Do I post far too many videos from YouTuber kiwami japan? Probably. Am I going to stop? Probably not.
Kiwami japan is one of the most ingenious YouTubers out there, making knives from all types of bizarre materials. He doesn’t use regular materials like steel. Instead, he uses everything from Jell-O to aluminum foil.
In one of his most recent videos, he turns underwear into a knife. Yes, underwear.
Making it as a knifemaker is no easy task and there are countless knifemakers out there worthy of some time and attention. It’s been a while since we’ve profiled a knifemaker on the blog (the last time was probably 2012’s chat with Stewart J. Light). So when knifemaker James Wahls of Indy Hammered Knives reached out to us, I was intrigued.
I did some research and stumbled upon this video:
His story seemed really interesting, so I agreed to interview him about his journey as a knifemaker.
First, could you tell us a little about yourself, such as where you’re from and your background growing up?
Good Question, I’m from and grew up in LaGrange, IN, which is a small town in northern Indiana. When I say small, I mean I had Amish neighbors growing up and is still the place where I get all my sweet vintage blacksmithing tools! My folks and sister still live up there. I love to go back and visit this special place as much as I can because it will always be home to me.
We’ve been doing the Badass Knife of the Week for four and a half years. We are currently up to 235 different knives being given the honor. So how did something so iconic and essential as the Spyderco Endura get passed up for so long? We beg for your forgiveness because this badass knife is an all-time classic.
The Spyderco Endura helped usher in a new era of affordable, tactical knives made right here in the United States of America. Released in 1990 as the larger brother of the Delica (which we did feature as the 11th Badass Knife ever), the Endura is in its fourth generation and nearly a perfect knife.
Formally known as Columbia River Knife & Tool, CRKT is a relatively new company in terms of big knife brands, having only been established in 1994.
However, over the two decades the company has been around, it’s put out hundreds of different knives. There’s a lot to love about CRKT, from its truly innovative designs to its collaborations with some of the top knifemakers. Unfortunately, the use of inexpensive materials leave a lot to be desired by the knife community.
Picking the 10 best CRKT knives was easy at first, until I realized all the knives I was forgetting. The company puts out dozens of new knives every year and discontinues a ton. Unlike many of the other brands, this list is a mixture of new and old.
Let us know if you think we missed any.
We’ll start with the flagship series from CRKT: the M16. The late great Kit Carson, who pioneered the flipper tab, helped propel CRKT to where it is today, thanks to his M16 series. His knife was named one of the 10 best tactical knives of the decade by Blade Magazine, and the CRKT interpretation is nothing to scoff at.
These days, there are dozens of variations on the M16, so much so that it’s hard to sort out all the models available and the confusing numbering system. The M16-14SFG is a crowd favorite.
The Drifter is an unlikely addition to this list. In many ways, the Drifter is an unspectacular folding knife, but it is exactly the knife that anyone can use and enjoy. In fact, the knife was named the best folding knife for the masses by The Wirecutter. It’s dirt cheap, features a reasonable sub 3-inch blade length, and uses a no-nonsense liner lock.
Utility knives — those knives with replaceable blades — are nothing new. Workplace utility knives have been around for decades and are often found on job sites. But, more designers are starting to focus on making everyday carry versions of the utility knife.
Shane Korthuis, founder and designer of Korcraft, contacted me when the project first launched on Kickstarter on June 24 with a press release.
He touts the Everyday Blade as the “world’s smallest folding utility knife that fits 12 types of blades.” While that qualifier may be true, this is hardly the first EDC utility knife. But does it hold its own against some of the others? Let’s take a look.
Everyday Blade Specs
The Everyday Blade is seriously tiny. It weighs less than an ounce and is about two inches long when closed. The whole thing is about the size of a house key but is decidedly thicker at 0.82 inches.
With thousands of knives flooding the markets, it might seem like there’s so much overlap out there that all knives start to bleed together. If you actually believe that new knives no longer have much to offer, you have a lot of studying to do.
Every year manufacturers and designers work hard to bring something new and exciting to the table. To better illustrate how new knives are still proving their worth, we thought it’d be interesting to take a look at all the winners of Blade Magazine‘s “Overall Knife of the Year” award since the start.
The winners of this award are voted by attendees of the BLADE Show and a panel of special judges. These knives are typically prototypes at the time, but show real craftsmanship, expert designs, beautiful construction, and much more.
The first BLADE Show took place in 1982. From what I could find, the first Overall Knife of the Year award was given to a Fight’n Rooster knife, though I couldn’t pinpoint the model, so I didn’t add it here.
Also, the show did not have an Overall Knife of the Year winner in 1983. If I am wrong, please let me know. So with that, let’s start with the knife that won the award in 1984 and work our way to the present.
1984: Timberline Survival Hunter
(The image is of a skinner version of the knife made by Timberline’s Vaughn Neely. These old knives are hard to find.)
The Survival Hunter is a design by Vaughn Neely, who founded Timberline, and was a beloved knife. You still see these vintage Survival Hunters for sale but they tend to go very quickly. Like I said, these earlier knives are difficult to find information on, but it also won the American Made Design of the Year in 1985.
