Sunday, October 31, 2010


There was (cue: large animal breathing in background) was a time that a man … (cue: sounds of chains dragging on stone) would take a knife and press it against flesh. And he would try to carve a new face … he would slip and cry out in pain … and … and (Oh the horror of it!) the mouth lost another tooth!

Yes we are. We’re talking about carving gourds, specifically about carving pumpkins. Happy Halloween! BOOOOOOOO!

I read some people use saber saws to jig-saw carve jack-o-lanterns. I know how messy that would be. One year I tried to use a chain saw to get an edgy effect. It took me days to clean the pumpkin guts from my saw and to mop up the splatter.

Go back to the simpler approach, I say. I saw a dad and his son sitting on the front porch today, each carving a pumpkin with a knife. They were surrounded by orange chips and cubes of pumpkin. I miss doing that with my father. He’s in Florida, a little too far to go to carve gourds.

I have a few tools I always fall back on.

I start by laying out the operating table. That’s a piece of plywood covered with newspaper. I use my wife’s pewter-like scoop to scrape out the pumpkin. The yellow wood and red plastic knives are really pumpkin saws. The red one is designed for children. It’s pretty flimsy but the small size lets me cut tighter curves. Next to it is a Columbia River Knife and Tool fixed blade. I’ve had it for years and can’t remember its name, but it’s a new addition to the lineup. I wanted a small, but stiff blade with a guard for the open cuts. Next to it is CRKT’s Big Eddy fileting knife. I really like this knife for cutting flesh… pumpkin flesh that is.

Like any good surgeon I mark the cutting field and then ad lib.

Eeeeuuwww! Pumpkin brains!

My wife and I sketch the mouth; argue about eyes, eyebrows and ears. (I’m opposed to ears, they seem ineffectual in adding more character to the face.)

Say AHHHHH and open wide
Soon we get the face knifed carved out. Because we are working on the outside of a thick-walled, misshapen ball, the features seen on the inside of the pumpkin are smaller than the outside. I need to open up the features so light can come out and I’m after translucent edges. I just think that makes for a spookier jack-o-lantern.

Oops! Got to trim the mucous membranes back a bit

Finally I get it finished and out on the porch. I’m looking forward to talking with the kids and handing out candy. It’s the one time of year I can interact with children like this. I really enjoy talking to them and their parents.

As a child, I thought Halloween was for kids. Now I know it’s for adults.

I can’t wait to see it all lit up.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ohio Classic Knive Show

The Ohio Classic Knife Show ground to a halt Saturday and I do mean ground. This isn’t a knife edge judgment that could go either way. The show flopped.

From Saturday noon to 5:00 pm there were always more vendors than shoppers and if you sold a custom knife, well, you were lucky. I didn’t take any pictures, but if you want to know what it was like I have two mental images for you.

Imagine a silver picture frame and now fill it with inky blackness. That’s what the show looked like. If that still leaves you confused, picture a vacuum cleaner.

Why is a good question. In sales, it’s a number game. It’s simple. The more attendees present, the larger the fraction of potential customers. The more potential customers, more chances you have to make a sale. Empty isles mean no sales.

Where was everyone?

I don’t know. Days in late autumn that beautiful are gems to be enjoyed. OSU played Purdue (they won 49-zip - - doesn’t sound like it was a good game) and Cambridge is OSU land. Cambridge is kind of in the middle of nowhere (I’m sorry, I love Salt Folk State Park and the area is lovely, but it’s a destination.) Maybe the knife makers were not national draws and maybe the show wasn’t advertised enough. Maybe it was the free admission to last year’s buyers that had the same saturated customers coming back because it was free and something to fill the day.

A new regime is taking over. We need this show to be a success. It is one of the very few opportunities for purchasers and purveyors to meet in the market place.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Classic Knife Show - - Cambridge Ohio

Today was the opening of the Cambridge Knife Show, or as it is properly known, the Ohio Classic Knife Show.

