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Author Topic: Crisp grind lines, an outdated measure of quality  (Read 8205 times)
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« on: October 12, 2007, 08:06:11 PM »

I have a pet theory I thought I would bounce off the guys here about why crisp grind lines got to
be the measure of a quality knife.

I think that back in the early 20th century when knives were still ground by hand it
took a skilled and steady hand to make nice crisp grind lines and have them be mirror images of each other
on both sides of the blade. If a knife company cared enough about their product to go to the trouble it most
likely was a quality blade. Before the 20th century a good knife would be judged by how it performed and either
made by a local blacksmith or stamped out in bulk like the green river knives.

The reason crisp grind lines are not a sign of quality anymore is obviously the modern production methods that
make it actually easier to do than to blend them and are no longer a sign of quality but of mass production.
Before I got interested in knives I was into fast cars and bikes(still am actually) and I ground off quite a few
crisp grind lines on internal engine components mostly to prevent stress fractures.

I don't think we will ever go back to smooth flowing organic looking grinds like Ruana's even on custom knives because there is so much
design opportunity with grind lines and it is still a great way to show your skill but I do think there will be a bigger place and more respect for flowing
blended lines especially in historically correct period knives and even performance knives.

I hope you all like my first thread!    

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« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2007, 08:09:42 PM »

 Roll Eyes ,very sorry I posted this in the wrong place!
I feel really dumb. Could the mods please move this to a more appropriate forum or delete it before
a whole bunch of people read it.

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AN OLD FRIEND OF MINE HAD A SAYING THAT HE USED OFTEN, AND NOW, I USE IT MORE OFTEN:

" It's not a mistake, if you discover it yourself. It's just a mishap."
 
Don't worry about it. Here on Knifetalk, you're among friends that don't sweat the small stuff.
We just want to read your thoughts and enjoy the experience of sharing. Read some of the stuff           
I've posted, when I should have kept my mouth shut. You'll feel better.     Clay
« Last Edit: October 13, 2007, 01:53:01 PM by radicat » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2007, 08:48:43 PM »

Usub: I don't know how to move it, but it is welcome where ever it is.
Your posts and thoughts are very welcome, and Welcome to the forum!

I agree with you totally, the crisp lines are easy, blending them in takes longer. Crisp lines are also very hard on the hands that have to use them, especially when the spine is sharp. When you see crisp lines in nature, they are there for a reason. That is the way knives and any tool used by man should be designed. When you see them in a knife, just ask the maker why?

If he defends it as a mark of traditional craftmanship, ask again why?
You can even add the words - What for? These are simple questions any knife maker should be ready and willing to answer.

Handles should be designed the same way. When you look at a handle and see sharp lines, you know the maker is lacking in thoughts about friendly to the hands designs. You can usually believe his blades are also lacking.  All you have to do is pick up a knife, squeze the handle and wallow it around in your hands, many will wear painfully on your hand rapidly.  I used to criticize them loudly, now feel it is simply a ready index of performance that allows me to judge the quality of the knife up front and obvious. I don't even ask about the steel, I figure I already know all I need to know.

A knife designed and made with performance in mind will feel as friendly to your hand as the person or animal you like to pet best. The handle should also take into consideration the job the knife is hoped to do. When you see a dropped handle on a knife it is time to look closer. Very probably the man who made it knew what a knife needed to do.

I have an old Sharps rifle. I can shoot it very well, it points naturally. Looking at the pewter end cap I noted that the design was not in the center of the stock. A little more study and I saw why, it was an indication of the cast of the stock. When it is in the center, the stock is straight, to the left -  a left cast, same for a right cast. A man could pick the rifle he wanted with out even putting it to his shoulder.

Knife handles with a cast off design are very friendly for long term use, your hand and arm to not tire as easily and none of the carpal tunner stuff should happen. Try making a knife handle that when you hold it in your hand and extend your arm the knife will be in line with the raduis bone in your arm without having to bend your wrist. Now you have a knife that is even more friendly.

I assure you that you have come to the right place.
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« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2007, 06:16:57 PM »

I just thought I'd toss this in here, even though the thread it a little old.
I ran into a new J.S. of '07 at the Ohio Classic Knife Show. We were discussing the judging "standards" at the J.S. level at Blade and he had in interesting story.
His fillets - plunge'grind lines - at the beginning of his cutting portion, were being done mostly by very cleanly and nicely floating them in so it had a nice smooth transition from the ricasso to the major blade bevel. They looked really nice!
Then he said, that after the judging was done, one of the "Big dogs" pulled him to the side and told him that if his plunge grind had been sharp and scrisp on one of his particular knives, it would have won the George Peck Award! But, it went to Nick Wheeler instead.
So, it IS being used as a judging standard!!
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« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2007, 07:47:56 PM »

Karl: I sincerely appreciate your bringing new thoughts to this topic.

