Search National Knives Blog

Saturday, July 30, 2011

One beautiful pocket knife, Made in the USA

W.R. Case & Sons is an iconic American manufacturing company.  In 1889, four brothers started making and selling knives, I doubt that they knew at that time how famous their brand of knives would become.  With over 19,000 members, W.R. Case & Sons boasts the largest knife collector communities in the world.  This should speak volumes of the time and effort Case puts into the development, manufacturing and quality control of their product lines. 

Case occasionally retires a particular model and refines them and then, in time, brings them back to the market even better than before.  One particular model is the Case Cheetah.  This model was taken out of production 3 years ago and reintroduced in 2011.  The model shown below features a stunning Raindrop Damascus pattern blade and India Stag Handle and nickel silver bolsters.

Case Cheetah, 3-1/4" Raindrop Damascus Blade, India Stag Handle Model 6087
This is a great knife for a gift for a friend, a family member or to treat yourself with a beautiful knife made in the United States.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

VG-10 stainless steel used in knife blade.

Knife blades made of VG-10 stainless steel, means very little to many of us and the very mention of VG-10 or any other type of stainless steel type to the average consumer can cause confusion and misunderstanding, essentially you might as well be speaking a foreign language all together.   Compare it to talking car engines with someone who just wants he car to get them to point A to point B safely and reliably.  They don't want to know about the engine, or they will pretend to understand but in reality have no clue what you just said or what it meant.  Same goes for types of steel, except that there are even fewer people that understand, even the basics, of the different types of steels used in knife manufacturing. 

VG-10 stainless steel is produced by Japanese steelmaker Takefu Special Steel CO., LTD and is considered a high carbon stainless steel.  VG-10 contains 1.0% carbon, which according to the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) qualifies it as a high carbon steel and it contains 15% Chromium meeting the minimum AISI standards of 10% to qualify VG-10 as a stainless steel. 

VG-10 is often clad with 400 series stainless steel in such a way as to produce a Damascus appearance on knives as seen on the Mcusta folding knife, model 13D as seen below.
Not only is VG-10 common in folding cutlery, many people have had experience with it in the kitchen, with the introduction of the Al Mar Ultra Chef line and Kai's Shun line.

VG-10 is best known for it's edge retention, being a harder steel often HRc of >60, it will retain a sharper edge for a longer period of time than a softer steel.  VG-10 not only stays sharper longer, when sharpened it can be honed to an incredibly sharp edge.  It also offers great corrosion resistance and is a relatively tough steel being a more resistant to tip breakage and edge chipping which can and does occur with harder steels.

The next time you purchase a knife, consider a knife blade made of VG-10 stainless steel.  A great introduction to higher end knife steels and a world away from to dime store folders and gas station specials. 

Take a look at the Spyderco Centofante III, sweet knife for only $53.99 + shipping.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Beautiful in blue, Spyderco Sage 3 is one sweet knife!

Spyderco Sage 3
Spyderco Sage 3, 3" Plain Stainless Blade, Blue G-10 Handle C123GPBL
It is not uncommon for Spyderco to introduce a model that isn't eye catching and how better to catch one's eye than to slap a blue G-10 handle on it?  Spyderco included a 3" (76 mm) blade made from Crucible Industries CPM-S30V stainless steel, which is a powdered steel that offers a consistent grain pattern, great edge retention and corrosion resistance.  A great blade and a grippy handle on a folding knife only means so much if the blade doesn't stay open in a secure manner, so Spyderco added a Bolt Action Lock invented by the late Blackie Collins

For those that are unfamiliar with G-10, it is essentially a laminate of fiberglass and epoxy resin, compressed and put into an oven.  G-10 can withstand most types of chemicals and elemental exposures and makes for an excellent knife handle material that allows the user a great textured surface that provides for a great grip!

