Monday, August 20, 2012
Seoul police report a little excitement at one of the subway stations Saturday night, 18 Aug 12.
Seems a fellow with a box cutter
and insufficient supplies of cardboard went on a stabbing and slicing rampage at subway station. The Akron Beacon Journal reports the incident occurred outside of Seoul, South Korea and lasted 10 minutes. This one person cut and slashed 8 people before making his getaway. None of the injuries were fatal or life threatening. The police, it is reported, arrested a man running away from the station.
I was first surprised. I’m predisposed to think of Oriental countries as the home of martial arts, of empty-handed combat. Was there nobody with training who could take that blade away in one, two and done?!
And then I remembered how deadly a blade can be. Yes, even black belts will think twice about going up against a knife empty-handed.
We collect them, take pride in them and even feel some form of affection towards the knives in our collections. Isn’t it odd? They’re all killers’ tools.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
I spent a good part of my high school experience stocking shelves for an independent grocery store. I was in charge of filling the beer cooler, sorting the returned glass soda and beer bottles (Yes, we were recycling then, but we didn’t call it recycling. We called it getting our deposit back.) and making sure the shelves had product on them. The store provided a white apron, if we wanted it, a price stamp and a box cutter. The status item among the stock boys was the box cutter.
A box cutter is a simple tool consisting of a frame to hold a single edge safety razor and a flattened metal tube which held the frame shut and could be slid forward to protect you from the razor blade.
Even then, some product lines had sales reps whose job was to make sure their product was displayed properly and utilized all the shelf space available, especially if they could steal space from their competitor.
|A good score for a stock boy!|
Sometimes if you were especially helpful or they felt expansive (a big dose of flattery helped) they would give you a box cutter with a product logo on one side.
In those simpler times or at least to our simpler concerns, that was a high status item. The store preferred you leave your box cutter at work so it would be available and not forgotten at home. You never left your high status cutter at work. Never!
At the last WRCA Dover knife show, I found an old box cutter from W.T. Rogers Co. in Madison Wis. An internet search produced a copy of a lawsuit which indicated Rodgers made plastic office trays. Later W.T. seems to have been absorbed by Newell Rubbermaid.
|W. T. Rodgers boxcutter. I thought I would cut a finger off trying to get the razor blade in it.|
The cutter is pretty simple, just a folded piece of aluminum metal with cutouts. The razor slips into the frame by way of the cut outs and is slid out to cut. This cutter gave this old stock boy the jitters. I see that blade cracking and blood everywhere. The cutter comes with a nice plastic case colored red, blood red. I don’t think the color was chosen on purpose, but you need the case. If you drop this cutter without the case into a pocket the blade will inch open and you’ll soon need new pants and band-aids.
|I got it open without cutting myself. I'm sure you could cut cardboard and fingers with the same effort.|
I also got another box cutter at Lincoln Electric from my former boss, Jeff. It’s a nice one, made from heavy gauge metal. It’s hard to think of product improvement for a box cutter, but this one has a little groove in the flattened handle and a bump on the frame which prevents the frame from being pulled out forward.
|A sturdy, well made box cutter. It will give you years of cardboard cuttin' fun. But it doesn't have the flash and jazz the Tropicana cutter has.|
You use a cutter by dragging the blade backward through cardboard or plastic. If the frame is too loose and the blade catches, the cutter could pull apart. Very unprofessional. And at Lincoln it means lost productivity while you reassemble your tools. Bad Ju-Ju.
What’s a utility knife but a box cutter on steroids? The industrial strength razor blade usually sits in a moveable frame which locks into several pre-determined positions. The handle is usually stout enough to hold a few extra blades and can take a lot of hand pressure. I’m constantly putting mine in a safe place. So safe that I can’t find them. So the last time I bought one I got a bright orange. I can find this one.
|Its bright orange and I can always find it, at least by the time the job is finished.|
At one time it was promoted by several knife writers as the perfect camping knife. Razor sharp, essentially a fixed blade, one handed operation, no need to resharpen - you change blades when dull; it was almost the perfect camping knife. Except the blade is too small, too fragile, too hard to clean (you trim a raw steak and see how easy it is to clean!). Just the wrong application for the tool.
But it does share some of the attributes of a tactical knife. One handed operation, the blade locks open, it’s very sharp and easy to hold and you can cut people with it.
