Monday, December 11, 2017

Knifing Through The Sky

I finally broke down and bought one.  I’ve seen them for years and always wanted one, but could never pull the trigger.  My favorite dealer was down to one last knife, so I bought it.

The German Parachute Gravity Knife history seems to start at WWII, which makes sense.  That was the first war that used parachutist as troops.  The original knife had a wooden handle.  Later models had plastic grips.  I think mine is a Type IV FKm.  These knives were essentially a utility knife designed to help free a parachutist tangled up in a tree.  The spike isn’t for combat, it doesn’t lock open nor used for ice chopping.  It can be used as a pry bar of sorts, but chiefly to help with knots.  So much for the theory it was to chop up an ice block to better cool bottles of beer.  (I did see a similar knife made by Eickhorn that I swear had a bottle opener built in!)

German parachutist knife
You flip the toggle lever on top 180 degrees and press down.  This allows the blade to slide out.

The OD green handle has BUND molded into the grip.  That’s short for Bundeswehr or German Armed Forces.  I guess that’s no surprise.  With the blade open it’s about 10 inches long while the handle is just over 6 inches in length.  My blade is marked OFW, which is one of three listed manufacturers: OFW, OWF and the previously met, Eickhorn.

The knife is a little chewed up, but not bad.  This type was manufactured from 1961 to 1979 when it was replaced by the type V also known as the LL80.  It’s still in production.

Classic gravity knife
I don't understand the legal prohibition against this knife.  It open slower than most assisted opening knives and is a lot noisier.  What can I say, old laws and a government too busy making new laws to remove the useless ones.
What surprised me is the weight.  It’s a very heavy knife (9.8 ounces!) composed of many steel layers.  For a knife specifically issued to help free a parachutist from trees, it seems poorly designed.  I would have expected a razor sharp hook blade.  That seems like the kind of edge I’d want if I was trying to cut my way free of risers and lines.  I’m not sure why I’d worry about knots either. 

Mine is also remarkably dull.  It will slice paper, but no better than a blunt letter opener and will not cut paracord at all.  I’ll fix that later.  I like all my knives, even collectibles to have an edge and sharpening this one will not lower its value.

While the knife is very cool, the advertisements for sales, especially the auction sites, are hysterical!  The knife is often listed, correctly as, Type IV and then described as a Special Forces Pilot Knife of very rare status. It sold for over $200! 

Parachutist knife with spike
Knots?  I've landed behind enemy lines and I'm worried about knots?


Another site described the blade as laser cut 440A steel, ice quenched.  Well, the first operational laser was 1960 in California.  It was a synthetic ruby crystal powered by a flash lamp.  The lasers of this era were rated in Gillettes.  That’s how many Gillette double edge carbon steel razor blades a laser could burn through in a minute.  I doubt anyone was cutting out knife blades with lasers by 1979.  And I suspect if you quenched a red hot knife blade in ice water you’d get scrap steel.


As Mr. Barnum once said,  “There’s a sucker born every minute!”  Mrs. Barnum is reported to have replied “Oh, that poor Mrs. Sucker!”

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

SOG Brothers


One knife often in my pocket is the SOG Spec Elite 1.  It’s one of my working knives and it has a lot of the features I like.  The blade glides open with a little thumb pressure and the SOG Arc Lock is easy to use and secure.  The arc lock and design of the glass reinforced nylon handle makes this a truly ambidextrous knife.  The 4 inch VG-10 steel blade is sculpted into a clip point with a subtle sweep of the cutting edge giving it more power. 

The handle has a round end butt and a slight wasp waist.  Black nylon surface is generously covered with rows of small, raised elongated diamonds.  I’ve always found that surface to be non-skid, even when wet.

The blade closes into a 4.75 inch handle with a left/right reversible pocket clip.  It isn’t exactly what you might call deep carry as approximately 0.75 inch of handle, complete with silver attachment screws, extends out of your pocket.  This has never been a problem for me, I live in a relatively knife friendly environment.  That is to say, the police are more interested in what you are doing than what you carry in your pocket.  I’m fine with that.

The knife comes wickedly sharp from the factory and despite my use has required only touch-ups.  It sounds like the perfect knife doesn’t it?  I do have one tiny bone to pick.  The channel for the knife blade is wider than it needs to be at the blade tip.  Sometimes the skin of my fingers can deform enough to slip in and catch the very sharp point resulting in a small, shallow puncture.

