Monday, August 24, 2015

More Ivory


Ivory remains a bone of contention between collectors and the bureaucrats who make our lives more difficult.  The ban on ivory by the Feds had suffered a set back, so the new tactic is to institute bans in each state.  This is a common divide and conquer tactic. 

I don’t the feds should be sticking their nose into you selling your grandfather’s ivory chest set or preventing you from buying across state lines a set a ivory dominoes someone brought home from Korea in the 1960’s.

A pro-ivory stance makes me a rotten SOB for supporting elephant poaching doesn’t it?  But before you go much further you should know, no, I don’t support poaching.  I support the 1989 ban on ivory importation to the US and urge other countries to stop the illegal trade in ivory.  We stopped the importation of ivory in 1989.

(Propaganda mode on)
“The United States is the world’s second-largest market, behind China, for illegal wildlife artifacts. The legal sale of ivory in the United States and around the world helps to disguise black-market sales, U.S. prosecutors and other law enforcement officials say.”
      Washington post Feb 11 2014
(Propaganda mode off)

The above is a lie.  The vast majority of the poached ivory isn’t coming into the US.  Despite what the Feds said in the above Feb 11 2014 issue of the Washington Post, most of it isn’t headed to the US.


In fact, it’s estimated that 70% of all poached ivory is headed to China.  That’s a lot of dead elephants.  And China seems to be all right with it.

That doesn’t surprise me at all.  When a government assumes that each human has no intrinsic value and only a person’s service to the government matters, why would they value animal lives?

No, reports of wide spread pollution, heavy metal poisoning, and adulteration of baby formula with melamine from China don’t surprise me at all.  What does surprise me is the sudden insistence by our politicians that somehow owning an ivory handled knife, or a hairpin somehow makes us low level criminals.  And we aren’t going to discuss what it means to own sperm whale scrimshaw or mammoth ivory!  You bastard, you!   I don’t know how you did it, but you inspired people who were dead long before you were born to kill whales and all those mammoths!

Even Road Show Antiques has to say something about ivory. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/stories/articles/2015/06/22/ivory-law

The problem with the current and proposed bans is the need to know when the ivory was brought into the country.  You kept the provenance on that pair of carved ivory earrings you bought your mother or wife in 1985, right?  

Of course, if you own ivory-handled daggers from the Third Reich or other historic artifacts you may not have any problems.  But that scrimshaw pendant bought from a local artisan made from the white key of a junked player piano isn’t likely to have the documentation you need.

So, if you live in a free state, one that still allows you to sell your possessions, no matter if it’s ivory or not make sure you remind your elected officials to keep it that way.  If you don’t, laws can be changed.  Make sure your government knows your feelings.

Since I started this tirade, the Feds have proposed a new ban in interstate ivory sale.  Tune in for more. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Wooden Pliers


In this part of Ohio the hot ticket for knife fanciers are wooden pliers cut from a single piece of bass wood by Mooney Warther.  I vaguely remember watching him making one on the Johnny Carson show, but I may have seen that film clip at the Warther Museum.

Here’s a link showing Mooney’s son Dave, showing how to make them yourself. 


I’ve got to admit that getting one as a present is just below make-it-yourself on the coolness scale.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

More Blade Show

Sunday morning at the Blade Show is my catch-up day.  I use it to talk to the various knife dealers and personalities.  I had no idea it was going to start that morning at breakfast.

I had a chance to share a table with Phil Cookson and Sylvia Ehinger from Pohl Force.  Dietmar Pohl started this company a few years ago and they are trying to make inroads into American markets.   So far the two of them are the American staff.  But that shouldn’t matter, because these knives have the right stuff.

Dietmar Pohl, I’m told, is the designer behind Boker’s Kalashnikov design.  If you get a chance, take a serious look at that knife.  It’s a basic utility folder that delivers performance.  