The show is Friday and Saturday and it was explained to me that Friday was selected for a large group of older, retired folks who want to attend an upscale knife show without the younger, more energetic crowd. Sunday was deselected as the hosting community has a deep religious and family orientation and would prevent attendance on Sunday until at least 2:00 pm. That leaves Saturday.

I believe this explanation based on the old mature crowd we had today. But in all honesty, crowd is not the right descriptive word for the attendees. Sprinkling of, or dusting of people might be the best term.

Here are a few images:

My Favorite Table - All we need is customers

Vendors setting up and trading among themselves

The show had a lot of custom knives. The typical commercial collector knives were present, Buck, Case and such. Not too many current factory produced knives were represented.

Whats missing from this picture? --   You.

One treat was Andrew Denko, the inventor of Cold Steel’s Tri-Ad lock and one of their designers. This mechanism is reported to be one of the strongest locks in the commercial market. He had several of his own knives on display. They are simple but well made, elegant folders designed for hard use over long hours. Keep an eye on him. He’s going do interesting things in the knife world.

If you could find a knife you liked, well you didn’t look very hard.

Something for just about everyone.

Tomorrow is the last day. the weather reports warm, but rain and cloudy. It could be perfect knife show weather.  More later!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bridge Day, Fayetteville WV

It’s a knife edge that separates you from free fall. You lean out and know without looking the river is 876 feet below. You stuff the demon screaming “I want to live!” into an unoccupied corner of your mind, lean out and give in to gravity.

Gravity takes over. You have less than 7 seconds to live. You don’t have to worry about reaching terminal velocity, 161 mph. Your out-spread legs and arms grab the wind knifing by you and slow you to 120 mph. Still too fast! To survive a water landing you need to get your speed down to at least 60 mph. Slower would be better. The odds don’t look good.

Still, you brought the right equipment and you used it to survive last year’s BASE jump at the New River Gorge Bridge, so it should work again.

My name is Knife Guy and on the third Saturday of October my beat is the DLZ.

Preparation starts early. Some say it starts the day after last year's event. National Park Service, Sheriff, State Police, Secret Service, US Marshals, WV National Guard, Rope Rescue Services, Water Rescue, Jan Care (emergency 1st aid and transport), several raft companies, the Governor’s office and Vertical Visions start with an after action report and the paper work builds.

Down in the gorge we wait for the emergency vehicles to arrive.

This year the water is low and moving slowly. Fayette Station rapids are showing more rock than I’ve ever seen. And water rescue places an orange cone on an exposed rock in the water landing zone.

The landing area is taped off…

And the Drop Landing Zone is marked.

Up on the bridge, the platform and diving board are extended.

Look up 876 feet

It’s a long way up, but two rappellers start jumaring their way up to the bridge’s under structure. The climb is noteworthy. One is towing an American flag. The other brings a West Virginia state flag and what might be a club flag.

And at 9 o’clock, they jump.

Some landings are:






And some not without risk.

I had a chance to talk knives with the professional water rescue people. What kind of knife would you carry on a rubber raft if you needed to cut the chute away? Water landing has some risk involved. Lines could get tangled; the chute snags on rocks; the river pulls you under. The rescuers better have knives.

The boss lends out orange Spyderco Rescue knives (C45OR) and Benchmade model 5 Rescue Hooks. Oh, yes, there were other personal knives, but he wants everyone on the river to have a good knife. Study the professionals I always say.

It is an incredible experience. Each jumper lives on the knife edge. A slip the wrong way and tragedy waits. Just to hammer the message home, the last jumper of the day does a head stand on the platform and cannonballs out into space. He straightens out and deploys his chute. It’s a skydiving rig.

Five exits before him three jumpers simultaneously exit and deploy their skydiving chutes and they land safely in the river. The boats fish them out.

The last jumper deploys, but skydiving rigs don’t open as fast as BASE rigs, those rectangular flying wings. His chute takes too long to fill.

The water rescue team takes him out of the river on a backboard and put a cervical collar on him. Everyone is silent and grim as they scurry to get him in the ambulance and to the hospital. I still don’t know his condition.

