Here is just a taste of what I am working on for Volume 3. Yes it is primarily a photo heavy book like Volume 1. There are some wonderful knives in large full color print. In addition I have inserted the details of markings and background as available. There are a dozen "Named Knives" with some biographical sketches.
I have just ordered a reprinting of my popular book on Clandestine Knives of WW-II. It will be a couple weeks before they are ready to pick up. The bad news is my costs for printing them has gone up. BUT if you wanted a copy and missed the first printing this maybe your only chance to get a copy. I have added about 4 pages including photos of some of the best of modern makers covert knives. It is the same full size format in full color with tons of photos and 172 pages long. I just got confirmation that the price increase is real,I didn't make a mistake in the order form. Thank you Joe Biden and Bidenflation! So as they say, it is what it is. I cannot control inflation and I refuse to lower the quality of my work. I do this as a "Labor of Love" not to get rich. I am happy to share my collection with those of you who appreciate the blades carried in the war.
Volume !!! is coming right along. Volume II is still with my daughter being edited. That volume has a larger percentage of text and fewer photos since it offers a new perspective on the evolution of the F-S knife from the 1930s Shanghai daggers. BUT the knives illustrated are exceptionally rare and important links in the history of the F-S knife. What do you think of this cute little Khukri?
In my next volume there are listed and illustrated many "named Knives". These are Wilkinson Sword etched blades. If you would like to be a part of the publishing process I need help researching these names. I cannot pay you for your time but I will give you credits in the book. I know whoopeee! But if you are good at this sort of thing, have some spare time and are internet savvy it would be a big help and make the book much more interesting.
Here is the list and what little info I have:
Don't Panic, you didn't miss Volume 2 it is still being edited by my daughter. She's an extremely busy girl, new mother, working on our new house, and working full time so it is taking her a while. In the mean time, I am plugging away on the third volume on Second Patterns, Third Patterns, Fatman and Beaded and Ribbed to name a few types. I thought I'd share a few page views just so you know I'm not telling stories. Its already up to about 120 pages. Like the others in our series it will be 8.5 x 11 inches, soft cover, glossy paper and lots of full color photos. Yes our nemesis has written more pages and has more details because he lives in England and has the contacts. His books are filled with small B&W photos. He says mine are filled with fakes. What a guy!
I am including photos of rare knives like the J. Clarke & Sons, J&I Marshall, McLeod Metallurgy, an aluminum P-2 possibly made by Wilkinson, Fatman knives, smooth gripped knives, and much more. Like I said all in full color. They are not cheap to print but what would be the sense in doing this with lousy photos? Ever see a 7/8ths size Fatman? You will in this book.
There are several true stories of men, and women, who carried the knives and photos of them, like this one.
There are even a few post-war knives which you will not find in any other book on F-S knives. A small section on relic or damaged knives and modified ones. And I will include close-ups of many of the inspection stamps and etches so you can tell real ones from fake one.
All of this takes a lot of time and any photos that I don't feel are good enough means I have to dig out the knives again and re-shoot them. Here in NY finding a sunny day for photos is harder than finding a cheap First Pattern. Things like these detailed photos are very hard to get clear images of. Many of the etchings are nearly worn away or damaged by rust. So anyway, you see I am making progress, and I would like to get two volumes in print before the end of 2024.Save up your pennies. What would be awesome is to find a wealthy patron to fund the printing of the series in hardbound format. Can you imagine? That would be about 600 + pages of full color F-S knives! I can only dream.
I received an email from a visitor wanting to know how to remove the top nut on a second pattern relic. His idea was to "restore it!" I suggested he leave it alone or sell it to me. His decision was to sell it to me. I paid him a fair price, which was a lot more than he had invested, just to keep it from being destroyed. This is not the first time I have been in this position. Please think about what you are doing before messing up an un-restorable knife. Before he emailed me, he had already used pliers or some tool to badly chew up the top nut. I am just glad he didn't snap the blade off trying to take it apart. These nuts are screwed down tight and the end of the tang is peened over to prevent them from coming loose. So, you cannot remove the nut without destroying it, or the tang, or both.