Spyderco will donate approximately 5% of sales of the their Sage series knives to the National Alzheimer's Association Denver, Colorado Chapter (Spyderco is based in Golden, Colorado).  For many of us, myself included, we have witnessed our loved ones suffer with Alzheimer's Disease and the toll it takes on a person.  If you are interested in purchasing a new knife, consider one of the Sage Series (there is a Sage 1, and a Sage 2), you will end up with a great knife, that is not only functional, attractive (as far as knive go), but you also help support finding a cure!


Monday, July 18, 2011

Collaborations or conspiracies, a love story

When purchasing a knife, for some of us we look at the brand name first, for some of us the price will help determine our purchase, for some of us it will be the design of the knife and for most of us the functionality and how we plan on using, or not using the knife will be a key factor.  Then there are those of us that have an obsession and sometimes buy knives that we don't need, don't have a use for, can't afford and will put us on the brink of bankruptcy because we won't buy just one, but several of the same knife.  What drives us to have this "horrible" obsessive compulsive disorder?  Why must we be the first kid on the block to have the latest model, you know, to keep up "with the Jones?"  I think it's a conspiracy! 

Knife manufacturers, for years, have known that even though they produce a product that only in the most extreme cases would actually need to be replaced in a average persons lifetime, they can produce a new design, use a new material or subliminally suggest that you need a new knife and will get the sales.  Realistically, we don't need a new knife, the knife that we carry is fine, might need a bit of sharpening, but still does the job that we required of it when we purchased it.  Of course, there are those of us that have a habit of misplacing stuff, knives included and/or loaning our material possessions to neighbors, friends, and/or relatives and believe that we are going to get that stuff back, but know deep down that we will never see it again.  When we don't see it again and after several phone calls, personal visits and maybe a strong verbal warning about the ramifications that will occur (but most likely won't) if that possession isn't returned in a timely manner, we give up and realize that all hope is lost and go buy a new one (whatever was loaned) or live without, knives included. 

It's a conspiracy I tell you!  Manufacturers move these neighbors in next door to you or they convince you that the house/apartment that is vacant and in the vicinity of one of their "friendly neighbors that you just can't say no to" is the perfect place for you, knowing full well that you will lend the aforementioned neighbor your possessions. 

Had enough yet?  Me too!  I am not a conspiracy theorist by nature.  I don't wear tin foil anything, my windows aren't painted black and my curtains are usually open during the day.  I walk around the neighborhood and make conversation with my neighbors and I don't dwell on the things that I read on the Internet and have accepted as the God given truth.  One thing I will admit to though...I like knives and believe that knife manufacturers do their best at designing and marketing what they are best at - making knives! 

Most every knife manufacturer and custom knife maker have their loyal followers that will buy anything and everything that manufacturer/knife maker has to offer and are willing to put a second mortgage on their home to do so.  To bring you the most innovative designs, sometimes these manufacturers and custom knife makers collaborate on a design.  Sometimes it is nothing more that using a patented design/part and paying royalties and other times it is a true collaboration where designers from the manufacturer and a custom knife maker will sit down together and dream up something they hope they will be able to convince the masses to buy.

A manufacturer will often be the one that is charged with producing the new model and marketing it with a portion of the proceeds going to the custom knife maker.  On occasion, one or both of the manufacturer and the custom knife maker will donate all or part proceeds to a charitable cause which is just one of the ways they give back to the community that they market and sell their product to. 

Here is an example of a fixed blade collaboration between Spyderco and Ed Schempp.
Spyderco Schempp Rock Fixed Blade Knife FB20FPBK
Here is an example of a folding knife collaboration between Spyderco and Jens Anso
Spyderco Jens Anso Rock Lobster C126GPFG

As you see, the innovative designs above are eye catching and functional and worthy additions to your inventory, whether as users or as part of a collection.  You can find these and other great knives at so please stop by and take a look around and feel free to contact me at

(so where is the love story connection? - there really isn't any other than my love for God and my family)


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Get a grip! Metal as a knife handle material.