Thus the ABS slowly entrenches its future to the art knife. I once entered a knife in competition, after reading the judges comments I decided to never again enter a knife for judging unless I felt the judges knew more about knives than I did. During my years at knife shows I have known two judges who had enough knowledge that I could honestly value their thoughts about my knives, Roger Cummings and Paul Basch.

The day when there are many folks who have the knowledge to judge knives based on personal experience using them is long past. Many judge knives on what they were told, this is sad and I fear may be limiting the future of shows, themselves and makers who bow to the obvious superior knowledge of the judges.

If the knife shows are to continue to attract enthusiastic patrons, we as makers need to put all the original emotion into our craft that we can muster.

The maker who can justify every aspect of his knives upon his personal knowledge or emotion are the ones who will be the icons of the future thanks to their creativity. Those who make what they are told to make seeking to satisfy the judges simply join the flock.
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« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2007, 01:15:53 PM »

Just a short story, and case against deep grind lines.

Crisp early October day as a guide.

6:45 AM, Being in place for better then an hour, the sun is going to win above a wisp of clouds to the east. You have 2 hunters set about 300 yards apart in huge draw that sepperates some lower mountain meadows and an elk bedding area above. Your thinking what a wonderful day this will be.

7:05 AM, long after a coyote picks it's way around you and your hunters. 3 cow elk and a calf head up the hill,  KawBoom , fallowed by a notable dull thud you only hear when a bullet shakes a rib-cage, your hunter up the draw took a shot!

7:15 AM , you find the find the big bull dropped in it's tracks as it was trying to get ahead of the cows coming up the draw, a nice satellite bull.

7:35 AM , just finished gutting the bull, as it's mostly down hill to an old logging road, your going to drag the elk. Happy hunters, happy day, one of the hunters wonders what that bull has been eating, you cut into the guts, mostly grass it seems. You wipe your blade on a leg of the elk.

7:45 AM This is hard work! for every down hill skid, there seems to be something in the trial that elk can hang up on, but it's still a good day!

8:05 AM , Your looking right down at the logging road you will load haul the bull out on, you could ride it like a sled the rest of the way. You stop to rest and remember an apple you have in your day pack, and cut a wedge for your hunters and enjoy some yourself,,,,, still a good day?

8:06 AM You make a note to self, self, 'elk legs are not good to clean deep grind-lines on your hunting knife,  if your going to enjoy eating an apple' , still a good day, but could be better.

Don't know if I am anywhere near what they would be looking for in a knife competion, but do like to blend in the blade. Want some of this apple?

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« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2007, 04:17:25 PM »

I like that story and I like your knife too.  I find the grip interesting and would really like to get the feel of it.

Karl and Ed, I really appreciate your input on this topic.

I have been trying to decide for quite some time whether or not to join the ABS.  I'm not a joiner for many reasons but I like the idea of the ABS.  I'm afraid that it is becoming another 'good ole boy's club' and I really don't care anything about becoming another bowie maker.  Don't get me wrong; I think they are neat and everyone has to try their hand at some but they just aren't real practical. 

Ed, like you, I'm a little set in my ways and ideas.  Grin  I don't do glitz, glitter, or fancy and the only sharp places on my knives are on the edge and point.  From what I have seen of knives that win awards, mine wouldn't even place or show but I love it when someone picks one up and says, "Wow, that sure does feel good."  I guess I'll just be happy with that prize.

Thanks,
Carey
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« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2007, 06:56:54 PM »

I know this is off of the topic a little, but you mentioned that you don't think all that much of Bowies.
I can relate two things told to me by a couple of guys who have been around a while.
1 - a knife maker EXTRAORDINAIRE, who forgot more about knifemaking than most people will ever learn, and
2 - a Knife purveyor who seems to do very well at his "business" and also seems to be respected in many knife circles.
#1.) Jerry Rados, told me that as a professional knifemaker - one who actually makes his living from his knifemaking, and who needs to create new customers on a regular basis - he should build 1 Bowie a month for sale.
#2.) Les Robertson - purveyor - told me that more than 80% of the knives currently being bought and sold in the Knife Market are 8-10 inch Fighters/Bowies.
What can I say.
I make some for sale, because I want to eat.
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Chief Joseph, Nez Perce
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« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2007, 09:21:53 AM »

Carey: for a long time I had no use for Bowies, as my main reference were Sheffield Bowies and I absolutely detest a recessed ricasso on a knife that remotely implies function. I made some, but made them my way, without the recessed ricasso and blended the lines. I find a well done Bowie to be a study in elegance and grace. Recently I met the Ruana fighter and my life changed.

While I can't make one a month, I find myself enjoying the complex geometry that Ruana worked on with his knife. Now I find myself highly motivated to make them, just finished #7.

