How to Buy a Knife

Hey Cats and Kittens,

A little bit of free-flow thought concerning knives… Take a look at the little feller (and littler flashlight beside it.)

Well now… No secret that Da Gizz is a serious woodworker — just look at the Harwich Spirits Shoppe wood floors. And woodworking invariably leads to talk of knives… Here we go into randomness and 1/50th of $1.00…

  • Knives come in just a couple flavors — fixed and folders. Each serves its own purpose, though for the average person, a folder is probably more likely.

  • Fixed are cool, though they almost always require an external sheath.

  • Choice of blade material is important. There are four types to consider:

    • Good old fashioned carbon steel — I prefer 56 — 58 on the Rockwell hardness test. Just be aware that as the steel gets harder, it gets harder to sharpen and can become more brittle. (Can you say “diamond stones” for sharpening?)

    • Stainless… 440C works for me, though there are all kinds of new grade. Do your homework.

    • Ceramic… The knife above is a Boker ceramic made in Germany. That and that tiny (but powerful) flashlight are my constant companions. Be aware that Ceramic is quite brittle. I use mine for opening letters, cutting string, opening cardboard packages etc. A knife like the Boker is the consummate ‘Gent’s Knife’ — at home in the pocket of a doctor or engineer. Note: Ceramics are as sharp as broken glass. While they can chip when hitting bone, they have no problem gliding through flesh… Trust me.

    • Damascus… This is actually a type of carbon steel, but in the forging process, it has been hammered flat and then folded over on itself and hammered flat again ad nauseum. Damascus is strikingly beautiful, and can be quite strong.

  • Whether folding or fixed, immediately give up on the idea of self defense with a knife. If you want to defend yourself, take the classes, get your license, and carry a handgun concealed. Take it from a cat who faced a point-blank .22 in a 1 AM Combat Zone in Boston, a knife is utterly worthless. Does it work sometimes? Yes. Would I bet my life on a blade? No.
  • A good fixed will have a handle-long tang — that is, the steel of the blade will be as long as the knife itself.

  • A folder should silently ‘walk the walk’ and ‘talk the talk’. That is there should be no scraping sounds or ‘herky jerky’ feel as you open and close the knife. It should lock closed and have no play between blade and handle.

  • Expect to pay between $50 and $200 for a decent knife. Here are some exceptional manufacturers:

    • Barlow

    • Case

    • Kershaw

    • Buck (the 110 is one of the best-selling knives in the world.)

    • Boker

    • Leatherman

    • Swiss Army

    • Gerber

    • Schrade

    • Ka-Bar (The Ka-Bar USMC knife is one of the best in the world. If you need something bigger than that, move on to a hand ax.)

    • KutMaster (Utica Manufacturing — an oldie but a goodie.)

    • H&K
  • That’s not to be said that there aren’t deals to be had… I’m watching Cutlery Corner TV right now, and they just offered a fixed blade skinner, with full length tang in 440C stainless for $10 including leather sheath… Tough to beat that with a stick.

You get the idea… Don’t be cheap, know what you’re doing… A knife is like a friend… Choose wisely.

By the racks,

Three cats blogging…

Wine Glossaries

* Nat Decants: A thorough glossary from Natalie MacLean, noted wine writer, speaker, and judge.
* “The Independent Consumer’s Guide to Fine Wines”
* GLOSSARY of Wine-Tasting Terminology (Version 1.4 – Jan. 1995): A thorough collection of definitions from Anthony Hawkins.

Beer Glossaries

* ratebeer: Now that’s a straightforward name!
* beer-pages: Roger Protz and Tom Cannavan say that “it’s all about beer”.
* A fine collection of Beer dictionaries.


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