|One of A.G. Gent Knives|
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
A.G. Russell recently passed away.
If that name doesn’t mean something to you, you’ve led an impoverished life. It may not have been financially poor, but your soul hasn’t been nourished enough.
Russell started making knives when he was nine. In 1968 he started selling after-market knives but continued to have his designs made. His wife, Goldie, helped publish a slick glossy catalog containing photos of knives of amazing beauty. Knife fanciers refer to it as “knife porn” as we anxiously await the current issues which would be studied, pawed over and each knife’s detailed description memorized.
The catalog is still in production and I still look forward to seeing it.
I met A.G. years ago at one of the S.H.O.T Shows, along with 100 thousand other people. But a recent article of mine in Knife Magazine on his Gent Folder II brought us back into contact. We talked and he showed me how he could flick open virtually any knife. He said he enjoyed my article.
He joins a select group of knife giants. Some of the names should mean something to you.
James Parker Sr. who once owned Case Knife and founder the National Knife Collectors Association (NKCA)
Bill Scagel who inspired so many other designers and makers like Bo Randall, the founder of Randall Knife.
Bo influenced Bob Loveless who inspired countless other makers.
Robert Terzuola who invented the term Tactical Knife.
The environment they created let people like Blackie Collins flourish with his innovative designs. Blackie was also a founding member of the Knife Makers Guild as well as the originator of Blade magazine.
Bill Moran, the rediscoverer of pattern welded steel and founder of the American Bladesmith Society isn’t excluded from this group by any means.
And of course, A.G. Russell, who opened the world of art/collector and working knives to everyone. Let me remind you he produced the first production knife with a thumb stud. His Sting boot knife still inspires both art knives and fighting designs.
I know there are others I’ve missed and skipped, but I there is no question that A.G. Russell will be on anyone’s list of knife milestones.
A.G. Russell, III passed away Friday, October 12, 2018 at Northwest Medical Center in Springdale, AR at the age of 85. The knife community will miss him.
Sunday, September 30, 2018
Well, it’s been knife, knife and more knives recently.
My favorite knife club, WRCA, has obtained several really nice knives for their raffle at our yearly fund raiser. It’s a knife show of course and it’s the weekend after Mother’s Day. That’s May 18 and 19, 2019.
We want to gather as much attention as possible with the hope that this will translate into attendance. You see, attendance is the lifeblood of any show, knife, gun or model train. It’s obvious that vendors will only rent table space from you if they have a good chance of making sales. The promotor can’t guarantee sales, but he can (and should) shoulder much of the blame for poor attendance.
|Here's the initial flyer for the WRCA show. If you make, sell, collect and would like a table, call Darlene.|
The question is how to get people interested in attending? The best way is to tell the general population and remind them constantly. This is how blockbuster movies do it. They create interest by constantly telling you through the media, internet, weekly magazines that the blockbuster of the season is coming.
Not having the budget they have, we’re going tackle the problem by guerrilla advertising. One step is to get pictures and information out about our yearly knife raffle.
I had to set up my photo booth and take some photos. It’s not a real high tech operation. I use a thin white cloth as a diffuser and two of the brightest fluorescent lights I could find. With the help of several reflectors and the all-important tripod I try to get studio quality images. It’s been known for some time that great images make lasting impact.
So these will be on our website, on my blog and Facebook page with the hope of attracting potential customers who want to take a chance on winning as well as attending our show May 18 and 19, 2019.
I believe this is first prize. I think it is one hell of nice knife. More on this topic in the future.
Speaking of shows, I just attended the Lehigh Valley Knife Show. It’s within spitting distance of New Jersey and (almost) New York. We get a lot of traffic from these states because of their draconian knife laws. It’s tough to be a collector when you feel harassed about your hobby. I had a number of potential customers after specific products, like Spyderco’s rust-proof H1 steel, but unable to purchase it because the blade is too long.
One customer uses the thinking that most, if not all criminals, use cheap kitchen knives and other POS knives. His defense is to tell the police officer, “Look, it’s a $200 knife. I have a car with another $800 dollars’ worth of tools I use on my job, so it isn’t likely I’m holding up or mugging people outside of bars to make $30.”
