Great Simple Knife Sharpener the Spyderco Tri-Angle Sharpmaker

 

Guys, one of the sharpeners I use a lot for touch up of smaller blades (not the khukuris) is the Spyderco Tri-Angle Sharpmaker.  The unit is as simple as can be – the brass rods are to protect your hand and then it comes with two pairs of stones – fine and medium basically.  You put the stones in the angle of your choice and the hold your knife straight vertically as you run the blade down the stone.  The unit works really well for maintaining pocket knives and blades that are ballpark 5-8″ – much longer and it just really gets tedious.

Now I don’t use the medium grit brown colored traingles much.  I use the fine and the optional Ultra-Fine triangles for most of my maintenance.  The Ultra-Fine stones (ceramic really) can put a hair popping razor edge on blades.  One thing to bear in mind if you you want the ultra fine stones is that Spyderco sells them by the stone – why?  I have no idea and think it is confusing – you really need two.

I keep this on my desk (at home 🙂 and do touch ups when I am on the phone, need to take a break, etc. and pretty much use it every day:

[amazonjs asin=”B000Q9C4AE” locale=”US” title=”Spyderco Tri-Angle Sharpmaker Knife Sharpener 204MF”]

Here are the Ultra-Fine stones – remember that you need to buy two:

[amazonjs asin=”B0019JTNDQ” locale=”US” title=”Spyderco Ultra Fine Triangle Stone”]

 

In case you are interested, here are instructional videos from Spyderco:

 

Hope this helps!

 

 

Moisturizing Leather Sheaths

I get asked how to moisturize leather sheaths regularly.  Up until now, my go to solution was either Mink Oil or Neatsfoot oil that I would rub in by hand.  The idea is that the heat and pressure of your hand helps the oils to get worked into the leather.  This has worked fine for me for years.  I was recently recommended to try “Lexol Leather Conditioner” and have been doing so for about a month.

The following photos if of a khukuri sheath that was very dry.  I applied the Lexol, still rubbed it in my hand, and then buffed off the residue.  It seems to have done a very good job.  I have done a number of items now including work boots and the Lexol seems to work.  I have been rubbing in two passes – not just one.

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In case you are interested, I’ve had very good luck with the following products:

[amazonjs asin=”B000637TNM” locale=”US” title=”Lexol 1013 Leather Conditioner 33.8 oz. (1 Liter)”]

[amazonjs asin=”B000FJP4NO” locale=”US” title=”Fiebings Pure Neatsfoot Oil 16 oz”]

[amazonjs asin=”B000HJBKU8″ locale=”US” title=”Fiebing MOIL00P006Z Mink Oil Paste”]

I grew up working on boots, gloves and saddles.  If something was dirty, I would use saddle soap but more often focused on conditioning.  It’s amazing what a little care can do to old leather.

One tip – I like the paste mink oil and use a hair dryer to help melt the paste into the leather of boots.  It does a great job sealing them up but it definitely darkens the leather but boy are they supple and waterproof afterwards.

 

Finally, An Ergonomic Machete That Doesn’t Suck! The CRKT HalfAChance K920KKP

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I have a thing for machetes.  Why, I do not know.  Over the years I have owned quite a few and have a number of them in my garage from various manufacturers and blade profiles.  I am accumulating chronic injuries almost as fast as I am blades it seems.  I have two torn rotator cuffs, tendonitis in my elbows and carpal tunnel in both hands after years of abuse.  Luckily, I can swing a machete albeit slower than I used to and trying to hold on to the handle plus the impacts usually combine to make my hands stiff and wrists ache.  Let’s face it – machete handle design hasn’t changed much in decades.

Now, I like Ken Onion as a knife designer.  I read about his new HalfAChance Parang-style machete (CRKT # K920KKP) and that it had an ergonomic handle.  This intrigued me.  I was first in line to buy his big Redemption knife but while he had the basic shape right, the handle was too small for such a big blade so I sold it.  That didn’t turn me off to his designs though – I probably own at least six Ken Onion designs so I know he knows his stuff.  At any rate, I went ahead and ordered one of the HalfAChance machetes from Amazon and two days later the box arrived.  I opened it and there sat the big machete in an even bigger nice Nylon sheath but I immediately looked at the handle – it was big and had a textured rubber over some solid core.  I picked it up and it felt great!

 

Notice the natural angle to the handle.  I wear XL sized gloves and you can see the handle fits my hand nicely.  The first photo is of it in my left hand and the second photo is of it in my right hand.  The overmolded rubber feels great.

