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Zen Whittling

There are few simpler activities that are as rewarding as whittling.


I don’t mean carving.  Carving is an artistic endeavor to create something appreciated by both the carver and observer.  It is purposeful.  I’ve seen carved birds that I swear would take flight as I approached them.  People carve spoons both as a functional tool and as an object of art.


Shaving Wood
It’s just cutting to enjoy the wood and the edge


As a whittler, the best comment you will receive is, “That’s a nice pile of shavings.” 


But we whittle for ourselves.  The feel of a sharp knife shaving long graceful cuts in wood is superb.  As the wood is removed, grain and color reveals themselves, often to the complete surprise of the whittler.  It’s a sweet sensation to discover the simple joy of exposing wood that is so fleeting it vanishes with the next cut.  I once cut into a pocket of amber colored wood that cut perfectly from any angle or direction and just as suddenly it was gone, now shavings at my feet.


Little goals present themselves to the whittler and we can challenge ourselves to achieve them.  How long of a single shaving can you cut?  How smooth of a surface can you achieve?  Can you erase that little nub where there was once a second branch?  Can you cut four square sides simply because you would like to?


It is a very Zen experience.  There is no Yoda commanding ‘do or do not.’  There is just perfect harmony of being.


You can use any knife
Whittling basics: Wood, Knife….


The tools are very simple.  A shady spot is selected.  You need a knife, preferably sharp, but any knife will do.  Then you need a piece of wood.  A stick will do.  Size matters only to ease of handling the stick and how long you want to whittle.  There’s no rule requiring you to finish this activity with a single stick or that you can’t save the stick for another. 


Approach the task with a stick in one hand and blade in the other.  Decide where the edge will first bite into the wood.  Perhaps the blade and wood fight each other.  Simply select a new beginning.  Perhaps the one or the other feels wrong to you.  Make a change and a new beginning.  Tomorrow they may seem right to you.


As you stop to admire your pile of shavings you will discover all thoughts of bills, the boss, your sick aunt Fanny, which pre-school gives the twins the best shot at Harvard, and any of the other problems that plague you were momentarily forgotten.  Do not be surprised if you discover you have a new perspective on all of these as well as the noise society throws at us.


It is the best way to kill a half an hour or more and it doesn’t require a battery.

Spyderco Three Way

There are few knives better known in the knife community than Spyderco’s Endura and Delica.  Introduced in 1990, they have always been in the top ten sellers at Spyderco.  But there is a new contender, the Endela.

Delica, Endela, Endura
A full serrated Endela flanked by a Delica and Endura.


Spyderco’s Delica was the first tactical knife I ever owned.  I owned lock backs prior to a Delica, but never one with a clip or engineered for one-hand opening.  The ability to consistently open a knife with one hand which would lock open was amazing.  From camping to community theater, in fact any daily activity, these knives made an impact. 
Police, fire and military all tended to carry an Endura or Delica.  They were strong, lightweight (compared to the other popular “tactical carry“ knife of the time, the Buck 110), easy to open and economical.  The steel retained its edge reasonably well and could be quickly sharpened with the Spyderco Sharpmaker, which I still use.  Both knives still retain the properties of strength, ease of operation and performance.

Long before 9/11 Delicas quickly found a home with airline travelers.  You simply dropped them in the tray with your car keys and pen, and they were returned on the other side of the metal detector almost always without a comment.  Even the partial serrations were not of any real concern.  I typically carried two while my wife carried her Delica.  I use to sit in mid-flight and cut open my in-flight snack.  That makes me feel nostalgic.

As a purveyor of edged steel, I am more than qualified to state the obvious:  No matter how well designed, no knife or series of knives is perfect for all users.  One only has to look at all the available glove sizes to realize that.

The Delica and Endura are the Baby and Papa Bear that drunk blonde, Goldie, finds when she breaks in to a fairytale home in the woods.  So what fills that middle spot?  Consumers asked for a bigger knife that was smaller than the Endura.  Spyderco found an answer, the Endela.


Daily lab chores, opening packages.  The blade was very controllable.

Let’s do a three way head-to-head with the new addition to this family of edges, the Endela.

Feature

Delica

Endela

Endura

Open length (inches)

7.13

8.1

8.8

Blade length (inches)

2.88

3.4

3.8

Blade thickness (inches)

0.09

0.12

0.13

Steel

VG-10

VG-10

VG-10

Grind

Saber

Flat

Saber

Clip

4-position

4- position

4-position

Weight

2.5 oz.

3.1 oz.

3.6oz

Cost (MSRP)

$120.00

$123.00

$125.00

As you can see, the Endela looks a little like the middle child.  The blade is about a half inch larger compared to the Delica, but 0.4 inches smaller that the Endura.  Blade thickness is pumped up by 0.03 of an inch, but its 0.01 inch thinner than the Endura.  You’ll see that trend in the other knife parameters too.  The Endela is a noticeable step up from the Delica, but almost a twin to the Endura.



Frankly, the Endela seems to be an answer in search of a question.

The Endela comes only as the flat grind blade, which seems to be super-hot on with consumers right now.  Both the Delica and Endure can be found with similar flat grinds.  Both the Endura and Delica can be obtained with a plain edge, a partial serration and full serration.  The Endela sports either a plain edge or a full serration.  

The full serration has amazing cutting powers.  Packing straps, seat belts, heavy rope all come clean to its power.  The little defensive edge training I have taken strongly suggests I don’t want to be cut by a Spyderco serration.

The Endela market, according to Spyderco, is for those of us who want a larger knife than a Delica, but smaller than an Endura.  Hence the mash-up.  Not the most original, but…..


opening packages, daily chores, sharp knife Endela

The difference is in the feel and use.  I like the Endela.  It feels good in my hand and if I was a first time buyer, I’d get an Endela. 

It will be interesting to see if it’s in the 2021 catalog.

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 €

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