Monday, July 10, 2017

Shooter's weekend

I just spent the weekend at Canton McKinley Rifle and Pistol Club hawking knives.  This weekend is their big Regional Bullseye Match, what we call a 2700.  It takes three days to shoot it and honestly 4 would be better, but it’s just not possible.  They get about 300 shooters from all over the country, sometimes all over the world.

Starting tomorrow, (as I write this) Monday 10 July 17 the National Matches at Camp Perry start.  They will get at least at least a thousand shooters including all branches of the military, National Guard, Police Departments, clubs and everyday citizens who want to compete. 

I was there at CMRPC selling club merchandise, handing out club tee-shirts and sharpening knives to demonstrate the Spyderco sharpener, at least that’s what they think.

I was really there for raising the flag.

"I'd elevated that another 12 degrees if I was you..."



It starts by pulling a friction fuse on a brass canon captured by the British during the Crimean War.  The canon belches smoke and fire while the National Anthem starts playing.  You can’t hear the first couple of notes.  The canon’s thunder drowns them out.  A three person military team starts to raise the flag and everyone, a hundred armed men and women and all the support people, snap to attention and salute.  The smoke clears but the aroma of cordite lingers as the last notes are played and the flag reaches the top of the pole.  There’s doesn’t seems to be a breeze but somehow a puff of wind straightens the flag for a second and we return to our activities.  Then shooters have a three minute preparation period to get ready.

If that doesn’t bring tears of pride to your eyes, then you’re no friend of mine.

Nothing says "Attention for Colors!" like a canon blast.


People stop by the table to talk, or show of their newest, favorite, or latest blade.  We talk about types of steel, advantages of tip up vs tip down carry and role of everyday knife carry.  I see a wide variety of knives at this match.  Some knives are to commemorate a special event, like retirement or a graduation.  Others are just the flavor of the week.  Some are old, trusted companions that were there for the owner when needed. 

I’ve sold a knife to many of these people and they bring them back to show me.  Most are in good shape and sharp, but a few are dull with micro-chips along the edge; others have cracked and broken tips.  I can’t do much with the damaged ones.  The sharpener I use is best utilized keeping sharp knives from becoming dull.  And that’s really the key to keeping a working knife sharp, never let it get dull.  Yes, possibly you will wear out the blade from all the edge dressing you do.  But most assuredly, if you let your blade get so dull and damaged that you have to grind away some of the edge to get a sharp blade, you will run out of knife sooner than later.

After about a half hour, I got it as sharp as I was going to get  it with a Spyderco Sharpmaker.



If these abused knives were all we had, I’d spend a day working the missing tip into something pointed and polishing the micro-chips out of the blade, but there are better systems for that.  After you’ve sharpened knives for a while it becomes clear that no one sharpener works for every knife.  Anyone who claims their sharpening system does it all, isn’t the sharpest knife in the box.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Blade Sunday and a Random Walk



Blade Show Sunday is the finish line.  Most of the pressure is off, sales made, promises swapped, and bargains available, if you can recognize a bargain.  

It’s a good time to talk to vendors about knives and the industry.  I stopped at Spyderco to talk with Joyce.  Long ago Joyce sent me a congratulations note on my first article which was about Spyderco’s Bob Lum with the anodized green handle.  We think of her as a friend.

Spyderco is one of my favorite companies, along with Shadow Tech, Benchmade and Böker. 

So what new is with Spyderco?  The answer is lots.

Remember the H1 steel.  Rust proof in salt water.  I ran my own test by slathering a salt paste on the blade and keeping it in a moist warm environment overnight.  No rust.  H1 steel has some hardenable issues but the steel can be worked hardened.  Every time you sharpen it, the edge gets a little harder.  Now they are using LC200N as is many other blade makers.  Oh, yes, did I mention they have altered the Caribbean Salt so it has the 4-position clip?

LC200N is low carbon, high chromium with enough nitrogen to give you RC values of 60.  This should be a very rust resistant steel.  They are releasing it mid-year as their Caribbean series, a yellow and black alternating striped handled knife with a flat grind blade.  It will be Endura size, but way cooler.

The Military with Spyderco’s patented top compression lock is very popular, but big.  So several years ago they released the Para Military, but even that was large.  So get ready for Para 3.  It’s about Delica size but with the same wide flat ground blade.

For mid-season they are introducing 30 new products.  Add that to their already expansive product line and you have a shop keeper’s nightmare.  Which do you stock?  How many of which?  Which one or two are just there to draw customers over to the counter, but aren’t expected to sell?

I got a silent agreement that Spyderco has too many SKUs for most vendors.  I found out that every year they have an SKU meeting and they decide which SKU will go to make room for new ones.  People get passionate about this.  “Which child will you kick out to bring in a new one?” They ask.  I’m glad I don’t have to make these decisions.

