Hollow Handle Knives and Other Classics (All Randalls Qualify)

Discussion in 'Knives, Gear, Guns And Other Tools' started by DYSPHORIC JOY, Sep 11, 2016.

  1. R Stowe

    R Stowe Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm glad I came back to catch up on this thread. This is a great education on these blades.
     
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  2. DYSPHORIC JOY

    DYSPHORIC JOY Administrator Staff Member

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  3. Strigidae

    Strigidae Administrator Staff Member

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    Soooo cool.
     
  4. DYSPHORIC JOY

    DYSPHORIC JOY Administrator Staff Member

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    Thanks. It was a nice and cold day with high winds. Perfect time to visit a graveyard and hike a few trails.
     
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  5. Sam Wilson

    Sam Wilson Member

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    Cool pics, DJ. Always a neat back story to your photos.

    Since there was some interest in the how's and why's of these things being made, when I saw this in the shop today I thought I would take a couple of pics and post them.

    This is a proto from a couple of years ago, which I still occasionally use for mockups. The guard has been silver brazed (also called hard silver soldered) to the handle tube. It's not the cleanest job as it was done simply for testing, but it is a solid and properly done brazed joint.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Let me just say, this thing has been through some wars. You can see all the scars and heavy marks on there from the countless and brutal beatings I have given this thing over the years, and it's still going strong. In the next pic, you can see the hole for the pin.

    [​IMG]

    As you can see, the hole is heavily deformed. The reason for this is that I put a steel rod in there for traction and put it in the vise as tight as I could get it. Then I used a pipe wrench to try and twist the guard off of there, and no kidding I used everything I had. I couldn't get it to budge. The hole finally started to tear and deform from all the torque, but the joint was still going strong.

    This is in addition to the lateral strength tests I performed by just beating this thing to a living death on both a concrete floor and in a vise with a baby sledge. It absolutely would not budge. It's to the point where I'm always more concerned about hurting myself than the knife anymore.

    This is why all the Randall owners shouldn't be concerned at all. A good silver brazed joint (which is what Randall does on the 18, although they probably use a slightly different solder than in this case) is VERY strong, right there with some types of mig welding. There could always be a defect, but this is true with their knife, my knife or anyone else's. The point is that it's a very sound method. And their braze joints are very clean, too. Not as easy as it looks.

    This is the way the SAFE prototype that DJ has is constructed, only it is also pinned through the tang and epoxied. The blade will easily snap before it comes out of the handle. I have given it some vicious beatings as well, and it never even blinked.

    I can bore everybody about these knives all day long, so I will stop there. But if there are any questions, I am happy to share what I know. Thank you.

    Sam Wilson
     
  6. Strigidae

    Strigidae Administrator Staff Member

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    I never would have expected that to hold that well!
     
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  7. Sam Wilson

    Sam Wilson Member

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    Neither did I. Showed me the value of actual testing all over again. After I removed the blade I really got crazy with it. It just wouldn't quit. Both the guard and handle started to deform, but the joint stayed strong.
     
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  8. Expat

    Expat Expat™ Knives Staff Member

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    Me neither. It's making me question the purpose and/or advantage of the full tang??
     
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  9. Sam Wilson

    Sam Wilson Member

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    I don't mean this in an argumentative way but I don't know you well enough to know if you're being funny or serious. But my answer is the same either way and I don't mean anything confrontational by that.

    Full tang knives, or three piece knives as makers often refer to them, are simply much cheaper and easier to produce. This is not to say they aren't good quality and that they don't take skill to produce well. They certainly do.

    But practically speaking they lack the creative handle options that hidden tang knives offer, and not just in the decorative sense either. Hidden tang knives offer better insulation against heat/cold and vibrations while chopping, since there is essentially no direct metal contact with the hand. Also, on a full tang knife you are often limited on handle shape/contour, since the handle is usually going to be the same width as the blade to avoid costly cutting and waste.

    Full tang knives can be mostly done without much in the way of hand finishing, having the handle slabs cut out by machines. Further costs are saved by not even gluing the handles to the tang and using fasteners that can be removed by the customer. This avoids having to grind them flush with the handle. Again, not to say those are bad knives, I make them too so I don't think it's a poor product.

    But they are much easier and quicker to produce. After the blade blank is heat treated and finish ground, pin or bolt the handles to the blade, and after the epoxy dries grind them to shape, using the hardened steel profile of the tang as a guide to know when to stop grinding.

    I have no doubt that ease of manufacture has been one of the reasons why full tang knives have been promoted as the only acceptable type of blade to use for "hard work." It's very similar to scandi grinds and some of the sloppy convex grinds that are promoted. Not that scandis don't have certain advantages, but about 4 or 5 passes on either side and you're done grinding. Doesn't get much easier.

    You will often see makers/manufacturers promoting the benefits of convex grinds in the same way. Convex grinds done the way they frequently are can be pretty shabby. Often done entirely on the slack part of the belt, they can very easily leave too much metal on and are preferred by some because everything blends in easily and mistakes/poor grinds are easily hidden.

    Properly done convex grinding is much different, and requires more skill and work, thus reducing it's popularity with makers/manufacturers.

