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JMK Knife Review

Oct 3, 1998
Hi, I recently acquired one of James Mattis' knives and have been testing for a couple of weeks and want to report results. The knife I got corresponds to the one featured on his web-site called the "Foundation Of All Culture". Mine is about an inch shorter in blade length. The specs are;
OAL 85/8" long, 4" blade, 45/8" handle;
ATS 34 steel, micarta handle, full tapered tang. The blade is a kinda dropped/clip hunter/utility shape that works really well. On first glance it looks plain vanilla...
not so. Handle ergonomics are EXCELLANT. This may be an idiosycronacy of my particular grip, but at any rate , it works for me!! No matter how I hold the knife, the handle works WITH me. I've been torturing the knife for a couple of weeks now and it 's been holding up great. I've shredded aluminum cans lengthwise, cut many different types of wood in many different ways; ie. whittleing, shaving for tinder, boring etc. No problem. This is a basic hard use knife with no frills attached. The only thing I'd change on retrospect is to use a slightly thinner stock when making this sort of knife. But overall the handle ergonomics outweigh the heavier aspects, making this a very good using handmade knife for a reasonable price.
My .02
OOPS.. should have read JKM. Sorry, James, brain gas..
reason enough for one to review over and over what seems to be a perfect thought. !!!

[This message has been edited by Brian Lavin (edited 07 March 1999).]

Seems I neglected to scan that knife, so here's a link to a picture of a similar one.
Brian's specimen has a blade that's a little longer, and a clip point, with a belt finish on the blade instead of the hand-rub, but the handle is pretty much like the one in the picture.

Now, to give credit . . . The steel was a semi-finished blade by the late great Bob Engnath. Now I gotta learn to use my grinder! This is one of the simpler (but very useful!) patterns he did, flat-ground to the spine, but there ere are a fair number of knives I've made from Engnath blades which I may or may not ever have the skill to do from scratch.

The patterns for both Brian's and the one in the link were standard "Blades 'n' Stuff" catalog items, which Bob Engnath traced with permission from patterns in Bob Loveless's shop.

The surface contour on the slab handles is something I worked out. It's comfortable in my hands at least, and visually it brings out the best in otherwise plain slab handle material. A Loveless original would have a broad diagonal groove for the index finger across the sides of the handle, corresponding to the cut-out at the bottom, and a Loveless blade would be hollow-ground.

And I've been spending too much time on the Net in the last year or two, and not nearly enough in my workshop!


[This message has been edited by James Mattis (edited 07 March 1999).]