Dietmar has designed over 60 knives and knows his way among the LEO and military knife communities.  He’s published a very nice book about some of the knives used by soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the Balkans.  It’s changed some of my perceptions on combat knives, the least of which is non-rounded, asymmetric handles and folders in addition to fixed blades.  The book’s pretty cool and I recommend it.


selection of folders from Pohl Force
Note the coin opener and jimping for the thumb
Later at the show I had a chance to stop at Pohl Force.  They have some very nice designs and they aren’t afraid of using different steels.  You’ll find knives made from D-2, the ubiquitous 440C, BD-1 and one that caught my eye, Niolox.  Niolox is a German steel that’s reported to be better than 440C in terms of edge retention and corrosion resistance.  Since I see my knives as tools, I don’t coddle them and sometimes they are mistreated.  Edge retention and corrosion resistance is important to me.


                            440C  VS  Niolox

  • Element               440C Niolox
  • Carbon 0.95-1.2% 0.8%
  • Chromium         16-18%              12.7%
  • Molybdenum 0.75% 1.1%
  • Manganese    1% 0.0%
  • Niobium             0. 0%                 0.7%            


On the surface you might think that Niolox should be less corrosion resistant than 440C.  Isn’t chromium the magic element for rust resistance?  Well it is, but it reacts with carbon to form very hard carbides.  The more carbon you have, the more chromium is unavailable to provide rust resistance. 

Frankly, my understanding of metallurgy is very simple and not up to the task of explaining austenite stabilizers, carbide grain anchoring or continuous cooling charts. All of which are needed to understand what happens in steel.

I will say I was very impressed with Pohl Force knives.
   
I’m just sorry my camera batteries decided to run out of juice at their table.  The fixed blades were elegant!



I just want to mention the cutting contest.  

Every Blade Show has a cutting contest that allows participants from the local level to compete on the national level.  Each contest is different from previous ones.  Oh, sure you cut through hanging ropes, water bottles and a couple 2X4s, but you may have to push cut the entire length of a plastic straw and then cut as many washers as you can from an upright cardboard cylinder.  This is all done on the clock so knife control and speed count for score.

The knives are highly regulated in terms of weight, length, size and general configuration.  You don’t have to make your own.  You can buy from an approved maker/vendor.  All participants must attend a training class taught by internally certified instructors.  Cutting contests aren’t anything you can just jump into.

From what I can tell, most of cutters at the national level are big, beefy males, but this year Jessica Elias, the Creative Director from L. T. Wright Handcrafted Knives competed.  She was anything but a beefy male.  

The original stated purpose of this contest was to help evaluate grinds, steels, blade configurations, hardness and tempering as well as sharpening procedures.  Maybe it does, but I think it’s like car racing.  If you think 500 miles of left turns on tricked out tires and suspensions that could never be used outside of the race track is important to tire development, who am I to say different? 

Myself, I prefer to just lean back and enjoy the spectacle.  

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Blade Show Day 2

Mark Zalesky, the editor of Knife World has purchased the paper and is now the editor, publisher, and chief bottle washer.  We spoke for a while at the BLADE Show and he’s quite excited.  I think you’re going to see big changes at Knife World.  Good Luck, Mark!

I was visiting at Spyderco and enjoyed some of the inside stories about knives and knife makers.  They have just expanded with a new 17,000 square foot manufacturing area.  That means more knives stamped Golden Colorado, USA Earth on the blade tang.  They are still figuring out the best way to set machines and organize work flow, but do you know what they’re most excited about?  The factory windows can open letting in fresh spring air, that’s what! 

They are reintroducing their line of kitchen knives.  While not as nearly as heavy as many profession knives, they are nicely balanced and sharp.  I love their bread knife and the little paring knife.  The large santoku doesn’t have the little air breaks indentations seen on other santoku.  That might just be an advertising ploy, well have to see how it works.


Blade Show
The Positron.  This knife is so cool both my wife and I want one!

I got to handle their new Positron.  It’s a 3-inch flipper blade made out of S30V in a carbon fiber handle.  It weighs 2.6 ounces.  It’s lovely!!!



Here’s another knife from Phil Wilson and Spyderco.  It’s called the Sprig and sports a 2.23 inch blade made from S90V steel. 

Blade show 2015
The Sprig
It’s a bird and trout fixed blade.  The sheath is still under development.  While it targets a specific use, it would make an all purpose camp and cooking knife.  S90V has high chromium levels for corrosion resistance and high vanadium and molybdenum.  These last two elements form tiny but incredibly hard carbides which should give great edge retention.

