My sporting knives are designed to be practical, everyday knives. The basic 100%-size models have just enough handle to fill the average male hand, and a strong 3″-3.5″ blade. Each model is available in 3 sizes, most frequently 90%, 100%, and 110%. While a 3″ blade may seem short in the common conception of a hunting knife, it is in fact the perfect precision tool for complete control while field-dressing and butchering medium-sized game.
Blade length is measured from tip to front-of-handle, as is the ABS standard and the most conservative measurement for legal purposes. I live in a 3″ max carry state, so this is a hard number. Blades close to 3″ or 4″ will be NO LONGER so that you may be confident in matching the knife to your local regulations. Birudashi blade length is measured from tip to first thumb/handle hole. Actual length of edge is ~3/4 of that number.
100%-size blades are mostly ~1/8″ thick except for the mountain and paring knives. Ideally the 90% models are 3/32″-1/8″ and the 110% 1/8″-3/16″ (and up to 0.200″!), but there are variations based on steel stock availability.
Thoughts on Sizing
The 100% scale knives are meant to offer a full-size, yet streamlined handle for the average size male hand. In a smaller hand, or an average female hand, for instance, these will feel like substantial knives. They are designed to be big enough for most intended field chores, yet compact enough to carry everywhere.
The 90-95% scaled versions in a smaller hand should feel like the 100% size in an average hand. These can be excellent understudy EDCs for the larger models, or a perfect full-size knife for a user with smaller mitts.
The 110%+ knives offer a lot of handle, and if your hands are very big these will fit you snugly, but should also be comfortable to the average user. In small hands these may be cumbersome, and heavy on the belt.
My hope is that users of any stature or gender should be able to find a knife in the line that FITS them and their purpose rather than trying to fit themselves to the knife, or struggling with a tool of awkward proportions.
My sheaths are simple utilitarian affairs in kydex. I don’t grommet the holes because I like to be able to easily flex them open for cleaning simply by removing the clip. I usually drill 1/4″x0.5″-on-center holes for Blade-Tech’s mini-Tek-Lok(tm) clips. Kiridashi will have grommeted sheaths for safety.
The Kiridashi/Birudashi (name coined here!) are usually made in full size (4-hole) and small (3-hole). The new 3-hole ‘dashi standard size fits in an Altoids tin. As of winter 2014/2015, I am investigating moving to waterjet blanking of these popular blades.
The Angler is ‘discontinued’, and the Mariner sports a blade designed by Derek Haltrom. The Necker didn’t really take off, and has been replaced by the various ‘dashi.
I also make a variety of petty chef knives in the 6-7″ range in both full and hidden tang handles, including Japanese-style usuba, deba, kiritsuke, and gyuto.
I currently (2019-05-22) prefer to work in 1084, A2, AEB-L, and CPM-154. Depending on stock, 15N20 and S35VN may be included. That selection includes a simple and a wear-resistant steel in both carbon and stainless. Steel should be selected for the knife style and application. While steel does contribute to the cost of a knife, it is far outweighed by labor, and sometimes even by handle material.
Summary Table (all measurements in inches). 3″ and 4″ blades are usually ~0.05-0.1″ shorter in reality to ensure conformity with local regulations. Favorite sizes are in bold.
- Design: My “series-1” style of handle began in ~2011 and has continued through 2019, but is being phased out in favor of a two-curve design which is easier to make, for some models.
- Steel: Over the years I’ve worked in O1, 154CM and CPM-S35VN. O1 is unnecessarily complicated to heat-treat for its performance, requiring both a kiln AND oil. I prefer to stick to forge/oil or kiln/air(plate) steels. I started using dry ice to sub-zero quench air-cooled steels (except A2) in about 2015. 154CM’s chemically-identical CPM cousin, CPM-154 is better in every way that matters to knifemaking, and only marginally more expensive. CPM-154 is tougher than CPM-S35VN, and does not give up performance in any ways that matter (and is slightly cheaper).
- Marks: I began marking my knives with the “Au” trademark symbol in 2015.