Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Knives

Christmas knives are often new, exciting slivers of steel and polymer (yes, Virginia, unless you have stone or bone handles, it’s a polymer) that catch our attention for a few moments around the tree. 

“Oh! Helen,” he said, over the sound of wrapping paper being shredded.  “It’s a hand-made tactical friction folder from Frantic Forge!  It’s just what I wanted.”

Her comeback was not entirely unexpected.

“Oh, John!” She managed to be heard over the kitchen timer and the sound of bubbling pots.  “It’s just what I wanted!  A hand-made bread knife combination turnip carver from Kitchen Dungeon Forge.”

This scene is played out in front of Hanukkah candles and Christmas trees all around the world.  Trust me, I’ve had a few of these moments myself.

While we’re lost in admiration of our newest knives, there’s a few knives from Christmas past still hanging around.  If, like Marley, I’m forced to drag a chain of knives with me through the next world, I hope these are attached.

Electric carving knives, one of mankind's most enduring inventions

That’s my brother-in-law carving a turkey.  He’s mastered the art of carving a bird.  When I try that my results look like I used a hammer.  I always enjoy watching him make short work of a bird.

If I had one knife to symbolize family and friends it would be a knife like this.

What would a holiday be without family and friends?  I’m sure countless men and women in our armed forces could tell us from past experience.  It makes my eyes water when I think of all of them overseas, so far from family and friends with only their comrades near.  It’s an imperfect world, but I believe the Man Upstairs has a special mark by each of their names in His Book of Life. 

God bless and keep ‘em safe.

The Cold Steel bread knife:  good for cutting bread and fighting ninjas

My wife loves to bake bread.  Could there be anything more fundamental to the human condition than bread?  We break bread with friends.  We welcome new members to communities with bread, and we give bread to loved ones departing on long trips.  “I packed you an extra sandwich,” mothers used to say to sons, daughters and husbands when they departed on a journey.  It’s something I miss.

Christmas spirit – the short version

Whether or not you believe in Christ as Redeemer, can there be any question that his message of peace, love, harmony and forgiveness has value for men and women then and now?

Everyday we hear the Siren song of the modern world.  For a few days at Christmas be like Odysseus’ sailors and pour wax in your ears and ignore the material world just a little.  Enjoy the real Christmas values: Peace, Home, Family, Friends, Harmony, Love and Forgiveness.


Merry Christmas to Everyone!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bread Knives and Knife Rights

The Dexter Bread Knife

My wife has acquired a new bread knife.  She has a short story about it, but it is more of a precautionary tale than a story about a knife.   You can read it at http://tactical-talk.blogspot.com/

There’s also a link on my sidebar.

Knife Rights under Attack
It’s not often I recommend an article about knives in an NRA publication.  Some of you may see a distinction between the knives you own or collect and a handgun.  There really isn’t one.  Knives can be used in a very deadly fashion.  Just watch any Cold Steel video as they slice and amputate with single strokes of their knives.  Knives can be clearly more dangerous than handguns. 

Our government’s response to anything is to pass laws.  It is the only thing, other than spending your money, they can do.  Few laws are passed for one specific reason.  The bill, its supporters and the author may tell you it has only one purpose, but there’s always more.  We are way too complicated to do much of anything for one single reason.

For example, Boston is considering requiring businesses that sell knives to be licensed.  It was pointed out to the city council that stores operating in Boston are already licensed and regulated by law.  They are restricted from selling any knife with a blade 2 inches or longer to anyone under 18.  This made no impact on the city council because “The modern way of approaching these issues is to go after the source of the items rather than the criminals themselves.”  Remember, we’re not talking about drugs or white slavery, but pocket knives.

That do you think? Is Boston interested in protecting you or raising money and making businesses more easy to manipulate?

Knife laws are passed not to protect you, but to control you and make you dependent on the government and its agencies.  I have a blog about the British government telling Boy Scouts not to carry their scout knives when in uniform (http://knifesearch.blogspot.com/2010/06/hells-angels-and-boy-scouts.html) .  Seems those friction lock knives with can opener and awl are just too dangerous.

New York has declared war on any knife that locks open, can be easily opened, and clips in your pocket.  England lost their knife rights through the usual tactics of separate, divide and conquer.  

Read “Will Knives Fold?” in the NRA’s December 2011 issue of America’s 1st Freedom and you’ll see a history of those tactics continuing to this day.  You’ll find it on page 38.