Does this knife look like a candidate for restoration? Seriously folks. Before you do something stupid like this, just buy a new J. Nowill F-S knife or one by H.G. Long and preserve the historical value of a relic like this. The knife had obviously lain in mud or clay or something for a very long time to corrode to this extent. My only regret is that I don't have any provenance for it. Was it found in the USA or overseas? It would be nice to know.
I am working on the third volume of my books on F-S which is focused primarily on Second and Third Pattern knives. I will illustrate this knife along with a couple other relics I have acquired in the past. For example, this is another knife the owner tried to grind the blade to improve it!
Here is one that was found on the beach at Dieppe, 50 years after the battle. Again the owner tried to remove the top nut, unsuccessfully of course. Please, Please just leave them alone and do what you can to conserve or preserve them, not butcher them. Contact me and I may make you an offer for your relic knife.
With all of my talk about Bowies, you might be thinking I have gone over to the dark side. Its two different worlds and two different tactical approaches. The techniques are likewise totally different. I have trained with both, and I appreciate the strengths and shortcomings of each. Each one has a certain aura attached to it rising from different periods of history. The F-S is undoubtedly the iconic knife of WW-II, only paralleled perhaps by the KaBar.
The Bowie's fame (like the Fairbairn) is also attached to a man's name, James and also his brother Rezin Bowie. The peak of its social status came in the mid to late 1800s and, unlike the Fairbairn, it was considered an accoutrement suitable for a gentleman to wear in public. Duels and quarrels were settled by flashing steel on the streets, in alleys, and wilderness alike. The extreme violence eventually led to banning the wearing of the Bowie in many states. Carrying a double-edged blade, like a Fairbairn, has been illegal in most states for many years. I have ranted about this before so I won't go into the idiocy of such laws again.
I think this photo clearly shows the attributes of the two knife styles and illustrates the major differences in potential. Despite its broader tip, the Bowie's ability to penetrate equals that of the F-S. The wound channel created by a Bowie is massive, in comparison to the F-S. As a matter of semantics, I would classify the F-S as a killing knife, and the Bowie as more of a fighting knife. In a one on one combat which would I prefer to have? Without a doubt, the Bowie.
Hello, I mentioned previously that I carry a large knife on my bug-out bag. That knife happens to be a Kabar/Becker BK9. I bought this knife a long time ago and loved the blade profile and heft of it. But, I have never used it because the handle scales are terrible! Perhaps one of the most important aspects of a knife design is the interface between the human hand and the handle/grip. Here the BK9 fails miserably.
When you have the wherewithal to design and produce a knife from scratch the grip ought to be done right. When it is a simple phenolic casting of some sort, then it could as easily be curvaceous and hand fitting instead of slabby. The term handle slabs, or scales, describes this to a tee. Sure, the edges are a little rounded off, but the bulk of the hand feels the "squareness" of it and the palm is left floating above the grip. Inset checkering does nothing to improve the grip because it is smooth and below the surface. To me the grip is a complete failure of the understanding of ergonomics.
While cruising on YouTube I discovered there were numerous people who had modified or customized their BK9 knives. One of the easiest and most common changes was handle scales. So I found a set on Ebay that I liked and ordered them. They cost $45, which is 30% of what the knife cost me when new. A knife designed and produced by such notable names as Ethan Becker and KaBar should have come standard with some grips similar to this.
I decided I ought to give you the address of the person whom I got the scales from. On ebay, do a search for: Carroll’s custom knife scales
It took me only 10 minutes to change the scales. You can clearly see the contouring and the texturing on them. I'm not sure what material was used. They are attractive, but they are not real wood, which might shrink and split with time and use. The fit was perfect and the alignment of the screw holes was spot on. This simple change made a good knife into a great knife.
The sheath is another issue, being a floppy nylon mess with a plastic liner. But right now I don't feel like spending another $75-100 to replace it with a kydex sheath. If nothing else, the manufacturers ought to make these options available at the time of purchase at a reasonable cost. That way they could make some extra money and deliver a knife to the customer that was ready to please from day one.
