Post by Adrian Jordan on Oct 29, 2015 22:15:49 GMT
So the time is here! Randomnobody has toiled and tallied and has gotten his thoughts put in print, and he will now share them. It will take some time for him to post everything, so be patient. Please enjoy the fruits of his and the participating smiths labors!
Apologies to everybody who's been waiting, and to everybody who's about to read this...it's a long one (7,351 words including Photobucket thumbnail embeds [heads-up, click on the little picture to see a bigger picture, click on the magnifying glass icon with the + symbol in its lens in the top-right corner of the bigger image on the new page to see an even bigger image]...).
Forged in SBG Competition Round One
Okay, so, this has been a very long time coming, what with a few bumps in the road in getting everything made and mailed, and then me flying to the other side of the continent for ten days as soon as I’d managed to get everything together in one place…never mind my crazy working schedule since my return. I finally found both the time and energy to sit down and write out something about this thing.
Just to remind everybody what this is all about, a bunch of our resident smiths have taken inspiration from History Channel’s series Forged in Fire, wherein sword and knife makers are pulled in to compete with one another to see who can make the best knife/sword in a meager six hours, with a few conditions provided by the host. In this case, the conditions were agreed upon as a group prior to starting.
Initially, there was to be two “preliminary” rounds, the theme of which I fear escapes me as of this writing, but I believe it was something along the lines of “EDC” and/or “eating knife” or some such. Forum member Chris Peroni volunteered to be the judge originally, but unfortunately, life got in the way and he was unable to find the time. I was asked to step in and take over, and figured “Why not?” I was excited about the competition, and even more so to get to see the blades in person. Naturally, I agreed to play judge for the first “official” round.
The theme was to be a “chopper/fighter” knife. I’ll have to let the others fill in details on any sizing or other conditions, but I think it was a 9-inch cutting edge minimum, and possibly a 12 or 14 inch maximum, but I may be wrong on that. Anyway, I mentioned in another post already, but in case anybody reading this post missed that one, the original lineup was to have included the following members:
Wes(aka Lonely Wolf Forge)
Marc Sanford(aka SanMarc)
Henry Vila(aka DigsFossils-n-Knives)
Lyndle Driggers(aka fallen)
Luke Graham(aka Freq)
Ken Addams(aka Azrael1)
Jeffery Burlison(aka balimund21)
(Thanks to Adrian Jordan for the list)
Unfortunately, as discussion and deliberation dragged on, a few lost interest and backed out; others ran into some trouble getting anything done and had to take a pass. As for who’s actually in this thing, I received and tested knives from the following members (in order of receipt):
Lyndle Driggers(aka fallen) Henry Vila(aka DigsFossils-n-Knives) Marc Sanford(aka SanMarc) Jeffery Burlison(aka balimund21) Tom Kinder(akaTomK)
Honorable mention goes out to Michael Kerley(akaMikeeman), who was not able to finish a knife in time to send off for the competition, but was good enough to send several 2x4 boards for testing use and bundled what would have been his entry, had it not cracked in quench. More on that later.
I am obligated by full disclosure to inform you all that I paid nothing for and had no involvement in the creation of these knives, and have received nothing in the way of bribe by any of the competitors (Duh ) and am only using my very limited knowledge, capabilities, and (for lack of a better word) equipment to conduct the testing. I do not own these knives, I am merely testing them out, comparing them, and will be holding them until further developments decide where they’re going next.
As for the knives, here’s a group shot of everybody, arranged in the same order listed above:
For starters, let’s talk fit and finish. These will play very minor roles in this competition, the focus was more on making something, in the allotted timeframe, to the specified theme, that worked. Following this thought, none of these knives should be looked upon as any of the individual smiths’ “zenith” by any means. These just aren’t made to be “pretty,” and well…some aren’t. Heck, Tom complained the whole time about how he wished he’d had more time to work on this or fix that, because nothing was up to his “usual standards,” and Digs’ first knife failed in quench after he put more than four hours into it, so the knife you all see here is the product of less than two hours of forging, grinding, et cetera. I think it came out fine, but ol’ Digs didn’t seem too thrilled by it. Poor Mike tried three or more times to make something work, but each time something went wrong in quenching that left a blade he just couldn’t fix. So yeah, six hours, function over form, here we go. Also note: I’m writing this up something like two weeks after the fact, as I didn’t have the time I’d hoped for while on vacation and only began typing all this up once I felt like I could spare both the time and the energy after working a crazy schedule from my first day home. I spaced this out over a few days, just putting in bits where I could as I found time.