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I immediately went out and chopped on a sassafrass tree I had recently dropped and the HalfAChance bit in deep easily.  I mean it really penetrated – way more than I expected.  I think this was due to the relatively thin 0.1″ thick 65Mn Carbon Steel they used with a flat grind.  Guys, I chopped the limb off and then chopped some more – it was really easy.  I didn’t go hog wild but I can tell you that normally my hand would hurt and it did not.  The design helped me hold the big blade and the rubber really helped with the impact.  Look at the results of a few minutes of work:

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By the way, I also noticed they did a great job on the finish.  It is a powder coat over a bead blast and despite the chopping, it was in great shape.  I saw some dirt and it rubbed right off.  It held up a lot better than I expected – no sign of flaking.

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After testing the HalfAChance for a bit, I was interested in comparing the CRKT Parang to my Condor Parang.  The Condor is very well made and has a nice curved handle.  It’s blade was dull so I took the time to put a nice working edge on it first.  I also took a 15 minute break to make sure my hand wasn’t unduly stressed to be fair to the Condor.

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Well, the Condor didn’t fare very well to be honest.  In the same 5-6 strikes, the Condor did not penetrate as much and the jarring impacts through the wood handle made my hand start to cramp.  I think this is because Condor used a much wider blade – almost 1/4″ (6mm actually) 1075 High Carbon steel.  It has great heft and a short top to bottom profile but it is just too thick.  Look at the difference in results and I tried to use the same number of cuts and force – the left cut was done by the CRKT HalfAChange and the right with the Condor:

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So, to me, the winner and new go-to machete it the CRKT Parang hands down.  It cuts and feels great.  CRKT and Ken Onion did a great job on this one.  Of course, I will have to now order and try the other machete they released, the ChanceInHell!

In case you are interested in specs for the HalfAChance, the following is from the CRKT website:

Dimensions
Open Overall Length 19.5 inches
Weight 1 lb. 4.4 ounces
Blade
Length 14 inches
Thickness 0.1 inches
Material 65Mn Carbon Steel
Blade-HRC 52-56
Finish Bead Blast then Black Powder Coating
Grind Flat
Style Drop Point Parang
Edge Plain
Handle
Material PP Core & TPR Overmold Black with Faux Pigskin Texture
Carry
Carry System Black Nylon Sheath
Weight 6.1 ounces

October 2017 Update – took this on our annual brush clearing trip just before Halloween on property we own and it worked great as usual.  After dozens and dozens of branches, saplings and briars, it is still holding up great.  It is still my preferred machete and use it probably 3-4x per season.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


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CRKT Columbia River Knife and Tools Slacker Field Strip Folding Knife - USED

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Columbia River CRKT 9250 Multi-Tool Plier Knife Bivy Screwdriver Marlin Spike

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CRKT(Columbia River Knife & Tool) Ikoma Carajas 5340 Knife

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CRKT - Ryan model 7 seven TAN LAWKS safety knife & Columbia River Tool CR 6803DZ

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CRKT Columbia River Pocket Knife Folding New

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CRKT Columbia River Drifter Pocket Knife 6460K G-10 Handle Combo Edge NIB

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CRKT Columbia River Folts Keramin Fixed Blade Neck Knife 2389 + Sheath

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CRKT COLUMBIA RIVER 6742 WHARNCLIFFE MIRAGE AUS6 Part Serrated Blade

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Columbia River CRKT New Blade Lock Part Serrated Blade Knife/Knives

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COLUMBIA RIVER CRKT Folding Straight Edge Spring Assisted Knife Belt Cuter Sampa

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CRKT Columbia River Burnley Akari 8Cr13MoV Plain Edge Fixed Blade Knife 2480

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Rare CRKT Columbia River Kommer White Pearlescent Mini Fulcrum 7408 Pocket Knife

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CRKT Columbia River Knife & Tool Carson Burl Wood Knife Mint In Box

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Columbia River Knife & Tool CRKT Birler Axe Sheath Full Grained Leather Multiple

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Review of the Excellent Ken Onion Edition Work Sharp

As many of you know, I like knives and do a great deal of custom work on khukuris.  My problem is that I also have what is known as a “hereditary” or “necessary” tremor, which means my hands shake.  I have to really focus when I do work that requires fine motor skills and sharpening with a belt sander and jig is a bear for me that I try to avoid.  A little over a year ago, I was visiting the Smoky Mountain Knifeworks store in Sevierville, TN, when I saw my first Work Sharp brand sharpener.  It looked somewhat like a gimmick to me and I didn’t bother spending much time at their demo table.  I thought to myself “who needs a little triangular belt sander to mess up a fine blade” and left it at that.

