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Bite-sized Borry; a Bevy of Blue

Discussion in 'Fiddleback Forge Knives' started by pertinux, Sep 30, 2017.

  1. pertinux

    pertinux Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    @Warrior108 once again granted me the inestimable privilege of having some of his knives in-home for evaluation, in a slightly more manageable sampling than last time:

    [​IMG]
    Runt, Pocket Kephart, Lil Lady(finger), Monarch

    The first two knives were here to evaluate for purchase, with the Lil Lady and (surprise) Monarch along for the ride for the fun of revelations and Compare.

    All The Blue Things:
    [​IMG]
    Monarch, Handyman, Patch, Lil Lady, Sylvrfalcen, Esquire, Sgian Dubh, Pocket Kephart, Runt

    The Pocket Kephart has continued to jump out of pictures, my own and others', since I had Jerry's here earlier in the year, haunting and teasing me. When arranging for the shipment of these knives, I was sure that the PK would be remaining with me this time-- to put the hankering to rest-- while the Runt would simply satisfy my curiosity about the pattern and be on its way.

    Boy howdy, was I wrong about the Runt. Regardless of how many pictures I've seen, I was not prepared for how small the pattern was, nor how much I would immediately gravitate to this particular knife. I started laughing as soon as I unwrapped it, and am smiling still. What a cool little piece of workmanship!

    [​IMG]
    With a 3.5"-handled GEC #68

    Racer X!
    [​IMG]

    [I just realized I don't have pictures of this wee power-puncher in hand. I will remedy this once I have time and light again.]

    Not only is the knife great, it arrived in a sheath that fits the knife really well, meeting my more recent criteria for the least amount of leather to safely carry a given knife. Now that I have a better idea of what's possible, I shall be even more mindful of this aesthetic going forward, so much do I enjoy the svelte, fitted perfection of this combination (not my picture):
    [​IMG]

    Pocket Kephart: I wrote in detail about my estimation of this exact PK here, determining that I loved its looks but not, ultimately, its feel in hand. This time around, I was poised to allow my eyes to overrule my hand (and even brain), because I sure do love how the knife looks...

    [​IMG]

    ... but once again determined that there just isn't enough there there for me with this knife. With so many other patterns/knives that earnestly beckon (including those I already own, let alone the ever-new), it doesn't make sense to try to like one!

    So, my anticipated order of things was overturned: from the moment I laid eyes on the Runt, I was a goner (and it was a stay-er), while my ambivalent hopefulness about the PK has turned back towards regretful dismissal now that I have it here again-- a conclusion hastened by my having gained a Sgian Dubh in the interim, a knife of similar size that baffles me in the looks department but is a favorite in use.

    Sgian Dubh, Esquire, Pocket Kephart:
    [​IMG] Similar blade shapes and lengths; very different knives!

    Who Wore It Better, small knife division:

    [​IMG]

    Funny, what a spot o' light can do for one's blades:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    So similar, so different. The guard on the PK leaves the handle feeling shorter than that of the Sgian Dubh. The PK's handle is also slimmer, which in this case doesn't help-- I would appreciate a little more to hold on to, which the SG provides. [The 1/8" SD is slightly thicker and heavier than the 3/32" PK, in a welcome way.]

    Still to come: a Lil Lady, a Gum Buggy Monarch, and a close look at Shadetree "navy blue."

    ~ P.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2017
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  2. LavaWood

    LavaWood Gold Member Gold Member

    484
    Sep 13, 2014
    25A0E078-30DB-4325-8357-9B71DDB7FE50.jpg IMG_6464.jpg

    I loved seeing that runt resurface!
    My blue phase
     
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  3. M4Super90

    M4Super90 Biochemical Superfreak Platinum Member

    956
    Aug 26, 2008
    Always love the blue... :thumbsup:
     
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  4. pertinux

    pertinux Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    You sure had the Racing Stripes goin'! :thumbsup: I love the middle Esquire. Is the top knife an Esquire as well, in denim? It looks bigger than the one in the middle, but not as large as a Monarch.

