Oh, about that Reader Essay Contest… (and a last-minute, unpublished piece)

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Thank you to Spyderco for providing primary sponsorship to our contest.

I didn’t forget about the Reader Essay Contest. The first week after the contest closed was dominated by Blade Show coverage and networking, and then I got caught up in the KnifeRights/NY Gravity Knife legislative push this past week. David and I had decided the winners, but I wanted to put together a grand post that divvied up all the swag. I just haven’t had time. Sorry guys. I want to get this wrapped up, so I am going to announce the 4 Grand Prize Winners tonight.

There are four Grand Prizes. The first three were generously donated by Spyderco: A Sharpmaker system with DVD, a Tenacious, and a ClipiTool. The fourth prize is a custom deep-carry knife clip by Pop’s Custom Clips. The winner can chose a clip from among many common production knives models that Pop makes.

The way it is going to work is as follows.  The First Place winner will choose from the 4 prizes, 2nd place from the remaining 3, etc. So without further ado, here are your Grand Prize winners:

1st Place: Fiskars 14″ Hatchet Review, by Stuart B.
2nd Place: OKC BlackBird Review, by Dan ?
3rd Place: What have I got in my pocket?, by Dan V.
4th Place: My love of knives as tools, by Bill J.

A big thank you to Spyderco for serving as primary contest sponsor. Likewise, thank you John for your donation of a Pop’s Clip. Also, SOB Tactical, Empire Outfitters, and all of the various manufacturers and makers who gave us stickers and other swag for our other contest contributors. I will get this all divvied up soon, and have a follow up post for you soon.

There is also one last post that squeaked in under the deadline. It is a strange composition, a stream of consciousness monologue, but entertaining nonetheless. It was submitted in time to qualify for judging, but got lost in the post-Blade Show crush.


