My Day 1 Blade Show posts are always a bit scattered, and I am afraid this is going to be no different. As Mike Tyson used to say, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face”. Walking onto the BLADE Show floor is kind of like that. It knocks you back on your heels. The buzz of the crowd, the 10s of thousands of knives, the flashy displays…it is all kind of disorienting, even when you know what to expect.
As usual, I started by just walking around by myself, not seeking anyone out, just trying to take it all in. That said it didn’t take long to run into Big Chris Berry and Kim Breed. The fact that they both wear flourescent tshirts and have the same table locations as they have had at previous shows certainly facilitated that. I talked to Chris about his Bladesports competition tomorrow, and got to see his new competition cutter. It is strange to see a Big Chris knife that is as thick (by design) as this one, because he is known for his thin and slicey blades.
As for Kim, we haven’t actually been able to chat for more than a minute or two. We both seem to be talking to other people when we cross paths. But I did have a chance to look at his offerings.
I figured I should try to switch to a more deliberate strategy, and actively sought out the Carter Cutlery table. I was schlepping around a pint of salsa and a bag of chips for him and his apprentices. I used my Funayuki/Gyoto to dice the tomatoes for 56 pints of salsa last year, and my knife was in need of a touch up. After commenting on how he could tell by the patina I used the knife frequently (a correct deduction) he spent a minute restoring it to razor sharpness.
After leaving the Carter table, I ran into Mike Crenshaw. I have mentioned Mike many times, he lives in Knoxville and is close friends with Ethan Becker. He is the one who typically pulls together our Friday lunches in Knoxville. He is at the show working in the Knife Rights booth. He was also the one who put me in touch with knifemaker Stephan Fowler, whose table was nearby, and he brought me over for a first person introduction.
Stephan’s 5 from the Grinder feature was timed to coincide with his appearance on the Forged in Fire TV show, and I asked him what he had been up to since then. As it turns out, Stephan has partnered with a friend in the Atlanta area to found a separate, more production-oriented company – Feral Knives (Instagram @feralknives). While Stephan will be doing the grinding on the first runs of knives, the plan is to eventually have other people producing his designs under that label. He is not alone in this. In fact, I have heard of several makers beginning to do similar things. It is one of the many sideline stories from this year’s BLADE show.
Will Woods is another maker exploring a similar arrangement, though he is not as far along in the process. But this lets me segue into talking a bit about Will and another theme from this year’s show. Every show has its “thing”. A couple of years ago titanium framelocks were all the rage. Will has already declared this year to be “Year of the micro-blades”. It seems like dozens of makers are coming out with their own entry into the tiny-knife market (and just smaller than typical in some cases). There are many reasons for this, but Will has offered to do a more in-depth post on this, so I will not steal his thunder.
We met up with David, and I brought them over to the Hogue booth to introduce them both to Allen Elishewitz and Jim Bruhns. Allen and Jim walked us through some of the new knives that they have brought to the show including Hogue’s new OTF Auto. It is the first (I believe) OTF made with G10 as opposed to aluminum handles. This eliminates the “pingy” sound mades when an aluminum OTF deploys. Hogue is also debuting a smaller version of their EX-1, the EX-1 Micro, which has two different flippingdeployment mechanism options. There is a spring assist, or there is an adjustable “torsion detent” on the unassisted version. Overcoming the detent provides sufficient force to allow the blade to snap into place crisply.
Neil Hogue gave David a Micro EX-1 to test and review, and has agreed to send me one of Hogue’s EX-TO1 tomahawks. I am looking forward to putting this cool and innovative ‘hawk through its paces.
I also showed Allen and Jim the Pop’s Custom Clip I had made for my X-5. Jim assures me that Hogue has received the message loud and clear from their users on the inadequacy of the clip, and that it is being corrected. To me the ability to listen and act on constructive criticism is the mark of a solid company. I am pleased to see Hogue acting in this manner.
I actually purchased my first knife of the weekend this evening as well. Not the dream-purchase/wad-shooting of last year (my Murray Carter) but instead a small, niche blade. I have been wanting a Dogwood Custom Knife for a while now, but I just can justify the purchase of another 4″ bushcraft knife (though Dogwood Dan’s bushraft knives are great and I would love to have one). Instead I bought one of his whittler/carving knives. I filled a need and supported a maker whom I am fond of. A double win. Expect more spoon carving posts as I test it out. Probably on the tulip poplar I cut down at Ethan Becker’s house.
Other than that there were plenty of table visits to makers I hope to get to know better. I passed out several 5 from the Grinder invitations, finally met Les George in person, talked to Robert Young Pelton about their new HEST titanium, chatted with Stig at the Tormek booth, and had my longest conversation to date with Todd Rathner – chief lobbiest for Knife Rights. We covered several topics, most notably about the last minute rescue of the Texas “Bowie Bill”.
Lots more to come on Day 2. I know David has a post in the morning, and Will might as well. I will likely be back with a brief afternoon post, and a longer wrapup tomorrow night. In the mean time, our social media feeds have been cranking along with from-the-floor photos. @knifetruth on Instagram, @knifetruth on Twitter, and our Facebook page.