Is it any wonder the “Stanley” as the British papers call it, is vilified in the British press and provides grounds for arrest if the police find one on you. Oh sure, you can argue that as a glazier or rug installer you need one, but you and your employer need to come before a judge and explain it. And if the judge doesn’t think you should have two with different blades, or that he just doesn’t think you need one at all, well, too bad.
Of course in this labor-saving day we can’t spend time sliding the blade out of the handle. That might take 1.5 seconds. We could save 1/10 of a second with an assisted opening one.
|My co-worker carries this one. Let's see: assisted opening, locks open, has a pocket clip so it stays where you put it. Hey! It's Tactical! If it was black it would be a tactical box opener.|
The razor blade clips in and the opening is spring assisted. For my hands the opening stud is in the wrong place. It’s not a very smooth opener either. Not as smooth as my Benchmade, or my Spyderco, but smoother than my Hartville utility knife. Get caught with this little guy in England and you better be on the job opening boxes. Come out of a pub with one and you might find SWAT (or the English equivalent - SAS?) waiting for you.
Of course all of this starts with a razor blade.
|Single edge safety razor blade.|
In my more impressionable years I read of a fighting technique that used a safety razor blade with a match stick through the center hole. You carried the blade between the fingers with the blade facing outwards from your palm. The match stick prevented the blade from sliding backward when you slapped and cut your opponent. I remember (don’t ask me how) this was reported as the favorite technique in the black quarters of New Orleans.
|What a hairball idea!|
Of course I tried it right away. I couldn’t keep the stick in place, the razor kept falling out and I was convinced I would be the only one cut with it. That was my introduction to “all knife writers are pathological liars.”
That knowledge has served me well.
Friday, July 27, 2012
In spite of the stinkin’ hot weather, I’ve been
working playing with Kydex. I’m using the knife a friend gave me. I really like this knife, but it might not be the best to learn about Kydex sheath skills.
The sheath I have in mind is asymmetric. That is, the back is largely flat while the front takes the brunt of bulging and forms the blade and knife handle pocket. I want the back as flat as possible to make attaching a belt clip easy and flat against the sheath so the knife is held in tight to the body. This handle calls for a lot of Kydex flow.
I also want the sheath to be trim and smartly shaped. I can already make sheaths that looks like two pieces of plywood nailed together. I want an organic (I hate that word, but I’m actually working with organic materials, so….) look that suggests the sheath grew around the knife.
I have quite a ways to go.
To facilitate reaching these goals I’ve bought two new tools. The first is a small set of French curves. I used to use them to help draw graphs in math and science. For those of you who only know Excel or any of the other graphing software there was a time….
A time when a man would place a razor to his throat and he would slip and cry out in pain and blood would well up …. Oops! Wrong time!!
What you really did was plot points as x and y coordinates. If you could connect them with a straight line great, but sometimes it wasn’t possible, so you got out a pack of French curves and found a section of the curves that matched your points and drew the line.
I’m using the curves to help me trace lines on the Kydex to give my sheath a fluidness and shape that is functional, minimalist and attractive.
Am I asking for TOO MUCH?
I don’t know, but there is an art, a creative side to sheath making. Sherlock used to say "Art in the blood is liable to take the strangest forms” (The Greek Interpreter). So true.
To help me trim the excess Kydex from the line I can now draw I bought a band saw. I also bought it to do a little woodworking, but I had Kydex in mind when I purchased it.
|I went to Sears. It's a Craftsman. I wanted the 12 HP saw, but it was a little out of my league....|
I was quite happy that my first band saw/Kydex sheath project was working out until for some reason, it took a jog sideways, hit a rivet and skittered away.
|The second rivet down on the right shows were the band saw and I departed from the planned operation.|
|Back side. This is the reason I want the back so flat. I need the sheath to hug the body. I've lost too many knives 'cause they canted out from my body and got snagged by a coat or sweater.|
Well, practice makes perfect. My big problem is spacing the rivets and leaving enough Kydex outboard of the rivet so I can cut, trim and polish. The curves don’t work so well on non-flat, irregularly shaped objects and I need a better way to draw on Kydex other than pencil.
I have been working on a Kydex neck sheath for a Delica Salt.
|The screw is to control the tension. I don't know if I need it, but I'd rather have it, set it and forget it than worry about losing the knife. By the way --- those fingers are from a highly paid hand model. I spare no expensive for this blog.....|
It’s big and I tried it out in the salty Gulf of Mexico and the H1 steel didn’t rust, and more importantly, the knife didn’t fall out. Now that I have a band saw, it’s time to revisit that project.
