 2007, littala was swallowed by the Fiskars Corporation.  Fiskars never, in my opinion, understood the American knife market and even now needs to make up for lost ground.


Finnish, Folding knife, linkkupuukko
The folding Puukkko closed and latched

The Hackman butterfly knife was better known in Finland as Linkkupuukko, or "latch-knife". The marketing boys positioned it as a retkiveitsi or "camping knife" and later as Er├Ąpuukko or "wilderness puukko."  By now you should associating puukko with Finnish for knife.

The Hackman story begins when Johan Friedrich Hackman was awarded the right to establish a trading house in the Hanseatic city of Vyborg.  He soon had a successful timber goods business on his hands, but like most businessmen he sought out new opportunities.  West of him was the territory now known as Finland.

In the early 1800s Hackman bought Sorsakoski – a small factory community in eastern Finland.  The purchase included a sawmill, flourmill and a brick factory.  Hackman’s cutlery business began in nearby Vyborg in 1876, headed by his son also Johan Friedrich Hackman.

Junior moved their entire cutlery manufacturing business to Sorsakoski in the early 1890s. The factory community was a mirror of Finnish society at the beginning of the twentieth century.  Companies like Hackman took full responsibility for providing basic services to their employees.  Sounds a little like the American coal mining companies and the company store, doesn’t it?

In 1902 Hackman began manufacturing new low-cost cutlery items forged from a single workpiece. The introduction of quality stainless steel in the 1920s revolutionized the entire cutlery business.  By the 1960s design legends like Kaj Franck and Bertel Gardberg had designed iconic cutlery collections for Hackman.

The black handle version of the knife seems to have a sordid past or excellent present day marketing.  There are rumors, highly unsubstantiated rumors, that CIA agents were issued the knife for Vietnam.  If anyone has any real knowledge I’d sure like to hear from you.

This makes some limited sense.  The knife isn’t made in the USA and being caught with one might not brand you as an imperialistic agent.  The mechanism is simple and robust, perhaps perfect for undercover work.  Being inexpensive, ditching the knife if you were being followed or mouse-trapped didn’t require a huge sacrifice on your part.

However, it isn’t likely you can call up the CIA and speak to the quartermaster and expect to get a straight answer.  That’s where the marketing comes in.  It’s easy to say on ebay that the knife is from the CIA / Vietnam issue era.

There’s a story here and perhaps one day we’ll know it in its entirety. 

Monday, January 21, 2019

Q Branch Knives

WWII wasn’t the first war to have enemy combatant’s dressed as civilians. But it is the war we seem to most associate with covert weapons and spies.  The problem for agents and spies is a weapon found on your person discredits your claim that you’re something harmless and can be ignored.  Yet having a last resort weapon could be the difference between death by torture and escape.

OSS and later the CIA developed little hideaway last resort tools for their agents as did many other domestic and foreign agencies.  We are fascinated by these James Bond devices.

training page OSS, Thumb dagger, lapel dagger.
Agents tied a small cord around the metal to provide them with a loop and more friction surface.
There probably isn’t anything more fascinating then the OSS “lapel dagger.”  It was just a small thumb-size flat piece of sharpened steel that could be sewn behind lapels, inside pockets, or just about any place. 

The key to placement seems to be to:
One: sew it where it wouldn’t be found in a quick search,
Two:  sew it where arresting officers would expect you to place your hands in response to their orders.

I had always wanted an authentic one, but twenty years ago A.G. Russell came out with their version of a undetectable lapel dagger.

A. G. Russell stealth lapel dagger


It is about 3.75 inches long with a 2.5 inch double sided blade.  It’s made of plastic and frankly, I don’t think it would survive more than a couple quick stabs before the blade snapped.  But that’s all you might need to get your feet under you and escape.

Undetectable weapon, stealth lapel dagger
I don't believe it has the weight or strength for the two techniques shown above
It came with two plastic sheaths so you could move the dagger between coat and another location.  One can almost see Bond moving it from his suit coat to his pants pocket unnoticed.  Each sheath has small holes to facilitate sewing.
At the time Russell also came out with a dagger shaped like their Sting but made from nylon filled with glass fiber.  It was advertised as a CIA letter opener.  I remember the claim that you could resharpen it with a coarse file.

The knife is about 6.75 inches long with a 3.25 inch blade and 3.5 inch handle.  It is substantially sturdier than the lapel knife.

AG Russell CIA letter opener.


