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Archive for June 2014

What You Missed at the 2014 Atlanta Blade Show

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The 2014 Blade Show was the largest and best attended show ever.

The 2014 Blade Show was the largest and best attended show ever.

 

The annual Blade Show at the Cobb Galleria is always a mix of the useful, wonderful and strange along with a good dose of useful seminars, demonstrations and vendors who sell bladesmithing supplies. Southern knife people are usually a friendly bunch, and it is not unusual to sit and  strike up a conversation with a fellow enthusiast, talk about knives and soon exchange life histories as I did with a young Air Force vet who had returned from Afghanistan. He had purchased an Emerson clip folder and a Swedish belt knife with scabbard, fire starter and interchangeable belt clips. I showed him a folding German melon knife that I had a knife-making friend re-handle with mastodon ivory. This ivory was cut from a tusk that I had brought back from Alaska in the 1970s, when I was about the same age as the officer.

After the knife talk, I found that even though he was serving now and my service time was in the Viet Nam era, our feelings of “what the hell are we doing over there” were remarkably similar. Although there was a generational gap, the bonding of the two of us who had faced (or potentially faced in my case) the shared experiences fighting for people who hate us was quite similar. All the lives, money and time spent seems futile. The British had tried, the Russians had tried and now we have tried to bring order and stability to the country, admittedly with different systems and intentions. Both previous efforts had failed, and the odds are heavily weighted that our efforts will be no more successful.

BS Case camoMy taste in edged tools runs very much towards the practical side. I am not too taken with “art knives,” although I do appreciate them, and the newest re-introduction of some of Case’s historic patterns, such as a single bladed teardrop design, are only of passing interest. Case did; however, also have their Muskrat and two and three-bladed Stockmen with camo scales that they will be selling in 2014. These knives  would tempt me if I did not already have a hundred pocket knives.

Canal Cutlery's Swell-Center Jack knife.

Canal Cutlery’s Swell-Center Jack knife.

Among the makers of high-grade examples of traditional designs of American knives is Canal Street Cutlery which is located in Ellenville, New York, in the traditional steel and knife making country of the Catskill Mountains. Each year they reintroduce an old American knife pattern. For this year it is a Swell-Center Jack, which is unique in that it has a heavy base so that it will set upright when the two blades are extended, has an enlarged center section for better grasp and is intended to be used for whittling or carving wood. In the South this design is more commonly called a “Coke-Bottle.” Among the company’s best sellers is a series of folding knives handled with  the now-nearly-extinct American Chestnut, which the company recovered from the timbers of an old barn. You can see these knives at http://www.canalstreetcutlery.com. I have known Wally Gardiner and the other company officers since their first exhibition at the Shot Show in Las Vegas. They have kept true to their promise of continuing to offer bench made quality American knives. They have also expanded their line to include some excellent patterns of hunting knives that are produced to the same quality standards.

 

Field's Hybrid leather knife used here for cutting a thick piece of cow leather.

Field’s Hybrid leather knife used here for cutting a thick piece of cow leather.

Josh Fields with his Hybred knife.

Josh Fields with his Hybred knife.

I have a deep respect for working knives and the people who use them. One such is Josh Fields who grew up in Texas. His dad made knives, and be became interested in leather work as a teen. His first interest was in carving scenes and portraits in leather. He soon discovered that he also needed to make the tools to do his art, and his dad served as a ready source of  information, materials and knife-making skills. The mix of his artistic talents and practical experiences resulted in more than 30 different knife patterns designed for the leather-working trades. These go through thick cow hides like cutting butter. My primitive leather work has been restricted to easily cut deer leather, but these tough knives will work anything. The two basic classes of leather-working knives are those designed for cutting and for skiving (thinning the leather so that it can be sewn).   The knife shown in the photo is a hybrid that has blades to do both functions. These are available in both right and left-hand versions with a variety of handle shapes. Because Fields makes his own knives, he can incorporate wood that you furnish as the handle or provide a selection.  You can see his work on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ARTKnifeandTool, E -mail at josh@artknifeandtool.com or call him at (817) 258-4497.

Josh is an interesting, fun guy, and I am attempting to arrange a trip to Texas to do a story about him and his knives. This trip may also be linked with a hog hunt to provide useful work for my Colt Super Walker in Col. Walker’s home country.

