Knife Artistry with John Dingman

My husband, John, started making knives in 2017. He had always been a talented wood artist, making wooden swords and axes with ease. Let’s just say the Boy Scout’s woodcarving badge was cake for him! He enjoys making avant-garde blades for people to use, admire, and treasure.

Knife Artistry with John Dingman
Knife Artistry with John Dingman
Follow the life of the “Sonora” blade from beginning to end!
Video Credit: Hunter Rand

John never thought about working with metal until he met with his Uncle Doug and Rod Chappel. The curves on John’s knives are unique, inspired by legendary knifemaker, Roderick “Caribou” Chappel, who I’ve written about more extensively in a previous post. They are designed to be ergonomic and artistically inspired by the curves of the womanly figure.

We wanted to take you on a blade’s journey from start, to finish. John works out of our garage in a space that is approximately 10′ x 6′. In this video you will see that he uses a commercial size (Burr King) belt grinder, bench grinder, drill press, metal files, and spindle sander in order to fashion this blade. He dreams of having a spacious workshop dedicated to his knifemaking business one day. John is heading in the right direction!

He appreciates an assortment of artwork, from blades and wood carvings, to drawings and paintings. John enjoys creating things from scratch. This is his passion, and he is striving for perfection and uniqueness in every blade.

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The Sonora Knife by John Dingman
This is the end product!
Photo Credit: Kammi Dingman

That’s a Wrap!

Zero Tolerance 0770CF with a paracord lanyard Photo Credit: Kammi Dingman

Paracord is basically yarn for outdoorsy people. There is much enjoyment to be found in braiding paracord bracelets, slings, and knife lanyards. Having no prior experience, I looked up the directions and learned from videos on the internet. Paracord is amazing in that it can be used for shelter, hammocks, snare traps, fishing line, fish netting, fire, bear bags, and more. It’s easy to underestimate the innate utility of something so simple.

There are paracords that can hold 550 lbs, 620, or even up to 750 lbs of weight. A really interesting type of paracord is the SurvivorCord by Titan Survival Company that functions as waterproof fire tender, fishing line, and also snare building material. The flammable thread core burns readily, there is plastic cordage for up to 25 lbs of weight for fishing line, and hearty wire to compose a snare trap. You’ve probably seen the survival bracelets with a compass or flint built in, and perhaps some small tools such as fishing hooks and line hidden inside of the weaves of the bracelet. These are nifty to have, especially when you’re out in the woods.

A decent paracord wrap can improve the grip on your knife, especially if the knife is like the ESEE Izula. The ESEE Izula is one of ESEE’s most popular knives and can be purchased either with or without scales. It’s all personal preference. There are methods called the easy wrap, basic criss-cross, sword style, etc. Some knifemakers pre-wrap their skeletonized blades with paracord of the customers choosing.

Paracord can be knotted and used as an extension of the knife, especially if the knife handle isn’t very long. The snake knot can be used to make this extension. People have even used the snake knot technique to make strong zipper pulls for bags and clothing. More tactical and less tacky! Here is an instructional video by Blade HQ on how to make a snake knot lanyard!

That’s the tea! Thank you for reading and please feel invited to leave a comment and share this post with friends!


3 Ways to Get a Grip!

The Importance of Grip

Let’s be honest, the last thing you want is unnecessary hand blisters. Our bodies adapt to nature, just as your tools should. Did you know that in water, our hands shrivel up like raisins due to osmosis and also in order to increase our grip in wet environments? Survival is all about adaptation and performance in ever-changing environments. Maintaining homeostasis is the goal. The best knives for any environmental conditions will perform comfortably, hold an edge, and decently avoid corrosion. You can check out more important qualities to look for in a blade by reading my previous blog post. Grip matters, so here are three grip specs to look for in your next knife purchase!

1- Handle Material

The quality of handle material matters a lot to me. I prefer a decent wood, g-10, or micarta handle. Hardwoods or stabilized burl woods may be used to construct a robust knife handle with the beauty of natural wood. G-10, an exceptional performer, is a stable laminate composite, epoxy-filled woven glass fiber. G-10 is light, strong, durable, impervious to many chemicals, and resistant to changes in temperature. Micarta is very similar to G-10 and is made up of composites of linen, canvas, fiberglass, paper, or carbon fiber in phenolic resin or thermosetting plastic. Micarta is also smoother than G-10. Whatever handle you choose, make sure you like the feel and the looks!  

2- Ergonomic Shape

Ergonomics is another important feature- you won’t want to use a knife if it doesn’t feel comfortable in your hand. You don’t want the knife to rub blisters on or strain your hand during use. Your hand web between your thumb and forefinger should rest on the top of the knife while your fingers wrap around the knife naturally. The fit relies on the geometry of the knife, the shape of your hand, and the working motions performed when using the knife. Ambidextrous versatility of a knife is great, but people tend to use their dominant hand for most tasks.

3- Balance

The best knives have good balance established. There is no uniform balance point, because blade shapes and lengths are all different. Some are made blade-heavy, and some handle-heavy. The balance is all about personal preference. Some of us choke up on grips, some of us sink into the back of grips depending on how light or heavy, long or short the knife is. Handle thickness (or thinness) and material also plays a role in how the blades balance. The balance also dictates where and how you apply force to do work most efficiently. Think physics (Newtons Law, etc.)

Guide to knife handle materials by Knife Informer gives a super comprehensive look at each of the handle materials and a sample knife to go along.