Life is a knife edge and we are all on it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Customer Watching

Any knife show will bring an assortment of nuts potential customers and over the years I have come to recognize them. I anticipate several novel sightings at the Cambridge Knife Show (Ohio Classic Knife Show) and I’ll blog about them. But the Medina gun show last weekend brought out a different one: the grunter.

We routinely see:

Snapperus excessivnous: This species has two main variants - the major snapper who opens every knife possible with a snap of the wrist once or twice and then leaves. The minor variation is the Little Snapper who selects one or two to open. This species suffers from OCD and would remain handling the same knife until he passes out or is chased away (the charitable thing to do).

Swapus bargainous: With a call sounding like “Would-ya-trade…” this bird attempts to parlay previous purchases into new purchases. This one is very friendly and quite social and never lingers long enough to become a problem.

Usamadeus selectivous: The quite rare variation is the customer who demands his knives are made in the USA and will uncork his wallet and purchase the higher priced knife. The more common variant makes the same demand, but then balks at the price. This one may be confused with the next species.

Priceus notunderstoodous: This is typically an older customer who can’t understand why prices are higher as compared to his first and apparently only knife. The confirming tell is the two-bladed folder he bought in 1948 for $8. If he shows you the knife, at least one half of each blade will be sharpened away.

Holdus internetous: This is a very secretive species and is often mistaken for the rare Genuinus customerous. They typically ask to see high end knives which they have read about and seen online. The goal is to evaluate your product and experience it before they purchase online. These customers are often found in high end bike stores and are known as Tirekickous cheapums.

The newest discovery in the customer ecological niche is Gruntius maximous. This customer signifies his pleasure or disapproval with grunts, snorts and other low pitched throat warbles. Opening each knife is accompanied with a small shrug and vocalization. He doesn’t buy anything either.

I’m applying to the National Science Foundation ( for a grant to identify, tag and survey this unique population and research why the females of these species are rarely if ever seen. My wife claims it’s because women have more sense.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cutco: Making the Cut

Labor Day has arrived, passed and signaled the end of summer. Despite the warm temperatures and sunshine, one only needs to look at the brilliant early morning colors of the leaves to know that Ol’ Man Winter is down the road at the end of the block.

But, I am reminded of Memorial Day for some strange reason. For many people Memorial Day is simply a day off from work and an opportunity to cook out and have the family over for undercooked steak and charred hot dogs.

Many of us remember to put the flag out and thank God for the men and women who stood up and told our nation, “Count on me!” A lot of these people never came home and after all these years are still missing. Let’s not forget our children who are serving today and the next generation. We need to teach them about the value of our way of life and what sometimes is required to preserve it.

I find it interesting that knives and the military have always been associated. Probably with good cause. Cicero the Roman railed against the improper use of the Roman short sword. (“Stab!” he used to say. “Don’t cut.”) What is a short sword, but a long knife? As a backup weapon or in extreme close quarters combat, 6 inches of good steel can be the difference between you and your buddies going home or not.

One of the Cold Steel promotional disks features a soldier talking about being wounded and having to kill his assailant with 4 inches of Cold Steel to save his buddies. I’m not ashamed to tell you that tears came to my eyes.

So to celebrate Memorial Day my wife bought a knife. It seems appropriate. It’s a small Santoku style 3-inch paring knife from Cutco. It appears there are some detractors of Cutco, but the knives have a certain charm. See for yourself. (

I like the handle. It reminds me of Ek fighting knives. The handle is longer than the blade providing adequate gripping surface and it has a palm swell to better anchor the knife in my mitt. The knife weight is in my hand and not in the blade. All of which I like.

I am also amused by the use of Santoku in the description. Over the last couple of years it seems to be the hot descriptor. I guess Santoku is the kitchen version of tactical.

                                                    Trimming the blog's extra words out

I’ll soon be blogging about the Cambridge Knife Show in Cambridge, Ohio. (England is too far to go for a knife show, assuming that’s even possible.) The show is Friday, Oct 22 and Saturday the 23rd. Tune in for that.