Showing posts with label Knives. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Knives. Show all posts

Dec 6, 2014

A Most Organic Loophole

A pretty fair bargain, a classy bullet for the M1 Carbine and zippy little loads for the 94 lever gun.

At 11 cents per, I'd have bought them regardless.  but the deal was instantly sealed when the seller warranted that every grain was certified gluten free. My continued good health is assured.

(Courtesy of a Facebook friend I learn that Whole Foods sells only gluten-free body lotions.)

And then there was a a fin* frittered away on the very rewarding...

No one needed to tell me this would be cage-free history. Benny has proven to me over many volumes that when he lays an egg it won't plop gently on to a padded and computer controlled conveyor belt.  You need to kick through the farm yard to find it. Bennie (All his closest friends call him Hef Benny. ) billed himself as a "social historian."

If that has any meaning at all, I guess he was.  While he frames his histories with fact, he adds all sorts of little pastels about why the characters do what they do. He's pretty good at it, but I suppose that just means I usually agree with him. For instance, while he goes easy on individual Mormons, you should read his nuclear attack on Mormonism.

(It fits logically into his bigger purpose, 1846 as a crucial year. Polk steals huge tracts of northern Mexico because whipping Santa Anna was a lock; Polk chickens out of 54-40 or fight and meekly settles for 49 degrees because he wasn't sure we could whip Britain; The Mormons move slowly and incompetently to Deseret; John C. Fremont again proves himself a Great American Dumbass.   And so forth.)

I recommend DeVoto. Keenly.

Yeah, it came from a home equipped with a large economy size Baldor grinder, but it cost almost nothing. Navy, RH Pal, 36. Mk 1.  I bought it partially to remind me to remind you that the "R-H" stands for "Remington - Hunting" and that it was retained by PAL when it gobbled up  Remington Cutlery.

... also to make sure my advice would be correct as to tightening up the dried-out leather rings which had shrunk enough for a quarter-inch of end play. You boil the handle  for a few minutes, then oil it with SAE 5. This also removes all traces of deadly gluten.


*fin = $5 in old-time hipster talk

Feb 25, 2014

Loophole AAR

I don't get to this one often enough, especially considering it is my natal city, a couple of hours southeast. But it was time. I had my buddy's balls* in a can, and he wanted them. The show his club runs was a good excuse to make the delivery.

I didn't run across anything making me giddy enough to toss large denomination Federal Reserve Cartoons around, but it is tasteless to leave a loophole empty-handed, ergo:

For $25 it justifies itself as a high-class paperweight, and who knows when I'll stumble across a box of parts for five bucks at a garage sale.They would need to fit a High-Standard Model A or B from 1934, the year A. HItler flew to Essen for a gigglefest as he watched his former friends bleed out. And speaking of long knives:

Boy Scout, official, USA-made but otherwise unmarked so I can pretend it's a Marble. The condition isn't too bad, but Tenderfoot Teddy couldn't resist using his sharp edge to trim up the sheath. What a creep, but at least his old man didn't  own a three-horsepower Baldor running a 60-grit wheel at 3450 rpms.

This Remington RH 51 came from a Baldor-equipped home in a sheath style I've never seen before, stamped "Remington" and "DuPont." That dates it to 1933 or later and probably pre-1941.

I don't actually get upset at battered knives if they're cheap enough. The patinae, gouges, and grinds just loosen their metaphorical tongues so they can tell me how things were back then, or might have been.


*soft lead, .504

Dec 12, 2013

I don't think I could get this one by the TSA metal detector.

It's in fair condition, speaking generously, because someone was more in love with his six-inch 3400  rpm coarse grinding wheel than he was with this old veteran. You can't quite call it "poor" because it still has the skinny saw blade. True, Barney ground the teeth off when he finished worrying the big blade,  but judging from the ones for sale online, a fair number of them are missing the saw blade entirely.

I'm not always too fussy about the condition of my World War Two relics, and for the $6 bid which earned this one, I'm not fussy at all. That cheap, it could pay for itself as a spare canoe anchor. Big fella, sometimes called the "giant jack knife" by the pilots who carried it. It must weigh better than a pound and measures six inches closed and 15 1/2 with both blades open.

