A couple of new products arrived this week I wanted to mention.
The first is truly a new item to to TSA Knives. It’s the “Baddest Bee” Fire Fuses. Being a camper and always interested in a better way to get a fire lit in the outdoors, I just had to try these out. Each water resistant tube contains 8 fire fuses approximately 4″ in length.
In addition to the 3 pak of the Fire Fuses, there’s also a Kit available that includes a small pak of the Fire Fuses, a small fire steel and a ‘collapsible’ bellows.
The Fire Fuse is incredibly simple to use and effective. Simply take one of the fuses, fray the end a bit with your knife tip.
And throw a good spark from your Fire Steel and….voila!!!!
Stick the fuse under your kindling and you’ve soon got a campfire. The Fire Fuses burn fairly slow and can be snuffed out once your fire is started so you can save the remaining fuse for later use. They come in a water resistant tube, work under wet conditions and from what I’ve experienced are idiot proof.
The next item isn’t really ‘new’ but deserves mention. I originally received some of the EdgPro Apex Bench Mounts some time back but failed to make much mention of them. A customer ordered one from me this week and asked why I’d never made mention of them on the blog. My apologies.
It’s an incredibly simple device to resolve a common issue. You previously needed a smooth surface such as a formica, granite or similar solid type of surface to mount the Apex Sharpener. This simple bench mount makes it possible to mount it on most surfaces with an edge you can attach a clamp to.
The other ‘new’ item is an expansion of the line of Blackjack Classic knives I carry. I’ve long been a fan of the Bark River line and the Blackjacks are quickly growing on me. The Blackjacks have a strong Randall influence but are much more affordable AND available. They’re built by the folks at Bark River primarily using the time proven A2 tool steel. Good stuff. Fit and finish is outstanding and they come with a razor sharp convex ground edge.
Camping season is coming and the Blackjack line offers some great camp knives. I just received a good sized order and will put together some sale prices on a couple of the Blackjacks to give you a chance to try one out at a great price. Keep an eye on the blog.
I’m always on the hunt for something new and the Edge Pro, Fire Fuses and Blackjacks fit the bill. The key is, I’ve gotta believe it’s a great product or I don’t want to carry it. If I wouldn’t use it I sure as hell don’t expect my customers to!!
A key point in making the Trestle Pine Knives has been the use of premium blade steels. Every now and then I hear from a customer regarding the steel and it’s always gratifying to hear it’s as good as I hoped. This week I got an email from a customer with a Superior and he expressed how well the steel performed. At the show last weekend, two customers dropped by the tables to give their feedback.
One of the guys at the show brought up the point that while the 154 series will hold an edge like crazy, there’s a price to be paid when sharpening it, although its worth it. That price involves a bit more time sharpening if you neglect the edge.
Personally, I use the Edge Pro sharpener and admit to staying on top of things. Every couple of weeks I’ll take a few swipes over the edge to keep things shaving sharp. It only takes a few minutes and the payoff is worth it. Yesterday I took touched my Gunflint up and checked the condition of the stones I’m using.
This is a look at the thickness of the mounted stone and the cupping in the middle of the stone is pretty obvious. I can’t really quantify it, but this stone is about a year old and has sharpened, many, many knives, including 1095, D2, S30V and 154. I’ve dressed it once before but the wear is more noticeable since I’ve primarily been using it on the harder steels. Time to dress the stone.
I’ve found one of the simplest methods to dress a stone is using wet and dry sandpaper. In this case, I’m using a 220 grit wet and dry.
After just a few circular strokes on the sandpaper, you can start to see the effect on the ends of the stone as they’re smoothed down.
A couple more minutes and it’s really apparent that its having the desired effect.
And after less then 5 minutes the surface is dressed to level. The stone is thinner then a new one, but I’ve just stretched the life of that stone by several months and many sharpening sessions.
In the past I’ve also used the 2000 grit diamond tape to finish the edge to a mirror polish resulting in an incredible sharp edge. Edge Pro has a 4000 grit stone that I just started using and it puts a fantastic finished edge on things. The texture of the 4000 stone is so smooth you question whether it’ll actually do anything or not. Trust me, it does.
The true test is in how thin a sliver of paper I can shave and the effort to cut through the paper requires the slightest pressure. Add to that the fact I have an edge that will hold up extremely well and I’ve got a winning combination.
I’m just starting to get feedback on the Gunflint and the comments have been positive. One criticism (?) I have heard from a couple of people is I failed to have the blade steel stamped on the tang of the Gunflint. I’ll admit it was an oversight on my part and wish I’d had it marked. The tube label is marked and the COA’s are marked, but the tang…..
