Posts Tagged ‘Saw’

Trading Blade Overkill…

Monday, October 12th, 2009

When I was but a wee little balrog, I remember seeing a rather unique little multi-tool folding knife. This one wasn’t like any other multi-tool i had ever seen before because it had… a SPOON! *gasp*… Yep. It had a fork too… And a can opener and a corkscrew… a rather interesting little tool. Looked a little like this:

Hobo style folding knife with fork, knife, spoon, can opener

Hobo style folding knife with fork, knife, spoon, can opener

Except the one I saw had antler scales and a leather sheath… At the time I could remember thinking… “You know, that is an interesting idea… I can use a knife like a fork, but I’d be hard pressed to use a blade like a spoon…” But it never ceases to amaze me how people manage to come up with little ways to ease outdoor living.

But there is, in this balrogs humble opinion, such a thing as going too far with this. And it all starts innocuously enough…

Sportsman's Blade Trader

Sportsman's Blade Trader

This is the Sportsmans Blade Trader, by Kershaw knives. As you can probably tell, this is no ordinary knife. You might be looking at the pic going… “Well what the heck is going on? Them blades don’t got no handles on ’em!!” And you’d be right. They don’t. Because they all share a single handle. That black one on the left.

Do you see what they did there? They got all smart on us. See, they put a keyed socket in the base of each blade, and in the handle there is a little key block attached to the tang, that you attach the blade to, and then there’s a cover that sorta folds tightly over the whole thing to keep it all in place.

As ideas go, this isn’t necessarily a bad one.ย  I’ve played with knives like these a bit, and the lock up is pretty solid. They don’t budge, and are surprisingly strong… At first. over time, however, the blades tend to wear a little bit, there’s a little play, the sleeve doesn’t close all that tightly any more, and well… It’s all down hill from there.

However their choice of blades here is good. A good straight blade, for light cutting, and a saw blade for wood cutting. Personally, this thing seems a little small to be a good general purpose saw, but then again, that isn’t what this was designed for. It’s more of a convenience tool, intended to allow you to do two things with one tool. Not too bad, as things go… But they can get much, much worse…

Allow me to present “Worse”:

Camp Tool Trader

Camp Tool Trader

This here is the Camp Tool Trader. Also by Kershaw. Yeah… Same idea as before, with the blade swapping switcheroo dealio and whatnot, except taken to a whole new level… It’s the Pampered Chef… For the outdoors!! With this here kit, you can fry yourself some eggs, over easy, with some bacon on the side. Or cook a gourmet 5 course steak and potatoes dinner…

OK so I’m exaggerating a bit. This isn’t that bad. It’s just not really an “outdoors-man” kit. This is for those of you who like the occasional weekend RV getaway, and don’t want to bring a full complement of barbecue utensils. Clearly, if you were one a weekend hike, you might choose something a little less… Big.

But that’s just my opinion. If space is not an issue, and you aren’t looking for long term daily use out of things like this, they are pretty good. But me personally, I’d just throw a full size spatula, tongs and barbecue fork,ย  along with the brats, burgers andย  the side of beef I plan to barbecue, into my trunk… ๐Ÿ™‚

Camp Tool Trader by Kershaw Knives – [eBladeStore]

Sportsman’s Blade Trader by Kershaw Knives – [eBladeStore]

Hobo Style Folding knife, with fork spoon and can opener – [Advanced Mart]

A primitive knife for the caveman in all of us…

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

SOG has built a reputation for themselves in the knife industry, and for good reason. They make a lot of good knives. They are also one of the many knife companies that subscribe to the idea of “tacticool” knife design. Meaning, they don’t just focus on making good tactical knives, but that they also try to give them some sex appeal too.

In general I cannot really complain about this way of thinking. Personally, I grade all of my blades on both functionality and aesthetics. I like knives that not only work well, but look cool. And being dead sexeh, or simply evil looking, certainly doesn’t hurt their grade in my book. ๐Ÿ˜€

However some folks occasionally tend to take it just a little bit too far…

SOG Fusion Jungle Primitive

SOG Fusion Jungle Primitive

Folks, meet Bob. Say hi Bob! My friend Bob here, is a SOG Fusion Jungle Primitive. “Wassat?” you say? Well, he’s a cave man. Or a cave knife. Actually a Cro-Magnon or prehistoric modern knife, to be exact. Yep. Prolly ought to be in a museum. With all the other primitive knives. But here he is. Looking us right in the eye, and trying to establish alpha knife dominance over the lowly pocket knives we all happen to be carrying. A modern day barbarian. Heh.

