Category Archives: Advice

Pradel versus the world — The gentle Sheeple’s choice.

 

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When the holidays come, you are confronted to other members of your family, mostly sheeples, who will open huge eyes should you wave that K2 from your pocket to slice the turkey. That said, lets see what those sheeples bring to the table.

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Oh! This is the kind of slipjoint elderlies are still carrying nowadays: a Pradel. This one is a fishtail bakelite carbon steel pocket knife still used for getting everything you can think of done. Let say this is Tim Leatherman main inspiration and as you can guess: this is a tool, not a weapon. It can be used as a screwdriver and is clean sometimes… let say it is wiped mostly because it could rust.

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Like the Chaparral, this is a full flat ground blade. It’s a real razor blade or should we say it ‘used to be’ a real one, because this baby was dull as a knee when I got it. Fortunately the unknown carbon steel percentage enabled an easy shift back to decent sharpness.

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The blade ‘was’ perfectly centered… a long time ago but, as you can see, the knife is an old timer still not decommissioned by its owner.  Duty, that day, was to pick the potatoes to check if they were cooked and get them out of the hot water; who needs tactical flipper for that matter ?

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The Pradel is a knife used to cut the french bread known as “baguette”, to remove stones stuck under a boot’s sole, to open envelopes and more generally all the chores which would be better suited to a more appropriate tool, like stripping wire, cutting tarp, scraping paint, probing, forcing, twisting, cutting over and over again, but… ending up being accomplished with Pradel; doing it all just beacause it’s at immediate reach.

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No safety net, no lock, no guard, no clip, this is a tool for all dirty jobs and also takes its place in the kitchen and on the table: apples, potatoes, bottle necks, sink’s holes, flowers…

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My Sliverax looks at it with its envious hole: how can such a simple knife live so many adventures? Nothing is reliable in this design but the will of her owner to keep going.
Where the Chaparral shows exquisite working mecanism and engineering and no play either vertical or horizontal, the little battered Pradel is still going strong, never defeated with all her battle scars otherwise it would have broken.
Now when it is used for harder chores, it’s held directly by the blade; the handle working as a folding sheath. This is uncommon; even for the Roman design folding knives two thousand years ago.

So what do I take back from the encounter between a modern folder and the Pradel ?
First and foremost we should use our knives, thick tactical toys or slim razors alike.
Second a locking blade is luxury and because it’s viewed to be immediately oriented towards some fighting realm… sheeples are allergic to it which is a shame as a locking blade is a great security for our fingers.

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Eventually people who are still dreaming of knives as weapons are fooling themselves and give bad publicity by not using them for the most humble chores. Knives are tools to help, not ninja’s toys with “rings” and “skulls”, symbols of death and tragedy.
Real EDC knives have got battle scars and are humble. I will always respect a battered tool which wears the patina of years on its blade and handle because the true battle of a tactical folder is in its everyday chores not in the murdering fantaisies of childish dreamers that give knives a really bad name tainted with human blood. Sometimes I really understand sheeples…

 

edited by Pascal Jaffré 29 dec 2017

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Knives for Self Defense — Is it a good idea ?

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Some knives are marketed on self defense purpose but self defense is not a current situation in the use of a knife. Before you get yourself in a situation where your life is at stake, there is a lot of extraordinary thresholds you have already crossed where your personal knife was not part of the equation.
It’s not the famous Sandbar Duel anymore and we are not, any of us, Jim Bowie’s heirs.
Finding yourself facing dangerous people with guns is not a good situation for “knife self defense”. As you know: “never bring a knife to a gunfight”.
Finding yourself assaulted by someone unarmed, is not a good situation for drawing a blade, especially in front of witnesses. Your lethal response is much too high.

When coud be the knife a good equalizer ? And in what situation ?
Against many opponents, drawing a blade can make you win some times but then your aggressors will adjust their ways to attack you, like throwing chairs and miscellaneous missiles for example.

Also, knife wounds are not painful, especially if the blade is razor sharp: you don’t feel the cuts or the stabs. A furious or drugged opponent won’t feel anything and will continue to attack and even bleed on you…

An opponent in a dark alley draws a knife  on you? Are you ready for a duel “mano a mano” ? Do you think the knife in your hand would be the best way to get away without being wounded yourself ?
Knives are part of the dirty fighting arts; if used as a weapons they are for attack – not defense..

wp-image-258869882(Bud Nealy’s knives were sold as “fast response defense knives”. Here a Peshkab near a Spyderco Mantra 2 for scale purposes.)

It’s like a piano string, the famous “wetworks” used in the commando. Warfare knives are made to kill silently. They can be good stealth weapons in the hands of specially trained soldiers but as a “defense” tool, they are much better equipment like…

The good old hiking staff, a walking stick or the humble cane.
In France, when swords were forbidden, cane fencing developed as a way to protect oneself against knives and for the record common used and carried knives were slipjoints.
After some training, rods, staffs, canes and even solid umbrellas can be used for parrying and inflicting pain should you be in need.