    Pictures of the Runt in-hand:
    [​IMG]

    I love how the knife nestles in just after my ring finger, while the included lanyard and bead lend a pleasant sense of continuation to the handle:
    [​IMG]

    Racer X, redux!
    [​IMG]

    I'm still amazed that Runts didn't register for me up until now. For some reason, I was thinking they were more of a tweener size, similar to the Surls Palmer...? Not so!

    And yet, the knife does look bigger to me in these pictures than it presents in real life.... Hunh.

    [​IMG]

    I guess I was just waiting for the right one to come along. :) I'm coming to understand that this particular blue beauty has had a long(er) string of owners in its short life.

    In which the string comes to an end. o_O

    ~ P.
     
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  5. pertinux

    pertinux Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    In addition to an evaluation of the knife patterns, Jerry asked for my thoughts on the New Shadetree Blue. As a connoisseur of someone who's really picky about blue, and armed with a Macro lens, I am happy to oblige!

    I have written about Shadetree Navy Blue before, including the observation, "Shadetree CC's "Navy Blue" ranges from a true navy through more of a turquoise, depending in part on how much green is within the material."

    But now, what's this?

    [​IMG]
    Patch, Esquire, Lil Lady, Sgian Dubh, Pocket Kephart

    ... we are now seeing a blue of a different color!

    While all the above knives are clearly blue, a closer look reveals some significant variation-- with the Lil Lady's New Blue representing a clear departure from previous batches, although some lighting conditions highlight this more than others. The PK and Lil Lady look fairly similar above, yes? But look what happens when we move in closer:

    Patch:
    [​IMG]

    Sgian Dubh:
    [​IMG]

    Pocket Kephart:
    [​IMG]

    Esquire:
    [​IMG]

    Lil Lady:
    [​IMG]

    One of these things is not like the other!

    Let's look again:
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    And the Lil Lady's blue again, after Howard's-ing:
    [​IMG]

    Backing out:
    [​IMG]

    While obviously a matter of preference, the PK has the prettiest blue to my eyes, the truest blue enhanced by the jewel-like dimensionality of the shot-through green.

    [​IMG]

    I don't dislike the color of the Lil Lady (and other, newer-batch knives), but I don't prefer it to the other variations-- not so much because of the hue, but because of its comparative lack of visual depth. Also, whether due to the material itself or variations in the finishing process on this particular knife, the newer blue feels rougher, and looks rougher when viewed close-up (notice all the 'white noise' in the pre-Howard's pictures above). The Howard's evened things out well, but the the material still seems different.

    So, there you have it!

    ~ P.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2017
  6. pertinux

    pertinux Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    An Interlude:

    @Warrior108 often encourages me to use the knives he lends me, being careful to note the exceptions (if any).

    I have remained reluctant to do so, beyond some swipes at basswood to gauge possible pressure points; I don't want to risk scritching them, or worse.

    But this time, knowing that the Pocket Kephart has one last chance to make its case to stay, I figured what the hey-- let's do this.

    I had a step in need of a final denouement, and figured the PK was just the ticket:
    [​IMG]
    (Don't worry, Jerry-- I taped the hammer.)

    [​IMG]

    Ta da!

    :D

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

    ~ P.
     
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  7. pertinux

    pertinux Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    Comes a Looker: Fiddleback Forge Monarch.

    (I apologize for the darker photographs; I am not yet used to how quickly the sun sets these days!)

    [​IMG]

    Jerry surprised me by including this knife, which he had helpfully labelled, "Esquire XL.' :)

    The decisions involved in scaling a given model up or down fascinate me, because it's not simply a matter of making the pattern as a whole larger or smaller. There's more to it than that; proportions and angles need to be adjusted for a successful outcome. I have watched the 'baby' series come forth with great interest (the wee Bushboot and Ladyfinger knives), enjoying the progression from prototypes to patterns (and the tweaks along the way), and someday would like to handle the other entries in the Patch family (of which the Patch is currently the smallest) just to gauge the similarities and differences up and down the size range. As just a few examples.

    While the Monarch shares the same basic outline with the Esquire, it reads as an entirely different knife to me, especially in hand.

    [​IMG]

    (Of course, my two Esquires feel like entirely different knives from each other, in hand!)