He claims it works so far…..
At the show I ran into a fellow who run knife classes for Girl Scouts. It’s based on a Swedish program, sadly now extinct, that taught a quarter of the grade school population how to cut with a knife. His students learn how to make cuts like a V-cut or stop cut. When they are done I understand they have a little carved figure. Very cool.
Imagine grade school children learning how to carve in a society where a drawing of knife gets you sent to the principal’s office. Amazing. I wish him good luck!
While I was at the show I passed out flyers for the WRCA show at the Massillon K of C Hall, May 18 and 19th. (I bet you were wondering if I would get around to that again.)
Look, it’s five hours away, for some of these vendors it’s an additional 2-3 hours on top. It’s a long way to go to sell knives. Part of my sales pitch was, “Look, come sell knives on the weekend, visit the FootballHall of Fame on Monday and by the way, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is just up the road in Cleveland. You could have a great time.”
One guy told me he hates football, okay what about rock and roll? He hates that, too. Okay, I can give it back, too. I said, “What you hate football? Are you un-American? What are you? A Commie?”
Well, he started to laugh and said “Okay, give me a flyer.”
I’ve said this before. Life is hard and everyone is working hard to get by. If someone offers you a flyer to participate in an activity you are currently involved with, just say thanks and take the damn thing.
Here are a few images of the knife show.
|Early Sunday Morning. Sundays are always slow and thus a good day to bargain.|
|Grinding knives and axes at the show, or 4th of July fireworks early.|
Friday, September 21, 2018
Move over Swiss Army knives! You’re got company.
Swiza is a relatively new knife company, but they have a long history as a clock maker. Louis Schwab established the Swiza clock factory in Moutier, Switzerland where they have a long reputation as a premiere clock and watch maker. But change comes to everyone.
In 2006, the Schwab family transferred ownership to Bedonna Holdings. Who are they? Good question. Bedonna appears to be a holding company whose business is making money. Like all holding companies, they own several companies that make products the public wants. Kind of like angels on “Shark Tank.”
At some point Swiza got involved with estragon, a design company. Yes, it’s a lower case “E,” all very artsy fartsy. But Dirk Fleischhut and André Lüthy appear to have the chops. They helped Swiza get into the knife game with a very interesting knife.
|The Swiza C04 in Khaki, or as I call it green|
They opened a plant in Jura, Switzerland, and in Oct 2015 started making Swiza knives, a creditable challenger to the Victorinox/Wenger Empire.
Here’s a little aside I found interesting: the geology term "Jurassic" is derived from the Jura Alps, which date to that era. Knives and fossils in the same blog, must be a record of some kind.
Here’s a Swiza D06 in leafy green. Let’s talk turkey, err… rather knife.
The first thing you notice is the nail nicks or blade openers. They are elongated trapezoids holes that penetrate the blade or tool. The second thing you notice waits for you to pick it up. The bolsters have a soft silky feel. Rub your thumb over the closed knife. There aren’t any sharp edges with the exception of the back end of the tweezers. You’ll find a curious double step that lets you grab and remove the tweezers very easily.
|Curious looking back end of the Swiza Tweezers, but easy to extract from the knife|
The 3 inch blade is milled from 440C stainless steel and has a Rockwell “C” hardness of 57. The blade locks open, a touch I have always liked. The release is hidden under the white Swiss cross on the handle. It takes a little effort, but that’s actually desirable in a locking knife.
Various tool configurations are available. This knife has in addition to the tweezers and main blade, a #1 Philips screwdriver, a #1 and #3 flathead, bottle opener, can opener and a reamer with sewing awl eye. I’ve always been curious about the sewing awl eye. If you’re using that function, that’s going to be a very coarse repair which will probably do more damage than the rip, or the fabric is so coarse you can wiggle it through without cutting large holes.
|I seldom need a can opener, but the screw drivers and bottle opener are life savers!|
The tools appear to have been hardened to 54HRc. Why such relatively low hardness, you ask?