A rambling last minute entry: By CMeat

i’m finally starting to buy some higher quality knives. ttak has made it painless to research and learn about blade steels and designs and to help quell the feeling of being “overhelmed”, as my turkish father in law used to say. before finding this site i couldn’t get my head wrapped around all of the different models and manufacturers available at a large knife display or website.
whenever i’m confronted with a variety of choices my eyes have now for many years always gravitated towards the drop point styles. this started after my dad bought a buck esquire, a solid little ingot that i admired. being more aware now of other useful shapes, i can view a blade such as a wharncliffe as ideal for many chores. and, in terms of increased functionality, i could see a reverse tanto as perhaps the most useful one for everyday carry. i was, of course, not always so discerning.
popsicle sticks sharpened on the concrete stoop (when the ol’ man wasn’t looking, as this would cause him to strike, since he claimed we were wearing down the cement) were the first edged tools deployed by the lads in our city bordered suburb. then, as a gradeschooler, i was given a cheap japanese jackknife made by sabre with which i sharpened many a pointed stick. one day during recess while cutting dirtbombs, i was spotted by felicia poindexter (whose name i include only because it has been impossible to forget) who promptly yelled “oooh, he’s got a knife!” and ran off to the authorities. in retrospect it may not have been a good idea to wave it at her and her friend even from twenty feet away. i should have thrown a dirtbomb instead. quite possibly my first visit to the disciplinarian, the school principal (who like felicia was dark; we had only integrated our school system two years earlier) tried to be stern and after relieving me of my burden sent me on my way without punishment. (the year before, our teacher had taken us on a field trip to a church where jesse jackson was spearheading “operation breadbasket”. i’m glad jetstream jesse never caught wind of the incident). i can still remember the little smirk on the principal’s face as he did his best to admonish me. and somehow that little knife made it back to my parents, not to be returned to me for sometime. i think i may still have it.
in jr. high i remember the sudden proliferation of kids carrying buck folding hunters and what we called stilletos, (a name we later applied generically to any out the front type knife). these were folders with long skinny blades, some automatic. the buck’s were priced out of my reach but the hardware store had these weird folding hawkbill knives with wood handles for cheap. for some reason we thought they looked cool, until we learned they were for linoleum work. sort of hard to sharpen, but pretty good for slicing up apples. and any rhubarb we found growing in the alleys while trapping bumblebees in hollyhock flowers, a daily summer past time back then.
dad got me my next knife at the green st. ben franklin near our summer cottage where we (he) was re- canvassing an old town mahogany canoe. the process left a million tiny threads along the gunnels that needed surgical removal. for this task he deemed the toy like “millers falls tini- knife” appropriate. this was a diminutive retractable razor style, much like the ubiquitous irwin or stanley, and performed fairly well despite the lock mechanism failing occasionally. to this day i prefer my razor knives fixed.
then, for the many subsequent canoe trips to follow, we ordered a buck 102 woodsman. with this i processed fish into steaks and fillets, skinned squirrels and rabbits and carved tent and latrine stakes. thirty five years later i gave it to my boy for camp chores. it was this knife, and the several buck folding 112 rangers that i carried for years after, that helped to steer me toward drop point blades. while a clip point can be very similar to a drop point, the buck designs have an upswept tip that i have had mixed success controlling during precise cutting, and at times pierced things i did not intend to. hides and bowels should not be perforated unintentionally. i’ve never looked back, though my son still enjoys his dad’s old knife.
unfortunately when within chicago’s borders the buck ranger, while a shorter blade than the hunter, was frowned upon by the authorities. and any activity that attracted the constabulary’s attention, such as pitching quarters, was considered loitering and the subsequent pat down often left one with an empty belt holster.
on the other hand the swiss knives were always returned. being before the time when i became aware that “everything is a bottle opener” (starting with disposable lighters) i carried the two bladed, bottle and can opener version and used that plastic toothpick everyday after meals (i’ve got this one molar…). it was handy to have the screwdrivers (the can opener is like half a phillips head) but after the second time the blade closed on me, i swore off non- locking types.
so i bought a case xx drop point liner lock with red jigged bone handle and a thumb stud. when i see what they trade for online now, i regret the small handle chip from dropping it once. that is a very nice little knife. and it fit in my jeans coin pocket.
next up was an automatic boker top lock in a nylon holster belted horizontally. the holster wore out from normal use, but i’m very fond of the top lock’s blade shape. they are inexpensive used, and the springs are cheap and easy to install for push button action. the  heavy aluminum handle makes it chunky for pocket carry though.
eventually, beer (and beef and sausage combo’s, hot giardinara, no dip) began to affect the first dimension of my pants size. at the same time my slimfold wallet acquired some new plastic girth that became uncomfortable to sit on, and sitting on it often cracked the magnetic stripe on the cards within. additionally, my new job required flame retardant pants. these factors led me to wearing cargo pants and then to the need for my edc to have a pocket clip (no coin pocket on cargos).
then, with the boy and girl arriving, well, the salad years were on the cheap. i found a house brand xpg x- treme folder that sold at sale price for less than thirteen dollars. chinese for sure. a nice clip point, aluminum handle and my first partly serrated edge. i quickly found this a superior way through rope and nylon cord. also, as a public utility meter reader, i regularly modified my customer’s environments for an unobstructed sight path to the dials. a few draws on a 1″ sapling (we have a lot of invasive buckthorn) would uncover hidden meter boxes. with an 8x monocular (russian surplus) i often didn’t have to enter that yard (avoiding some rough pooches) more than once a year. that knife served me for the better part of a decade. when they would go on sale i bought them for gifts.
then i saw a sale for a crkt russ kommer full throttle drop point. kinda glitzy, but sorta beautiful too. deeply discounted, it was still priced higher than a chinese made knife. made in oregon, right? wrong. i discerned “taiwan” etched on the mirror polished blade after unboxing it, and became aware of the u.s. designer/ off shore manufactured category. i remember feeling misled, and vowed to be more thorough in researching the true origins of future purchases. these days with so much american industry losing out to asia and elsewhere, it can be difficult to determine if a recognized american brand is farming it’s labor out overseas. when the blade developed a little play, my eyes could not discern if the pivot was adjustable and none of my driver bits seemed to fit. i submitted a query to “ask a knife maker” and received a high def image in return revealing that it was indeed a torx fastener. i even missed that with a magnifying glass. i still find that knife solid, attractive and functional.
one more time i purchased a crkt, this one a liong mah eraser, as i was so intrigued by the reverse tanto shape. i found it too large for edc with a bulky handle and awkward clip. this would be better kept in a pack or vehicle. the blades shape, in a scaled down version would be great for carry.
most recently i read of ttak’s experience with kershaw customer service and the review of the composite bladed ken onion leek. a lot of their products are made here in the states. so when i saw a damaged box example come up for auction, i bid and won. the tip was bent by whatever collapse had crushed the box, but i was able to mostly straighten it out to the point where i don’t mind it being a little tweaked. as i was clamping and hammering i thought “if i break the tip kershaw may replace it”. with that thought in mind my effort was a bit more concerted than it would have been, with nearly perfect results.
and so i carry this leek more often than any other knife i have. that tip must certainly be delicate and prone to snapping but for most daily use it should survive. i looked for the composite blade with serrations, but they are only offered in the standard steel versions. even without the dual edge it sees daily use (it’s utilized at work to cut nylon zip ties off of electrical distribution control points on a regular basis) and the edge is kept up by stoning it on the top of the work truck driver’s window. slowly the last of the factory edge finish marks are smoothing out.
that’s the progression that i’ve made with my knives carried over the decades. i’m still learning and curious about different steel formulations and familiarizing myself with more manufacturers and their origins.
i haven’t here delved into any of the larger outdoors blades that i’ve had experiences with. to that i’ll mention that i have a kukhri shaped bottle of xxx nepalese rum that has remained unopened for twenty years.
and i haven’t brandished a knife towards anyone undeserving since third grade.


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Oh, about that Reader Essay Contest… (and a last-minute, unpublished piece)

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