- find a piece of steel tubing to fit closely over the blade. You nay have to hammer the tubing to flatten it some. It must be an inch or more longer than the blade.
- open the jaws of a solidly mounted vise just enough for the handle to fit between them.
- If you have an anvil with a hole large enough to pass the handle through, that will also work.
- with the arms of the guard resting on the jaws, slide the tubing down over the blade.
- using a heavy hammer apply careful blows to the end of the tubing, this bends the guard back flat.
- you could place a couple layers of duct tape to the top surface and faces of the jaws to prevent marring the guard.
- WARNING: the guard is mild steel and should bend easily, but there is always the possibility of the guard cracking!
Here is another example of damage commonly found on F-S knives. Some guards are accidentally bent by idiots using the knives as throwing knives. Others are purposely bent (usually forward) to lie one's thumb on it. Idiots come in all flavors. This knife is a rather uncommon J. Clarke & Sons in otherwise good condition. I corrected the bent guard by the following method. No warranties expressed or implied!
I often get questions about restoring or repairing an old WW-II Commando Knife. The correct choice is an individual decision. One thing to keep in mind is whatever you do cannot usually be undone. So, will what you are going to do improve the knife, and for what reason? These are the two primary questions you should ask yourself. Will it restore the knife to a serviceable condition or ruin the patina while hoping to increase the sales price/profit?
In this case I had a valuable Wilkinson Second Pattern, named knife, with a butchered tip. It had been broken and then made worse by someone with a grinder trying to reshape the tip. First off if you touch a power tool to one of these knives I hope the bluebird of happiness flies right up your......well you know. Hand tools only.
Here it was just as I started to file it back to shape. Then I decided to take some photos to show how bad it was. I used a fine toothed 6 inch file to start with. The blades are about the same hardness as a bayonet so they will file. GO SLOW! You do not want to add more scratches and gouges to the damage already present. Once I had re-established the point on center then I worked on blending in the bevels. Finally I switched to some fine grit sanding paper backed up by a piece of flat wood. I could go further but for now I am satisfied and the ugliness that bothered me has been minimized. Whether I will try to get any of the Dremel tracks off the rest of the blade remains to be decided. I think you will agree it looks better than being left in its previous sorry state. I am hoping to find a ragged 3rd pattern to illustrate further blade restoration on. If you have a beater you want to donate let me know.
To the naked eye the blade looks a lot better than this highly magnified image would make it seem. But in time I may go back and refine it a little more.
Wishing you all a Happy and Safe New Year.
Wishing all of my friends and visitors a very Merry Christmas & Happy New Year! At this time of year keep all of our servicemen in your thoughts and prayers, those serving abroad and at home. Remember our veterans who fought in all of our past wars. Without their sacrifices we might not have the personal and religious freedoms we have today. AND Never forget the TRUE meaning of the Christmas holiday and keep it holy.
I happened to be taking some of my knives out for photos and decided to get better pictures of this S.O.E. "sticker." Now for those forumites who have nothing better to do than talk trash, here is a knife to really get you going. This was bought by a very reputable collector from the widow of the S.O.E. Agent who owned and carried it during WW-II. If you have not seen it earlier on this website I have added a couple more photos. It is clearly stamped by the Maker/seller. The S.O.E. Agent was stationed in Poona, India and he may have bought this while passing through Australia. The stamps are "A&P" (Alcock & Pierce) and "DND" (Department of National Defense) on both the pommel and the sheath.
So, How are you going to explain that A&P did not make and sell fighting knives during the war? Tell me once again. How are you going to blame Peter Mason for this one?
December 7th "a Day which will live in infamy." It passed with little notice from the media. (You notice I did not say the News channels.) One of the main comments from the bland news, repeated by one and all as if from some 1984 Orwell directive, "This is the first year there are no survivors of the USS Arizona present at the ceremony." Well since I am writing a book on WW-II commando knives I have a very keen sense of how few survivors there are of that terrible war. Here is a photo of some rosy cheeked youths of No. 3 Cdo. who had just driven out the Germans and reclaimed the town for the native inhabitants. They are British but armed to the man with American Thompson sub-machine guns. One wonders how many of them survived the war and are still alive today. This is the real lost generation not (as Sociologists would have us believe) a population of Millenials living in their parents basements emerging only at meal times or to buy the latest X-box video. For all of you out there who served in the past or are still serving today, God Bless you and look over you. You are not forgotten by all.
Here is a snippet from the introduction to my book.
