Thursday, April 29, 2010

Laser Knives, Not Just for Luke Skywalker Any More!

In a CCW class I had a student with a laser sight on his handgun. It’s the first time I’ve seen one like his. Most are under the barrel or off to one side, but this one replaced the rear sight. This placed it above the bore.

The battery and on button were on one side and the laser on the other. You push the battery side once to turn it on and a little diode glows telling you and anyone behind you the laser is turned on. The fellow had a little trouble with it. After couple shots it would turn itself on. While some might think of this as a labor saving device, I like the idea of making my own mistakes and not leaving it to a faulty switch. Still the laser did give me an idea.

I’m surprised that someone hasn’t incorporated a laser in a knife handle. Sears has them in cut-off saws. The saw draws a laser line where the blade is going to cut, saving you from cutting something you don’t want to cut. Like your fingers.

The Bosch-5412L-12-Inch-Dual-Bevel-Slide-Miter-Saw-with-Laser-Tracking . Oh boy!  How many knife blades do you see on it?

That could be done with a knife. A couple diode lasers and the knife could show you the direction the blade will go if you push it. If the laser is on your fingers or your other arm, that’s the knife’s way of telling you to reposition something out of harm’s way.

Diode lasers use milliwatts of power. They are very efficient and just sip power out of a battery. If, or when we get the beam up to around a watt you wouldn’t need a knife. You’ll just blast through the object.

When that day occurs, I wonder… will there be laser collecting clubs?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Swiss Army Knife

It’s hard to imagine not owning a Swiss Army style knife. I keep a few around including one with a bent knife blade tip, the results of flicking it into a wooden seat. The straight blade screw driver and bottle opener have proven in valuable to me!

The original knife was actually built by two different companies, both of which shared the Swiss military contracts. Why two companies? Here lies the tale of romance, competition and intrigue. But I’m going to leave that all out.

In 1890 the Swiss Army was supplied by a German company. This caused Karl Elsener a patriotic Swiss citizen, to start a Victorinox to provide the Swiss Government a knife made in the homeland. Later, his general manager, Theodore Wenger started a different company. I think you can guess the company’s name.

Hummm…the plot thickens!

The two companies were located in different parts of Switzerland, each with their own regional dialogs. In an effort to stay neutral, the Swiss government split the military contracts down the middle.

Eventually it was for naught, Victorinox now owns Wenger, but swears the two lines will remain separate and whole.

As a side note, Wikipedia claims “The term "Swiss Army knife" was coined by US soldiers after World War II, presumably because they had trouble pronouncing its original name, "Offiziersmesser.”

One additional note: I asked Victorinox rep at the SHOT Show if they were ever considering the tactical knife market. At the time they said no, largely due to price considerations. Their studies suggest $30 was the best price point for their markets and they worked to stay in that neighborhood.

WIRED Magazine’s website thinks the Victorinox’s Presentation Master is one gadget no truly self respecting geek should be without.

It has the normal tools plus a few more. I don’t need to detail them for you, follow the link and find out for yourself. Just let me say 16 gigs of computer memory and a Swiss army knife for a $240 is quite a difference from $30.

You’ve come a long way, babe!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Eyes of the Beholder

A recent knife club meeting proved what we already knew: There is no definition of beauty. It also showed, quite to my surprise, there is agreement on ugly.
Each participant in the show-and-tell had either a Barlow style knife or an “Ugly Knife” to show off.  It’s the presentation of the knife and its story the club members find so delightful.

There are times though, you wish the raconteurs would either:
A) get to the point,
B) stay on the path to the subject.

Despite the wandering story paths, it is amazing to see the excitement and enthusiasm that knife owners generate over their knives.

What’s a Dodo?

The dictionary defines it as:
A large flightless bird that tasted like chicken to hungry 18th century sailors;
The pet named “Pickwick” owned by Spec Ops agent Thursday Next or;
A single bladed knife made by Spyderco, but now out of production.

Spyderco’s Dodo was the bainchild of Eric Glesser. Designed with a bird beak, full belly blade and a handle of blue G-10, the knife was a proof of concept of a ball bearing lock design. It had a limited production run. The G-10 handle was almost impossible to slip out of your pocket. While there wouldn’t be any fast draws you didn’t have to worry about losing it either. Four years ago this Dodo went extinct too.

Recently one surfaced on eBay. e-Bay is quite un-predictable. The right person sees the item and the price can skyrocket. Other times the rocket has a fast fuse and blows up in your hand. 

The right people were on line for this Dodo. It started at 99 cents and 38 bids later the Dodo went for $222.50!!! The winning bid sniped it in with 7 seconds to spare. His winning eBay bump? $2.50.

