The Cutting Edge

The official blog of Knife Depot

Author: Jonny Bear

How To Start A Successful Knife Collection

knife collectionWhether you’re a knife enthusiast or looking for a hobby that will make you money, knife collecting can be a rewarding activity. Knife collections fetch thousands of dollars on sites like Ebay, Craigslist and Knife Auction, but if you don’t know where to begin, things can quickly get complicated. Here are a few tips for beginners who plan on venturing into the fascinating world of knife collections.

Tip #1: Pick what type of knife you want to collect

While many knife admirers may have the urge to buy and collect all types of knives, it’s important, at least to begin with, to focus on one type. Fortunately, there is a large range of knife types you can pick from, including pocket knives, daggers, swords, Bowie knives and antiques. Selecting just one variety gives you a clear focus, so you are not overwhelmed by the numerous choices.

Tip #2: Set a budget

This might seem like an ancillary point, but it’s extremely important to consider before embarking on a collection. Knife prices range anywhere from a couple dollars to well over a thousand bucks. If you’re not absolutely serious or sure about collecting knives, set a smaller budget and work your way up.

Tip #3: Get knife guides and educate yourself on your specific type

Once you’ve selected the type and picked a budget, the next step is to begin purchasing knives. People take different approaches on how to buy knives. Some get one at a time while others buy sets. Knowing the prices and models of the type of knife you’re planning on collecting will prevent you from overpaying and give you authority on the subject. The Official Price Guide to Collector Knives is a great place to get started.

Tip #4: Search for knives at a variety of places

There is no wrong place to look for knives, but looking at a range of sources ensures that you have more options. Look up local antique shops, visit the Knife Auction site, attend a knife show or join knife collection forums. Doing these things will help point you to reputable knife dealers who may have hidden gems.

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Butter knife that failed to cut throat not a deadly weapon, court rules

The California Court of Appeals recently determined that a butter knife, even when used to try to cut someone’s throat, is not a deadly weapon.

This fascinating case began at a Los Angeles high school when three students attacked another student, simply identified as Deon, on the school’s campus. As two students held Deon down, the main attacker, Brandon, pulled out a knife and tried to cut Deon’s throat. But, when the knife’s handle fell off, the students fled the scene.

The attack was described in more detail in the court documents:

According to Deon, Brandon took the knife and tried to cut Deon’s cheek and throat. Brandon moved his arm up and down, applying a slashing motion on Deon’s cheek. Deon testified that, despite Brandon’s efforts, the knife would not cut: “He [Brandon] was trying to cut, but it wouldn’t cut. So it was just making, like, welts.”

Because the knife did not cause significant damage, the California Court of Appeals ruled that the butter knife was not a deadly weapon. This downgraded the attack to a misdemeanor, overturning a previous ruling that charged the defendant with a felony.

The appeals court ruled that a deadly weapon must be an object that can cause death or great bodily injury. Since the defendant applied full pressure with the knife and tried to inflict significant harm but still could not, the knife was not capable of causing great bodily injury and was therefore not a deadly weapon.

The actual knife used was a little more than three inches long, had a rounded edge and slight serrations.

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Maine legislator pushes for switchblades for those with one arm

Maine State Representative Sheryl Briggs is mounting a campaign to legalize switchblade knives for individuals with one arm.

The proposal is similar to a federal law that exempts those with one arm from the prohibition of switch blades of 3 inches or less.  The reasoning behind the push, quite simple: it’s hard to pry open a normal knife with only one arm.

According to Briggs, one-armed lawyer Paul Dumas Jr. asked her to introduce the bill.

It gets tough to open up a knife one-handed. I use my teeth sometimes, and that isn’t very safe, Dumas said.

A House committee plans a hearing on the measure next week.

The effort is one of many to decriminalize certain types of knife possession.  Last month, I blogged about the recent efforts of the knife advocacy group Knife Rights Inc. to ease knife restrictions.   In May, the group led the way in successfully repealing a New Hampshire law against switchblade possession.

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NOVA does documentary revealing “Secrets of the Samurai Sword.”

The samurai sword, also known as the katana, has a rich history dating back from ancient Japan. The sword, which typically exceeds 23 inches in length, is known for its curved single-edge blade and long grip. It gained popularity among waring clans in 12th century Japan and has traditionally been a sword associated with an elite group of Japanese swordsman.

NOVA recently put together a documentary entitled “Secrets of the Samurai Sword,” which breaks down the history of the sword, its construction and the warriors who used it.  Here are a few of the highlights.