Here are some of the most notoriously comfortable knives with awesome handles that have honorable mentions:

Morakniv Companion ($14.66 on Amazon)

Ontario Rat ($27.08 on Amazon)

Gerber Bear Grylls ($39.30 on Amazon)

CRKT Hissatsu ($58.15 on Amazon)

ESEE Izula ($65.00 on Amazon)

Gerber Strong Arm ($67.89 on Amazon)

KA-BAR Becker BK2 ($82.00 on Amazon)

Benchmande Mini Griptilian ($93.50 on Amazon)

ESEE Knives 6P ($108.44 on Amazon)

Zero Tolerance 0350 ($139.99 on Amazon)

Tops Knives Apache Falcon ($146.12 on Amazon)

Helle GT ($154.00 on Amazon)

ESEE Knives 5P ($158.24 on Amazon)

Tops Knives Bushcrafter Kukri ($172.00 on Amazon)

That’s the tea! Every time I do one of these reviews, I see more blades that I am tempted to add to our collection. I enjoy both factory made and custom.

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Me, casually grinding blades under the watchful eye of my husband. I always love to pick out the custom grip material. Always wear your protective gear!

Photo Credit: John Dingman

Sword Swallowing Spectacle

Plastic sword swallowing with John Dingman!
Photo Credit: Kammi Dingman

Sword Swallowers: Human Sword Sheaths

Have you ever seen a knife or sword swallowing performance? It’s a dangerous, yet intriguing art. The pointy end of the sword goes all the way past the mouth, pharynx, esophagus, and touches down into the stomach. The sword swallowing performer must suppress the gag-reflex. People have died from improperly swallowing swords. The art of sword swallowing is said to take anywhere from three to ten years to master, and only certain individuals can train their physiology to allow it.

How Do They Do It?

Some sword swallowers eat and drink a large amount before their performance so that the stomach takes on a more elongated shape that the sword can fit into better. You have to really understand the delicacy of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and the tissues that could be accidentally sliced, punctured, scraped, or perforated. Damaged tissues could cause internal bleeding or be prone to infection. They can use stainless steel or damascus steel swords that I talked about in a previous blog post of mine, but they should be ones that are small enough to fit into the mouth and GI tract.

The Origins of Sword Swallowing

Sword swallowing was originally practiced by Indian Fakirs and Shaman priests who also exercised other interesting arts such as hot coal walking and snake charming. Sword swallowing travelled from India to Greece, Rome, China, Japan, and Europe as a new component to accompany the other traditional entertainment acts in theater and street performances. Many festivals in these countries incorporated fire breathers and sword swallowers. Indian sword swallowing advertisements first appeared in an English magazine in the 1800s and was regarded as prime entertainment. Interestingly, Scandinavians outlawed the act of sword swallowing in 1893.

Modern Sword Swallowing

29-year-old Professional Sword Swallower, Alex Magala, was winner of Russia’s Got Talent in 2014, Finalist in Italia’s Got Talent and Britain’s Got Talent, Semi-Finalist in Ukraine’s Got Talent and Quarter-Finalist in America’s Got Talent. You have to see his death defying sword swallowing performance from America’s Got Talent. That performance still gives me chills!

And that’s the tea! Thank you for reading. Please leave a comment and subscribe for more knife knowledge.


3 Reasons Why You Need a Car Knife

TAC-Force blade in my emergency medical kit. Photo Credit: Kammi Dingman

Why should you keep a knife in your car? There are 3 main reasons that immediately come to mind. Rescue, survival, and self-defense. My Father inspired me to always keep an emergency knife in my car. There are really cost efficient knives with a seatbelt cutter and window breaker built in. I like to keep mine in my glovebox or middle compartments of my vehicles. You can even velcro it for secure storage. Some knives even have small flashlights and fire starters incorporated into their design! A tactical type knife can be considered a car knife. A GearHungry article on the 10 Best Tactical Knives in 2019 written by Jordan Carter lists the top rated tactical blades.
TAC-Force produce extremely affordable knives with lots of potential. Right now it’s $7.40 for the cheapest all-in-one TAC-Force knife (knife, seatbelt cutter, and glass breaker). You’d be paying that much money for the seatbelt cutter and glass breaker as a combo tool by itself. At least you get a knife with a serrated edge when you buy the EMT type knife. A car knife doesn’t need to be expensive, but if you want something better quality, you can invest in something like the Kershaw Barricade or Blur, or a Leatherman Signal, depending on your needs. The Leatherman Signal has an emergency whistle along with a knife, saw blade, sharpener, hammer, and screw driver heads. Read more about multi-tools and their extreme utility on my previous blog post.

TAC-Force Knife on Amazon (Approximately $7.40)

MTECH Knife on Amazon (Approximately $8.99)

Kershaw Barricade (Approximately $23.19)

Kershaw Blur (Approximately $69.10)

Leatherman Signal (Approximately $95.95)


A seatbelt cutter can come to your aid just in case your seatbelt mechanism isn’t working. Seat belts can malfunction and cause entrapment during accidents or other emergencies. If someone is trapped and their door won’t open, the window breaker can be used to create an escape route. These tactics don’t just apply to cars but to other scenarios as well if someone is trapped in a room with glass windows or tied up.


Call me the paranoid preparer, but I always bring extra water, food, clothes, blankets, and a medical kit when I go on road trips. The idea of being stuck somewhere without supplies is not appealing to me. You can build a fire, shelter, and prepare food thanks to your emergency car knife. Always remember, a sharp and clean knife is a happy knife. Don’t forget to keep a small portable sharpening tool in your camping survival pack, medical kit, or bug out bag.


If your vehicle is non-functional, escaping danger via your car is no longer a viable option. I always keep a car knife in addition to my everyday carry (EDC) knife. We don’t expect to be in bad situations, nor can we anticipate what will happen on a road trip or in the spur of the moment as we are travelling to our next errand. A car knife could be the tool that helps you get away from or subdue an attacker. I really like tasers for this purpose.

Thank you for reading this post. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think about keeping a knife in your car and what other purposes it may serve for you.