Category Archives: Blades and Edged Weapons Including Khukuris

Blades and Edged Weapons Including Khukuris

How to Find Big Cleavers to Restore on eBay – August 2020 Edition

Some years back I wrote a post on how to find cleavers and figured it was time to update it with better search routines for eBay plus to add a few tips not in the original.

One of my favorite things to do is to restore an old cleaver. I’ve done a ton of them over the years and posted many photos along the way. In response to the photos or sales listings in my online store, guys will ask how to find a good deal on one to restore themselves.  

The best deal you’ll get is at garage, barn and estate sales – no two ways about that.  Antique dealers usually jack their prices into orbit and I’ve not seen a good deal at an antique dealer in a long, long time.

My challenge is that I don’t have time to go hunting for stuff so I do a lot of automated searches on eBay.   What I am going to do in this post is try and give you some tips plus also live searches of eBay using key words that frequently turn up cleavers to keep an eye on.

This is a New Haven Edge and Tool Co Cleaver

That leads us to tip #1 on eBay – set up searches that email you when they find stuff.  What you do is enter your search term on eBay and then click “follow this search”.  EBay will then give you options for alerts and so forth. You can experiment and figure out what works for you. For me, for example, just searching on “cleavers” is useless because of all the junk that comes back so I keep refining my searches based on key words both to include and to exclude.

 This is a 16.5″ Foster Bros #8 – Fosters is another favorite brand

Learn some of the phrases folks use to describe / market these big cleavers.  No doubt, I like big cleavers so I use search phrases like “giant antique cleaver”, “giant hog splitter” and what not.  In general, the hog and cow splitters are big.  These huge cleavers were used in the days before extensive automation to chop up big farm animals such as cows, hogs, lambs and so forth giving them their name.

When searching, look in descriptions and not just the titles if given the option. You may need to use the advanced search option and add key words to exclude when things you don’t care about are included in your searches.

 This is a 16.5″ Lamson

There are also certain brands that I really like such as Fosters, WM Beatty, Lamson and New Haven Edge Tool Co.  There were a lot of makers including folks on farms and village blacksmiths forging their own cleavers so it really takes some digging.  I found searches on Google to turn up interesting information about the history of the makers and so forth when I could find some kind of logo or marking.

 This is a 20″ WM Beatty and Sons

Another tip I would give you is to look out for old cleavers that are shiny.  Somebody probably sanded or ground the rust off.  I have bought a couple that were utter train wrecks from guys trying to make something look good for sale.  Just be careful.  Nothing that was used is going to be bright silver steel any longer.

Do not worry about rust, dirt and dings – you are going to be working on it anyways.  How far you want to go with the wood is up to you.  The most fascinating cleaver I ever worked on had a trashed handled that I built up with epoxy.  It was stunning wood under decades of grime.

Be careful on the measurements – look for the blade size and overall lengths plus the weight.  I like to look for cleavers that are at least 18″ overall.  Call be weird but the smaller ones are okay but just not as interesting to me.  I do have an exception though – some of the small Fosters are just wicked.  They were forged, have a thick blade and quite a heft.

Watch out for photos.  Sellers try all kinds of stuff to make them look big, in great shape, etc.  You are especially focused on whether the blade is intact, meaning no big nicks or any cracks, and the dimensions.  The photos are nice eye candy but don’t base your whole purchase on them.  I certainly use them to try and judge the condition of the blade.  If a seller doesn’t have an angle you want to see, ask them to send you what you need.  Many sellers will oblige these requests.

Giant 24.5″ cleaver with a 1/2″ thick blade from an unknown maker – my all time favorite

Now be patient and don’t rush.  Watch the prices these things are selling at and don’t start bidding until the last minute.  Also keep an eye on the seller’s ratings.  New ones with fewer than 20 sales make me nervous.  Read what folks have to say about the seller.

Keep an eye on shipping charges.  Some guys will do stuff like list something dirt cheap and then charge a fortune for shipping.  Don’t just assume shipping & handling charges will be reasonable if it isn’t listed.

Be patient!  You can get some very decent cleavers for under $100 but what you consider a fair price is entirely up to you.


