Friday, June 7, 2019

Blade Show Day One 2019

Anyone who thinks they can cover the entire Blade Show in one day is delusional.  

Knives of the blade show, assortment of knives
Just a taste....
I can’t tell you how many furlongs of aisles there are.  There are more knives than you can imagine.  By Sunday, I’ll be jaded and telling you there are so many similar knives, but today, all I am seeing are different and innovated designs combined with exciting handles.

I walked for hours and I should stick my feet in a bucket of ice.  I can’t wait to go back tomorrow!

First, a little social commentary.  There are three classes of people at Blade.  You have the early birds who pay more to get earlier access on Friday (noon).  These are people who have a specific destination in mind and have a shopping list.  Many designers have a limited number of specific knives and they sell out fast.  They start lining up at 5 o’clock the previous night.   You need stamina to be an early bird.

Then there’s the CAPs.  That Customer Appreciation Patron.  That’s us.  We used to be called VIPs.  We line up three hours early and get in at 1 pm.  We often have specific destinations, but are a little laid back about getting there.

Finally we have the great unwashed (general public), who are let in at 2 pm.

You can draw your own conclusions.

Being in the CAP group, I have a chance to make conversation with people around.  One interesting fellow was part time knife maker Dale, from Bloom Custom Knife.  He’s from Michigan and is scientifically working towards being a full time knife maker.  We talked about quenching, cooling and grinding as well as testing.  He had one of his knives on hand.  The handle is a carbon fiber/copper that was amazing.  I will not lie to you, money is a part of any knife maker, but my conversations with makers strongly suggest that the creative urge drives them.  I think we’ll see more of Dale in the future.

Dale's personal carry knife

Dan at Battle Horse is a case in example.  The company is run by his daughter and son-in-law and they are doing an amazing job.  This frees Dan to pursue his creative desires without worrying about the bottom line.  He had a variety of primitive art pieces, including a jeweled coyote head, leather-wrapped tomahawks and leather-wrapped, recycled cans (!).  The impact of his creative drive can’t be seen or experienced from a web page.  You need to stand there and handle them.  I expect Dan will do some exciting things.

Dan's art tomahawk.  I like it very much! 
I bought a knife from Banzelcroft Customs.  They utilize an industrial razor as a blade.  That’s very clever in my mind.  Mykel Piper worked for years at a phone store and found he was always sharpening his knives as they would hit metal staples and get chewed up from cutting through heat sealed plastic blister packages.  Knowing there must be a better way led him to formulate a holder for heavy duty replaceable blades.
High Tech box opener
Thats a Kirinite handle, an acrylic polymer

One knife did get away from me.  Raegan Lee Knives had a fixed blade with a black handle contain silver wire hexagons (think exotic beehive).  Raegan started collecting knives and decided to start making them.  I’m always impressed with people who start small business and see them as engines of wealth.

the one that got away
Raegan and her cool knife
I wanted that blade for the WRCA knife raffle the club does yearly, but by the time I made it back to her table it was sold.  It’s a bitter lesson to learn: the time to buy is when you first see it.
Raegan Lee Knife
a better look at the one that got away.

I did get a nice Russian knife with a birch bark handle.  The bark is stacked like poker chips on the tang of the knife.  The handle has a cool, comfortable grip and very much resembles a puuko style.  I have been admiring these knives for years and decided it was time.

Bask knives - Konstantin Vasenko 
Then there’s Microtech.  You know their knives: sharp, well-made, aggressive, but let’s change things up.   A year ago Microtech Defense Industries decided to make the quietest 9 mm suppressor on the planet callled the 2K9 K-Configuration.  They have succeeded.  The can be run dry or wet.  The 6.47 inch suppressor shows an average DB reduction of 31.57 dry and if you add a cap of water, you get a reduction of 40.72.  WOW!

An unnamed military unit is running them now.  But come December 2019, we civilians may be able to by a tax stamp and own one.  It will not be cheap, but what’s your hearing worth?

Here are a few more images.

A relative new company, but interesting knives

Jonathon Quill
Engraving by Jonathon Quill

Part of the CAP waiting for entrance.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Spoon of Death

I’m not sure where this belongs - in my Tactical Blog or my Knife Blog.  I don’t write a social WTF blog, which is where the next two items really belong.

Let’s start here.