Of course Spyderco and everyone else is still plagued with knock-offs from China.  If you have searched for Spyderco or Benchmade you’ll find that Wal-Mart has them and at incredible prices.  Spyderco tells me Wal-Mart isn’t getting these knives from them, so who’s wholesaling them?  “Lot of counterfeits out there.  You get what you pay for.”  Take that as a quote!

Stopped by Benchmade to look around.  Try and get your hands on the 665 APB Assist.  It’s vey new and quite exciting.

The Benchmade 665APB

Most of us are familiar with the Benchmade Axis lock.  The lock is thought to be one of the strongest and certainly easiest to use on the market.  The APB Assist does away with the axis lock and replaces it with a dual button lock.  The person I spoke to at Benchmade told me it was just about as strong as the Axis lock.  I haven’t used the knife yet, but I can’t help but wonder if my grip would accidently depress both buttons.


The two buttone must be preseed together to unlock the knife.  It's very smaooth and a natural move.


The knife opens normally but to close it you pinch both buttons inward and that unlocks the blade.  Very slick.  The 3.6 inch blade is made from 154CM steel and the blue and black handle is very nice.  Benchmade told me they were trying to introduce a color in to the overwhelmingly black tactical market.  The APB Assist also comes in a full auto version (6800 Auto APB Assist).  The catalog shows it black, but the version I saw was blue and black with the same handle.  I suspect it was a quick production so it was available for the show.

Benchmade is making several other autos aimed at the civilian market with clean powerful lines.  Several don’t even look like autos.  The auto APB Assist an excellent case in point. 

Benchmade also has this cool service at the Blade Show.  They will engrave any Benchmade knife blade with any text.  The laser engraver isn’t much bigger than a couple shoe boxes cabled to a laptop computer.  The text is typed in, moved around and sized.

I remember when engraving lasers were the size
of a small auto!
.  


Spelling is checked and you can see the size and position of your text outlined in red laser light



When everything is set up they close the doors and punch go.  A bright green spot of light burns the text into your blade.




Now you can personalize your Benchmade for the cost of a trip to the Blade Show!

If you are going to Blade, take your Benchmades and get them engraved!

I stopped at Buck and found myself talking with CJ Buck.  At the WRCA knife expo I bought a nice new Buck 110 Hunter with what I was told were stainless steel bolsters.  Having a Buck for years, it soon became apparent the brass bolsters react with the fatty acids in the leather to produce a green corrosion.  I was wondering why Buck stopped make 110’s with the stainless steel.  CJ told me they never made a steel bolster.  That would require machining which would drive the price up.  

What I have is German Silver, a mixture of 60% copper, 20% nickel and 20% zinc.  It turns out that brass and German silver have about the same melting point so the same casting equipment can be used for both.

No Blade Show is complete without a stop at Santa Fe Stoneworks.  It only takes one look to be convinced to stop and ooh and ahh.  Truly impressive knives.

A small selection of the knives



I’ve see this knife-making display before.  Knife-making made simple. 

See!  Five Steps!
So what’s stopping us?

I’m walking around and I see a name I thought I recognized from a knife blog I read.  She’s an elderly lady standing behind a counter talking to a customer.  In front of the counter stood a short, silver haired woman talking to a distinguished looking elderly man.  I was waiting for the customer to leave the counter when the silver haired woman turns to me and says:

“How are you?  It’s so nice to see you again!” She throws her arms around me and gives me a hug.  I don’t know this woman.  The conversation goes:

Me: “Thank you but I don’t seem to remember your name?”

Her: “Oh, you were drunk that night.” 

I haven’t been drunk since high school graduation, so if I met her then, she has a remarkable memory.  What am I going to say to her?  Oh, I got it.

Me:  “Perhaps you're right, would you please tell me you name again.”

She does and I’m still not coming up with any connections.

Me:  “I’m afraid I don’t recognize what name.”

Her: Do you know Blackie Collins?”
That when the ants started marching up and down my spine dragging ice cubes.
 
Me: “Well, of course I know of him, but I also met him years ago at the SHOT Show.  He was very kind to my wife and myself.  A gracious man.  He unrolled these large scale drawing of one of his new knives and showed us how it worked and what the interesting design features were.”  I ran out of things to say, so I ended with ”He was very nice to us.”