In my previous post, I spoke of the use of woods in the manufacturing of knives, specifically, knife handles.  In today's blog, I will focus more on the use of metals, advantages and disadvantages.  I won't cover ever advantage or disadvantage so if you feel that something is missing that is just too important to be left out, feel free to leave a comment.

Most metals can be used to manufacture knife handles but this doesn't mean that they would make good knife handles.  Some would be to costly to produce, but have been used such as gold and silver, others would be too soft and/or too heavy such as lead and others would be too dangerous such as uranium.  Most of the knives made with metal handles and metal components on a knife are made of stainless steel, aluminum, and/or titanium.

Stainless steel advantages include, but are not limited to, strength, corrosion resistance, the ease of manufacture, relatively low cost, can be etched and/or engraved in many cases and the ease of keeping it clean and protected.  In appearance, stainless steel is rather bland, in my opinion.  It provides a smooth transition from blade to handle if the blade is also made of stainless steel.  I like different textures and styles and unless the blade is a differing color and/or texture than the handle, I would opt for a different knife.

Below is an example of a knife with a stainless steel handle.

Byrd Pelican BY06PS

Aluminum offers a lighter weight material that stainless steel and shares similar advantages such as corrosion resistance, the ease of maintenance, the ability to etch and/or engrave the surface and it's relative low cost.  Aluminum is not as strong as stainless steel though, but through a process called anodization, aluminum can be offered in a variety of colors that are very durable in reference to color fading, scratching and normal wear and tear.

Below is an example of a knife with an aluminum handle.

Darrel Ralph Assisted Opening Gun Hammer

Titanium is the most expensive of the more commonly used metals.  It is difficult to manufacture and machine.  However, it offers a lightweight metal that is corrosion resistant, easy to maintain, and has high strength and durability. 

Below is an example of a knife with a half of the handle in titanium and the other have in black G-10 laminate.

Zero Tolerance (ZT Knives) Hinderer Folder 0551 Limited Edition

Leaving a metal handle smooth does have one primary disadvantage and that is grip.  In a hard use environment, you want the knife to stay in your hand, you don't want it to slip, slide, and/or fall all of which can result in serious physical injury.  In the last knife pictured above, the Zero Tolerance Hinderer Folder, the titanium backside of the knife is left smooth, but the front of the knife features a G-10 laminate surface as to offer the end user more "tooth" or grip to the knife handle to help prevent an accident, but also to get the task at hand done more efficiently. A good grip on the knife allows the user more control of the knife and how it's being used.

In future blogs, I will be writing about other types of knife handle materials.  Keep checking back and don't forget to visit my website -


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Get a grip! Wood as a knife handle material.

I would like to expand our knowledge of handle materials and their advantages and disadvantages. A knife handle is simply the part of a knife that was built with the specific purpose of being able to safely hold and use the knife it's attached to. In the beginning, the handle material was the part of the cutting tool that didn't cut you, not much as changed regarding the concept of the handle. However, the materials used and their purposes have changed.

I won't be covering all the different types of handle materials as just about anything that is relatively hard can be used. A shortened list of those materials would include, metal, wood, plastics, animal horns and more. I will cover some of the more basic materials of knives that National Knives has in stock and for sale or had in stock at some point.  This blog will focus on wood.