History of the Samurai People

The samurai quickly rose to the status of elite swordsman and as early as the 12th century had established themselves as the knights of Japan.  Between the 12th century and the 16th century, they were active in a number of armed clashes, insurrections and battles over control of Japan.

According to the documentary, the samurai were treated with great reverence and up until the 17th century could could legally kill any common person who did not show them sufficient respect. However, along with this respect came a set of ethics that could prove fatal to the samurai himself.

They lived by their own moral code, called Bushido, which deemed a death by enemy to be dishonorable; for this reason, the Samurai would often commit suicide if death on the battlefield appeared unavoidable.

The documentary also details the painstaking process of constructing a samurai sword.  During the construction of the sword, which can last up to 3 months, over 15 men, from steel forgers to sword polishers, will work on it.  Eventually, it returns back to the original swordsmith, who will have the final say on whether or not it is worthy of a samurai warrior.
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Sushi Knives and Sharp Blades

An article published by ABC News today reported that a Japanese sushi federation has created a certification program for aspiring sushi chefs.

“We just want to make sure foreign chefs understand the basics of sushi making: how to cut, clean and prepare raw fish,” said Masayoshi Kazato, an experienced chef who was one of the creators of the test.

Not surprisingly, one of the criteria for receiving a certificate was knowing what type of sushi knife to use.

Kazato said he noticed a difference in the knives being used to cut the fish by inexperienced chefs, which is a concern because dull knives often don’t cut smoothly and expose the fish to more air, accelerating deterioration and increasing the potential for bacteria to attach to the fish.

We posted about the myth that dull knives are safer than sharp knives, along with other knife myths, a few months ago.  Though a dull knife will have less of an impact if it grazes your flesh, it’s not safer, because it forces you to use extra pressure when cutting.

It seems that most knife owners have been disabused of this myth, but we recently ran into a discussion forum at Mythbusters.com, where some participants were still suggesting that dull knives were safer.

When preparing sushi, which is extremely delicate, the need for a sharp knife is not just for safety but to ensure quality as well. A dull blade will crush a maki, which is an all-encompassing term for sushi rolls with rice, toasted seaweed, nor or other fillings.

It’s also important to remember to never use a electric sharpener to sharpen a sushi knife, but to always use a sharpening stone, especially if you aspire to join the ranks of certified sushi chefs some day.

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New Jersey Knife Laws Make Pocket Knives Illegal

A few weeks ago, we blogged about the efforts of the group Knife Rights to repeal many of the laws regulating knives. A recent column by Greg Bean of the New Jersey publication The Examiner gave a prime example of the confusion surrounding knife laws in many states.

Bean tells the tale of a young man who was arrested at a random DUI checkpoint for possessing a pocket knife.  The man, who declined to be named for the article, wasn’t drinking and had spent the day on a remodeling project.

According to Bean, the man faced a felony charge but eventually plead guilty to disorderly conduct and paid a $800 fine.  Bean said that the man told him that he asked the judge to provide clarification of what law he’d violated, but received none.

Bean tried to find the answer himself, but after asking a number of cops, judges and prosecutors, he failed to get a comprehensive answer.

They confirmed what I suspected, and here’s what they said: Because the state statutes are so vague, law enforcement can do just about whatever it wants, from taking the common-sense approach and letting the poor sod go, to incarceration, to astronomical fines, no matter how arbitrary and capricious their actions appear.

Bean’s editorial isn’t the only one expressing disgust at  poorly-defined knife laws.  Knife advocates across the country are speaking up in greater numbers about what they perceive to be vague and poorly-intentioned state and local knife laws.  Bean feels that the laws make criminals of those who are simply carrying knives for functional reasons.

I don’t want to be a criminal, but I’d like to carry my Swiss Army knife since I use it several times a day, and never know when I’ll have to open an envelope, drive a screw, or cut a trapped family from a flaming vehicle

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San Francisco Chronicle profiles life-long knife sharpener

The San Francisco Chronicle recently ran an interesting profile on life-long knife sharpener and knife expert Eric. E. Weiss.  Weiss, 55, has been sharpening knives since he was five-years-old.  He currently earns a living by sharpening approximately 35-40 knives per day, at $8-10 per knife.

Weiss mans a booth at the Berkely Farmer’s Market three days a week and still sharpens knives by hand.  He told The Chronicle that he uses four natural stones while sharpening: soft Arkansas, medium Arkanas, red Indian and ceramic, in addition to six grades of industrial diamondstones as sharpening material.

Like many knife experts, Weiss is critical of using dishwashers to clean knives, which he calls his “No. 1 nemsis”.