Somebody asked me which of the Trestle Pine series do I personally like the most. That’s a tough question. I tend to rotate my way through them and every time I do, I think I’ve found my favorite. Until I switch models.
I’ve got a few weeks of pocket time on mine and really like the Gunflint. The screwdriver I still miss but I can always go back to the Topper when I need it. The shape of the handle fits my hand well and seems to work with the Wharncliff blade.
Dave was kind enough to send me a set of the Shapton Professional Stones that fit the Edge Pro Sharpener to try out. I’ve got a lot of respect for Dave’s knowledge and opinion when it comes to all things sharp so was glad to exchange opinions with him.
The first thing I noticed was the price of the Shapton stones is 2-3 times more expensive than the Edge Pro Stones. Even though they’re a thicker stone, my expectations also increased.
First, the positive. The Shapton’s fit the Edge Pro sharpeners as promised with no issues. The edges of the stone were clean without chips and were to quality in all respects. They require only a fine mist of water to keep them cutting and seem to clean up as easy or maybe even a bit easier then the Edge Pro stones. I used the Shapton’s to touch up the blade on my Fallkniven U2 and have to say they did a fine job equal to the Edge Pro stones.
Their list of caveat’s on the instruction sheet made me wonder how durable they are. After explaining how they “….have been carefully developed to be low maintenance.”, but then come the care and maintenance suggestions.
Don’t leave the stone in water (may damage the stone)
Don’t leave the stone in the sun
Don’t dry with a fan (May cause hairline fractures)
Don’t wash with hot water (may damage stone)
Don’t wash with soap or detergent (may damage stone)
I don’t like the fact they use microns rather than the more common ‘grit’ scale, so you have to convert 14.7 Micron to a 1000 Grit. Not a big deal, but I find it a bit of a pain to try and remember.
The way the stones are marked is less then effective. Their method of marking the face of the stone is fine when it’s new, but after a few uses you’d best mark the back of the mounting plate to make recognition quick and easy.
You can see what happens to the marking after just a few uses. Edge Pro (bottom) takes the time to stamp the grit number on the mounting base.
I also like the fact that the Edge Pro’s are different colors for the different grits making identification a lot quicker.
My personal opinion is the Shapton Stones are a quality stone equal to the Edge Pro stones. I didn’t find they cut any faster, left my knife any sharper or the edge any smoother. Pricing for the 1000 grit Shapton is $48.95 compared to $17 for the Edge Pro. Granted, the Shapton’s are offered in grits going all the way up to 30k grit, but at a price of $300 just for the stone?????, unless I’m sharpening surgical instruments for a living, pretty tough to justify. Even the 3k grit stones are in the $60 which make the Edge Pro polishing tapes attractive at just $.60 each.
There’s a lot of hype on the net about the Shapton’s but frankly, in my limited use, I just didn’t find them superior to the Edge Pro’s. Anyone that’s used them have a different opinion or if I’m missing something, feel free to speak up.
I’ve been carrying a Queen Barlow with the Sheepsfoot blade the last few days and finally decided to put a real edge on it. Like most everyone, it’s a rare occasion that a factory new knife comes through with what I feel is an acceptable working edge. For some reason, it seems the folks that focus strictly on fixed blades do a much better job of honing their blades before they go out the door. Traditional makers, other then some of the CNC built tacticals or customs, not so much.
The Queen Barlow had an ‘acceptable’ edge, but not what I like to use so out came the Edge Pro. I have been using one of the Edge Pro Fine Diamond Stones for reshaping the blade angles when necessary so no more then 5 or 6 passes on each side laid down a little flatter grind for me. The steel in the blade is 1095 and the hardness seems to fall in the range of most of the 1095 folders but the water stones weren’t doing the job. I knew the stones were getting pretty loaded with steel particles even though I regularly scrub them with a product called Barkeepers Friend (good stuff). It’s been a while since I trued the stones and thought that might help.
Edge Pro has a product for truing any type of (non diamond) sharpening stones that consists of nothing more then a piece of tempered glass and Silicon Carbide.
Sprinkle about a teaspoon or so of the Silicon Carbide on the glass, add enough water to make a slurry and grind the stone in a circular motion in the mixture on the glass. It only takes a minute or so and your stone is trued and a lot of the surface crud is removed as well. This made all the difference in the world and I could immediately feel even the 600 grit stone was more aggressive at finishing the blade.
Cleaning any stone makes a world of difference in how effective it cuts. Oil stone, water stone, whatever, keep it clean. Also truing your sharpening stones can make an old stone work like new.