Her: ‘I’m his widow.”

Oh!  Well what else can you say other than “You have my deepest condolences.”

We yakked a bit and I excused myself only to find out the woman behind the counter wasn’t the blogger I thought she was. 

Here’s a few additional photos from Blade 2015:


Grinding Demo by John Horrigan  Too many people to get a nice shot of the actual grind

The art of Chris Reeve's knives!













Friday, June 5, 2015

Blade Show Blast Off!

The BLADE Show is off with a BANG! 
At least that’s what you’re lead to expect reading the blogs.  Here’s the reality.

The show starts with people lining up for HOURS before the show opens.  I was there 2.5 hours before it opened and found that the end of the line was all the way down the hall, and blocking the concourse.  By the time it opened the line stretched down another hall, across, then snaked over, reversed, and headed into the adjacent hotel.  By that time the smarter people just sat at the entrance and waited for the opening bell.  The end of the line eventually reached them and they walked in the door like normal people.  I wonder what time the first person in line arrived to get that number one spot?

early morning linde up BLADE Show
Early morning line up.  Who was suppose to bring donuts and coffee? 

About an hour before the opening the line starts to compact itself and soon begins to vibrate in anticipation.  It’s a dangerous condition.  Management came by and told everyone they couldn’t block the concourse and everyone involved collectively told them to shove it.  Cooler heads prevailed and they got the passageway opened. 

While sitting there I met Phil Wilson.  He’s a knife maker from California, now retired and has been for 25 years.  (PS 8 June 15  I just found out that Spyderco consideres him one of the top 5 knife metalurgist still living. I wish I have know that when I was talking to him.)  Some of his work is being considered by Spyderco, but he had a few knives with him.  
One of Phil's knives
One of Phils knives.  He makes a nice blade!

Phil is a true hobbyist: he makes 5 knives a month for his own pleasure and isn’t interested in creating an industry around himself.  I thought his knives were very nice.

I stopped by Santa Fe Stoneworks.  They are buying their stabilized ivory and a resin material called Sparkle from Raffir in Denmark.  These materials are very nice and I really like the Sparkle which is a plant fiber and aluminum shavings in colored resin.  Prices are floating up and I expect them to continue that way.

Remember one of the Terminator movies with the liquid metal bad guy?  The Miltner Adams Co. is making something like that.  It’s a moldable metal that’s reported to be double the strength of titanium and was developed by Caltech/NASA.  The metal technology allows you to injection mold complex shapes to a high degree of tolerance.

liquid metal knife
The stud on the top of the round hole controls the sheath.

As a result they have developed the Hybrid Knife.  It’s a fixed blade and you slip your fingers through the knife handle to provide a non-slip grip.  By pressing a stud just above the central circular opening you can pop the metal sheath off the blade to expose the cutting surface.  By manipulating the stud it will close the sheath over the blade.  Frankly, it is an acknowledgment that most of your (and mine!) cutting is mundane and of short duration.  The metal sheath can be removed if you want.

The knife has a Rockwell C of 53.  That’s pretty low but the salespeople told me that was the non-heat treated value.  They also told me if you slip the knife in the oven at 300° overnight you’ll find a very different metal in the morning.  I’m going to assume that would be bad.  This kind of heat treatment usually results in dimension changes, so your knife might not fit together so well.  So don’t do that.  It’s a very interesting knife as is and a very interesting look at manufacturing.

We lucked out at Cutco.  Loren, the local sales rep, has been changing out his display knives for new ones and my wife found one she liked at a great price.  He remembered us from last year and told us what we had bought.  That impressed me.  Cutco owns Ka-Bar and makes very nice kitchen knives so take a look at them if you’re upgrading.

My wife's new knife
Later at Stone River Gear she found a ceramic black bladed folder she really liked.  We often get requests for ceramic folders so we’ll see what one does on our sales table.  Yeah, I bought a second one just for the table.

Imagine our surprise at the Benchmade display when we were asked what’s our home town.  The sales rep was so surprised by our answer and his name seemed familiar.  It turned out he knows our neighborhood pretty well.  He should.  He’s lived there and his dad was the real estate agent who brokered our house 30 some years ago.

