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Donnerstag, 10. Oktober 2013

Short introduction of a Boker plus Colubris tactical belt knife

 Okay, I admit it. I am a geardo.

I am an inconsequent asshole jibbering and jabbering about going simple and then going along and buying the latest paraphernalia. I can tell you, I have told myself so.

But then I never stated I was completely off the grid, whatever that might mean. And I still have no TV, no fridge, no personal personal computer, I am neither facebooked, xinged or whatever still, I still forage for my food. So you might forgive me if I buy something from time to time, just because I want to;-).

Fact is, I did not need it. I could make something very close myself.

The culprit is, I just wanted it. I was on a marvellous trip to Solingen, doing some visits, renewing some very valuable acquaintances. Not the least was my visit to Tobias from Boker Baumwerk, Solingen. They have a sales shop where you can get second grades and production leftovers and one or the other proto that did not see actual production. Now Boker is famed for their tactical knife designs. I still don´t like tactical knife designs. I am not overly fond of G-10 and Micarta, and I don´t believe in this super steel prybar shrapnel designs. But, as is, I visited the shop, had a chat with Mrs. Felix, until she was going home, and Tobias came in. I was quite delighted, for we hadn´t met in a year or so. Tobias is one of those guys you may take for a thug at first sight, and he is no stranger to the martial arts, in fact... not that any martial artist is a thug, mind you!;-) But you can tell by the way he moves and walks that he knows how to take a beating and defend himself. If you get to know him, however, you will learn that the first glance at his being a  "thug" might cheat; suffice to say that he is a very nice and reflected guy with a calm, but persistent air about him. Of course, we talked a lot, and I played some knives, actually quite absently, to be honest. Then I laid my fingers on something weird, a bit like a crossover between a Nessmuk and some alien starship wreckage;-). Oh, and do you know that feeling, when you play something and it just falls in place?

This actually was the case. And NO, I didn´t get paid to write this. You all know my stance towards things that look like alien starship wreckage. Then I learned it had a 440C blade, with a legal length in the bargain (10,9cm). I at first wasn´t too fond of the spine thickness, which is at least some 6 mm, but it has a high slightly hollow grind with a flat secondary edge bevel, and a very wide blade.
 Oh, and the packaging alone is worth mentioning. You get the impression you bought some quality item, and the idea you bought a firearm, which, I daresay is not all by coincidence. The knife is designed by DJ Urbanowski (American Kami). He is a madman, I think;-). Good thing for starters, I think;-).

The way it is accomplished is a very American way of designing knives, to be true...;-)

It comes with a well - fitting kydex sheath with a Tek - Lok carrying system. I am fond of carrying systems and extra bits and gimmicks actually, ever since I got my first "LEGO" playing kit;-). Kitting aside;-), this knife feels sturdy, and comes with a blade that does even work, which is not the case with all tactical designs.
Of course, I tested it and estimate the hardness at 58-60 HRC. It carves steel rods, chops antler, and is capable of doing more delicate work. The finish of the blade consists of tiny scratches ("stonewashed"), so no harm done if you add some more. Using a firesteel and all that other abuse did not have any adverse effects on the blade. Balance point is slightly hindward of the index finger handle point, and with a lanyard will go further back. That makes for a bit of a less than ideal balance, but hey, it´s just that I have to find a flaw to make sure I am living up to my personal image;-) of being a groping moron...;-). The handle is special waste G-10, of course, but you can use  ´em to drive nails, so no complaint. Also, this product will have an exceedingly long life-cycle. It is not exactly beautiful, no sir, but has a kind of brutal aesthetics to it. If you can live with the somewhat martial appearance, it´s a great blade with a serviceable steel. I do not like to modify this opinion of mine, no sir;-), not at all, but it maybe that tactical designs might have their advantages after all;-)

I bought it, and we continued to have some chatting about mountainbiking, survival and martial arts and this and that, until I said goodbye, because I had to get my bus...

Short introduction of an Otter sailor´s knife / London / sheepfoot slipjoint folder