People seem to think that any knife can be put in a dishwasher. But in fact it’s like sandblasting your car in order to clean it. The knife is banging against the basket, getting chips, nicks, dents, dings. And if the knife has any sort of quality steel to it, the dishwasher can remove the edge in two, three washings.

In the profile, Weiss also attempted to clear up the often repeated myth that a sharp knife is more dangerous than a dull one.

When he’s not sharpening blades, Weiss said that he is an avid reader of knife history, from tactical knives to survival knives to hunting knives.

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How to pick out the right camp knife

There are a bunch of camp knives out there, often making it daunting to make a purchase.  The video below, in which an old-time knife connoisseur is explaining the differences in camping knives to a knife newcomer, is a great example of the diversity of the camping knife market.

The man has stretched approximately a dozen blades across the backside of a canoe and proceeds to explain the values of each one.

He talks about the convenience of folding or pocket knives.  He calls the fixed blade knife a “failsafe” because of its lack of moving parts.  He describes the importance of hunting or survival knives, which can be used to gut animals, cut wood and erect shelter.  And, lastly, he shows off a few boning knives and a couple of fillet knives.

Check out the video below:

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How to Hold a Throwing Knife

So you’re interested in knife throwing?  Well, before you go pro, the first thing you need to do is learn how to hold a knife.  There are two primary grips used by knife throwers, both of which we’ll explain below.

Hammer Grip

The hammer grip is the easiest method of holding a throwing knife and the appropriate method for beginners. As you might expect, in the hammer grip hold the knife just like you would hold a hammer. Remember to keep your wrist stiff and only grasp the knife by the handle, in order to avoid cutting yourself. The hammer grip is primarily used for heavy knives.

The Pinch Grip

The pinch grip is best for rapid and forceful throwing. With the pinch grip, the knife is pinched between the thumb and index finger. You should usually only use your thumb or index finger. However, for a heavier knife, you can use your middle finger as well.

Knife throwing grip images shown courtesy of KnifeThrowing.info.

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How to teach kids to use kitchen knives

Few instincts are stronger than a parent’s desire to protect their child from danger, which is why it’s important to teach your children the correct way to use kitchen knives.  The most important thing to stress to young ones about kitchen knives is that they are tools, not toys.

Here’s an example of something you should never do with young children and kitchen knives:

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Of course, the best way to encourage your children to safely use kitchen knives is to lead by example. Here are a few tips

(1) Make sure you always point knives away from yourself while carrying them.

(2) Always use cutting boards that are sturdy and reliable.

(3) Make sure you never leave knives unattended.

(4) Be conscious of your body language and posture when you are using kitchen knives around young children, as they will learn from example. Be mindful to show caution, for their sake and yours.

(5) When you are ready to allow your children to begin using kitchen knives, first start them with a plastic knife and have them cut foods like cheese and butter.  Show them how to hold the handle correctly and how to keep their fingers out of the way.  Once they progress, you can move them onto a butter knife, and then, once that is mastered, allow them to progress to a kitchen knife.

(6) Always supervise children when they are using kitchen knives.

Want a few more tips? Check out this cool video from FitforFeast, which has 10 kitchen knife safety tips for kids.

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How old are knives?

When you’re using a Swiss army knife on a camping trip or a steak knife to cut up a tender rib eye, do you ever think about how old the blade you’re cutting with truly is?

Knives are some of the oldest tools on the planet. They date back to the Stone Age, approximately two and a half million years ago.  Throughout history, almost every major culture has used some form of knives.  A few recent discoveries have shed light on some of the more unique knife specimens from the past.  Check them out.

The Oldest Steak Knife (200,000 years old)


In July, researches in Tel Aviv, Israel discovered tiny flint knives, which they believe were used to cut meat.  These shards of stone, approximately the size of a quarter, were found around the remains of a fire and adjacent to the carcasses of animals.

Archeologists speculate that these knives were used to cut the meat of animals such as horses or rhinoceros.  The knives would have only been used for a short time and then discarded after they lost their sharpness.  They were likely created by chipping shards off stones

The Roman Army Knife (2,000 years old)

A precursor to the Swiss Army Knife, the Roman army knife had many similar features.  This knife was made from silver, but had an iron blade.  It features a spoon, fork, spatula, and retractable spike.  Researchers speculate that the spike may have been used to pry snails from their shell.

It’s possible that, because of its complexity, this knife was owned by a wealthy traveler who had it custom made.  The knife was discovered in the area of the Mediterranean and is currently on exhibit at a museum in Cambridge.

Otzi the Iceman

When researchers find mummies from the past, they are often carrying knives as well.  The discovery of Otzi the Iceman, the oldest naturally-preserved mummy found in Europe, was accompanied by the recovery of many of his tools, including the flint knife he had.