Friday, July 6, 2012
I’m at Canton McKinley Rifle and Pistol Club’s Regional for three days. It is the biggest regional bullseye match in the country. (By the way, it's open to the public, you can visit if you want!)
Simple. The National Bullseye Pistol Matches start at Camp Perry the week after CMRPC’s Regional and Leg Match ( What’s a Leg Match?) It’s like a tune up before the main event.
They get the military with their armorers, police teams, civilian shooters to come and punch holes in paper targets. It’s very cool, ‘cause anyone can participate and you could find yourself shooting next to a national champion or a housewife from Sour Plane, NY.
I’m not shooting. Bullseye takes practice and deliberate concentration stretched out over hours and days and years of practice. It can also be a bit of an equipment race.
There’s always a better gun or gunsmith. Maybe a new and improved oil which will make the gun shoot better, maybe a magic bullet that will shoot head and shoulders better than the rest. Of course you can reload and the chase for perfection starts over.
I used to shoot bullseye, but it has fallen out of favor with me.
So, I’m there selling knives.
But it was so hot today…. I didn’t care if I sold anything if it meant I didn’t have to move. The building is open on part of one side and we had fans moving air around, but when it’s 98 degrees, it’s just hot air. I don't know how the shooters survived for all those hours on the sunny firing line. I thought for sure we would have some heat stroke, but we didn't.
It’s interesting to talk to the professional knife fighters, trainers, and amateur collectors and users. No matter what you read in the knife magazines, you’ll find a contrary view from a person in the same profession.
I had a nice conversation about knife length with a Pentagon employee. A police officer from Newport News Virginia and I discussed autos or switchblades. I sold a SOG Tomahawk to a Marine. He’s not sure what he’ll use it for but he thinks it’s a good idea. I wanted that one for myself so I guess I’ll be ordering one. I met a Coast Guard Captain who sailed around South America helping those nations set up their own coast guards. He’s stationed stateside now and he always has some interesting things to say.
I sold a few knives too. The ceramic kitchen knives are hot. CRKT’s M16s are always picked up and purchased.
Sunday, June 24, 2012
“Three little knives are we….” (With a tip of the hat to the Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan) my song should go.
I just got three new knives in and let me bring them out on stage.
Benchmade Barrage in Tanto,
|My three little knives.....Barrage on top, Entourage in the middle and the Brawler on bottom. Still, who makes up these names??|
They almost run the gamut of knives found in pockets across the nation. The Brawler is made in China by Kershaw who is owned by Kai the makers of Zero Tolerance and Shun kitchen knives. Benchmade makes HK knives as well as their own. Both of these were made in the USA.
Two are assisted, two are made in the USA and one is not. One is an auto. You would be surprised how many people have a knife in their pocket with one of these descriptors.
Let’s bring one out.
Of all the knives the Entourage is the simplest in appearance.
|HK's Auto Entourage|
The knife is tapped for tip up, left or right carry. The handle is detail free, snag free and has that annoying nail-on-chalkboard feel that enhances grip. These are positive attributes for an auto opener.
The 3.75-inch tanto blade is made from 440C hardened to 58-60 RHC. The C stands for Rockwell C scale. Rockwell has several scales including one for copper sheets and aluminum tubes, so it’s important we acknowledge which scale we use.
This blade has Benchmade’s BK finish.
BK? Oh, that’s Benchmade’s black ceramic coating, probably Cerakote made by NIC Industries. I don’t know what that means either.
The spring is powerful enough to open and lock the blade even if the initial opening is slightly hampered. We've all seen autos that snag, or catch on something and only get three quarters of the way open and the blade just dangles. Don’t let yours dangle.
A simple wrist flick opens and locks the blade. No biggy, except for those times when there is no spare time.
The Brawler sports a 3.25-inch blade made from 8cr13mov steel. The steel is a Chinese stainless and we’ve all seen complications from so called Chinese quality products. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Quality depends on the company and not the country of origin. Kershaw is a well-known name and I would trust their products.
|Front of Brawler|
|Back. Note the high carry clip and tapping in all four positions.|
I can’t find any information on blade hardness. Other companies harden their 8cr13mov steel in the 56-60 RHC range. I suspect Kershaw is in that range as well.
This knife is assisted opening, incorporating both flipper and stud. It’s tapped in all four locations for tip up or down, left or right carry. Very handy for any of us who like different carry modes. The handle is a glass-filled nylon which makes for a very strong and durable handle. The blade has a DLC finish.
