Small custom folding knife by Dan Warren ABS Mastersmith
Small custom folding knife by Dan Warren ABS Mastersmith
Stock removal knives and kitchen cutlery represent a departure from the forged hunters and choppers that Bill Wiggins usually makes. The example of Bill’s stock removal knives that I am currently using is a paring knife. It is made from carbon steel with beautiful stabilized maple handle scales.
The knife is 7 3/16” overall in length, and weighs 1.98 ounces. The 1084 blade is 3.375” long, .780” high, .063” thick at the spine just ahead of the handle scales, and .028” thick when measured .250” back from the cutting edge. That geometry tells me that the knife should work well in the kitchen.
The handle is coffin shaped, and the scales are bonded to the tang as well as being secured by two stainless steel pins. The handle is .597” high at the front and .980” at the highest point. It is .478” thick at the front and .627” at the rear. The sides are gently rounded and there is a flat that runs around the perimeter of the handle. The handle is very comfortable in use, and the flats provide excellent indexing.
I tested the knife for edge holding by cutting cardboard packing box material, some of the areas where I cut had glue laminating two thicknesses of the cardboard together and in other places there was packing tape to be cut through. Without going into specific numbers of feet cut, this knife cut as many feet of cardboard as any knife that I have tested this way. When I stopped the knife was still cutting but there was a small area of the blade dulled. It was the area that had performed most of the cuts. That area of the blade would no longer start a cut in thin paper.
While I was doing the cutting I did not notice any “hot spots” or discomfort caused by the handle shape. But to be fair I was wearing Kevlar gloves to protect against accidental cuts to my hands and the glove might have provided some cushioning effect.
Re-sharpening was very easy. A few strokes on a medium Spyderco Stone to eliminate the dull spot and then stropping on compound loaded leather did the trick. The knife was back to shaving arm hair and slicing telephone book paper.
Overall, I think that these knives offer excellent value. The three people that I know personally who are using them, are very happy with these little paring knives.
Currently Bill offers these knives in several versions which include 1084 or damascus steel, “belt finished” or “hand rubbed” blades. Prices start at $70.00.
In addition to paring knives he is making other kitchen cutlery as well. Bill can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org put “knife” in the subject line.
Disclaimer: Bill and I are friends but the views that I express here are my honest opinion and not colored by our friendship.
copyright Bill North 2015
This is about the knife that I seem to use for everything except what it was designed for.
The knife that I am writing about today would probably be referred to by most people as a “hunter”, or “hunting knife”. I have not used it for any “hunting” related chores but I have used it for a myriad of other things.
The 4 7/8” blade is forged from 1084 carbon steel and the tiger maple handle is separated from the blade by a stainless steel guard. It was made by American Bladesmith Society board member Bill Wiggins as a demonstration piece. Since it was a demo knife, and time was limited, Bill didn’t rub the blade out and it was left with some grinding marks, perhaps what makers might call a belt finish. “Belt finish”, “working finish”, and “forge finish” are terms that some makers use when describing blade finishes. Often, although not always, knives with these terms attached to them appear to my eye to simply be “unfinished”. Not that any makers care how I interpret the wording they use in describing their knives.
But, to get back on topic…..The lack of a rubbed blade out blade finish doesn’t bother me in this instance; I use the knife on a regular basis and fruits and vegetables don’t take long to patina carbon steel. Although this knife would be much more at home as a hunting or general use belt knife around camp, I use it to prepare food, open or cut down shipping boxes, and many other daily cutting chores in my house.
Before you say it, I know that it is not the ideal box cutter or kitchen knife, and I do possess those types of knives, so why do I select it over its better suited relatives for those mundane tasks? It’s simple really; the knife holds its edge and is very, very comfortable in my hand. But I suppose the best thing about it is that I like Bill and it’s a pleasure to use something that he made.
copyright Bill North 2014
My little Bill Wiggins knife
My little knife came back home from its trip to the makers shop for refinishing.
Over a year ago Bill Wiggins, who is a friend of mine and a knifemaker gave me a small, fixed blade knife that he made. Since that time it has been used for many of the chores that I regularly use a knife for. These tasks include cutting food, opening and then cutting down shipping boxes for recycling, cutting cord, tape, rags, opening prepackaged items, cutting small sticks, etc. Its small size makes it ideal to carry in a pocket sheath instead of carrying a folder. The blade of the knife is made from 1084 steel and the handle slabs are English walnut. The overall length of the knife is just 7 1/16 inches and the blade at the ricasso is .094 thick.
“If you have only had it about a year why did it need refinishing?” I hear you asking now. I suppose that you think that I must be pretty rough on my knives but that’s not so. What is so however is that I like to sharpen my knives, and sometimes I sharpen them whether they need it or not, and very infrequently I slip and scratch the knife were scratches don’t belong. And that’s what happened to the smooth, hand rubbed sides of my little knife. I asked Bill Wiggins if he would mind “slicking” my knife up a little, and he graciously agreed. What’s more like the gentleman that he is he didn’t rag on me for scratching the blade. Well actually while looking at the scratches he did say “Oh, that’s a bad one.” I did my best to look remorseful, and it must have worked because he left it at that.
Bill is the treasurer of the American Bladesmith Society and a Journeyman Smith in that organization. He is an avid outdoorsman and using knives as tools in the outdoors has helped form his opinions as to steel type, hardness, and blade geometry. One of the things about this knife that I like is the blade geometry; it’s thin at the edge helping it be a good cutter.
Many custom knives are for reasons unknown to me too thick behind the cutting edge, at least that’s my opinion. A knife designed for chopping needs to have a well-supported edge to stand up, a small knife that is used for cutting and that is not abused can, and should have in my opinion much thinner blade geometry. Look at well maintained kitchen knives, most of them are thin and they cut and slice things well. Trouble usually only comes when you use them as a screwdriver or pry bar. So far in my seventy one years I have not been forced to use my knife for prying or turning screws to the extent that the knife was damaged.
Anyway last night the little knife came back home from its trip to Bill Wiggins shop for refinishing and it looks all slicked up and spiffy. I’m glad it’s back.
Bill Wiggins hand rubbing a blade
Bill Wiggins can be reached at email@example.com
copyright Bill North 2013
I saw quite a few “blacksmith” or roughly forged knives before I ever heard the phrase “Brute de Forge”. These knives were for the greatest part unsophisticated and homemade in appearance as opposed to the better brute de forge knives by skilled makers that we see today.
Today the more refined brute de forge knives that we see may feature forged in finger guards, file work, silver wire inlayed handles, and engraving. Some areas of the blade are usually left with an as forged surface.
Joe Keeslar is an ABS Mastersmith and the chairman of the American Bladesmith Society, he is also known for his brute de forge type knives. I believe that it is safe to say that the example pictured here is typical of the style as done by Joe. Overall it is 9 13/16” and the clip point blade is hollow ground. The tiger maple handle slabs are decorated with silver wire and pins and the spine of the blade is file worked. The bolsters are engraved and the file work on the spine is enhanced with engraving.
The forged in finger guard is wide and a smooth curve making it comfortable to the fore finger. This is an area where many other knives of this type that I have seen have fallen short. The balance point is just behind the finger guard and the knife rests comfortably in the hand.
copyright Bill North 2013