Here's a few more pictures:


Before the general admittance at noon






One was to carry a butterfly, clearly a custom job!




That it for tonight!  Stand by for day 2










Thursday, June 4, 2015

BLADE Show Count Down

It’s the day before the Blade Show (June 4th) and frankly it was an interesting trip.

Last night we stayed in Richmond at my niece’s college apartment.  She can’t move in yet because she has a gig at a golf course in Akron, Ohio.  The landlords around her university (EKU) have 12 month leases so most of the rentals are empty, but leased.  That gave us a place to flop. 


Rented Student housing at EKU
This first floor of the apartment.  The two bedrooms are up a long winding stair case, still it's a nice palce.

Her stuff is largely moved in but unpacked.   So we had to make the bed and it was just one step above cutting wood to length.  Still, it saved us a nice hunk of change and it’s a very nice place, especially considering it’s student housing.

LOn the way to the BLADE Show
We left a little something so my niece will rememeber us when she moves in.
We didn’t hit any traffic until we got about 2 miles from our exit.  One of those informational signs informed us an accident on a ramp between our expressway and another had tied everything up.  Informative, yes, but ultimately useless.  It might have just told us we were fire trucked.  (Clue, cross out the right letters for our true condition.)

Anyway, with the help of the GPS we found our way to the Hampton Inn.  It’s one of the nicest rooms I’ve stayed in, including the Piccadilly Hotel in London.

I want to check the convention center out and then it’s off to Ted’s Montana Grill for supper.

Normally the Blade Show does both Blade University and free seminars.  The university deals more with running a business, grass roots efforts to assure knife rights, and such.  The free seminars, which I really enjoyed, dealt with how to field sharpen your knife with anything, best sharpening practices, DIY knife photography, etc.

That’s all gone.  Everything is a pay-to-watch Blade University programs.  For example, a perfect subject for the free seminars would be what to look for in a knife, now its $20.

There will still be the cutting contest and other demos in the courtyard, but it’s only a matter of time before they disappear.

Oh, the reason given for the abolishing the free seminars?  To pay the big knife makers who are giving the courses.  I don’t know if I believe that.  After all, next to the Blade Show this is the biggest knife show in the country.  They would be here anyway.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Schrade Color Shift

There was a car called the Crocodile, so the old vaudeville joke went.  It was touted to have Detroit’s newest safety device.  One side was painted blue and the other red.

What’s so safe about that?  You ask.

Well, in itself nothing, but if you were in accident it sure left the witnesses with conflicting statements. 

I did think it was funny the first time I read it, but I was 12 at the time.  Since then I have seen color shifting paint.  The most impressive were gun safes at the SHOT Show.  The colors shifted from red to blue as you walked by them.  It was very impressive.

the Schrade color shift knife
Yes, the handle looks black, but note the waffle-like depressions

Schrade has released a color shifting knife with the imaginative name of Color Shift.  I got one so let’s take a look at it.  And despite my first thoughts that’s this is really cheesy, it does change between reddish purple and greenish blue.  I even got a flash of gold once, but I have never been able to reproduce that relationship between eye/knife and illumination source.
  
The 2.9 inch drop point blade is made of 8cr13MoV steel from Ahonest Changjiang steel in China.  This is a high carbon steel similar to AUS8 made by Aichi Steel Corp of Japan. 

The blade is black coated and I don’t know the Rockwell hardness.  If I had to guess I would suspect it’s in the 56 to 58 range.  It’s not a bad steel for an everyday carry knife.  But it’s the handle that’s so interesting.

The 3.75 inch handle is aluminum with a pocket clip set up for tip up carry but you might be able to find someone who could drill and tap the metal in another position if you wanted it bad enough.  The really interesting aspect of the handle is its coating.

up close look at the pigment in the handle
The small white particles are at different depths in the clear handle material

The casual examination shows a waffle like surface pattern.  I suspect it’s a big part of the color change.  Let’s get up close and personal.

Color shift pigment
The particles have different thickness, shape and orientation in the handle material, the depressions helps insure the particles are at different tilt angles

The coating on the knife has little whitish flakes of material in random directions and depth.  If we move in even closer we can see the flakes.  They look like defoliated mica to me.  

