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.
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!
It's Buck's 75th anniversary and the Buck clubs went all out!
Let's end with fireworks!