Back in the 1970s when I first began collecting F-S knives there was no internet and therefore no email. How many of you can imagine life before the internet? I bought one of my earliest World War Two First-Pattern Wilkinson knives via a land-line phone and snail-mail from a small knife shop a continent away. This knife came from way out in Oregon. My purchase was based on a tiny photo in a magazine called “Fighting Knives.” In the photo the shop-owner was holding two knives. I had to use a magnifying glass to identify the knives because the whole photo was not much bigger than a postage stamp! Despite the seller’s assertions that it was an original World War Two Wilkinson First Pattern knife I was skeptical. My skepticism was based on the fact the seller’s asking price was too low. Finally I decided that even if the knife was a post-war reproduction by Wilkinson it was still worth his asking price. I sent him a check for one hundred and twenty five dollars (no Paypal™ back then either). I will long remember that cold Christmas morning, opening the mailing tube with trepidation, and being greeted by that reassuring smell of aged leather and musty steel. Damned if it wasn’t a genuine World War Two Wilkinson First-Pattern knife worth approximately nine hundred dollars at the time. The moral of this story is, if you are a dealer, and a collector questions what you are selling, be nice to him and maybe he will explain that what you have to sell is more valuable (or not) than you think. Another tip is do not use knife collecting price guides twenty years out of date. We have steadily added to our collection of First Pattern knives since buying that one, but none so cheaply as that one from Oregon.
 “Fighting Knives” was published by Larry Flint with Greg Walker as editor. In my opinion it was the finest magazine ever published on the topic.
Is there any value in folktales? How reliable is tribal knowledge? I guess like most things it depends on the source. Sometimes it all depends on our maturity, where we are on our path of discovery. For example I once believed there were only 500 first pattern knives ever made. My source was incorrect but only through time did I learn better. I also used to inspect every top nut for the magical crimp marks to ensure the knife was legitimate. Over a period of years and the purchase of many hundreds of knives I learned that there was no single style of top nut. I discovered there was no single or correct mark. Once I understood that the marks were caused by the jaws of a bench vise I knew that the positioning of the nut and the amount of force applied would indent the soft nut differently. The magic was gone, replaced by experience.
I think this learning process occurs in many spheres of our lives as we grow in knowledge. Differences in knurling or styles of crow’s feet (↑) bother me less now. I have discovered that there is no magic formula for what is a legitimate Fairbairn-Sykes of any style. Robert Wilkinson-Latham quoted Shop foreman Charlie Rose saying: “there was a war going on.” I have seen blades ground crooked, sheaths made over a ½ inch too long, handles with casting flaws, knurling that was botched, guards on upside down, a dozen varieties of top nuts, inspection stamps running off the edge of the guards or double stamped, and all sorts of anomalies. So what? This is what makes collecting interesting. What is more valuable a book of regular postage stamps or one stamp incorrectly printed? Literally hundreds of thousands of 3rd pattern knives were produced. Which is more valuable? The thousands of them with identical stamping or the oddball stamped A2, or A COY etc.
So, some of the folktales, like those about the “correct” top nut marks, or the “true” purpose of the triangle grind near the guard, are useless bits of folly. Blades got broken and replaced. This required removing the top nut. The “mysterious” triangle grind simply tapers the blade to allow it to enter the opening in the guard. There was no magical clamp used to “draw the blades.” Wire is drawn, blades are either forged or stamped out. What is interesting is that many of the older folktales have proven true. For example the one about 1st pattern knives with 3 inch guards, Stephens had it right. The stories of commando daggers made from bayonets is also true and “WSC” stamped on certain blades is correct, Windrum had it right, (despite what other websites and forums might say). So it is erroneous to say that all folktales are untrue. It would also be incorrect to say they are all true. Only with time and familiarity, research and study, can you begin to sort the wheat from the chaff. Just do not get caught up in the minutia that obscures the bigger picture. And just because you have not seen it does not make it a fake.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it was brought to my attention there is another website out there whose webmaster, an authority on knives and the F-S in particular, has maligned my credibility. He does not name me but it is a small world when discussing Fairbairn websites. I visited there and found my website quite put down, and other authorities (dead and alive) being bad-mouthed. One in particular is condemned as an outright forger and faker. This vitriol is unbecoming and the reason why I have taken the position of not being judgmental of other’s opinions or questioning their correctness. At the age of 70 years, I have been collecting these knives probably as long as any person alive, that person included. His fascination, or obsession, with ferreting out what he considers fakes has poisoned the well of conversation. I have always respectfully credited him on this website with information he has provided, although I know behind my back he and his friends are saying rather unkind things about me and this website. That’s okay, that’s his prerogative. I shall refrain from following his lead and being baited into acting in a similar fashion.