    Here, I am being very brave...
    [​IMG]

    ... because the handle is covered in bugs.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    :confused:

    There's a traditional handle material actually called Gum Fuddy (you can look this up); I am henceforth referring to the Monarch's handle as Gum Buggy.

    [Yes, I know these are plant pieces and not insects, but it's too late for such distinctions.]

    I really like the lines of the relatively tall handle:
    [​IMG]

    At the same time, the handle feels (too) slim to me. In comparison with others I find comfortable, the Monarch's handle is not noticeably any slimmer:

    [​IMG]
    Handyman, Monarch, Patch, and you'll excuse me if I have to pause for a moment and swoon over my Handyman all over again. Oh, my.

    However, the Monarch's tall handle calls for greater lateral swell, at least in my hands. It feels too rectangular and edge-y, otherwise.

    [​IMG]

    On the other hand (har), for someone with larger hands (most of the knife-bearing population, I'd reckon) or even just long(er) fingers, I can see how this handle would lock into one's grip really well!

    The Monarch presents a lot of knife in its size range(!):

    [​IMG]
    Handyman, Monarch, Monarch XS ;-)

    [​IMG]
    Handyman, Monarch, Patch

    ~ P.
     
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  8. LavaWood

    LavaWood Gold Member Gold Member

    484
    Sep 13, 2014
    IMG_6212.JPG

    Both esquires, I miss all 3.
    I bought a navy sneaky Pete, the outer fibers get bleached somehow and turn sapphire
     
  9. Warrior108

    Warrior108 Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Apr 24, 2012
    Awesome job on that step AND I'm very glad to hear the hammer was well protected. :) Smedghamber!
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2017
  10. Warrior108

    Warrior108 Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Apr 24, 2012
    Now I'm not sure if I'll ever unsee the bugs! ;)

    Re Monarch XS ..
    You're especially hilarious today! How many have you had? :D:thumbsup:

    Btw, great comparison pics and banter .. as always.
     
    pertinux likes this.
  11. L.H.S

    L.H.S Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 1, 2013
    Wow, so many great looking blue knives! I'll have to take another more detailed look. Those Fiddleback's sure do have good lines.
     
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  12. RobbieB

    RobbieB Gold Member Gold Member

    69
    Jul 13, 2017
    Only you, P. Only you. ;)
     
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  13. Wurrwulf

    Wurrwulf Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 3, 2015
    I was so happy to see this thread started! You've done a wonderful job (of course), ~P!

    I've got to say, the PK has been very high on my list ever since I got my Neckmuk. The ~3" handle and ~3" blade is very appealing to me, but your deduction skills regarding the guard effectively limiting the blade length has me seeing both the PK and the Sgian Dubh in a different light.

    I must say, I'm now looking at the Monarch in a much different light, as well. That looks like a lot of blade in a small(ish) package, which is right up my alley. (I'd love a 3" handle, 4" bladed knife, but I digress.) My new Esquire (Thanks again, Phillip!) is comfortable in my most used index-on-spine grip, but when I put a typical four-finger-wrapped-thumb-on-spine grip, I find the butt of the handle hits my (relatively small) hands in a funny- not uncomfortable, but distracting- way. The slightly upsized Monarch handle would, seemingly, eliminate that distraction.

    The PK sure is pretty, though...
    As is the Lil Lady...

    Thank you, @pertinux! As I've told you before, I absolutely love your reviews. You are a wordsmith, which makes whatever you write a pleasure, but the fact that I seem to share some of the same preferences really helps me understand the knives in ways that pictures and numbers cannot convey.
     
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  14. pertinux

    pertinux Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    Thanks for the kind words, y'all. I'm grateful if my efforts bring a smile, let alone lead to more informed determinations of your own preferences. :) I'm still humbled that I am afforded these opportunities, and thankful for the good company in which to share my findings-- such as they are. ;)

    Rounding for home: last but least, we have the Lil Lady.
    (I see what I did, there.)
    There are two patterns that move my needle off neutral, straight through "Do Not Prefer" to "Ew"; the Ladyfinger is one of them. I intensely dislike the angle and length of blade fronting the skinnier handle that squirms away from the back of my grip.

