Thursday, February 16, 2012
His name is Scott. I’m proud to have him as a friend. My wife and I met him because our circles of interest include shooting, knives and adventure. We aren’t drinking-buddy-close but I always looked forward to seeing him at the range and at activities like Camp Perry and knife shows.
I always thought our friendship would grow tighter and I’m still convinced that will happen.
Scott’s on a rough stretch of road now. This patch looks rougher to me than the others he’s told me about.
Nobody knows what God’s plan is for any of us. We don’t know at the time what difference will come from the million trivial decisions we make everyday. We just put one foot in front of the other and think we know where we are going. Sometimes we need a little help.
Please keep Scott in your prayers and thoughts. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know him or me. It doesn’t matter if you read this today or in ten years. Your thoughts and actions are known by the ultimate score keeper.
I cast my bread on the waters and trust. That’s enough.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Just a reminder. We’re coming up on one of the two big Northeast Ohio knife shows. The Western Reserve Cutlery Association is sponsoring the Dale Warther Memorial Knife Expo on March 3rd and 4th at the Dover Armory. The armory is at 2800 N. Wooster Ave. in Dover, Ohio. The doors open at 9:00 both days.
Here's a link to a website with a little more information:
Knife shows have a different feel than gun shows. Everything seems a little more relaxed and everyone has a real interest in knives. The truth is, I like gun shows, but knife shows have a special place in my heart. It’s hard to explain, but the vendors and customers seem to have more in common and are friendlier.
You can find a link to the WRCA on my sidebar.
I hope you make it down there. Parking is free and admission is $5. I believe the Lions have the food concession. Here’s a hint: Come for the knives, but stay for the sausage sandwiches…..
I’ll see you there…………….
Thursday, February 2, 2012
I just got several new knives in for an upcoming show at the Medina Fairgrounds. I see each knife as a ship that passes by in the night. I get to see them and handle them and then they’re gone (at least I hope) to a new home. They may not be what I would choose to own, but each one has a charm of its own.
Bryan Baker makes a simple peasant knife from high carbon Swedish steel. Modeled on a popular form from Bavaria in the 1600s, he gives it a modern twist with brass adjustable screws and a polypropylene handle. The knife is made in New Zealand and based on how knife rights are circling the drain, it’s only a matter of time before some bureaucrat decides it’s too dangerous for the common peasant of 2012.
|Simple knife doesn't mean only simple applications!|
The 3-inch high carbon steel blade is hand ground with a water cooled stone giving it a convex blade. Carbon steel always reminds me of flint and fire making. The pattern is simple and reliable. The knife is held open by your hand.
It’s not really an attractive knife, but if I had a hunting lodge or was backpacking up north, it’s the kind of knife I’d want tucked away safe and sound, just in case.
I also got a Benchmade Bone Collector folder. The photos don’t do it justice. The blade is made from D2 steel and the green and black micarta handle is deeply grooved.
|Benchmade Bone Collector|
It’s a little thicker than some, but it’s well proportioned for the size of the blade. It has Benchmade’s axis lock and I simply love them. The lock is so easy to use and it helps make Benchmade one of the nicest opening knives on the market.
|Most Benchmade's are set up for tip up carry. This one can also be set up for left or right carry.|
If you haven’t held one, do yourself a favor and find one. I think you’ll like it. My best friend took a look at it and said, “They sure know how to build a knife!”
PS: Don’t forget. The Dale Warther Memorial Knife Expo is coming up March 3rd and 4th. It will be held at the Dover Armory. Parking is free and admission is $5. No matter the type of knife, new, collectible, factory tactical, or custom made, you’ll find it there. It’s one of the few pure knife shows in Northeast Ohio. I hope you can make it.
Monday, January 16, 2012
Had a chance to talk to two different military men on temporary leave from Afghanistan at the gun show this past weekend. They didn’t know each other but they each told the same interesting story.
We’ve all heard about rules of engagement. They define when a person can open fire in a war zone. The rules are designed to help the military create goodwill with the population.
Some make good sense: Only women can search women. Our police try to follow that rule as well. Other rules, well, I can only shake my head in confusion. For example, troops can fire at an insurgent if they catch him placing an IED but not if insurgents are walking away from an area where explosives have been laid.
Given these complex rules, you can imagine many Afghanis know how far they can push it with impunity.