Here are the measurements I got from my analog caliper, digital kitchen scale, and a Metric/SAE measuring tape:
Fallen Overall - 16"/40.5cm Weight - 1lb 1.4oz/ 494g PoB - .75"/1.9cm (app) Blade - 9.75"/24.5cm long - 1.65"/4.2cm wide (base) - 1.68"/4.3cm max - 3.75"/9.5cm swedge - 0.27"/0.8cm thick Grip - 6.05"/15.5cm long - 1.17"/3cm swell - 0.95"/2.4cm min height - 0.88-0.9"/2.2-2.3cm thick
Digs Overall - 20"/51cm Weight - 1lb 5.8oz/619g PoB - 1.5"/4cm Blade - 11.5"/29cm long - 1.19"/3cm wide (base) - 1.25"/3.2cm max - 1.25"/3.2cm tip - 0.26"/0.6cm thick (0.28"/0.8cm) Grip - 7.25"/18.5cm long - 1.25"/3.2cm height - 0.75"/1.9cm-1.25"/3.2cm
Marc Overall - 13.5"/34.5cm Weight - 11.6oz/329g PoB - 0.25"/0.6cm Blade - 9"/22.8cm long (note – previously listed as 8.25”, mis-measured) - 1.36"/3.4cm wide - 0.19"/0.5cm-0.16"/0.4cmthick - 2.75"/6.5cm tip Grip - 5 3/8"/13.5cm long - 0.9"/2.5cm height - 0.74"/1.9cm thick
Jeff Overall - 16.5"/42cm Weight - 1lb 10.9oz/762g PoB - 3.5"/9cm Blade - 11.25"/28.5cm long - 2.33"/5.9cm wide - 4.15"/10.6cm tip - 0.25"/0.6cm thick Grip - 4.5"/11.5cm long - 1.5"/3.7cm height - 0.55"/1.4cm thick
Tom Overall - 16.75"/42.5cm (1.5"/4cm) Weight - 1lb 5.4oz/606g PoB - 0.7"/1.8cm Blade - 11.5"/21cm long - 1.68"/4.3cm max 1.85"/4.7cm - 0.22"/0.55cm base 0.19"/0.49cm - 3.16"/8.05cm tip Grip - 4.85"/12.4cm long - 1.34"/3.4cm - 1.53"/3.9cm height - ~0.8"/2cm thick Guard - 7.25"/18.5cm long - 0.35"/0.8cm - 0.7"/1.8cm wide -0.28"/0.7cm thick
I have PhotoBucket albums I have categorized to simplify the sharing of images, so for starters, here are the photos of each knife that I received from the makers themselves; some with in-progress photos, some not. (Not every smith was able to step away and snap photos, some were too focused on getting things done)
Per the group’s decision, the tests I was to carry out (read: attempt) included cutting sheets of standard printer paper, cutting rope (one-inch thick manilla), cutting bottles (I used 16.9oz water bottles), and chopping wood. These were thought to be fairly straightforward tests that would demonstrate each knife’s capabilities with minimal imbalance, that is, as fairly as possible.
First, I tried shearing paper. This test proved challenging. Due to the “chopper” portion of the theme, many of the knives have very robust edges, which made it tough to get a good sense of the slicing motion needed to shear a piece of loose paper cleanly. I attempted this test twice, but only seem to have photos of the first attempt. My second go was after giving each knife a round on my razor strop, to knock off any oxidation that may have accumulated in the up-to-two-weeks the knives had been sitting in their boxes in my bedroom, waiting for everything else to show up. Results were better on round two, partly as a result of the stropping, mostly because I’d figured out how to do it properly. Unfortunately, we’re stuck with photos from the first go.
First up was Fallen’s knife:
As you’ll see, my first few tries weren’t particularly productive. Again, this is a pretty meaty edge. I assure you all, it shaves hair off my arm; it is by no means not sharp. Toward the end, I finally started getting the hang of things and managed some nicer slices:
Just for giggles, this is the point where it occurred to me that the greatest challenge was simply that I had no idea what I was doing, so I tried a few cuts using my favorite EDC, my trusty J.J. Martinez Arabe:
Clearly, I am the biggest obstacle in these tests. More on that later…
Next up was Digs’ knife:
First cut was pretty easy. This knife has a fairly meaty edge to it, but it’s gradual enough that slicing is not difficult. It’s quite sharp, perhaps just a hair more than Fallen’s knife.
Overconfidence ruined the second try, though:
Humbled, the next go went better:
Unfortunately, number four fell again:
Five and Six were satisfactory:
Next up is Marc’s knife:
I had some trouble with this one. While the edge is by no means “dull,” it’s most certainly not as sharp as I am accustomed to knives being. I even sent Marc a message to ask if perhaps it was meant to be sharper, and the trials of shipping had somehow damaged it. He assured me it was as sharp as he’d intended it to be, which in his words, “Yeah they are not paper cutting sharp.. Will cut flesh though....” (“They” here refers to both his and Jeffrey’s knife; Marc and Jeffrey, for those who do not know, are an Uncle/Nephew pair of smiths; Jeffrey’s not particularly active here, but most of you should know Marc. )
Anyway, true to his word, the knife did not handle paper well:
I put more “draw” into the next try, did a bit better:
Ultimately, though…just not meant for paper.