Because of their resourcefulness, knives have spanned millions of years and will likely be around for millions more.  That’s food for thought and something to consider the next time you’re slicing up a flank steak or whittling a stick with a pocket knife.

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Happy Labor Day. Here’s a tutorial on how to sharpen a pocket knife

Labor day is one of those holidays where your pocket knife is bound to come in handy.  Whether you’re fishing, camping, or just cooking out, you’ll undoubtedly use your blade for something.

Lifehacker, which is a blog you should definitely check out, had a pretty swell post today on how to make a four-prong campfire toasting fork using your pocket knife.  Of course, if you’re going to be using your pocket knife, it’s best to make sure it’s sharp.  Here’s a brief tutorial on how to get your knife up to snuff. First, what you’ll need.

A sharpening stone

There are a ton of sharpening stone options out there, but if you’re just starting out, then ceramic stones are a a pretty good bet, as they don’t need any lubricant.  An Arkansas Stone or a Diamond Bench Stone are also two good basic models to go with.

A lubricant

Depending on what sort of stone you’ve chosen, a lubricant might be necessary.  Many stones are designed to be used with a certain sort of lubricant, so it’s important to do some research and see what sort of lubricant your sharpening stone may need.

What to Do

Place your stone in one hand and put your knife on the flat side of the stone.  Then, push the knife forward at an angle, approximately fifteen to twenty degrees off the stone. You should hear a smooth, grating sound as you push it forward.  Work the knife back and forth between 3 and 5 times. Flip the knife over and sharpen the other side as well.

It’s a pretty easy process, but best explained via a visual aid, which is why I’ve included this totally strange video of a 13-year old knife wizard showing how it’s done.  Enjoy and have a great Labor Day!

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Jim Bowie, a tough guy with a big knife.

There are few knives on the market as iconic as the Bowie knife. Known for its long, curvaceous blade, which can extend up to 12 inches, the Bowie knife is a favorite of such cinematic knife-wielding warriors as Crocodile Dundee and Rambo.  However, it’s fair to say that no man has ever brandished a Bowie knife with the same violent precision as its founder, Colonel James “Jim” Bowie.

Who was this Bowie Guy Anyway?

He was not a man to be messed with, that’s for sure.  Born in Kentucky, Bowie spent most of his early life in Louisiana, where he worked as a craftsman and a land speculator.  He eventually moved to Texas,  operating a textile empire in between fighting in numerous disputes during the early periods of the acquisition of Texas from Mexico.  Bowie died defending the Alamo from the Mexican Army in 1836 at the age of 40.  Legend has it that he was shot by Mexican troops with his back to the wall, pistol in one hand, Bowie knife in the other.

Origin of the Bowie Knife

The Bowie knife was designed by Bowie in the early 1800’s.  The most famous version was produced by Arkansas blacksmith James Black in 1830.  Bowie wanted a knife that could function as a hunting tool and a weapon. The Bowie knife is known for its distinctive top notch, which was designed to catch an attacker’s blade.

The Sandbar Brawl

Bowie KnifeIt was the Sandbar Brawl that launched the legacy of Jim Bowie and the Bowie Knife.  Bowie was in Natchez, Mississippi, serving as a principal in a duel between Samuel Wells and Dr. Thomas Harris Maddox, both from Alexandria, Louisiana.

The duel concluded with both parties missing each other, which should have been the end, but tempers flared between those on the scene, including Bowie, and soon a brawl erupted.  We’ll pick up the action from Wikipedia, right after Bowie was shot in the hip.

Bowie, rising to his feet, drew his knife and charged at Crain, who struck him so hard with his empty pistol upon the head that it broke and sent Bowie to his knees. Wright appeared, drew a pistol, and shot at the fallen Bowie, missing. Wright then drew his sword cane and stabbed Bowie in the chest, but the thin blade was deflected by his sternum. As he attempted to pull the blade free, Bowie reached up, grabbed his shirt, and pulled him down upon the point of his Bowie knife. Wright died instantly, and Bowie, with Wright’s sword still protruding from his chest, was shot again and stabbed by another member of the group. As Bowie stood, pulling the sword cane from his chest, both Blanchard brothers fired at him, and he was struck once in the arm. Bowie spun and cut off part of Alfred’s forearm.

The Bowie Knife Today

Today hunters and survival enthusiasts all over the world carry Bowie knives, which can be used from everything from chopping small parcels of wood to scaling a fish.  Want one?  Luckily, we’ve got a huge selection of Bowie knives.  And they are all covered by a 30-day guarantee, as long as you promise not to use them in a brawl or duel.


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