Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Blade Show Sunday is the finish line. Most of the pressure is off, sales made, promises swapped, and bargains available, if you can recognize a bargain.
It’s a good time to talk to vendors about knives and the industry. I stopped at Spyderco to talk with Joyce. Long ago Joyce sent me a congratulations note on my first article which was about Spyderco’s Bob Lum with the anodized green handle. We think of her as a friend.
Spyderco is one of my favorite companies, along with Shadow Tech, Benchmade and Böker.
So what new is with Spyderco? The answer is lots.
Remember the H1 steel. Rust proof in salt water. I ran my own test by slathering a salt paste on the blade and keeping it in a moist warm environment overnight. No rust. H1 steel has some hardenable issues but the steel can be worked hardened. Every time you sharpen it, the edge gets a little harder. Now they are using LC200N as is many other blade makers. Oh, yes, did I mention they have altered the Caribbean Salt so it has the 4-position clip?
LC200N is low carbon, high chromium with enough nitrogen to give you RC values of 60. This should be a very rust resistant steel. They are releasing it mid-year as their Caribbean series, a yellow and black alternating striped handled knife with a flat grind blade. It will be Endura size, but way cooler.
The Military with Spyderco’s patented top compression lock is very popular, but big. So several years ago they released the Para Military, but even that was large. So get ready for Para 3. It’s about Delica size but with the same wide flat ground blade.
For mid-season they are introducing 30 new products. Add that to their already expansive product line and you have a shop keeper’s nightmare. Which do you stock? How many of which? Which one or two are just there to draw customers over to the counter, but aren’t expected to sell?
I got a silent agreement that Spyderco has too many SKUs for most vendors. I found out that every year they have an SKU meeting and they decide which SKU will go to make room for new ones. People get passionate about this. “Which child will you kick out to bring in a new one?” They ask. I’m glad I don’t have to make these decisions.
Sharpening is always controversial and the show has many systems ranging from simple Arkansas stones to sharpening systems that suggest a degree in engineering is required. As steel blades increase in hardness more sophistical materials are needed. Cubic boron nitride? Industrial sintered diamond? Recrystallized unobtanium? These are the sharpening material of today and tomorrow. But these are still challenged by the water stones of Japan, the fossil clay of Italy and the slabs of soapstone.
Google search for edges. How many will you find? Flat grind, secondary bevel, hollow, apple seed, chisel, chisel with back bevel? Now let’s consider angle. The smaller the angle the sharper it is. It’s also more delicate. A stout angle may work fine on an axe, but not so good for filleting trout for dinner. Most of us expect to have to resharpen a shallow angle more often regardless of the super steel or secret heat treatment.
Angle leads us to blade thickness. You can find Tou-tube videos of people attempting to chop through a branch with a blade only a 16th of an inch thick and people attempting to carve tinder with what can only be described as an edged car leaf spring. Somewhere in the middle are the compromisers trying to create one edge with two different profiles. They attempt to make the front half of the blade eye surgery sharp and the back edge coconut cracking dull. Most of the time, they fail. I would suggest setting your edge geometry and sharpness to your average cutting expectations.
And you know what? It’s all wonderful. Let me suggest that through exploring edges, sharpening and sharpening, whatever your final edge is you will create new appreciation for the humble knife.
Here's a few more images from the Blade Show:
You can always find raw material to make the knife you want!
I wish I had bought a few of the screw pins used to hold handles together!
It's Buck's 75th anniversary and the Buck clubs went all out!
Let's end with fireworks!
Friday, June 16, 2017
If you believe George Clooney, a day without Nespresso is day without sunshine, without oxygen, without … (insert any hyperbola you want). But has he ever wondered where all those single-use capsules go? Maybe they are being compressed, shrunk and crushed until they reach the density of degenerate dwarf star material. Another rumor has it they are taken back to Switzerland to fill in the caves the Swiss dug to protect themselves during WWII.