The first material I am going to address is wood. It's all around us and used virtually everywhere in just about everything, or so it seems anyways. Knife manufacturers don't simply rely on one type of wood to all their products. Different species of woods offer different textures, grains and either add or detract from the overall appearance of the knife. Wood can add to the cost of the knife or detract from it, depending on the type of wood used and how attractive it makes the knife when it is on the dealers shelves waiting to find a new home. A scarce wood that is plain in appearance and offers no usable advantages probably won't increase the value much, but probably wouldn't be used by a manufacturer to begin with. A scarce wood that offers visual appeal and/or usable advantages will not only add to the appearance of the knives but will usually add the the price of the knife too. Some of the more common wood types that are used in the manufacturer of knife handles are : Cocobolo, wood laminates (often dyed), Pakkawood, Rosewood, Oak and Sandalwood.
I would like to expand our knowledge of handle materials and their advantages and disadvantages. A knife handle is simply the part of a knife that was built with the specific purpose of being able to safely hold and use the knife it's attached to. In the beginning, the handle material was the part of the cutting tool that didn't cut you, not much as changed regarding the concept of the handle. However, the materials used and their purposes have changed.

The picture attached to this post features a Mcusta model 13D folding knife. Mcusta used ebony wood as the handle material with this knife. This particular model is finished smooth but has indents where the user can rest their fingers. I would not consider this knife a "hard use" knife, in other words, it would not be good for military, police, fire, EMS, survival applications. I would classify it more of a gentleman's knife and a great every day carry (EDC) knife and with it's Damascus style blade adding to the visual beauty, this would make a great special occasion folder.

Some woods are absolutely beautiful, but are difficult to keep stable so they won't split, crack or chip. One manufacturer recently used Spalted Maple, which is a heavy grained wood, as a handle material on a fixed blade knife that resulted in the manufacturer having to switch to a non-wood material and selling the defective knives at a discount. The knives were easy on the eyes with the beautiful heavy grained wood handle, unfortunately it just didn't work out for the manufacturer.

Please feel free to contact me at


Friday, July 8, 2011

You think you are tough? Try on some high carbon knife steel and let's see...

High carbon steels have a higher carbon content than stainless steels as implied by the name and according to the American Iron and Steel Institute, must contain more than 0.3% carbon to be classified as high carbon.  There are many varieties of high carbon steels, each with differing characteristics.  This blog will focus on one of the more popular high carbon steels - 1095.

The "10" in 1095 is a numerical designation assigned to carbon steels and the last two number refer to the amount of carbon, in this case 0.95%.  The numerical designation may lead you to believe that 1095 is going to carry 0.95% carbon, no more and no less, but that is not the case.  1095 can carry anywhere from 0.9% to 1.03% carbon depending on the manufacturer's or maker's requirements.

1095 can be "zone" heat treated, in other words, the edge of the knife blade can be hardened to a different Rockwell Hardness than the spine of the blade which will offer the end user a knife with great edge retention, keeping the blade sharper for a longer period of time and offer the end user a tough knife when the spine is left a bit less hard than the edge.

1095 may sound like it will make the "perfect" knife and for some, this is true, but for others that don't like maintaining their tools, 1095 steel and well as any other non stainless steel won't be ideal.  1095 is prone to rust so maintenance is mandatory and relatively simple.  Simply apply a thin coat of oil to the metal and reapply again whenever needed.  The type of oil you use to prevent rusting will depend on what you will use the knife for.  If food is a possibility, then using a motor oil, gun oil, 3 in 1 oil, etc, isn't the best idea and you should consider using a vegetable type oil or a  food grade mineral oil, which you should be able to find in your local drug store or a kitchen supply store (used for wood butcher blocks).  Some oils perform better than others and a bit of trial and error will lead to the best oil for your needs.

TOPS Knives uses 1095 high carbon steel in most of their lineup, like the Tom Brown Tracker (shown above).  The steel is hardened to Rockwell (HRc) 58.  TOPS Knives offers free lifetime sharpening for the original owner.  You can learn more about TOPS products at their website.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Knife news, facts and random commentary.: Beautiful day in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan (and...

Knife news, facts and random commentary.: Beautiful day in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan (and...: "As much as I like knives , I also enjoy beautiful, sunny days, but then again, who doesn't? As you may or may not know, I live in Sault Sai..."

Beautiful day in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan (and Ontario, too!)