It’s not low. We’re spoiled by pricey super steels with Rockwell values in the 60s. At these levels bending the blade is likely to break the blade. As Ernie Emerson once wrote, a bent blade is still a knife, a broken blade is just expensive junk. (My apologies if the quote is wrong.)
At these levels of hardness you should be able to resharpen the edge with a fine grain rock. A number of years ago, I attended a mini-class where it was claimed you could sharpen a blade with mud. That is, if you had enough time, and if the knife was dull enough that even a slight improvement was desirable. I’d look for a fine grain, flat rock first.
All in all, I think you’ll find the Swiza up to all your urban cutting needs. This Swiza, with its leafy green scales has a suggested manufacturing price of around $56.
Monday, September 3, 2018
"A knifeless man is a lifeless man.” Nordic proverb.
I recently bought a set of puukko knives. The set has the curious name of Double Big Hunting (Knives) and was designed by Harri Merimaa. Harri is from Bothnia, a providence of western Finland and is a third generation knife maker. I think they are very nice knives and I'm very happy to have them. Nice job, Harri!
|Double Big Hunting Puukko set|
The blades are high carbon steel, the smaller knife is 84 mm (3.3 inches) while the larger is 154 mm (6 inches). Both rest in a single brown sheath. It’s the handles I found especially interesting. Each handle is chiefly dyed curly birch capped with elm wood. The rakish cut of the handle butt provides a stop to prevent your hand from sliding off.
Puukko knives are so characteristic of Nordic countries, it’s hard to mistake them for any other knife. Surely you recognize them? Most puukkos have a slight shoulder but no ricasso because where the edge ends and the handle begins is where most power can be applied. The blades have a long flat edge with no secondary bevel. To sharpen, the bevel is place flat on the stone and then polished.
Nor do puukkos typically have a guard to protect your fingers. A puukko knife is primarily a cutting and building tool and not a tactical weapon.
A classic blade would be the width of your palm, but you’ll find them 90-120 mm (3.5 to 4.7 inches) long. This creates a market for both men’s and women’s puukko knives. Women’s, (hey, it’s a sexist world) are typically shorter bladed for ease of food preparation.
In the Nordic countries, the puukko is an everyday knife that is used for everything from hunting, fishing, and garden work to opening boxes in the warehouse. Despite being an everyday item, receiving a good puukko as a gift is considered a great honor in Finland. Both Boy and Girl Scouts consider the puukko their scouting symbol as well as a handy tool.
In 1977 Finland banned carrying knives in public because, (wait for it…) they could be used as a weapon! This law appears to be seldom enforced. In my opinion, any law that depends on the personal outlook of a police officer is discrimination.
As an aside, the puukko is the only civilian item which can be openly worn as a part of a soldier's combat gear without breaching the regulations of the Finnish Defense Forces. Because puukkos are traditionally considered to be very personal items, the military does not supply conscripts with them, and most bring their own with them. It’s hard to imagine basic training with knives, but what do I know?
Sunday, August 26, 2018
Take a look at these. Just ordinary pocket change, like you get from a thousand different purchases. Or is it?
|Penny for your thoughts? Here's 48 cents worth of opinion.|
Now take a look at this picture. Same coins but something is significantly different.
That’s right, the nickel has a blade. It’s a very sharp blade. It’s sold by Shomer-Tec. I got mine from a good friend, Bob.
This is one of many products you’ll see aimed at people who travel in third world and failed countries. In these locations kidnapping, abduction and murder are relatively common and quite anticipated. FARC is a perfect example. The great majority of their funding (even revolutionaries need to be paid) came from drug running and ransom kidnappings. Having a hidden or non-detectable blade could be the difference between self-rescue and spending three years with an ear cut off while your family attempts to negotiate your release.
Think I’m blowing hot air up your skirt? Check with your friends who travel to these countries for big companies. They have hostage insurance and training for the traveler to look less like a target as well as special security. Tell me again why you think you’re safe at Cozumel?
You don’t really use this blade. It’s designed to help free yourself from cord or zip-tie imprisonment or as a last ditch effort to escape during the initial stage of an abduction or assault.
|1986 was a very very rough year as witness the coins.|
It does remind me of the devices invented by OSS and others to help Allied prisoners-of-war to escape. I have a plastic copy of a lapel knife worn in a sheath sewn in jacket lapels or in coat sleeves. The originals were metal and quite deadly.
