Sunday, April 28, 2019

Drahth Knives

Recently I came upon knives from Drahth Knives Company.  I was impressed with both the beauty of the knives and their motto: “Life is too short to carry an ugly knife.”

mini-bowie, Damascus steel
Mini-Bowie in  Damascus

I contacted Andy the owner and asked a few questions about his knives and his company.  It’s always interesting to me to find out how small businesses get started.  I’ve already stated my belief that small businesses are the spark plug of the American economy.  Its true Ford and ATT contribute more in total dollars, but they all started with a dream to create prosperity for a small group and their families.
Sheath knives,
All of the sheaths have the same attention to detail

Andy started grinding knives for himself at a machine shop owned by his father and grandfather when he was eleven.  Of course, those were for himself and a few friends.  But other interest took Andy out of the shop and until recently in different directions.

In 2014, chance gave Andy the option to start making knives again.  Combining his and his friends experiences about blade shapes and handle lengths, Andy started making knives.  He’s partial to blades with longer handles which make for a much more controllable knife.

Basic utility knife
The long handle gives you plenty of grip and control over the blade

The blades are typically 1095 steel shaped by stock removal.  This steel has a lot to recommend it even in view of today’s world of super steels.  The 1095 blades can be hardened to Rockwell c values of 55 to 60 and still have some of the inherently flexibility an outdoor knife needs.  As noted knifemaker Ernie Emerson said of another steel, “A bent blade is still a knife, a broken blade is junk!”

1095 steel can be resharpened with ordinary stones available in just about any hardware, big box or sportsmen store.  It throws great sparks with a Ferro rod for fire making.  All the steel needs is a little coating of oil coating to prevent rust.  Use a food safe oil just to be sure.

Elliptical blade, Canadian Belt knife
The elliptical blade reminds me of the classic Canadian Belt knife, but this sports a thumb rest for more control.

A variety of wood handles are available ranging from walnut to exotic wenge.  Wenge is a legume tree from the Congo and Cameroon.  (Legume wood means the tree has seed pod.  Who would have guessed it?)

Are they perfect?  Why would they be?  I’m far from perfect myself, but they are pretty damn nice.  The leather sheaths are well sewn and fit the knife well.  I like how the knife sits deep the sheath where it will stay secure from grasping vegetation as you move through the fields and forests.  The logos stamped into the leather are sharp and well-defined.  The knives are easy to grasp and have an instinctual feel to them.  The full tang construction is slightly raised of the wood grips.  You can barely feel a slightly raised edge of the steel over the wood.

We’ll just have to wait to see the evolution of his knives.

Where can you get these for yourself?  I’d go to his website; or contact him at

Sunday, April 14, 2019

First Look: Shadow Tech's Trail Blazer

 Imagine a holster company designing a holster and not having a gun to fit.  Improbable?  Maybe not.  What if the company wants to start competing in a new area but needs something to fit it. 

Stoner Holster contacted one of my favorite knife companies, Shadow Tech, with a request, “Can you build us a knife to fit this sick leather sheath we want to make?”

The answer appears to be yes!

ST's Trail Blazer
My first look at the Trail Blazer

I saw the prototype; ST calls it the Trail Blazer.  It’s mega cool. 
The saber grind blade is 5.75 inches long and a quarter inch thick at the spine and sports aggressive cross-cut saw teeth.  The full tang handle is also 5.75 inches long and features Micarta grips providing a solid and substantial grip.

fixed blade

The blade is 8670 steel used in the lumber industry for large circular saws because of its toughness and edge retention abilities.  The blade has a 60 Rc hardness.  The blade isn’t stainless and the powder coating helps protect the blade.  You have to do your part with a little oil on the exposed metal. 

Those are some aggressive saw teeth! 
The leather sheath can be adapted for a tactical molle system, or different width belts.  The sheath contains a small pocket and a loop for a fire starting ferro stick.  The one I got to see had a small diode light and a permanent match.

Back of Sheith showing arrangement.  Note the diode light. 

This is a prototype so expect changes.  I understand Dot Snaps will replace the current ones to give the sheath more reliability.  John tells me the grip will change slightly with a slight swelling to help grip the knife.

I don’t know if the leather and micarta will stay these colors or if options will be available.  I also don’t know how the blade cuts or will resharpen.  Will the handle fit my hand or will hotspots develop after a couple hours of work needs to be answered later.  I would not be surprised if the dimensions change a little in length.  Again, this is a prototype.

I would have liked to seen a small sharpening stone.  8670 steel may have great edge retention, but all steel loss sharpness during use.

Still this is a very cool knife and it will be available in May.  Hey, that’s next month, so if you want one, you better preorder now or expect you’ll have to wait later on.

Go to to order your own Shadow Tech Trail Blazer. While you're there take a look at some of the other knives they have. You can also call them at 614-648-1297. 

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Truck Driver Trapper

I don’t have a type.  I mean there are virtues and disappointments everywhere, but this one must have been singing my song because I heard it loud and clear.

The knife has been carried, but never used or resharpened.

It’s a trapper pocket knife with a coal truck embossed into the jet black handle.  Trappers typically have two blades and mine is no exception.  It sports a traditional 3 inch clip point blade and a funky 3 inch spay blade used to neuter stock animals and occasional bad guys in novels.

Etched and colored main blade
You can see the tang stamp on both blades

The clip point is etched in red with “American Coal Haulers.”  Both blades are tanged stamped with a crown and the reverse is stamped “Hardin Germany.”

It’s a well-made knife.  Separate springs for each blade with no half open stop but a positive inclination to close and snap when the blade opens.  The liners are brass and even the springs inside the knife are mirror polished.  The blades don’t have any wiggle and whoever owned it before me took good care of it.

Who made it is a more complex story.  It seems there is no knife company called Hardin nor is there any town in Germany which goes by that name.

Tang Stamp
One of the knife forums suggested the crown logo is the key to unlocking this mystery.  It appears the crown is the trademark for the Friedrich Olbertz Knife Company in Solingen Germany.  It was founded in 1872 and produces brands such as Bulldog, Fighting Rooster and Eyebrand.

Still in existence, they are a knife jobber specializing in small knife lots.  The current management team is fifth generation family members.  The current minimum order is 600 units. 

So who is Harden? That took a little more work.

They are Harden Wholesale located in Kenova WV.  I called them and the staff remembers the knife as being ordered by George Smith in the 1980s, but nothing else.  I tried the phone number given to me, but Mr. Smith remains a mystery.  Maybe the phone number and name is just good old boy WV humor.

Made in Germany

Hardens Wholesale appears to be a seller of dry goods.  The photo I found showed plastic flowers for grave decorations, Carharrt clothing and Wolverine work boots.  I’m sure a trapper pocket knife celebrating any aspect of the WV coal mining industry would be a hit.

In any case, I’m happy to have it.