You may not like the NRA, but they will tell you a different side of the story.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Benchmade Auto

The knife business isn’t all edged steel and handle choices.   There’s a lot of basic business involved.  Determining demand, placing orders, overstock, profit margins and, of course, dealing with mistakes.

A Benchmade Auto-Rift (9555SBK) arrived the other day.  I have a customer who has been waiting quite some time for it.  Unfortunately Benchmade shipped my wholesaler the black serrated blade, not the black plain edge he ordered.  The wholesaler just assumed it was the right order and shipped it to me.

Benchmade Auto-Rift  Model 9555SBK

 I was so happy to see it, I didn’t check it either.  My wife caught it right before we finished packing it up.

I checked with the customer and I’m ordering him another knife.  I can send it back to my wholesaler, but I’d really like to save myself from jumping through flaming hoops to return it and get all my shipping back.

I’m going to try to sell it locally.  It’s a nice knife and the picture in Benchmade’s catalog doesn’t do it justice.

Want to find out more about the Auto-Rift?  Here’s a link: http://www.benchmade.com/products/9555

I just keep telling myself it’s all part of the adventure of life.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Reflections on Veterans Day


By the end of the War-to-End-All-Wars, the cream of Europe’s best was ground into hamburger and the Spanish flu pretty much ended any nation’s ability to field men.  To celebrate not having any more men to kill, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 was declared Armistice Day.

Following the war, President Woodrow Wilson celebrated Armistice Day by inviting 2000 soldiers to dinner at the White House.  The main course?  Ravioli, the canned fad food that was sweeping the nation.  Hey!  It was 1920 and canned food was so new and novel, it was almost as good as the second coming.  Woody’s meal started the now forgotten tradition of eating ravioli on Nov 11.

Sweeping changes don’t always start on the west coast or in trendy New York discos.  Alvin King, the owner of a shoe repair shop in Emporia, Kansas, was the epicenter of Veterans Day.  

“Why not,” I imagine him thinking, “remember all veterans on Armistice Day?”  Alvin did more than just think about it, he acted.  The following year President Eisenhower, a veteran himself, signed a bill May 26, 1954, making Nov 11 Veterans Day and a Federal holiday.

Since Ike, world wars have been called police actions and I can’t begin to recount all the places American service men and women have been stationed at and therefore died in.  Despite their sacrifices the theaters of war have expanded.  It was called total war and now we call it asymmetric war.  But it means the same; each of us has a stake in the outcome and duty to participate.

Clausewitz codified most of it in the 1830s.  Clausewitz observed that conflict causes an erosion of separation between the military and the civilians.  He wasn’t the first and he isn’t the last.  The battlefield has arrived and is living in our parking lots.  The woman in the bunker with an M-16 has only a few degrees of separation from the woman pushing the grocery cart down the store aisle.

Law enforcement, in all its facets, is only one degree.  The average citizen who picks up their phone and drops a dime on suspicious behavior is another.  The fireman who goes into a burning building looking for victims or the postman who notices mail building up at the home of the elderly and acts, all soldiers of the conflict.  They are all part of the total war.  Our national character forms from our behavior and willingness to be involved.  Each of us sacrifice some, some sacrificed all.

It isn’t a perfect system.  We let strangers feel us up at airports for the illusion of safety.  Politicians pimp to voting blocs.  Citizens sell their votes and freedoms to the empty promise of safety and security in an unsafe world.  

So if you sit down to an Italian meal tonight, enjoy your ravioli. Spend a second remembering all the veterans, who have, are, and will stand up and be counted.  Think about how every day we need to act to preserve our freedoms and way of life. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cambridge Show 2011

I attended the Ohio Classic Knife Show in Cambridge last weekend. The low attendance let me stop and kibitz with the sellers without feeling I was interrupting commerce.








Outside the show a blacksmith demonstrated his skill.


Wide aisles and few people gave you room to have conversations.


Kathy Bone was engraving ivory and we talked about how hard it was getting to buy ivory. She does very nice work on knife handles as well as small jewelry pieces.


Engraving ivory, not for the faint of heart.
She had a money clip with Ulysses S. Grant engraved in ivory. It was very nice, but since I seldom see Grant on any of my pocket money, I passed. You can reach her at WVscrimshander@yahoo.com if you’re looking for a special piece.

I stopped at Bill Johnson’s table (WCJohnsonknives@gmail.com). Like many custom makers he had a lot of fixed blades. I especially liked one of his green bone-handled blades.