Great Britain once commanded an empire that spanned the globe.  Explorers, merchants, settlers and military opened up continents and brought the English version of culture and civilization to the world.  But now England has become afraid of knives.

knife crime in england
The police ask you to turn in your deadly butter knives before anyone is hurt!
Having continually reduced the number of firearms owned in England without eliminating crime, the English government has refocused on outlawing knives.  England has put drop boxes where you can anonymously drop off your knife.  Since London has an extremely high level of CCTV coverage, I wouldn’t believe that for a moment. 

Recently criminals robbed a ‘knife surrender bin.’  Police claim they have CCTV footage of the criminals hauling away the weapons collected by police as part of a knife amnesty.  No comment has been made about the imminent arrest of these fiends.
If there is a lesson, it’s criminals always find a way to get the tools they need.

On a similar note, London’sRegents Park Police said that a local charity shop had handed over a collection of potentially dangerous edged weapons to prevent criminals buying them.  I can only assume the owner has some hidden agenda or he’s mentally handicapped but perhaps not as badly as the police who posted a picture of several knives, including a letter opener, a practice fencing foil and a spoon as part of this cache of deadly knives. 

spoon, letter opener in police collection

I can almost see the arch fiend jumping out of the shadows with a fencing foil in the number 2 guard position, a spoon in his other hand to break up your circular parry and the letter opener tucked in his sash for close quarter combat.  Surely he would be bare-chested and wearing black yoga pants, a red lined black cape and floppy hat with feather!  En-garde!

I blame England’s anti-knife movement on the government’s inability to deal with crime and it is their attempt to move the public eye off themselves an on to weapons as the cause.  America’s doing much of the same thing.

On a more serious note, the Tuesday, May28 2019 Akron Beacon Journal reports a local Tokyo man charged a group of school children at a bus stop waving a knife in each hand screaming “I will kill you!”  Nineteen people were injured including thirteen children.  At least two people are reported dead.  I don’t know if that number includes the attacker who slashed his own neck.

Again more proof that criminals and crazies will find the tools of mayhem they need.

What does this have to do with knife collectors?

Your knives are actually weapons and as responsible collectors we must secure them from theft and misuse.  You can also expect that at some future point you will be vilified as a collector of these dangerous weapons.  We only have to look as the history of legislation of automatic knives.

In an effort to increase magazine circulation, articles were published about these ‘toys that kill.’  To appear pro-law and order without any actual work, politicians banned automatic knives.  As collectors we are still struggling with these silly laws and their ramifications.

Unlike England we have a Second Amendment.  We have organizations like the American Knife and Tool Institute and Knife Rights to stand up for us.  Join them, buy a membership and help them out.  Remember the alternative.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Tie One On

There are only a few things one can say are really NEW.  As a chemist I’d say John Napier’s Logarithms in the 1614 were really new.  My Analytical Chem professor had us use logarithms for calculations as hand calculators were not fully invented at that time.  

Much newer are bolo ties which were invented by Victor Emanuel Cedarstaff in the late 1940s. 

Knife Bolo tie, black leather
A distinct touch of style
I’ve always thought bolo ties had a sense of flash and uniqueness men need to tap into.  I had to wear a tie in grade school and my fondness for bolo ties forced the school to rewrite their requirement about wearing ties to include a prohibition against bolo, string and bow ties. 

This is a defining quirk of my personality.  So when I had a chance to get one of Mickey Yurco’s knife bolo ties, how could I say no?

Mickey has been a knife maker for over 30 years and designs unique blades.  Unique?  Yes, because Mickey brings both a sense of history and tradition while concentrating on cutting.  Boker Knives has picked up two of his designs and the latest can be found here.

While not as well hidden as the OSS lapel knife, the bolo knife reminds me of a last resort, hide-out knife.

Bolo tie Knife, Yurco

It needs a set of a dozen friction lines about three-quarters of an inch up from the point so the thumb or index finger has a better friction point to retain the use the knife as a last resort tool.  Simply you’re your thumb or forefinger across anything you want to cut, just remember all the places the pulse can be felt just below the skin. 

Or you wear it as tasteful man jewelry.  The bolo has the classic black leather braided cord ending in silver aiguillettes and the black leather sheath is embossed with bear foot prints.

Bears are the largest land omnivores in both Europe and the Americas.   Since they can walk upright, they were thought to be special and a reservoir of knowledge.  They are also associated with warrior spirit and prosperity.  More manly traits.