LOL OK, yes, perhaps I’m being a little mean. But it’s all in the name of a little fun. I don’t really mean anything by it. ๐Ÿ™‚ The SOG jungle primitive is not actually a bad knife. In fact I think that, apart from one or two features that are minor pet peeves, it’s actually a great knife. I think they just kinda took the tacticool thinking to a bit of a new level. But not actually in an entirely bad way either.

Lets start with the kraton grip, which should be fairly grippy, even in adverse conditions. SOG went one better by molding an artistic faux knurling to the pattern of the kraton grip, (which they are calling a “Digi-Grip”… go figure)ย  that gets irregular at the top and bottom. Nice touch actually. The shape of the grip is also very nice, with a decent guard at the top, and ridges at the bottom and top of the inside curves to help increase traction. The pommel, protruding from the grip of this full tang blade has been given a small saw tooth finish. This, I am on the fence about, for reasons I’ll get to later.

The blade on the Jungle Primitive just drips with that second kind of cool (aka Tacticool). The blade is a large 9.5 in clip point, with lots of belly, a good combination for a survival blade. Just above the grip, the first inch and a half of the blade sports a serrated edge. Just above the grip, on the spine, we have a thumb recess with the same saw tooth pattern used on the pommel. Above that, a cute little divot for who knows what. And above that, we have my main pet peeve; a section of rearward facing saw teeth. Lots more on those later.

Obviously, this knife was designed with optimal grip for both gloved and bare handed users in mind. The size and the shape of the little saw teeth both on the thumb section on the spine, and on the pommel pretty much make that fairly clear. However I tend to think the design is perhaps biased a little too much towards the gloved users. The serrations seem overly large, like they would actually become tiresome against a bare thumb over long periods of use.

But that could just be me being a wuss. The other thing, is that the same pattern on the pommel makes sense if the knife is going to be used in a reverse “ice pick” grip, with the thumb over the pommel. Again, the saw teeth would provide added purchase for your gloved thumb, but would probably become very irritating against a bare thumb. Another concern would be that because a common use for the pommel is as a hammer, and there are some things that you might end up splitting instead of hammering, because those teeth would concentrate the force of each blow into a few very small points instead ofย  across the whole pommel.

Now as you can probably imagine, this is by no means a small knife. It is basically a knife modeled on the large, single knife only, survival role. As I’ve said in other posts, going this route is far from ideal, the ideal would be to carry a much larger heavy knife (a camp axe or a machete), and at least one small knife. However if you have to do it with just one, this would definitely fit the bill.

But now, if you all don’t mind, I’d like to vent about my one major pet peeve with this design: THOSE BLASTED SAW TEETH ON THE SPINE!!

The most hackle raising feature of this otherwise very cool knife was how the spine saw was implemented. Rather than put an actual saw blade on the spine, the folks at SOG opted for the much more difficult “dino tooth” option. They went back in time, grabbed some hapless velociraptor, performed an X-Men, Wolverine-style dental job to replace all of its teeth with steel, then pulled it’s newly transformed steel teeth out and stuck them on the back of this knife.

No. Really. That’s what they did. What? Don’t beleive me?

Ok, fine. Maybe they didn’t. But it certainly looks like it. Which wouldn’t be so bad, except that a velociraptors teeth are designed to help them catch and eat live prey. Not for SAWING WOOD. Do any of these knife makers actually ever look at a real wood saw any more? Seriously? Have you ever seen teeth like these on a wood saw? A hand saw? A folding wood saw? Branch cutting saw? Anyone? Why is it so hard for knife makers to get that oh, so simple little detail right?

I mean I can understand the cool of having the spine of your knife look like a hungry velociraptors jaw, but this knife is supposed to be a survival tool FIRST, and cool tool SECOND. Weapon/tool aesthetics aren’t called the SECOND kind of cool for nothing. Pro tip folks: Always get your basic design fully functional before you go designing in the sexy. OK?ย  Aaaaand… I’m done. End rant.