With all the wonder materials available to modern knifemakers, isn’t it odd that some of the most ancient materials are prized the most? Perhaps it’s some ancestral memory, some prehistory hand/mind link that draws us to the materials used to make the first tools. And maybe we treasure them because they are so different from ubiquitous modern materials.





I spent all my disposable cash at Joseph’s Designs and Buckeye Custom knives. All I can say is, it’s a good thing I didn’t have more money on me.

Joseph’s Designs specializes in flint knives. (http://www.collectorcabz.com/) No, not the blade but the handle. He gets his flint from Flint Ridge in Ohio, thought to have some of the most colorful flint in the world.





Joe replaces the handles on different knives with an almost semitransparent flint, rich in color and pattern. I found a nice Tree Brand Boker with an etched main blade. The flint handles have a pattern reminiscent of wood. The colors include red, black, white and brown giving it an almost pinkish glow in the translucent stone. I’m not much for friction fit knives, but this one spoke to me.

Flint, in case you’re interested, is a fine grain form of quartz (beach sand). Strictly speaking, it’s classified as a ‘chert’, but it seems to be found only as inclusions, sometimes very large inclusions, in limestone. Flint has two interesting properties. One is hardness. Flint is about 6.5 on the Mohs hardness scale. Quartz, found in almost all dust, is 7. This means flint will scratch from normal use so care needs to be taken. The other is flint will strike a spark from iron even when wet. Despite the relative softness of the stone, flint will take a fine polish.

I also bought a nice fixed blade from Pete Winkler (http://www.buckeyecustomknives.com/) . The handle is a nice slab of wood called Pacific Madrone. The brass pins and green dyed, stabilized wood gives it the look of polished stone. The 4.25-inch blade is A2 steel with a Rockwell “C” scale hardness of 58. This is the first convex or ‘appleseed’ grind I’ve owned. Pete assures me that with normal use it will not need sharpening, just a stropping with a nice piece of leather he provides. This will be interesting. The knife has no bevel to speak of as the steel flows continuously to the edge. As a result it doesn’t look sharp, but don’t make the mistake of testing it with your thumb, unless you want to be called Tommy Split-Thumb.


Man shapes steel and steel shapes the man.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

More bits and Pieces

I was at a gun show last weekend.  The weather was too nice and the only people inside were tire kickers and the vendors.  If I had my druthers I would have been outside too!

I saw something I don’t like. Fellow was wearing a phony police badge on his belt issued by some collectors group.  I’ve seen similar things in gun magazines for CCW.  It’s not knife related, but it’s worth mentioning.

Don’t be a strange ranger, a wannabe police officer.  Having a phony star doesn’t get you a better table; police aren’t impressed that you’re imitating them and everyone associates phony police ID with child molesters. 

At the show a fellow came up and was admiring the American made knives.  He kept repeating, “That’s good. That’s good,” as he inspected each one.  Then he picked up a Spyderco.

“These made in Japan?”
“Yes sir, they are.”
“I thought these things were suppose to be $35?”  It was clear he expected the Japanese knives to be significantly less expensive than American knives.
I knew at that point he wasn’t going to buy anything.
“That was in the 70s sir.”  Talk about sticker price shock.

I don’t refer people to other publications very often, but sometimes people say things better than I.  Check out the Jan 2012 issue of Blade.  Doug Metzer’s editorial “The China Syndrome” is worth reading.  You can read all of it at http://knifeshowcase.blademag.com/   Click on the forum tab.

I agree with Doug on several levels.  “American consumers will never pay for a knife made in the USA.  They vote with their wallets.  Demand for union wages, regulations in the steel industry and more have driven business out of America.”  Here’s the chilling part: “The consumer will not sustain the inflated prices of U.S.-made products.”
Tool or Membership Card?

I get many customers at my table looking at the American-made knives.  Only a few buy.  The given reason in many cases is “It’s more money than I’m prepared to spend.”  Can’t argue with that, but it does cause me to scratch my head wondering if I’ve missed something when I see them buying from the “2 for $5” pile at another vendor. 

What I think I’m missing is, I see knives as tools.  Tools I’ll use to make my life easier, safer and possibly to protect and save it.  I want a quality tool.  Others see the knife as a club token: I have a knife so I’m one of the boys.