Before to get yourself in dangerous situations where self-defense can be useful, there are certainly other things to be honed than a knife’s edge: your awareness. This is the most important skill. Check your surroundings: always. Being immerse in music under your headphones won’t help. You need your ears and your eyes. Avoiding dangerous areas and avoiding people who makes your instinct react; so many ways to avoid a real self-defense situation. Don’t fall asleep in the subway!
Professionals who get themselves in that kind of situation will not count on their blade as their main self-defense tool. They have telescopic rods, electrical weapons, mace, even flat suitcases they carry are in fact used to “protect” as a shield. Remember: a knife will not protect you; it can arm the opponent. There are no parrying methods with a knife. Also a knife does not have any reach. It’s a close quarter combat weapon. Even a kick has got more reach than a lunge made with a knife in one’s hand. Agreed it’s not the case with a sword or a rapier, or a spear or a staff…

Now you can always learn from those various technics of using a knife as a weapon. It’s like fencing or iaido, it’s always good to learn fighting skills with all tools and the knife is one of the oldest tools used in combat. It helps you to understand a culture. It helps you also to understand the threats and the body language and the stance and the balance. You will learn that from boxing too; footwork and mobility are the first things to master…. “fly like butterfly”. Learning how to fight can also help you to learn how to carry out first aid if someone gets hurt. Knowledge is always good and the more you will learn about knife fighting the less you will dream about using it in a real self-defense situations even though dreams fuel good marketing.

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(Edited by Pascal Jaffre)

SLIVERAX — ELEGANT DREAMED ENGINEERED KNIFE – ACT II: Convexing.

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Many times, people asked me how I was honing my knives to my taste.
I love thin edges and I love edges which can be maintain by stropping on leather.
For that any sharp angle but the edge itself need to removed.

So my first step on the Sliverax full flat ground blade is to remove the shoulder on the secondary bevel. For that I use Fallkniven FB04 diamonds or Spyderco Double Stuff II.

As I don’t want recreate two other angles, I do it free hand creating a gentle natural convexed medium between the grind and the edge.

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Soo some dark dust of removed metal appears. The edge of the blade is untouched as after some initial testing I do trust it.

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I need that convexed edge on the belly of my blade, I don’t minde about the tip and the choil which are not where I do apply the most force to push cut through wood for example. It takes 30 minutes to get where I want without to make a mess by scratching the blade finish. It means each pass on the diamond is check with my finger before, sto be certain to focus on that edge shoulder. To obtuse it will scratch the edge and to acute it would scratch the blade finish. So it takes time to be certain for each stroke.

Luckily the manufacturing lines on the blade exactly follow my pass and some miss strokes were not visible.  It takes around 500 passes on each side on S30V.
Then I switch to white ceramic directly.

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White ceramic brings some mirror polish on the convexed edge and also hone it to razor.
Here I can go much faster as I won’t ruin my blade if I’m clumsy. White ceramic are very forgiving…
Soon I got a very nice mirror on both side and I can go to leather.

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I use a century old barber accessories I have found in a garage sale in Italy. With some white compound, it has honed my blade for 15 years.
Time to test the blade on a chesnut road.
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The thinner edge goes much more deeper and with more control and more ease.
Eventually after playing with the knife for 5 minutes on various material, I inspect the edge and there is no chipping or rolling.
It takes me around 45 minutes.
That’s how I proceed to get an edge which suits my need. 🙂
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Bushcrafters and Whittling: when the true Scandi grinds stand their ground.

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As I have found, a Scandi grind blade is not the easiest to be honed to your desire especially with modern powder metallurgy steels but once obtained it is a pleasure for the whittler. With that in mind I have bought two Mora Knives: a Morakniv Pro-C and a Bushcraft Survival Knife both in Carbon Steel and rubber handle. My idea was to get easily razor sharp scandi edges like I was able to obtain on the BuscraftUK from Spyderco.

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On the picture above only 3 of the knives are true scandis with no micro bevels.

I have been able to compared how Scandi behave with plastic bottles and also on wood . In fact, in my own experience, Scandi edge bites with some kind of hunger the cellulose fibers and soon also acts as a wedge which makes all the cuts strong and controlled. It doesn’t go as deep as a thin convexed full flat ground blade but the wooden chips produced are thicks. It’s a pleasure to use a Scandi ground knife on wood, there is precision in the cuts which can be shallow or radical (with the wedge effect).

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The “Zero Ground” Nilakka being an exception as it combines the strong cuts of the Scandi with the deep push cuts of the full flat ground blades. Which makes it voracious on wood and explain the 5mm stock of the Nilakka blade.

On the two Mora Kniv, the cheaper was the sharper. The Pro-C bites immediately when the Mora BSK was dull. I have put that on the fact there is some kind of coating and no secondary edge. So, my first move has been to remove that coating.

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The secondary edge put flat on a stone, the coating was removed steadily and the edge was quick able to shave hairs then the Mora BSK was able to bite in wood and was a pleasure to hold and work with.
Both Mora are much lighter than my Spyderco Bushcrafters as they are not full tang. as i don’t plan to do any batoning with them, it is not an issue. Both Mora are true Scandis like my Spyderco Wolfspyder and Buscrafters.
It’s not always the case, even in Norway.

