It is Monday afternoon as I write this and I am finally back home from the event I have been waiting for all year… BLADE Show! I still need to unpack and wind down from the trip, but I wanted to share with you the knives I picked up before I do. My goal for personal acquisitions this year was to support some of the knifemakers I have gotten to know in the past year. I’ve become friends with many and wanted to send my money their way and snag some sweet steel in the process!
My first purchase of the weekend happened mere minutes after I made it through the doors. I had met Todd Hunt of T.M. Hunt Custom knives at the Beckerhead Gathering this past Spring, as well as Cory Murphy who helps out at his shop, and Allen Morrison who makes his kydex. They were all at BLADE and I look forward to getting to know them better as time goes on. I knew from following Todd’s online forum that he would have a limited number of his Lil’ Billy Bad Axes on the table. Ever since Todd did a “5 From The Grinder” I have desired one and I wanted to make sure I snagged one before they were gone.
The Lil’ Billy Bad Axe is a kydex covered, keychain sized “hatchet” made out of O1 tool steel. I just think they are cool as all get out and I picked this one with yellow micarta for the scales. In the interest of full disclosure, Todd gave me an unsolicited twenty bucks off his asking price of $120 for these. Thanks man!
Dan Eastland of Dogwood Custom Knives is another fine gentleman I met at the Beckerhead Gathering. We have kept in touch since then and he also contributed to our “5 From The Grinder” series. I knew going into the show this weekend that I wanted to pick something up from him.
I wound up snagging this Cub, a very classy gentleman’s knife in this handle configuration. The scales are undyed camel bone with a G10 bolster and black liners, and the blade is just over 3.5 inches long of 1/16″ thin CPM-154.
Again, full disclosure, Dan gave me and Clay some swag at the show, as well as treated us to a high end meal at Local Three, a remarkable eatery that is the home of the largest continuous cooktop/cooking surface in North America. It was a great evening with great food and great company.
Those of you who know me or have read much of my work will know that I am a fan of Nessmuk pattern knives. I have also wanted to buy one of Andy Roy’s Fiddleback Forge customs for a while.The stars lined up for this purchase.
I first met Andy last year at BLADE, and he gave me the chance to review a couple of his production/mid-tech knives… the Bushfinger and the Camp Knife… as well as contributed his own “5 From The Grinder” (I’m sensing a pattern here). The mid-techs are great, but I knew I needed to get one of his customs sooner or later.
While I was shooting some new handle materials at the Fiddleback booth this particular knife spoke to me.
The new handles that they have just started offering consist of two layers of leather on either side of the tang, which are all then wrapped with a layer of hemp twine and sealed up with epoxy. They have also started using A2 steel, after sticking with O1 for a long time. Combined with the texture on the blade, the wrapped look is charming in a subdued, rustic sort of way. When I found out they are offering these far cheaper than they do with their full-custom handles (only $175 as opposed to $290+ for the Nessmuk) this was an instant case of “SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!” Full disclosure time again, they rung me up on their credit card machine (i.e. their Square reader hooked up to an iPad) and only charged me $160. Thank you guys for the unsolicited discount. I love the blade and I already put it to work. I used it to cut my meal at Local Three and the patina is already starting!
Unfortunately, every time I swung by the Fiddleback table, Andy was nowhere to be found so I missed getting the chance to talk to him this year. Perhaps next time!
The knife I am most excited about however, is something special from Big Chris Custom Knives. Unfortunately, I am going to have to wait a while to pick it up! We talked some details and he is going to build me a kitchen knife off the pattern pictured below. That knife was on his table for sale and I almost bought it right there, but I asked if he would build me one with some different handle materials, and he was on board with what I wanted.
The blade will be 10V and just as thin as the blade on my Pocket Fighter. Based on the way that knife cut in the kitchen, I knew I wanted Chris to build me a kitchen knife using the same stock and the thin edges he is known for. The knife is going to be my Cadillac in the kitchen, likely for the rest of my life. It will be a number of months before he can get to it but I am very excited for this one!
But wait, there’s more! Clay and I were talking to the blokes at Tormek, and they handed me a Tormek-branded EKA Swede 88 to take home. They were using them as demo units and I mentioned that I thought they were neat little knives, so they up and gave me one!
They may not look like much but the steel is good – Sandvik 12C27. The Swede 88 is great in much the same way as an Opinel… inexpensive and simple but with quality steel and great utility for the price.
Last, but not least (certainly in terms of weight), I picked up one of the last O1 Competition Choppers that will be made by L.T. Wright. They will still make choppers for Bladesports, but they are retiring this pattern as it doesn’t really compete with the way the comp cutters have evolved over the years. Still, the knife is technically legal to compete with and it will make one heck of a camp knife. Ten inch blade, O1 tool steel, one-quarter inch thick… yeah, it is a beast!
Full disclosure: Technically this isn’t really a “BLADE Show Score” – Instead, I was merely picking it up to complete one half of a trade that began a few weeks ago. I consider L.T. and his crew to be friends, and L.T. also got Clay and I our VIP tickets to the show. I traded one of the guys in the shop a very nice knife at a recent camping trip in exchange for the chopper with scales the way I wanted them… double red micarta with thick coyote G10 liners in this case.
That is it for the knives I came home with this weekend. I’ll have my full recap of the show as well as some other BLADE specific content in the upcoming days. Stick around!
Full disclosure: I think I wore out my “full disclosure” button while writing this post!