1985: Gerber Clip-Lock
The Clip-Lock from Gerber was a Black Collins design that’s now long discontinued. It had an unusual sheath design in that a clip locked it into place. Here is a quick video overview:
1986: Fight’n Rooster 7-blade Congress
I’m honestly not too familiar with Fight’n Rooster Knives, but I was able to find out that the company was started in the ’70s by Frank Buster. Most of them were traditional slip joint designs typically made in Solingen, Germany. This 7-bladed Congress was all I could find of the knife, but if it’s not the correct model, please let me know.
1987: Buck Titanium
The Buck Titanium was an interesting design with a titanium handle and an overall design reminiscent of the Buck 110 Folding Hunter. It had a monstrous pocket clip, which you can kind of see in the image above. It had a back lock and was just a solid knife.
There is a Swiss Army Knife for everyone. If you’re that person who people turn to for a quick gadget repair or to help open a package, the Tinker is for you.
With the Tinker, you can be a jack of all trades and a master of everything. This small Swiss Army Knife is a mainstay of the Victorinox collection and remains one of the most popular models the storied company puts out.
The Tinker is a two-layer tool that features all the tools needed to tackle the basic tasks of everyday life.
This classic red version of the Tinker is only 3.5 inches when closed and holds 12 different tools: a large blade, small blade, can opener, three screwdrivers, bottle opener, wire stripper, reamer, toothpick, tweezers, and key ring.
When Sal and Gail Glesser started a company in the 1970s based around a device called The Portable Hand — which could assist jewelers and other professionals who work with small parts — they likely never imagined it would become one of the premier knife brands in the world.
But, more than 40 years later, the company known as Spyderco is a top-tier brand with some of the best and most revolutionary knife designs ever made.
So, as we’ve been doing, we decided to go through the 10 best Spyderco knives currently in production. You’ll notice this list is heavily populated with classics, but that’s partially thanks to Spyderco’s CQI (constant quality improvement) program that improves upon existing designs. That’s how you get perfection.
Here are the 10 best Spyderco knives you can get right now.
Spyderco Para Military 2
Let’s get the Spyderco Para Military 2 out of the way. The PM2 is almost universally known as not just the best Spyderco model but the best pocket knife available.
So how does a knife like the PM2 capture the hearts and minds of people everywhere? It has a nearly 3.5-inch blade with a functional design and quality S30V steel. On top of that, it stays engaged with the easy-to-use and reliable Compression Lock. The G-10 handle had been improved from the first generation for better ergonomics.
This knife has pretty much everything you can ask for in a larger folder.
Spyderco Dragonfly 2
What the Para Military 2 is to larger folders, the Dragonfly 2 is to smaller folders. Pound for pound, the DF2 is one of the best small folders you can buy.
Although the Dragonfly isn’t widely accepted as the best small folder, some of the most trustworthy names in the knife community swear by this knife and for good reason. The leaf-shaped blade is only 2.25 inches, but the whole design and ability to choke up on the blade make it feel larger than it is. It locks into place with a backlock mechanism while the bi-drectional textured FRN handle scales are grippy and reliable.
If you were to peruse some popular knife forums, you’d think the invention of the assisted-opening mechanism was the worst thing to happen to the knife world.
The truth is that the average user could not care less whether the knife is spring-assisted. As long as it opens reliably and is relatively cheap, most people barley notice.
So, why do most knife nuts seem to hate assisted-opening knives with a passion? These are the most common arguments against assisted blades.
(Note: I’m being the devil’s advocate and citing some common arguments. I honestly don’t have a preference between assisted-openers and manual folders.)
1. Assisted-openers are dangerous
One of the biggest complaints about assisted-openers is that they’re dangerous. There are stories from people across the internet who say an assisted opener engaged while in the pocket. Those with flipper tabs are likely more dangerous because they can open up pretty easily when some pressure is applied to the edge of the closed knife. (This is a problem that can be mostly prevented with right-handed tip-down carry where the pocket would help keep it closed.)
I’ve carried assisted-openers before and never had one open. However, I have had an unassisted knife open slightly in my pocket. I don’t remember the circumstances that caused it, but any type of knife can be dangerous. Take a look at what could happen with an auto:
Some have even complained that the strength of the assisted open is so powerful that the knife feels like it’s going to jump out of the hand.
2. Safety lock negates any advantages
To combat the first complaint, many knives come with safety mechanisms that keep the blade closed. For example, many Kershaw SpeedSafe models have a little peg that slides behind the blade to keep it from opening up accidentally. While it does increase the safety of the knife, it also counteracts the quickness and accessibility of the knife.
Legend says that the Baer brothers of Imperial Schrade wanted to offer a knife that their grand-dad would carry. So, in 1959, the first line of Old Timer knives was officially put into production.
Despite its long history with highs and lows, the Old Timer brand continues to exist today by encompassing the spirit and dependability of the knives of old.
The latest Badass Knife of the Week is the perfect example.
The Old Timer 158OT Guthook Hunting Knife features a 3.5-inch guthook blade you can use to effortlessly process hide and body cavities on-the-spot, keeping meat clean and hairless and impressing a mark of craft on your work. Made from stainless steel, the blade is easy to sharpen and resists all types of stains and corrosion when used in wet situations.