Actually they are being swallowed by Victorinox and spitted back out as a special edition of Swiss Army knives called Nespresso Pioneers and they are very cool.
Both Victorinox and Nespresso are Swiss companies located near each other. Victorinox is a very environmentally conscious company. “Sustainably-sourced and produced products are at the heart of the Victorinox business model,” says Renee Hourigan, North American Director of Marketing for Victorinox.
So what, you say. Companies make this claim even if they burn scrap in bonfires instead of sending it to landfills. That may be true but Victorinox is different. They are recycling 600 tons of steel from its grinding sludge every year, equivalent to 25% of the steel it uses annually. So several years ago they started making deep blue handled knives from recycled Nespresso coffee capsules. Twenty-four recycled Nespresso coffee capsules to be exact, per knife.
11,650 Nespresso Pioneers have were released for sale, (as a value added activity, calculated how many cups of Nespresso George Clooney would have to drink to supply all the aluminum) but you have to go to Switzerland. They aren’t sold here. (Email George and see if he can do something about this…)
But that was last year, this year 250 special purple Nespresso Pioneers will be released in the US. Get ‘em if you can. They are so cool on so many levels.
In case you’re wondering about Keurig’s K-Cup coffee pods, they were recently banned in Hamburg, Germany, with sales in North America slumping. Keurig’s promise to make 100% of its pods recyclable by 2020 is ‘too little, too late’ for many German and American households that want to enjoy guilt-free coffee in the morning.
Saturday, June 3, 2017
Has the Blade Show become a victim of its own success?
Saturday is always a bad day. Any knife fancier within 4 hours of driving can work a full week and drive here on Saturday and make it home for church and family brunch on Sunday. Saturday is a packed day. Despite the convention’s efforts, you’ll find a number of people walking and selling. No surprise there, with tables costing over $500 you have to sell a lot of knives to break even. So, you find people selling to tables.
The exhibition hall is packed and the only redeeming grace is to remember sardines don’t die in the can, they die in the open sea. Air conditioning struggles to keep up but with 90+ temperatures outside and hundreds and hundreds of people inside it can’t keep up.
Blade is the knife show by which all others are measured. The show’s location needs a rich environment to support it. There may be bigger venues in the cornfields in Kansas, but it will never have the support Atlanta has.
|The contestants warning up|
Is there an association of Balisong Flippers? Beats me, but Blade hosted the first national competition. They used live edges and flip free style, but the MC warned that kicking the knife with your knee was outlawed at this event. The flippers were set up in the back parking lot where the cutting would take place and it was single elimination. Three judges, well known by the crowd, selected the winners of the each round. You can tell they were expecting a lot of dropped knives. Each competitor stood over a sheet of cardboard. I didn’t stay for the entire competition. It just seemed too silly to me. Every completion heat I saw, the loser dropped his knife at least once if not more. I have to wonder if some of the flippers will create moves so unique that in the future the move will be named after them, like the ice skating Hamill Camel.
|Giraffe Skull, what else could I say|
One of the knife supply houses had a skull of a giraffe on display. It appears that giraffes can become a nuisance animal requiring culling. The meat is sold and made into sausage (I can’t believe there aren’t a few steaks involved!), so the supply house buys camel leg bones for knife handles and just for giggles asked if they could get a skull. The joke was on him.
It took a lot of boiling and bleaching, but the complete skull is available and on sale. For $500 bucks it can be yours. I wanted it for over the TV cabinet, but wiser heads prevailed. A word of warning, it’s a lot bigger than you might think it is.
|A different EDC|
I bought a mini-khukuri. The seller has them made in Nepal by Gurkhas. They use truck leaf springs and its steel needs to be taken care of or it will tarnish. I have a full size one made in India and this will make a nice addition.