It is my intention to give as much positive information as possible here. Yes I will make mistakes, but I am in no way profiting from purposely disseminating wrong information. My sole intent is to continue to provide an open forum for people to learn, discuss, and ask questions about the full story of the Fairbairn-Sykes knives. I believe that I have shared more openly and freely photos and information of some of the rarest F-S knives than any other website on the World Wide Web. Many times per week I assist visitors with identifying their knives and provide them with some idea of the value and rarity (or not) of the knife in question. And Yes, I try to steer them away from outright fakes. This is the way I will continue to operate, the other sites be damned with their malicious banter. The writer on the other website said you don't have to handle a knife to know its a fake. I say you don't have to be a herpetologist to know a snake. Thank you for being such loyal visitors and making this site the most visited ever on the F-S knife!
To conclude on a more positive note, here is an interesting gift to recently come into my possession. Wishing all of you a blessed and safe Thanksgiving.
I received another incredible gift from my friend in California. This time it was a selection of S.O.E. type weapons he found in a tool box. They needed some cleaning he said but I found they simply needed wiped down with an oily rag. He had ingeniously slotted a piece of cardboard to affix them to for shipping. I got a good laugh out of that and asked him if this was the Poor James Bond S.O.E. kit? It is difficult to show in a photograph the details of the tiny triangular blades and the temper colors on some of them.
It is amazing how much work was invested in making these minuscule tools of mayhem. At one time I had no clandestine weapons and now thanks to my friends in the collecting world I have a wonderful assortment. Some were very expensive and others of equal value were simply given to me. I commented on this phenomenon of gifting to a good friend and how I felt a sense of indebtedness. He replied I should not look at it that way because obviously the donors had picked me to be the "curator" of these special goods, knowing I would take proper care of them. I suppose that is true but either way it is a debt I cannot fully repay. Perhaps by placing them in my book and crediting the donors I can in some small way credit them with the gifts. Here is the poorman's S.O.E. kit.
I cannot believe it has been over a month since I posted here. Early September the college where i teach began its fall semester. That is what has absorbed all my spare time. I have spent some time working on my F-S book and what i consider Volume One is about 95% finished. I am adding a few late arrived knives and writing an appendix of miscellaneous "stuff".
Some people have advised me to get the book printed in B & W, to make it more affordable. I think if you have visited here and seen the knives in color you would be reluctant to buy a book in black and white. I would be. So I am looking for a company that can handle it in color and do a nice job of printing and binding. I want good quality paper and sharp images. The only books i am finding that have what I want are being printed in China!
I have been trying to boycott Chinese goods for many years now. Besides who knows what sort of control over sales I would have if its printed in a country known for copying designs, hacking computers, stealing patents and infringing on copyrights? I don't have connections with any museums or publishing houses. I have written two text books for use at the college where I teach and have them printed locally. BUT a one hundred page soft bound color book from them would cost me around $60. Right now my single volume is a little over 225 pages! Writing the book has been the easy part. Getting it in print is the tough part.
I have been stalling a little too, trying to finalize some information on John Paisley. Writing the Paisley story is like sitting on a cactus. You know the answers are there, but like the tiny needles of a cacti, prick you as they might, finding them and extracting them is nearly impossible. I know fellow writer Ron Flook will get a chuckle when he reads this. But Ron, I have not given up. There is more of the story to be found.
I continue to find new knives in styles and shapes I have never seen before. The diversity astounds me! Visitors to the site also provide me with a never ending array of unusual knives. Many times the knives are worn and beat third pattern knives but sometimes something really unique will show up. So keep contacting me with your stories and photos. Especially the stories! I just bought a crude second pattern from a man in Australia and it came out of a case of F-S and O.S.S. knives. They were evidently WW-II stores for men fighting in the CBI (China, Burma, India) theater. It will be the second knife I have bought from him. Thanks to Al Gore inventing the internet (Yeh right) I have been able to buy knives from literally every corner of the world. Just ask my wife. Partly those acquisitions have been assisted from sales of my personal knives on this site. If you see a knife you are interested in email me. I am flexible and willing to work with you on pricing. Keep in mind if you are located in England or Canada the postage will be expensive. Thanks to all of you for your support. Photo is a recently acquired J Clarke & Sons in less than pristine condition.
You can find out more about me on the "Stories" pages. My hobbies have included training in Japanese martial arts, 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 gas engines and compressors. I am working diligently on my 400+ page F-S book.