Growing up in the 50s there were a lot of articles about these efforts. I remember jacket buttons that would unscrew to reveal a simple compass. When the Nazis caught on they made them with reverse threads so it was righty loosie, lefty tighty. Uniforms were redesigned so simple alteration would make them resemble men’s suits and ballpoint pens containing an ink that would dye a re-tailored uniform to typical suit color.
|I think you could drop this in the change bowl at any metal detector and it would pass. You have to notice the dot between In and God|
Escape tools aren’t anything new. Still, this is a very cool knife.
Sunday, August 5, 2018
In this corner we have Benchmade’s Anthem and in the opposite corner we have Benchmade’s Bugout. All right, I want a clean fight. No clip gouging, no biting and no hitting below the axis lock. Okay? Now go to your corners and come out on the bell.
This is an unfair fight. But let’s see how it shakes out.
The Anthem is a manual opener with Benchmade’s famous AXIS lock. Introduced in 2017, its unique feature is the handle is machined out of a solid billet of titanium. For the same strength, titanium is 45% lighter than steel. So this knife weighs in at 3.66 ounces. The titanium handle is sculpted in a chevron pattern that is pleasing to the touch and attractive to the eye. The knife is set up for tip up carry and the titanium clip is left/right reversible.
|Hey, good looking...|
As soon as anyone uses the term wonder steel, a new one appears on the horizon. Still it is the correct adjective to describe this steel. Let’s talk composition.
20CV is a martensitic steel containing 1.9% carbon, 20% chromium and a whopping 4% vanadium with 1% molybdenum and a smidge of tungsten. The high concentration of carbon and vanadium produces a high volume of incredibly hard vanadium carbides. These carbides strengthen the steel and give it wear resistance which benefits any knife blade. The chrome rich steel has excellent corrosion resistance.
Starting as a powder steel 20CV has small grain and uniform distribution of tiny carbide grains. But machining is difficult, having only 35-40 percent of the machinability of 1% carbon steel. Hardening, annealing, tempering operations are complex and time consuming. Despite these complications the Anthem’s blade reaches 59-61HRC.
|The screws in the spine anchor the AXIS lock|
The opening stud is easy to find and is spaced nicely from the body allowing easy access. The blade glides open on what looks like bronze washers.
It’s a beautiful knife.
If I had to summarize Benchmade’s Bugout, I would have to say: “Now for something completely different!” I also have to add different isn’t bad.
The Bugout was introduced this year, 2018. It too is a manual opener with an AXIS lock. It’s thinner, lighter and more compact than the Anthem. The steel is CPM S30V, another super steel.
S30V is a martensitic steel containing 1.4% carbon, 14% chromium and also 4% vanadium with 2% molybdenum. The rest of course is iron. Vanadium reacts with carbon to produce very hard carbides. Harder than chromium carbide. Generally, steel has to contain 10.5 % chromium to be considered stainless. One factor to consider in this equation is how much of the chromium is removed from the metal as carbides. Fortunately, as chemical reactions go, vanadium carbides are the favored product, so most of the chromium is available for protection from oxidation or staining.
|A nice Introduction to Benchmade quality knives.|
Powdered metal products, in general, have smaller grain size and a better distribution of the carbides than cast steel. It’s reported to be as easy as D2 steel to machine, which according the fount of all knowledge, Wikipedia, isn’t all that easy.
Hardening, annealing, tempering operations seem to be relatively straight forward. Bugout’s blade reaches 58-60HRC.
The handle is a glass fiber filler nylon called Grivory. It one of many types of engineering nylons and its properties are well understood. There will not be any surprises here.
The knife is set up for tip up and the metal clip is reversible left/right and set up for deep pocket carry.
|You can see the steel liner ending just at the top finger. there's a second one on the other side.|
The knife doesn’t have full handle metal liners. The metal liner is about 1.7 inches long and it looks like it’s injection molded into the handle and then screwed at the tail end for additional strength. The opening stud has a nice blue color but it’s held near to the grip making the knife a little more difficult to open as compared to the Anthem. The AXIS lock is also tucked into the handle and the blade doesn’t swing free when the AXIS lock is used as does the Anthem.