Here are some realy time eBay Searches to help you get started using keywords I use in my own searches and you can buy these right now!! Note that some sections may be empty if there are no current matches,

Giant Antique Cleaver

There will be times you want to qualify a search phrase and “antique cleaver” is one of them. If you search on that you will get matches for things people call cleavers that are just a few inches long. When sellers have a big cleaver they tend to use words like HUGE or GIANT in their description. Of course, most will not be very big but it is something to look for. Let’s try “giant antique cleaver” first:

Next is “huge antique cleaver”


Hog Splitter

This one is searching on “Hog Splitter” and excuding the words “stereo plug mono” because some stereo cords get matched and would be included otherwide.


Cow Splitter

True clow splitters are rare so when you search on eBay you will often get quite a few near matches from their search engine and wind up with a long list of things to exclude such as “witchblade stereo cord wind extender cable engine cent paring comic glove knob”.


Beatty Cleaver

Beatty cleavers come in a variety of sizes from small to big splitters so be sure to carefully read the description. Sometimes the photos make them look bigger than they really are.


Foster Cleaver

Fosters are also very good cleavers. They made a bunch of different models to read the description carefully.


Antique Cleaver

Just to show you what antique cleaver sucks in, here you go:


Vintage Cleaver


Large Vintage Cleaver


I hope these tips and sample search terms help.  My biggest tips are to carefully read the descriptions, consider the seller’s ratings carefully and watch out for shipping. Also, don’t rush and get caught up in auction fever – only buy what makes sense to you.

Happy hunting!!


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


The Kershaw Knockout Folder With A Damascus Blade – Wow!!

Last year, I bought one of the Kershaw Knockouts and really liked it. The fact it was one of their models that is made in the USA, the heft, the blade contour and how well it held an edge rapidly made it my EDC. Seriously, it’s a lot of knife without a lot of weight and I did a blog post about it – click here. I was reading on the web and came across a version of the Knockout with a damascus blade – I had to order it 🙂

Basically, the 1870OLDAM is just like the 1870OLBLK but with a damascus blade. The name, “knockout” has to do with the riveted blade lock they insert in the handle. This makes for a knife that is slim, very easy to open but locks solidly open.

Here are the stats:

  • Length when open: 8.875″
  • Length when closed: 4.625″
  • Blade: Damascus
  • Blade length: 3.25″
  • Blade thickness: 0.12″
  • Handle: Aluminum colored olive drab
  • Liner: Stainless steel
  • Handle thickness: 0.40
  • Weight 3.88 oz

I bought the 1870OLBLK – the one with a monolithic blade – in December 2018 and have used it a ton. I bought the 1870OLDAM in March 2020, and so far it is holding up well. I’ve used it but not to the extent I have the older one.

Click on one of the thumbnails below to see the full size photos:

Summary

If you want a really useful knife that is made in the USA, get a Kershaw Knockout. If you really like damascus blades, get that one … or maybe both 🙂


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


Acid Etching With Ferric Chloride and Apple Cider Vinegar – Wicked Results on High Carbon Steel

I recently did two posts about building a new heated tank out of PVC pipe and a digitally controlled heating element that is both effective and affordable. This also marked my first batch of blades where I moved from my traditional hot apple cider etching to using a mix of 70% ferric chloride and 30% apple cider vinegar heated to 90-94F.

The Chemicals

Let me give you a quick overview of the two chemicals I used to make my blade etching solution:

The primary ingredient is liquid ferric chloride from MG Chemicals. It’s available in quarts and gallons and is about 38-42% ferric chloride by volume. The MG Chemicals product is well regarded and that played a big factor in my selecting it. I purchased mine from Amazon and it arrived quickly and well packed.

The second chemical is regular apple cider vinegar from the grocery store. They tend to be normalized around 5% acetic acid by volume. The brand I used was at 5% and there were other brands at 4% that I passed over – go for 5% because you need the acetic acid. I literally bought this at my local grocery store – nothing special.

The solution I made was 70% of the ferric chloride and 30% apple cider vinegar. I wore lab goggles, nitrile gloves, old clothes and am in a well ventilated area when I slowly add the ferric chloride to the relatively weaker apple cider vinegar.

The ratio was based on looking at the end results from other blade smiths and talking about what they learned. In my case, I can tell you that this combination makes for a very nice dark etch.