This is a small potato problem and I finally got around to mentioning it to the SOG people at the 2017 Blade Show.  They grinned at me.

My EDC and new SOG Spec Arc
Mine's the one with a dirty blade, I told you  it was a working knife.

Turns out that I’m not the only one aware of these small injuries.  They just handed me a SOG Spec Arc.  It’s essentially the same knife, except for the handle.  It’s 4.8 inches long.  A 5/100 of an inch longer than the handle on the Spec Elite I and it’s bye-bye problem.

Pocket clips



They made a few other changes: the clip is much smaller and allows for deep pocket carry.  The handle is finished differently and it also feels good.  The blade is still VG-10 and opens like a dream.

I’m not going to replace my knife.  It isn’t that I like the little unexpected finger stabbings.  I just sharpened my tip and took a little metal off and solved my problem some time ago.  Duhh!



Have you ever wondered what the difference is between SOG’s Arc Lock and Benchmade’s Axis Lock?  Is it just advertising?  Both companies claim to have the strongest-best-easiest-to-use knife lock on the planet.  Of course they aren’t the only ones making these kinds of claims.

If we turn to the Fountain of all Internet Knowledge, Wikipedia, we find:
“Axis Lock – A locking mechanism exclusively licensed to the Benchmade Knife Company. A cylindrical bearing is tensioned such that it will jump between the knife blade and some feature of the handle to lock the blade open.
Arc Lock – A locking mechanism exclusively licensed to SOG Specialty Knives. It differs from an axis lock in that the cylindrical bearing is tensioned by a rotary spring rather than an axial spring.”

So now you know.




Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Spyderco Autonomy VS Hogue EX-A01

Alright ladies and gents!  It’s the match you have been waiting for.  In this corner is The Hogue EX-A01 automatic knife and in the opposite corner we have Spyderco’s auto knife:  Autonomy!

Spyderco has autos? 

I’ve been told that Sal, doesn’t like autos but when he’s asked to make one for US border guards or the Navy, well he just can’t say “no!”  I understand this on several levels.  When your country asks you to step up, how could you say no?  And if you say no, how would that affect your business long and short term.

rescue Automatic switchblade
Spyderco's Autonomy


The Autonomy was developed by special request for the Navy’s Rescue Swimmers.  The original version had a bright orange handle, but soon other military and paramilitary organizations wanted one.   The knife comes with only a rounded tip and a fully serrated Wharncliffe blade.  What I think is totally cool is the knife is designed so you can wash out the coil spring and re-oil it without disassembling the knife.  In fact, you can replace the spring without disassembling the knife.  More on this later!

I don’t have too much information about Hogue’s EX-A01.  I know Hogue better for pistol grips, but they began life as Hogue Tool and Machine started by Guy Hogue.  Like any good company they looked at their corner of the market and saw where they could expand.  In 2009 they teamed up with Allan Elishewitz to make knives.  The auto comes in two blade lengths, 3.5 and 4 inch.  They have a variety of blade shapes and styles as well as handle materials.

All in all, both knives are very cool.

Spyderco utilizes H-1 steel for the 3.75 inch Autonomy blade.  H-1 has an established reputation for laughing at salt water.  It is also an austenitic steel which, according to Spyderco, work hardens as you sharpen it.  This gives you a slightly softer spine and a hard edge.  This is the classic design on samurai swords, hard edge and softer blade.  The blade has a black DIC coating (Diamond-like Coating) to assist anyone who must worry about light discipline.  That doesn’t mean Madam Fifi uses aluminum chains instead of steel.  Of course if reflections are a problem, I’d recommend taking a black magic marker to the silver spider logo and serrated edge.

Automatic knife switchblade
Hogue's EX-A01


Hogue’s 3.5 inch blade is made of 154cm steel which they cryogenically treat.  Being a martensitic steel it goes through a complicated cycle of phases while cooling.  These changes are temperature and compositionally related and are driven by diffusion of carbon.  By carefully chilling this steel the manufacturer can push the ferrite and austenitic phases to form the harder martensitic phase.

Don’t get any ideas about trying this at home.  You could warp your blade, crack it or turn a perfectly fine steel into crap.  Just a word to the wise.

