edited by Joe Kertzman. The 35th annual edition of the knife enthusiast's source for articles, photos, addresses, and information on your favorite custom and factory knives.
Reviewed by Mac Overton
Come the fall, along with decent weather returning to Texas for a few blessed weeks, comes the new annual edition of the Knives series. Every year, it is a joy to the eye and mind of anyone with more than a casual interest in knives, those most useful of all easy to carry tools. This 2015 edition arrived a few weeks ago, and lives up to its heritage. This is the 35th edition.
The directories are always helpful, not just to a writer like me, but to anyone that might want to contact a particular maker or order a special kind of knife. I was able to make contact with a man who had started a project with me some 10-15 years ago about evaluating different steels, that I had lost track of. He had moved from Texas’ largest county (Oklahoma, for the uninitiated) to Canada. We made arrangements to complete the project.
For me, though, the features are always the highlight.
The lead feature, by veteran writer Mike Haskew, is “The First Knife I Ever Made,” containing interviews with many of today’s top craftsmen. The picture of Bob Dozier’s first knife, made out of a file while he worked on an oil rig in the Caribbean, makes me envious. As does the admittedly crude-looking fillet knife Steve Schwarzer made out of a saw blade. While crude in appearance, you can tell it would earn its keep!
The next feature is Roderick T. Halvorsen’s evaluation of two premium Fällkniven models, “Are Quality Knives Worth the Quid?” These two sizes of bowie-style knives, while pricey for factory products are definitely worth it if you end up depending on your knives for your survival. The combined price for the two, each of which resembles the wonderful Marble’s Ideal of years past, was about $1,400. “Are they worth it?” he concludes. “That is a question only an individual can possibly provide, but if the answer relies on getting the best of the best, for actual hard use, that’s easy — yes!”
Don’t overlook “A Sword for a Warrior King,” by Vince Evans. The photography and costuming alone is worth the price of the book. The sword is based on a 7th-century pattern-welded blade, “as stunning to behold as a king in full regalia.”
James Morgan Ayres elaborates on the topic of “Switching to Survival Knife Mode,” in which he says “the saying is true that the best survival knife is the one you have with you... so learn to use it.” He evaluates both fixed-blade and folders.
Don Guild contributes a piece about art knives, in “The Art Knife Goes International.” Frankly, I prefer users to “art,” but this article is a good introduction to the topic.
Attorney Evan Nappen, who specializes in knife rights, has a superlative feature on “Knives Hidden in Plain Sight.”
There are innumerable ways to disguise blades as decorative items, where they will be at the ready, but not conspicuous.
As a “traditionalist,” I also was fascinated by Jordan Clary’s “Knife Trading Along Emigrant Trails,” dealing with the role of the “trade knife” in America’s westward expansion.
Boot knives are the main topic of “Feeding His Fixed-Blade Fixation,” by noted knife writer Michael Janich. He also delves into some of the best folders which can simulate fixed blades.
Chris Reeve’s continually award-winning integral lock and its imitators is the subject of “Frame-Lock Fever,” by Pat Covert. Frame locks offer many advantages, at least to me, over the typical rocker lock, including being “wear-adjusting.”
“Trends” follows features, and in full color, is a feast for the eyes. Subdivisions include, but not limited to, “Utility Knives and Choppers,” “Food Preppers,” “Cool as a Camp Cutter,” and at least a dozen other categories.
“State of the Art” delivers, showing that things that defy description can be done with knives.
One of my favorite sections is “Factory Trends,” showing what is coming down the pike for those of us that can’t spend the cost of a car on a new knife.
All in all, Knives 2015 is a great addition to a knife lover’s library.
Softcover, color and B&W illustrations, 312 pp.