As Gin Wigmore says “going head to head”:
Reversible – deep carry
CATRA Edge Retention
145% of 440C
180% of 440C
CATRA edge testing is one of the new witchcraft testing procedures to produce a reproducible, operator independent, meaningful edge retention value. The problem with many of these types of test is finding a test material that is also constant and reproducible. In any case it’s better than you and buddy shaving leather or cutting steaks.
So, what do I think?
These are knives designed for different needs and different people.
The Bugout is a nice “Welcome to Benchmade” knife. It’s small and compact but provides enough cutting ability for most uses. It’s the knife I would carry in places I couldn’t carry a knife. Places I thought I might lose a knife. If I was packing a true hell-for–leather bugout bag, one of the knives would be a Bugout. If I was going to stash a knife, a couple hundred in twenties, compass and matches in a sealed wax container… you get the idea.
The Anthem, well, it a great knife and for me it would a “barbecue” knife. Something I’d pull out of my pocket to show off. I’d carry it in places where I never intended to use a knife. It would be a status symbol for me, if I used those kinds of status symbols. But look, if you need to get the most out of a knife, if you use a blade hard and need every possible advantage of edge, weight and durability, the Anthem could be your answer. It’s pricey, but I think it would hold up better than the Bugout to hard, brutal use.
Monday, July 23, 2018
The expression “standing on the knife edge” is often used to suggest you are looking for and can see the future as it develops. It’s a place of nervous energy and decision making. Do I like this, do I understand what I see, and do I need to jump off before some specific future arrives?
It’s also place to sit back and relax. Sometimes we just want to let the edge take us to wherever it’s going. So that was what Ohio Brew Week in Athens, Ohio was. A chance to just let the future of microbreweries wash over us.
We pull into our first brewery Devil’s Kettle. We haven’t had lunch or even checked into our motel. The Brew Week guide tells us DK has food at a little foodie stand called Pork and Pickles. That very cool!
So we order a beer, get a picnic table and walk over to place a food order. The owner is behind the counter and in front of the grill. She tells me she had to send her helper to Kroger Food for supplies. I’m cool with that. I understand the need to be patient. So we order two burgers, well done. She tells me P and P only cooks them medium. It seems the beef is locally sourced (later I find out she owns the cattle). I look at a burger someone is eating. It’s 2 inches thick and it’s bloody, raw ground beef with a thin layer of brown crust on each side.
I like to enjoy food, but I can always rationalize poorly cooked food as “it’s just fuel.” But still it’s too rare. “Could you cook it a little more? Please?” I request.
|What! Compromise the integrity of what! She must be nuts!|
“I don’t want to compromise the integrity of our local beef.” What, did she read that in some epicurean foodie publication with a circulation of a 150 wannabe chiefs?
I already have a beer, and I need some blotting paper in me and she holding lunch hostage. So I don’t respond with “Hell, lady, it’s too late, that cows is already ground up!”
Instead I look over the posted menu for options. She has some kind of cold pressed pork patty, but every time I read it the letters spell “Trichinosis.” I’ll spare you the autopsy photo of a brain infected with trichinosis. It still gives me the dry heaves, so no cold pressed pork for me or anyone I love or even vaguely like.
She’s got soup and deviled eggs listed. I’m saved! Not so fast. “Sorry the deviled eggs are for dinner only…”she tells me.
Well, we applied a liberal dose of flattery and convince her we’re celebrating St. Smithers’s Day, the patron saint of hamburgers and she cooks two burgers well done, only after we swear an oath never to reveal that she failed to respect the integrity… you know the rest.