There is a surface treatment used on pigments called ITT.  It stands for a chemical, specifically Isopropyl Titanium Triisostearate.  Minerals can be reacted with compounds like ITT which allow the surface to refract light like an oil slick on water.  Oil slick colors (no, don’t worry, I’m not going to draw charts and write equations as much as I would find that fun) are formed by the very thin layers of oil refracting specific colors of light.  The organic coating formed by ITT works the same way.  Add the cone-like depressions from the waffle pattern and you get color. 

Does it work?  The difference in colors is significant in terms of when the colors are in the spectrum.  The knife handle would be more impressive if the colors lived next to each other like yellow and green.  

The Schrade Color Shift Knife at one angle 
















                                                      and 

The same knife at a different angle


Still, if you want a flashy knife for EDC, look into the Shrade Color Shift (SCH106ALC).  I understand an assisted opening is now available.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Knife Expo

I'm flogging WRCA's Warther Memorial Knife Expo pretty hard for a variety of reasons.

One: I liked Dale Warther.  I didn't know him as well as some club members did, but I was always happy to see him.

Two: It's a good knife show.  I'd like to see more custom builders, but we're working on that and have asked several new ones to attend.  This show will give collectors a chance to see some really great knives.

Three: A number of club members think the club will fall flat on it's collective face.  We've had trouble with the last couple of places and we are trying to find a permanent home.  Everything is expensive as compared to times when gasoline was a $1.25 a gallion.  This location is no exception.

The knife show will be May 16 and 17 at the Buckeye Expo center in Dalton, Ohio just off of route 30.  Admission is $5 per person but we'll wave the fee for scouts and military in uniform.

 I suspect you'll find just about any kind of knife you're interested in at the show.

We are also running a great raffle with prizes over $1000.  Second price is a ZT 350STTS AND a Benchmade 531 Pardue AXIS.  I sell Benchmade and I can't get this one!

Here's the raffle flyer and I hope to see you there!!!

Knife Show Raffle
If i win first prize, I'll offer to trade with the second prize winner!!



Monday, March 2, 2015

Knife Expo Raffle Prizes

The 2015 Dale Warther Memorial Knife Expo is coming on strong.  We just found out what the raffle prizes will be:
  • 1St place: Randall Combat Companion
  • 2nd place: 2 knives, a ZT 0350STTS and a Benchmade 531 Pardue Axis
  • 3rd place: Warther Kitchen Knife set with block.
  • 4th place: knife roll

This is over a $1000 in prizes but  you can't win if you don't buy a ticket or three.  I’m going buy a dozen tickets myself!!!

The Expo is May 16 and 17 and admission is just $5 at the Buckeye Expo Center in Dalton, Ohio.  It’s just off route 30. 

We still have tables left for makers, sellers and collectors.

Contact Darlene at darlene5674@att.net or check my page  for copies of the registration form.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Television Knives


Crime drama and knives, they are like bacon and eggs.  Seldom do you find one and not the other.  If you’re a police/CSI/crime show fan, it’s not too unusual to recognize one or another.  “Burn Notice” almost always featured a knife of the month.

Many shows solicit props from many companies.  Did you note the new auto sampler on the duex ex machina that solves the problem for the good guys?  They didn’t buy it, they asked if they could borrow one from some scientific instrument maker.  

I especially love that orange column Zeiss Transmission Electron Microscope in the back of Dexter’s lab.  I know what I use a TEM for, but what a blood splatter analysis does with it, that beats me.  I’ve seen it in other crime labs since Dexter is off the air.  I wonder if shows fight over who gets to use it next?

Spyderco usually provides knives for the movies, but they request the knife is used by a good guy.  That doesn’t seem to happen and Dr. Lector ends with the knife in the shadows.  It appears other companies also provide knives.

Last week I found an Emerson CQC-8, I believe, in the hands of a killer on CSI-Las Vegas (Under My Skin).  The Emerson wave was very obvious.  I’m not sure having a killer use your products translate into sales.  Did “Dexter” generate increase sales in Saran Wrap and duct tape?