Both of these were on sale during the very early days of metal detectors at airports.  At this time you could carry a smallish knife like a Spyderco Delica through security.  You declared the knives by placing them in a small basket with your wallet which bypassed security.  There was often some question about partially serrated edges, but most of the time the knife passed and you carried it on the plane.

Don’t even think about it today!


But at this time they are out of stock.

Cold Steel makes a variety of plastic knives that are almost undetectable.  They used to come with removable metal rings to ensure they could be seen when x-rayed.  They may have simply given up on the pretense of detectability and saved the customer the problem of removing the metal rings.

Lansky also makes a very passable plastic dagger they promote as a box or letter opener.

I guess they assume your opponents will be named Box or Letter

Sunday, January 13, 2019

TOPS - 3 Bros First Look




Have you noticed how things come in threes?  Three leaf clovers are common.  Winning card hands can be three of a kind, or perhaps menus give you three choices from three different selections each containing three different dishes.  Maybe you have three bourbons on the shelf?

Why not knives?  TOPS thought.

3 Bros   Knife
Don't forget TOPS trademark whistle!



Face it; most of our cutting chores are small.  We need a small utility knife, but considering the world we live in, we want max performance.  Why not put three different blade configurations, Hunter's Point (spear point), Tanto and Sheep's Foot blade in a small belt carry package.  Well, that’s what TOPS Knives has done.  They call it 3 Bros.

So who is TOPS?

In 1998, TOPS Knives was founded to create the highest-quality knives using the extensive knowledge and real life experiences of Military Operatives, Law Enforcement Officers, and outdoor professionals.  Perhaps the best part, all TOPS knives are manufactured and hand-finished at their facility in the Rocky Mountains, USA.

TOPS Knives have been requested and deployed in "Hot Spots" all over the world. Numerous individuals who are or were Field Operators have used these knives and report top performance and reliability when their lives depended on the tools they had with them.  That’s a pretty hard claim to top.

The 3 Bros are also very easy to carry everyday. Even in the sheath, one of these knives only weighs 2.8 ounces.
Specs:
Overall Length     4.27 inches
Blade Length       2.00 inches
Cutting Edge        2.00 inches
Blade Thickness  0.120 inches
Blade Steel          1095 steel hardened to RC 56-58
Handle Material    Black Canvas Micarta
Knife Weight        1.9oz

You can purchase one, two or all three.  For a little extra you can go with serrations and/or camo finish.  I’d hate to break up a family, so I got all three.

TOPS fixed Blades
The small size was not found to be a limitation with daily chores.


Each knife has three deep depressions on the spine.  It’s a little aggressive for naked skin but fine for the glove hand.  Each knife has a deep bolster which acts as a finger guard to prevent hand injuries from sliding onto the blade.  The edge goes just about all the way to the bolster and there is no ricasso. 

The blades are a flat-sided saber grind ending at a shoulder about one third of the way on the blade.  This provides sufficient room to grip the blade by thumb and forefinger while the ring and social finger grip the Micarta disk on each side of the knife.  The disk provides a nice anchor point even if you are wearing gloves.

TOPS 3BR tops knives
The small sized was not a factor wearing gloves.  The micarta disk provided sufficient grip as did the massive jimping.


TOPS blades are made of 1095 steel and they recommend an 18-20 degree sharpening edge.  These knives can be sharpened with ordinary stones but can also be sent to TOPS for a new factory edge.  The warranty card spells it out for you.

I’ve never owned a TOPS knife that didn’t perform.  The 1095 steel will hold an edge, but will need resharpening with use.  The steel needs to be taken care of with a protective coating of oil or corrosion inhibitor.  If you anticipate needing it for food preparation or consumption, make sure you use food safe oil.  Nobody likes the trots!

You can get yours at:  https://www.topsknives.com/3-bros
A single knife is $70, but they’ll deal you all three for $160.00. 

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Souvenir Knives



 When it comes to souvenir knives, I’ve got to go with historic references.  A knife that simply says Disneyland doesn’t float my boat.  But given the option of an event occurring at a specific time and place, well I’m a sucker for it.  

I can easily understand military collectors.  There are so many extraordinary events happening to ordinary Joes and Janes and their stories are told in the badges and mess kits they carried.

So when I had the chance to buy a brass-sided knife from the 1982 World’s Fair held in Knoxville, Tennessee I bought it.  The tang stamp identifies it as made by Parker Cutlery in Japan.

brass sided knife
The letters are so small I needed a magnifying glass to read them.

The 1982 World's Fair, formally known as the Knoxville International Energy Exposition, was themed "Energy Turns the World."  It opened on May 1, 1982, and closed six months later on October 31, 1982.  The Sunsphere, a 266-foot tower topped with a five-story gold globe, still remains and can be seen in Knoxville.


