Thursday, August 5, 2010

Perfect Knife

You’d think that as a knife maker, it would be my goal to make the perfect knife. Or at least the perfect knife for me. But what is that? Do I have the skills?

Problem 1: I like the function of folding knives and generally prefer the appearance of a fixed blade. OK, so that isn’t too big a deal, I can certainly work the ideas together from a design standpoint.

Problem 2: Folding knives are a pain in the butt to make. My shop is pretty basic, and precision machining is not really within my repertoire. I’ve made 3 folders so far, and the first one turned out the best. Isn’t that backwards? 1 and 3 are liner locks, and 2 is a lock back, so it was a different mechanism. I like the solidity of a lock back, but liner locks are easier to make. 3 is my carry knife at the moment, and it doesn’t snap closed right. Reaching into a pocket for a wallet and coming out bloody from a partially opened knife is not a good thing. Otherwise the knife is pretty good. But not perfect.

Problem 3. I like assisted opening knives. And don’t know how to make one. I had a great little knife from SOG , a Flash II ( ($84), and lost it a year or two ago. It had a few issues. A: Partially serrated, some people like it, I don’t; B: The lock wasn’t in the right place to make the assisted opening useful. Grab knife, try to flick open, locked, use other hand to unlock, flick. Not good; C: Not hard enough, so lost its edge too soon; D: Not the most ergonomic handle. Pretty much everything else was awesome, the assisted opening mechanism, the low clip, the TiNi coating, the size. I was sad to loose it, but I never replaced it either.

I think the next step up in a factory knife for me would be a Benchmade 585BK MiniBarrage, an assisted opening, plain edge, harder/better steel, Benchmades Proprietary BK coated knife. $140. (

I’ve thought about buying either a kit knife or a new assisted opening knife, ransacking it for parts, and making my own blade, but that seems like cheating. I did pick up a lockback knife kit, and plan on doing some part mimicking, despite the cheating aspect.

Problem 4. I don’t really know what I want it to look like. That’s really a big problem. I can figure out the blade shape I think, since I like drop points. And I like a relatively short blade – I don’t usually do a lot of big cutting jobs. Should feel substantial, but not heavy. I like natural materials for a handle, but there are so many!

I can usually figure out what I don’t want it to look like. For example, I love the technology behind the diamond blade friction forging, and the function seems spectacular – superhard edge but not brittle, effectively stainless. But I don’t like the appearance of ANY of them. No offense guys – just not my style. I also can’t afford them (this one is $495).

Maybe the real problem is that there is no perfect knife, even for one person, but I think that I might just be approaching the time when I am ready to start trying for it. And, successful or not, sometimes it is the journey, not the finish line that is the real benefit.

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