OK. To be fair, the knife is still quite evil. In a jungle primitive kind of way. My kind of aesthetic. And it will do most everything you might want it to do. Some things (such as sawing through wood) will require a little more effort than others. But it will get the job done. Just remember that if you are looking for a knife for survival purposes.

The way I see it, there’s the tool, and then there’s the cool. Sometimes you can have both the tool and the cool. Sometimes the cool overwhelms the tool. Me personally, especially for survival use, I prefer the tool to pwn the cool. Because if you are in a survival situation, the cool ain’t gonna get you through. It will be all about the tool… ๐Ÿ™‚

Now say that 20 times fast. ๐Ÿ˜€

SOG Fusion Jungle Primitive – [eBladeStore]

The devil’s in the details…

Monday, July 27th, 2009

In a couple of previous posts I talked a little about what makes an ideal survival knife. I had actually planned a future post to treat the topic in a little further detail. However I recently ran into a good example of an almost perfect survival machete that I thought warranted a little post.

And I say *almost* perfect because, while it ostensibly meets the requirements of what I consider ideal in a large survival blade in a multi blade set, it falls short in one single area, a small failing, that by my estimates, rendered it almost 50% less effective than if it had been properly designed. Yeah. Small flaw, big problems. This is the tool in question:

The Ultimate Survival Machete

The Ultimate Survival Machete

This is the Ultimate Survival Machete. I may have mentioned in a previous post that in my opinion the ideal survival kit would actually include multiple blades, with a minimum of two, not one survival knife, which is a misconception that many people seem to have. The singe blade solution is a compromise for if you have absolutely have to carry only one blade.

However in my opinion the ideal solution includes at least two knives. One small blade for fine work, skinning, whittling, carving and what not, and one large, heavy blade, like a bowie, axe or a machete, for heavy work, such as chopping, log splitting, cutting down trees, and other heavy camp work. But I digress.

This so called “Ultimate Survival Machete” actually does do it’s name some justice, though possesses a basic flaw, which we will get into shortly. But besides that, I find the basic design concept of this machete would actually make for an ideal large camp knife. On the front edge, like most other machetes, you have a large, strong heavy, full tang blade that would make short work of heavy chopping chores.ย  But unlike most other machetes, this one also has a rather effective looking saw tooth spine.

Now this is something I have not talked a whole lot about, but it bears mentioning. A properly designed sawtooth spine is extremely useful on a single, multipurpose survival knife. The saw simply makes it much easier to cut through medium to heavy pieces of wood, with surprisingly little effort, especially compared to the energy required to chop the same saplings and branches down with a medium camp axe. This is important in a survival setting. Granted, when it comes to chopping down large trees and such, the axe is a better bet, however a heavy machete is a pretty close second.

So in my mind, this design, a machete with a saw toothed spine, assuming the saw teeth are properly designed, is a near perfect combination of features that could easily replace an axe. And as an added bonus on this machete, you actually have a somewhat decent point, perhaps not an ideal design for thrusting, but one which would allow it to be used as a defensive weapon whose full length could be used to keep large animals and whatnot at bay. Add to that the full finger guard, and the lanyard, and you have a near perfect survival machete design.

BUT now we come to the fly (or in this case the dung beetle) in the proverbial ointment. In their great zeal to create the ultimate survival machete, the designers of the tool forgot one little thing. Kudos to anyone who can guess what I’m about to demerit this survival machete on… Go on. Give it a shot. I’ll wait…

No clue? OK, I’ll give you a hint: Full finger guards rarely work as well backwards. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Ultimate Survival Machete - Sheath

The Ultimate Survival Machete - Sheath

Bingo! That’s it. There is a full finger guard. And then there is a saw tooth spine.ย  And try as you might, nary the twain shall work! ๐Ÿ˜€ As you can see from the pic, that full finger guard would work great when the machete was being used for chopping. However what happens when you want to use the spine for sawing? You have to flip the machete upside down don’t you?! And then what happens to the guard…? DOH!!

