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Author Topic: Narrowing the field.  (Read 813 times)
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Dirtfarmer
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« on: March 25, 2016, 04:38:27 PM »

This group has generally already narrowed the field and I imagine I have a pretty good idea how you got there but I'm going to pose the question anyway and see if anything interesting pops up.

The knife world is huge and there is something there for everyone but too much for any one person.  Whether you build knives or collect them there must be some parameters to keep it all in check.

For me it is often more easy to list what I don't like and narrow the field that way.  Sort of like choosing a job or a career.  I know I would not like a job where i had to work indoors all the time.  I prefer to work outdoors.  Well, that narrows the field a break deal.   If a job came along that had huge $ and some other perks but needed me to be in an office I might take it for a while but it wouldn't be a keeper.

With the knives I narrow the field by saying I'm not interested in Damascus.  I'm impressed by the beauty and the obvious work somebody puts into it but at the end of the day it's not me.  Same for jewels and super exotic materials.  They take my breath away but in the end they are not for me.   Same for embellishments like engraving.  Great skill and effort required but that is not what makes a knife a "must have" item for me.

I think it is basic materials that are appropriate for the use and clean flowing lines that make it for me. 

Once you start to get these criteria sort of in our mind how do you search out the people who fit your criteria?  I've spent way too much time plowing through images of "art knives" and "fantasy knives"  Huh?    

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Joe Calton
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« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2016, 11:02:33 AM »

are you trying to narrow the field for the types of knives that you want to make? or the kinds you want to collect?

either way, it is a tough thing to do. I started off wanting to make working and hunting knives. the classic 4"ish hunter, and "rough use" 5" plus knives, and then big choppers. I had never had very good luck with stainless knives, so I narrowed it down to high carbon blades. and as I am mostly interested in working, a high degree of finish doesn't really matter to me.

then, someone talked me into making a couple kitchen knives. that lead me into very very thin precise grinds, and what makes a good kitchen knife from a not so good one. and then that lead to wanting to offer a stainless kitchen knife that would give as much cutting performance as I could get, along with stainless properites.

somewhere along the line, I also got into everyday carry knives like neckers. and trying to find a balance between very good cutting ability and thin grinds, balanced with an acceptable level of toughness.

and lately, even though I never thought that I would be interested in Damascus, that bug has bitten, and I have been playing with some basic Damascus. and learning about that and will soon be offering the different classes that I already make in Damascus.

ive also made some folders, and would like to make some more sooner or later.

about the only classes of knives I haven't been interested in so far is the tactical types, fighting knives, fantasy knives, and high finish art knives or things like hatchets or tomahawks. but you never know, I may make some of them also.

one thing that has really struck me is how much things cross over between the classes. like when I got into kitchen knives. it was how thin can I take one of my steels and maintain a usuable level of toughness. then when I applied that to my choppers, I was really able to make a big leap in performance. as I was used to having a mic handy, and grinding to a known thickness, instead of just grinding by eye.
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Daniel Rohde (D-Vision)
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« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2016, 12:35:39 PM »

I feel pretty much like Joe.
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Dirtfarmer
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« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2016, 06:25:14 PM »

I was pretty much thinking about the BLADE show.   With hundreds of tables and tens of thousands of shiny objects vying for attention, I want to narrow it to some quality time on some very relevant tables.   Again,  I know there are makers out there that get just a little something into their design that makes me catch my breath.  I know it when I see it but I want to get started on a list to seek out so I don't have to just get lucky when I cruise past a table.   

I'm having a hard time articulating this question.
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Dirtfarmer
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« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2016, 07:10:16 PM »

OK here is an example.  I went sniffing around and found S.R. Johnson.   The knives shown on his website are a major tribute to Bob Loveless.  On the screen they grab my attention.  Will that be the case when I stand at his table at the BLADE show?   He is now on the list.   Of course you know who else popped up when I put some criteria into my search.  Ed Fowler. 
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Dirtfarmer
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« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2016, 07:26:23 PM »

so I browse a little more and Hmmm  knives by John Young catch my eye.   Look him up and he is a student of S.R. Johnson.   This is the sort of thing I'm looking for.  Bob Loveless leads to SR Johnson and he leads to John Young.  Design that appeals to me seems to be following a certain thread.
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Dirtfarmer
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« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2016, 05:36:47 PM »

So how could I get a list of makers who are students of Bob Loveless?  And then who are their students?    The family tree of knife makers.  Is there such a thing?
Thanks
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Dirtfarmer
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« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2016, 04:37:50 AM »

Ok, so I'm uneducated in the knife world. I feel a bit stupid that my search for exceptional design lands me at the feet of Bob Loveless.  However I got there pretty quickly.   Now I want to get away from the Loveless school of design before it consumes me.   Help me out guys.  Is there another school of design that is exceptional but not Loveless?

