Showing posts with label knives. Show all posts
Showing posts with label knives. Show all posts

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Zen Whittling



There are few simpler activities that are as rewarding as whittling.

I don’t mean carving.  Carving is an artistic endeavor to create something appreciated by both the carver and observer.  It is purposeful.  I’ve seen carved birds that I swear would take flight as I approached them.  People carve spoons both as a functional tool and as an object of art.

Shaving Wood
It's just cutting to enjoy the wood and the edge


As a whittler, the best comment you will receive is, “That’s a nice pile of shavings.” 

But we whittle for ourselves.  The feel of a sharp knife shaving long graceful cuts in wood is superb.  As the wood is removed, grain and color reveals themselves, often to the complete surprise of the whittler.  It’s a sweet sensation to discover the simple joy of exposing wood that is so fleeting it vanishes with the next cut.  I once cut into a pocket of amber colored wood that cut perfectly from any angle or direction and just as suddenly it was gone, now shavings at my feet.

Little goals present themselves to the whittler and we can challenge ourselves to achieve them.  How long of a single shaving can you cut?  How smooth of a surface can you achieve?  Can you erase that little nub where there was once a second branch?  Can you cut four square sides simply because you would like to?

It is a very Zen experience.  There is no Yoda commanding ‘do or do not.’  There is just perfect harmony of being.

You can use any knife
Whittling basics: Wood, Knife....


The tools are very simple.  A shady spot is selected.  You need a knife, preferably sharp, but any knife will do.  Then you need a piece of wood.  A stick will do.  Size matters only to ease of handling the stick and how long you want to whittle.  There’s no rule requiring you to finish this activity with a single stick or that you can’t save the stick for another. 

Approach the task with a stick in one hand and blade in the other.  Decide where the edge will first bite into the wood.  Perhaps the blade and wood fight each other.  Simply select a new beginning.  Perhaps the one or the other feels wrong to you.  Make a change and a new beginning.  Tomorrow they may seem right to you.

As you stop to admire your pile of shavings you will discover all thoughts of bills, the boss, your sick aunt Fanny, which pre-school gives the twins the best shot at Harvard, and any of the other problems that plague you were momentarily forgotten.  Do not be surprised if you discover you have a new perspective on all of these as well as the noise society throws at us.

It is the best way to kill a half an hour or more and it doesn’t require a battery.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Blade Show Day Three 2019

Sunday is always Spyderco day.  Not exclusively, but I look forward to seeing their new products and talking with Joyce.  It’s been a busy year for them and for her.

Do you like catalogs?  I love ‘em.  The problem with catalogs is, even small ones like Spyderco’s, they must be printed in September for release by January.  Some products are ready but others are not.  Some will experience changes.   Some knives will be added, some dropped.  All of which makes people angry as they can’t get it now.  Maybe it had two screws in the catalog but three screws in production and every collector wants the two screw version that was never made.  I think you can see the problems.

Spyderco will release three ‘Reveals’ during the course of the year, featuring products which are ready to ship.  I’m sure Spyderco gains some unspecified advantage from this, but it’s an interesting approach.


Top orange- Endura, Bottom orange - Delica but the middle black is the new Endela available in plain edge too
Right now lightweight folders are the rage.  Consumers are suddenly worried about an extra ounce or three.  The FRCP (fiberglass reinforced copolymer) has a little too much flex so Spyderco has incorporated a thin metal liner to eliminate the problem.  You’ll see more and more variations of old and new favorites like the Police lightweight. It’s slightly bigger than the original, but easy to carry and use.  


Spyderco dragonfly with Emerson Wave
Spyderco Dragonfly with Emerson Wave opener.  The wave works very nicely with this
knife.  Reversible wire clip on back
Another example is their lightweight Para-military 3 which just won the 2019 Blade award for the most innovative American knife.  No small potatoes.


Itamea kitchen knife
Don't ask the price, I can't afford it, but professional chefs will love it.  The Itamae series
Speaking of food, Frank Daily has been hired to head their new cutlery division.  It’s a new departure for Spyderco and they are offering a range of knives.   At the top end are Murray Carter’s Itamae series.  These are super thin laminated blades of Aogami Super Blue steel between two layers of SUS410 stainless steel.  Murray is a proponent of super sharp thin blades. They will come in different blade configurations and are aimed at professional chefs and culinary schools.