Monday, September 19, 2011

ESEE-3

The UPS man just delivered a box of knives.  I have to wonder what he thinks about all the knives that arrive.  It’s only human nature to try to form a picture of a person based on what little you know or at least what you think you know.  

I remember reading about an OSS (Google it!) training drill in which you searched a room and based on what you found, construct a picture of the unseen occupant.  One trainee found a blond wig and a hypodermic needle and announced the occupant was a transvestite drug-user.  Turned out the drill was a test to see how you use your imagination.

I wonder if the UPS driver thinks of me as a human porcupine brisling with edges?

One of the knives that just arrived was an ESEE-3 from Randall’s Adventure.  It’s a nice knife.  8.25 inches of 1095 carbon steel with a greenish gray micarta handle.  A fine line of green separates the micarta  from the epoxy-coated steel.  Very tastefully done.  The blade is 3.75 long so you have enough handle to use the knife.  I was surprised to find the false edge wasn’t!  About half of the top of the blade was razor sharp.

It's a nice looking knife and felt good in my hand.
  

The green layer adds a touch of color to an otherwise dull gray handle.


I like stainless in guns, but more and more I find I like high carbon steel in knives.  The carbides in the iron make bigger and more sparks with a ferrocium fire starter rod than stainless does.  Of course, carbon steel rusts, so the blades are often coated with epoxy or other finishes, but you still need to take care of them.  I just wish they would leave a little one-inch saddle of uncoated steel on the spine.  It bothers me to have to use the blade to generate sparks.

I really like the sharpened false edge.  More and more of my knives sport a sharpened false edge and a dull spot I can press on for more force.  Of course you really have to think that through.  Slipping onto the edge will injure you and complicate whatever you were attempting to do.

I wanted to compare the look and feel of the ESEE-3 to my DPxGear HEST knife.  The HEST is a little specialized.  The handle is hollow with just enough room for a couple fish hooks and monofilament line, maybe a lead shot sinker or two.  The blade is shorter than the ESEE but thicker.  A reflection of anticipated prying needs.  It too is a single piece of 1095 steel.

Never will be twins separated at birth, but maybe distant cousins.


The HEST is a sweetheart for me.  I met the designer (and author) Robert Pelton.  Read his book “Dangerous Places.”  I found it riveting and not all the places are in third world countries.  Some are just a state over from you.  His goal was to produce a classic “bug-out” knife.  One that could be used to make little cuts in people surrounding you trying to pick your pockets.  Not much more than paper cuts and still pry a lock off a door, pound through a plaster wall, discourage your enemies and still open a beer bottle with your friends.



It’s a lot to ask of a knife.  But if you have the skills, then the HEST has the chops.

I hate both sheaths.  The ESSE has a pukey tan Kydex sheath called coyote.  The HEST has a nice but wide Kydex sheath in black.  Both come with molle adapters.  Both can be lashed onto a strap or other things  and neither has a system for a belt loops.  Yuck!  I belt-carry more then I molle-carry.

Sure you can lash both to a belt.  Who knows?  Maybe there is some advantage to being able to untie a knot and let the knife and sheath slip away quickly and without any fuss.  I guess it’s hard to proclaim that you’re unarmed and peaceful when they find a fixed blade knife sheath on you.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Blackie Collins: Among The Eternals

Blackie Collins the knife maker passed on last week. 
 
He never seemed to get the publicity, I always thought, like Randall or Loveless.  Perhaps it was because he didn’t make exclusive fixed blades.  Instead he designed knives and sold the rights to manufacturers.  Of course, when manufacturers cheapened the design, took manufacturing short-cuts and produced less than ordinary products, you know who got the black eye. As a result it seems much of his talent was relegated to the position of spear carrier while the stars took the center stage.

Still, he founded Blade Magazine, one of the leading voices in today’s knife culture.  His Strut’N’Cut knife helped fuel the assisted opening knife craze.  And there cannot be any doubt this self-taught knife maker influenced what you carry in your pocket.

I had the opportunity to meet him years ago at a SHOT Show in Las Vegas.  I was at the Meyerco booth when the factory rep said:
“Do you know Blackie Collins?”
“I’ve heard of him, but I don’t know him.”
“Would you like to meet him?

Of course I said yes, expecting a short hello, a hand shake and a few seconds of idle chatter.
I got the hand shake and more.

