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!







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


Friday, April 28, 2017

Boker Mini Kalashnikov Auto

Boker knives are some of the hidden gems in the knife market.  Mostly because they don’t have the advertisement clout others do.  But smart thinkers and cagey knife users should be thinking about the Boker brand.

Boker traces its roots to tool manufacturing the 1800s in Germany.  Swords were the name of the game, but they diversified into other edged products.  The family owned company sent representatives to America and opened up manufacturing in America.  They both shared the “Tree Brand“ logo.

During the Second World War the Solingen plant was destroyed and Boker USA took control of the trademark.  In the 1950s the German factory was rebuilt.  Over the years the American company closed.  The German company changed hands but in 1986 Boker reacquired the rights to the American brand and established facilities in Denver, Colorado.

Boker has manufacturing  in Germany (of course!), Argentina, Taiwan and China and now in the USA.  They produce three basic levels depending on the price point: Boker, Magnum and Boker Plus.

I once did a special order of a special knife to commemorate the customer’s son-in-law’s military promotion.  It was a beautiful Damascus bladed folder.  The blade was carved from 300-fold forged Damascus steel from the barrel of a German Leopard 1 tank.


The knife came in a nice wood presentation box with the instruction and history in German.  The buyer was very happy, as his son-in-law spoke German for the Army.  I have a friend who spoke German for the Army; he was a spy.  I didn’t ask any more questions.

So if your introduction and thoughts about Boker are from the Magnum $7 knife pile, think again.

Boker Mini Kalashnikov automatic
Boker's switchblade
I just got my hands on the Boker Mini Kalashnikov auto.  I’m very impressed.  Here’s the stats:
Blade:       drop point
Steel:        AUS8
Blade Length:    2.5 inches
Handle length:  3.5 inches
Weight:    2.1 ounces
Handle:   reinforced nylon
Country of origin: Taiwan

The Boker website claims the handle is aluminum but they also claim the blade is wood.  Hummm, someone’s website has been hacked.

Automatic knife from Boker Knife
Clip side
The blade shows the same powerful spring action I’ve seen in Benchmade autos.  Block the blade from completely opening and when the obstacle is removed, the spring still has enough force to finish the opening and lock the blade in place.  The pocket clip is reversible and the handle sports a lanyard hole. 

finger grooves
The finger grooves really provide a grip so you can concentrate on using the knife and not holding the knife

The finger scallops fit my hand pretty good for a small knife.  And between the scallops and the jimping on the blades spine and handle you get a very good grip.  The blade release is a basic plunge lock system.  This system has been used for many years and is very dependable if you keep it clean.  But isn’t that true of all machinery?


Boker Automatic knife
The open back allows for easy cleanup and makes oiling the spring much simpler.

I suspect it uses a coil spring and the knife has Torx screws so you can replace the spring if necessary.

I have come to like auto more and more.  I don’t suspect they open any significantly faster than the assisted or many of the tactical knives.  But I do think pushing a button is a gross motor skill and doesn’t require the fine motor skills which are lost under the influence of fight/freeze/flee conditions.

I wish I could take it for a drive, but it isn’t mine.  I have no doubt it would serve me well.

It retails for about $55 but you can get it for less if you shop around.  I’ve got two for sale, but that’s another story. 


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Ready…. Set… Count!


Guinness records just established a category for the world’s largest knife collection.  They decided it takes at least 2100 unique knives to define a large collection.  So now you know.  If someone asks you if you have a large collection the answer is mostly likely “no.”

The current record holder is Luis Bernardo Mercado (Fremont, CA.) who comes in at 2175.  Congratulations, Luis!

These knives represent 6 continents, 29 countries and 400 different brands and custom makers and 50 years of collecting.

The process of documenting the size of your collection isn’t trivial.  Perhaps that’s a new category for Guinness: most difficult documentation.  Of course as soon as you win this one, it’s likely the documentation of your documentation would cancel out your win.


Luis started collecting at five, so it may be too late for some of us to attempt to claim that title for ourself, but he’s confident the title is only transitory as he’s the first to claim it.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Spring Sharpening

With the arrival of warm weather my grass has redoubled its effort to make my yard an uneven carpet of green.  Before getting the lawn mower out I needed to resharpen the blade.

I’ve stopped taking it to a lawn or garden center and getting the blade resharpened.  I bought a little attachment for my Dremel tool.  The attachment screws on to the front of the tool and come with a special diameter grinding stone.  A guide helps me hold the blade angle and lets me grind out the really dull and damaged
areas. 


sharpening the edge
Start your sharpening!