The Process

  1. Heat the etching solution up to 90-94F before I put in the first blade. MG Chemicals recommends the operating range from 94F to 131F and not to exeed 131F. [Click here for their technical data sheet and MSDS]
  2. The blades need to be at least 70F prior to dunking in the solution. The warmer the solution and blade, the better chemical reaction you are going to have.
  3. Clean the blade with brake cleaner throughly
  4. Abrasive blast the blade – I am using Black Beauty these days. It is a coarse coal slag based product. Note, not all guys blast their blades – some just clean them very carefully.
  5. From this point on, wear nitrile gloves when handling the blades to avoid any oils and contaminants from your skin
  6. I again use brake cleaner to do a final cleaning and make sure it fully evaporates. Some guys rub down with acetone – do what works for you but it must not leave a residue
  7. Fully submerged the blade in the heated etching solution for 10 minutes
  8. Remove the blade and wipe off the remaining solution with a paper towel [as a reminder, you must be wearing gloves to not contaminate the blade]
  9. Used clean/bare 0000 steel wool to buff the surface of the blade and remove any loose particles. Note, this 0000 steel wool is bare wool – no cleaners or anything. You find these in woodworking / hardware sections of stores – not in the kitchen area.
  10. Submerge the blade for another 5 minutes and again wiped and rubbed the blade down with steel wool. I think I repeated this process three times per blade but experiment and see what works for you.
  11. Soak the blade in warm water with baking soda to neutralize the acid
  12. Spray the blade down with WD-40 to displace the water
  13. Apply finish – I like to use a 50-50 mix of boiled linseed oil and turpentine to apply severa thin coats. This gives my blades the worn post-apocalypse look. Many guys just coat the acid etched surface with oil to inhibit rust.
Here’s a small 5″ khukuri where all steel surfaces have been blasted.
Here’s the finished khukuri just before I mailed it to its new owner.
Here’s a look at the solution in the tank.
Here is one of the etched damascus blades. The beads on the blade are oil.
Here’s an even closer look at the finished blade.

Summary

I’m definitely very happy with the results and will be using this solution going forward.


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


How to Make An Affordable and Effective Heated Tank For Acid Etching – Part 1

I like to acid etch blades that I build using apple cider and/or ferric chloride. I also manganese park firearms and tools. Assuming the part is prepped properly, there are two common needs in all of the above – the part must be submerged and the solution heated. So you have two options, buy a stainless tank and heat source or build one using PVC pipe. These next couple of posts are going to dive into how you can build an affordable and very effective heated tank to finish you parts plus have some fun doing it.

PVC or CPVC?

We can use rigid PVC pipe as the container to hold the etching solution. It’s cheap, easy to find and easy to work with. I need to explain a few things first about what we can and can’t do with it.

In plumbing, rigid PVC pipe has an operating temperature of 140F degrees. The reason for this is that PVC is a thermoplastic and begins to soften with heat and will burst due to the pressurized water. We don’t have much pressure to worry about other than atmospheric pressure but you don’t want to push plain PVC towards 200F – it really isn’t designed for it.

If you want to do parkerizing at 190F, then you need to use CPVC pipe. CPVC rigid pipe has extra chlorination that allows it to withstand 200F while delivering water under normal household pressures. Fun trivia, CPVC was invented by Genova Products in Michigan.

If you are trying to figure out what you are looking at, if the pipe is white, it is probably PVC. If it is cream colored, it is probably CPVC. It ought to be labeled/printed on the side of the pipe also but be on guard for people putting stuff in the wrong bins at a store or clerks not knowing what is what.

In this post, I am working with regular PVC purchased from my local Ace Hardware because the tank is for acid etching knives and will the liquid will be 90-110F on average. If I ever build one for parkerizing, it would be in CPVC. The reason it’s an “if” is that I already have a big stainless steel parkerizing tank but it’s a headache to drag out and set up whenI need it.

The Parts List

Basically, we are going to build a tube with a cemented permanent cap on the bottom and a threaded cap at the top. You can go with any size you want. For most blades I work with, 3″ is plenty and I wanted it to be portable.

Let me give you a piece of advice – it’s aways better to be a little bigger than you think you need than to find that out later. When in doubt, make it wider and taller — within reason of course. Note, I knew a 3″ diameter and about 16″ tall would meet most of my needs but not all and I was fine with that. I’ll pull out my four foot stainless tank when I need to do something huge like a cleaver.

