Small custom folding knife by Dan Warren ABS Mastersmith

Small custom folding knife by Dan Warren ABS Mastersmith


A new custom pocket knife



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Mother of pearl handled Daddy Barlow by American Bladesmith Society Journeyman Smith Mike Christenson. This is a big folder, 8 ¾ inches open and 5 inches closed. The flat ground blade is made from 154 CM and is .091 thick at the ricasso. Workmanship is excellent; the blade has a half stop, and is perfectly centered when closed. The bolsters are cut at a 45 degree angle for a matching bevel on the handle scales to fit under. The knife weighs 5.4 ounces. Mike is a friend of mine and lives in the same mountainous area of North Carolina that I do.

Dan Warren ABS Mastersmith damascus pocket knife

Here is a folder made by American Bladesmith Society Mastersmith Dan Warren. Dan is from Haywood County in Western North Carolina.


And here is the man himself.


Kershaw Leek updated

On August 8, 2013 I posted about a Kershaw Leek that I had just received. Link to the original post: Since that time I have carried it almost daily and have formed some opinions as to its usefulness and overall desirability to me.

At the time that I first posted about the knife I noted that it was possible for a coin to get wedged between the blade and the handle making the knife difficult to open. Now I have revised that opinion. If I carry the knife in the same pocket as my change, it is not only possible that a coin will work its way between the blade and the handle, it is likely. Dimes are the worst offenders because of their thinness and relatively small diameter. It seems to happen frequently enough that it discourages me from carrying the knife.

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One other thing that I don’t like is the very slick or slippery feel the knife has. I would prefer the handle scales to have some texture.

Other than the fore mentioned issues I like the knife; its keen point is great for digging out splinters and it is of a useful size for opening envelopes or packages, cutting twine or tape, and the other daily tasks that my small folders get used for. Its small size makes it a pleasant knife to carry.

Despite its good points I stopped carrying the Kershaw Leek after less than 5 months because of the coin jamming the blade issue. The annoyance factor is just too much for me to put up with since I own plenty of knives that don’t have this problem.

Mercator K55K Black Cat Knife

DSC_5923My K55K knife after a few months of use.

The Mercator K55K is a relatively inexpensive and uncomplicated folding knife that has been produced in Solingen, Germany for decades. It is of all metal construction with the handle/frame of the knife being formed by the expedient method of folding a piece of sheet steel into a U shape.

The blade locks in the open position and is easily released for closing by pushing the release located on the spine of the handle. The blade on mine is carbon steel, spear point in shape, about 3 ½” long and .104 thick at the ricasso. The knife is 7 13/16” in length in the open position.

The handle is very thin measuring about .250 excluding the rivet/pin heads that protrude slightly above the surrounding handle material. There is a lanyard bail or loop at the rear of the handle which is something that I could do without but I guess others want such a feature. To me the loop is just in the way. The handle seems to me to be designed for fast, efficient construction and not for comfort during heavy or prolonged use. The thin, flat handle shape makes this knife comfortable to carry.

The blade opens and closes smoothly and the nail nick is not really needed as the blade opens easily enough when just grasped between the thumb and fore finger, at least that is true on my example. The blade lock is positive and can be easily released when desired. When the blade is opened and the lock engages there is a positive sounding, satisfying click. The lock works well and there is no play between blade and lock on my knife when in the locked position. Despite protruding from the back of the handle the blade lock release does not interfere with or cause any discomfort when the knife is grasped for normal use.

I think that this knife offers excellent value at moderate cost in dollars and it works well for me performing the ordinary daily chores that I use a pocket knife for. These tasks include but are not limited to opening the mail, opening shipping boxes and then cutting the boxes down, opening plastic packaging, cutting cord and rope, cutting small sticks, cutting tape, cutting food, etc.


My Mercator seemed to hold an edge better after a re-sharpening, maybe this was my imagination or perhaps there was a little decarb area on the edge. I don’t know but I do know I am happy with its performance at the tasks I ask of it now.

My Black Cat is not the least expensive knife that I own but it is getting close. I won’t go so far to say that I love it, but I really do like it a lot.
I got mine at

copyright Bill North 2012


The knifemaker that came to dinner with no knife.

Recently I had the pleasure of attending a cookout with several knifemakers. Excellent deer back strap was served; the host did provide forks but no knives. That shouldn’t have been a problem; one would think that since we were all knife makers and/or knife enthusiasts we each probably would have had a knife with us. Yes, that is probably what one would think, but as it turns out one would be wrong.

There were four of us at the table, three knife makers of varying experience and capabilities, and myself. I used my relatively inexpensive Solingen folder to cut the food on my plate. The maker across from me also used his factory made pocket knife, and the maker on his right used a beautiful little fixed blade of his making which he carried in a pocket sheath. The third maker apparently was not carrying any knife at all or chose not to use it if he did have one. He borrowed the knife the cook had been using to prepare the food.

I grew up in a rural area where just about every man and boy that I knew carried some sort of pocket knife. I have carried and used knives nearly every day of my life for more years I care to recall. I am always surprised at men that don’t carry a pocket knife in a rural environment or in an urban environment for that matter. I am even more surprised to see someone who says they are a knife maker or knife enthusiast at a cook out at a cabin in the country without a knife of some sort. To me it is a puzzle.

I suppose that it is possible that some makers view themselves as makers of knives and not users of knives, but what better way is there to learn about knives and what is desired in a using knife than by actually carrying and using one?

I am not sure what I should deduce about the knife borrowing maker/enthusiast from this event. Maybe his knife was in his other pants, maybe for some reason he didn’t want the others of us to see whatever knife he was carrying, or maybe he doesn’t normally carry a knife. I am ignorant as to the answer. The conundrum remains.

copyright Bill North 2013

Opinel, a simple knife

DSC_5753My Opinel number 10

To me there is pleasure in using tools and knives are no exception. Several times each day I use knives for something, opening mail or shipping boxes, cutting cordage, cutting down the fore mentioned shipping boxes for the recycle bin, cutting whatever needs cutting in the workshop, cutting food, and on and on. For me, a knife is a very useful tool.

There is a type of knife that for lack of a better term I call “simple knives”. I am not sure how to describe simple knives but to paraphrase United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart; I know them when I see them. I suppose that when speaking of simple knives what I really mean is uncomplicated. Uncomplicated in that they are basic with a part that one grasps to hold and a part that does the cutting. Of course knives exist that are composed of just these two parts or sections and others exist that have several parts but are still what I would call uncomplicated.

An excellent example of the type of knife that I am talking about is the French made Opinel folding knife. Opinels have a blade, a handle which is just a slotted piece of wood, a rotating collar that locks the blade open or closed, and a pin that the blade pivots on. No springs, fancy handle scales, or handle liners, but still it is capable of performing the same tasks as most if not all other single blade folders. And it performs these tasks more inexpensively that most of its glossier relatives.

Opinel folding knives come in a multitude of sizes and some different blade shapes including a folding saw. The knife pictured in this post is a number 10 which is not a small knife. The blade on mine is 3 7/8” long and about .088 thick at the spine just ahead of the handle. The knife is about 9” overall when open. It’s uncomplicated but it works just fine for cutting up something for a snack, a whole meal or most anything else that needs cutting around my house.

copyright Bill North 2013