New sharpening from Spyderco
Spyderco's new sharpening system, the Gauntlet.  Uses oval shaped stones.


Closer to my pocket are the Z-Cut.  With their offset handles they are often referred to as ‘sandwich shop’ knives.  You can get them both with plain and serrated blades.  The plastic handles are fused to the CTS BD1N stainless steel making them dishwasher safe.  Carpenter’s BD1N is high carbon martensitic stainless steel, containing chromium and nitrogen that can be air or oil hardened.  It has good edge retention and better corrosion resistance.

As Z-Cut knives come with pointed ends, a rounded blunt tip is available for our friends in England and other parts.  Might not be a bad starting knife for youngsters learning kitchen arts.  In the middle of the range will be the classic Spyderco utility kitchen knives and their amazing and terrifying bread knife!

There is only one roadblock to their domination of the world cutlery market with low cost, effective Z-knives.  Yes, they got the stock, but someone forgot they needed packaging.  They will get it straightened out soon.

Spyderco production is running 24 hours 5 days a week and they are still swamped.  Their engineering staff has continued to promote tighter and tighter tolerances.  I wouldn’t say you could toss a handful of the correct parts in a bag, shake it and find an assembled knife, but…..

Prototyping is enhanced through the use of 3D printers.  Modern and advanced technology is actively pursued as is their intellectual property.  All of which allows for newer and more interesting knives.  This might be considered the Golden Age of factory knives.

What else do you need to know?  They will continue to make sprint runs limited to 1200 pieces, because that is what they like.  These sell out fast.  Just a word to the wise.



Proof Cobb Galleria is haunted by the ghosts of past shoppers.  You would think the high food prices
would chase them away!

The knife industry, including Spyderco, is becoming more protective of their intellectual property and technology.  This is beginning to create walls.

In Europe and many American cities laws limit blade length.  Don’t make assumptions that your home rules apply everywhere.


Blade Show TR-3 Custom
Pro-Tech Custom TR-3 with purple alligator 
Sunday isn’t solely Spyderco day.  I stopped by Pro-Tech and bought a TR-3 auto custom made specifically for the Blade Show. It has a nice purplish anodized alligator on the front and back where it is partially covered by the clip.  The opening stud is mother of pearl and the 3.5 inch blade is CPM S35vn coated with black DLC.

I’m told they send out several knives to an artist with the instructions to ‘be creative.’  And they never know what they’ll get back.

You can find this on Pro-Tech’s website, but they are making autos for Boker based on Lucas Burnely’s designed Kwaiken.  This is one very nice knife with simple modern lines.  Look into it.


Sunday Morning at Blade. Time for bargains if what you want is still there. 


I walked past Colonial Knife and found many of their fine blades had strongly resembled another manufacturer.  It’s not uncommon and often turns out to be one of the worst kept secrets in the knife industry.  But I will not spill the beans.

Speaking of Shadow Tech, John and Dave report they are happy with the Show and are making both hatchets and fixed blades for other companies.

Last words:  Only because I find it amusing about the dead making money and someone asked me, yes, Loveless Knives is still making knives stamped Loveless.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Blade Show Day Two 2019

Outside the weather raged torrents of rain, but inside the Blade Show it was sunny and knifey.  It’s still hard to imagine all the vendors and shoppers packed under one roof, but it isn’t all knives.


scissors, art scissors
Grace Horn's Scissors
Grace Horn showed off her custom scissors.  And they flew off the table like umbrellas during a deluge.  I especially liked the tall elegant pair that had a benign demonic look to them.  Grace is an unusual knife maker.  You can follow her on Facebook.  She did measure my right thumb to get an idea of an average size opening for men’s scissors.


Another table had nothing but knife sheaths.  If you heeded a Randall or a Loveless or just about any other sheath, you’d find it there.
knife sheaths
You need it?  You could find it.