With its edge sharpness (or lack thereof in some minds), small size, and light weight, I was concerned this knife would not do well in this competition.
Next up is Jeffrey’s monster (For those curious, Marc and Jeffrey opted for a fantasy theme, Marc’s knife is an “Elven dagger” and Jeffrey’s is an “Orc cleaver”):
Once again, we see that paper was not the intended target for this blade:
For my last run with this knife, I noticed there was a slight burr to the edge on one side, so I tried to use it as an advantage:
Last-but-not-least, we have Tom’s entry:
I’ll come right out and say it: I’m afraid of this thing. The edge puts my razor to shame, and the PoB is right where I hold it, so this thing is super easy to use, allowing things like this:
Leaving the kid in me to get…maybe a little too excited:
At any rate, that concludes the paper tests. I think, if we had to pick a winner here, it would be pretty obvious…but this is not merely about who makes the sharpest edge. Thus, we move on to the other tests.
Unfortunately, weather in my area hadn’t been behaving very well in the few days I’d finally had all the knives and testing materials, which combined with my work schedule to make putting anything to use quite difficult. I finally managed to throw things over other things and make something potentially useable for the tests the day before leaving on my trip. As such, things are a bit…less than perfect. Rushed, haphazard, and a little (okay, a lot) underwhelming. I had hoped to redo these tests upon my return, but go figure coming back on a Tuesday evening and working from Wednesday morning straight through the Friday of the following week. Yep, nine days straight. I’m on day six right now, and just barely scraped together the energy to type all this.
So, with that aside, here’s the rope test. This one proved to be a lot harder than I’d anticipated, which left the results rather…unspectacular. I’ll have another go at it the next time I’m able, and if my findings are any different, I’ll update then. Meanwhile, this is what I was able to set up, given the time and my general living area:
I didn’t actually measure, but that hoop is somewhere between eight and ten feet up from the driveway below it. I got the rope from SeaGear Marine Supply and is a 20-foot length of 1-inch manila. SeaGear had the cheapest price I found in about ten minutes on Google, and got the order out very quickly, so if you lot ever need rope…
Anyway, same order as the paper test; first up was Fallen:
You can see, in the background, all the other knives in their shipping boxes just hanging out on the brick wall, along with the box the rope came in. Also note the thickness of the rope compared to the width of the knife.
Remember how I said this was harder than I’d anticipated? Well, here’s how bad I was at it:
First cut bit pretty deep, and I was an odd mix of impressed and disappointed. Disappointed because I failed to cut the whole thing, impressed because I managed to cut something, and not an insubstantial chunk. I tried a few more cuts, but none were any greatly deeper and I still never cut the whole thing. Blame bad technique, heck, I blamed the wind. Rope barely stayed still the whole time…
Overall, not amazing (again, my fault more than the knife’s), but pretty good, I think. Next up was Digs’ creation:
I took note of where Fallen’s knife had already bitten, aimed for a clear spot, and still didn’t quite hit it right:
Try #2 agreed that it was still doing pretty well, considering:
A couple more shots managed to butcher it pretty badly:
I finally managed to break through and wound up with a very rough end of rope:
Cleaned up with Tom’s knife ( ):
Moving on, next up is Marc:
Once again we are faced with the conundrum of a knife that’s sharp enough to severely damage soft, squishy, meaty things, but not sharp enough to take on much else. I believe its small size and light weight also played to its disadvantage in this test:
For my second try, I tried swinging a bit faster and using more of a “snap” going into impact, and did a good bit better:
I was largely satisfied at this point that this knife was doing basically what I expected. Were it a little sharper, and maybe a little bigger (or broader, at least) it may have done better, but then again, Fallen’s knife should have been plenty big (and broad) to handle rope and I failed it pretty badly, soooo…
Anyway, next up was Jeff:
Yeah, that whole big/broad theory I had? Eeehhh…
Of course, there is a point where mass can be…excessive. This big beast takes a lot to swing, and hits hard, but if the target’s not fixed, it just doesn’t have the edge to “grab” and tends to just knock things aside rather than penetrate them.
A guy’s arm? Yeah, it’ll mess it up. A piece of free-hanging rope? Just a scratch. You can see it there, just southwest of center.
