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.


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


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