Saturday, June 25, 2016

Scurvy's Blade Show Adventure Part 2: The Custom Knife Show

Blade brings together some of the greatest knife makers in the world under one roof. You can get lost for countless hours drooling over knives and still never see everything. I believe the show tends to lean more towards fixed blade makers than folder makers but not by much. As I have stated earlier, I really tried to capture unique items that I saw that I felt might have been overlooked elsewhere. I tend to lean towards the buy the maker as much as you buy the knife side of things so pretty much everyone here is a stand up gentleman who would be more than happy to spend a few minutes talking shop with you.

Michael Raymond is one of the top tier folder makers today. He learned his craft from Scott Cook of Lochsa fame. The sound his knives make when they lock open is indescribable. The first time I opened one, I just looking up grinning ear to ear. They are integral folders which mean the handles are milled from a solid piece of titanium. He uses a pivot bushing to ensure incredibly smooth openings. His knives are so well put together, it's the only knife I have ever handled that will function flawlessly with the male side of the pivot scree completely removed. Open, close, lock up, no blade play or lock rock with literally nothing holding the pivot in except extreme precision. One of his friends who manned his table while Michael was on break asked me if Michael had the nicest folders at Blade. I said he did, except for one man... 



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Scott Sawby gets my vote for the nicest folders at the show. Scott creates truly masterpiece level of work. His knives border of art knives but they are completely usable and practical. Scott has developed his own unique locking system called the 'self-lock'. You can see it in the top photo above. I cannot do justice to how unique the mechanism is, it is something you have to handle. The sheer ease that the lock disengages compared to how solid the lock up is is astounding. It's completely ambidextrous as well. Just push up on the blade slightly and it unlocks and glides closed. The inlays in below knives are semi-precious stones.



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Raphael Durand is a name I was not familiar with before Blade but I certainly am now. This is a full carbon fiber framed lock back folder. The way the carbon fiber and the damascus flows together is such a great detail, I couldn't put this knife down. Lock back, bacon damascus, and lack of a pocket clip are all features that usually turn me away and yet it just worked. Easily the best new (to me) folder maker of the show.


Michael Vagnino is a Master Smith in the truest sense of the words. I also consider him a friend. The shear breadth of what he makes from art knives, to crazy forged pieces, to his Zip-Slip, to his flippers and his collaborations with Ray Laconico, is impressive. Michael can truly do it all. I have been carrying his first collaboration knife with Ray Laconico (the LV Knives Lancer) for over a year and it gets more pocket time than all of my other folders, combined. The top two knives are what he calls his Mystery Knives. There is a bar embedded in the handle the free float that the hook catches and holds the blade closed. As a result, you have hold the knife a certain way to get it to lock and unlock. Michael does his own engraving work as well. The bottom knife is his Jaguar model and it a true sole authorship knife. Michael made everything on this knife (minus the mammoth bark) down to the screws which are timed perfectly so they all face the same direction.





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Nowhere else but Blade can you watch someone on the level of RJ Martin put on a quick sharpening demo for a good sized group of onlookers.


Countless renditions of the Lanny's Clip pattern folder from several different makers at the Bose table.


The hallmark of any custom knife show, Tim Britton's table with no one there and full of knives late on a Saturday afternoon.


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A major aspect of Blade is the American Bladesmith Society (ABS) testing for Journeyman and Master Smiths. The ABS website has the list of all of the challenges you need to pass and the specifications you need to make your knives to in order to submit them for testing. Several makers will proudly display their test knives on their table afterwords and can begin stamping their pieces with the coveted JS or MS stamp. You may recognize the handsome fellow above as the winner of the very first episode of Forged in Fire. His name is Matt Parkinson and he earned his Journeyman Smith title at Blade this year. You can see in the top photo he is holding his test knife and his certificate. The test knife is submitted to a series of difficult and abusive tests before it it put in a vice and bent over to 90 DEGREES without breaking! The bottom photo is the full complement of his knives submitted for testing.


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Sam Lurquin is a very popular fixed blade maker and makes some seriously jaw dropping pieces. Sam tested for Master Smith this year and unfortunately did not pass. He didn't let this get him down but it should be telling how hard getting that title must be. Unfortunately, this was the only knife of his I was able to capture but everything his brought to Blade was stunning.



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Jason Knight is a Master Smith and made my favorite fixed blade I own. This was the only piece he brought to display and I wish I has a reason to own a huge custom hand forged kukri. He has been wrapped up with a secret (maybe not so secret?) project and everyone will be seeing a lot more of him soon.


I don't want people to think that ABS certification is the way for every smith. Several makers make incredible pieces without going through the ABS and the Sobral brothers are perfect examples of this. My cell phone photos can not do these knives justice but everything they brought was on point and exceeded any expectations I had before handling them.



That was just a small sample of all of the amazing custom pieces at Blade. If you enjoyed the fixed blades, I would like to give a special shout out to my friend Joe Paranee. Joe is the person who got me into fixed blades and he puts together some amazing collaboration projects and always spotlights incredible makers and knives on his youtube channel. I cannot recommend his channel enough to anyone who is even remotely interested in custom fixed blades.

Joe Paranee's YouTube Channel.

3 comments:

  1. Not a knife insider, so I'm wondering what you meant when you said the 'hallmark of any knife show' comment? Is it that there's always a bunch of knives available on Saturday afternoons (good to know), or was it more of a comment about that particular knife maker? Thanks!

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  2. Ah, thanks Tony. I'm definitely out of the loop 😀

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