Awww geeze, not another blog!

Welcome to A Fine Blade!

This blog will focus one of my lifelong passions and one of man's most basic tools - the knife!

As time and events permit we'll tiptoe into other territory where we can use the knife as a metaphor in discussions about current events and have a little politically incorrect fun.

Because you see, knives rank just below guns as the most politically incorrect subject on the web today.

Guns & Knives = Bad. Gay Marriage & Recreational Drug Use = Good

We'll see if we can't have some fun with that.

So stay tuned, and welcome aboard!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Gransfors Bruks

In the world of axe aficionados the name Gransfors Bruks gets a lot of respect, almost religious reverence.  For good reason.  In a time when most axes are cheap commodity items, made of questionable steel and cranked out by the thousands for sale in big box stores, Gransfors Bruks' axes are produced with a level of skill and attention to detail that is not found anywhere else in the axe manufacturing world.

I stumbled on this great video on YouTube this morning and thought I'd share it.  If you have any interest at all in how large metal objects like axe heads are forged this is an interesting demonstration.

To be honest, most folks today don't really have a need for an axe.  Nobody is going to go out and clear an acre of land with a hand axe.  That's what chainsaws are for.  The axe is very much a niche item, particularly one as nicely made as a Gransfors Bruks.  But, there are still people that use them regularly.  For some tasks like limbing downed trees, splitting firewood or rough shaping logs the axe is still the ideal tool.  Agencies like the US Forest Service still use axes extensively - for jobs like backwoods trail maintenance it is easier to strap an axe to a backpack and carry it 30 miles into the brush to clear downed trees from hiking trails than it is to haul in a chainsaw, gas, oil, protective gear, a sharpening kit, etc. to do the same job.

Now, while I'm saying that most folks don't need an axe these days there certainly is no harm in having one or two ready to go in case that errant tree falls and blocks your driveway.  Or you finally decided to build that log cabin in the back yard.  Or carve out that Viking longboat you've been thinking about.

I don't have a Gransfors Bruks in my small axe collection.  After watching this video I think I might just have to correct that shortcoming.

Stay sharp!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

An Epic Encounter

Or is that an EPIC encounter?

Yesterday I was working the Georgia Chapter of Trout Unlimited at the EPIC Outdoor Game Fair at the Foxhall Estates outside of Atlanta.  My friend Bill, who was working with me at the Trout Unlimited booth, said "Hey, Buck Knives has a booth in the vendor's tent!"  That's all I needed to hear.  We made a beeline for the tent and, sure enough, Buck was all set up with an outstanding display.

I'm a sucker for a Buck knife - any Buck knife - so this fellow sold me one.

C.J. Buck (left) and Bill
C.J. Buck is the great-grandson of Hoyt Buck, the founder of Buck Knives, and is the current President and CEO of the company.  He's also a great guy, and easily spent 15 minutes talking fly fishing with Bill.

C.J. and Bill talking about fly fishing
 How was the rest of the show?  Great, if your interest is over/under shotguns that cost more than a house (that's more than a house, not a house payment), single malt scotches, polo ponies and African safaris.  I was way out of my economic and social class league.  But it was fun to see how the evil rich (ya' know, them's that don't pay their fair share) amuse themselves.

I do have to give a shout out to another great guy, Bill Oyster of Oyster Fly Rods.  Bill had his excellent display set up and spent a good bit of time talking bamboo rods with my friend Bill and I.  Bill Oyster is a legend among Georgia fly fishermen.  He's personable, friendly and open, and will share just about anything related to the craft of bamboo fly rod making.  He also has a little trick he uses to show how sturdy bamboo rods are.  He'll lay one of his pieces of work on a hard surface and jump on it with both feet.  When he does that fly fishermen around the world cringe, but Bill does it to demonstrate just how solid a properly made bamboo rod truly is.  They may be expensive, but they ain't delicate.

Here's Bill giving a short class on the steps involved in bamboo fly rod construction.

Splitting cane

Discussing bamboo properties

Discussing tapers

Setting tapers on the planing jig

Stay sharp!


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Blade Of The Month - Cold Steel Pendleton Lite Hunter

I'm a sucker for a good knife that is also inexpensive.  With modern materials and production methods it is possible for today's manufacturers to crank out great knives at low cost.  All they have to do is put some thought into the design.

I'm also one of those guys who constantly asks "how low can you go?"  How cheaply can a manufacturer bring a truly outstanding design to market?  Well, today we are going to look at what is, in my opinion, the single best low cost knife on the market today.  It has all competition beat in terms of design and execution.  It is the current 'How Low Can You Go?' champ.  The Cold Steel Pendleton Lite Hunter

Cold Steel Pendleton Lite Hunter

This knife is a low cost version of the Cold Steel Pendleton Hunter, itself a great knife.  This knife was designed by custom knifemaker Lloyd Pendleton and has been in the Cold Steel lineup for a number of years.

Cold Steel has a reputation for producing some really nice low priced knives.  They leverage their relationships with manufacturers in the Far East to re-interpret some famous designs using less expensive materials and manufacturing processes.  That is how we got the Pendleton Lite Hunter.  In comparison with the original Pendleton Hunter this knife sports a simpler molded handle, the blade is made of a lower-cost (and thinner) steel - Krupp 4116 - that is stamped instead of ground.  Krupp 4116 is widely used in the kitchen cutlery industry so it's a proven steel.  Krupp 4116 isn't a sexy steel like Cold Steel's San Mai laminate, but it works just fine in the real world.  The sheath is a simple nylon pouch style that is used with several other Cold Steel knife designs like the Finn Bear, so there's a big cost savings there.

What I also suspect, but can't confirm, is that this knife is not a full tang design.  My guess is that the tang only runs part way into the handle, a common compromise with lower cost knives.


Update! I recently contacted Cold Steel and asked whether or not the Pendleton Lite Hunter has a full tang.  Here's the reply from Anthony Russell in Cold Steel's Customer Service Department:

"The tang goes just over 1/2 way to the end of the handle, and the handle is injection molded around the tang.  The tang is also "keyed" into the [handle] for added strength."

So as I suspected it is not a full tang knife. It's not a problem, just good to know.


What the Pendleton Lite Hunter retains from the original is the excellent blade profile and handle shape.  The blade incorporates a slight upsweep along the spine that results in a deeper edge belly and reinforced tip.  The handle is extremely comfortable in a multitude of positions.  In fact, I think I like the Pendleton Lite Hunter's handle more than the original model.  The handle shape and texture is very reminiscent of the excellent cast aluminum handles Pete Gerber used to put on his classic knives like the Gerber A-400.

The knife is very light, very comfortable in the hand and very easy to use.

The sheath is also a pleasant surprise.  It is a simple pouch design that is very well constructed and is a very effective design.  The sheath is made of stiff nylon that is stitched and riveted and it incorporates a thick spine to help it hold its shape.  It ain't fancy, but it does precisely what a knife sheath is supposed to do - hold the knife securely and protect the user from the blade.

So how much does all this goodness cost?  This morning I checked prices on the web and found you can buy this knife from for a whopping $13.72!

Stay sharp!