It was one of the solutions to the survival knife problem late in the war. Colonial developed it . This one was made by United Tool Co. in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

A fellow over on the knife forum seems to have all the other information you're likely to want.

Excuse me. I must retire to my dressing room and pare my nails.

Oct 31, 2012

The resurrection and the knife

A nice thing about good little loopholes is that they feature all sorts of easy and mindless blog food at trifling cost, in this case a five-dollar bill.

There is no official relic-condition category called "hideous to the max," but there should be. What else do you call a (probable) M1 bayonet variation -- greatly shrunken -- like this?

The first incorrect impulse is to ID it as some sort of M1 carbine blade. Among other things, the muzzle hole is too big.  So, Garand? Maybe. Also maybe a foreign adaptation of the M1 bayonet for something else. (The key to M1ish identification is the complicated birds-head pommel.) It's 11 inches overall with a 6 1/2 -inch blade.

The other faulty impulse is to curse the Bubba who maimed it beyond any wild dream of restoration: all markings obliterated, lug catch ground off, hilt metal and pommel deeply pitted, and a fuller showing the endeavors of a guy who had a Dreml but shouldn't have. The finishing touch is a set of grips crafted from salvaged orange crate lumber and Elmer's glue.

I'll take a short-odds bet that this one is a dugup and spent a long time under damp earth before someone kicked it up and decided to see if he could turn it into a knife.  So it's a well-motivated resurrection, sort of like Stephen King's risen cat; it didn't walk too well, but it was still  reconizable as a cat-like object.

Sep 16, 2012

The Sunday Slasher

The very bright lad has some prepper tendencies. In the course of studying one "survival expert" he was persuaded to buy a Mora, hawked as the "best survival knife." A few weeks passed and he found eye and spirit offended by the garish plastic handle and the space-age polymer sheath. He wondered if Gramps might find time to reduce the ugliness. Sure. 

About 90 per cent complete, reflecting the notion that a blade is worth little if it can't be controlled, hence the outsize grip with admittedly unattractive palm swells. Looks bad, feels good.

This is the first experiment with a steel butt plate in the Shops of Camp J (tm). The  thinking is that a "survival" knife may be called on to function as a  crude hammer. 

And since we have a butt plate, why not use it to retain four wax-dipped  matches, virtually weightless and out of mind until a fire becomes crucial when all easier possibilites are absent?


The plate, hacked from a heavy old gate hinge, is attached, ground to a crude fit on a wheel, then trimmed to the wood profile on a one-inch vertical belt sander. It looks nice polished, but it will rust. If circumstances permit it will be hot-blued, otherwise painted. A question in my mind: Should it be flourescent orange for findability at the cost of ugliness?

I'll return the black tactical coal-tar sheath to the lad for whatever use he may make of it, but the knife will live in the heavy beef hide, similar to this but I hope without the stupidly misplaced copper rivet. The hole in the grip and the two little notches in the blade -- just forward of the handle -- might make it possible to lash the the knife to a shaft. I personally have never needed a makeshift spear, but who knows?

Notes and asides:

1. When someone offers you "the best" whazzis,  you're being flimflammed. There's no best survival knife, gun, or piccolo. A designer imagines the jobs the tool should do in various situations and builds accordingly. The honest ones will concede that they have created a compromise and not necessarily the optimum one for the situation you might meet.

2.  The matches hidden in the handle may or may not work. Moisture might destroy them despite precautions. Swelling might make them impossible to extract.  They are a last shot, in extremis, hope. If they added significant weight or complication, they would not exist.

3. The little blade notches weaken it. Heavy prying might easily snap it. Is the risk worth the ease of making a spear? Beats me.

4. I don't disparage knives from Mora. The steel seems proper, and the price is right. I tried to find one of the older laminated blades and couldn't.

5. The knife won't quite float, but it comes close enough to neutral buoyancy that you might be able to snatch it back before it dives to the bottom of Lake Nungusser. Wrist thong through the hole? Awkward but worth thinking about if you're lost in a watery place.

6. I hope the young man never learns the limitations of this thing.  Having to "survive" in the woods is almost always a result of bad procedure. My own  backwoods misadventures testify to that, in every case reflecting incomplete planning or inattention. The best survival tool is between the ears and should never be stashed between the buttocks.

