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.

Thank you for reading this post, and don’t forget to subscribe. Please let me know what types of knives and handles you prefer in the comments!

Kammi


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

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.

Kammi

My great-grandfather was a kind and simple Oklahoman man. Although I was born after he had passed away, I know he was just like my grandmother who raised me: a hard worker and good advice giver. He had a small knife collection of humble necessities. A collection can be unique and interesting, no matter how big or small. His treasures have been passed down from my grandmother, to my mother, to myself. This post is about his every day carry (EDC) knives, which he cherished. It’s important to have a good EDC knife, which I have written about along with my recent selection process experience in a previous blog post.

There are mostly elegant cream and bone colored knives in his collection. The handles are made from plastic composites, micarta, and wood. One of the most interesting knives in his collection is a 1950’s vintage 7″ Colonial Shur-Snap Cream Sabre Ground Blade Fishtail Automatic Switchblade Knife. I think this one must have been his favorite according to the telltale wear and tear on the blade. Another knife in his collection is a 4″ small version of the French Chatellerault Stilleto Fishtail Knives produced in the 1950’s to 1960’s. Although more of a novelty-type knife, it gives off a dainty and elegant aura. Another favorite of his was the Disneyland multi-tool. Multi-tools always come in handy, so the Disneyland collectors edition (which bears a resemblance to a short and compact swiss army knife construction) is a very useful utility knife for any gentleman. Last but not least, he has a well used Old Timer which bears resemblance to some case knives. Cabela’s still sells Old Timer knives with their vintage design! See how Gentleman’s knives have updated their image in Blade Magazine article by Dexter Ewing.

These knives led meaningful lives of daily utility and had a home in my great-grandfather’s pocket. A gentlemans knife is usually stored in their shirt/jacket or pants pocket and used daily. You can tell that my Great-Grandfather loved every gift that my Grandmother (his daughter) gave him by the way he held her gifts close to his heart. If any of you know my Grandmother, she has the best taste in all things décor, clothing, and style. This collection shows me that she is also an expert EDC knife picker!

The purest form of knife collecting is all about the sentimental value of your pieces. If something speaks to you, you should do your research, buy it at a good price and add it to your collection. Many knives appreciate in value if they are kept in good condition or if the custom maker passes away. Of course, this depends on who or what company made the knife, what materials its made out of, how large it is, and how exclusive or common it is. “There never was a good knife made out of bad steel.” – Benjamin Franklin

If you enjoyed the content in this post, please subscribe for updates and leave a comment!

Kammi

My Great-Grandfather’s special knife collection. Photo Credit: Kammi Dingman

Organic meat beats the hormone pumped alternatives any day. That’s why I support hunting and conservation. Once you receive your hunter’s safety certificate, you are able to purchase a hunting license and tags either through a raffle system or over-the-counter. In Nevada, we have a raffle system. There are different types of game to hunt from small to large. For big game there are various seasons such as muzzle-loader, archery, and regular rifle seasons. 

My brother is actually the one that got me into archery and hunting. He taught me how to shoot a BB gun, 22 rifle, and bow. I find the most enjoyment in doing archery for target practice. Arrows are basically reusable ammunition that last for a while. Archery is more difficult than rifle due to the close range you must be within to harvest the animal. Regardless of the method chosen, a field kit is a necessity for your hunting pack. Even a simple, but good knife can make a difference.

A decent field kit is a must. It will allow you to properly process the animal to the point where you can efficiently transport it to your campsite or kitchen for consumption or freezer storage. Listed are the components of a field dressing kit: caping knife, skinning knife (which may have a gut-hook), boning/fillet knife, bowie knife, wood/bone saw, and game shears. The first three types of knives (caping, skinning, and boning/fillet) are very essential and are the base of most kits. The purpose of a field kit is to essentially be as efficient as possible when processing the game. A variety of tools with plain edges and serrations are used. Here is a review of some popular field dressing knives by James Johnson from outdoorhunt.net. 

There are new advancements in field dressing equipment such as the Havalon series of knives. Each time the blade dulls, you are able to easily switch out the old scalpel for a new one. If interchangeable parts aren’t for you, sharpening your blades in advance and packing a field guided sharpening kit for on-the-go sharpening should do the trick! Check out this previous blog post of mine for tools and tips on sharpening your knives!

If you enjoy hunting and the great outdoors, please subscribe and leave a comment!

Kammi

Polished damascus steel knife by John Dingman made for our friend, Blaine.
Photo Credit: Kammi Dingman



There’s nothing like a trip to the great outdoors to put you in good spirits! With nature all around you, fresh air, greenery, and wildlife is abundant. No matter what the season, the environment is harsh if you do not have the right tools. Amongst the most important tools to bring with you on a camping trip is a camp knife. In fact, some people bring a variety of knives such as a camp knife, hatchet, fish fillet knife, multi-tool, and a mid-size survival knife.

A decent camp knife is usually an all-in-one versatile knife with extreme durability. Camp knives generally have a blade at least 5 inches in length and can have a full-tang or hidden-tang handle. Campsites are dirty and you can imagine how grimy and dull a knife will get after repeated usage. I strongly recommend packing a pocket sharpening tool (I like Work Sharp Guided Field Sharpener) for proper blade sharpening on the go!