I stopped at Darrel Ralph and looked at his ZEK hatchets.  Darrel tells me he had been thinking about hatchets since 1998.  I think he finally came up with a winner.  The kydex sheath locks the hatchet head in place and has a belt clip so you can wear it.  A secondary strap locks the sheath closed so you will not accidentally lose your tool moving in or out of a vehicle or in the brush.  He had several styles including a nice carbon fiber handle, but I went with the micarta grip that had a rounded profile.  I found it fit my hand better.

Hatchet, Belt Axe
Never know when you might need to chop something or somebody

Speaking of Shadow Tech, they have introduced several lines of folders.  I especially liked their Sidekick, a gentleman’s knife.  Well, it could be a gentlewoman’s knife as well.  It sports a stud and a hole, but it actually opens with a flipper.  The blade opens and is locked in place with a liner lock.  It doesn’t have a clip, because it is not a tactical knife.  It’s well made and I think I’m going to enjoy it.

Sidekick, Shadow Tech
They call it rose, but it looks purple to me 

Sharpening blades can be terrifying to some, but there are easy options 
At one table a vendor had a pile of paper shavings, several knives and more simple sharpeners than you could imagine.  In this day and age when sharpening systems require a mechanical engineering degree to set up and use, his simple pull-throughs turn a dull knife into a sharp edge.  It may not be the zenith of sharpness, but if your edge can cut curly paper shavings, it’s sharp enough for most of my needs.
Doug and friend drawing door prize tickets
Doug Marcaida, best known for Forged in Fire and his expression, ‘It will keel!’ was at Russian Blades and has designed a fighting knife based on his Filipino system.  You could mug with him and get your picture taken, but I took a pass on that.  He’s a tremendous martial artist, but also a shrewd business man.  He showed us several karambit-style knives he designed as rescue tools for Europe, where such knives are illegal.  In the absence of an edge, a ‘blade’ consisting of a seatbelt cutter, screw driver, oxygen bottle wrench is allowed.  Of course, you could still use it to control and apply to pressure points, but Doug never said that.

I got my hands on a DART (Direct Action Response Knife).  Doug developed this knife with the Italian knife company, Fox.  It’s a karambit style, with an Emerson wave opener, but a non-curved blade.  I looked for these for several years but couldn’t find them.  All Fox would say was a “…family disagreement prevented continued manufacturing.”  Well, it seems they are back and I have one!
Direst Action Response Knives
It looks like a Karambit, but.....
Instead of a curved blade, it's more of a drop point tanto

Could I summarize the Blade Show in blog or two?

Look, you could spend the day just visiting the big commercial knife companies, like Spyderco, Cold Steel and Buck, and you wouldn’t be disappointed.  You could also spend the day talking to custom designers, the makers and technical support people.  There are demos on the floor as well as classes, lectures and helpful people everywhere.

The Blade Show has become too large to be summarized by any one blogger.  Each of us is a blind man inspecting an elephant.  If you are a knife fancier, come and attend.  It’s the greatest knife show on earth, possibly the solar system.

Here are few more photos.

collectable knives, pocket jewelry
Think of them as pocket jewelry 

Tiger handles
It takes two to truly understand the image






















































Friday, June 7, 2019

Blade Show Day One 2019



Anyone who thinks they can cover the entire Blade Show in one day is delusional.  

Knives of the blade show, assortment of knives
Just a taste....
I can’t tell you how many furlongs of aisles there are.  There are more knives than you can imagine.  By Sunday, I’ll be jaded and telling you there are so many similar knives, but today, all I am seeing are different and innovated designs combined with exciting handles.

I walked for hours and I should stick my feet in a bucket of ice.  I can’t wait to go back tomorrow!

First, a little social commentary.  There are three classes of people at Blade.  You have the early birds who pay more to get earlier access on Friday (noon).  These are people who have a specific destination in mind and have a shopping list.  Many designers have a limited number of specific knives and they sell out fast.  They start lining up at 5 o’clock the previous night.   You need stamina to be an early bird.

Then there’s the CAPs.  That Customer Appreciation Patron.  That’s us.  We used to be called VIPs.  We line up three hours early and get in at 1 pm.  We often have specific destinations, but are a little laid back about getting there.

Finally we have the great unwashed (general public), who are let in at 2 pm.

You can draw your own conclusions.

