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!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Blade Of The Month - January 2013

This month's Blade of the Month isn't a knife.  It is the now ubiquitous pocket tool, often generically referred to as 'The Leatherman'.

Leatherman Wave

Like the words 'aspirin', 'band-aid' and 'kleenex' a commercial name has come to refer to a generic line of products that are more correctly known as multi-tools.

Leatherman gets the recognition, however, because they were first on the scene with the concept and from the beginning their products were always at the top of the heap in terms of quality and design.

It is difficult today to understand the impact the Leatherman design had on the knife and tool market when it appeared 30 years ago.  Before Tim Leatherman invented the Leatherman there was... not much, really.  In the Victorian era the cutlers of Sheffield created some pretty spectacular multi-tool pocket knives but those were mostly for display at exhibitions and trade fairs; more demonstrations of manufacturing prowess than commercial products intended for real world use.  Later we had the Swiss Army Knife, the Boy Scout knife and a few really oddball interchangeable tool systems that were better suited to the toolbox than the pocket.  The Leatherman was the first well designed, well made and truly useful tool kit you could easily carry on your belt or in your pocket.

What made the Leatherman successful was the basic approach to the issue.  Things like Swiss Army Knives are pocket knives with a few tools incorporated.  The Leatherman is a tool kit that incorporates a knife.  By not being bound by the traditional pocket knife design Tim Leatherman was able to design the tool using a different approach to the problem.  The result is a multi-tool kit that can be used to repair eyeglasses or tune up a HMMWV without breaking a sweat (and I've seen the Leatherman used for both of those repair jobs). 

I was on active duty in the Army when these things hit the PX system sometime in 1983.  The impact was immediate.  Suddenly EVERY Soldier was carrying one and the PX had trouble keeping them in stock.  The original model, the PST (Pocket Survival Tool), was so well designed and made that it stayed in the Leatherman lineup for over 20 years.  

Leatherman PST II

The basic functionality of the PST really hasn't been improved upon.  Subsequent Leatherman models added more tools and locking mechanisms but the basic design was so sound that it hasn't changed.  It's that good.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then the Leatheman has been flattered almost to death.  Within a few years it seemed just about every knife manufacturer had their interpretation of the Leatherman on the market.  Most were pretty good.  SOG came out early with some good designs that gained wide acceptance in the US military.  Gerber and Buck still list fairly good multi-tools in their catalogs, and even Victorinox (the Swiss Army Knife people) got into the act, putting out a beautiful but over-built and overly heavy example.

But in my opinion Leatherman's design and execution are still the best.  That's why when someone asks "What kind of multi-tool should I get?" I just answer, "Get a Leatherman.  It doesn't much matter which one because they are all good."

So Happy 30th Birthday, Leatherman.  And keep 'em coming!

Stay sharp!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Spam & Steel

An absolutely gratuitous shot of a J.D. Davis drop point hunter in 52100 steel.

Nothing much to say.  Just though it was time for a cheesecake shot of a good custom blade.  The Spam?  It went into a Spam & cheese omelette.  Yummm!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

New Year's Resolutions

It is mid-January and I'm still mulling over my New Year's resolutions.  I've never been a big believer in resolutions to begin with - I'm as lousy at keeping them as I am deciding on them.

Of course there's the usual - lose weight, get more exercise, pay off all our credit card bills, etc.  I make those kinds of resolutions every year and come each December I marvel at how little I was able to accomplish.  If procrastination is a gift then I'm doubly blessed.

I do make some resolutions that are very easy to keep.  Watch less of the Oxygen Channel, spit at the TV every time I see Joy Behar's ugly mug, that kind of thing.  I think I have a 100% success rate at those types of commitments.  But really, to truly enjoy sticking to a resolution it must be more personal, better tailored to one's particular weaknesses.  I have a feeling that this year millions of folks have made the same resolutions I did - less Oxygen, more spitting - so I've been looking for a few resolutions that I can keep and really enjoy sticking to.

Since this is a blog mainly about knives (really, it is) I figured it was time to evaluate just where I am as a user/accumulator/collector.  I look at my collection inventory and I realize that I've been a pretty undisciplined collector over the past few years.  Hell, except for minor concentration on Case pocket knives I've pretty much tried to vacuum up everything that caught my fancy - the old crow and the shiny object story.

It's time to slow down and think about what and how I want to collect and strategize about how to build a collection.  The good news is that there's never been a better time to be a knife collector.  Knife manufacturers and custom knife makers are turning out extraordinarily high quality products at quality levels never before seen in the industry.  Prices are pretty darned good too.  The bad news is that knife manufacturers and custom knife makers are turning out extraordinarily high quality products at quality levels never before seen in the industry, and the prices are pretty darned good too.  It's like opening a bag of peanuts.  You are never going to stop at one.

But I want a collection, not just a pile of knives.  Therefore my New Year's resolution is to slow down, evaluate, develop a strategy and start to build a focused collection.  Quality over quantity.  Yeah, that's it.  Focus.  Strategy.  Quality.  Take your time.  No impulse purchases.  Slooooow and steady.

Now where did I put that Smoky Mountain Knife Works sales flyer...

Stay sharp!