The Hogue blade has a black cerakote finish with protects it from scratches and other minor damage.  Some cerakotes have properties that make them less visible in infrared vision.  The blade can be described as a tanto harpoon style.  I’ve never been afraid of sharpening tanto blades; just sharpen both edges as independent edges.  You’ll be fine.

spoon clip automatic knife
The clip lets the knife ride low in the pocket.  What you carry should be only your business.


Both knives feature large buttons, but the Autonomy has a very large and protruding button that will grip your skin or the material of your glove, including dive gloves.  Both place the safety where I like it, next to the activation button.  I like the idea the safety can be deactivated and the knife opened by rocking your thumb backward and forwards.  That way your grip doesn’t change as it must if the safety is on the knife spine.

While both knives have clips that can be changed, the Hogue is designed to be tip up or down, but right side only.  The Spyderco is right or left, but tip up only.

So at the bottom of round four here’s the box score:

Property
Hogue
Spyderco
Blade Length (inches)
3.5
3.75
Blade type
Harpoon Tanto
Serrated rescue
Grind
High V
High V
Blade Steel
154CM
H-1
Spring Stiffness
Good
Stout
Pocket Clip
Spoon
Wire
Clip Versatility
Tip up only L or R
Tip up or down, R only
Handle Material
6061-T6 Aluminum
G-10
Special Features
Course gimping
Oversize lanyard hole
Weight (oz)
5.55
5.35
Price Suggested Retail
$250.00
$349.95
Made in
USA
USA


Both knives have been described as flat grind, which is incorrect.  Both have a shoulder making them a high v-grind.  Both are about the same weight but the black G-10 Autonomy is significantly more expensive as compared to the rescue orange handle.  This might be Spyderco’s way of saying they don’t want to sell the tactical black to the public.  Just my thoughts.
The button-like object is the spring housing.  Easy to clean and oil.  Note the generous lanyard hole.  


Both can be found with better pricing if you shop around.

Spyderco sells a service kit “including a module wrench, protective blade guard, Torx wrench, two replacement kick springs, thread-locking compound, a spare pivot screw, and step-by-step illustrated instructions.”  After all you could be stationed where parts and mail service are only a dream.

Frankly, my needs are best met by the Hogue auto.  The serrated Autonomy blade has limited functionality.  It rips through straps, belts and rope.  But it doesn’t do very well cutting firesticks, my steak, cardboard and so many other daily functions.

Head to head rounding the last turn
Rounding the last turn in this mile and a half course, head to head and winner is......you the consumer.


The winner of this match is…,  well, I carry two knives and one is a full serration and the other plain edge.  I would be happy to pocket either.  

Monday, November 6, 2017

Teach Your Daughters To Hit

Teach Your Daughters To Hit Someone Who Touches Them
Assault


It’s one of my favorite blog/websites.  I’m reposting because I believe in what it says and I feel it has value to the community.  I do have a few remarks and here they are:
Many of the readers responded that in many school systems it’s a felony to use violence, even in self-defense.  That this record could follow you and prevent you from joining the military, getting clearance or a job.  Others point out that jobs and some schools have policies that require your immediate dismissal.

I believe this is empowers the creeps who know the treat of dismissal or a felony charge will make their victim complacent.  One only has to look at the Hollywood-Harvey Weinstein scandal to understand this.  I can’t change the world, but we can by insisting our schools and place of employment treat self-defense is a right and not an option to be conveniently discarded.

I’m clearly on the kick ‘em in the nuts and break their fingers side and I if I had a daughter (or son for that matter) I’d tell her what David says and that we’ll find a solution for the aftermath later.


David Reeder:
“Teach your daughters, goddaughters, and nieces to fight. If you can’t, then pay someone to, and teach them that violence is acceptable. Teach them to hit people who touch them. Not tell the teacher, not complain to the Human Resources department, to hit them, as viciously as possible, immediately and publicly.

Testicles, throats, eyes — they’re all vulnerable.

Violence may not always be the answer, but when it is the answer, it’s usually the only answer. Including when, perhaps especially when, someone touches them without permission.

Speaking strictly to my nieces and goddaughters, I say: you bring me the scrotum of some dude who grabbed your boob or your butt, girls. I’ll reward you and turn it into a tobacco pouch.  I’d hold forth and talk more about this, but Jeff Rouner of the Houston Press already has, and he did a great job of it.