As much as I like knives, I also enjoy beautiful, sunny days, but then again, who doesn't?  As you may or may not know, I live in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan (Sault is pronounced Soo).  The main industry here is tourism.  People come from all over to watch the freighters enter the Soo Locks and either raise or lower depending in which way they are going.

A freighter that is down bound, is a one that is coming from Lake Superior and going to Lake Huron or further, an up bound freighter is heading into Lake Superior.  The boats that enter the Soo Locks, will raise or lower 21 feet and the water is filled or emptied out of the Locks without any mechanical device (gravity does the work). 

The Soo Locks can handle some large ships.  The largest lock is the Poe Lock at 1200' x 110'.  The largest ship that the Soo Locks is required to handle is the Paul R. Tregurtha at 1013.5' x 105', this leaves little room for error with only 2.5' clearance on either side of ship.  The Tregurtha is considered a laker as it is too large to make it out to the ocean (too large for the locks in the St. Lawrence Seaway).

The Soo Locks visitor center is open to the public, but be warned, you do not want to carry pepper spray, firearms (even with CPL/CCW) or knives.  You are required to go through a checkpoint to enter into this area, but then you get to enjoy the use of the platforms which allow you a better view of the locks and the ships that pass through and you can also visit the Visitor Center where you can learn some of the history and mechanics of the locks.  Did you forget to leave your pepper spray in the car and don't want to go back and refuse to let the guards confiscate it?  No problem, head east to the other side of the Army Corp of Engineers building and there is a nice park there that allows you to see the freighters as they go by.

Take care,


Saturday, July 2, 2011

CPM-S30V stainless steel, not the popular kid at the party, but the one holding the party.

National Knives stocks a variety of different styles of knives, from folding pocket knives to kitchen knives.
These knives are manufactured with a wide variety of materials, with specific focus on the blade, they can be made with stone (obsidian), ceramic, steel and other materials and the end results (and usability) determine not just on what material is used, but how it was produced, the ingredients that were used and the manufacturers ability to treat/temper/grind/etc. that material into a functioning knife blade.

Knife steels are constantly evolving and getting upgrades to their performance levels.  In the higher end knives, CPM-S30V, a US made steel produced by Crucible Industries, S30V is a high performing powdered steel that features a very fine grain with the typical end results being good edge retention and good toughness that will help minimize edge chipping and tip breakage.  With that said, my every day carry (EDC) knife is currently a Spyderco Native with a S30V blade and I managed to chip the edge on it AND break the tip off, however, I was using the knife as a prying tool when the tip broke off, something that most knives are not meant to be used as.

S30V edge retention is significantly improved over still current knife industry standards steels like 440C and 154CM.  According to Crucible Industries website (link takes you to PDF Data Sheet), S30V outperforms both of these steels in edge retention tests and corrosion resistance. 

When a knife manufacturer receives a shipment of steel, the steel hasn't been heat treated yet.  Heat treating is important to knife steels as it allows the manufacturer control over how hard or soft the steel will be when the end user receives the knife.  A knife steel that is too hard, will be difficult to sharpen, but would stay sharp longer, the edge would chip easy and is essentially a brittle knife, good for slicing relatively soft objects.  A knife steel that is too soft would not stay sharp for very long, but would be easy to sharpen when needed.  Ideally, S30V would be hardened to HRC 58-61 (see above link for reference) and would provide a workable knife that is neither too hard nor too soft giving the end user a blade that will stay relatively sharp and resistant to chipping/breakage.

What makes a good knife steel is a subjective topic, not only among the end users, but amongst the manufacturers and custom knife makers too.  Most manufacturers use a variety of steels and are always testing and trying new steels so they can stay on the cutting edge (pun intended).  What's the best steel for you?  Ask yourself what you are going to be using it for and then do some research.  In the future, I will be blogging about different types of steels and their advantages and disadvantages.  So far, I have covered H1 and with this blog S30V and there will more to come.  You can also feel free to sent me an email.