    That said, I welcomed the chance to handle a Lil Lady because 1) the pattern is right smack in my preferred size range and 2) the looks of the final iteration hold some appeal to me (the prototype decidedly did not), especially the blade and 3) any knife is only truly understood in hand, and I wanted to make sure I wasn't looking past this pattern unduly. It's been known to happen. (*grunt,* grunts the Runt in my pocket.)

    There's no denying this is a beautiful little pattern, especially clad in some of my favorite appointments as this one is (natural-bolstered Navy Shadetree):
    [​IMG]

    I also love the blade shape:
    [​IMG]

    Yet, still, and: as with the bigger Lady, to my tastes and my hand's preferences, the handle simply does not support the blade the way I would like it to. With the full-blown version, the blade itself is bigger than I would like, regardless of the handle's contours; with this little one, the blade is supreme, but it's canted upward off a handle that is feels too slight to me.

    She's a skeeny lil thing...
    [​IMG]

    ... beautiful, but skeeny.

    [​IMG]

    It's hard to capture in pictures, but with a handle this slight my fingers feel like they wrap around on top of themselves right about here:
    [​IMG]

    Whereas my beloved Patch's handle provides just that much more grip throughout:
    [​IMG]

    (You can glean none of this from the above two pictures, but I tried.)

    I shall disclaim by saying (again) that if I were handed a Lil Lady in isolation and sent out the door, I'd be fortunate indeed, and find most any of my day-to-day knife needs met.

    But here in my real life, faced with a saturated field of choices in this particular size range, the Lil Lady is not one that I would choose above others-- a factor I am keenly aware of as I reach and exceed the "more" in the "More is not more," the point at which too many knives starts to render them "stuff." [This is of course my own idiosyncratic determination of enjoyment threshold, not meant to apply to anyone else.]

    To whit:
    [​IMG]

    Wait, let's throw the 'falcen and a Ski-doo in there...
    [​IMG]

    ... and bear in mind the advent of @VANCE's generous giveaway prize, the EDKarda, to which my ducky self has taken to like water:
    [​IMG]

    Each of these other knives represents an instant aHA! to me on one level or another; anything else vying within this range will have to displace one of the above. Good luck, Future Fiddleback Knife.

    ~ P.
     
  15. pertinux

    pertinux Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    Thanks much! :oops:

    Actually, the somewhat oversized guard on this particular PK limits both the handle and the blade to some degree, but I'd say it still has a substantial blade for its size-- it definitely leads with its nose!

    [​IMG]
    Esquire, Sgian Dubh, Pocket Kephart, Runt

    The Sgian Dubh is an odd bird for sure, with its weird lack of symmetry and pointy heel parts. It reminds me of a very full frosting bag that got squeezed funny, or something? The frosting had nowhere to go, so it just sorta... moved. Once sheathed, the SD looks like I have it in backwards. :D (And here I again quote Kuzco from The Emperor's New Groove, as I do almost every time I pick up the Sgian Dubh: "Let me guess. You have a great personality.")

    I've written elsewhere how I would welcome a bit more tactile information where the SD's handle ends and the blade begins, but I can't imagine that would make the knife look better. Hah! But no matter what, I love its feel in hand and its big-for-its size guardless expanse of spear blade. It's a solid chunk of grippy micarta over useful steel that fits my hand *really* well, thoocK.

    [​IMG]

    I love mine.

    It's a LOT of knife for its length. While the pattern doesn't appeal to me over other choices, I can fully understand why it hits the spot for so many others.

    The Bear Cub comes close! Just sayin'. :cool:

    It certainly wouldn't distract you in the same way; it's a wholly Other knife despite the similar outline-- the upscaled proportion thing.

    @VANCE or @Fiddleback or @PEOPLEWHOKNOWALLTHETHINGS -- which came first, the Esquire or the Monarch, or were they developed at the same time?

    Agreed, on both counts!

    Well... thanks. That means a lot. [​IMG]

    ~ P.
     
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  16. Kirkwood

    Kirkwood Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    The Esquire came first, by a few months.