Jeff Rouner:
“I’ve started telling my daughter that if someone touches her chest, her ass or between her legs without her permission, to punch them in the goddamn face. Aim for the nose, Sweetheart. You don’t want to catch their teeth and get a cut. That’s a good way to get an infection. You want nose or eyes, and maybe use that front choke Daddy taught you. Turn your forearms so the bone goes against their carotid and jugular. That’s what makes them pass out.

Can she get in trouble for violence at school? Yes, she can, and should. Violence is illegal. Note: I didn’t say wrong. I said illegal. The two are not synonyms.
[…]
Is violence the ideal answer to sexual harassment? Of course it isn’t. The ideal answer is living in a world where this sort of thing is swiftly dealt with at all levels of authority with a zero-tolerance policy. Anytime y’all want to make that happen, you let me know. Until then, I’m teaching my daughter the proper way to throw a punch, and if you don’t like it, teach your kids the proper way to act.

Answering physical assault with physical assault is perfectly appropriate, and I have long since stopped caring about the concept of polite when it comes to those who feel boundaries are optional….”

David Reeder:
“Fuckin’ A.”


So there you have it.  Personally I suspect that no school or business wants the publicity what would come from institutionalize sexual violence by prohibiting self-defense.  My experience is organizations suddenly go silent when you offer to take it to the press.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Make Some Sparks

Every once and a while a blind hog finds an acorn, so they say… 
 
Tortoise Gear has one product and frankly while it’s useful, but not a world beater. But I think they just found an acorn.


Currently they make several size collapsible water containers from a clear polymer.  It appears the backside is reflective which improves the performance.  It’s a survival tool.  Fill the container with clear water from a lake or stream and exposed it to lots of sunlight.  Between the UV, visible and IR components of sunlight, 6 hours of exposure on a 50% cloudy day is enough to pasteurize the water and make it safe to drink.  (That’s their claim.)

I heard about this several years ago, people in the Mideast and parts of Africa were using coke bottles in a similar way:  Fill ‘em with water and leave ‘em lay on the roof for 2 days and you get biologically safe water to drink.

Cool.

The acorn Tortoise Gear found is the realization that just about every Swiss Army knife has room from a fire starting ferro stick.  Just decide if you need the tweezers or the toothpick more.  The replacement part slips into the vacated compartment.  Of course the knife has plenty of edges to scrape the stick to generate sparks.


They’re in fund raising and have met their goal.  Hell, I even threw a little money at them.  I’s rather have a fire steel than a toothpick. 

If I have a blade I can made a toothpick.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Mule

I promised myself that I would complete the mule I picked up at the Blade Show a couple years ago.

Mules are sharpened, but unfinished knives from Spyderco.  Specifically:

“…Sample knife used for in-house performance testing. Traditionally, they are made to the exact same pattern and specifications, but feature a different blade steel or heat treatment protocol. This keeps all the performance characteristics of the knife identical except for a single variable, allowing an excellent basis for objective, scientific performance-based testing."

It gives prospective knife makers a chance to try their hand at customization.  Spyderco makes several copies of each set of variables.  I suspect that gives them experience in working with that combination of geometries, hardness and steel. 

When I bought my Swick 3, I was told that some of the previous mules came with sheaths, but mine didn’t.  Also I had no choice in steels and frankly, neither do you.  When a specific lot of steel is sold out, they are gone for good!

Stolen from Armslist  but this is a Swick 3


Equally unfortunately, Spyderco currently only offers only one fixed blade pattern.

Here’s a link to this interesting project.



 I wanted synthetic handle material.  Having never tried to make a handle, I opted for pieces of a blue composite material.  While I was thrilled to score two potential nice grips, I was crushed to discover later they might be too small, depending on how clever I was.

I couldn’t get them to work, so the following year I purchased two slabs of exotic hard wood.  I carefully drew pencil lines on the dark brown wood and took it to my bandsaw.  From there it was relatively easy to turn them into scrap wood.

Fortunately I had several pieces of a nice mahogany.  I pressed them into service and after a little bandsaw work (much improved over the first run at this,) I had two blocky potential grips.  I decided not to use pins, but to the epoxy each future grip to the metal frame and a pine wood spacer.  The Swick’s handle is a steel frame and I didn’t want to fill that space with epoxy.

