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Pro-Tech’s Alligator

It’s hard to underestimate the interest in automatic knives or as James Dean might have called them, switch blades.  There is a move afoot to legalize automatic knives with some success.   You can thank American Knife and Tool Institute for their hard work on our behalf.  


Several states have taken the modern and enlightened view that criminal acts should be linked to the doer, not the tool.  In these states automatic knives are legal.  Some states like California have blade length restrictions.  My home state believes evil spirits live in inanimate objects and take control of the user to do evil.  And we keep electing these guys and gals.

The feds have a law referred to as the Federal Switchblade Act.   AKTI explains this law regulates manufacturing and shipping of automatic knives crossing state lines.  It has NO application to individual consumers, or merchants who sell knives.  It has NO application to laws WITHIN a state.


That my soapbox for the today’s blog.


I recently purchased a Peter Kellett custom TR-3 from Pro-Tech.  Pro-Tech’s name for the base knife is TR-3, or Tactical Response III.  It’s a sweet knife.


Peter Kellett, Protech


The blade is 3.25 inches of S35VN steel with a DLC finish.  S35VN is produced by Crucible Industries as part of a collaboration of Dick Barber of Crucible Industries and knifemaker Chris Reeve.  It is a martensitic stainless steel with improved toughness over CPM S30V. It is also easier to machine and polish than CPM S30V. The steel forms niobium carbides along with vanadium and chromium carbides. Because niobium carbides are harder than the vanadium and chromium carbides, S35VN is about 15-20% tougher than CPM S30V without any loss of wear resistance.  The powder metal helps assure a uniform distribution of grain size and places the carbides at the grain boundaries which contribute to its strength.  CPM S35VN’s improved toughness gives it better resistance to edge chipping and retention over conventional high chromium steels such as 440C and D2.


While not new on the scene, S35VN is one of the super steels making an impact on knife makers worldwide.


Art knife, Peter Kellett


The 4.5 inch aluminum handle is anodized by artist Peter Kellett.  Peter is also known for his work customizing Fender guitars. Yes, that is an alligator and it is purple.  Well, it is an art knife as the mother of pearl release button confirms.

Pro-Tech’s Dave Wattenberg tells me Pro-Tech’s two biggest sellers are the TR-3 and the Godson Both of which are held in high regard by members of the legal community and military.  The clip is not-reversible on the TR-3 and holds the knife tip-up on right side.  There is no safety.  Since I carry knives in my right front pocket, pushed back to the seam, the blade is snugged up securely.  I’m not worried about it opening.

I asked about care and Dave said the flat wire coil spring doesn’t take a set and the knife can be stored closed.  He also advised using a little high quality oil like BreakFree CLP.


Art knife TR-3, Tactical Response III


If you need or just want an automatic knife, let me suggest Pro-Tech. http://www.protechknives.com/

You can find your EDC tool and you can find art that stuns the observer and makes you hold your breath in its presence.  Your choice.

Elmax 12 inch Chef Knife

Blade made out of Elmax Superclean, hardness: 60+ HRC, bolster : brass, the handle is 3500 year old stabilized bog oak.

Dimensions: 440 mm total length out of witch the blade is 300 mm, 60 mm wide, 2,4 mm thick at the base.

Price for a similar knife 350 €

Elmax Santoku

Forged Elmax superclean blades, handle material is ebony combined with leadwood.

Dimensions:

large one: 34 cm out of witch the blade 20 cm

small one: 26 cm out of witch the blade 14 cm

Price for a similar set 350 €

Elmax 12 inch Chef Knife

Blade made out of Elmax Superclean, hardness: 60+ HRC, the handle is made out of stabilized oak root, ebony, nickel silver spacers.

Dimensions: 440 mm total length out of witch the blade is 300 mm, 60 mm wide, 2,5 mm thick at the base.

Price for a similar one 320 €

Bog Oak Kitchen Knife

Blade made out of Elmax Superclean, hardness: 60+ HRC,

handle is stainles steel, ebony and 3500 year old stabilized bog oak.

Dimensions: 300 mm total length out of witch the blade is 17 mm, 45 mm wide, 2,5 mm thick at the base.

Price for a similar one 230 €

Suminagashi Tanto

Blade forged out of japanese suminagashi steel, 23 layers.

Handle is stabilized oak root, ebony, guard and habaki made out of brass.

Dimensions: 17cm blade, 31 cm total.