In terms of parts, you need the following:

  • A length of pipe of the diameter that is needed
  • A coupling for that size
  • A threaded adapter for that size – you cement it onto the end of the pipe and it gives you a national pipe thread on the other end
  • A threaded plug that fits into the adapter
  • An end cap of one type or another. If you use 3″ or 4″ pipe, you can use a toilet flange adapter to actually both plug the end and allow you to connect it to the wood if you aren’t making it very tall. I would be worried about torque on a tank with an overall length of 24″ or more. In those cases I would cement on a normal end cap and build up a crade around the pipe to support it.
  • You may want a drain for a big tank – I didn’t need one for this little unit because I can easily lift it even when it is full of the acid etching solution.
  • PVC cleaner and cement (note, PVC and CPVC use different cement)
  • Wood to form a base to keep the pipe from tipping over so it needs to be both wide and heavy enough. Really it’s up to you as to how you secure it to be vertical. I like a mobile base but you could tie it to something, etc.
  • A heating source and controller – we’ll get into more detail in the next post.

Weight Considerations and a Drain

Bear in mind that this tank can get pretty heavy if you plan on using really big piple (6″ or bigger). Water weighs 8.34 pounds per gallon. You will find that other liquids can weigh more. Apple cider vinegar may be around 8.6 pounds and ferric chloride might weigh 10-12 pounds per gallon depending on the concentration.

I bring the weight up because if you are thinking of building a big tank, the weight is going to add up and you may want to install a drain near the base. There are two big reasons you need to think about this – you may want to move the unit around plus you will need to change the solution as it ages and breaks down from use.

This is my 3″ tank I just built. The toilet flange us availab;e for 3″ and 4″ pipe and is handy for smaller tanks. I’d build a cradle/surrounding frame to support a bigger tank.

The pictured tank is about 16″ tall with 3″ pipe and has about a gallon of 70% ferric chloride and 30% apple cider vinegar in it. I can move it around very easily and portability was one of my design goals.

Assembling The Pipe

PVC is really easy to work with. You cut the pipe to the length you want or have the store do it for you. I use a big miter saw for stuff like this to get nice square ends and use an airline to blow all the loose plastic out (wear safety glasses).

To “glue” the pipe together, you first prime the surfaces and then apply the cement. Note, PVC and CPVC use the same primer but different cement. In this case,I use Oatey’s purple primer and clear cement. Read the directions on their box just to make sure. Bear in mind the solvent is really thin and is going to run everywhere – especially in cold weather.

I’m a creature of habit. I’ve had very good luck with Oatey products so I stick with them. There are other brands out there such as Ace’s own private labled stuff, but I stick with Oatey to avoid surprises. When following their directions and using their products, I’ve not had a joint fail/leak yet,

The Base

To make the tank stable, you need a big enough base both in terms of area and weight. I had some old 1×12 stock that I chopped into squares and stacked if four deep for weight. You can do whatever you want and your goal is stability, however you get it.

I centered the flange on the first board and screwed it in. I’m not sure I would trust the flange to handle the potential torque of a long pipe. For me, once I get around 24″ overall, I am going to build a cradle and not subject that flange to a ton of stress.
I then applied epoxy and clamped the layers together. I was kind of experimenting as I went. Just one piece of wood wasn’t heavy enough so I then added the additional layers after. I could have glued the base and then used longer screws to secure the flange had I known more up front. I wound up with four layers of wood in the end.

I have another tank that is full of a boiled linseed oil an turpentine mix that I use for hydrating wood handles in khukuris and cleavers that I restore. It has a rounded end bap on the bottom and the base is more like a heavy cradle made up fo 2×4 lumber that gives it weight and then goes up the sides to provide support.

This is a 4″ pipe with a wood scaffold base. It’s very stable. This is a tankI use for moisturizing and treating long wood hanndles.

Summary

That’s it for now. In the next post we are going to talk about heating the tank. This is where I did the most experimenting and can share some ideas with you.


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


How to Make An Affordable and Effective Heated Tank For Acid Etching – Part 2

In the last post, I covered the basic construction of the tank. In this post I want to talk about heating the tank. Thanks to mass production of digital temperature switches, you can build a digitally controlled heated tank for a very reasonable price.

Why Does Heat Matter?

In case you are wondering, heating the solution does matter. Years ago, in 1889, a chemist by the name of Svante Arrhenius proposed an equation that would later bear his name. Basically, a chemical reaction increases as the level of activation energy increases. The reason temperature enters in as that you are raising the energy in the liquid, more energetic particles are bouncing around and increasing the volume of reactions which means that more successful reactions will occur as well. We can use a rule of thumb that for each 10C increase in temperature, the reaction rate will double and for each 10C drop, it will be cut in half. To sum it up, cold=bad for chemical reactions. As a side note, this is also why marginal batteries fail when cold weather hits.