Since this is an on-the-cheap project, I used whatever epoxy I had on hand and that turned out to be J-B Weld 12 hour cure epoxy. I taped the blade to protect myself (Safety First!) and cut the pine spacer out on a jig saw and mixed my epoxy.  I actually prefer the 12 hour cure, as it gives me time to correct mistakes and the longer cure time creates stronger bonds and I’m all about handle strength.

Spyderco Swick 3



The next day I started sanding with finer and finer grits.  I was inspired by a knife I saw at Shadow Tech Knives.  John used a 2000 grit paper and worked the wood into something wonderful.  It was so smooth and silky, I’m still not sure why I didn’t buy it when I saw it.


I like the polished look of the wood, but I wanted some protective coating.  My wife had a special food grade supplement that can also be used to treat wood finishes on wood salad bowls.  It contains flax seed oil which sounds better than linseed oil and a vitamin E component.  Vitamin E contains a group of compounds called tocotrienols, that like flax seed oil, have double bounds between carbon atoms. 



The upshot of this impromptu chemistry lesson is that double bonds can break and reform to form a solid finish.  I wiped the handle down, left it in the shade a little to let the oils soak in and put it in the sun.  Well, those energetic solar photons did their job, opened up the double bonds and the oil formed a nice dry finish.

I’m pretty happy with the results and I think I’ll try this again next year by buying another mule at Spyderco

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Tiger, tiger....

Karambits are popular right now for a variety of reasons.  Like so many weapons from South East Asia, they trace their origin to some animal attribute or farm implement.

And why not?  Nature shaped a bears claws for specific purposes, just like the teeth of a shark.  If you need to accomplish a similar purpose, starting with successful examples is not a bad idea. 

It should be self-evident that all invaders strip the conquered of their weapons.  What does the resourceful farmer do?  He learns to defend myself with farm tools and everyday objects. 

I can almost hear the conversation: “Oh no Master, Officer, Governor, Police, that’s not a weapon, but two sticks chained together that I use to thresh grain so I can pay my taxes.  I’d never think of breaking bones and heads with it….”

The karambit or kerambit as it’s known in Indonesia, comes from humble beginnings as well.  It was an agricultural implement used to rake roots, thresh grain and plant rice.  Folklore claims it was inspired by the claws of a tiger.

Slip your little finger in the hole and slash.  Most of the blocks I know work really well with a karambit in one hand! 


Wikipedia has a romantic tale of Indonesian women who would tie a karambit in their hair for self-protection.  I like this tale as a karambit has been described as an instinctual weapon.  More than 15 years ago a self-defense instructor told me “…put your thumb on the back of the blade and simply wipe your thumb on your target.”  He was talking about a classic straight blade; the same applies to the karambit. 

I recently got my hands on a karambit from the We Knife Co.  We is a Chinese company that has been making knives for the last 10 years under the name Wayeahknife.  In 2014 they had the opportunity to expand and changed their name to We Knife Company. 

Their mission statement?  "Building the highest quality knives and tools and giving you plenty of choices in our products."  Sounds pretty good.  They’re using equipment like CNC machines, CNC grinding machines, precision stamping machines, as well as EDM machines to produce high quality knives which they sell in the US and Europe.  These knives aren’t aimed at the Chinese market, as locking blades are illegal.

My karambit is model 708A and the specs are pretty impressive.

The blade has a linear measurement of 2.8 inches, but the curved edge gives you more cutting surface.  The steel used is CPM S35VN with a Rockwell hardness of 59-61.  The blade rolls open on ceramic ball bearings.

We claims the blade is flat grind, but I believe it is better described as a saber grind.  The knife is a frame lock and the locking bar has what appears to be a small steel insert that wedges against the steel blade when open.  Many of the better aluminum and titanium knives utilize a steel insert to protect the softer metal of the locking bar from excessive wear from the back of the blade.  It’s a nice touch.

The handle, metal clip, metal screws and cap are all TI6Al4V.  This alloy is the most commonly used titanium alloy used outside of the aerospace industries.  Wikipedia claims “…. It has a chemical composition of:
  • 6% aluminum,
  • 4% vanadium,
  • 0.25% (maximum) iron,
  • 0.2% (maximum) oxygen,
  • remainder titanium.  


It is significantly stronger than commercially pure titanium while having the same stiffness and thermal properties.  Among its many advantages, it is heat treatable.  This grade is an excellent combination of strength, corrosion resistance, weld and fabricability.”