Traveling in the bazaars or between locations you’re likely going to be confronted. The Afghans know when you can and can’t shoot, but you don’t know how far they want to take it. However the rules say nothing about being cut with a knife.
“The sound of a switch blade opening alarms them,” the first told me. “If you want to protect yourself and not get into a fight carry an auto knife. They hear it and most of them will back off.”
|Worth its weight in gold|
The other said the same. “They come up to you and put their fingers in the muzzle of your machine gun. They know your limits from the rules of engagement.” The second man shrugged. “But take out your Beretta or knife and they’re not so sure.” He gave me a wolfish grin. “See, the rules don’t say anything about knives.”
So if you’re heading to Afghanistan, get a quality automatic knife to carry with you. You might want to add a good fixed blade. A fixed blade will always be faster, surer and stronger, but it’s silent out of the sheath.
|Sub hilt fighter - custom made by Torson|
There is nothing like the comforting clack of your auto locking open on a dark night.
|Benchmade Auto Rift - doesn't look like an auto, but pull back on the axis lock....|
Of course, you’re in harm’s way so you may have to use it.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Speaking of sharpening….
I picked up an Eze-Lap diamond hone for work. I use a rubber mill knife to cut rubber hoses and belts at work. Many of these products have Kevlar fabric which can be cut but ruins the knife edge. My co-worker has been using a cheap ceramic pocket sharpener in which he has ground a flat spot. The diamond hone works better, but I noticed a “thunk” at the end of the sharpening stroke. Of course, when you work with microscopes it’s easy to take a look.
I found a small bump at the edge of the hone. I don’t think it will affect the sharpening, but it gives me the shivers every time I make a stroke.
|Eze-Lap coarse with bump at the edge|
A new Spyderco has arrived. It’s the Balance. The closed knife resembles an equal arm balance, the favorite of classical analytical chemists. That’s not me, but still it speaks to me.
Open, it’s a mini- gurkha knife or khukuri. The knife is less than 3 inches closed and weighs 1.4 ozs. That’s less than two first class pieces of mail!
The handle is carbon fiber and the steel VG-10. The small clip can be moved to any of the four positions: tip up, tip down and right or left.
If you look at it and ask what’s it’s for, well sorry, but you’re not a knife person. Sometimes they are just for the heck of it. Other times you have a specific need that a knife fills in a specific way.
I had a knife on sale on eBay, a byrd Meadowlark from Santa Fe Stoneworks in spiny oyster.
|byrd knife with Santa Fe Stoneworks spiny oyster grip|
Somebody got a very good deal, but that’s beside the point. It didn’t want to sell here so it sold somewhere else. The thing is, the winning bid came in the last 12 seconds. Was it sniping software, fast reflexes, or just good timing to get the bid in so late that nobody could counter bid?
As a seller or buyer, I’m not sure I approve of sniping software. But if you really want something, bid your maximum in the last 15 minutes. eBay will auto bid to your max against incoming bids. You’ll either get it or not at some price including your maximum. But you will not fall victim to a sniper while trying to get a deal.
Sunday, January 8, 2012
After dinner she put down her glass and looked over to me, “How often should I sharpen my knife?”
I looked at her and then over to my wife. We had just finished dinner and I was sharpening our guest’s pocket knife at the dinner table. Clearly some sign was needed before I carried on. I got it.
“If you wait until it’s dull, you’ve waited too long. It’s always easier to touch up an edge than to bring a dead edge back to life.”
“What about electric sharpeners?” She asked a good question and I had half an answer.
“Depends. Some people press too hard, leave it in contact with the rotating stones too long and heat the blade up too much. That will damage it.”
There’re really only a few things to remember about tempering and steel. Tempering is actually a softening step. The martensite that forms from austenite can make steel so hard as to be unusable. Tempering allows other softer structures to form and make the steel usable. Too much tempering, too soft to hold a good edge. Too hard and the blade snaps too easy.
Almost all the structures that give steel its incredible properties are diffusion based. Diffusion is driven by time, temperature and moderated by distance. Heating a knife blade at the thin edge will affect the steel more than heating the spine the same amount. And the effects of heat cycles are cumulative.
So how often should you sharpen and how?
I believe you should sharpen when the edge seems to be getting dull. If you’re butchering a deer you may want to touch the blade up often. If all you do is cut string and open paper envelopes, you can go a long time.
