This afternoon was a a productive blur. I feel like David and I did an excellent job of connecting with some of the production companies, and branched out into smaller makers with whom we were unfamiliar. We have both had (tentatively, don’t want to jinx it) success recruiting makers for our 5 from the Grinder series. That has been a key goal of mine for this year’s show.
We have received tremendous feedback on the series, both from you the readers as well as from several makers whom we have featured and a few who were learning about it for the first time. My goal this year was to have as many makers as possible leave the show with something actionable on their part. In the past there has always been an exchange of cards, followed by a handshake and a promise to work together on something in the future. I always send a follow-up email, but as time passes and people get busy, things don’t develop. The 5 from the Grinder invitation, which David formatted and printed out as an introduction to the blog and an invitation to participate, has been an excellent tool to get our foot in the door. The only “cost” for a maker is 20 minutes of their time, and there are frankly few free modes of reaching a niche audience as large as TTAK. It really is a mutually beneficial arrangement. I actually had several makers ask “how much”, and were floored when I replied it was completely free.
I have had interest from more than a dozen makers, some you might have heard of and many you likely have not (yet). All of them make great looking knives that at least by floor-feel seem to be built to last.
Getting back to the show itself, it was a busy afternoon. After my break to write an afternoon update I returned to the Cobb Galleria, met up with David, and visited the ZT/Kershaw (KaiUSALtd) booth. There we got to have a look at the ZT 427 which is in the running for an “American Knife of the Year” Blade Show Award. It is a futuristic looking flipper with a composite 154CM/CTS-XHP blade. Not my cup of tea, but it has a wonderfully smooth action and great ergonomics in the hand. It is a nice knife IMHO from the limited time I have spent with it.
We spent some time at the Southern Grind booth, musician Zac Brown’s outfit. Zac wasn’t there, but we got a good look at the new knives that they are debuting at the show. We will write more details in a future post, but they have a new Jackal Pup neck knife (my favorite), The Penguin, two new configurations for the Spider Monkey (Tanto and Damasteel bladed), and a set of throwing axes they are calling The Wasp.
Excellent blades all, and we look forward to developing this relationship with Southern Grind going forward.
Another visit that is jumping out at me is our one with Hogue. I won’t say Hogue is new to the knife world, they have been making really awesome knives for quite some time now. However, their roots are in firearm stocks and grips. That said, they are now a fixture in the knife world with many innovative products. This year they are debuting a new OTF auto, but the product they are really pushing is the new X5 button-lock flipper. Safety is a big deal to Hogue. Jim Bruhn, one of the owners and I exchanged stories about massive facial lacerations. Mine from a splitting axe, his from “scope bite” from a 7mm magnum rifle. Either way, not doing stupid things to make yourself bleed is important. That is why a button-lock folder is a good idea.
In a frame or liner-lock, one needs to push across the blade channel to close the knife. One’s finger is still in the way whilst the blade closes. Even experienced carriers make the mistake of forgetting to move their finger, with predictable results. The button-lock allows one to keep their fingers clear while the blade closes, for seamless one-handed operation.
We met up briefly with Larry and Rodney of KnifeArt.com. We have been corresponding with them for a while now, and have shared some of their material on the blog. They also retail custom and high-end production knives made by others, as well as turning out several knife models of their own. It was nice to put some faces to the names.
There were other visits, too numerous to name, but you will hear more going forward. I want to close with a hearty thank you to Dan Eastland of Dogwood Custom Knives who hosted David, Me, and several others for a phenomenal dinner at a highly-regarded local restaurant. I say this not to name drop or brag, rather to publicly thank him for a wonderful evening. I also mention it to go on the record disclosing such details to our readers lest we be accused of conflict of interest. Dan has been a friend to the blog, including submitting his own 5 from the Grinder piece.
That is the thing about the Blade Show. The personal relationships you can forge here really are beyond compare to anything else I have experienced. Looking back on my first Blade Show, a mere weeks after assuming the mantle of Managing Editor, I found myself at my first Show – completely overwhelmed. It was at this show I became friends with Will Woods, who at that time had contributed several articles to the blog, including our all time most viewed: Ask a Knifemaker: The Truth About Damascus. Will was always there to translate lingo and jargon into Trout-Bum English, and to give me advice on whom to make a point of visiting. I also began what has developed into a friendship with Kim Breed, though at that point in time he was more humoring some dude who was infatuated with his Model 15. Over the course of the intervening years we have spoken many times on the phone, and I solicited an incredible presentation-quality Damascus steel Model 15 for the Project Healing Waters banquet (if you haven’t read the story, you can check it out here). He was one of the first people I sought out at this year’s show. His wife Melissa is great too. Plus, she turns his scrap mammoth-ivory and other materials into pretty cool jewelry. I bought my wife and Mom necklaces from her last year.
That digression aside, one more quick note about dinner. It had been a running tradition (for the last 2 years anyway) that Will and I have bought each other’s steak dinner’s Saturday night in alternating years. We had to break the burgeoning tradition because Will was not able to make it this year. He will be back and he owes me a steak since it was his year. As much fun as I had this evening, and I honestly did, I have missed Will this weekend. I did however carry on the tradition of cutting my dinner, in this case a fried pork chop with fresh peaches and collard greens, with my Kim Breed.