I like the flipper on the blade.  It really pops the knife open and serves as guard to prevent you sliding onto the blade.  I would have preferred the flipper to be used as an assist to open the knife as you draw it from your pocket.  I’m also disappointed the clip isn’t reversible.  The knife is set up for right hand, tip up carry.  It’s my favorite carry mode, but in everyday life the karambit might best be, as Doug Marcaida described it, as a “back-up weapon”.  The ability to adjust clip for your carry mode would have made this knife a much better product.


I know very little about fighting with a knife.  Watching someone who knows how to use a knife sends shivers down my spine.  But if you are like so many people who look at a knife and ask “Could I defend myself with that knife?” you should take a look at We’s karambit.  The answer is yes!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Another One Bites The Dust

What is the world coming to?

England was the world’s first superpower.  It ruled the seas, had bases and colonies on every habitable continent in the world.  It’s men would march out and the world would hold its breath.  It was rightly said the sun never sets on the British Empire.  At the beginning of the 20th century this island stood again the Central powers and later stood against the Nazis.  But now, well it’s not looking too good.

I just read UK Essex police have a program called “Only Cowards Carry a Knife.”  And they have erected a drop off bin as part of some wacky amnesty program.  On the front of it they have the Cookie Monster and images of a screwdriver, broken bottle, kitchen knives and a folding knife.  It’s only a matter of time before they add scissors.

I also find interesting the Essex police use three swords as part of their logo or seal.

Forbidden knife
Again. is it really the object that are "evil" or the actions done with them?


Part of the program urges people to keep track of kitchen knives and properly dispose of them.  I remember reading about Winston Churchill during the early days of WWII musing, slightly drunk, that the English people might have to face invading German armies with kitchen knives.  Well, if it ever comes about again, they’ll be using pictures of knives drawn on paper.

On the same path, one of my favorite British mystery programs is Broadchurch.  It’s the name of a fictional town on the coast of England.  One scene in the third season shows a grieved (Warning: massive plot spoiler) father confronting his son’s killer and he has a folding box cutter in his pocket.


box cutter
Box cutter, and it looks like the one on Broadchurch.  Not my choice of tool to confront a child killer. 


A box cutter!?!  WT Actual F?  Frankly, if I was confronting my child’s killer, a folding box cutter would be the most innocent thing I would have in my pockets!  Ahh, but it’s England, don’t you know.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, that buzz you hear isn’t tinnitus, it’s Baden-Powell spinning in his grave. 



Monday, July 31, 2017

It's Moonshine!

Taylor Brands was founded by Stewart Taylor in 1975 in east Tennessee.  Originally Taylor had knives made for them under their name, but they gained the reputation as a knife jobber who facilitated the manufacture of knives with different trademarks. 

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Knives of reasonable quality can be made by many manufacturers with excess capacity.  Taylor made S&W logo knives which were everyday working knives at a reasonable price.  I don’t think anyone expects to turn their working S&W knife over to a grandchild and I don’t know anyone who collects them.  But if you needed a cutting edge, S&W would work.

Many companies, for reasons better left to the studies of economics, found they could not compete in today’s market.  Taylor bought them.  Maybe the best you can say about this is brand names like Schrade, Old Timer, Uncle Henry, and Imperial knives were saved from oblivion.  It’s kind of like the Irish Elk.

Here’s where it gets complicated.  Taylor, as previously mentioned, licenses the Smith & Wesson name.  Smith & Wesson recently purchased Taylor Brands.  So they own, among other things, Old Timer, Schrade, as well as knives made in their name.

Recently I came across a Taylor made knife called the Moonshiner.  It’s a brass handled locking blade with a finger hole for grip.  The tang stamp indicates it’s a Taylor knife made in Japan of surgical steel.

collecting knives
I liked the finger hole but the brass handle as got to go!



I don’t know much about the knife, other than no bootlegger ever carried a knife that said Moonshiner.  The blade is stainless and I suspect it’s a 440 type.  Of the three types of 440, I suspect type C, as it’s the most common.


It came in the original box and the blade doesn’t seem to be used.  The brass looks like it’s been handled a lot.  I suspect it’s a show and tell knife, something you show off to your friends and acquaintances, like I’m doing now.  

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!