DLC? Diamond-Like Coating. Did you know that $4000 Rolex wrist watches come with a DLC coating. You should also be aware there is a family of DLC finishes.
Is it a balloon? No - it's a Barrage.
The Barrage is one of the nicest designed knives I’ve seen in years. The AXIS lock is so nice and so easy to use. The knife’s grip sports little finger bevels to amp up your grip. Why? This assisted opening knife opens with authority and has a satisfying “thunk” when the blade locks open. The blade is made from 3.6 inches of 154CM steel and the handle is composed of Valox.
|Barrage in Tanto, Assisted opening|
Valox is a thermoplastic polyester resin made by Sabic. Benchmade doesn’t tell us if it’s a PET or PBT polyester or if it’s filled or not. But really, how would that information make a difference to you the knife consumer? At some point we all must trust the company. That’s why it’s important to buy from quality companies.
So where are we with our three little knives?
Blade Length (inches)
Opened & closed
Liner lock only
Assisted w/ flipper
AXIS with safety
Assisted w/ stud
Takes the romance out of it, doesn’t it!
Both Benchmade knives have a safety that locks the knife in closed and opened conditions. The Kershaw Brawler depends on needing sufficient force on the flipper to start the blade opening. Its liner lock is stout enough to keep it open until you make the effort to close it.
|Lock on Barrage. Both the Auto Entourage and the Barrage can be locked closed or locked open.|
Both companies offer lifetime sharpening. Kershaw will even pay the postage to return it to you. The auto creates a problem. If you send it back for sharpening, you need to prove (a department letterhead or such) you can legally own the knife. I don’t see it as a problem. There are plenty of sharpening systems available as well as professional knife sharpeners. (Hint: Learn to sharpen your knife in the field.)
So which knife would I carry? Depends. In New York I couldn’t carry any of them.
If I went in harm’s way, I’d carry the Entourage and back it up with the Barrage. Why? Excluding the 'one is none' rule, I’d use the assisted opener for normal activities: opening care packages from home, whittling, cutting cord and other non-lethal stuff. I’d save the auto for those responses when only coarse motor skills were available to me, like fighting for my life.
Sunday, June 17, 2012
I missed the Blade Show.
My mother passed away unexpectedly and we had to hightail it down to Florida. It was a long two-day trip hampered by rain and traffic jams.
Every family does it differently. Mom wanted to be cremated and returned to the Gulf. She loved the ocean.
Cremation isn’t that easy. The funeral parlor is required to wait 48 hours. Concurrently, the doctor has 72 hours to sign the death certificate. Some sign right away, others don’t. Only after the death certificate arrives can they put Mom in the queue for cremation.
Cremation is very popular in Florida. It’s legal to dispose of the ashes off any pier, bridge, boat, shore or toilet. No wonder. With the high percentage of elderly, the high cost to transport bodies to family plots would be quite a handicap to many families and Florida would run out of land if everyone wanted to be buried there!
Because of the backlog, we had about a week between her death and the services. My wife and I spent that time organizing and cleaning the kitchen and laundry room for my dad. I knew my mother was a pack-rat, but this was ridiculous. We found hundreds, really hundreds of clean, used bread bags stored in other clean used bread bags. And why pen caps? Not pens, but a shoebox full of mis-matched pen caps.
Several years ago there was a science fiction-fantasy show about a missing room in a desert motel chain. "Artifacts" from the room had strange powers and effects on people. One of the more humorous ones was a bus ticket which deposited the holder on a road somewhere in Nebraska.
My mother must have had the one that returns lost pen caps to her.
|We scheduled a special trash pick-up for all the stuff Mom had packed away. One exception was a defunct grass cutter which scavengers had already picked up.|
We will not even begin to talk about all the open bars of soap she liberated from motel rooms when they traveled!
Father Pat should have presided over the small service my father wanted. He was strangely unavailable and out of communication with us or the funeral home. The rectory was closed, nobody was home, messages not returned. A really different way to run a ministry. At the last minute Farley Funeral Homes got a fill-in, Father Mike.
Father Mike was an older priest with curly white hair and the map of Ireland written on his face. He said hello and the service started.
You read off a prayer sheet with little notations like (his/her) or (departed) inserted in the text. The priest inserts the name or gender of the person to make the ceremony a little more personal. After all, the normal “donation” is 100 bucks for less than a half hour of work. That’s a rate of $400K per year if you can find steady work. In Florida you can come pretty close.