Souvenir knife 1982 worlds fair knoxville


James F Parker founded the company as a sideline to his employment as a paint sales rep.  He was one of the first to effectively utilize direct mail services to buy and sell collectable knives in the 1970s.  He used a stylized logo of an eagle with its wings spread.  He helped start Frost Cutlery by partnering with James Frost in a short-lived partnership. 


one of several designs
One of the more recognized tang stamps from Parker Cutlery

The commemorative knife business can be very confusing.  Parker had knives made by both Schrade and Rodgers-Wostenholm in addition to his own production.  As his business evolved the tang stamp changed, reflecting involvement with his brothers, purchasing of the Japanese company Imia and then Rodgers Wostenholm USA Ltd which gave him the right to use the IXL trademark.  In January of 1989, Parker purchased the W.R. Case and Sons Cutlery Co.

There can be no doubt that James Parker was a player in the knife world stage!  Knives ranging from good to yuck quality were produced both for the souvenir market and cutlery trade. 

In 1990 James Parker declared bankruptcy.

I find it interesting that I am unable to find a Wikipedia entry about Parker or his knife company.  Even Case knife histories fail to mention their brief ownership by Parker.  All I could find out through my limited search of the Internet was Case is currently owned by Zippo Lighters.

(Most of my information on Parker was liberated from Collector Knives by C. Houston Price.)

After that little historic jaunt, I’ve still got a very nice historic souvenir worth five dollars on E-Bay.  It doesn’t look like the blade was sharpened and I’m going to leave the brass with its patina.   Now, if I can only find an elongated penny from the fair, I would be a happier camper.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Yule Message

Merry Christmas!

I love those nature programs.  Watching this desert lizard that keeps lifting a different foot to avoid the hot sand set to music is hysterical.  But it’s the predators I find amazing.

Most of the day, predators are sleeping or walking round looking for opportunities.  Some are pack members so they have to spend time maintaining gang status, while others are solo creatures.  It’s their difference and sameness that makes them interesting.
danger, predator and prey
The decision on who's lunch isn't completely made, yet!
The solo predator often needs to do an interview to establish the hunter/victim order.  Maybe you’ve seen the mountain lion checking out a badger.  They just kind of sniff at each other and then the badger suddenly lunges at the cat, biting its nose, clawing at the cat’s face and quite unexpectedly the mountain lion decides there is an easier lunch somewhere else.

That’s an instinctual decision-making process of weighing food value and availability against hunger and potential damage.  It’s a question of who is actually lunch and who’s the top predator at the moment.

Pack animals will do this too.  The pack will surround a herd and attempt to spook them.  In some cases the predator will discover a “mule kick” to the face from a zebra means the diner bell hasn’t rung yet.  In other cases the herd panics and leaves the old, injured and inexperienced behind.

Often there is an “interview” to size up the relationship between prey and predator.  Sort of an ‘accidental’ bump to see what the response is.  I once saw a cartoon where a lion comes upon some small furry ball of protein eating grass.  Unsure he hesitantly reaches out and touches it.  The little fuzz ball whirls about metamorphosing into some creature composed of spikes, knives, a chain gun, several pistols, claws and spiked chains.  The last panel show the little guy back grazing.

This is a legitimate concern to all predators.  They may be king of this block, but not so much two streets over.

You’re thinking this is a weird Christmas/New Year’s post and you may be correct.  But I’ll get to the point.

These relationships between you and predators remain the same despite the holiday season.  In fact, it may be worse. 

We travel in some of our best clothing with jewelry and other decorations visible presenting a higher target profile.  Who would you rob - some guy in faded Carhartt jacket, worn leather shoes wearing a paint-splattered Timex watch and talking on a flip phone, or the guy with a knee length leather coat with black wing tip shoes, wearing a Breitling wrist watch talking on an i-phone?

During the holidays, actually all the time, practice a little tactical mimicry.  Zebra’s stripes help them blend into the brush and confuse a predator when they bolt for escape.

Don’t wear your best out without giving it some thought.  Excuse yourself and in the safety of the bathroom stall or destination, slip the watch, gold krugerrand ring or necklace out of your pocket and put them on.  The diamond studs can go on now and you can safely check whatever you need to see on your i-phone.  Reverse the order for departure.

Be boring in public.  Ordinary.