I have made a few custom knives on special occasion and usually come to regret it. I only make knives that I want to make, and fortunately someone has always wanted to buy them. This is the source of my freedom and inspiration. My suggestion: make what you want to make, seek to justify every aspect of your knives and never let anyone lead you in another direction.
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« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2007, 11:24:19 AM »


"make what you want to make, seek to justify every aspect of your knives and never let anyone lead you in another direction."

With small adaptations a rule of life to be followed. Great thought!

Salut

Arno

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« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2007, 01:12:13 PM »

I think I should have said that a little differently.

I like Bowies and always have.  I even own several that I have come across through the years.  I have enjoyed them since I was a kid and that has been a while now.  It just seems that there is a lot of attention given to the fancy ones that grace all the magazines and little attention is given to what I would call a good honest working knife.  I have made a couple of Bowies and look forward to making more in the future.  I would like to become proficient in the kind of work that Tai Goo and Chuck Burrows have collaborated on.  That is some beautiful work.

Karl, your work is some of the nicest I have seen and I hope to get to spend a little time with you at next year's Blade Show.  I know from reading your posts here and on another forum or two that you are making a great knife in every respect and you understand what your customers want.  That's hard to beat.  I wish you the greatest success.

I guess what I was trying to get at is that the folks at the ABS seem to teach and talk about Bowie style knives more than anything else.  I'm not even trying to imply that there is anything wrong with that, it just isn't where I really want to go.

I came to this craft very late in life and at 61, I don't feel that I will be able to spend the years that would be neccessary to make every kind of knife well.  I hope that makes sense.  It has been my desire since the first day that I decided I wanted to make knives to make a knife that a man would be proud to own and would do whatever he asked or needed it to do.  I hope I find enough folks along the way that like what I am doing and will support my efforts.  Along the way, I will make the occasional Bowie just because they're neat and just because I want to.

I hope that clears up any confusion and I hope I haven't offended anyone.

Carey
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« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2007, 02:38:38 PM »

Hi Ed,
I figure there isn't too much wrong with being lead in other directions or at least being exposed to options. Things would go down hill quickly if most folks were forced to change directions, but thanks for offering options that I wasn't aware of.

Take care,   Craig
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« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2007, 03:39:13 PM »

Carey, maybe I took off on a tangent also.
I dearly love honest working knives, A few months ago Steve Dick had an article in Tactical Knives about a man who made hunting knives out of saw blades, harvested his own antler materials and put together some very nice honest knives. It warmed my heat to see his knives in a magazine and read his story.

I wish we could see the plain honest working knife more often. These are the backbone of the world of knives. We all get off track and the fancy stuff makes us feel a little bashful, that is OK, we all need a dose of varied experience once in a while, it makes us feel better when we return home.

From the very start of my knife making career I sought to make the absolute ultimate high endurance performance knife. That is still my goal, I may one day achieve it. It is like hunting, the hunt is the joy. When you pull the trigger the work starts.

I feel that the honest knife is a product of the individual who puts his life experience in a knife using materials from his environment to do the work he wants the knife to do.  I do not mean to say that ones physical environment has to have all the materials, our experience environment may be a better way to put it.

Years ago a maker used corncobs for his handles. They were unique and from his world. Another used cactus wood from the area he lived in. If I lived in the city and had studied marine life extensively, I could very well consider marine life as part of my environment. I hope to encourage knives that makers feel are a part of - or an expression of - them, their total experience. Now we have the ingredients called emotion in our knives and that is the foundation of art.
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« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2007, 07:39:22 PM »

I hope to encourage knives that makers feel are a part of - or an expression of - them, their total experience. Now we have the ingredients called emotion in our knives and that is the foundation of art.

Ed,

When I first started this journey into knife making, I didn't know anyone who made knives so I bought a bunch of books and started studying.  One of the books I bought was Knife Talk.  Some of the books helped me with techniques and such but your book spoke to me on a much deeper level.  You had put into words much of what I hoped to accomplish in making knives and were kind enough to give instructions on how you were doing what you were doing. 

I like 'pretty' as much as anyone and hope that at least some people will think my work is pretty but I want people to pick up my knives and connect with them almost on a primal, emotional level.  When that has happened while I was talking to someone, I have felt a sense of accomplishment that I have rarely known before.  I figure that is kind of selfish but I sure do like it and want more.

Thanks for all you do,
Carey
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« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2007, 11:26:27 PM »

To quote Carey Quinn in regards to bowies:         they just aren't real practical.

As Carey later explained, what he had in mind is the design that has become the accepted standard. A bowie can meet the technical description but, be out of the ordinary. He is right about the knife design he spoke of.

For most of us, carrying a knife that is designed to gut an opponent is impractical. There are many tasks that are difficult to perform with a large, wide, blade. Such as peeling a potato. It's the middle road in functionality that makes the most sense in a field knife. A knife can meet that need and still be called a bowie.



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