    Standard disclaimer here, much of that is my opinion, albeit based on experience and conversations with makers/manufacturers. No offense meant to anyone, anywhere.

    Sam
     
  10. Expat

    Expat Expat™ Knives Staff Member

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    1. I'm impossible to offend

    2. I was totally serious. After thinking about it, I realized tang knives are easier and quicker to make. And probably more forgiving if you don't do it right, versus a hollow handle knife.

    Looking at your knife that you cranked on, I'm thinking that many (maybe most?) tang knives would've failed under that same stress.

    It's just made me rethink a few things. I appreciate your education you keep giving here.
     
  11. Sam Wilson

    Sam Wilson Member

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    Ok, cool. I'm pretty much the same way. I don't like to argue, but I love to discuss and learn from a productive dialog. Glad we're on the same page.

    I also agree that many full tang knives would have suffered catastrophic failure from that testing. I can say this with certainty as I have had to take them apart before due to defects in handle material or whatever.

    On a full tang knife held by pins and epoxy, usually all it takes a few minutes or less with a heat gun and it's all she wrote. If it's held in place by corby or Loveless bolts, it's MUCH more durable.

    I switched to corby's exclusively after having a paring knife handle fail on me, done with pins and premium epoxy.

    But I can tell you truly that if you show up with only a heat gun and a hammer, you're going to be in for a long day getting these apart. That is why pinning the tang on the hollow handle design is so important in my mind.

    Even if you torch the epoxy and crank it back and forth enough to loosen it up, that pin (or bolt, depending on the model) is peened on both ends and then ground flush. It will be no small chore to get it out and release the blade.

    I'm not saying every knife needs to be replaced by a hollow handle version, just that they are exceptionally durable when done right. Also, the handle tube is drawn up tight against the guard forming a triangle (connect the dots from the pin in the tang down to both edges of the handle meeting the back of the guard) that literally makes almost all movement impossible until you've done some epic damage.
     
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  12. Sam Wilson

    Sam Wilson Member

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    Also, in regards to what you said about a HH knife being more difficult to make, yes, you are right. I won't go into every detail, but one simple thing is just keeping everything square and straight.

    On a hidden or full tang knife, the tang is usually at least 3-5" long. This gives you a nice long reference for keeping the guard and blade all square. HH knives have about a 1" tang. Very easy to be off and not realize it until you're in deep trouble.
     
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  13. Strigidae

    Strigidae Administrator Staff Member

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    This thread is dangerous to my pocket book.
     
  14. Delkancott

    Delkancott Member

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    This. I have no need for a hollow handle knife but now I want one.
     
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  15. DYSPHORIC JOY

    DYSPHORIC JOY Administrator Staff Member

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    I liked HH knives prior to the craze just from hearing my Dad talk about the 18 in Vietnam. I continued liking them through the rubber handle era into the micarta period, across the Zombie epoch and now continue to stand relatively alone in this 3" bushcraft era. Appalachians are isolationists, I reckon.

    Seriously, I bought Mike and Jeff's knives when folks thought they were an ugly attempt to compete with Cold Steel. After witnessing performance testing and the US ethos, I purchased from Zombie Tools when everyone laughed at the Zombie name and who in the "Bushcraft" world has even heard of Robert Parrish, Neeley, Winkler, or until recently, Newt?:D
     
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  16. Sam Wilson

    Sam Wilson Member

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    The 18 is a very solid knife, and what I appreciate about the Randall's is that they are purpose built. Slightly softer steel gives greatly increased durability, excellent leather sheath, a stainless option (I'm a big SS fan), and as mentioned earlier a great connection method. Not that you don't know that, just my thoughts on it.


    There are a number of factory and custom options now and a better selection than has been available in the past. The cheapest entry level Schrade is not a bad knife from everything I've read. Thin the edge down a bit and wrap the handle in cord or inner tube and you're in business.
     
  17. Strigidae

    Strigidae Administrator Staff Member

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    Ill end up with a pac knife some day sir. It has my eye. Its calling out to me. I hear it. Strigidae! Buy me! :)
     
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  18. Andy the Aussie

    Andy the Aussie Administrator of the Century Staff Member

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    ..... great picture mate.... tell me exactly what blade it is he is holding if you would (I think I know but want to be sure).

    Sam, always admired your work.... !!! Your candid responses here just add to that. Of course weall know that "Gaston" over on BF is THE authority of HH knives. steel and edges..... :eek::eek::eek::p:p:rolleyes::rolleyes:;):D
     
  19. DYSPHORIC JOY

    DYSPHORIC JOY Administrator Staff Member

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    HH that people forget about plus Kephart drop:
    [​IMG]
     
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  20. DYSPHORIC JOY

    DYSPHORIC JOY Administrator Staff Member

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    The knife is the Model 8 prototype by Sam with the complete MOA system. Will get some more pics up when I get a chance. My son is also finishing up a video on the SAFE. He lost some footage when he downloaded it so he is doing some more just to highlight different uses.

    Gaston is an interesting choice of screen name by that poster.:D He has definitely done some unique modifications to classic knives. I haven't read further since all the "oil" leaked out of the Lile when it was cooked in the oven.
     
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