A variety of knives as well as an axe can be cut from fiberglass-resin composites.

A variety of knives as well as an axe can be cut from fiberglass-resin composites.

I have used knives made of stone, bone, copper, ceramics and plastic. I am always interested when someone introduces a new material to knife making as has been done by Travis Wilson with TW Brands Gear. These knives are made in a variety of patterns that are cut from a fiberglass/resin layered material formed in sheets under very high pressure. This material has more resistance to breakage than ceramic or stone knives and can take a sharp point and edge. I obtained a sample knife and will be using it during the next deer season. Because of the nature of the materials, these knives can be made in a variety of colors including a burnt-orange and black laminate which was my choice for a deer-skinning knife. The orange color makes is much easier to locate the knife if you put it down in near-dark conditions.  For more information on these products go to http://www.twbrandsgear.com or call (407) 923-7862 .

 

My best of show in the "art knife" design category.

My best of show in the “art knife” design category.

My selection as Best of Show in design for an “art” knife was made by a member of a Japanese knife-making family. Unusual in Japan where regimentation often forces young knife makers to make traditional patterns, and woe to them if they do not, this knife by  Dew Hara uses anodized sculptured aluminum handles that have smooth-flowing organic lines. This knife looks as if it might even swim. This is a knife that deserves to be in an art museum, and that may be where it will ultimately reside, having never cut anything more that a test sheet of paper.  Knives made by his dad and other members of his family were also represented at his table.

A large extendable folding knife intended for serious cutting.

A large extendable folding knife intended for serious cutting.

Many ex-military knives from all of the world’s armies were represented at the show. One of the finest example was of a U.S. issue extendable folding machete in new condition complete with its original sheath. This knife was made by Imperial in Providence, Rhode Island. The blade not only folds into the handle, it is protected by a steel blade extension and is mechanically locked into place once the blade is deployed. Most often these knives are seen in worn and rusted condition.  This knife will be included in an article that I will do for Knife World on knives with these types of extendable blades that were, and are, used as utility, fighting and hunting knives.

CRKT Tomahawks.

CRKT Tomahawks.

Not all edged things are knives and CRKT introduced two new tomahawks that were designed by Ryan Johnson of RMJ Tactical. These “hawks” are unusual in that one has a distinctively useful hammer head on the back while the other’s point could, woodpecker fashion, rapidly chip away at some serious wood if you needed to  make a hole, say to push an air or water line through a wall in a rescue situation. The momentum of these heavy heads will tend to promote the tapered wooden handle’s flying from the hand, and I would drill these handles and wrap them with paracord to provide a better grip.

 

 

Walking staff with accessory blades, except for a large double-pointed fish gig.

Walking staff with accessory blades, except for a large double-pointed fish gig.

Spears are nothing more than knives with longer handles, and Bahram Khoshnood conceived of a hickory walking staff with a polymer grip which has an interchangeable saw, slingshot, fish gig and combo axe-spear point. This instrument will not only help you get to your camp but maybe feed you along the way and clear your camp spot once you arrive. The only improvement that I would make to his design would be to slip on a non-slip rubber protector on the bottom, as is often used on chair legs,  or a metal end cap to protect the wood.

If your tastes run to things on the large size, among the collectors’ exhibits was this display of exhibition-size folders that were meant to be displayed at trade shows and other gatherings as practical advertisements for their maker’s products. These eye-catching knives have blades that are two, or more, feet long and contain all the components of the knife’s operating system expanded to a giant scale.

BS Big folding knives

 

 

 

 

Written by hoveysmith

June 10, 2014 at 3:49 pm

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Stands for Loading Detached Percussion Revolver Cylinders

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A home-built stand for the Colt Walker and a commercial stand for the Remington 1858 and similar-sized colt pistols.

A home-built stand for the Colt Walker and a commercial stand for the Remington 1858 and similar-sized colt pistols.

 

Attached loading levers on Colt’s and other percussion revolvers would seem to be such an obvious advantage that many people assume that all percussion revolvers were made with loading levers. This is not correct. The first Colt Patterson revolvers did not have loading levers. They were sold with a separate lever that fitted into a slot in the cylinder pin and required that the barrel be removed for loading. There were also Storekeeper and Wells Fargo models that had short barrels so that they could be unobtrusively carried, but had insufficient barrel length for a loading lever.