So what this means to acid etching is that in my cold unheated shop in the Winter, reactions are going to be real, real slow. Thus, I must have a way to heat the chemical and the submerged part to improve the reaction.

The Heating Element For The Tank

The first thing I wanted to do was to keep the cost down and the second was that I didn’t want something that would get so hot that it would melt the PVC. I had a 30 foot length of roof heating tape from when we cleaned out my dad’s garage that I had been thinking about for a while. It always makes me feel good when I use something that was my dad’s.

These roof heating cables use AC voltage to warm up and melt ice are readily availble and are designed not to get so hot that they melt the shingles but also are designed to be spread out and not right next to each other so I was going to need to test the design. I planned to wrap the tape from the bottom of the tank until I ran out cable with each coil right against the previous. I was counting on convection of move warmer fluid up and cooler fluid down but I wasn’t really sure how it would sort out.

Another nice things about these heating cables, or heating tapes, is that they do not use a lot of electricity. The 30 foot model my dad had was spec’d to draw only 150 watts at 12 volts. That makes for a nice portable unit that you can run off just about any extension cord.

So, step one, I applied the tape to the empty tank and secured it just with 3M 3340 aluminum HVAC tape. This is the tape made for higher temperatures with an aluminum foil backing – it’s not dcut tape. I then watched the temperature with my Fluke 62 Max IR thermometer. You need an accurate thermometer and the Fluke has served me very well – it’s proved itself to be accurate, reliable and durable – it’s been bounched around a lot in my shop.

So, the temperature slowly climbed but made it all the way up to 170F before I shut it down. The PVC still felt pretty good but it was way hotter than what I wanted. Just plugging the tape in and calling it done was not the answer. Sure it would heat the liquid up fast but I couldn’t safey leave it unattended. I needed something to control the temperature but use the heat tape.

Please note that there are pipe heaters that are a different creature. Some of them need to be submerged in water or wrapped around a steel pipe. Do not use those types of heaters. There are a ton of different names buy you are looking for the cable or tape that is put on roofs to melt ice dams, etc.

Solution – Use A Digital Temperature Controller

I thought I knew the switch I was going to buy until I did some further research. Some controllers are very easy to set up and others seem a bit more confusing. I opted for the WILLHI WH1436A Temperature Controller 110V Digital Thermostat Switch. All you do set set the temperature for ON and the temperature for OFF. That’s it. If you want them, there are some more advanced settings that you can explore if you want but this seemed like just what I needed.

I undid the top few coils of the heat tape and rewound them with the temperature probe wrapped in them. I then used aluminum HVAC tape to secure the top. I set ON to 90F and Off at 95F and plugged the roofing tape into the controller.

I inserted the temperature probe a few coils down and secured the top with 3M Aluminum HVACtape. Note the small cable clamp screwed into the wood base securing the bottom of the heater tape and preventing it from unwinding.

I started watching with the Fluke meter and since the temperature based on the probe was 40.2F, the controller turned on power to the switch and the tape heated. It did cut power around 95F but the tape continued to warm up even so by about 10F so the peak temperature was between 103-105F according to the Fluke. This was actually within my acceptable range. I was just ballparking 90F but even 105F was fine by me.

The digital controller works well. I’m going to leave it loose some I can move it around depending on what I am working on and were.

There was one minor hitch I noticed during experiments – the controlled heat took over an hour to warm up the fluid. If I unplugged the tape from the controller and plugged the tape straight into AC power, the fluid heated way faster and the pipe never felt soft – probably because the tape was heating part of it and the acid was cooling it. This was the fastest way but risky because if you forget, it’s going to get quite hot. I let the fluid get up to 160F during one run and decided that I would only do this if I was in a big rush and going to be there working the whole time. If I wanted to play it safe, letting the controller keep things safe was a better bet. I could have also sped things up by setting the OFF temperature higher, say at 110F and that’s something I will experiment more with.

The temperature controlled tank worked out great on these high carbon steel damascus blades.

Operating Temperature Range

Do not heat ferric chloride past 131F. Remember that the heating element will still heat the chemical another 10 degrees or so past the upper limit you set as OFF.

The operating temperature range from MG Chemical is 95-131F. Based on my results, I don’t see a need to push the upper limit.