 On my electric lawn mower the blade rotates at 3600 times a minute.  A rounded edge will cut the grass by tearing it, but cleanly cut blades make for a better lawn.  Better looking grass without significantly increasing my work load is my goal, so sharpening the blade makes sense.

I clamp the blade down on a sheet of plywood and run the Dremel grinding stone over the old edge several times until the old discoloration is gone and so are the majority of nicks and gouges in the edge.  I use the plastic guide to hold the angle, but perfection isn’t required.  A fine dry stone pulls the wire edge off the other side.  I should mention my mower blade is a classic chisel grind.  I test the sharpness by shaving the edge of the plywood board I use as a work station.

sharpened grass cutter blade



The last step before reinstalling the blade is to check the balance.   If one side of the blade was significantly heavier, the mower would vibrate and damage itself, perhaps even break a blade.  The heavy side just gets another pass and a second balance check.  Repeat as required.


Since I was in sharpening mode I got out my Ken Onion Work Sharp blade grinder and sharpened my hatchet. 

As you know I recently discovered my SOG camp hatchet was extremely dull but luckily my friend Derrick brought his Gerber hatchet.  Having a fire in the fireplace as part of the evening’s entertainment and as a back-up to winter storm power failures is a nice luxury.  The price you pay for this is splitting wood into suitable burning size.  A sharp hatchet is required and mine needed a good sharpening. 

Every fire deserves a sharp hatchet

 I selected the course belt and an angle of 25 degrees as a starting place and ran a black marker pen over the edge.  The marker helps me see what I’m doing and where I’m taking metal off.   A couple of passes and I had removed the entire marker pen.  I flipped it over and did that side. 

dull SOG camp hatchet
Before sharpening, note nicks in blade


The blade looked good so I changed to a medium grit.  That took a little more off and I was satisfied.  But how you really tell if your axe is sharp?

I decided performance was the only way.  I grabbed a section of a landscaping tie and a length of pine 2X4 and tried it out.  I was less than impressed.

The hatchet didn’t cut the wood fibers, but crushed them.  Definitely not sharp.  I changed the angle to 10 degrees and repeated the process.  This angle worked better. 


bye-bye nicks!


While I was touching up the edge I noticed the cutting edge wasn’t centered in the blade’s secondary bevel.  This typically happens when one side of a blade is sharpened more than the other.  I played with it for a while and discovered one side the bevel is flat ground while the other is slightly convex.  This bevel asymmetry is the cause for the non-centered edge.


I worked on the edge a bit more and called it finished.  It’s not perfect, but it’s sharper than it was.  Chopping pine boards may not be the best material to judge hatchet performance.  I’ll look around for actual logs to try it out.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Wandering Thoughts

Let's go meandering!

I just had another person ask me if my Spydercos were real. 

I’m getting tired of this.  I am an honorable knife dealer and would not sell you a knife you didn’t want, just to make a sale.  Nor would I sell you a counterfeit or broken knife.  I buy from one of the largest wholesalers in the country and they buy directly from the knife makers.

I’m going start telling those asking me that question, “If you want to buy counterfeits, you’re going to have to go elsewhere.”

This is a growing problem.  Last January, Spyderco sued the Kittery Trading Post for selling counterfeit Military and Paramilitary identified by Kittery as Spyderco clones.  Now maybe you think it’s cool to own a counterfeit, after all you paid $35 for a $100+ knife.  Until it fails, breaks or you find you have to sharpen it all the time.  Maybe you trade that counterfeit to a buddy (who you really don’t like, otherwise why would you take advantage of him?) for something they have or to settle a loan.

But you know, you’re hurting the knife community.  You’re making a statement about what kind of person you are and what kind of people you want as friends…  I hope you eat shit and die on your birthday.

Thread Vs Tread
Thread means a fine cord made of two or more twisted fibers. 
Tread means to trample on or crush underfoot.  It’s also the part of the tire contacting the ground.
Language changes, so I looked  them up in the Encarta Dictionary just to make sure I knew the differences..

I just saw the back of his sweatshirt.  It had a very nice libertarian statement about being race, religion, and gender blind and emphasizing a true patriot loves his country but not necessary his government. 

I agree with many of the things sweatshirt stated.  It ended with the famous quote from the Gadsden Flag that even non-history buffs surely remember.

But the real quote is “   tread on me.” and not as his sweatshirt stated, “…thread on me.”
Perhaps it’s a quote from a historic group of embroiderers.

