A poor rhyme

 

Knife makers struggle and yearn for the P

P as in publicity

There’s a maker that wants to be unknown

Signing his work just makes him groan

A strange duck is he, seeming to want anonymity

 

Advice is futile, especially from you

He has his cake and he eats it too

He makes ‘em big, he makes ‘em little

But ask him to sign, and he’s non-committal

To tell it true…he makes what he wants, that’s all he’ll do

 

It’s odd that he won’t sign his work

I suppose it’s some sort of quirk

So back in the woods, in a shop on a hill

There’s a knife maker that does what he will

I’ll quit now and not be a jerk, just in case he should go berserk

 

 

Below are two unsigned knives by the unknown knife maker. The sheaths are by Bob Wiggins who does sign his work on the back, although in VERY small letters.

 

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ABS Mastersmith Dan Warren pocket knives

Two slip joint pocketknives by Dan Warren, American Bladesmith Society Mastersmith. The handle scales are mammoth ivory and the larger knife is just over 7 ¼” overall when open.

Bill Wiggins Paring Knife

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.

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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.

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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 wncbill@bellsouth.net 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

 

 

R P hollow handle survival knife

Recently I was talking about knives to a friend of mine who is a knife collector and the subject of R P (Robert Parrish) hollow handle survival knives came up. To the best of my knowledge these knives were made in the 1980s at Mr. Parrish’s shop in Hendersonville, NC.  I remarked that I was sorry that I had not purchased one when they were available especially since I knew Mr. Parrish and had visited his shop in the 80s. Over the years I have lost touch with him and I don’t think that he has made knives and offered them for sale in quite a few years.

RP survival3 copy blogR P hollow handle survival knife and sheath

Several days later I stopped by to see the same friend and he said that he had something he wanted to give me. Opening a bag he took out a R P hollow handle knife and handed it to me! He said that he had two and saw no reason that I shouldn’t have one of them. It was a very generous and unexpected gift from an old friend that took me completely unaware. It is something that I will remember.

RP survival2 copy blogR P knife with 8″ blade

At my age it is extremely unlikely that I will ever have any practical use for a hollow handled survival knife but this R P knife now holds a special place in my collection. As far as I know these knives were made in 5”, 6”, and 8” blade lengths. This knife is the 8”X1½”X ¼” blade version and is made from 440C I believe. The metal handle is knurled under the neoprene sleeve and the knurled, threaded butt cap is fitted with an O-ring and lanyard hole. The knife has a bead-blasted finish and the serial number and maker’s mark are on the front of the guard. The serial number indicates that the knife was made in August of 1986 and it was the 628th 8 inch knife made. In addition to the maker’s mark on the front of the guard the ricasso is also marked “RP”. The nylon sheath has a liner of hard plastic that protects the sheath from being torn by the very sharp saw teeth on the spine of the knife. The knife is 13 3/16” overall in length and weighs 20.4 oz.

RP survival copy blogSaw teeth on back of R P survival knife

This is a very well-made knife by an excellent craftsman made during the 1980s “Rambo” hollow handle survival knife era.

Postscript: Amazingly after all these years, I was able to track down Robert Parrish while he was on a road trip, and he told me how to decipher the date and serial number. He also mentioned that he was glad that I was not dead. I’m glad that he’s not dead either. Text and photos copyright Bill North 2013

Jerry Fisk bowie with Mother of Pearl

Jerry Fisk is one of my favorite knife makers. He is not only an excellent craftsman but a pleasure to be acquainted with because of his insight and well developed sense of humor. He is an ABS Mastersmith and has been named a National Living Treasure, hence the “NLT” engraved just behind the guard.

Each year Jerry has what he calls “A Micro Show” at his shop in Arkansas. Jerry made and engraved the knife shown in today’s post for this year’s micro show. I like the style of the knife and am partial to pearl.

I’ll let Jerry describe it in his own words:

“This is my version of a simple California style bowie. A+ grade thick Mother of Pearl framed handle, deep relief engraving on the stainless mounts with a bit of gold work. Dog star pattern Damascus blade is 8 5/8 inch long.”

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In his description he uses the word “simple, I would disagree with that because to me there is way too much knifemaking sophistication displayed here to be called “simple”.

Jerry’s website is www.jerryfisk.com

Bill North

Knife related pictures from a few years ago

I have started organizing the knife related pictures that I have taken over the years. Here are a few:moran shop 2005 800wideA visitor in front of Bill Moran’s shop in 2004

moran 2005 blogBill Moran at the Blade Show in 2005

fisk 2004 blogThe man his own self Jerry Fisk doing an edge geometry demonstration at the Moran hammer-in in 2004

adam cuts 2005 800 blogAdam DesRosiers removing the tops of water bottles in the cutting competition at Blade in 2005.

reggie cuts apple 2005 copyReggie Barker cleanly halves an apple in 2005

A little Wade Coulter friction folder knife

DSC_6223-2 copyWade Coulter friction folder

This melding of knifemaking skills and folk art by Wade Coulter is only 5 ¾” overall when open. The antler handle is slotted for the blade which opens and closes smoothly. The pretty little Damascus blade is file worked on the spine and the spine is stamped “W C “.

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I’m not sure that this knife would be classified as a “goblin” folder but the butt of the handle is carved with a grotesque face.

DSC_6233 copyCarving on the butt of the Wade Coulter knife