Yeah… I bet you can just feel the calluses forming as you picture it in your mind. Sawing holding onto the grip upside down, with that full finger guard running over the back of your hand, or across your thumb, would be awkward, and get very, very, uncomfortable, because you would be hard pressed to actually get the blade into a 90 degree angle with whatever it is you are trying to saw into.

You could grip the guard instead, but then you’d be holding a very small grip, above the centerline of the saw blade, which wouldn’t be any better. Basically, by adding that full sized finger guard, they have rendered the saw toothed spine almost unusable. BUMMER!!!

Now to be honest, there’s an easy fix. Grab a hacksaw, and lop off the guard flush with the top and bottom of the grip, maybe leave a small, unobtrusive stubby guard instead, and sand it down to match the contoured grip. Voila! This would get you the perfect survival machete advertised.

However I did want to illustrate how important little things can become when they are not fully checked for correct ergonomics across the entire range of possible uses the tool is designed for. Clearly, in this case, either the saw tooth spine was added as an after thought, or the ergonomics of this feature was never really thought about during the design stage.

I already have a small camp hatchet in my camp kit. But this machete would still definitely make it into that, or my bug out bag. After making the aforementioned modification, of course. And I’d probably ditch the hatchet if I had to choose between them. But then again I grew up using machetes for everything from field work, to camping, to a few other out-of-left-field things, so I might be a little biased… ๐Ÿ˜€

The Ultimate Survival Machete – [The Happy Ninja]

An Automatic Knife on Steroids…

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

A couple of months back I encountered a very interesting automatic, spring loaded, blade design from the movie SAW. Now I have never seen SAW, or any of it’s sequels, so I hadn’t been privy to the various supposedly gruesome weapons that the movies featured, but I will say, I might go see all of them, just to see weapons like this in action:

Saw Blade Gauntlet
[view full size]

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not a big fan of people being killed. Especially not in the purportedly gruesome ways that the movie depicts. Though from what I have read, the series illustrate a complex subtext about the raw, cold hearted drive of pain and vengeance, humanity, self sacrifice and survival. As a student of the human psyche, that might be one of the main reasons I might go and see this film. To be honest, that’s not entirely true. I really just want to see the weapons… ๐Ÿ˜› But, as usual, I digress.

We are here today because I am a huge fan of blade aesthetics and mechanics. And this blade has a healthy portion of both. I was very impressed both by the aesthetics of the blade, as well as the with the amount of work that went into the mechanical aspects of it’s construction. It incorporates a lot of ideas I have kicked about in my head for many, many years, as well as a few I had not thought of.

Now the page I found this described it as a nonworking replica prop from the movie, but to anyone with a mechanical frame of mind can see how this blade was designed to operate, and boy is it a thing of beauty. Of course, given that this was from a hollywood movie, the fabricators who originally came up with the design had the funds to build whatever they wanted, and it shows in the way it is constructed.

There are a lot of parts and fabrication that went into this design that your average garage fabricator might find difficult to duplicate unless they are excellent welders and machinists. For instance look at the deployment mechanism. The little “spidey paddle” mechanism is affixed to the gauntlet via a custom fabricated pivot point welded to a flange on blade carrier bracket. a very nice job, with the paddle custom bent to fit the contours of the wearers wrist and hand.

Not that this mechanism is terribly complex or anything like that, but the rail delivery system is unique in the world of such weapons, and overall the fit, finish and attention to detail are superb. Much better than what most of us would be able to come up with in our garages. Not that we aren’t trying.

A good knife maker friend of mine, Sinza who is probably even more inspired by these kind of weapons than I am, has a site dedicated to his knives, and a forum dedicated to the construction of weapons like these. If you fancy a peek at what can be done with common household fixtures and parts from home depot, mosey on down to the forum for a gander. He’s got a pretty cool collection automatics to boot.

Sadly, the SAW blade gauntlet got pulled from the shelves almost as soon as it was made available. Still don’t know for sure why, but my guess would be reasons related to either copyright issues or irrational fears. But in any case, things like these, Wolverines claws, glaives, multi tools, combo weapons, all the unique and wonderful gadgets James Bond ever got from Q, etc., are things that have fueled my imagination for decades. So I’m always stoked to see something this cool, that isn’t just movie magic…

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