In modern replicas, the full size percussion replicas of the 1873 Colt Peacemaker may have extraneous cartridge-extraction rods, but no loading levers. In addition,  about a half-dozen old and new designs of percussion pistols are made sans loading levers. One recent design is Dixie’s .44-caliber Pietta-made Snubnose, which has birds’ head grips and a 2-inch barrel. I should be receiving one of these guns for testing later this Summer.

Advantages of using a separate cylinder-loading stand are that it is easier to load powder charges without  spillage, elongate bullets may be loaded in the chambers that would not fit in the unmodified loading ports of the original guns, a longer lever arm is used which makes loading easier, alloy bullets may be used without danger of bending the loading lever on the gun, more uniform pressure can be applied to the loads which promotes accuracy and the detached cylinder makes it easier to apply a melted beeswax seal over the balls for better long-term stability of the load.

All of these advantages are significant to me as a hunter where I would consider myself fortunate to have one shot at a deer and may not see another deer for days. If I have well-sealed loads, I can clean a single chamber and the remainder of the gun, without having to shoot off the remaining rounds. Using this stand I can reload my cylinder prior to a hunt on my kitchen table, protect the uncapped cylinders it in two airtight plastic bags and put the cylinder in the gun before I walk out of camp for my hunt.

These needs have been recognized by the industry, and there are several designs of table-top revolver cylinder reloaders that are small enough to take to hunt camp. Unfortunately, these are mostly made for .44-caliber Colt and Remington revolvers of common Civil War patterns, such as the 1860 Army and 1858 Remington. If you want a cylinder loading stand for a Walker or Dragoon, you may well have to build it yourself, as I did for my Super Walker revolver. I made several YouTube videos of this process with the last in the series being “One and Two Station Revolver Loading Stands” that you may view at: .

In this video I describe the repair of a commercial loading stand to make it stronger that it was when it was new. On the same video I also show how   I modified my Mark I loading stand so that I could load not only Walker and Dragoon cylinders, but added a second station for the Remington 1858 and similar-size Colt percussion revolvers. Although I had no immediate need, I could have added a third loading station for another size of  revolver cylinder.

 

 

 

Written by hoveysmith

June 8, 2014 at 8:38 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Atlanta’s International Blade Show Brings the World’s Knives from Kings, Cutlers and Hobbiest

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For those who have always wanted to go to the annual International Blade Show and Cutlery Fair that is held each year at the Cobb Galleria in Atlanta, this is the weekend for it. The Blade Show starts on Friday, June 6, with an opening at noon and runs through Sunday. Not only does the show bring the world’s knives and bladesmiths to Atlanta, it also brings venders who sell knife-making supplies. These include everything from steels, to belt grinders to exotic handle materials from all over the world.  Not only can you buy the materials to use to make your own knives, you can also attend seminars and purchase books and videos to tell you exactly how to do it.

My most complete coverage of the show was in 2011 when I did a video and two one-hour long radio episodes of “Hovey’s Outdoor Adventures.” You can  listen to the 2011 and 2012 radio shows about the event at WebTalkRadio.net. I have an overview of the shows, including photos of the knives, at my Hovey’s Outdoor Adventures Radio Show Blog at http://www.hoveysoutdooradventures.wordpress.com. The second hour-long show includes a visit to Buck Knives new facility at Post Falls, Idaho, and an interview with CJ Buck.

Exciting outdoor demonstrations are always a part of Blade Show events.

Exciting outdoor demonstrations are always a part of Blade Show events.

There are also blade-cutting contests, demonstrations, TV personalities, sharpening demonstrations and knives that are thousands of years old at this event. This is a family-friendly event and all are welcome.

My personal in knives is about working knives and other edged tools used for hunting, camping, in the business trades and for all-around utility. I write about knives for magazines like Knife World, have had articles in the Knife Annuals published by Krause as well as blog about them. Most commonly when I use knives it is for hunting and  cleaning up my yard after storm events. I have several videos on these subjects on YouTube. A Google search for “Hovey storm tree”  or  “Hovey knife hunt” will find them.

 

Written by hoveysmith

June 3, 2014 at 5:48 am