Being in the CAP group, I have a chance to make conversation with people around.  One interesting fellow was part time knife maker Dale, from Bloom Custom Knife.  He’s from Michigan and is scientifically working towards being a full time knife maker.  We talked about quenching, cooling and grinding as well as testing.  He had one of his knives on hand.  The handle is a carbon fiber/copper that was amazing.  I will not lie to you, money is a part of any knife maker, but my conversations with makers strongly suggest that the creative urge drives them.  I think we’ll see more of Dale in the future.

knife
Dale's personal carry knife

Dan at Battle Horse is a case in example.  The company is run by his daughter and son-in-law and they are doing an amazing job.  This frees Dan to pursue his creative desires without worrying about the bottom line.  He had a variety of primitive art pieces, including a jeweled coyote head, leather-wrapped tomahawks and leather-wrapped, recycled cans (!).  The impact of his creative drive can’t be seen or experienced from a web page.  You need to stand there and handle them.  I expect Dan will do some exciting things.

Dan's art tomahawk.  I like it very much! 
I bought a knife from Banzelcroft Customs.  They utilize an industrial razor as a blade.  That’s very clever in my mind.  Mykel Piper worked for years at a phone store and found he was always sharpening his knives as they would hit metal staples and get chewed up from cutting through heat sealed plastic blister packages.  Knowing there must be a better way led him to formulate a holder for heavy duty replaceable blades.
High Tech box opener
Thats a Kirinite handle, an acrylic polymer

One knife did get away from me.  Raegan Lee Knives had a fixed blade with a black handle contain silver wire hexagons (think exotic beehive).  Raegan started collecting knives and decided to start making them.  I’m always impressed with people who start small business and see them as engines of wealth.

the one that got away
Raegan and her cool knife
I wanted that blade for the WRCA knife raffle the club does yearly, but by the time I made it back to her table it was sold.  It’s a bitter lesson to learn: the time to buy is when you first see it.
Raegan Lee Knife
a better look at the one that got away.

I did get a nice Russian knife with a birch bark handle.  The bark is stacked like poker chips on the tang of the knife.  The handle has a cool, comfortable grip and very much resembles a puuko style.  I have been admiring these knives for years and decided it was time.

Bask knives - Konstantin Vasenko 
Then there’s Microtech.  You know their knives: sharp, well-made, aggressive, but let’s change things up.   A year ago Microtech Defense Industries decided to make the quietest 9 mm suppressor on the planet callled the 2K9 K-Configuration.  They have succeeded.  The can be run dry or wet.  The 6.47 inch suppressor shows an average DB reduction of 31.57 dry and if you add a cap of water, you get a reduction of 40.72.  WOW!

An unnamed military unit is running them now.  But come December 2019, we civilians may be able to by a tax stamp and own one.  It will not be cheap, but what’s your hearing worth?

Here are a few more images.

A relative new company, but interesting knives


Jonathon Quill
Engraving by Jonathon Quill



Part of the CAP waiting for entrance.
































Sunday, September 30, 2018

Random Walks


Well, it’s been knife, knife and more knives recently.

My favorite knife club, WRCA, has obtained several really nice knives for their raffle at our yearly fund raiser.  It’s a knife show of course and it’s the weekend after Mother’s Day.  That’s May 18 and 19, 2019.

We want to gather as much attention as possible with the hope that this will translate into attendance.  You see, attendance is the lifeblood of any show, knife, gun or model train.  It’s obvious that vendors will only rent table space from you if they have a good chance of making sales.  The promotor can’t guarantee sales, but he can (and should) shoulder much of the blame for poor attendance.

Here's the initial flyer for the WRCA show.  If you make, sell, collect and would like a table, call Darlene.


The question is how to get people interested in attending?  The best way is to tell the general population and remind them constantly.  This is how blockbuster movies do it.  They create interest by constantly telling you through the media, internet, weekly magazines that the blockbuster of the season is coming.

Not having the budget they have, we’re going tackle the problem by guerrilla advertising.  One step is to get pictures and information out about our yearly knife raffle.