    It was not a pattern that appealed to me at first (and for a very long time). Just looked funny. But after finally trying one three years after its introduction, I gotta say I like it... A LOT. It's one of my favorites. Funny how things work. As you say @pertinux, "any knife is only truly understood in hand."

    Thanks for all the pics and thoughtful words in this thread. As a fellow connoisseur of blue, I appreciate your fine taste in knife handle colors. ;) But I'm glad we're not in competition for blue G10 - at least not yet!
     
  17. pertinux

    pertinux Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    Thanks for this information. That would have been my guess (to me, it is is more 'itself' in the pattern than the larger version), but even with a 50/50 chance of guessing correctly I didn't like my odds. o_O

    I had the same reaction! When I first dove in, I kept a running list of the patterns that continually caught my eye, as well as those others mentioned that I would then look up. I crossed the Esquire off my list early on (because, yes, it "looked funny"), and then suddenly tipped in the other direction and decided it was the right next knife.

    Absolutely! I can't say an Esquire is my favorite knife, but it's probably my favorite knife to carry day-to-day. A goodly grip, relatively discreet carry, and what I first considered 'funny-looking' now registers to me as Massive Style Points®.

    [​IMG]

    The 1/8" bolstered Oreo's handle provides grip and "Aaaaah" in hand that the 3/32 blue one does not, to the point that it actually pips the blue one in my preferences. :eek: I am thus contemplating releasing that first little fishy, which gets harder to imaging after I carry it and note again how well it holds together in its light and perfect EDC-ness. Sweet knife, knives.

    Thanks much, and: not yet. o_O

    [I don't care for G10's typical bright royal blue (other than in liners), nor the cornflower (ditto). There's a blue gray out there that shows promise, however....]

    [[I am currently intrigued by the @Fletcher Knives 24/7, which seems to prefer G10 clothes. Might this run us into each other? :D]]

    ~ P.
     
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  18. FeralGentleman

    FeralGentleman Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 13, 2013
    Safe to say that there is something for everyone in the Fiddleback lineup.

    I have always enjoyed the Runt, especially for a pocketable carry every day style knife. The general interest in that model seems to ebb and flow, but I'll always have one. I love the curves and humps in all the right places on such a tiny piece of steel. Paired with nice fold over sheath, it slips right in a jean pocket and actually leaves room for other important things. Even clipped inside-pocket, you can get your hand in there for something other than one of the slightly larger models without fiddling around/removing these bulkier pancake sheaths people tend to buy. If expectations are kept in line with what the Runt actually is, a really compact utilitarian fixed blade, then it is a pretty enjoyable knife.

    Handyman (succeeding a Hiking Buddy) and a Runt and call me done on models in this size range for most practical uses. I've tried others, but if I had to narrow it down... There are some really tough contenders with the likes of the Bushboot, Karda family, Esquire and more task oriented Bow Legged varieties.

    The Pocket Kephart never jumped out at me and with it next to the Sgian Dubh it probably never will. The seemingly more symmetrical handle geometry and lack of a guard appeal to me more in that style of knife. A nice dagger grind, with some "spalted" steel down the center line like a middle finger sticking up to tell you this knife may be small but not one to 'F with.

    I said to someone the other day how I may need to revisit the Esquire. I acquired one, fondled it, fed it mineral oil and microfiber, took it on a few outings... It never bit me or anything, but I could never quite get the affection right for it of a proper parent. Still, it constantly looked at me for attention I wasn't ready to give so my first Esquire went up for adoption. However, the size it good. Handle ergos also done well. Maybe filing off some of that guard and a sexy swedge would be more enticing.

    And I cannot BELIEVE that precious stubby muk did not photobomb any of these pics...50 shades of gray and all
     
  19. Fiddleback

    Fiddleback Knifemaker Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 19, 2005
    The pics in this thread are great.
     
  20. Tutone

    Tutone Gold Member Gold Member

    211
    Feb 9, 2017
    Sure do like the look of the natural liner. Its a visual cross between leather and actual wood.
    Thank You @pertinux for your very entertaining and informative threads! 639A3239-62C7-498E-BBFF-73E26265FE8B.jpeg
     
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