Kydex continues to rule in the knife sheath and gun holster world.  It has a lot of advantages and a few disadvantages.  It doesn’t stretch out of shape, rot from exposure to water or corrode brass fittings because it doesn’t have leather’s fatty acids and it’s strong and difficult to puncture.  I really like the puncture resistance aspect.  A fall in the outdoors can be dangerous enough, but cutting yourself because the knife split its leather sheath can be fatal.

Having said that, leather is quiet and doesn’t make a scratchy sound when brambles brush across it.

I saw a kydex worker at the last Medina gun show and he had an interesting partial solution to the holster/sheath dilemma.   You know what that dilemma is, don’t you?

The problem any holster seller has is never having the right holster or sheath and too many of the ones nobody wants.  Add the problem of color or design and it’s a small wonder anyone wants to sell holsters/sheaths. 

This maker had several large clamshell-like wooden crates on wheels containing his kydex press, sander, band-saw, buffing wheels, jig-saw and heat source.  It was like bringing your factory to the show.  Next to him he had a table with several previously made holsters for some of the more common guns.  He had just finished making a knife sheath when I came by.  He also did a very nice, compact holster for a Sig with a light on it.

I didn’t ask prices, but it can’t be cheap to make holsters/sheaths during the show and have to transport all that equipment.  Still it’s an interesting development.


I suspect the real answer to custom-fit holsters/sheaths will be a laser scanner interfaced to computer driven 3-D printer.  You read it here first!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Axe And You Will Receive


I recently spent an extended weekend in a cabin in southern West Virginia.  It is beautiful country filled with rugged trails and incredible views.  The cabin had a brick lined fireplace and a wood pile was available, so I made use of it.

In anticipation of chilly nights and warm fires I packed my SOG hatchet.   It didn’t work very well.  Despite the small amount of cutting I did several years ago, my hatchet was dull.  Using that axe really brought out the true meaning of the expression, “Firewood warms you twice.  Once when you cut it and again when you burn it.”

Fortunately my nephew brought his hatchet, a smaller and much sharper Gerber.  It didn’t take too much work before I realized that my SOG made fast work of splitting quarter logs in to eighths, but was crappy for making the thin pencil-like sticks need to build fires.  The Geber made nice pencils of wood but failed to impress the larger quarter logs.

Two hatchets
The Gerber is noticeable lighter and compact than the SOG

The two hatchets would complement each other (after I re-sharpened the SOG), but you really can’t completely interchange them.

The Gerber has a small head resembling a flat grind Regular Wisconsin while the SOG has what appears to be a modified double bevel Virginia. 
axe head
Gerber hatchet head


Don’t be confused, think of grind the same way as you think of knife grinds.  Axe head style defines the shape and appearance of the axe head.  Historically, some heads worked better than others for specific jobs.  What worked for splitting long logs into quarters or fence rails, wasn’t the best design for log bucking.   Some axe heads just develop a regional interest and became known by that name.

SOG axe head
SOG hatchet head


My cutting experience indicated the Gerber might be a great hatchet for backpacking.  It weighs in at 22.4 ounces and is 14 inches long.  Not a bad combination for carrying in a pack.  The small size limits its practical use.  Need to cut a tent pole or cut down branches into small burnable size?  Great!  Quarter a four inch diameter log, not so hot.  Typically, after you drive the hatchet into wood, you would pull the handle to one side or the other to rotate the metal head to act as an expanding wedge.  This action causes the crack to propagate down the wood.  The short handle made it feel like I couldn’t produce enough torque to turn the axe head and the split wood.  The handle is a fiberglass composite and I felt queasy about using it as a lever arm.

My dull SOG weighs in at 33 ounces and is 16 inches long.  The steel is a 1055 steel.  It is too heavy for very much backpacking.  Car camping, sure bring it along, but why not bring a three quarters length axe and really chop wood?

The SOG’s weight and steel handle gave me confidence I wasn’t going to break anything but the log when I twisted the hatchet handle to pry wood apart.  The dullness made it difficult to cleanly split the wood into pencil size kindling.

The SOG camp axe has a RC hardness of 50-55.  Not bad for a hatchet, but I noticed that after several days of chopping wood the edge had several dents.  Clearly a sharpening stone or file should be this hatchet’s constant companion.

Pick the right tool for the right job!


All I could find on the Gerber was that it has been replaced by a new and improved version.  The hardness wasn’t published.  But I wouldn’t be afraid to carry it into the woods.


So, I learned I need to look after my hatchet better and that proved what I already knew: the right tool makes any job easier!