Sharpening is always controversial and the show has many systems ranging from simple Arkansas stones to sharpening systems that suggest a degree in engineering is required.  As steel blades increase in hardness more sophistical materials are needed.  Cubic boron nitride?  Industrial sintered diamond? Recrystallized unobtanium?  These are the sharpening material of today and tomorrow.  But these are still challenged by the water stones of Japan, the fossil clay of Italy and the slabs of soapstone.

Google search for edges.  How many will you find?  Flat grind, secondary bevel, hollow, apple seed, chisel, chisel with back bevel?  Now let’s consider angle. The smaller the angle the sharper it is.  It’s also more delicate.  A stout angle may work fine on an axe, but not so good for filleting trout for dinner.  Most of us expect to have to resharpen a shallow angle more often regardless of the super steel or secret heat treatment.

Angle leads us to blade thickness.  You can find Tou-tube videos of people attempting to chop through a branch with a blade only a 16th of an inch thick and people attempting to carve tinder with what can only be described as an edged car leaf spring.  Somewhere in the middle are the compromisers trying to create one edge with two different profiles.  They attempt to make the front half of the blade eye surgery sharp and the back edge coconut cracking dull.  Most of the time, they fail.  I would suggest setting your edge geometry and sharpness to your average cutting expectations.



And you know what?  It’s all wonderful.  Let me suggest that through exploring edges, sharpening and sharpening, whatever your final edge is you will create new appreciation for the humble knife.

  Enjoy. 

Here's a few more images from the Blade Show:





You can always find raw material to make the knife you want!



I wish I had bought a few of the screw pins used to hold handles together!






Buck Club 75th anniversary
It's Buck's 75th anniversary and the Buck clubs went all out!


Fireworks and Grinding
 Let's end with fireworks!







Friday, June 16, 2017

Do you?

If you believe George Clooney, a day without Nespresso is day without sunshine, without oxygen, without … (insert any hyperbola you want).  But has he ever wondered where all those single-use capsules go?  Maybe they are being compressed, shrunk and crushed until they reach the density of degenerate dwarf star material.  Another rumor has it they are taken back to Switzerland to fill in the caves the Swiss dug to protect themselves during WWII.

Actually they are being swallowed by Victorinox and spitted back out as a special edition of Swiss Army knives called Nespresso Pioneers and they are very cool.

Both Victorinox and Nespresso are Swiss companies located near each other.  Victorinox is a very environmentally conscious company.  “Sustainably-sourced and produced products are at the heart of the Victorinox business model,” says Renee Hourigan, North American Director of Marketing for Victorinox.

So what, you say.  Companies make this claim even if they burn scrap in bonfires instead of sending it to landfills.  That may be true but Victorinox is different.  They are recycling 600 tons of steel from its grinding sludge every year, equivalent to 25% of the steel it uses annually.  So several years ago they started making deep blue handled knives from recycled Nespresso coffee capsules.  Twenty-four recycled Nespresso coffee capsules to be exact, per knife.

11,650 Nespresso Pioneers have were released for sale, (as a value added activity, calculated how many cups of Nespresso George Clooney would have to drink to supply all the aluminum) but you have to go to Switzerland.  They aren’t sold here.  (Email George and see if he can do something about this…)

NespressoPioneer


But that was last year, this year 250 special purple Nespresso Pioneers will be released in the US.  Get ‘em if you can.  They are so cool on so many levels.

In case you’re wondering about Keurig’s K-Cup coffee pods, they were recently banned in Hamburg, Germany, with sales in North America slumping.  Keurig’s promise to make 100% of its pods recyclable by 2020 is ‘too little, too late’ for many German and American households that want to enjoy guilt-free coffee in the morning.




Saturday, June 3, 2017

Blade Show Day 2


Has the Blade Show become a victim of its own success?

Saturday is always a bad day.  Any knife fancier within 4 hours of driving can work a full week and drive here on Saturday and make it home for church and family brunch on Sunday.  Saturday is a packed day.  Despite the convention’s efforts, you’ll find a number of people walking and selling.  No surprise there, with tables costing over $500 you have to sell a lot of knives to break even.  So, you find people selling to tables.

The exhibition hall is packed and the only redeeming grace is to remember sardines don’t die in the can, they die in the open sea.  Air conditioning struggles to keep up but with 90+ temperatures outside and hundreds and hundreds of people inside it can’t keep up.

Blade is the knife show by which all others are measured.  The show’s location needs a rich environment to support it.  There may be bigger venues in the cornfields in Kansas, but it will never have the support Atlanta has.