“Would you like to see my newest design?  Blackie asked, while unrolling a 6-foot long sheet of paper.  There, in large scale, was one huge drawing of a knife he was designing.  He explained the design, talked about the steel and manufacturing problems.  It was wonderful and I still regret I didn’t have my present understanding of steel and knives.  I would have been able to understand the significance so much more. 
 
Then he posed for pictures with my wife holding his knives.

Graciousness.  That’s an attribute that fitted Blackie Collins.  I’ve meet other designers.  Talked with knife company owners, even gotten a few freebies to try out.  They have been nice, charming and interesting, but I don’t associate graciousness with anyone else.

I did a quick Google search and found a quote I want to share with you:
“There’s no high like creativity.”  Blackie Collins.

Rest In Peace, Blackie.  We’ll miss you.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Late Arrivals

I just received a late shipment of knives.  Trying to anticipate what the consumer wants seems futile.  Well, we all know what the consumer wants: top quality name brands at dirt cheap prices with full and total lifetime warranties against all damages, misuse and loss.  Heck, I want that myself, but I’m not likely to see that either.

But part of the fun of selling knives is guessing the market and trying to get quality products in front of the consumer.  Here are some knives I like:

TOPS FDX mini-axe




It’s too small to be called an axe, even a hatchet.  It’s more like a cleaver.  The FDX is made of 1095 steel, so you’ve got to take care of it, but it should make better sparks with a ferricium flint compared to stainless steel.  It’s 3/8-inch thick and has a 2¾-inch blade and is 7¼ inches long.  I see it shaving wood tinder, chopping small kindling, disjointing or quartering a freshly caught meal.  I also see it as a great comfort in a dark alley.  I think it needs a cord-wrapped handle and a lanyard. 

CRKT’s Kommer Fulcrum has always attracted my attention.  The open blade unlocks like any liner/frame lock but opening it is a little different.

Slide the bolster towards the blade and magic happens.

To open, slide the bolster towards the blade with your thumb.  This action starts the blade opening.  Now slide the bolster back to its original position and the blade is locked open.  That’s the only way you can open it.  It can’t be flicked open.  

I have a serious bitch with New York City.  With all the social problems they have, the elected officials are attempting to sidetrack the voters with flick and tactical style knives.  There’s a witch hunt for sellers of these types of knives.  Us tool carriers are also on their radar.  So, if you’re going to NYC, this could be the knife to carry, better still…. STAY HOME.  NEW YORK DOESN’T WANT YOU.




The Kommer Fulcrum is an attractive knife, but then I’m partial to blue and clever mechanisms.


My last knife is also from CRKT.  It’s a little neck knife called the Folts Minimalist.  


I always like neck knives, but having an unbreakable noose around my neck is troubling.  Still, having a 2-inch stainless steel blade on me is a comfort.   









Add a button-battery light and another survival tool of your choice and you have a leg up on getting home.

Partial list of suggested tools:  flint, whistle, dog tag signal mirror, fire-starting glass, compass, P38 can opener, Kydex-sheathed saw blade.   Must I go on…?

The Minimalist also comes with a belt adapter.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In The Trenches They Were Sharpening Their Knives...


It’s been ‘trench warfare’ at my house for the last month.  I’m having a garage built and running the electrical line for the garage.  This simple act called for me to crawl under my porch, move about a half ton of stone and quarter ton of sandy soil resulting in a trench from the house foundation to the garage.  It would have been a lot easier if I could have removed the full length porch from the back of our house.   If I had those kind of resources, I would just buy a new house, so it was trench warfare.  I ran into an underground retaining wall and had to drill and chisel out enough concrete to make a 6-inch depression for the rigid conduit.  I spent so much time under the porch I found I was enjoying it.  Unfortunately, mole man syndrome set in and I was eating 47 times my body weight, so that had to come to a stop. 

The knife side of this is I cut a little barrier plastic, shaved some roots and truncated cord in the digging process.  All of which took its toll on my CRKT Crawford Kasper folder.  Add a little dandelion subsurface root decapitation (I know, decapitation is the wrong word, but it always reminds a me of a guillotine).  This was followed up by lots of cardboard cutting.  My knife was soon too dull to tear newspaper.

When I need to sharpen something fast, I reach for my Spyderco sharpener.  The stones were getting a little dirty.  So, with a little abrasive cleanser, water, a rag and a little elbow grease, the residue from previous sharpenings was gone and the stones were ready.

Removing old metal helps give the stone more 'bite' and faster sharpening


I like Spyderco's system.  Hold the knife perpendicular to the ground and glide it down and back against the stone and it’s like a magic show. 