I doubt I’ll ever cut my way out of trouble with this knife, but I like the elegant look.  You can contact Mickey if you need manly fashion accessories or interesting cutting edges at

Monday, May 13, 2019

Wood Knives

My father used to carve wooden knives, mostly daggers.  He’d start with a square rod of scrap pine and carve a handle with grooves, holes, partial spheres and a V-shaped edge he called a blade.  It was just a way for him and me to whittle away an hour.  I’m sure I was better at making shavings than anything resembling a knife. 

But I never forgot carved wooden knives.

At the Lehigh Valley Knife Show I ran into Dean the owner of “The Last Table”  who is making wooden knives.  Specifically folding lock back knives.

Wooden lock back knife  The  Last Table
Here's the details, you just need to add skill and years of practice.

Following his retirement three years ago, Dean has been a serious work worker producing furniture you want to own.  He showed me a logo he first carved into a dry bar for a customer and then took it up a notch by flaming it with gunpowder.  Talk about “Edgy”!

Last year Dean gave some thought to wooden knives and started experimenting.  When you open his folders the lock, driven by a wooden spring, clicks into place locking the knife open.  
OH wooden Lock-back knives
Is this cool or not?  It is!!

The spine lock is depressed against the same wood spring to unlock the knife and the blade snaps tightly into the bolsters.  It sounds like a Buck 110 opening and closing.

wood lock back

There is no metal used in the knife, just wood and wooden pins.  I got a really nice one made of burly maple that I think is super.

The selection of interesting woods is amazing The top marble wood is very interesting as is the second osage orange.

We were talking and Dean showed me an experimental wood Ka-Bar style knife he had made.  The handle is composed of two different woods and the blade is stained dark.  Look at the handle butt and you can see the partial tang a classic Ka-Bar has.
One of the few  Ka-Bars that can float in water, but it's too nice to do that.!

Dean’s working on a website, but it’s not quite there.  It will be OH Wooden Lock-back Knives.  The OH stands for Open Heart and not Ohio.  Trust me.  You can see the heart he puts into these knives.  The name works.

I told Dean I thought mixing different woods for blades and bolsters would be attractive.   I can see even different woods stacked to form the bolsters.  Of course, it’s easy for me to make suggestions when I don’t have to execute the design.

I understand a Floridian has made a large purchase and I suspect we’ll see these at the upcoming Blade Show.  I’ll be looking for them.

You can contact Dean at if you’re interested in having custom work done.  I recognize quality wood work when I see it.  This is the real thing!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Send in the Clones

Counterfeits, or perhaps the nicer term, “clones” have been a problem for some time.  In 2016, Apple found that 90% of chargers it purchased directly from Amazon, which were using official Apple imagery on the product listings, were fake and even dangerous.

We have often blamed counterfeits on cheap Chinese knockoffs, but even the high quality Chinese knife manufactures are having problems.

WE Knife Co. is moving to stop the sale of clones of their 708 Karambit model.  The two primary offenders were Böker, who sold the knife as the Taifun under their Magnum line, and Adola, a wholesaler located in the Netherlands.

According to WE, both companies get the clone from the same source, a Chinese knock-off company selling the knife as OEM [original equipment manufacturer] product.  Isn’t that ironic!

OEM contracts are nothing new in the manufacturing world.  Thirty years ago both Michelin and Goodyear made Sears tires.  These tires were quality products and made money for all three companies.  Why should the knife industry be any different?  WE itself has fulfilled plenty of OEM contracts and as I understand it, started as an OEM company.

WE’s claim is the model in question copies their original design too closely. “We just do not like other companies cloning our designs and making a profit of it.”  Henk Hakvoort, Marketing VP explains.

Both Böker and Adola are cooperating by removing the offending model from their catalog, but this doesn’t solve the problem.  It seems the Chinese supplier to Böker and Adola purchases these clones from other, presumably, Chinese manufacturers not yet identified.

If you’re an American clone collector, tough luck.  Böker USA does not carry that model here and we have never sold any of them here in the U.S.

Again, clones or counterfeits are a problem in every product line.  Don’t be chump.  If you’re getting a deal that seems too good to be true, it is.  Buying one is admitting you’re all about superficial appearance and not ability and performance.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

On the Edge

Legal News

The Texas Senate on Monday (April 29) passed Knife Rights’ “Location-Restricted Knife” Reform Bill, SB 2381, by a bipartisan vote of 19-12. The House companion bill, HB 2342, received the unanimous vote of the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence last week.

restricted carry of large knives in Texas
Big knife, hopeful fewer restriction on carry in Texas

These bills would reduce number of places where Location-Restricted Knives (blades over 5 1/2 inches) are banned.  This includes restaurants and bars, amusement parks and places of religious worship.