About six months later, I was getting more and more blades to sharpen and in researching methods I ran across the Work Sharp again but this time folks were talking about the heavier duty Ken Onion Edition Work Sharp.  Now this intrigued me because the reviewers mentioned how quick the set up was, that the unit was very portable, powerful motor, variable speed and that the angle could be adjusted with a dial.  What really wold me is that it could do a consistent convex edge (note, there are many types of convex edges and I’m not going to go into that now – but for me the idea of consistency was and still is a big deal).  The other big reason is that really hard metals take a long time to sharpen by hand, which is what I usually did when it came to doing tune ups & that took a lot of time.

I decided to take the plunge and ordered the Work Sharp Ken Onion edition plus some additional belts off Amazon.  Thanks to the Prime shipping program, the box arrived two days later like clock work and I started testing and using it in early February 2014.  I point this out so you know this was written after quite a bit of use.

I learned a looooong time ago, never start with any blade of value when you are learning and this is another example of that.  I have been using this sharpener for close to six months and really like it but you do need to practice and learn how to hold the blade and get used to the feel.  I need to insert a caution here – it is always easier to take more metal off than put it back on!!!  If you use a coarse belt then you can remove a lot of material fast.  That’s why I recommend practicing first on knives you don’t mind if they get scuffed up a bit.

The photos are of my six month old sharpener.  The belts actually last quite a while but I would still recommend you get an extra package or two of them just in case.

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The unit has a 1/4″ thread on the bottom if you really want to secure it.  I find I can use it just fine without mounting it and this is great because I can move the unit to where the work is.  For example, I was outside on my work bench and brought the sharpener out there.  The red dial you see is the variable speed control.  I purposefully bought the Ken Onion edition as it has a bigger higher torque motor to avoid bogging down while sanding.  My experience is that it does a great job.  I can sand my big khukuris without a problem.

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The yellow lever lets you rotate the sanding cartridge so you have a flat sanding surface if you want it.  I tend to use use one of my other sanders but this could be handy for folks who need an all in one unit.  By the way, the roller you see in the lower right corner of the catridge is spring loaded.  With the unit off, you press that in and slide the belt off the top.  To install a new belt, load the belt at the botton, push the pulley in and slip the belt over the top.  This makes belt changes very easy.  You can see the other belts in the background of the photo – I start with coarse and work my way up to the edge I want.  With the khukuris, they are sharp but I don’t put hair popping edges on them so they are stronger.  I figure a customer can always go sharper if they want.

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Now, you really ought to buy an angle guide to set the angle of the sharpener.  There is a very easy to use guide that can let you find out what something is set at easily made by Richard Kell out of brass.  It takes away all the guess work.  You side the blade into the guide and if the edge goes into the little circle at the bottom and there isn’t any slop then you have found your angle.

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Now the Work Sharp only adjusts 15-30 degrees.  For kitchen and field knives, this tends to be just fine.  It tends to be with tools that you get into tools that you go past 30 degrees.  I wish it could go wider but I can deal with those tools on one of my regular sanders as they are exception rather than the rule.  I knew I needed something to speed up my work and make a consistent edge of the right angle on knives so the angle range the tool can do works out pretty well for me.

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The belts are color coded and have their ID inside each for easy identification.  Note, the Ken Onion edition uses wider belts than the normal edition but those will work as well I am told.  Also, the belts really hold up well.  As they wear, they just cut slower.  I’m actually very pleased that they used good abrasives and not the junk that just falls apart.

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In the next photos, you see me using the X4 fine belt to put a very sharp edge on a Himalayan Imports khukuri that is hardened 5160 alloy steel plus you see a photo of my every day carry, a Kershaw Compound KS1940 that my daughter got me for my birthday a few years back.  I use this knife literally every day to open boxes, cut strap, cut open plastic containers, and so forth in the shop.  It is 8CR13MOV alloy and needs sharpening each week due to all of the use.  The Work Sharp does great in both cases.

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In summary, this is a very useful tool for many reasons.  For novices, this is a great sharpener.  For more experienced folks, this is a handy tool that is very portable and can help save you time while producing a quality edge as sharp as you want!   So, I would highly recommend the sharpener, spare belts and the angle guide and Amazon makes it easy to one stop shop and get all three:

Update 7/23/2018:  The unit still works great.  Here’s a post I did about affordable belts.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.

Amazon product links are at the bottom of the post.