I don’t feel bad about breaking my word to someone who doesn’t know the patron saint of burgers is St. Menches
We stopped at a number of places. One was Jackie O’s. The food was great and the beer, well everyone was rolling out something special for Brew Week. So while I’m enjoying a beer I’ve never heard of and can’t find anywhere else, I look over at the table next to me and he’s drinking a Stroh’s beer from a bottle. Stroh’s was founded around 1850 and is now owned by Pabst. It’s an ordinary beer that bases its sales on the idea that a since its fire brewed, it must be good beer.
I think you should drink what you like. But here you are, sitting in one of the breweries consistently rated in the top 100 in the world, not Ohio, but the freaking world, and you’re drinking fizzy, alcoholic, yellow water, cause some advertisement told you should?
We stopped by what is quickly turning into my favorite brewery, anywhere, Little Fish. They have a relaxed, friendly atmosphere with some amazing beers. Food is available at a food truck anchored next to the brewery. They specialize in Cajun food, and it’s excellent. We had their quail breast sliders one night and went back the next for another serving. They had a cucumber beer (Cucumba) that is perfect for warm summer nights and an orange/carrot beer (Cheeto Benito) I think would go good with a turkey Thanksgiving dinner.
|The selection at LF|
|One of the bands at Little Fish and some of the grounds|
|The Cajun Clucker at LF. The food is excellent!|
Little Fish is growing. Bigger building, indoor restaurant, more parking are in the works. Bye-bye food truck! Will success spoil Little Fish? I sure hope not!
We also sat in an hour lecture in the history of the beer can. There are a few beer cans out there that would pay for a summer of traveling in Europe, if you find one. The point I liked best was cans were introduced by canning companies looking for more market share of the beer beverage market. Those beer companies that could afford the technology were able to effectively leave local areas and enter new markets. They slowly drove the less advanced companies out of business.
|The history of beer cans and it was held in a ....|
|...In a church! To me it is proof there is a God and he loves me!|
Brew Week is the cutting edge of the future of beer in the world. More and more cities, town and unincorporated areas have breweries. They cater to local tastes while using local products. This puts money back into the local economies and creates opportunities. Not all these breweries will go regional much less national, and some with simply fail. But they will create many different unique beers.
It’s a great time to sit back and watch it unfold. Relax and have beer with me.
Here's a few more photos:
|The Eclipse Company Store|
|The Eclipse Company Store is on a bike trail, which is equipped with tools and air pump to effect emergency repairs. Thats is soooo cool!|
uuyg uy h
Sunday, June 24, 2018
I just want to let you know that no knives were hurt at the Medina gun show this weekend. In fact, damn few were sold by anyone. There is something about the June show. One would think that since there is no May show and following the June show there is nothing until September, June would be busting with buyers needing ammo, targets, supplies, blades and other sundry items. Not so.
It was a stinky show, so men, stop eating all that cabbage, ‘cause it’s bad enough not having customers, but gassy ones are worse!
|What appears to be a tang stamp is someone's initial carefully carved into the metal.|
I did pick up a horn handled lever lock auto. It’s completely free of maker marks. So I searched Google images. I found an internet reference to SKM A Beltrame in Italy. This led me to the website from Frank Beltrame and Maniago, Italy.
It seems Maniago, Italy has a long tradition of making automatic knives, especially in the classic Italian stiletto style. They also make lever locks like mine. From the little I could tell with my internet search, companies like SKM (Switchblade Knife Works) acted as jobbers making knives for everyone and could, as governed by Italian law, mark the blades with anything or nothing. SKM is reported to be out of business. There is no website, but they may have resurfaced with a different name.
|The tab, or lever must be depressed towards the handle to open or close the knife.|
|With the lever up against the bolster the knife can't be closed. When closed this position prevents the knife from opening or unlocking.|
Frank sells this knife, but he has no prices on his website and only one picture. I’ve found other listings of this knife, but the dimensions are a little off. Was this a bad translation from metric to English? Or did the jobbers have a range of knives they made that looked the same, but varied in size?
In any case Maniago has what could be a very cool Museum of Knife Making: Art of Manufacturing and Cutlery.
|Horned handle lever lock automatic knife, closed and locked.|
I’m not sure what to do with his little guy. It’s in very good shape with a 3-inch blade and 4.5-inch horn handle. I suspect there is a little more research to be done on this guy.