Today’s Rumor
Sal Glesser is rumored to be designing an updated Dodo. Big deal…You all ready knew that, didn’t you.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Conterfeit Randalls

I don’t buy old knives. The guy at the table next to me did. The conversation went:

“Do you buy knives?”

“Sometimes,” said the vendor.

The seller unzipped a Randall Guardian with stacked leather washer handle and concealment sheath. The blade looked good and the leather looked likes it was handled a bit, but well taken care of.

“It’s a nice Randall. I’m not very good with Randall prices.”

“And you call yourself a knife dealer! WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU? You should know what its worth.” The seller was getting more than a little cranky.

Every once and a while you get a prickly customer and I could see the vendor had dealt with this before.

“What are you asking for it?” The vendor asked politely. After all there is no sense in burning bridges.

“Well.” The seller drew himself up another three inches taller. “I know what it’s worth, but I’m not telling you. And you call yourself a dealer.”

“Well, okay, let me see the knife again.” The seller handed it over and the vendor produced a small, but powerful flashlight. He carefully studied the Randall stamp, looked at the edge and felt around the leather washers and silver cap.
“Well the edge is very straight and it doesn’t appear to be resharpened.”

“That’s right.” The seller leaned in to see what the vendor was inspecting.

“It’s too straight. These were hand-made and this edge is machine. Look at the fine polishing parks on the edge. Randall used a courser edge polish then and I think the stamp is too dark.”

It was obvious where the story was going. I just sat there hoping a customer wouldn’t come to my table and prevent me from hearing the end of the story. The owner stood dumb struck, so the vendor kept going.

“Well, there are some nice counterfeits coming in now, but ten years ago phony Randalls were the rage. Some were so good, well, they were very good. So buddy, here it is. If you paid more than $80, you got taken.

“I suppose” the seller said condescendingly, “you’d like to buy it for your fake collection?”

“No thanks, I got enough junk.”

The seller stood there riveted to the floor, slowly turning red. I swear his eyes started to bulge. If he had been a boiler, I would have hit the ground and prayed the safety valve would open before it blew.

“But Jimmy might. He’s usually at that end of the building,” the vendor waved toward a distant corner, “but I haven’t seen him today. He might give you 80, maybe 90 bucks for it.”

The seller grabbed for the knife, but the vendor pulled it back.

“Hey, watch the blade.” he said. “It may be junk, but it’s sharp junk.” He put the knife down and the seller snapped it up and was last seen jamming it in his case as he stormed off.

I looked at the vendor. “That was a counterfeit? Sure looked nice.”

The vendor looked at me and shrugged. “What do I know about Randall knives? That guy was an orifice. They I know about.” He went back to looking something up and I returned to hoping for customers.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

American Switch Blade

Rumor has it…………..

I understand Schrade is making a limited production run of an American made retro switchblade. I hear it will be under 1000 total production with three different bolsters.

An American Retro Switch Blade!?!?!?!!!!!    Tune in for more.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sharpening the Edge

All knives get dull. Thats not true.  You know that’s a lie.

All used knives get dull and that’s the truth. So it was no surprise I needed to sharpen my Spyderco Salt I. I use that little serrated blade all the time.

The blade is made from H-1 steel which is completely rust proof. No really, it is. I made a paste of table salt and water and coated my blade with it. I tried to keep the paste moist, but I’m sure sometime during the night it dried out. No rust. A little discoloration on the steel blade, but no rust.

The H-1 steel carbon content is very low, only 0.15%. That leaves all the chromium available to form a nice chrome oxide film which resist oxidation or rust formation.

I like sharpening knives. It’s my own little Japanese Tea ceremony. The counter gets wiped off, several layers of newspaper a placed on the surface. I slide the stones out of the Spyderco Sharp-maker and inspecting each one. Each stone deemed dirty gets scrubbed with a mild cleanser to remove oxidized metal, dried and returned to the black plastic base. The dark medium grit stones are put in place first, then the brass protective rods.

The sharpening starts with downward strokes on both side of the blade. I let my mind go blank and just feel the stone and steel abrading. At some point I test the knife by cutting newspaper. Satisfied, I wipe the blade clean and replace the stones with the white fine stones.

The fine stone grabs the edge differently and the steel sings a different song. When I’m ready, I start running the blade upwards from the stone’s base to its top. This draws the wire edge out. There’s an element of symmetry here: The stone receives the metal from the blade and give the blade its sharpness.

When it’s time the blade is tested. Does it shave? It does. The blade gets wipe down and the pivot gets a drop of oil. I thumb the knife open, test the lock and slip the closed knife back in my pocket.

The sharpener is returned to its container. The newspaper is rolled up and placed in the trash. There is symmetry to the entire process, all of which turns on the exchange of metal.

You don’t sharpen a knife to use it: rather you sharpen because you have used it.