Anyway, Tom’s up again:
First cut showed that maybe I’m onto something with mass and sharpness:
Second cut was just as deep:
Third was right in the same general area as the first two, again with similar results:
Butchered at the fourth:
Nipped clean with the fifth:
Made a mess in the driveway:
With that final bit, I think it’s clear again where edge sharpness gets one in the tests we’ve seen so far. Paper does not like anything short of a very sharp edge, and rope seems to be no different…even harsher, I’d say. Blame also lies in my complete lack of experience in rope-cutting, surely there’s a proper form to this that I just don’t know and may or may not have been learning as the testing went on. I’d love to try again sometime, but time is short these days and weather is uncooperative at times. Perhaps I’ll revisit the rope test and update sometime in the near future.
I kind of went out of my planned order in the next one, and skipped straight to boards. I had intended to do bottles first, but I guess I’d given up on all the sharpness-oriented tests and just wanted to see what kind of punch these things could pack.
Mind you, I am lacking in any sort of sturdy base of reasonable height to conduct a proper chopping test, so I had to rest the boards on the ground and chop from a kneeled posture, which left the results quite…underwhelming.
Here’s my pathetic setup:
I used what used to be a horseshoe pit, now fallen into disuse, to provide what I hoped would be better support than just the ground. At least, a fairly even platform. I used a second board to rest my knees on, because 1) I didn’t want to get my favorite shorts all dirty from the wet ground, and 2) said wet ground was very soft, but covered in small, sharp things (rocks, pinecones, etc.) and, well, no.
Given the conditions the tests were to be carried out in, I already knew I wouldn’t be getting as far as I wanted to, so instead of aiming to chop through the board (would have taken forever) I decided instead to try three separate chops, first a direct frontal from above (striking the top of the board perpendicular to its length), second much the same as the first but snapping into a downward angle at impact (chopping the “back” of the top of the board), and third a (roughly) 45-degree angle direct chop. I followed these up with ten hard chops of varying types in quick succession just to see where it got me. I tried to place each strike at the far end of the blade to get the most out of what little I could do.
First up, as usual, Fallen:
First chop wasn’t as deep as I expected it would be, probably because I was subconsciously measuring myself instead of putting in a full chop, also because, you know, kneeling. Hard to get that body weight behind it from there… Anyway, hit it hard enough to bounce and hit again:
Second try did better, and this picture gives a better impression of the depth of the first try, too:
Here’s the diagonal:
Ten quick chops later:
Did I mention how little I was able to achieve due to my inefficient setup? I really want to retry these tests at some point, from a better vantage. Something I can really put some “oomph” into, instead of what little bit I managed with this configuration.
That said, it was less important to me that each knife chopped the board completely than it was that no knife sustained any damage from the efforts, and Fallen’s knife took it like a champ. It was easy to use, stayed mostly where I wanted it to be, and didn’t leave me feeling tired or strained in any way. There was some minor scuffing on the profile, which for some reason I chose to not take a picture of; guess that reflects how insignificant I felt it was. Apart from that, though, nothing chipped, rolled, bent, or otherwise deformed, and the edge was just as sharp for the whole length as it was before I started.
Next up was Digs:
I had mixed feelings going into this one. On one hand, this knife has the longest hilt of the bunch, great for that extra leverage, and the “pommel” (if it can be called that) is a style that gives me, personally, a great deal of confidence in my grip and allows even more “snap” to transfer into the swing. All this seems great for choppin’, but then we remember how narrow and thin this blade is, which gives us some pause…
As we can see, the first chop did quite well. At least as good as Fallen’s. maybe a smidge deeper. I’d say that comes from being slightly more acute in the edge angle, which may or may not be a “benefit” in the long run…
Pretty good, I’d say. Here’s another angle:
45-degree did pretty well, too:
(Yes, that is the other side of the same board from Fallen’s test; I figured, if it didn’t chop all the way through, why waste a board? Flip it over and start from the other side, it’s probably not going all the way through this time, either.)
This is the end result of that board:
Pretty comparable in the overall, but you can see the groupings were tighter with Digs’ knife. What I think I decided on that goes back to the grip, mostly, but also takes into account the shape of the blade. I was worried about mass, but the curve lent itself nicely to the concentration of force and took some pretty big bites for it. This knife was also very easy to use, and not remotely fatiguing. I actually liked using it just a tiny bit better than Fallen’s knife, mostly because I felt more secure in my grip with the pommel tucked into the meaty bits of my hand and also because I didn’t feel worried about messing up something pretty like I did with Fallen’s knife. There, I said it. That aside, both knives performed pretty well, despite, well…me. Anyway, no scuffs, chips, rolls, bends, what-have-you’s that I could perceive, and the edge, again, was just as sharp as ever. Nice.