Presto-Change-O!  A sharp knife!

It’s so simple that even I can get a sharp edge in under 5 minutes.

Two medium stones, two brass guards, two fine stones and a plastic base.  It goes everywhere.


A good friend of mine recently received a long awaited fixed blade from a local knife maker.  Tim is a reluctant knife maker, so I’ll hold his name.  My friend commissioned a fixed blade in the sub-hilt fighter style and asked the knife maker to give it his interpretation.  It took awhile, but it was worth the wait.  Even the sheath was nicely detailed.

Single Edge Sub Hilt Fighter


The maker did a very nice job.  I wish my photo did it justice, but I had only minutes to set something up.  I also found out that one man’s sheath knife is another’s pocket knife.

I guess the folder in the side pocket is back-up.  Hey, one is none...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Blade Show: Comin’ Home

It was a long trip home.  The weather cooperated.  It was in the 80s and overcast.  More importantly, the traffic cooperated except for a little bit of the interstate south of Cincinnati in Kentucky.  KDOT closed a three lane road down to one lane and the traffic was so backed up, we got off and had to find another way.

I felt bad about leaving a day early.  I had looked forward to this show and writing about it.  I almost felt I was cheating myself.  On the other hand, I gained a day to get things (like this) under control before returning to work.

I found some interesting knives for myself.  The slender South African dagger from Safari Consulting in the previous blog just speaks to me.  I’m so glad I got it.

I picked up an unusual knife from Shadow Tech Knives.  The main edge is a straight edge, which should be easy sharpening.  The sharpened false edge is curved downward.  I don’t think it will be too hard to re-edge when the time comes.  The steel is 1095 and the blade is powder coated to help fight rust.  I like the weight and look of the knife.  Most importantly is how good the knife feels in my hand.

Shadow Tech


I met Peter Janda from FIN Designs several years ago at TDI.  I have one of his holsters for CCW and I’ve admired his work in kydex for some time.  He’s been designing knives and has found a home with Ka-Bar.  I didn’t like his early folders.  Oh, the designs were nice.  They felt good in my hand and were mechanically well made, but my thumb and his opener tended to get snared in the handle’s curves.  The FIN Velocity doesn’t have those problems.  The clip is reversible and the knife is tip up, my favorite carry position.  It’s made in China.  Oh, grow up!  It’s a world market and we have to compete.  I understand Europe doesn’t have this country-of-origin hang-up.  Perhaps that’s because they have always traded back and forth.

FIN Velocity Folder from Ka-Bar


Benchmade is advertising using Cerakote Gen II on all their BK and SBK blades made in 2011.  The coating is reported to reduce visibility ~ “…provides a visual, near infrared and thermal management….”  It’s not a Harry Potter cloak of invisibility, but if you need to control/reduce your visibility, it’s a start.  Hint:  I bet you could find a link to a studio that does powder coating with this same material.

Last thoughts:
After talking to Ed Fowler I may have to re-evaluate my thoughts on Randall knives.  Ed reports that Bo Randall wanted to make a sharp knife that didn’t break.  These properties come at the loss of edge retention.  Use it and you have to re-sharpen.   That’s not so bad.  The knife was very successful with the military for this reason. It didn’t break; it just had to be re-sharpened.  Still, 400-500 bucks for a factory knife….

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Blade Show: T plus Two

It’s my last day. I was planning to spend all day Sunday at the show, but frankly I’ve seen enough and I’m not seeing anything I can’t live without. I’d rather save some money for making Kydex sheaths.

Okay, I admit it; I bought a few knives just for the sake of ownership. I have always enjoyed Loveless knives from his naked lady period. So I checked the prices. I hope you invested years ago. A nice, well kept Loveless from this period runs around $2400. You will not find any naked ladies from Loveless in my collection.

I did find Bossie Knives now known as Safari Consulting. I bought a little dagger with a black iron wood handle that I couldn’t resist. I bought one last year in giraffe bone. I’m not really a dagger kind of guy, but these little guys just speak to me.




I sat in on Ed Fowler’s presentation. His message to consumers and knife makers remains a constant beacon of sanity. Test your knife to destruction. No one knows what the future will bring and you may need that knife to perform far outside of its intended role. Ed bends his knives back and forth from 90 degrees to 180 degrees without breaking. He expects to be able to do that several times, hammer it flat and still have a usable knife. He differential tempers the steel to create a hard area backed up by a thick soft spine so that a crack only grows to the soft metal and still leaves you with a knife you can use. Of course this isn’t cheap. His knives aren’t very attractive, and they run several thousand. Here’s the catch: use his knife and if you don’t like it, even after you use it, send it back and you’ll get your money back.