CQC-8 combat knife



A little later I caught an episode of NCIS: New Orleans in which wound measurements identified the murder weapon as a “Benchmade steel knife.” That must be an amazing database.  I can’t even begin to imagine what kind of calculations and measurements you would need to identify the knife brand based solely on cuts in elastic flesh

So, I also got out my Benchmade catalog, and discovered, all their blades are made from steel.   It’s good to know they don’t makes blades out of glass or ice.  I might order the wrong type.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Ivory


If you have been following the news on the ivory ban you know people are polarized on the subject of ivory.

One side claims elephants are being slaughtered left and right for their tusks and ivory should be banned from the US markets.  The other side claims we should protect the elephant by assisting the countries who are attempting to stem the poaching.  This side also claims the vast, vast majority of ivory, legal and illegal, is sold to the Far East and China.

stacks of illegal ivory
700 African elephant tusk seized by Malaysian authorities on their way to China


The politics and enforcement of stopping ivory poaching by making ivory illegal are convoluted and difficult.  One small example is teeth from the sperm whale.  These cone shaped teeth are prized for their value in scrimshaw.  By 1988 civilized nations stopped hunting the endangered sperm whales.

So to protect these whales, scrimshaw art drawn in the 1800s and 1900s on teeth from whales killed then are taken from their owners and destroyed.  No rational explanation seems forth coming on how this helps whales in 2015.

This same approach is applied to ivory.  The USFWS (US Fish and Wildlife Service) has moved to block the sale and when possible, effect the confiscation of ivory.  Your problem is you have to prove your ivory isn’t elephant and wasn’t collected since the US ban on elephant ivory in 1986.

USFWS and their agents simply assumed it is illegal elephant ivory and will take your property as well as anything else you might have.


USFWS has had its funding for this search and destroy mission blocked.  So states are jumping on the bandwagon.  I suspect politicians realize the relatively small number of ivory collectors, knife makers, musicians, and scrimshaw artists and the wealth of their pocketbooks make them vulnerable.  After all the few votes politicians lose are nothing compared to the votes and publicity they gain by taking an meaningless anti-poaching stand.   States like New York and New Jersey have these politicians and frankly, they don’t care about the people in their state.  California, Iowa, Washington, and Connecticut are introducing these bills.

So it comes as no surprise that a 72-year old woman was arrested in New York for trying to sell a necklace containing mammoth ivory at an antique show.  

You should realize that all mammoths were extinct long before our country was founded. 

I have an old walking stick that was owned by my wife’s grandfather.  He came over third class from the old country to make a better life for himself.  My mother-in-law describes him as “a sport.”  So it’s not surprising there are several quarter inch-square chips of ivory forming a collar set in the dark wood.

If the government has its way, I’ll never be able to sell that stick or quite possibly give it away.  I don’t have any ivory handled knives, but I do have several white bone knives.  Will I have to prove, someday, after they are confiscated that they are not ivory?

I urge you to contact your representatives, both federal and state, and urge them not to support the ban on ivory trade.  Urge them to support laws that protect legally owned ivory.

I once read that the slippery slope argument was a logical falsity.  Maybe at the debate contest, but to people working in the actual world it’s a truth.  Don’t let political bureaucrats and politicians push you down the ivory slopes.

Cut Up



How about it? 
 A nice knife massage will straighten you out.  I know people that could use a nice knife massage.  I bet you do too!


Knife Massage Training Class?????



While you could get one in New York City or Detroit the one I have in mind is best found in Taiwan.  They get repeat customers!




Thursday, January 29, 2015

S&W vs Benchmade

Sounds like a mismatch, doesn’t it?  S&W knives are made by Taylor Brands, makers of flashlights, Uncle Henry and other products.  Benchmade makes, well, they make really good knives. 

Let me introduce our two challengers, S&W MP1600 an auto knife and Benchmades AFO II Auto.

Out of the box, each knife looks different, and the differences are more than skin deep.  The S&W has a relatively smooth, graceful black handle with a sliding lock next to the opening button.  The button itself is fully exposed on the handle.  There is no jimping to increase the friction between handle and hand.  The front bolster offers scant protection to prevent your hand from sliding forward onto the blade.   This may not be a big concern to you.   If your perceived use is cutting fir sticks, butchering a rabbit, opening cardboard boxes this handle will have no surprises in store for you.