Next up is Marc:
I expected this one to be kind of a let-down, honestly. After the rope test, I figured this knife probably wasn’t big enough to do much to a piece of wood. I gave it what I could, kept my grip low on the hilt, swung it fast and hard, snapped it in, and got this:
Okay, not as deep as Fallen or Digs, but pretty respectable for something so light. You can see it got a second bite in after a bounce, something I need to work on, I guess…
Cut pretty deep on the back-angle:
Did really well at 45 degrees:
Ten chops later:
Grouping was pretty wide, not really sure what brought that on. Probably just me not taking time to really aim, but I got some pretty deep gouges in there. Frankly, I was impressed. I couldn’t even feel the knife as I was swinging it, impact had virtually no stress transfer, I was surprised that such a “small” knife did so well, I figured chopping wood to be a big-knife game.
Speaking of big knives, next up we have Jeffrey:
Now, this one, I had some expectations for. It’s a big, heavy, beast of a chopper, with the longest point of balance in the bunch. It’ll hit hard and shatter anything in its way, right?
Oh. Well, that wasn’t very impressive…maybe I just did it wrong. Let’s try the back-angle:
Better, but I was definitely expecting more.
Hmm, not really doing as well as I’d hoped.
Eh, I can’t say I’m overly impressed with this one. I really had high expectations this time, but it didn’t meet them. A few times while I was chopping away, the grip twisted in my hand, which was not pleasant. So much mass coming to a sudden stop and having to go somewhere means if you’re not holding onto it right, it goes where it wants. This knife was not pleasant to use, between the twisting and the weight, I was pretty worn out after the round of ten and had to take a breather before continuing.
Now, it might seem like I’m coming down pretty hard on this knife, but I genuinely believe it would be well at home in an Orc’s arsenal, or any big ol’ brute who just wants to smash things and break smaller people. Not every fatal injury is a cut; take this thing to the clavicle or rib cage and you’re breaking a bone, probably puncturing something, and quite likely tearing, rather than cutting, whatever flesh got in the way. I blame most of its apparent “failures” on my personal inability to handle it and the limitations of the testing media; I couldn’t find any volunteers to “stand still while I hit you with this thing” so I can’t really say how it would handle that particular task, but it’s probably a lot better than it’s done so far here…
Anyway, a long aside…well, aside, it’s finally Tom’s turn:
Having been disappointed with Jeffrey’s knife, and a bit worn out for my efforts, I was slightly less than eager to have a go at Tom’s, but then I picked it up and was reminded how easy it was to handle. Same as the other knives, I slipped my grip down to the “pommel” and swung it down with a snap:
Bit pretty deep, but bounced again, leaving another small line beside the first.
I didn’t quite pull off the next angle like I wanted to, but it did pretty well, anyway:
I must have turned the board around at some point, I don’t remember, but you can see that second thin line is now on the opposite side of the first chop. Weird, I don’t know what happened there… Anyway, the chop wasn’t very deep, but it was super clean. No fragmented bits (that broke rather than cut) and a nice, straight, even line. Pretty.
Ten chops later:
I didn’t really penetrate very far, I’m starting to think I may have been hitting closer to the hilt than I’d intended, but as you can see the grouping is the tightest of the bunch and produced the cleanest lines.
Absolutely zero visible damage to report. No suffs, scratches, chips, bends, nothing. Just a clean, shiny, insanely sharp knife. I’m impressed.
Finally, we have possibly the most relatable test for all the backyard cutters out there: plastic bottles.
Unlike most of you, I’m not much on cutting things as a regular hobby, so I don’t have a proper cutting stand, as such, and frankly I couldn’t be bothered acquiring/assembling one for what would likely be a one-time event. Instead, I used the box of boards Mike sent, stood up, and threw my scooter cover over it to try and keep the box (and boards) from getting completely soaked.
This presented challenges, as the ground was uneven, for starters, and the wind was picking up and gusting pretty hard at times. I tried to brace the box by putting the case of bottles on the side opposite to the wind, but it just wasn’t tall enough to make much of an impact, and the scooter cover made a great wind catcher, pulling the box along with it… I lost count of how many times the darn thing fell over, but I managed to get somewhere between a dozen and twenty bottles (out of 24) cut. My plan was to let each knife have three or four, depending how well they handled the first one-or-two.
Right, so, my “stand” kind of looked like this:
Important note here: I’ve never once successfully cut a plastic bottle. I made several attempts many years ago while visiting Mike Harris with a friend of mine who also lived in Texas at the time. It’s that same friend I flew out to California to spend ten days with, first I’d seen the guy in eight years. So don’t expect too much of my cutting.
Came In WAY too high, caught the cap, broke the neck, spilled the bottle, tried to salvage it...had another go:
More on-target this time, but the cut itself was pretty rough. Blame the half-filled bottle.
Once again, the cut was higher than I’d intended, but this time I actually cut the bottle somewhat neatly, which meant even more water spilled out when the bottle fell over.
This is where my Photobucket uploads seem to have maybe gotten out of order, but I can’t remember how things went down, so I’ll just throw this photo up and say “I think this might actually have been part of the first bottle, once I’d collected all the pieces after finding the runaway lid.”