Going back to the factory edge on today’s knives, the Edge Pro quickly shows all the flaws on the grind. You’re holding the same angle the length of the blade and if there’s any uneveness or bellying in the blade…. you’re gonna see it.
This entire process of setting up the Edge Pro, truing the stones and sharpening the Barlow took probably 20 minutes from start to finish. Pretty small investment in time to end up with a razor sharp tool.
IF you’re an Edge Pro user, one word of caution. When you lay the knife on the table to sharpen the edge, small particles of steel will accumulate under the blade and end up scratching the blade. It’s hard to see in the phot, but there are some very fine scratches that are visible.
Personally, I don’t get to bent out of shape if my EDC’s have a few scratches on them. IF it bothers you, there’s a really simple solution to prevent scratching when you sharpen the blade.
Regularly wipe of the table that the blade lies on and keep it clean every time you turn the knife to sharpen the other side. Even more effective, use some blue painters tape to protect the blade.
1095 is a good steel for an every day working knife and with a proper edge, it’ll get the job done just fine. I’ll admit to getting spoiled using the Fallkniven laminated powder steels, but for under $40… this is a gem. The 1095 might need a little more attention to maintain that razor edge, but if I lose it, it’s a whole lot easier on the budget!!!
Our friend Dave with Knife Leather Traditions has probably talked me into trying out more new products then most of my customers. I’m always willing to try new stuff that shows promise and I credit Dave for encouraging me to try the Edge Pro sharpeners. Probably one of the best suggestions I’ve followed in a while. Recently Dave ordered a couple of the Edge Pro Diamond Stone and said they worked great if you had a blade you were re-beveling or just a really nasty, abused blade. Being of a curious nature, I figured I’d try one as well.
Before I go any further, understand that the Edge Pro Diamond Stone is NOT recommended for steel blades, but is rather intended to be used on Ceramic blades. Now, caveats like that rarely stand in the way of my trying something. Dave’s advice was good enough for me!
That being said, this isn’t a stone to be used by beginners. It’s a “Fine” grit diamond stone that is aggressive as hell. For years I’ve used and liked the DMT Diamond stones and still carry a honing stick in the Jeep with three attached to a paint stick for field sharpening. The Edge Pro Diamond Stone is in a whole ‘nother class of diamond stones.
My Fallkniven U2 hadn’t had a touch up in a long time and had developed an area about an inch from the point that was getting dull. Our friends at Queen use staples to close their shipping boxes and then cover them with tape. It never fails that when opening a box, I’ll run that blade down the tape and bounce over the staples. Don’t care how good of blade steel you’ve got, that isn’t good for any knife.
Dave had warned me not to use too much downward pressure on the sharpening stroke as it would not only cut too deep into the steel but would also start knocking the diamonds off prematurely. He wasn’t fooling about not using too much pressure. The SGPS steel in the U2 is hard stuff coming out at 62HRC but the Edge Pro Diamond Stone cuts through it like the proverbial hot knife through butter. I made three passes the length of the blade on both sides putting zero pressure on the stone other then the weight of the Edge Pro arm and stone. That was all it took to completely eliminate the ‘dull’ spot. It cuts FAST!
From there, it was a matter of using a 600 grit stone to knock off any burr while polishing out the marks on the bevel and then polishing the edge with some 3000 grit tape. Worth noting is the diamond is aggressive enough to leave some relatively deep cutting marks in the steel that require a little more polishing to eliminate then you’ll see using the traditional 220 grit stones. (After all, it’s meant to be used on Ceramic)
This experience makes me anxious to drop into the local thrift store to buy some old kitchen knives and rework the edges. I doubt however, I’ll use the Fine Diamond Grit in the future on the U2 unless the edge suffers some severe damage. Edge Pro also makes a Super Fine Stone that I intend on trying in the future and should be a bit less aggressive. But if you’ve got a grossly abused blade that needs a fast tuneup, the Fine Grit can definitely handle the job if you can!
IF anyone were to use it on a softer steel like 1095, I’d advise using extremecaution. Even if you’re NOT new at sharpening, you could end up turning your favorite clip blade into a fillet blade in no time at all. Somewhere around here, I’ve got an older Boker Ceramic that’s duller then dull. Hmmmmm….. gonna have to do some digging.
I’ve had a couple of the PRO models from Edge Pro on hand for a couple of weeks and have had an opportunity to use one fairly extensively. For starters, with a list price of $475, this probably isn’t the sharpener of choice for the typical knife folks. IF, however, you are a fanatic about keeping all of your cutlery including scissors in tip top condition, or if you’ve ever considered setting up a small sharpening business in your home or at local trade shows and flea markets…..this is a good sharpener to look at.