Blade Show
The contestants warning up
Is there an association of Balisong Flippers?  Beats me, but Blade hosted the first national competition.  They used live edges and flip free style, but the MC warned that kicking the knife with your knee was outlawed at this event.  The flippers were set up in the back parking lot where the cutting would take place and it was single elimination.  Three judges, well known by the crowd, selected the winners of the each round. You can tell they were expecting a lot of dropped knives.  Each competitor stood over a sheet of cardboard.  I didn’t stay for the entire competition.  It just seemed too silly to me.  Every completion heat I saw, the loser dropped his knife at least once if not more.  I have to wonder if some of the flippers will create moves so unique that in the future the move will be named after them, like the ice skating Hamill Camel.

bones at Blade
Giraffe Skull, what else could I say
One of the knife supply houses had a skull of a giraffe on display.  It appears that giraffes can become a nuisance animal requiring culling.  The meat is sold and made into sausage (I can’t believe there aren’t a few steaks involved!), so the supply house buys camel leg bones for knife handles and just for giggles asked if they could get a skull.  The joke was on him.

It took a lot of boiling and bleaching, but the complete skull is available and on sale.  For $500 bucks it can be yours.  I wanted it for over the TV cabinet, but wiser heads prevailed.  A word of warning, it’s a lot bigger than you might think it is.

From Nepal, a fighting knife
A different EDC
I bought a mini-khukuri.  The seller has them made in Nepal by Gurkhas.  They use truck leaf springs and its steel needs to be taken care of or it will tarnish.  I have a full size one made in India and this will make a nice addition.


Buck display at Blade 2017


It’s Buck’s 75th anniversary and Buck collectors are pulling out the stops.  In the public area of the hall they have about a row of double sided tables as long as city block set up.  You’ll find everything from complete run of Bucks to experimental prototypes and exotic one of a kind buck knives.  Each display is different, some cruder than others but all a testimony to Buck knives.

Blade Show
Mantis neck knife or upside down stargate
We bought new neck knives at Mantis Knives.  It’s hard to describe Mantis.  They make some really silly knives, but they are so freshly original you can’t dismiss them.  Our neck knives look like an “O” with a T coming out of them.  Put your finger into the ring and pull, a curved blade emerges from the metal ring.  Frankly, the blade looks too flimsy and curved for fighting or cutting.

It might be time to skip the Blade Show.  You will not find too many of the unique knives and blades seen on Forged in Fire.  What you’ll see are the typical, safe designs: drop points, Bowie, spear, Hawksbill and Wharncliffe blades.   The steels are the usual suspects: high carbon, D2 and the stainless families.  I was impressed that I found one smith with forged titanium blades.

Prices remain high but bargains can be found if you work at it.


Here's a few more pictures.



Blade Show
Another high carbon steel blade to worry about


Blade Show
More knives!

Tomorrow’s the last day.  I have an appointment and one or two items and it’s off we go.



Friday, June 2, 2017

Blade Show Opens!

Lil Lum Nishijin
A Blade Show Special from Spyderco, BOGO!
The first day of the Blade Show finished and was punctuated with plenty of excited people and sore feet.

As good as the show is, registration is just as terrible.  You can’t register and pick-up your pass Thursday night, despite the fact registration is open for the vendors.  The VIP passes can be bought only Friday morning at 10:00 despite the fact people lined up at 7.  The when you get to the registration window the equipment and personnel don’t work.  In fairness, the staff is desperately trying to stem the human tide of impatient people and haven’t been trained very well.  After you get your pass you have another line to stand in until the official opening at noon.  You’ll soon find the floor is your friend.

The doors open at about 12:05, because none of the security personal have the authority to open the doors and the moron with the authority can’t tell time!  At least it seems that way to me.


knives, Blade Show
A.G. Russell

My first stop was A.G. Russel.  A.G. wanted to chew me out about my Folding Gents Hunter article in the June issue of Knife Magazine.  It seems A.G. can flick the blade open with quick wrist motion.  Well, so can I, but every knife class I’ve attended where people open their knife that way, sent their knife flying across the room.  Still, he and his wife Goldie were very nice to me.  I later found out of the other 3 articles about the FGH, he liked the one in Knife Magazine the best.

I stopped off at Aku Strike Knives to look at their trainers.  Dwane Horvath has developed a training knife that emits a sound and flashes a red or green light when a solid contact is made.  

Trainer Blade Show
Aku Strike's new knife fighting trainer


While these can be dangerous (get jabbed in the gut with 4 inches of hard plastic and you’ll know what I mean), they add a new dimension to training.  The knife’s sounds and light is only activated when the blade is pushed back or upward to simulation a stab or cut.  Keep your eyes open for this.  It will add a new level to your training.

Blade Show
Seems like a good way to set your kilt on fire!

I always like to watch the demos on knife grinding.  I think it’s the sparks.  It’s also interesting to watch all the other people.  I try not to be too obvious about it, after all someone might be watching me!


Here’s a few photos.

Blade Show
Some of Cutco's knives




1Blade Show
Browning's Kukri  A real different look for Browning.



































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