Spyderco is always doing interesting things. They see a market in Canada, NYC, California, England even Germany for smaller and sometimes non-locking knives. Many cities are restricting blade length, as if a one-and-half-inch blade is less dangerous than a two-and-half-inch blade. I just know that we legals follow the law while criminals do what they want.




Spyderco isn’t the only company doing interesting things. Most of the knife industry is trying to get their hands on your disposable income. Kershaw is showing off some very thick fixed blades which are a radical departure. Bear Knife is introducing a tactical line complete with an auto opener. Two years ago they were telling me (of course, I’m a nobody in the knife industry) they would never have a tactical line. Things are a-changin’.

I also sat in on the cutting contest. The knives are regulated and carefully controlled in an attempt to make it a skill event. It’s a little artificial, but it is exciting to watch someone cut through a water bottle long ways starting with the cap. Chopping the 2x4 in half is one of my favorite spectator sports. Unfortunately, I’ll never see it on TV so I guess I’ll be back at the Blade Show next year.



What, you don’t think that it’s much of a sport? Okay, here, you try it: With a single stroke, cut a tennis ball into two pieces. Okay, now do it while the ball is rolling. How’s that working for you?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Blade Show: T plus One

We lined up and at the sound of the noon bell they threw the doors open and we rushed in. The land grab of 1889 had nothing on us.


First impressions – not great. Oh, the vendors were nice and the attendees interesting, but the show seemed flat to me. Maybe I’m just jaded.


Lots of Randalls, all at high prices. I understand that I can pay $400-$500 for a new one and wait 2.5 years for delivery or I can pay $700 (and up) now and walk off with one today. I’m not a collector so I tend to sooner or later use and resharpen my tools. I just can’t see those prices for a fixed blade factory knife.


We also found a lot of empty tables. That’s somewhat understandable. What’s sadder are the tables which sold out of everything before the show opened up. You thought the VIPs were first in? You forgot about the trading the night before in the hotel lobby and the selling between the dealers. If you absolutely must have the first access to the sellers, there’s only one answer: Buy a table.


We came across a German knife maker, Robert Kaufmann. This is his second trip over from Germany and each time he has sold a large fantasy knife. His most recent effort was a large take-apart fixed blade. Wow!





The sheath came apart, and the knife handle was pinned and wedged in place so it could be disassembled by hand. The handle held two matching chopsticks and each stick held a thin stiletto. My photo doesn’t do it justice. It was beautiful and a marvel to watch Robert slip the knife and sheath apart and then together.


Mantis has bought the design rights of a ringed knife from the father and son design team of Grant and Gavin Hawk. That Hawk family has some clever ideas. What does the knife look like?




Think of a donut with a hidden blade. The concept is way cool, but in all honesty, I’m not sure of the absolute function of the knife. Still, Mantis wants to rock the knife world and they are doing it.


I stopped by Benchmade to show them an auto of theirs I acquired recently. It’s a Mini-Reflex, but it’s different from the current production. The butterfly is labeled Bali-Song, not Benchmade. The blade is bead blasted not black-coated and the back of the blade says pre-production 1998.






Benchmade tells me they used ‘pre-production’ in place of ‘first production’ which they use now. The blasted blade was used in only a few small lots and Bali-Song is long gone. The knife is somewhat of a collectible, so I will fight the temptation to carry it.


I stopped at Busse/Swamp Rat/Scrap Yard. They didn’t have much on display and were taking orders. Honestly, I’m not impressed with the line-up of these knives. It’s the same as last year, just different handles.


If you want to see different styles of knives, go to TOPS. It’s a shopkeeper’s nightmare. So many different styles or SKUs, no matter what you stocked you won’t have what the customer wants. But if you need a specific shape, use or style of blade and thickness isn’t a factor, you’ll find something there.



I stopped to watch an engraver work on a knife. He used a sharp tool, a magnifying glass and a vice. From there he carefully cut and carved his design




by pressing hard sharp steel against another piece of metal. Five booths down another engraver worked with a stereomicroscope. A camera picked up the image for an overhead screen and he used power enhanced tools to engrave a piece of steel. Modern and more traditional just feet apart. The same contrast is found with hand sharpening on fine stones and powered continuous belts. You’ll find works of art at one table and crude semi-finished knives at another. Perhaps the best thing about the Blade Show is the contrast among people as well as the knives on display.