Normally Norwegian knives looks like that:
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Scandi knives are a pleasure to cut and drill with as the thickness of the blade runs to almost the point of the blade, making a very strong tip.

But now you can also buy a Korean Puukko from Hyundai.

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It will cost you around 40 Krons, which is around 4 Euros, 5 dollars…
But here you can see. It’s not a scandi but a thick saber grind with a visible micro bevel.

It means that even Scandinavian countries are not protected against pure cutlery heresy. It also means that Viking don’t mind to buy crappy tools for half the price of a Mora.

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Why ? Because true scandi means a good steel and a good heat treatment to stand the thin geometry. It’s a century old design adapted to people building everything from wood: home, tools, furnitures… A true scandi edge angle is acute enough to be reliable and sharp.
Quoting “Patriot Dan” on the blade forums:
“There isn’t one angle really but 22 degree inclusive (11 per side) is a typical swedish midway edge angle for a scandi grind. The angle can be anything from 15 – 25 depending on use. (This is with the steels and the heat treat typical for those knives, some steels may not be optimal for such acute edge angles).The swedish and Norwegian grinds/edges are more obtuse than their Finnish counterparts. I believe the english bushcraft (woodlore being the most famous) knives that sport a scandi grind are based on swedish grinds but that’s just because they’re very similar.”

So true Scandi are NOT saber grind on disguise and NOT convexed. You need to put the bevel on the stone to keep them “true” hence my work of patience on the Nilakka, restoring her edge to zero grind after some convexing.

I haven’t made that kind of mistake on my Wolfspyder and S30V have proven to be reliable with zero chipping making that little folder a pure joy to use on wood.

More to come soon as the tests will take some time.

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Getting my S30V Nilakka back to Zero Grind.

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As you can notice, my Nilakka was developping a gentle convexing ground since JD had the patience to give a decent edge to it two years ago.
But since, JD has sent me another video showing how tough well heat treated S30V can be and knowing how forgiving my Nilakka and my Wolfspyder were after sharpening beyond factory edge… I have decided to put the blade flat on on diamonds and grind it until the convex bevel disappearance. In fact I was very encouraged with my various experience with that Wolfspyder.  S30V heat treated by Spyderco is now back as a friendly steel in my book.

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So for one hour I have work on that using a new Double Stuff 2 which I have discovered thanks to Howard Korn from the Knifecenter who gently add it in my last parcel.
The new diamond surface is quite abbrasive and soon the blade was a mess.
But continuing in the same way made the scratches all going in one direction and both side of the Nilakka blade soon were acceptable in term of esthetics.

20171109_153932-011005452034.jpeg There is a lot of matter to remove and by hand, it takes some time.
But eventually I was able to get some sharpness back with not pressure on the edge while sharpening but an even pressure on all the side of the blade.

After all the Nilakka was made that way, the angle of the thicked stock blade was designed by Pekka Tuominen to be a zero ground edge, with no bevel.

There is still a micro bevel but I’m almost there.
My idea for future refreshing of the Nilakka edge it to do like with my Wolfspyder: like scandi sharpening shown in Ray Mears video…. only using the flat of the blade as guide.

For now I got a razor able to make hairs jumping and been harvested with only one caress.

But also it can stand whittling in hard wood: no chipping or edge warping.
More to come very soon, as I will erase definitvely that microbevel, but I need more time…
“I need more time to make good on the promises I made to the world
When the world was moving slower…” Justin Sullivan.

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Spyderco Manix Blue Sprint C101GBL2 — Seven Years of EDC, New Homemade Caged Ball.

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My wife’s cousin used his Manix 2 since I have given it to him seven years.
The knife is his EDC both at his work and at home.
Every year I sharp it for him and I have noticed that the knife looks like new after all those services.
But last week the caged protecting the ball lock has broken (The hardened steel ball bearing encased in a polymer cage).
Thanks to his work, where he works as modeling mold, he was able to measure the broken part and make a new one in resin. He choosed blue resin for obvious reason.
He’s planning now to make it in aluminium.

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52100 Paramilitary 2 by the ocean.

So here I’m in Southern Bretagne near Lorient, city of Eric Tabarly with my Paramillie Exclusive Run in 52100 Ball Bearing Steel.
For those who don’t know Sal is a fan, this is why Eric is named Eric. 🙂

The moisture and salt are present and cars got a serious tendacy to rust just by being parked outdoor.

The knife has been used on food and for all the chores around another anniversary preparations. The Patina is a real surface protector as no pit or coloration has been noticed during that 4 days week end.

It eventually has been used to pop the remaining balloons after the party.
No oil needed. The edge did not rust. It was used daily. Very happy with that knife.
This is a very robust folder, with a strong blade.
It was still shaving hairs after 4 days of mild but constant uses. I did not process a lot of cardboard for example, but a lot of meat ! Duck for the matter.

The 52100 makes a beautiful blade with its mirror convexed edge. It was noticed.