True story.
I was in Hyde Park, London years ago carrying two 35mm film cameras.  I stopped to sit a bench to take a break.  Four Bobbies descended on me.  A journalist had a camera stolen at a press event nearby.  I looked out of the ordinary and they wanted to know everything about me.  Despite the fact I had the serial numbers recorded in my passport locked in the hotel safe and offered to take them there and show them the numbers, I was just too interesting to ignore.  Even after it was confirmed that the stolen camera didn’t match any of mine, the police just couldn’t believe I wasn’t up to something.  I guess two cameras and not being in a Japanese tour group was outside their experience.

My mistake was not being invisible.

I don’t have to tell you to be aware of people, things and your surroundings.  When you’re distracted thinking about what you need to do to get Aunt Mime’s approval, did you remember your boss’s mother’s holiday greeting card, and is a half-gallon of scotch enough, you are even more vulnerable.

I want all of us to have a great holiday, no matter the celebration: Christmas, Hanukkah, Boxing Day, Yule, the Roman Satunalia or simply New Year’s.  Stay aware, Stay safe and Keep your wits about yourself and we can all look forward to another year together.

Friday, December 7, 2018

A Rose By Any Other Name


By now most people realize that descriptive words don’t mean anything, or rather mean only what the author would like them to mean.  One author I’ve been reading describes men’s aftershave as “peppery” whatever that means.

Knives are a similar situation.  Editors and authors will agree that it’s a folding knife, but is it a jack knife, pocket knife or the mysterious tactical knife?

Almost everyone will agree on the following definitions:

Slip joint folder:  This is the simplest of folding knives.  Friction between the blade and bolster holds the knife open.  Early Roman knives were like this.  I suspect you needed to hold the blade’s spine pinched between thumb and index finger to use the blade.  A step up would be the 16 century peasant knife in which a metal tang would fold against the back of the handle when open and your grasp would keep the knife open.

Friction folders:  These use a spring, sometimes called a back spring to maintain pressure on the blade to keep it open or closed.  These are very common today. 

Locking or Clasp folder:  Knives in this category use a mechanism that actively prevents the blade from closing until that mechanism is altered to release the blade.   These have morphed into the term “tactical” which means they cost more.

Once we get past these basics we start creating new descriptors of knives.

I recently pick up a… well, I’m not sure what to call it.

It’s a gent’s knife, which means it’s largely a vest pocket toy carried for only the most superficial cutting tasks.  This term is often applied to small knives worn on a watch chain or carried just to trim loose threads, file a torn fingernail or cut a bag of potato chips open.

The term has been upgraded by vendors like A. G. Russell to include higher quality locking knives.  



My new lobster style knife

This one has steel blades in a brass handle, so you know it’s not designed for heavy work as brass is not the strongest material available.  It is decorated nicely with raised surfaces and dark black designs.  Some gent’s knives use precious and semi-precious materials like gold, ivory, exotic stone and tropical woods as well as steel for a handle.

This one is decorated in what is described on the internet as Toledo style, even though it has no connection to Ohio or Spain.  There are three tools in this knife, a large blade, a smaller one on one side, and folding scissors on the other side.

The spring is in the center of the handle where it tensions all three tools.  One end appears to forked, giving the smaller blade and scissors the needed spring force.


I guess it resembles a lobster, maybe?


The pattern or artistic style, for lack of a better name, is a lobster.  Since two of the tools open on the same end, but opposite side, if you look at it from the right angle, close one eye and squint with the other, you might find some passing resemblance to a lobster with its two claws. 

You might describe this knife as a Toledo lobster gent’s knife.

The handle is composed of two thin sheets of brass.  It has a gold color so I suspect it’s coated with a dyed lacquer.  It was a common occurrence with the old brass microscopes.  Different lots of brass would have different colors, so manufacturers lacquered the scope to give it a uniform colour appearance.  Very common with English microscopes.

Fine detail of brushed surface  The marker bar is 5mm or half a centimeter

The handles aren’t scratched, but brushed to give the brass a softer look.   Again it’s attempting to pass as gold or at least golden.



Inox means stainless steel


The blades are marked “Inox, Solingen, Germany”, but that doesn’t mean the knife was made there.  I couldn’t find any other marks or identification on the knife.  This suggests that is was a low quality product made by jobbers.

Still, I like the darn thing.  The handle is in a relatively undamaged condition, and I like the pattern on the brass handle as well as the proportions of the handle.  The two blades are clean with original edges and the scissors looks nice.

Unfortunately there are no compelling reasons for knife manufacturers to set down and hammer out descriptions the industry would use.  So, until they do, I have a Toledo lobster gent’s knife.