Price for a similar one 200 €

Blade Show Day Three 2019

Sunday is always Spyderco day.  Not exclusively, but I look forward to seeing their new products and talking with Joyce.  It’s been a busy year for them and for her.

Do you like catalogs?  I love ‘em.  The problem with catalogs is, even small ones like Spyderco’s, they must be printed in September for release by January.  Some products are ready but others are not.  Some will experience changes.   Some knives will be added, some dropped.  All of which makes people angry as they can’t get it now.  Maybe it had two screws in the catalog but three screws in production and every collector wants the two screw version that was never made.  I think you can see the problems.

Spyderco will release three ‘Reveals’ during the course of the year, featuring products which are ready to ship.  I’m sure Spyderco gains some unspecified advantage from this, but it’s an interesting approach.

Top orange- Endura, Bottom orange – Delica but the middle black is the new Endela available in plain edge too

Right now lightweight folders are the rage.  Consumers are suddenly worried about an extra ounce or three.  The FRCP (fiberglass reinforced copolymer) has a little too much flex so Spyderco has incorporated a thin metal liner to eliminate the problem.  You’ll see more and more variations of old and new favorites like the Police lightweight. It’s slightly bigger than the original, but easy to carry and use.  

Spyderco dragonfly with Emerson Wave
Spyderco Dragonfly with Emerson Wave opener.  The wave works very nicely with this
knife.  Reversible wire clip on back

Another example is their lightweight Para-military 3 which just won the 2019 Blade award for the most innovative American knife.  No small potatoes.

Itamea kitchen knife
Don’t ask the price, I can’t afford it, but professional chefs will love it.  The Itamae series

Speaking of food, Frank Daily has been hired to head their new cutlery division.  It’s a new departure for Spyderco and they are offering a range of knives.   At the top end are Murray Carter’s Itamae series.  These are super thin laminated blades of Aogami Super Blue steel between two layers of SUS410 stainless steel.  Murray is a proponent of super sharp thin blades. They will come in different blade configurations and are aimed at professional chefs and culinary schools.

New sharpening from Spyderco
Spyderco’s new sharpening system, the Gauntlet.  Uses oval shaped stones.



Closer to my pocket are the Z-Cut.  With their offset handles they are often referred to as ‘sandwich shop’ knives.  You can get them both with plain and serrated blades.  The plastic handles are fused to the CTS BD1N stainless steel making them dishwasher safe.  Carpenter’s BD1N is high carbon martensitic stainless steel, containing chromium and nitrogen that can be air or oil hardened.  It has good edge retention and better corrosion resistance.

As Z-Cut knives come with pointed ends, a rounded blunt tip is available for our friends in England and other parts.  Might not be a bad starting knife for youngsters learning kitchen arts.  In the middle of the range will be the classic Spyderco utility kitchen knives and their amazing and terrifying bread knife!

There is only one roadblock to their domination of the world cutlery market with low cost, effective Z-knives.  Yes, they got the stock, but someone forgot they needed packaging.  They will get it straightened out soon.

Spyderco production is running 24 hours 5 days a week and they are still swamped.  Their engineering staff has continued to promote tighter and tighter tolerances.  I wouldn’t say you could toss a handful of the correct parts in a bag, shake it and find an assembled knife, but…..

Prototyping is enhanced through the use of 3D printers.  Modern and advanced technology is actively pursued as is their intellectual property.  All of which allows for newer and more interesting knives.  This might be considered the Golden Age of factory knives.

What else do you need to know?  They will continue to make sprint runs limited to 1200 pieces, because that is what they like.  These sell out fast.  Just a word to the wise.


Proof Cobb Galleria is haunted by the ghosts of past shoppers.  You would think the high food prices
would chase them away!


The knife industry, including Spyderco, is becoming more protective of their intellectual property and technology.  This is beginning to create walls.

In Europe and many American cities laws limit blade length.  Don’t make assumptions that your home rules apply everywhere.

Blade Show TR-3 Custom
Pro-Tech Custom TR-3 with purple alligator 

Sunday isn’t solely Spyderco day.  I stopped by Pro-Tech and bought a TR-3 auto custom made specifically for the Blade Show. It has a nice purplish anodized alligator on the front and back where it is partially covered by the clip.  The opening stud is mother of pearl and the 3.5 inch blade is 154CM coated with black DLC.

I’m told they send out several knives to an artist with the instructions to ‘be creative.’  And they never know what they’ll get back.

You can find this on Pro-Tech’s website, but they are making autos for Boker based on Lucas Burnely’s designed Kwaiken.  This is one very nice knife with simple modern lines.  Look into it.