Apparently that concludes Fallen’s test. I guess I figured the edge angle just wasn’t doing it against bottles, tearing more than cutting in most cases, so I moved on to the next knife. In retrospect, all of this was probably less the edge and more me being lousy at this, so I’d like to revisit this portion in the future.
Next up is Digs:
Taking all the other tests into consideration, I knew going in that this knife was quite sharp, had a very acute edge angle, and handled very well. I was expecting pretty good things out of it, basically.
Still hitting kind of high, didn’t quite make it all the way through on this one.
Second go was better:
Satisfied, I moved on to Marc:
You’ll notice I moved the bottle closer to the corner, rather than leaving it in the center. At this point, water had already made it through the cover (it’s pretty cheap, doesn’t even keep my scooter dry if it’s raining heavily enough, but it’s all I’ve got) and the box was giving in the center. I also figured part of the reason I was hitting so high was that I was worried about smacking into the edge of my “stand” and causing chaos as a result.
If memory serves, the first try batted the bottle pretty hard. I remembered that this edge is not particularly sharp and decided to focus more on speed and getting some snap behind the cut, almost “whipping” the knife through the bottle, getting as much of a draw into the cut as I could.
Results were decent:
I’m actually not sure what happened there, bottle must have turned as I was cutting, leaving a spiral or something. Weird. Anyway, next:
There, that’s better. Also goes to show you don’t need a razor-sharp blade to cut a water bottle. Sure, the cut is jagged and uneven, but it cut.
This next one I can’t actually remember if it’s another angle of the same bottle, or a new bottle. Looks the same as the last one, though:
On to Jeffrey:
Well, unfortunately for this one, I tried three times unsuccessfully to cut one bottle. Smacked it halfway across the yard each time. I tried acceleration, snapping, drawing, everything I could think of to try and get a bite, but it just wasn’t having it. It was at this point that my nephew’s school bus was rolling down the street, so rather than be the weird guy swinging big knives around outside, I decided to pause my activities and, quite literally, drop the knife.
Hey, that stuck pretty nicely. It’s in there quite deep, and was actually hard to pull out. This is just from a straight drop of about two feet into soft, wet soil, so take from that what you can. This is what reminded me that Jeffrey’s knife is one of two that managed to make me bleed prior to the testing. I was putting it back into its box once, probably after getting the measurements and such, had it mostly in but it was pretty snug so rather than force it I gave the box a tap on my palm. This seated the knife not just in its box, but in my hand, too. I have a lovely little scar where it got me, might add a picture of that later, but right now it’s kind of irrelevant. I just felt like pointing out that the tip on this thing is no joke, even if the edge could be better.
Finally we go to Tom’s knife:
Those feet in the background belong to my nephew, I didn’t see him walk in front of my camera, and he didn’t see me pointing it that direction. Whatever, too late to get another picture and I’m too lazy to crop it out; that’s part of why I’m using thumbnails for everything; I have way too many photos to attach to one, two, or even three or more posts, and since I figured I’d be typing this up over several days, I thought it would be more efficient to just throw everything onto Photobucket and use IMG thumbs.
Blah blah, CUT SOMETHING.
Okay, fine, here:
That’s right, hit high again, but didn’t even disturb the bottom.
Yeah, you like that, don’t you?
Still the same bottle. That doin’ it for ya? I hope you like that, because I messed up the fourth cut:
Satisfied, I didn’t feel the need to sacrifice any more bottles to this monster.
Here’s the final carnage:
I did let my nephew have a go with a couple of the knives, though. I started him on Marc’s, figuring it being the lightest and “dullest” it would be the least likely one he could hurt himself with. He batted a couple, but finally got one, then another, and then he wanted to try a different knife, so I let him use Digs’. He tried using two hands for the first swing, since they both fit, but fell back to his baseball habits and sent the bottle flying, so for the next one he went back to one hand and got a silent cut off it. We cut a few more bottles, outside the realm of the competition, just for giggles. Since it was unrelated to the competition, I didn’t take any pictures, and it won’t be considered in my “judging,” as such.
On which note, that concludes the tests I was able to perform. Let me just reiterate that said tests could have been conducted much more efficiently, if I’d had the time and materials to set them up thusly, but given what I had, I did what I could.
So, which knife is “The Best?” Well…that’s tough.
If I were going on aesthetics, I’d give Fallen top picks. His knife just strikes my aesthetic sense perfectly. If I were buying these knives, based on just pictures and stats, with price being no object, I’d have picked Fallen’s. It’s, in my mind, the best-looking, most practical design, in a size and weight that would not be burdensome to actually carry around. I have no doubt its functionality is just as sound, but for my personal tastes, the edge is a bit fat. Of course, Fallen did have “chopper” heavily in mind, right beside fighter, and that fat edge is certainly an advantage there. Its handling is nimble enough that one could bring the tip on the other guy quite readily and land some very nasty cuts against whatever limb got in the way.