 This is a knife I have owned now for some time, and I realized how much I like it just because it always rides in my pocket, and I actually use it quite often. It is an Otter sheepfoot blade with a slipjoint construction. This knife is dead simple, but it comes with a real spring and a rectangular blade root making for a half-stop for safety. Liners are made from mild steel, as are the bolsters. Cocobolo scales are pinned in place by brass pins. I drilled a lanyard hole through them and fitted a leather lanyard. The blade is C100 still, with a hand-ground very thin convex bevel. It has an even temper aiming towards a higher flexibility and comes at a claimed hardness of 56 HRC. The blade is 75x2 mm with a sheepfoot tip, with a speciality, for the edge line is slightly offset and diagonal to the spine. It is a very effective cutter, whittler and eating knife. You can use the spine to spread butter very effectively making it a great snacking knife also.
 Plus, it is a knife with history and atmosphere, for this blade shape originated as a "Boscher" (a Solingen dialect term for a bos-scher, "woods shearer" or "woods knife", cognate with the Dutch "bos" for woods.) This shape goes back to the medieval ages and was quite a common shape throughout the North of Germany. Many Solingen kitchen and general use knives were forged that way. The "Scherper" of miner´s attire origin often shared characteristics with it, but it was most famed as a mariner´s knife. Legend has it that boatsmen tended to break off the tip of any knife brought on deck of any ship privately, except for knives in this shape, so it became a common mariner´s blade shape. The French folding knife type often called "London" is nearly identical.
By the way, apologies for the lousy pics, I still cannot figure out how to use this camera properly...

The knife is not a masterpiece of craftsmanship, in that the blade is fixed a bit off centre in the handle. The grind, however, otherwise is excellent. It can be made hairpoppingly sharp, so sharp in fact that you can split a hair with it. Talking of which, out of the box the sharpness was nothing to brag about, either. But then, it comes dead cheap. The spring is super stiff and actually gives you a lot of confidence, the blade has a nice geometry, the knife has a rustic, but serviceable finish. It is capable of hard work and begs for more. Buy it;-).

They come in a size even  legal in the UK and Denmark. Get them here.

Freitag, 4. Oktober 2013

The scent of autumn

 It is here. That time of year when the year draws to a close. As with old age, things start withering, but there is also an air of one last violent flourishing, of ripening fruit and flourishing herbs, of sprouting mushrooms, violently pushing out from the dark. It is here. That time of the year, when mists waft through the darkening woods, and the sounds grow silent, until silence is all that remains.

I went out in the woods, following narrow trails seldom trod, relishing in the silence and the twilight as in a precious dark red wine long dispensed with, enjoying all those colours becoming so much more vivid and elegant.
 European Rowan berries (Sorbus Aucuparia, in German: Vogelbeere, Ebereschenbeere). They are rich with Vitamin C, but also with Paraascorbin acid, which is laxative. Therefore rowan berries should not be eaten unprocessed.  I collected some for gin. Take two handfuls for one litre of Vodka, cover with Kandis sugar or honey. But first let them rest in watered vinegar for three days. Then take them out, rinse them with water, and process them further. You can also make jam from them! If you suffer from mild food poisoning and are absolutely sure of your diagnosis, you can use them as a purgative.
 On I wandered through the darkening woods, still in their green dress. Ever so powerful, this tree grew through this pitchfork. The tree survived. The pitchfork is falling prey to the tooth of time, and its rusty colour is becoming more and more becoming a part of the fallen leaves in colour and substance to give nourishment to all those creatures of the underground dwelling on the decay of the living.
 Few if any consider that the mushrooming part of the mycelium is but the smallest part.
 Deep down in the darkness there dwells the root, and the human soul mirrors the sprouting mushrooms, in that mind and body are but protrusions of that which lies submerged...
 And thusly I wandered, deeper into the woods, where man does not tread. In stealth I went, barefoot and calm, into a realm where light is dim and strange the sounds that reach our ear. Here there is no modern man, and even the most civilized human being realizes with fear and terror that his well-mended world is but a surface embellishment. Reality there thrives violently and without mercy, and cares not for human care nor value.
 But paths there are for those who dare to tread them.
 And light there is, ever so much brighter in the dark.
 For woods come to a clearing, and there is rest... I sat down and had a cuppa tea and whittled some shavings and did some stumpsitting...

Near my resting place I came across this little caterpillar. Don´t know what it is or what it´s called, but beautiful it was.


 And a wasp spider building its net, weaving artfully and beautifully - the death of its prey. Such is nature: Beautiful and wicked at the same time...
 I came to the foot of the hills when the light drew to a close, and I ventured farther into the murky woods...
 Sloe (prunus spinoza, in German: Schlehe). I collected some for gin and jam...

 ´shrooms!!!! Bay boletus and boletus in fact, and quite some impressive ones... I took several home to dry. I use to dry them with a dousing of salt and some herbs. That way you have a great instant mushroom soup....;-)

I arrived upon the hill at dusk.

And while I waited for the bus my mind was racing brim full with the experience. I find it becomes harder to adapt to this funny postmodern society the more I venture into the twilight. But, this question remains to be asked: Which is more important?