May 5, 2012

Poor Tam

She needed to peform surgery on a bubble-package imprisoning a baby seal. Rodded but not bladed, she had to humiliate herself by borrowing a knife.  At least her sad tale produced as good a quote-of-the-day as any:

...what kind of adult goes about their business without a knife on their person?

Apr 8, 2012


What a bright and cheerful  daybreak here in Camp J country.  My Easter finery is laid out for dinner with the C family, but at the moment I look more like a cobbler and smell quite like his work shop.

It just seemed like a nice  morning to finish a small project. You've seen the renewed blade, salvaged from a USMC KaBar which appeared to have been discarded on Guadalcanal in the autumn of 1942 and dug up during the last Bush Administration. But the sheath -- a Jedidiah Smith pattern :) -- got its final dose of neatsfoot oil this morning. It awaits delivery to an exceptional young man.

Dec 11, 2011

Neck Knife

With respect for the gentle and competent Marko, I question the practice of carrying a  knife around the neck. Securely sheathed, it may not pose much of a cutting threat to the carrier, but, then again, it might.

The  paracord necklace bothers me more. My philosophy of life holds that anything around a guy's neck should have the breaking strength of a Girl Scout handicraft project, say, a string of beads on three-pound mono.  Why wear a garrote, handy to the bad guy and to any random snag when you go off balance?

Nevertheless, he has worked out the risks and rewards to his own satisfaction. If he's content, I'm content. Not so one of his commenters.

I suggest you drop by  Marko's place to see what I mean. The guy wonders what the knife is +for+ and then answers his own question by speculating the most likely use is crazed and bloody revenge on some innocent nun who fails to step aside for you on the sidewalk.  I am amazed at the tolerance Marko shows for the  person.

H/T Tam.

Apr 18, 2011

King of the Wild Frontier

A lad just old enough for Cub Scouts would have loved finding it in the toe of his Christmas stocking,  a gin-yoo-ine Davy Crockett Barlow.  Later in life he scores, proving it's a good idea to rummage through the knife dealer's one-dollar junk box.

"Mary gave him a bran-new "Barlow" knife worth twelve and a half cents; and the convulsion of delight that swept his system shook him to his foundations. True, the knife would not cut anything, but it was a "sure-enough" Barlow, and there was inconceivable grandeur in that...."  Mark Twain

Sep 21, 2010

The marlinspike knife

Posting pictures is fussy and iffy  around here. The reasons are simple. I am inept. I work from a disorganized computer. Still, it's sometimes easier and more fun than trying to create a few dozen words of coherent thought, hence the knife photo.

I've had others, but Davie Jones snatched them because I neglected  a first principle of seamanship: Any knife you use at sea  (or, in one case, on the Kawishiwishi River in the far north woods)  should be tied to your body.

It is a marlinspike knife, or a bos'n's  knife, or a rigger's knife, among other names.  The sheepfoot blade reduces surprise punctures in your sails. The  spike is for marling, from "marlin," a nicely aromatic  tarred twine. To marl is to wrap marlin around another line, for appearance, chafe protection, better gripping.

The spike helps Jack separate strands of the marlin and to wind and tighten it around the larger line.  It sees just as much use in splicing and complicated knotting. It punches holes in leather,  canvas, and annoying ship mates.

In one case,  a Buck version also intimidated a young lady security attendant at Washington National. This was pre-TSA, in the era when carrying a pocket knife into the Friendly Skies was not , ipso facto, a terrorist act. She summoned a mature cop who shrugged it off and waved me to the boarding area.

Geeking it out:  A marlinspike may also stand alone, a simple tapered metal thing. A wood version is a fid. You are now prepared to go to sea.

This one is marked "Spencer 1976."  The white paint number suggests it may have been issued to a cadet some where.  Damned midshipmen kids are always losing stuff.

Apr 14, 2010

Open carry?

A good discussion over at Caleb's place got me thinking about open carry.

Not counting hunting and backwoods hiking, I believe the last time I strapped visibly on was in the 80s during a long sojourn at Tortilla Flat in the Superstitions. Even there where open carry was common, it was mostly a matter of forgetting to take the damned thing off when I came in from a hike.