For the rough-and-tumble-in-the-jungle, I’d bring Digs’ knife. I feel like the surface finish would be most resistant to corrosion, and the handle provides excellent grip with its charred finish loaning a very-slightly-coarse texture that holds on to your hand, combined with the hooked/beak pommel that tucks itself in with each swing, all in a package that, while a bit long, is quite light, but loses little function. It would handle vines as well as branches and probably even small trees without much fuss and keep chugging along. I kept thinking the whole time how much it reminded me of something out of Southeast Asia, maybe around the Philippines or one of the other islands out thataway.
Going by handling, I absolutely love Marc’s knife. It just floats and turns with such ease, I can whip it around all day and never get tired. It seems like it’s designed for exactly how I’d, personally, use a knife in a fighting-type encounter. Quick slashes, fast recoveries, the occasional poke with its clipped tip… I really like how this knife moves. That it happened to do pretty well for itself in the chopping test, well…that was a bonus. If it were my knife, I’d sharpen it up a bit more, but since it isn’t, I won’t touch it.
I may have come off as speaking harshly about Jeffrey’s knife, and the tests may not show very much for it, but I really, really want to remind everybody that it is very difficult to test a knife designed as a flesh-eater with paper, rope, wood, and bottles. If I were Lynn Thompson, I’d be putting this thing into so many pig heads..and I have no doubt, at all, that it would bury itself into them without issue. Unfortunately, pig heads are kind of hard to come by, cost a bit, and wouldn’t really give this a very “pretty” image…
Tom’s knife, well…I think it’s pretty clear that it kind of stole the show. It’s big, heavy, and intimidating as heck…but it handles so lightly that I’ve caught myself treating it like a much smaller knife. Initially, I’d thought the guard excessive and unnecessary. I still kind of think it’s just too big and “out there” but the more I think about it, when somebody else is swinging another knife around, having a big ol’ guard is, well, not a bad thing. I imagine this thing would bind quite well, and has plenty of mass for a good parry, without leaving the hand too exposed and keeping the fingers safe. I’ve done some thinking on the “volume” of the guard, too. That is, how far out it goes from the grip. It’s a pretty wide gap, yeah? Well, the part of me that doesn’t much like guards thinks that just makes it get in the way even worse, but the part of me that appreciates the intent of a guard thinks it would allow plenty of room for even more hand protection. Gloves, gauntlets, whatever. The shape of the grip is also among my favorite styles, with the single “finger groove” right between the index and middle fingers, but again with ample space to fit a thick glove or to choke up on the hilt with one more finger in the groove or to slip back down and “hook” the groove for better control over a harder snap or chop type of cut.
I’m not one to use the phrase “razor sharp” as I find it silly, but I am forced to concede that this knife is, in fact, sharper than my DOVO Bismarck razor, which I use to shave. Part of me wants to actually shave with Tom’s knife, because I feel like the balance would allow for the control necessary…but part of me kind of likes having skin on my face.
It’s not as pretty as it could be, with uneven, wobbly fuller and a slightly crooked guard, but like I said before, this thing is function over form. I’m tempted to make an analogy to “the ugly duckling” beating up the swans, leaving them worse for the wear, but that would imply the other knives somehow failed. This is more like a “sleeper” car on the drag strip, where every knife (car) was tuned for the best performance based on what each smith (driver) wanted it to do, but some guy shows up in a less-impressive looking car, maybe with a bad paint job, but then shoots off the start and screams into the lead, finishing by mere fractions of a second.
It was really hard to pick a “best overall” out of this bunch. I really, truly, genuinely acknowledge them, each, as fantastic knives for their intended purposes. I mentioned in another, earlier post, some of my initial impressions with regard to what I thought each smith was aiming for, so I won’t repeat that here, but suffice to say…I agree with me. With few exceptions, each knife performed pretty much exactly as I expected it would, and left very little in the way of a “clear lead” in most tests. Where there was one, it was almost always a case of pure edge sharpness, but let’s not overlook the importance of that. Too often we hear about how an edge that is “too sharp” cannot hold, or is too readily damaged, but I did some pretty terrible things to these knives, and didn’t do any of them very well, but not one of them suffered any edge damage as a result, and the sharpest of the lot remains so. It’s also my second-favorite to handle, as even though I don’t really like the enormous guard very much, it certainly does well at counterbalancing the beefy blade. It’s comfortable to hold and use, and performed every test as well as or better than every other knife.