In some other areas of endeavor I have done rather well because I did not  become steeped in the prevailing wisdom.  I did things that prevailing wisdom said couldn't be done just by not getting too wrapped up in that prevailing wisdom.  I think it's important to get the big concepts but then not be hampered by many details in current dogma.

If I apply this line of thought to the Loveless design question there are makers who have literally traced the patterns that hang on the wall of the Loveless shop in California.  That is a great tribute to Bob Loveless but I would not do it.   I would rather handle some Loveless knives and see if my little brain could latch onto the basic concepts and then see what what messages it will send back out to my hands when I make a knife.  Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery but it does not move the ball down the field.

Ain't I the philosopher this morning?   Hahahaha.
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Ed Fowler
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« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2016, 09:12:51 AM »

This is my favorite Bob Loveless knife, forged blade and very early.
Take a Look at it and see how many makers before him used the same aspects of design.

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« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2016, 04:14:42 PM »

I am too uneducated in the history of knife design to answer your question, Ed.  However, I can immediately see a number of ways the Loveless design evolved from this knife.   
I do see the flowing lines and harmony that seems always to be there in the Loveless knife.   This one might have tried to be all things to all people.  It's almost a drop point hunter but it's also almost a skinner.  Seems kind of in between.

Then the finger grooves in the handle make it a little bit "busy."   Didn't Bob Loveless move away from these grooves pretty quickly?  I like the sweep of the line from the spine of the blade up over the hump in the handle.   Have no idea how that hump feels in hand but it looks good on paper.  The guard looks like Ed Fowler design, understated but effective.  Guard needs to be there but not get in the way of the overall design.
What's up with the butt cap being a different material pinned with yet another material?  That draws my eye away from the overall weep of the knife.

I appologize for acting like I'm qualified to critique a knife made by one of the greatest knife makers of our time.  I'm working through the exercise  of trying to articulate what I see in great design.  If i don't verbalize it and write it down it's in one eyeball and out the other.

Bounce it back at me Ed, and thanks as always for stimulating the little grey cells. 
 
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« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2016, 05:02:52 PM »

That is a beauty Ed!  I may just have to adopt that pattern for my "collection".
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« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2016, 05:30:05 AM »

Good morning Ed and others.   Speak to me about the back end of the handle on that Loveless knife.   The angle back from the spine looks good and seems part of the flow lines.   However, it seems to me that as time went on this angle became more pronounced and the point at the back of the handle became sharper.    From a design standpoint it looks great but from a practical standpoint it makes it about impossible to hammer the knife into something if necessary.   I want to be able to pound the back of my knife with my hand if I need to drive it into something.

Form and function.  What do you say?    In theory driving a knife into something would be abusive but you know we all do it.
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Ed Fowler
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« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2016, 03:26:45 PM »

To my eye and hand the top line of the knife is about perfect, when ever you see a curve in the top line of a knife I suggest you take time to really look the knife over.

I cannot understand why the sharp end on the butt of the knife, unless the tip is too fragile to be pounded into its work, I would not want my hand slamming against that sharp edge on the top of the butt. Most all of the Loveless knives I have seen have a sharp butt. I usually remark that the reason for a sharp butt is to protect the tip, most folks do not understand what I am saying and wonder if I am kidding.

The only sharp edges I want on a knife are the tip and the cutting edge.

The sweep of the top line and false edge on the front 1/4 of the spine reminds me of the knives of Michael Price, they penetrate very easily and do not bite into a scabbard and the overall design leaves plenty of strength to the tip. The convex top line of the blade is especially attractive to me. It looks like the top of the blade has been rounded to be more friendly to the hand of the user.

The guard is not as prominent as I would like, it would be easy to slip over it.

The finger groves appear to be a good idea and I made a few knives like that, but when I used the knives it did not take long for my hand to convince me that they were not a good idea. When we actually use a knife our hand is constantly changing position and finger groves are uncomfortable, although they to provide a better grip.

I wish the ricasso was a little longer to make it more useful.

Note that he did not have a little choil or nick where the edge meets the ricasso, thus avoiding a serious stress raiser that many use just to avoid too much time being required to match the edge with the ricasso.

Hollow ground knives are not to my liking, they lack strength, but are easy to make.

He did not  carry the hollow grind to the spine thus leaving more strength in the blade as well as a good place to sign it.

This is one of his very early knives and you can see he put a lot of thought into it.

Please feel free to discuss this blade further if you have any ideas.
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« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2016, 04:49:11 PM »

I didn't mention it but I also thought a longer ricasso would be a good idea.  I don't see that more ricasso would spoil the lines of the knife at all.
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Dirtfarmer
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« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2016, 04:55:30 PM »

I catch your opening line about the curve in the top line.    It does seem to be a common element in knives that catch my eye either fixed blade or folder.   Thanks Ed.   I going to plow through more images to see if I can find another knife by another maker not from the Loveless school yet still showing great design.    I wish I was sitting in front of your library,  Ed.  Not just for the library but because I would be in great company too.
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