It’s Buck’s 75th anniversary and Buck collectors are pulling out the stops. In the public area of the hall they have about a row of double sided tables as long as city block set up. You’ll find everything from complete run of Bucks to experimental prototypes and exotic one of a kind buck knives. Each display is different, some cruder than others but all a testimony to Buck knives.
|Mantis neck knife or upside down stargate|
We bought new neck knives at Mantis Knives. It’s hard to describe Mantis. They make some really silly knives, but they are so freshly original you can’t dismiss them. Our neck knives look like an “O” with a T coming out of them. Put your finger into the ring and pull, a curved blade emerges from the metal ring. Frankly, the blade looks too flimsy and curved for fighting or cutting.
It might be time to skip the Blade Show. You will not find too many of the unique knives and blades seen on Forged in Fire. What you’ll see are the typical, safe designs: drop points, Bowie, spear, Hawksbill and Wharncliffe blades. The steels are the usual suspects: high carbon, D2 and the stainless families. I was impressed that I found one smith with forged titanium blades.
Prices remain high but bargains can be found if you work at it.
Here's a few more pictures.
|Another high carbon steel blade to worry about|
Tomorrow’s the last day. I have an appointment and one or two items and it’s off we go.
Friday, June 2, 2017
|A Blade Show Special from Spyderco, BOGO!|
The first day of the Blade Show finished and was punctuated with plenty of excited people and sore feet.
As good as the show is, registration is just as terrible. You can’t register and pick-up your pass Thursday night, despite the fact registration is open for the vendors. The VIP passes can be bought only Friday morning at 10:00 despite the fact people lined up at 7. The when you get to the registration window the equipment and personnel don’t work. In fairness, the staff is desperately trying to stem the human tide of impatient people and haven’t been trained very well. After you get your pass you have another line to stand in until the official opening at noon. You’ll soon find the floor is your friend.
The doors open at about 12:05, because none of the security personal have the authority to open the doors and the moron with the authority can’t tell time! At least it seems that way to me.
My first stop was A.G. Russel. A.G. wanted to chew me out about my Folding Gents Hunter article in the June issue of Knife Magazine. It seems A.G. can flick the blade open with quick wrist motion. Well, so can I, but every knife class I’ve attended where people open their knife that way, sent their knife flying across the room. Still, he and his wife Goldie were very nice to me. I later found out of the other 3 articles about the FGH, he liked the one in Knife Magazine the best.
I stopped off at Aku Strike Knives to look at their trainers. Dwane Horvath has developed a training knife that emits a sound and flashes a red or green light when a solid contact is made.
|Aku Strike's new knife fighting trainer|
While these can be dangerous (get jabbed in the gut with 4 inches of hard plastic and you’ll know what I mean), they add a new dimension to training. The knife’s sounds and light is only activated when the blade is pushed back or upward to simulation a stab or cut. Keep your eyes open for this. It will add a new level to your training.
|Seems like a good way to set your kilt on fire!|
I always like to watch the demos on knife grinding. I think it’s the sparks. It’s also interesting to watch all the other people. I try not to be too obvious about it, after all someone might be watching me!
Here’s a few photos.
|Some of Cutco's knives|
|Browning's Kukri A real different look for Browning.|
Monday, May 22, 2017
The WRCA Knife Expo ends with a whimper yesterday. Sundays are usually slow days as the foot traffic is very low. It’s also an excellent day to bargain. Sellers want to earn a little money, even if it’s just enough to buy gas, so they can be haggled with.
I got a deal on an old Benchmade Panther. It’s old, from the 1990s and it’s ugly. I’ve got to do a little research but I think there’s at least a blog in it, maybe more.
On Saturday I stopped by Mickey Yurco’s table. Mickey is a remarkably creative edge maker and martial artist. He also has a quirky sense of humor and stage presence that makes stopping at his table always interesting.
