"A Copse. Evening"

"A Copse. Evening"
A. Y. Jackson, 1918
"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

Paul Valery

"You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time."

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Monday, February 18, 2008

Blue twisted steel and raw sex appeal...

"Fuck it, 'cause I know I didn't make it fuckin' rhyme for real but yo, technically, I'm as hard as steel."
The Beastie Boys

How about a movie?
video
Wasn't that riveting?
What you witnessed is my unscientific test method. I put a functional edge on the blade. I don't get too anal-retentive about it. A sharp edge is easy. One that's polished - and therefore durable - is a bit more involved.
So, functionally sharp. A few seconds on the belt grinder until a burr is raised. Then take off the burr by stropping on leather charged with emery compound.
As you can see, it'll cut paper. Yes, I know it could be made even sharper, but that's not my aim here. This is a test of the sacred "heat-treatment" (I'm trying to inject the proper amount of reverence - ie Bladeforums - for this process that has been done for hundreds of years by guys who may not have able to write their own names.)
Then I chop away at whatever my ugly, gnarly "test piece" is. At present it's a chunk of apple several years old, dry as a bone and loaded with knots.
If, after this abuse, the knife cuts the paper again, mission accomplished.
At this point, I'm going to take a potshot at the ABS, "Journeyman Bladesmith Test".
by the way; I was told that they, the ABS, hold a copyright on the term "bladesmith". Makes me want to use the term all the time except that I find it pretentious.
Anyway, in the test aforementioned, one of the tasks to be undertaken is the chopping in two of a 2X4. Now, here's the hilarious part: You supply your own wood - meaning, if you live in my part of the world you'd run to Home Depot and buy a doug-fir 2X. Of course, while there you may want to look at the other flavors of dimension lumber available, softer stuff, red cedar, hemlock. In my ancestral, homeland the boards of choice were white pine, another mush wood.
Now some poor schmuck from the Southeast where framing lumber is (or at least used to be) southern yellow pine would have a slightly tougher row to hoe. Not impossible, not even close, just more difficult and here's why: The blade is always going to be harder than the wood. Even though that's true, you could still fail this test by showing up with a board of desert ironwood or hop-hornbeam but only a snot-bubblin' moron would do such a thing.
A cynical SOB (no one I know) would spend the long dollar and buy a "2X4" of basswood. Maybe it'd make them tighten up their standards.
What all this pissing and moaning is in aid of is this: On my last (Oh, so long ago...) post our friend, Don took me to task for my ill-informed dissing of Spyderco. Fair enough, but in his last comment he made the very telling comment that the various steels Spyderco is using on their "Mule" series, would show little difference. I think he's right.
All these designer steels touted by various "bladesmiths" (used without permission) and manufacturers are industrial steels. They were developed for a particular industrial application where the various alloying elements can work their magic. Some deepen the effect of the quench, others add wear-resistance without sacrificing toughness. Others allow for hardening a chunk of thick cross-section without deforming such as for forging or casting dies.
They all work for knives. Why? Because a knife blade, from the standpoint of a piece of tool steel, has pretty cushy duty.
Compared with taps and dies, end mills and all manner of metal-working and wood-working tools, a knife - even a hard-used knife - has it easy.
This doesn't mean that it's uncool to be into the oh-so-sexy terminologies. It's fun to be able rattle off all those ASME number designations. It makes one feel competent. I'm certainly not above it.
It's just that every one of all the various permutations of steel has its own use. None is "better" than any other except in their particular application.
If you weld yourself up a boat trailer from 1095 (a "simple" high-carbon steel ie no other significant alloying elements) you'd find it breaking in all sorts of unexpected places because high carbon sacrifices "toughness" (the ability to deform without fracturing) for wear-resistance and hardness.
Mild steel (low-carbon) is the stuff of trailers. Bad for knives though. Actually, if the world ended and all that was available to make a blade out of was mild steel, it would work. It just wouldn't hold an edge well. The payoff would be that it would sharpen easily and wouldn't break no matter how you abused it.
All that being said, I'm going to bail.
The star of the show above is one of my own "Son of Gung Ho" knives, described by the erudite and obnoxious "Seattle Joss" from the BF forum as "...amazingly heavy and badly-balanced". As a mark of my maturity, I'm not even going to mention other things "BF" could conceivably stand for.
But yes, the big fella passed and, Sam. That knife's yours. I just need to clean up the blade and make a sheath and it'll be on its way.
I'll leave you with my very own logo for my yet-to-be-realized rope-cutting and knife-breaking club.

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