To their credit, they spent the time and money to package this in a durable case. I consider this a big deal, particularly if you plan on actually setting up at a show and (obviously) carry the sharpener along.
Inside the case, things are neatly all in their place to keep them securely contained during transit. The cool part of their packaging is you can actually figure out where things go without an extra instruction sheet when you pack them back up!
Setup is about a 1.5 minute task once you’ve set it up a time or two. Things are pretty self explanatory, but there are clear setup instructions included. Notice that the base is a one piece pivoting base that mounts to most any smooth surface with a vacuum type suction cup. Not only is it fast to setup, the pivoting base allows you to tilt the sharpening table to accommodate a higher or lower mounting surface. There’s nothing more tiring than stooping over your sharpener when you’re working on a half dozen knives.
In the picture above, you’ll notice I find it convenient to keep the water stones in a small plastic container with an inch or so of water on them. That way they’re ready to go and cleaning them is convenient as well.
The pivot shaft at the back of the stone arm has 7 index marks for preset angles from 13, 15, 17, 19. 21, 23 and 25 degree bevels. This makes for a fast setup when you’re determining or changing the bevel you want on your hunting, kitchen or pocket knife.
The good folks at Edge Pro were also kind enough to include information in their instruction book which angles are common on different types of blades. Simple, simple, simple…..
An important feature that helps stabilize the setup is the adjustable leg at the back of the table. Once you have the suction mount secured, you can drop the leg and exert just a little upward pressure on the sharpening table while tightening the lock on the stabilizing leg. Things don’t move!
You can also see the thickness of the material used in the PRO result in a solidly built machine that should literally last a life time. The setup is made from a very hard composite material, aluminum and stainless fixtures.
Another critical change from the standard Edge Pro Apex system is the adjustable plate that sits to the rear edge of the stone. The purpose of the plate is to allow use of the full length of the stone for sharpening. In the photo below you can see an adjusting screw below the black plate with the stainless adjustable plate on top, butted up against the end of the stone. The adjusting screw allows you to raise or lower the plate to be flush with the surface of the stone. As a result, when you make a sharpening stroke, the stone can run off the edge of the blade and harmlessly slide onto the plate rather then running into a solid stop. This should really help keep the stones from prematurely wearing in the middle.
This is a bottom view and shows the three screws for adjusting the plate. The front two screws adjust the plate for flush and the rear single screw allows the plate to be held in place against the stone.
Another standard feature is the spring loaded stone retainer. (pictured above from the bottom and below…from the side) By simply pulling to the rear, you release the stone for quick changes. More then a few folks have upgraded their Apex Sharpeners on their own to similarly expedite stone changes.
Now that it’s set up and ready to go, about 10 minutes going from a 220, 400, 600 grit stone and I restored a non-existent edge on this nice older Case trapper. The end result is a finely honed blade, just like you can get on the Apex. The difference is a heavier duty sharpener with the flexibility to sharpen scissors, chisels and plane blades with the scissor attachment.
I hope I haven’t made this sound more complex then it really is, because it’s actually pretty damned simple to set up and use. Would I buy one for touching up my pocket knife once a month? No, I’d probably go with the Apex. But I’m a fanatic about keeping every knife in the house sharper then new and it’s not unusual to pull the sharpener out on a weekly basis, so ya, I’ll most likely keep this bad boy. I also plan on setting it up at a few shows and demonstrating what a really sharp knife should feel like! Overall, it’s worth the price for the serious ‘sharp knife’ fanatic or anyone interested in sharpening for money, friends or family. In the next few weeks, I’ll install the Scissor Attachment and show you how simple that is to use as well!
I checked with Chris this morning about the GEC.net website not working and supposedly Billy had it up and running. Not sure if anyone else tried it, but last I checked, it’s still not functioning.
Sounds like the 99’s should be coming through the first or second week of November. November sounds like a long way off until you check your calendar.
Don’t forget there’s an auction going on for a knife donated to help raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project!! Mike W donated the first WWP knife we auctioned off (and Mike won) on the TSA Knives website back in 2009. He did so in honor of his daughter Amanda who was injured in Iraq and continues to suffer from those injuries. Just because the ground battle is over doesn’t mean the life long battle these wounded vets face has.
I got a great text message from a ‘new’ EdgPro customer which read as follows: “.….1.5 hours outside today with the EdgePro taking my knives to another level was outstanding…” What’s gratifying about the message is this is another customer that had to ‘see it to believe it’. He purchased one of the Fallkniven U2’s about 2 months ago and was really happy with it. We met up at the last gun show and I touched it up for him on the EdgePro. That’s all it took!!
The latest news and rambling commentary from TSA Knives, LLC