Ask him to demonstrate one of the few knots used in the fighting arts. It’s called the dragon knot. You’ll be surprised.
|Yurco Hatchet, the sheath has a quick draw function|
I’ve previously bought several of his knives and hatchets and have been very pleased. I understand Boker has picked up two more of his designs. Congratulations, Mickey!
|Mickey's first Boker collaboration, the knife that is. The meat was dinner.|
I just got one of his single edge razor blades. It’s ground from titanium and is about 3cm long by 2.3cm wide and about 0.15cm thick.
|This is a closer shave than I ever want!|
Mickey gave it a small lanyard and put a round patch of skateboard tape on one side. The blade is a chisel grind. Titanium isn’t the best metal for edge retention, but it is non-magnetic and its small size lets you carry it in your wallet as a true last resort weapon. It’s designed for grappling where you’re going to make pressure cuts and not slices, stabs or chops. Of course, all the targets are soft tissue.
|Contact Mickey for your own interesting knife!|
I bought it because it’s cool! Also, it suggests to me the OSS lapel knives from WWII. Somewhere I have an “original” Blackjack plastic OSS lapel dagger.
There’s plenty of room for creative knife ideas!
Monday, May 15, 2017
Friday, April 28, 2017
Boker knives are some of the hidden gems in the knife market. Mostly because they don’t have the advertisement clout others do. But smart thinkers and cagey knife users should be thinking about the Boker brand.
Boker traces its roots to tool manufacturing the 1800s in Germany. Swords were the name of the game, but they diversified into other edged products. The family owned company sent representatives to America and opened up manufacturing in America. They both shared the “Tree Brand“ logo.
During the Second World War the Solingen plant was destroyed and Boker USA took control of the trademark. In the 1950s the German factory was rebuilt. Over the years the American company closed. The German company changed hands but in 1986 Boker reacquired the rights to the American brand and established facilities in Denver, Colorado.
Boker has manufacturing in Germany (of course!), Argentina, Taiwan and China and now in the USA. They produce three basic levels depending on the price point: Boker, Magnum and Boker Plus.
I once did a special order of a special knife to commemorate the customer’s son-in-law’s military promotion. It was a beautiful Damascus bladed folder. The blade was carved from 300-fold forged Damascus steel from the barrel of a German Leopard 1 tank.
The knife came in a nice wood presentation box with the instruction and history in German. The buyer was very happy, as his son-in-law spoke German for the Army. I have a friend who spoke German for the Army; he was a spy. I didn’t ask any more questions.
So if your introduction and thoughts about Boker are from the Magnum $7 knife pile, think again.
I just got my hands on the Boker Mini Kalashnikov auto. I’m very impressed. Here’s the stats:
Blade: drop point
Blade Length: 2.5 inches
Handle length: 3.5 inches
Weight: 2.1 ounces
Handle: reinforced nylon
Country of origin: Taiwan
The Boker website claims the handle is aluminum but they also claim the blade is wood. Hummm, someone’s website has been hacked.
The blade shows the same powerful spring action I’ve seen in Benchmade autos. Block the blade from completely opening and when the obstacle is removed, the spring still has enough force to finish the opening and lock the blade in place. The pocket clip is reversible and the handle sports a lanyard hole.
|The finger grooves really provide a grip so you can concentrate on using the knife and not holding the knife|
The finger scallops fit my hand pretty good for a small knife. And between the scallops and the jimping on the blades spine and handle you get a very good grip. The blade release is a basic plunge lock system. This system has been used for many years and is very dependable if you keep it clean. But isn’t that true of all machinery?
|The open back allows for easy cleanup and makes oiling the spring much simpler.|
I suspect it uses a coil spring and the knife has Torx screws so you can replace the spring if necessary.
I have come to like auto more and more. I don’t suspect they open any significantly faster than the assisted or many of the tactical knives. But I do think pushing a button is a gross motor skill and doesn’t require the fine motor skills which are lost under the influence of fight/freeze/flee conditions.
I wish I could take it for a drive, but it isn’t mine. I have no doubt it would serve me well.
It retails for about $55 but you can get it for less if you shop around. I’ve got two for sale, but that’s another story.