We prayed for a while and he said, "...we pray for Debby." Mom was June, but my sister Debby was handling a huge part of the burden of arrangements, finding accounts, overseeing so much, she needed a few prayers too, so I didn’t think too much about it. After about the third time, we realized he had the wrong name…… We corrected him.
Funerals are for the living. Part of the ceremony is to pray for the living. So when he got to mentioning my father, “Jack”, we were a little jarred because his name is Frank.
We got that straightened out right away.
“Please! My father’s name is Frank,” I interrupted.
My sister Debby, who apparently had been buried earlier in the ceremony, chimed in with “His name is Frank!”
So Father Mike looks at Dad and says “When I met you I called you Jack. Why didn’t you correct me?”
Dad looked at him and said, “I didn’t want to be rude.”
I suspect my father’s poor hearing didn’t let him hear correctly so he just assumed the priest had the right name. I still think we should have given the priest a blood alcohol test. I bet the level of the cooking sherry was down an inch or two back in the rectory!
The next day everyone wanted a small portion of Mom’s ashes. This wasn’t unexpected so I searched earlier in the week for small metal containers. My wife thought she knew where some were sold, but they didn’t have any. My father's response was to start pulling out amber-colored prescription bottles he uses for small screws and nuts. I said no to that.
We finally found small metal cans with a clear plastic window in the lid and a magnet on the bottom. I’m told they are spice containers and the magnet helps them stick to other containers. Spice containers? I was out of ideas. So I told everyone it was a window that Mom could see out of and they could stick it to their refrigerator. The idea of having your mother’s ashes watching you from the kitchen refrigerator door was strangely comforting to my sisters. I don’t know where they got this quirky outlook on life from, but my father chose an empty camera filter case to hold Mom’s ashes. Go figure…..
My absent brother wants to have his own service with Dad, so I planned to leave some ashes in the original container, but my sister said no. It wasn’t elegant enough. She chose a thick ceramic container with a metal latch. Okay….
So the rest of my mother’s ashes are in an old ceramic cheese jar. Who are these people?
We went to a pier where Mom and Dad fished at, found a nice spot and mindful of the wind, we slipped her ashes into the Gulf and said good-bye.
|Mom's at rest in the Gulf of Mexico.|
Sunday, May 20, 2012
I’ll be attending and blogging from the Blade Show in Altanta next month.
The Blade Show isn’t really a trade show like the SHOT Show. Yes, large orders will be placed and taken by different vendors and company representatives, but it’s really a show for knife lovers. They will also have the annual cutting contest.
It’s true. Name an activity and somebody will make a contest about it. I’m told that NASCAR has its roots in bootleggers outrunning the feds. I don’t know if it’s true, but makes for a great story.
|A tough lie. It's in the rough and it looks partially buried. Must have been soft ground.|
I don’t know the roots of the Blade cutting contest, but contestants have a variety of objects that have to whacked off, cut through, bisected, and separated from the rest of it. The knives are closely regulated. I remember discussions with participants over the best place for a lanyard. I remember several older winning designs that had points. Most of the knives today have round noses because there is no stabbing event and the point was wasted knife. They don’t look like the kind of knife you would carry for daily use.
The general comment seems to be that the cutting contest will result in the design of better steels, blade grinds and theories about how things are cut. All of which will improve your knife. Hmmm, that’s a lot to ask.
|Tougher than you think. A golf ball cut with a single swing.|
I worked for a tire company that used to claim what they learned from making essentially 500 miles of left hand turns with tires designed differently for each of the car's wheels produces a better passenger car tire.
That’s BS. It produces advertisement and brand recognition. So with that background in mind let’s just say I’m cynical about blade improvement from cutting golf balls and hacking through a 2x4.
|I saw this ball cut in half with a single chop. Impressive as hell!!!! I wonder if the ball has a cut proof guarantee?|
Still it’s amazing to watch!!!!
My friend bought this at a gun show. The seller had a box of them and was selling them significantly below wholesale. All the knives were without boxes. It looks like one of Spyderco’s SLIPITS. All the markings look good.
|Looks like a Spyderco SLIPIT. For those cities and nations that think locking blades are TOO DANGEROUS for the common man.|
And the price! It was just so good that he couldn’t resist. The problem is the price was too good. Is it or is it not a real Spyderco?
|The flip side. Still looks good to me?|
I’m taking it to the Blade Show to ask Spyderco.
Stay tuned for more…………