Those of you who have followed my blog for a long time may remember when I approached KaBar about producing a fighting knife which I designed. I met with the design dept. and they loved the knife! But they said their grinding equipment, at the time, could not produce the blade without some major changes to the blade. The subtlety of the blade required hand grinding by someone with great skill. That man was Mike Sturman a friend who made several exceptional fighting knives for me. Mike understood the ergonomics of a handle and the proper overall balance of a fighting knife. Here is that knife, the D-S #4, with a seven inch blade. The blade is double edged. The handle is mesquite wood with the grain raised by whiskering, and then it is sealed. It has a proper palm swell and a steel butt cap to improve the balance.
WOW! I never imagined how hard it would be to get registered and post listings on Amazon. I've been working on this on and off for a couple weeks. So far I have one book listed as an exercise in frustration. It is my text book on gas compressors, from when I was teaching at college. I hope to get my gas engine text book listed next. Hopefully the sales of them will offset the cost of being a seller. The F-S books are my real love.
Anyway I am learning and struggling with the ins and outs of it all. There must be hundreds of pages and links yet to explore. No fun! Keep the faith, once I get this all figured out i hope to get more Clandestine Knives books printed and we are still forging ahead with the next volume on X-daggers and shanghai daggers. This book is going to make the heads of the "experts" explode! I just love it and so will you. Ron, if you're reading this you might want to buy a roll of duct tape. Thanks to all of you who have visited us here and shared your photos, and knowledge. Thanks also to all of you who have purchased our knives or books.
This beautiful knife was a gift to Thomas Mason from William Fairbairn himself. It is one of the very early Metford-Fairbairns. These knives make the Wilkinson First Patterns seem anemic.
I know the argument will arise concerning the previous post, therefore this second post.
What good is a tool or weapon if you aren’t carrying it when it is needed? This is a very valid argument. One that I have made myself before. What I carry, and what I don’t, is too often subject to the whims of unelected government rascals. I am licensed to legally carry concealed the Pythons on the previous post. Or, any number of handguns that I own. Despite a freedom guaranteed by the constitution, and the natural right of self-defense, some bureaucrats have designed “laws” to regulate what and where we can carry weapons of any kind. This means that for some reason my concealed carry permit does not include the right to carry a knife concealed (of indeterminate size or format) subject to a hundred differing (and often contradictory) regulations and statutes that the average person has no knowledge of.
As an example of this lunacy, I can carry a .44 Magnum hidden under my coat but not everywhere. Am I less trustworthy in a library or a village hall than I am anywhere else? They have done a background check. At one time I held a Top Secret federal clearance. But, I cannot carry certain folding knives that are assisted opening. If visible, the clip on a pocket knife in NYC may actually get you charged with “Brandishing a weapon.” Does this make any sense? No of course not! I was licensed, after several years of closely monitored activity, to race sports cars internationally at places like Watkins Glen and Daytona, but I can’t drive over 65 mph on four lane highways. At age 19 I was issued a fully automatic M-16 in Vietnam, but I am not allowed to own a semi-automatic AR-15 in NYS anymore. Like a local Sheriff said; “It doesn’t make sense, but it’s the law!” So, I don’t carry a big knife unless I am camping, hunting or out in the woods. Over the years to account for this confusion in what is legal, or not, I have trained with every sharp thing from tiny kerambits and folders to, katana, Bowies, and Rapiers with 40 inch blades.
So, there are times that common sense and the right choice of defense or offense weapons must be tempered by the onerous burden of rules, regulations, and the occasional law that prevent us from choosing the right “tool” for the job. Have I ever carried a big knife in contradiction to the ambiguous laws of the land? I leave that up to you to ponder. If you choose to do so do it with EXTREME caution. We are in a police state of mind and today there are cameras everywhere. I MEAN EVERYWHERE.
Another example of the idiocy of American bureaucrats is that the top two knives by Peter Bauchop are legal because they are single edged (sort of). Whereas the bottom knife is not legal in many places because it is "more" clearly double edged. Depending on the judge or policeman the top two might be considered double-edged. It's an insane world out there and plenty of people willing to entrap you.
You can find out more about me on the "Stories" pages. My hobbies have included training in Japanese martial arts, including Kenjutsu, many forms of knife fighting, long range rifles and tactical firearms. I have written several self published books on muzzle-loading firearms, knife-fighting and textbooks on gas engines and compressors. I am working diligently on my 400+ page F-S book.