Click here both for their technical sheet and MSDS sheet,

Conclusion

I had about $30 in the PVC and fresh glue, nothing for the base, the controller was $29.99 and the roof heat tape was free but if you bought it, the price would be around $30. This definitely falls in the affordable category plus I turned out some really cool etched damasus blades using the controlled tank. If you want to know a bit more about the chemicals and my process, click here.

When I was done, I let the tank cool down, screwed on the lid, cleaned things up, coiled the cords up and stored the tank for the next use.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


Video: How to Make a Japanese Katana Sword: Exquisite Detail Of the Hamon and Engraving

I thoroughly enjoyed this Japanese video that covers the forging, engraving and heat treat of a Japanese Katana by a Master – Sadatosh Gassan. The video provides a great overview and while it is in Japanese, there are subtitles in English.

What I found most fascinating was the detail of the creation and application of the clay to create the hamon. Sadatoshi-san also is shown carefully engraving a dragon around a plum tree.

He evenly applied the clay and is now drawing the hamon pattern into it prior to the heat reat.
Here it iss just prior to the firing.
Carving the dragon into the blade.
The end result is beautiful.

The Video


I hope you found this video as interesting as I did!

Please note that all images were extracted from the video and are the property of their respective owner.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


A Kershaw Knockout Knife and Streamlight Microstream LED Light Are In My Pocket These Days

I have quite a selection of folding knives that I use all the time for work – cutting open boxes, plastic pails, insulation, tubing, etc. It’s funny but I wind up rotating through them for one reason or another – it may be because one needs to be sharpened and is too dull (my ZT 0350 is that way right now) or because I just pick up the blade that is by my desk and drop it in my pocket as I head out to the shop. The same is true for whatever small light I am carrying. A while back, I posted about buying both a Kershaw Knockout and Streamlight Microstylus. I’m so happy with both that I figured an update was in order.

Kershaw Knockout

As mentioned, I did buy this blade some months back and posted about it For the last few months, my goto blade has been the Kershaw Knockout. It is a very decent medium sized pocket knife that has a 3.25″ blade made from Sandvik 142C28N steel. It is holding the edge remarkably well – I haven’t needed to sharpen it yet and am very impressed. Note, I use a Work Sharp Ken Onion edition sharpener to true up my blades and it can handle any steel.

The handle is very comfortable, The Knockout gets its name from the cut out in the handle where they rivet in the blade lock. It makes for a very easy to operate locking mechanism. I always like the flag they add to their American made knives also.
The blade is holding up great. You know, I don’t know the details behind the “Diamond Like Coating” – DLC – process but it is really impressive. I’ve beat my ZT 0350 half to death and that coating is holding up on that knife also. Also, you can see the Streamlight Microstream light.

The second reason is that it is remarkably light and thin. For its size, it really does not drag down my pocket. At the same time, the hande is big enough for me to get a firm grip to cut open plastic pails.

The third big reason is that it uses Kershaw’s “SpeedSafe” flipper mechanism for one handed opening. When I am working, being able to open the knife with only one hand is a huge benefit.

The Streamlight Microstream LED Light

I have bought a number of these little lights – my best guess is 6-8 of them. Simply put they hold up great and are at a very reasonable price especially given the quality. Here’s a blog post that I did after my initial purchase back in 201.

I have put at least four of them through the clotheswasher and as long as the base is on tight, they survive. If the base comes loose and water gets in then it is pretty much always game over.

This is a good photo both of the Knockout and the Microstream. The Microstream is 3.5″ long and has a diameter of about 0.6″.

What I can tell you is that I have never had one fail on me due to worksmanship. Dead battery, yes. The switch, body and LED have all held up just great.

I really like these lights because they are small, don’t weigh much, use regular AAA batteries and only cost $16.22 off Amazon. I should also point out that they produce 28 lumens of light and that little battery will last about 2-2.5 hours. I probably carry this light even more than I do a blade because it is just so handy and I can’t see as well as I used to.

In short, I am so happy with both that I wanted to post the update to you folks,


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


Using my KO Worksharp With Third Party Belts to Sharpen My Three Favorite Flipper Knives – A Hogue X5, ZT 350 and Kershaw Knockout

As I have written about in the past, I have a Ken Onion Worksharp (KOW) knife sharpener. Folks, I have used the heck out of that little thing and it is still cranking. For example, I used it one time to put the edges on five khukuris from scratch. They were antiques and I used my belt sander to remove the beat up edges and then the little KOW to profile and put the final edges on them. I can’t begin to guess how many khukuris, folders and fixed blade knives have been sharpened on this unit.