Work Sharp Ken Onion Edition Blade Grinding Attachment WSSAKO81112 Brand New

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Work Sharp Ken Onion Assorted Belt Kit WSSAKO81113

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Work Sharp WSSAKO81112 Blade Grinding Attachment For Ken Onion Edition - Dealer

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Work Sharp Ken Onion Blade Grinding Belt WSSAKO81115

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Work Sharp 3920 Ken Onion Stropping Belt Kit 1" x 18"

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Very cool video review of HI Khukuris

As many of you know, I think very highly of HI khukuris – both the organization and the blades they produce.  This is a great video where the reviewer does a thorough job and explains why he likes the MI M43 that he tested so much.  At any rate, if you are interested, check this out as it is very well done:

 

There are three websites you might want to check out to learn more:

1) The actual HI website where they have history, photos and you can place orders:
http://www.himalayan-imports.com/

2) They have a forum on the BladeForums website as well where people discuss their offerings:
http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/forumdisplay.php/739-Himalayan-Imports

3) Last but not least, there is our website where we list any khukuris we have for sale plus we make custom Kydex sheaths for them:
http://shop.roninsgrips.com/Khukuris-Edged-Weapons_c8.htm

 

 

Video: How to Field Strip an AK Rifle

To me, the AK family of rifles are some of the easiest designs on the planet to field strip … but I have done it hundreds of times.  For a newcomer, how to take the rifle apart can be daunting.  I took a few minutes and assembled some of my favorite videos and online resources / manuals to help clarify matters:

AK manuals that are online:

YouTube Videos:

Now Brownell’s did some videos on Youtube also but they split them into separate parts:

Part 1 – Disassembly:

Part 4 – Reassembly

 

We will have a future post about cleaning and maintenance so keep an eye out for it.

A Suprisingly Affordable Flashlight: LiteXpress LXL439001 – Impressive Quality & Cool Rotary Model Selector Switch

I use a lot of flashlights and the problem is that I tend to lose them.  Thus, while I like and appreciate high-end lights, they can be expensive to lose, crush, etc.  As a result, I tend to try and find decent lights at a low price.  In my recent trolling of Amazon I was intrigued by the LiteXpress LXL439001.  You might think I was trolling for lumens but I am way over that – I want something in the 40-100 lumen range with good battery life, is LED, and rugged yet affordable. If I lose it, I don’t want to have an awful sense of loss.

I also prefer AA or CR123A batteries, which I buy in bulk.  You guys may know this already, but shop for CR123A batteries on Amazon plus Walgreen’s Alkaline batteries are great and very affordable.  When it comes to the CR123As, buy brand name and check reviews – all the major light manufacturers warn against the no-name cheap import batteries due to the risk of fire.  I check brands such as Surefire, Energizer and Streamlight for volume deals on Amazon.  The price savings are huge compared to local stores.

At any rate, what attracted me wasn’t lumens or some tacticool styling feature – it was the little rotary switch on the tail end and it stopped me dead.  I loathe the “click and try to get it right” 3-5 mode lights.  Seriously, they drive me crazy.  I want something simple and predictable.  I’m not even a huge fan of low-high-off but can deal with it.  I’m sure you’ve seen the lights where they have all kinds of features – typically low, high, strobe, SOS, etc.  You know what I really want – on and off.  The LiteXpress has an on/off switch and the genius in in moving all the features to the rotary with symbols – I can go straight to whatever mode I want and if I hold the on/off button down, then the intensity can drop down from 122 by 10% increments.

You see, the LiteXpress is designed in Germany but built in China.  There is an attention to design in this light that frankly surprised me so much that I bought it and decided to write about it.  When the Amazon box arrived, I opened it up and found the light secured in a plastic blisterpack shell.  Of course, I had to snap a few photos to share with all of you:

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Features:

  • 122 lumens max but can decrease to 10 lumens
  • Push-button on/off on the barrel
  • Rotary selector switch on the tail end.  The modes are lock, high, flash (strobe or SOS can be selected), and temporary on/off.  Pretty cool.
  • Three color filters that firm slide over the output end of the light
  • LED battery indicator: green = 100%, Yellow=approx 50% and Red=approx 10% remaining
  • It came with 2 Duracell CR123A batteries
  • Aluminum case

I have been using it a few days now and really like it.  It’s higher quality than I expected and you’ll find it hard to beat for $23.  If you are looking for a decent flashlight, you might want to check it out.

Update on 7/1/14: We lost power last night and this flashlight was fantastic.  I used it last night and this morning after the powerful storm went through.  It worked great the whole time and even after at least 45-60 minutes of ontime the batteries are reported as “green” by the power indicator.  We may well not have power tonight either and I will be using this more again if that happens.

I am so very impressed by this flashlight that we are now selling it!  It’s in our online store at:  http://shop.roninsgrips.com/LiteXpress-LXL439001-X-Tactical-101-Flashlight-LiteXPressXtactical101.htm

When Strength and Quality Matter Most