Introduction of a rugged bushcraft knife with a somewhat tactical pedigree

 Now this is not quite common for me. I don´t like tactical knives at all. I simply cannot relate to the idea of carrying a knife that is nothing but a weapon. Any knife can be a weapon, don´t get me wrong, but I do not want to think about that nonsense of "sneaking up to sentinels" or "winning a knife fight". Noone wins a knife fight. Both contrahents will bleed, and chance is, both will die from their injuries. If you get assaulted, you will instinctively use what you can lay hands on in the instant, be it a rock, a piece of clothing, your hands, legs, feet, or, if you so want, a knife, apillow or a handkerchief. If a knife is at hand, and you ARE in lethal danger, your instict will of course make use of it. The romantiscism of being a soldier somehow fails to appeal to me;-). However, many tactical designs are just plain good or even great, and when I got the opportunity to review this Enforcer hunting knife, I just dug it. My excuses for the lousy pics, I have to fiddle with the new old camera still... The knife comes in a relatively good Cordura sheath. The blade is Chinese made from 8CrMoV steel, which is but a tiny notch below 440C with a carbon content of 0,80% but with much the same content of Chromium, Molybdenum and Vanadium. It claims to be tempered to 58HRC, and, having tested it as I commonly test knives;-) I can safely say it gets the job done. It´s hard enough and flexible enough and makes for a tough knife.
 The scales are G-10 with a cleanly made bead-blasted finish, and screwed on with nicely made and finished Torx head screws. The handle is big and chunky and could do with some ergonomic features, but as is, it works well enough. It reminds one a bit of the Ontario RAT-3 handle design.
 It´s a bit unusual for me that the blade has this finger notch and the centre of gravity is far back. I personally like to have an edge that goes all the way up to the handle for more power when carving and more control. But this design has obvious advantages. This knife is a legal carry at 100 mm length, but, BOY, does it chop and split wood! The spine is a monstrous 7mm thick. Due to the wide blade with a high flat grind, it´s an able slicer, though. The blade came hair poppingly sharp out of the box and made short terms with kitchen tasks as well as batoning.
 There´s a piece of the tang protruding out of the scales as a glassbreaker, and serving double duty as a lanyard hole. I could not test the glassbreaking ability, but it also opens beer bottles nicely...;-).

This knife is sold for 39,00€. For that little it´s a reliable companion with a great steel for the job, and it´s up to par with knives selling for ten times as much. It´s no wonder steel doing legendary things, but you can sharpen it without nuclear power tools. It takes a very keen edge (and holds it very well), cuts and chops and gets batoned and even pries well. The handle is comfortable enough, even if it could be better, but we are talking bargain basement here! The sheath is nothing to brag about, but make a new one or buy another, and this knife will serve you well for a long period of time. Take it out bushcrafting, hunting or even barbecueing, you name it, it does it. Just leave those sentinels alone, do you?*ggg*

On the bench-more steel!

 Currently there are a load of projects going on. The blades in the topmost picture are what we typically make at the Bethaus smithy on customer request, with a raw finish, a blade out of spring steel with a selective temper by edge-quenching, forged bolster / guard out of mild steel (file steel on request). They normally get a handle burned-to-fit and get peened over a copper buttcap. With those two, hot - punching the blade décor went a bit awry, so I kept them for myself.
 Top is a damascus Kopis with the squiggly bit;-) fallen off, so it will get some annealing and some new forging a squiggly bit. Next is a file steel blade that´s needing some forging still, and a Nessmuk and a hunting / steak knife out of ancient spring steel with a carbon content of about 0,75% and nothing else;-). Nessie´s already quenched (you can see the quench lines illustrating the technique quite well. For I always use a double quench technique. I heat the steel to the upmost part of the temperature window suitable for quenching. I wait until it is cooled in the air a bit and just right for quenching (you can use a magnet if you want to be sure). I quench the edge part very conservatively. When the temperature is coming down further to a dull red colour I put it in further. It is crucial that this part still isn´t magnetic! Then I take it out, while the spine still has some heat. I remove the scale and oil with a wet wire brush. When the edge part achieves a golden colour with cutting knives and a blue colour with cleaving knives, I put it in the oil to cool down. I then take a file and run it along the edge. It can have some grip, but must not bite, if that makes any sense. If it slides off completely, I use the heat radiance from the forge to bring down the hardness some more to enhance elasticity. After cooling down again, I repeat the file test and allow it to rest some. I then slam the edge against the edge of the anvil. It must not dent too much, best it shouldn´t dent at all. Then it has to carve iron rods. Next in line is a test of elasticity and shock resistance: I slam the flat blade over the horn of the anvil. If it breaks, it breaks. The next test is levering up a 30 kg anvil. If it survives all that, it´s ready to rumble;-). I will then remove any nicks or dents and put an edge to it. It has to cut paper in the least. Then I like to chop at least ten times into hardwood or antler to test the edge-holding capacity. Another good test is carving hardwood from the broad side. It has to stand up to those tests also and at least cut "any which way";-) through paper.

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