In the kitchen you should touch up the blade of your chef’s knife before you use it. The sharpening steel doesn’t sharpen the edge, it draws the wire edge out. That’s a good thing, as the wire edge is the really the source of sharpness.
You’ll find it easier to keep a sharp knife sharper than resharpen a dull knife. And I learned that the hard way.
Last summer was a time for “trench warfare.” I was running underground cable to my soon-to-be-built garage. After it was up I got a lot of help from my friend Rick with wiring the garage. With all the cutting and trimming my favorite work knife, a CRKT Crawford Kasper folder, became very dull.
So dull it refused to cut anything.
I could have taken it to a professional sharpener and had it re-edged, but as penance and hard luck lesson, I resharpened it myself with my Spyderco sharpener.
I’m still working on it. I get it sharp, but as soon as I need it for some job it slides toward dull. I haven’t been able to spend enough time to push it from sharp to very sharp, which is where I prefer my knives.
I also use the Lansky system. The ability to hold each progressively finer grit stones at the same angle is a gift from the knife gods.
The downside: it’s a lot of work to set up properly just for a little touch up.
Benchstones. I’ve got more than a few. The key to good benchstone sharpening is reproducibility and cleanliness.
Gunk up the natural pores in the stone and it will not sharpen. So use a good oil and clean it off when you’re done.
Holding the knife edge to the same angle through each stroke is critical for a sharp edge. We can all get better at it, but some people are gifted at it. I’m not one of them.
Years ago I bought a Buck Honemaster to help me sharpen my knives.
|Buck Honemaster||You can see a dull strip of metal towards the edge sitting on the wood. That's metal wear from sharpening blades.|
It clamps on your blade and holds it at the angle you select. The angle isn’t very reproducible between sharpenings, but you can get a fine edge with it. Of course, as you wear metal from the knife edge, you wear metal from the Honemaster. It’s a strange sensation knowing you’re destroying the means of making a great edge while you’re making a great edge.
|Buck Honemaster holding my Commando Cutlery on the fine side of a benchstone|
On the whole, sharpen your knives before they get dull. They’ll work better, faster and easier. A sharp knife reflects well on its owner.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Christmas knives are often new, exciting slivers of steel and polymer (yes, Virginia, unless you have stone or bone handles, it’s a polymer) that catch our attention for a few moments around the tree.
“Oh! Helen,” he said, over the sound of wrapping paper being shredded. “It’s a hand-made tactical friction folder from Frantic Forge! It’s just what I wanted.”
Her comeback was not entirely unexpected.
“Oh, John!” She managed to be heard over the kitchen timer and the sound of bubbling pots. “It’s just what I wanted! A hand-made bread knife combination turnip carver from Kitchen Dungeon Forge.”
This scene is played out in front of Hanukkah candles and Christmas trees all around the world. Trust me, I’ve had a few of these moments myself.
While we’re lost in admiration of our newest knives, there’s a few knives from Christmas past still hanging around. If, like Marley, I’m forced to drag a chain of knives with me through the next world, I hope these are attached.
|Electric carving knives, one of mankind's most enduring inventions|
That’s my brother-in-law carving a turkey. He’s mastered the art of carving a bird. When I try that my results look like I used a hammer. I always enjoy watching him make short work of a bird.
|If I had one knife to symbolize family and friends it would be a knife like this.|
What would a holiday be without family and friends? I’m sure countless men and women in our armed forces could tell us from past experience. It makes my eyes water when I think of all of them overseas, so far from family and friends with only their comrades near. It’s an imperfect world, but I believe the Man Upstairs has a special mark by each of their names in His Book of Life.
God bless and keep ‘em safe.
|The Cold Steel bread knife: good for cutting bread and fighting ninjas|
My wife loves to bake bread. Could there be anything more fundamental to the human condition than bread? We break bread with friends. We welcome new members to communities with bread, and we give bread to loved ones departing on long trips. “I packed you an extra sandwich,” mothers used to say to sons, daughters and husbands when they departed on a journey. It’s something I miss.
Christmas spirit – the short version
Whether or not you believe in Christ as Redeemer, can there be any question that his message of peace, love, harmony and forgiveness has value for men and women then and now?
Everyday we hear the Siren song of the modern world. For a few days at Christmas be like Odysseus’ sailors and pour wax in your ears and ignore the material world just a little. Enjoy the real Christmas values: Peace, Home, Family, Friends, Harmony, Love and Forgiveness.
Merry Christmas to Everyone!