S&W automatic knife
An S&W automatic knife.  The safety is right next to the opening button.

 But if you envision needing to cut a coconut open, making a violent, full power stab into something with hard spots, as well as open your mail, this knife may bite you back.

The AFO II has a dull black surface that feels gritty.  For me, it’s like running my nail over a chalkboard.  Jimping on top and bottom of the handle tip and tail provide additional friction surfaces.  The lines of the handle aren’t as smooth or flowing and a swelling at the bolster helps keep your hand away from the knife edge.  This knife also sports a metal glass breaker tip.  The lock is on the spine 90 degrees away from the opening button.

AFO II knife
Benchmade's AFO II   Jimping provides extra friction surfaces.  Glass breaker is small and not painful if you accidently palm it.
The AFO II clip is interchangeable to four positions, including the button side.  In the tip down position the knife rides high in your pocket.  Move the clip to my favorite position, tip up, and the knife rides a little lower in the pocket.

The S&W clip can be removed, but it’s drilled and tapped only for right side tip up.  It lets the knife ride low in your pocket, virtually unnoticed to the casual observer.

Lets looks at the numbers!
Feature
S&W 1600
AFO II
Open length
8.2 in
8.5
Blade length
3.7 in
3.6
Blade Steel
S30V
154CM
Blade Thickness
0.134 inch
0.123
hardness
?????
58-61 HRC
Handle
Aluminum
Aluminum
Weight
5.8 ounces
4.8 ounces
Price
$160
$245
Made in
USA
USA

All and all pretty even except for price.  The big surprise was the S30V steel in the S&W.  Almost as big of a surprise was the differences in spring tension.

Any automatic knife that doesn’t have enough spring to push the blade to the locked position is a pretty sad knife.  The auto’s only reason to exist is to propel the blade to the lock position, otherwise you have an ordinary one handed opener.  But what if something momentarily stops or blocks the blade from reaching the full open position?

One of two things can happen depending on the spring.  The spring has enough strength to kick the blade into the lock position or the blade just dangles until you add a flip with your wrist.  I don’t have scale or a testing device that can measure spring strength, but let’s look at it from another way.  How much do I have to cock the blade so if I release it from that position, the blade will return to the locked open position?

For the S&W, about 110 degrees from full open.

For the AFO II I couldn’t find any blade position that did not return the blade to the full open locked position.
In other words, the AFO II will always open, even if the blade meets obstructions as soon as the blade clears the obstruction.

The S&W, not so much.  If the blade is stopped in the first 80 degrees of opening, it should finish opening.  Be prepared to wrist flip it open in another position.

The other big difference is the safety.  The safety on the S&W locks the blade closed.  It can’t be bumped off and the blade can open.  The safety doesn’t do anything in the open position.  The AFO II safety will lock the blade open or closed.  When the safety is on, that blade isn’t moving from its open or closed position.

Both knives are available in tanto and drop point as either serrated or plain edge.  And both have a lanyard hole if you chose to use that.

Since neither knife belongs to me I can’t test the edge.  But I have always found that other Benchmade knives cut better and retain an edge longer than their significantly less expensive S&W brothers.  But with the use of a high end steel, S30V, that might no longer be true.

Who wins?

One important lesson to remember is, function should define form.  In a combat role were self-defense is the card that trumps all others, I would go with the AFO II.  It has a heaver spring that, in my limited tests, always opens.  The lock is smaller and on the spine but I would feel more comfortable carrying the knife in a pocket or tucked in my waistband.  The shape of the handle and it’s surface finish will help you keep your grip.

The large and easy to find safety and the highly exposed button on the S&W would make me uncomfortable throwing myself down behind cover or fighting in small confined area.

However, there is an $80 dollar difference.  If your world consists of relaxed fit pants, gathering at the barbecue to swap lies, and the most stressful situation you think you’ll be in is pulling the guideline of a tent with one hand and cutting the rope with the other, the S&W 1600 could be the right knife.


I very much liked the Benchmade AFO II over the S&W.  But don’t be fooled by this statements.  If you somehow slipped me an S&W 1600 when the fecal material hit the impeller, I would be very grateful!