Thursday, June 9, 2011

Blade Show: T minus 1 And Counting Down


We’ve arrived at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly Hotel, the home of the east coast Blade Show. It’s a very nice hotel, big and comfortable, deserving of a big name. I’m going to call it the hotel.


The Blade Show is setting up and only vendors and display staff are allowed in the hall. Mere mortals like myself are shunned from paradise, at least until tomorrow. I’ve got two Blade VIP passes from a friend at Spyderco which will grant us early entrance tomorrow at noon. This elevated status ends at 2:00 when everyone is let in.


What does it take to be a VIP? Do you have to write an article, sell/buy $20k in knives a year? Nope, just throw money at them or know someone in the business.


Everyone thinks the best deals are made during this 2-hour interval. Nope. The best deals happened prior to the show. Buyers and sellers are just meeting to consummate the deal. It’s like an arranged marriage, but no crying on the wedding night. The second best time is tonight and tomorrow after dinner. People will wander down into the hotel lobby, drink, tell tall tales and show off knives. If you’re in the right place and time with some stories of your own and wad of cash, you could score big.


Here’s the first photo of the Blade Show, the main entrance. From this point on it will never be this empty. Tomorrow through Sunday the entrance will be alive with people.

The trip down here through the rest of Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia wasn’t bad. Hot, but overcast which is not a bad combination for travel by car. I must be used to Georgia drivers. They didn’t seem too bad, so far. Last year I almost got a ticket for safe driving, but I convinced the state trooper to let me off with a warning and a promise to never use my turn signal to change lanes. Seems the local drivers don’t know what to make of proper lane changes.


Blade show 2001

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Blade Show – T minus 2


The Knife Guy is on the road. My destination is not Atlanta, Georgia but the Blade Show held just outside of Atlanta. It’s been a good trip. My wife and I stopped in Cincinnati to have dinner with my brother and then it was on to the overnight stop in northern Kentucky.


So far my biggest problem is deciding which knives to carry. The initial decision was to have travel knives and show knives. This resulted in two major decisions. (Hey! To me they were major.). This process is moving me in the wrong direction, but I’m going to stick with it.


Last year I noticed most of the attendees had several knives on them. It was the polite icebreaker to ask, “So what are you carrying?” This required you to be able to show the knife off. More than one person had a belt hatchet but I didn’t see any swords so I figured I’d be safe with pocket knives.


I selected my SOG Spec Elite and my byrd Pelican. The lower case 'b' on byrd is correct. The trade name does not have a capital letter. The Pelican with its sheepsfoot blade has been discontinued, but I still think it’s a fine knife.


The show knives were not as diverse. I selected Spyderco’s PPT and a Santa Fe Stoneworks reworked Police model in blue-dyed mastodon molar. For a third knife I selected Ka-Bar’s original TDI fixed blade self-defense knife.


Since Benchmade is going to be present, I brought a Benchmade auto that has 'pre-production' marked on the back of the blade. I hope to find out what that is about.


It’s been a hot day and beer has been iced down for about half an hour so it’s time to sign off. Tune in tomorrow for another report.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Is and Isn’t: Memorial Day

May 30 is a grass roots holiday.  It was first started in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania in 1864 when local people decorated the graves of Civil War soldiers.  The trend spread and soon became a “ritual of remembrance and reconciliation.”  Following the War-To-End-All-Wars, Congress included the dead from the First World War.

Now the reality is that it honors all our brothers and sisters who served, many of whom died in service to our country.  We call it Memorial Day.

It never was meant as a sales promotion for Mega-Mart.

It’s a time to reflect on the sacrifice the living and dead have made for our country and, by extension, us.

It isn’t just a day off to mark the beginning of summer.

It is a time to have family around you.  The death of each of these men and women ended a family line of possibilities.  Who knows what other friends and family would gather with us if these lives were not cut short.  Their sacrifice makes us their spiritual descendents and we should honor that every day.

It’s not a time to catch up on house or yard work, but it may be a time to tend to forgotten service mens’ graves.
Use Memorial Day to celebrate your freedoms any way you want including the sale at Mega-Mart.  Just remember that someone paid the price for that freedom.  Spend it wisely.