Of course, one could easily argue that the only reason it did so was because, by the time I got to it (remember, I tested each knife in the sequence I received them, Tom’s was the last one in) I’d figured out what I was doing and had a better knack for it than when I was testing, say, Fallen’s (the first) knife. This is no small part of the reason I want to try these tests again, under better conditions, to see if anything changes. Now that I have a better idea of what to expect and how to go about things, I might just put another knife at the top next time around. I will say that Fallen and Digs were certainly tied for a very close second place, and I like both knives a lot. Fallen’s is exactly the look and style that I like, and performed each test admirably, but so did Digs’ hideous creation--I mean, uh, unique design, and while Marc and Jeffrey struggled with paper and the rope, I remain impressed by how Marc’s knife, yet disappointed with how Jeffrey’s knife, handled the chopping tests. I wanted Jeffrey’s knife to do better than it did, and I’m inclined to blame myself more than the knife, but at the same time, I can’t stop thinking “if the knife were better, it would have gone better,” which I freely acknowledge is a very poor line of thought. The knife was designed to do what the knife was designed to do, and it just happens that none of those things were accurately tested this round, so we just didn’t get to see what this thing’s really capable of.
Anyway, for those of you who’ve managed to actually read all this, thanks for keeping up, and let me know if you want to see me try anything else with any of these knives (within reason, I’m broke after all) and I’ll see what I can put together.
Hey bennett. Yeah, it was awesome to see what our guys came up with, and I'm super excited that I got the opportunity to try them out for myself. I'm hoping to start testing out the second round soon, but I need to get some monies together for supplies and stuff first.
I'm not sure what the current plans are for giveaways, I'd like to think that's still the idea, but I'll leave that to the guys in charge of this whole thing to decide and announce when they're ready.
Just have to give you a shoutout for what you're doing!
As for the competition, I agree with you that Fallen's knife looks the best. Tom's would be much improved if the guard just terminated at the top, like a sword, instead of the D-guard. But it fits the term "fighter" to a cinch. I love Dig's tanto-ish knife as well but the curve is too much for me. Marc's knife would probably be, alongside Fallen's, the workhorse of the bunch. The Orc Cleaver is not my style but I can see how fun it would be to just swing that at something. My principal issue is that back tip, which looks a bit dangerous and might inhibit you from swinging it properly.
Nice work fellas, and that was an excellent write-up Random.
"You see, a sword is three feet of tempered steel---with death dancing on every inch, and hanging like a dark star on the very point." --Ronald Lacey, as Oswald, from Sword Of The Valiant, 1984 www.facebook.com/appleseedcustoms/
Sorry about the disappearing-from-the-forum bit, most of the discussion between those involved was just in logistics and planning behind the scenes, which we didn't think anybody would find very interesting. Nobody wants to read about whether anybody made it to the post office today or lost my address, they just wanna know what the knives look like and what they can do.
On that note, I'd made a few posts once I'd gotten all the knives in, but they saw little to no discussion. We were starting to worry that folks here had lost interest, but again all we had was logistics, and nobody wants to hear "raining today, with high winds, temperatures in the 30's Fahrenheit; no cutting yet..." So I figured why post when there's nothing to post? This left a pretty long wait for new info, and I apologize for that.
I'm hoping I can get cracking on the second round very soon, but I need to buy more bottles and get a few other materials together. This will be a stabbing round, so I'm wanting some cardboard and a phone book or two at the least, and if anybody has suggestions for other stabby tests, they're welcome to throw them up here or in one of the other threads.
As for the prelims, I'm still waiting on Chris to send them to me so I can test them out, since he hasn't been able. I should PM him on that... Anyway, we decided we'd waited too long for the prelim round and it was time to get something up for you guys to see, so I threw together what I could and here it is.
Round two will come as soon as I've gotten out of the money pit I've thrown myself info over the past two months and can afford to buy more testing supplies. (Yes, you know you're broke when you can't afford the $3 for a pack of bottled water ..)
Once the prelim knives get in, I'll post something on them, too. I might find some time today to get some measurements and single photos up for round two, but I've got some chores that have been piling up over my nine consecutive days of working since getting back home, after having been gone for ten days. That's twenty days of cleaning I have to get done...
Thanks to the smiths for making the knives, and thanks to Chris and randomnobody for their work as well!
As far as I know, the knives will be used in future giveaways. We haven't got a concrete idea of what or when, but it will be done. The smiths deserve thanks for making that part of the experience(using the blades are prizes was their idea from the get go).
Thanks to you lot (all the smiths) for making something awesome for me to play with.
I'll be sad to see them go, whenever the giveaways start, but hopefully they'll go to somebody who likes them even more than I do.
Now to get crackin' on Round Two... Got loads of boxes piling up, just need to cut 'em down and stack the bits, pick up a phone book or two, maybe some melons, and a pumpkin...then I'll start stabbing stuff.
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