After a couple of missteps, a dream I’ve had for a long time is finally being fulfilled.
Several months back a pal down in Idaho, David Marcotte introduced me to one of his Damascus blades. That introduction left a lasting impression. In fact, that bond was so strong that I now own that beautiful beast of a knife.
I give you… Nightcrawler:
You’re looking at a pound of Alabama Damascus Steel with a Dark Cherry Marble handle.
I thought her so beautiful that I just had to have her, hold her, covet her…
(Man, that’s kinda creepy, huh?) :)
The “business end” of this incredible blade is 10 inches long, almost 2 inches thick at it’s widest and just over a 1/4 inch thick at the spine. Her overall length is 14 inches, which including 5 inches of the most beautiful cherry marble clad handle you’ve ever held. When you hold her, you feel… invincible.
Nightcrawler’s blade is made up of three different steels which have been forged and then hammered together. The combined steels have literally been folded over 700 times. The knife artisans who made this steel did this by hand in the same manner as the old-world steel makers did.
Remember all those Samurai movies you saw on late night Cable TV? The best way I can describe Nightcrawler is that she’s made in the same spirit as that magnificent Katana Steel that was crafted hundreds of years ago for Samurai swords.
Damascus Steel is a “patterned steel”. The patterns are created in the blending of steels, through forging, folding and hammering. It has a “grain” that can run from “mild to wild”. Guys like Randy Haas Jr. at HHH Knives turn out Damascus Steel billets that are just incredible to behold. You can actually get lost in them.
This is called “Explosion Damascus”. Crafted by Randy Haas Jr at HHH Knives, it’s just about as cool as Damascus gets. It’s literally the “knife steel of dreams”.
As you can see, some Damascus Steel patterns are incredibly striking. Damascus Steel is “three colored”. The colors run from silver, to dark grey, to black. The steel composition is 15n20 (silver in appearance because it has more nickel in it), 5160 (dark gray), and 52100 (black).
After seeing Nightcrawler, it’s obviously to anyone with a pulse that when it comes to knifemaking, David is no slouch. David is a pretty good knife artist in his own right. He builds blades worthy of coveting, for sure. If you’re looking for a great knife and you can catch David when he’s not swamped with work building swords, he’s a great bet. His skinner blades are wickedly delightful!
And there’s the rub. I originally acquired Nightcrawler to use as a field knife. I knew that she was strong, capable and more than willing to answer any call. But… after seeing her, holding her, examining the way that David had so carefully put her together, she was just too pretty to subject to field use as a 24/7 Utility Knife. Nightcrawler is the girl you call on a Saturday night to go out and tear up the town. She’s not the girl you bring home to meet your mom.
As much as I love her, I quickly realized that I was right back where I started. I needed a Utility Knife to carry, 24/7. And, I still needed it desperately.
During some of our conversations. I mentioned that I had a “blade of dreams” that was far beyond my reach, but lodged deep within my heart. You can only dream about these blades. These blades cost hundreds of dollars, both in steel and in craft and dozens of man hours to bring to life.
And there’s the rub. Most of us don’t jump in our Escalades and race over to the knife shop. Most of us can’t just write checks or flash plastic to cover these costs. Most of us come from “common stock”. We WORK for a living. Most of us can ONLY dream about these incredible blades because we can never reach them financially. They are “the forbidden steel”.
Nonetheless, I posted an image of the blade I had in mind, with a few suggested changes. I’d done my research. Along the path, I’d picked up some “old school knowledge” about blades and blade-making. I learned to see through the hype and mine for the real gems. I learned to discern “fantasy” from “reality”.
I confirmed that I don’t need a hog-leg Bowie knife as big as a truck door or some knife destined to be wielded by a crazy Aussie in a Crocodile themed movie. I don’t require a knife with a handle so big you have to use both hands to hold her. I don’t need a blade that looks like it belongs in an “Apocalyptic Sci-Fi” movie. I don’t even need a knife destined to slay Zombies.
If I wanted a blade to kill Zombies, I’d carry THIS:
“Chopper” – Created by Keiran Klein at Hammer Down Forge. Trust me when I tell you that you’re gonna hear a lot about this guy. He and his cohort Rob Bentley combine their steel and leather skills to create some incredible blades. This beautiful blade, 15″ of 1075 Steel “Zombie – In Your Face!” with a hamon is currently available from Hammer Down Forge, but you better act fast. I’ll hate you for stealing her from me (and I’ll malign you family ancestry under my breath), but I’ll understand completely. :)
You see, to the best of my knowledge… they don’t have zombies in Montana. yet. So, what I need is a working, hunting, fighting, fiddling… kind of companion in a knife.
(When we get confirmed “Zombie Sightings” I’m gonna go pray at the alter of HDF and beg the gawds for deliverance from my enemies… And if I play my cards right, this blade will descend from the clouds to provide me with salvation.)
But I digress.
Somewhere along the way, as I described my dream… the dream grew legs. That dream became a necessity, a tool needed to propel me forward down my path as I explore the future that Montana brings my family.
We’ve decided that we’re going to try this again. We’re going to run a series of posts on TBE about “Knife Lore”. We’re going to talk about what metals are best, what designs are the most practical in an EDC and HOW great blades are birthed.
It will culminate with the construction of a blade that I’ve dreamed about for years. Some guys dream about cars or girls…
You know that you’re getting old when you come to that grim realization that you dream about tools. Go figure!
In my mind’s eye, that tool looks something like this. Okay, it’s a little rough and industrial, but it’s a knife made for working the river bellies and high country or even scaring the bejeezus outta pesky tourists. :)
“This knife came from the depths of my heart. Don’t make me lodge her into yours.”
Hell, maybe I’ll even do it in Latin or better yet, Hebrew. LOL!
I need a blade fitting a “Montana Life”. In rural Montana, we go from truck to horse to ATV to truck again. When it finally stops snowing, we break out our bikes or horses for a few days of exploring majestic mountain passes. There are a lot of challenges. So, I need a “special knife”. I want her for EDC (Every Day Carry) and I want to watch my young son watch it as it’s being used daily.
FYI: All great knives are referred to as “She”. What else can stab you in the heart and grin wickedly at the same time?
Whoa! Where did THAT come from… :)
When it’s my son’s turn, I want that knife to fill his hand as he uses it as confidently as his father did. I can almost hearing him telling his own children;
“This was my father’s knife. One day, it will be my son’s knife as well.”
It’s time for me to put that dream into competent hands and then stand back as a highly skilled Knife Artisan invests his time and experience into turning her into a reality. I’m sure that she’ll change a little bit along the way as “Craftsman embraces Steel” and listens to those voices that tell him where she’s supposed to go.
I’m literally holding my breath. How many times do you get a second chance at achieving a dream? I feel like a little kid waiting to dive into a pile of presents headfirst during the holidays. :)
If you’re currently interested in learning about fine blades, you’re definitely going to want to stay tuned.