Sunday, June 6, 2010

On the road to Atlanta: Day Five

This was the final day at the Blade Show. The show officially ended at 3:00 but the vendors start packing up earlier. In some cases earlier meant yesterday by being willing to negotiate better prices. Everything you don’t have to pack-up and ship home is a savings in both money and effort. Others started packing up this morning, organizing boxes; making sure things were ready to repack. I can’t help wonder if there might not be a flea market mentality at 2:30. Especially with custom makers who needed a few more sales.

I finished at noon. For me, today was a seminar day. I wanted to see Historical Sword-fighting Techniques by the Reinhardt Legacy Team. Hank Reinhardt started Museum Replicas years ago because he believed people had an interest in sword and sword fighting. As he tried to duplicate medieval combat he discovered or re-discovered the techniques contemporary fighters wrote about. Hank has passed on but his students carry on. Watching them fight explains a lot about both knives and swords.

A Hit!  Good thing the tip is padded!

Ready! SET! FIGHT!


Titanium Knives are both the bane and Holy Grail of knife making. Strong, light, non-magnetic, resistant to normal oxidation -- this wonder metal has a serious draw-back.

Is it toxic? Nope, we implant titanium in the body all the time. Too expensive? Price never stopped a custom knife maker. Do people laugh and call us girly-men for carrying titanium blades? Well, yes they do, but it’s not because of the blade. The metal can only be hardened to Rockwell 40ish unless you’re NASA. Soft metals don’t stay sharp. Why? Well, it has to do with the metal's shifting grain boundaries and how micro-crystalline strain fields resist movement.   Enought to know that hardness is related to strength and strength means edge retention.

What George Lambert has done is find a way to use a Rocklin spark deposition machine to place a thin layer of tungsten carbide (with a Rockwell value of 74) which provides a self-sharpening edge caused by the erosion of the softer material.
Sounds like a pipe dream, but nature does it with beaver’s teeth and welders do it to digging tools by layering hard face on one side of softer material.
George claims you can take cheap steel which gives you 20 hemp rope cuts and by using only this treatment, can increase it to 400. So you can make flexible knives that perform like the hardest. WOW!

My high spot was the Victorinox build-a-knife machine. I pictured a large computer controlled machine with pre-loaded polymer pellets ready for injection and clam shell-like dies that spit out a knife every time they open.

The machine

Dan Carpenter pulled a fellow from the audience and with a little hand-operated press, a repair block, a pair of nippers and a machinist hammer, he built a Victorinox Spartan pocket knife. Having seen this done, I understand knife repair so much better.

tap! Tap! TAP!  Finished!

There will be more comments and images later. The Blade Show needs to be reflected in the mirror of time. Too many things happen at once and a little distance is needed. Tomorrow is the trip home and a return to the world. It will be a long day.

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