Good news for anyone in or traveling in Texas with a knife in their pocket.  I would have never thought that Texas would have legal restrictions over knife length.  I means it's Texas, for God's sake!

Böker News

Durand prefers a unmarked, simple blade, hence no opening stud or nail nick.

Böker has new releases from three of their designers. Serge Panchenko, Raphaël Durand, and Kansei Matsuno who are back with more for the Solingen, Germany manufacturer.

Serge Panchenko has opened his own production label, Serge Knife Co., and collaborated with Böker before on the popular Lancer model.  His new knife for Böker is the Gust with a 2.8-inch D2 blade, a stainless steel frame lock, with an anodized front scale embellished with a seashell-groove machining pattern.

Raphaël Durand’s new models are the Frelon and Boxer.  Both require two hands to open as neither features a nail nick.  However, both the Frelon and Boxer are locking knives, equipped with the tried and true back lock, 3 inch blades and new steels: the Frelon comes with VG-10, while the Boxer is sporting N690.

Kansei Matsuno brings a liner lock to the LRF design, but maintains the same elegant lines that defined his first release with Böker.  His penchant for twists on opening mechanisms is displayed here. Matsuno has incorporated a symmetrical ‘horned’ front flipper, with small tabs protruding from either side of the pivot. The near-3-inch blade is made from VG-10.

They all sound sweet!

On the down side:  Böker has announced that “On 1 May 2019 our grinding machines will be shut down and delivery times may be extended accordingly. Our sales department will not be available either.” 

While this may just mean a temporary pause, to upgrade, fix, repair or move we hope it’s just a very brief interval. I own several Bökers and they are an underappreciated knife and reasonable in price.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Drahth Knives

Recently I came upon knives from Drahth Knives Company.  I was impressed with both the beauty of the knives and their motto: “Life is too short to carry an ugly knife.”

mini-bowie, Damascus steel
Mini-Bowie in  Damascus

I contacted Andy the owner and asked a few questions about his knives and his company.  It’s always interesting to me to find out how small businesses get started.  I’ve already stated my belief that small businesses are the spark plug of the American economy.  Its true Ford and ATT contribute more in total dollars, but they all started with a dream to create prosperity for a small group and their families.
Sheath knives,
All of the sheaths have the same attention to detail

Andy started grinding knives for himself at a machine shop owned by his father and grandfather when he was eleven.  Of course, those were for himself and a few friends.  But other interest took Andy out of the shop and until recently in different directions.

In 2014, chance gave Andy the option to start making knives again.  Combining his and his friends experiences about blade shapes and handle lengths, Andy started making knives.  He’s partial to blades with longer handles which make for a much more controllable knife.

Basic utility knife
The long handle gives you plenty of grip and control over the blade

The blades are typically 1095 steel shaped by stock removal.  This steel has a lot to recommend it even in view of today’s world of super steels.  The 1095 blades can be hardened to Rockwell c values of 55 to 60 and still have some of the inherently flexibility an outdoor knife needs.  As noted knifemaker Ernie Emerson said of another steel, “A bent blade is still a knife, a broken blade is junk!”

1095 steel can be resharpened with ordinary stones available in just about any hardware, big box or sportsmen store.  It throws great sparks with a Ferro rod for fire making.  All the steel needs is a little coating of oil coating to prevent rust.  Use a food safe oil just to be sure.

Elliptical blade, Canadian Belt knife
The elliptical blade reminds me of the classic Canadian Belt knife, but this sports a thumb rest for more control.

A variety of wood handles are available ranging from walnut to exotic wenge.  Wenge is a legume tree from the Congo and Cameroon.  (Legume wood means the tree has seed pod.  Who would have guessed it?)

Are they perfect?  Why would they be?  I’m far from perfect myself, but they are pretty damn nice.  The leather sheaths are well sewn and fit the knife well.  I like how the knife sits deep the sheath where it will stay secure from grasping vegetation as you move through the fields and forests.  The logos stamped into the leather are sharp and well-defined.  The knives are easy to grasp and have an instinctual feel to them.  The full tang construction is slightly raised of the wood grips.  You can barely feel a slightly raised edge of the steel over the wood.