Sunday Morning at Blade. Time for bargains if what you want is still there. 



I walked past Colonial Knife and found many of their fine blades had strongly resembled another manufacturer.  It’s not uncommon and often turns out to be one of the worst kept secrets in the knife industry.  But I will not spill the beans.

Speaking of Shadow Tech, John and Dave report they are happy with the Show and are making both hatchets and fixed blades for other companies.

Last words:  Only because I find it amusing about the dead making money and someone asked me, yes, Loveless Knives is still making knives stamped Loveless.

Blade Show Day Two 2019

Outside the weather raged torrents of rain, but inside the Blade Show it was sunny and knifey.  It’s still hard to imagine all the vendors and shoppers packed under one roof, but it isn’t all knives.

scissors, art scissors
Grace Horn’s Scissors

Grace Horn showed off her custom scissors.  And they flew off the table like umbrellas during a deluge.  I especially liked the tall elegant pair that had a benign demonic look to them.  Grace is an unusual knife maker.  You can follow her on Facebook.  She did measure my right thumb to get an idea of an average size opening for men’s scissors.

Another table had nothing but knife sheaths.  If you heeded a Randall or a Loveless or just about any other sheath, you’d find it there.

knife sheaths
You need it?  You could find it.
I stopped at Darrel Ralph and looked at his ZEK hatchets.  Darrel tells me he had been thinking about hatchets since 1998.  I think he finally came up with a winner.  The kydex sheath locks the hatchet head in place and has a belt clip so you can wear it.  A secondary strap locks the sheath closed so you will not accidentally lose your tool moving in or out of a vehicle or in the brush.  He had several styles including a nice carbon fiber handle, but I went with the micarta grip that had a rounded profile.  I found it fit my hand better.


Hatchet, Belt Axe
Never know when you might need to chop something or somebody

Speaking of Shadow Tech, they have introduced several lines of folders.  I especially liked their Sidekick, a gentleman’s knife.  Well, it could be a gentlewoman’s knife as well.  It sports a stud and a hole, but it actually opens with a flipper.  The blade opens and is locked in place with a liner lock.  It doesn’t have a clip, because it is not a tactical knife.  It’s well made and I think I’m going to enjoy it.

Sidekick, Shadow Tech
They call it rose, but it looks purple to me 

Sharpening blades can be terrifying to some, but there are easy options 
At one table a vendor had a pile of paper shavings, several knives and more simple sharpeners than you could imagine.  In this day and age when sharpening systems require a mechanical engineering degree to set up and use, his simple pull-throughs turn a dull knife into a sharp edge.  It may not be the zenith of sharpness, but if your edge can cut curly paper shavings, it’s sharp enough for most of my needs.
Doug and friend drawing door prize tickets
Doug Marcaida, best known for Forged in Fire and his expression, ‘It will keel!’ was at Russian Blades and has designed a fighting knife based on his Filipino system.  You could mug with him and get your picture taken, but I took a pass on that.  He’s a tremendous martial artist, but also a shrewd business man.  He showed us several karambit-style knives he designed as rescue tools for Europe, where such knives are illegal.  In the absence of an edge, a ‘blade’ consisting of a seatbelt cutter, screw driver, oxygen bottle wrench is allowed.  Of course, you could still use it to control and apply to pressure points, but Doug never said that.
I got my hands on a DART (Direct Action Response Knife).  Doug developed this knife with the Italian knife company, Fox.  It’s a karambit style, with an Emerson wave opener, but a non-curved blade.  I looked for these for several years but couldn’t find them.  All Fox would say was a “…family disagreement prevented continued manufacturing.”  Well, it seems they are back and I have one!

Direst Action Response Knives
It looks like a Karambit, but…..
Instead of a curved blade, it’s more of a drop point tanto

Could I summarize the Blade Show in blog or two?

Look, you could spend the day just visiting the big commercial knife companies, like Spyderco, Cold Steel and Buck, and you wouldn’t be disappointed.  You could also spend the day talking to custom designers, the makers and technical support people.  There are demos on the floor as well as classes, lectures and helpful people everywhere.


The Blade Show has become too large to be summarized by any one blogger.  Each of us is a blind man inspecting an elephant.  If you are a knife fancier, come and attend.  It’s the greatest knife show on earth, possibly the solar system.


Here are few more photos.


collectable knives, pocket jewelry
Think of them as pocket jewelry 

Tiger handles
It takes two to truly understand the image





















































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.


knife
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, a 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 which 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.

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