I had to set up my photo booth and take some photos.  It’s not a real high tech operation.  I use a thin white cloth as a diffuser and two of the brightest fluorescent lights I could find.  With the help of several reflectors and the all-important tripod I try to get studio quality images.  It’s been known for some time that great images make lasting impact.
 
My photo set up and chop saw..........

So these will be on our website, on my blog and Facebook page with the hope of attracting potential customers who want to take a chance on winning as well as attending our show May 18 and 19, 2019.



I believe this is first prize.  I think it is one hell of nice knife.  More on this topic in the future.


Speaking of shows, I just attended the Lehigh Valley Knife Show.  It’s within spitting distance of New Jersey and (almost) New York.  We get a lot of traffic from these states because of their draconian knife laws.  It’s tough to be a collector when you feel harassed about your hobby.  I had a number of potential customers after specific products, like Spyderco’s rust-proof H1 steel, but unable to purchase it because the blade is too long.

One customer uses the thinking that most, if not all criminals, use cheap kitchen knives and other POS knives.  His defense is to tell the police officer, “Look, it’s a $200 knife.  I have a car with another $800 dollars’ worth of tools I use on my job, so it isn’t likely I’m holding up or mugging people outside of bars to make $30.”

He claims it works so far…..
At the show I ran into a fellow who run knife classes for Girl Scouts.  It’s based on a Swedish program, sadly now extinct, that taught a quarter of the grade school population how to cut with a knife.  His students learn how to make cuts like a V-cut or stop cut.  When they are done I understand they have a little carved figure.  Very cool.

Imagine grade school children learning how to carve in a society where a drawing of knife gets you sent to the principal’s office.  Amazing.  I wish him good luck!

While I was at the show I passed out flyers for the WRCA show at the Massillon K of C Hall, May 18 and 19th.  (I bet you were wondering if I would get around to that again.)

Look, it’s five hours away, for some of these vendors it’s an additional 2-3 hours on top.  It’s a long way to go to sell knives.  Part of my sales pitch was, “Look, come sell knives on the weekend, visit the FootballHall of Fame on Monday and by the way, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is just up the road in Cleveland.  You could have a great time.”

One guy told me he hates football, okay what about rock and roll?  He hates that, too.  Okay, I can give it back, too.  I said, “What you hate football?  Are you un-American?  What are you?  A Commie?”

Well, he started to laugh and said “Okay, give me a flyer.”

I’ve said this before.  Life is hard and everyone is working hard to get by.   If someone offers you a flyer to participate in an activity you are currently involved with, just say thanks and take the damn thing.

Here are a few images of the knife show.

My table 


Early Sunday Morning.  Sundays are always slow and thus a good day to bargain.


Grinding knives and axes at the show, or 4th of July fireworks early.











Sunday, August 5, 2018

Two-Way with Benchmade


In this corner we have Benchmade’s Anthem and in the opposite corner we have Benchmade’s Bugout.  All right, I want a clean fight.  No clip gouging, no biting and no hitting below the axis lock.  Okay?  Now go to your corners and come out on the bell.

Bonggggg!

This is an unfair fight.  But let’s see how it shakes out.

The Anthem is a manual opener with Benchmade’s famous AXIS lock.  Introduced in 2017, its unique feature is the handle is machined out of a solid billet of titanium.  For the same strength, titanium is 45% lighter than steel.  So this knife weighs in at 3.66 ounces.  The titanium handle is sculpted in a chevron pattern that is pleasing to the touch and attractive to the eye.  The knife is set up for tip up carry and the titanium clip is left/right reversible.

Anthem knife
Hey, good looking...

As soon as anyone uses the term wonder steel, a new one appears on the horizon.  Still it is the correct adjective to describe this steel.  Let’s talk composition.

20CV is a martensitic steel containing 1.9% carbon, 20% chromium and a whopping 4% vanadium with 1% molybdenum and a smidge of tungsten.  The high concentration of carbon and vanadium produces a high volume of incredibly hard vanadium carbides.  These carbides strengthen the steel and give it wear resistance which benefits any knife blade.  The chrome rich steel has excellent corrosion resistance. 