We’ll just have to wait to see the evolution of his knives.

Where can you get these for yourself?  I’d go to his website; or contact him at

Sunday, April 14, 2019

First Look: Shadow Tech's Trail Blazer

 Imagine a holster company designing a holster and not having a gun to fit.  Improbable?  Maybe not.  What if the company wants to start competing in a new area but needs something to fit it. 

Stoner Holster contacted one of my favorite knife companies, Shadow Tech, with a request, “Can you build us a knife to fit this sick leather sheath we want to make?”

The answer appears to be yes!

ST's Trail Blazer
My first look at the Trail Blazer

I saw the prototype; ST calls it the Trail Blazer.  It’s mega cool. 
The saber grind blade is 5.75 inches long and a quarter inch thick at the spine and sports aggressive cross-cut saw teeth.  The full tang handle is also 5.75 inches long and features Micarta grips providing a solid and substantial grip.

fixed blade

The blade is 8670 steel used in the lumber industry for large circular saws because of its toughness and edge retention abilities.  The blade has a 60 Rc hardness.  The blade isn’t stainless and the powder coating helps protect the blade.  You have to do your part with a little oil on the exposed metal. 

Those are some aggressive saw teeth! 
The leather sheath can be adapted for a tactical molle system, or different width belts.  The sheath contains a small pocket and a loop for a fire starting ferro stick.  The one I got to see had a small diode light and a permanent match.

Back of Sheith showing arrangement.  Note the diode light. 

This is a prototype so expect changes.  I understand Dot Snaps will replace the current ones to give the sheath more reliability.  John tells me the grip will change slightly with a slight swelling to help grip the knife.

I don’t know if the leather and micarta will stay these colors or if options will be available.  I also don’t know how the blade cuts or will resharpen.  Will the handle fit my hand or will hotspots develop after a couple hours of work needs to be answered later.  I would not be surprised if the dimensions change a little in length.  Again, this is a prototype.

I would have liked to seen a small sharpening stone.  8670 steel may have great edge retention, but all steel loss sharpness during use.

Still this is a very cool knife and it will be available in May.  Hey, that’s next month, so if you want one, you better preorder now or expect you’ll have to wait later on.

Go to to order your own Shadow Tech Trail Blazer. While you're there take a look at some of the other knives they have. You can also call them at 614-648-1297. 

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Truck Driver Trapper

I don’t have a type.  I mean there are virtues and disappointments everywhere, but this one must have been singing my song because I heard it loud and clear.

The knife has been carried, but never used or resharpened.

It’s a trapper pocket knife with a coal truck embossed into the jet black handle.  Trappers typically have two blades and mine is no exception.  It sports a traditional 3 inch clip point blade and a funky 3 inch spay blade used to neuter stock animals and occasional bad guys in novels.

Etched and colored main blade
You can see the tang stamp on both blades

The clip point is etched in red with “American Coal Haulers.”  Both blades are tanged stamped with a crown and the reverse is stamped “Hardin Germany.”

It’s a well-made knife.  Separate springs for each blade with no half open stop but a positive inclination to close and snap when the blade opens.  The liners are brass and even the springs inside the knife are mirror polished.  The blades don’t have any wiggle and whoever owned it before me took good care of it.

Who made it is a more complex story.  It seems there is no knife company called Hardin nor is there any town in Germany which goes by that name.

Tang Stamp
One of the knife forums suggested the crown logo is the key to unlocking this mystery.  It appears the crown is the trademark for the Friedrich Olbertz Knife Company in Solingen Germany.  It was founded in 1872 and produces brands such as Bulldog, Fighting Rooster and Eyebrand.

Still in existence, they are a knife jobber specializing in small knife lots.  The current management team is fifth generation family members.  The current minimum order is 600 units. 

So who is Harden? That took a little more work.

They are Harden Wholesale located in Kenova WV.  I called them and the staff remembers the knife as being ordered by George Smith in the 1980s, but nothing else.  I tried the phone number given to me, but Mr. Smith remains a mystery.  Maybe the phone number and name is just good old boy WV humor.

Made in Germany

Hardens Wholesale appears to be a seller of dry goods.  The photo I found showed plastic flowers for grave decorations, Carharrt clothing and Wolverine work boots.  I’m sure a trapper pocket knife celebrating any aspect of the WV coal mining industry would be a hit.

In any case, I’m happy to have it.