A gun on my belt just tends to make me feel a little on the foolish side. I say that meaning no disrespect to the good guys who feel differently, although I still question the political and public relations wisdom of making a big point of carrying at meetings, demonstrations, and the like.


Boats have been a large feature of my life, and a man working around line is a man who better have a good knife very handy, and that means a fixed blade carried outside of everything else -- trousers, jacket, so'wester. And so I did, usually the beauty pictured.* But, again, it resonated with me as the toy of a little boy playing Mike Nelson. I usually stuck it in a drawer immediately on arriving back at the slip. I admit it may be flawed thinking.


*It is the happy result of an embarrassing mistake. As a newly acquired pristine USN deck knife (Mark I, the RH Pal 35) it went camping with us near a fur trade rendezvous. Some of mountain men were contesting their knife-throwing skills. I couldn't resist and joined the game. What you see is what fell to the dirt immediately after the first hard hit on the log end. As far as I know the front inch and a half of the blade is still buried in the stump.

Judicious grinding left me with a sturdy and entirely satisfactory little hunter which holds an admirable edge. It's is the companion of decades, but I still feel half silly every time I slip the belt trough the sheath.

Feb 11, 2010

Two more "Bowie" knives

The left one you have seen before -- a quick and dirty rehab of a junk WW2 Navy KaBar blade. On the right is a 1981 example of the Camillus issued as an air crew survival knife. Each has been called a Bowie, despite being somewhat small for the mythical breed. The Camillus design is simply the KaBar* cut down to dimensions more practical for wear in cramped aircraft . The serrations on the dull side are for sawing through air frame skin.

For one more view of a clip point Bowie, see the early one here. You will note it is much longer and slimmer than most modern examples, catering to the tin horn with its slim handle and shiny bolsters fore and aft.

But our confidence that a Bowie is a clipper begins to fade as we look at another pretty-boy Bowie -- this one with a blade a planet away from what we've been seeing. (TBC)

* "KaBar" here is handy shorthand for all the makes of similar WW2 U.S. fighting knives.


Question for real specialists in that air crew knife. What is the purpose of the two 1/4 - inch holes in the upper quillion? Lanyard tie-on comes to mind, but it seems to me a lanyard amidships there would be awfully awkward.

Bowie Control

In the early 19th Century the ancestors of Charlie Schumer were still in the process of developing opposable thumbs, yet they still found time to get elected and legislate their vision of a real nice society free of the scourge of Bowie knife crime.

No wonder the law was flouted. The Bowie knife was the assault rifle of the time. That is, no one, especially the legis-critters, knew what the Hell one was. (TBC )


Feb 10, 2010

No such thing as a Bowie knife

Here's a "Bowie." It is huge and bears the clip point and discrete quillion of what is supposed to be Jim Bowie's fighter, although some would argue the true Bowie had a symmetrical quillion.

This one has an 8.5-inch blade and weighs a hair under 1.5 pounds. It has served well for decades, particularly as a knife plus hatchet-substitute on long wilderness canoe trips where trimming weight was crucial. I never met the craftsman who fashioned it from a truck spring and a fine piece of burled walnut, and that is my loss.

Unfortunately for neat taxonomy, this Bowie varies in every important aspect from a number of other designs which claim -- with equal historical evidence -- to be the one true Bowie as made for Colonel Jim by blacksmith Jesse Clifft. (TBC)

Nov 23, 2009


A couple of annoying obligations kept me around here over the weekend. At least there was enough dead time to give some of the shop tools a workout, and there's a new letter opener on my desk. With it's symmetrical dagger blade (decent enough stainless) and sturdy walnut handle, it looks a lot like a dangerous knife, but that's just a coincidence.

The other one is that trashed out Navy Mark II Kabar I mentioned a few days back. Draw filing and polishing erased nearly all the pits, not to mention about a quarter of the original blade thickness. Its walnut handle is rough cut, just enough to make me think this one will turn out well, so I guess I'll take some pains with the final finish.

It's fun to plug this minor hobby of creating useful edged tools from junk. The required skill level isn't very high, the cost is negligible, and the rewards are substantial. I'll post a picture or two when I return from a short trip south.

(I urge caution in recommending home brew cutlery for readers who live where Great Britain used to be.)