Starting as a powder steel 20CV has small grain and uniform distribution of tiny carbide grains.  But machining is difficult, having only 35-40 percent of the machinability of 1% carbon steel.  Hardening, annealing, tempering operations are complex and time consuming.  Despite these complications the Anthem’s blade reaches 59-61HRC.

Anthem folding knife
The screws in the spine anchor the AXIS lock
The opening stud is easy to find and is spaced nicely from the body allowing easy access.  The blade glides open on what looks like bronze washers.

It’s a beautiful knife.

If I had to summarize Benchmade’s Bugout, I would have to say: “Now for something completely different!”  I also have to add different isn’t bad.

The Bugout was introduced this year, 2018.  It too is a manual opener with an AXIS lock.  It’s thinner, lighter and more compact than the Anthem.  The steel is CPM S30V, another super steel.

S30V is a martensitic steel containing 1.4% carbon, 14% chromium and also 4% vanadium with 2% molybdenum. The rest of course is iron.  Vanadium reacts with carbon to produce very hard carbides.  Harder than chromium carbide.  Generally, steel has to contain 10.5 % chromium to be considered stainless.  One factor to consider in this equation is how much of the chromium is removed from the metal as carbides.  Fortunately, as chemical reactions go, vanadium carbides are the favored product, so most of the chromium is available for protection from oxidation or staining.

Bugout in your Bug-out Bag
A nice Introduction to Benchmade quality knives.

Powdered metal products, in general, have smaller grain size and a better distribution of the carbides than cast steel.  It’s reported to be as easy as D2 steel to machine, which according the fount of all knowledge, Wikipedia, isn’t all that easy. 

Hardening, annealing, tempering operations seem to be relatively straight forward.  Bugout’s blade reaches 58-60HRC.

The handle is a glass fiber filler nylon called Grivory.  It one of many types of engineering nylons and its properties are well understood.  There will not be any surprises here.

The knife is set up for tip up and the metal clip is reversible left/right and set up for deep pocket carry.

Partial Steel Liners Bugout
You can see the steel liner ending just at the top finger.  there's a second one on the other side.

The knife doesn’t have full handle metal liners.  The metal liner is about 1.7 inches long and it looks like it’s injection molded into the handle and then screwed at the tail end for additional strength.  The opening stud has a nice blue color but it’s held near to the grip making the knife a little more difficult to open as compared to the Anthem.  The AXIS lock is also tucked into the handle and the blade doesn’t swing free when the AXIS lock is used as does the Anthem.

As Gin Wigmore says “going head to head”:

Property
Bugout
Anthem
Steel
CPM S30V
CPM-20CV
Handle Material
Grivory
Titanium Billet
Blade Hardness
58-60 RHC
59-61 RHC
Blade Length
3.24 inches
3.5 inches
Closed Length
4.22 inches
4.56 inches
Lock System
AXIS
AXIS
Weight
1.85 oz.
3.66 oz.
Clip
Reversible – deep carry
Reversible
Orientation
Tip Up
Tip Up
CATRA Edge Retention
145% of 440C
180% of 440C
Cost
$135 MSRP
$500 MSRP

CATRA edge testing is one of the new witchcraft testing procedures to produce a reproducible, operator independent, meaningful edge retention value.  The problem with many of these types of test is finding a test material that is also constant and reproducible.  In any case it’s better than you and buddy shaving leather or cutting steaks.

So, what do I think?
These are knives designed for different needs and different people. 

The Bugout is a nice “Welcome to Benchmade” knife.  It’s small and compact but provides enough cutting ability for most uses.  It’s the knife I would carry in places I couldn’t carry a knife.  Places I thought I might lose a knife.  If I was packing a true hell-for–leather bugout bag, one of the knives would be a Bugout.  If I was going to stash a knife, a couple hundred in twenties, compass and matches in a sealed wax container… you get the idea.

The Anthem, well, it a great knife and for me it would a “barbecue” knife.  Something I’d pull out of my pocket to show off.  I’d carry it in places where I never intended to use a knife.  It would be a status symbol for me, if I used those kinds of status symbols.  But look, if you need to get the most out of a knife, if you use a blade hard and need every possible advantage of edge, weight and durability, the Anthem could be your answer.  It’s pricey, but I think it would hold up better than the Bugout to hard, brutal use.