Camp knives can be used for batoning (splitting wood), cut tender, prepare food, notch poles, and other common camp-oriented tasks. Ergonomics are very important in the wilderness, so it’s vital to make sure that the knife you are purchasing is comfortable for your hand. Features like jimping (little groove cutouts for the thumb on the back of the blade) can provide increased control. Serrations are another factor to take into consideration; knives can be partially or completely serrated. Although they can be used like a saw to gradually slice through thick objects, the cuts are less clean than plain edge knives. Knives with partial or full serration are also more difficult to sharpen than plain edge blades. Blade HQ experts provide a review of some popular camping knives.

Camp knives demonstrate more strength during big tasks versus their smaller pocket knife counterparts. They are usually fixed blades, but can also be folders with more robust construction. Liner lock knives are not recommended for activities such as batoning as they usually buckle up and can injure the user. Also, just because it’s a burly camp knife doesn’t mean it can’t be pretty. I prefer a plain edge with mirror polish or stonewash finish. Knives can be easily stored in a leather or kydex sheath that attaches either on your belt loop or the side pouch of your backpack.

Thank you for reading this camping knife blog post and please let me know what kinds of knives you take camping in the comments below! If you like this content, please don’t forget to subscribe.

Kammi

Camp knives from John’s collection.
Photo Credit: Kammi Dingman

I enjoy watching my husband make knives using the stock removal method. Stock removal means that you are essentially carving out a knife and removing the excess metal from a slab. First, he begins by drawing blade designs on paper, and after some amendments, cuts out the shapes using plexiglass (acrylic glass). Always save your plexiglass blade figure for your portfolio. Then he traces the image in marker and profiles out the knife from the steel stock.

Once the knife has the desired shape, it’s time to drill holes for pins and grind into the steel to actually thin the knife out. John creates a hollow grind on his blades using a Burr King grinder. Rough grits should be used first to shred away a majority of the metal. Once the blade is properly ground, it’s time to heat treat it. This is the procedure where the steel gets hardened. Various steels have different heat treating protocols. Hardness can be tested using the Rockwell scale.

After heat treating, knives are ground using fine sandpaper grits and polished up using a polishing wheel and compound. We can also engrave dates, names, and logos onto the blade. If John is making a full-tang and using scales for the handle, he proactively anticipates the location of the pins and how much material he will need in order to shape the handle. After a lot of sanding and testing the grip, he sharpens the blade. Sharpening is the last step and should be carefully performed. My previous blog post, Looking Sharp, discusses the popular sharpening methods used in this stage.

There is a helpful knifemaking article published on Blade Website by Wayne Goddard called Knifemaking 101- Read This Before You Make a Knife. The article addresses how to set up shop and advises on what materials to use. Whether or not you’re a prospective bladesmith, this literature is a fantastic read. Thank you for reading and please share and comment if you enjoy the artistry of knives!

Kammi

Epoxy step for a custom hidden-tang knife. Photo Credit: Kammi Dingman

Some knives are hung in glass display boxes on our walls. These knives are made by various bladesmiths and collected over the course of the past 20 years. As pragmatic pieces of art, we can admire their craftsmanship, or elect to take them out of the display to use them in the field. We all want to be sure that our knives are ready for the tasks at hand. I’m a believer that the tools we use should always be in tip-top shape, ready to perform.

During your adventures, your knife edge will become dull with regular usage. Interestingly, a dull blade is considerably more dangerous than a sharp blade. How is this? It takes more strength and ergonomic dexterity to handle a dull knife. In trying to cut with a dull knife, the blade may slip through unexpectedly and end up cutting you or something else unintended. This is how accidents happen. How often should you sharpen? That is dictated by activity level and wear-and-tear. I usually test the knife sharpness by cutting through a piece of paper.

In order to avoid dull-knife associated accidents, we look to sharpening methods for solutions. One commonly accepted method is using sanding stones such as whetstone, or diamondstone, and mineral oil. The knife should be sharpened using sides with rougher grits and then progress to sides with finer grits. This process will remove more metal from the knife, but will theoretically keep the blade sharper for the longest period of time.

There are some temporary sharpening techniques that can get you by if you don’t have access to sanding stones. One such sharpening method includes using a honing rod for a quicker and less invasive way to sharpen blades. Using a honing rod will not remove as much metal from your knife and will tide the knife over until it can be sharpened using a stone. Even the ceramic bottom of a coffee mug can be used to hone a blade. Glass can be used in a similar way. Just like all sharpening methods, this will prolong the sharpness of the blade. Stropping is a technique that employs a leather or nylon belt as a temporary method used to make the edge sharp and aligned. Grab a newspaper! The black ink acts as polish (due to carbon-based compounds in the ink) and the material has enough grit in it to sharpen a little.

Many individuals enjoy using tools like Work Sharp as a one-stop-shop for knife shaping, sharpening, and honing of edges. For on-the-go sharpening, there are also pocket-sized tools available for purchase that are built complete with diamond sharpening plate and ceramic honing rod. You’d be surprised how well a guided field sharpener works! There are various other brands that have small sanding combos available for purchase as well.

Knife makers and collectors enjoy coming together and sharing their experiences and thoughts about the proper sharpening methods to use. Each knife is different and not all sharpening methods work best for different knives. I’m a big supporter of pocket sharpeners, especially when you’re outdoors, packing light, and miles away from your garage. As always, it’s a pleasure interacting and hearing the thoughts about methods that others have experienced success with. Please share your go-to sharpening methods with me in the comments below and subscribe to this blog if you enjoy reading this content! Thank you!

Boot knife made from 440C stainless steel and blue burl elder wood.