At any rate, the one thing about the KOW is the cost and selection of the little 3/4″ wide x 12″ belts that it uses. Worksharp does sell kits with belts in them but its pricey. Happily, as the popularity of the KOW has increased, a number of makers have appeared. I’ve had very good luck with Econaway Abrasives and Red Label Abrasives to name two of them.

What makes a belt good? I really look at two things – does the belt stay together and does the grit stay on or seem to flake off. I have no means of knowing whether a given declared grit is what I actually get – for example, the vendor says it’s 400 grit but is it really? All I can do is go by feel.

Leather Belt

I added a new step in my sharpening – I added a leather belt this year so I could use rouge on the belt for a grit of close to 10,000 for the final edge. I opted for a belt from Pro Sharpening Supplies. It comes with a small packet of white rouge polishing compound.

Sharpening My Three Favorite Flippers

Okay, I needed to sharpen my three favorite assisted opening “flipper” pocket knives. My #1 favorite is my 3.5″ Hogue X5. The other two tie for second place at this point – my ZT 350 and my Kershaw Knock Out.

If I had thought about it, I would have put them in order of being my favorite. Purely by coincidence they are in order of age – the Knockout I bought near Christmas 2018, the Hogue was Father’s Day 2018 and the ZT 350 was purchased in 2015.
Guys, I love that Wharncliffe blade profile on the Hogue. You can use it to scrape stuff as you have a flat edge.

It had been ages since the ZT350 was properly sharpened, the Hogue needed a touchup and my new Kershaw Knockout did not have as fine of an edge on it as I wanted. The ZT was part of what motivated me to buy the KOW years ago – The ZT uses S30V steel which is very hard and takes forever to sharpen by hand. I had been using a Spyderco Sharpmaker to that point and decided it was time to buy a better sharpener. The KOW has a wider 3/4″ belt and a bigger motor than it’s predecessor, the basic Worksharp unit. I’ve never regretted the purchase.

The KOW is adjustable so I use this brass guage made by Richard Kell in England to determine what to set the KOW at. The blades were 15 degrees or less with the Hogue pretty much being right at 15. The other two, I’m not sure. They were more accute than the gauge supported.

A Richard Kell blade angle gauge.

Belt Details

I bet everyone has their secret formulas for sharpening blades and odds are they all work. Since these were all touchups, I started with a 320 grit belt. See, I don’t want to take off any more than I have to so I’d rather start with as fine of a grit as possible.

GritMakerPasses/SideSets
320Econaway32
600Econaway31
800Red Label31
1200Econaway31
5000Red Label31
10,000Pro Sharpening32

Comments on the Leather Belt

Okay, it through parts of loose leather everywhere when it first started just like when you start a new cloth wheel on a buffer. It did stop after a bit. By the way, safety note – you should always wear safety glasses and a dust mask regardless – this just reminds you of the need.

The second comment is that it did not stay centered on the wheels of the KOW and traveled to the left when looking down from the top towards the front edge. It did not seem to harm anything but the whole point is that it really should have stayed centered on the wheels. No harm done and since I will not use it a ton, I am not going to worry about it.

Photo of the belt up on the left edge of the front lower wheel. Note all the junk on the mat. Good reminder to wear eye protection and a dust mask *always*.

Lesson learned for me, dial back the speed on the KOW from the get go when doing the leather belt.

Sharpening Results

All three knives are wickedly sharp now. I’m very pleased with the results.

Cleaning and Lubrication Comment

Whenever I sharpen a flipper, I blow out the insides with compressed air and then lubricate them. My preferred lubricant is Teflon/PTFE. Because it dries after application, it does not attract and hold dirt. Thus, I applied it to all three knives like I normally do.

It’s common for things to feel gritty until the fluid evaporates but the Hogue didn’t get better, it got worse. I’m not sure what Hogue uses to lube their knives but the solvent in the Dupont spray must have cleaned it off and the dry Teflon wasn’t enough. Conversely, the ZT 350 and Kershaw Compound worked great. It’s not unusual to see something work with one mechanism but not another so it was time for plan B.

Okay, plan B. I started using Super Lube this year on firearms and really like it. Basically, Super Lube is a synthetic lubricant that includes tiny PTFE particles in it. So, I applied it with a pen dispenser and it works great. Way, way better.

Final Result

The knives are all very sharp and they are flipping smoothly. Time to keep using them 🙂 I hope you found this helpful.


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.