2012 BLADE Show

The Blade Show 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia started off great! For some reason, the travel gods were favorable. On my 14 hour flight from Hong Kong, the middle seat in a row of 3 was empty and I received a free upgrade on my rental car!

I flew in on Thursday and first met up with Ken Schwartz and some of his family, and while enjoying the finer aspects of the Kao-Liang Liquor I brought and some Green Label Johnny Walker Scotch, we had one of the most intellectually stimulating conversations that ranged from knives to liquor, to salt, to bread, to music, to physics and ended with quantum mechanics.

I had a feeling that this was going to be a great blade show!!!

On Friday morning, Ken and I headed over to the Blade show and met up with Mark Reich (aka YTriech) for breakfast and it was just like old times! We saw some of Mark’s knives he had been working on, and we were blown away by the level of diversity in the blade styles as well as the handle materials and shapes. Mark said he wanted to explore and develop his own style more, but judging by the work I saw, he’s definitely developed some mad skills and the true characteristic of his knives has already begun to emerge.

After breakfast, we headed over to the show, where we met up with Clay and Kay from Wicked Edge as well as Ron, Mike and Carla from KME Sharpeners. The convention hall was organized much better this year – it was more open and less compartmentalized than last year’s show. There were LOTS of tables and vendor booths, and the place was a beehive of activity with everyone setting up and getting to see old friends.

I spent the day with Clay and Kay over at the Wicked Edge booth. Clay unveiled some of the improvements to the WEPS, which included paddles with built-in inclinometers. He also brought a more precise arm with a universal bearing joint that had no play and amazingly smooth action that was coupled with a mechanism for fine tuning the angles that literally blew me away.  I really liked the Wicked Edge before, yet somehow Clay made me like it even more! I can’t wait to get these modifications for my WEPS!

As promised, I brought my Shapton and Chosera Wicked Edge stones, and set up. When the doors to the show opened to the public, it was a mad house. The Wicked Edge booth swarmed with people trying to get in, and of course, the knife sharpening began. It was great to see Clay sharpening from the corner of my eye – he really is a talented sharpener, and everyone commented on how much they loved their Wicked Edge.

One knife after the other was handed up to us for sharpening I kept hearing CPM145, S30V, and S90V. While Clay focused on the using WEPS stock Diamond and Ceramic stones, I treated people to the awesome refining power of the WEPS Chosera 800 and 2K (due to the sheer number of people in the booth, I just did not have the time to take knives up to the 10K level.)

One knife in particular that I had fun with was a beautiful knife made by Nicholas Sass. While a lot of the knife makers I talk to generally don’t spend as much time sharpening their knives as they do making them, It was refreshing to hear just how adamant Sass is about his knives being sharp. It took a little effort to reprofile the hardened 440C (I think), but once he saw the resulting 2K Chosera WEPS stone edge, he was all smiles – He even came back with his girlfriend’s knife a little later! :D

After an afternoon of non-stop sharpening on the WEPS, Clay, Kay, Ken and I hit the hotel bar for a drink – but not before Clay and Kay took a swig of the Kao Liang Liquor I had brought them J . We had a wonderful discussion about the future of the WEPS, and I can tell you that there are a whole lot of great innovations in the works!

On Saturday, I was eager to spend some time at the KME Sharpener booth. At last year’s BLADE show, I was really impressed with the quality of the KME, because they took all the faulty aspects of other guided rod sharpening systems and fixed them. In other words, there is no play AT ALL in the rod when sharpening, making the edge angle super precise. Another great feature is that the knife clamp rotates, which means you don’t need to worry about changing the position of the knife as you progress through the grits, and you don’t need to switch hands or be ambidextrous when you flip the blade over.

To be honest, I was so impressed with the KME last year, that I bugged them for a whole year to add the Chosera stones to their already versatile stone lineup, which includes DMT Diamonds, aluminum and silicone oxide stones and hard, black and translucent Arkansas stones. Ron finally caved in, and the Choseras for the KME finally made their debut!

When I got to the KME booth, Ron already had a few people gathered around him as he patiently demonstrated his sharpener and walked them through the sharpening process step by step on the KME. It was great to see Ron taking such care of his customers, and with his reading glasses nestled halfway down his nose, he had a rather grandfatherly feel to him (even though he’s not that old). While I already knew that Ron was deep down the sharpening rabbit hole, I could easily see in person just how much loves to sharpen, and how much he cares that others sharpen well, too.

Mike, Ron’s brother, was happy with the result of the Choseras, and we started playing around with some ideas of progressions. While he left off at the translucent Arkansas and progressed on the 2K, 5K, and 10K Choseras, I proceeded to sharpen his EDC from the ground up, first using the DMT Extra coarse, and then doing a full, 8 stone progression on the Choseras up to 10K.

As people filled up the booth, a ceramic knife came along for sharpening. Ceramic knives require the use of diamonds since they are very hard and abrade rather slowly. Since The KME uses 1×4” DMT diamond plates, I was eager to take up the challenge.

There were chips in the edge that needed to get removed, and after a few minutes, the chips were brought down, and I progressed through the rest of the DMT diamond plates. The customer was happy, and the KME was successful, as usual!

Ron, Mike and Carla had their crowd under control (I was actually getting in the way!) so I snuck out of the KME booth to spend some time walking around with Ken to see the exhibits. There were lots of knife makers, all showing off great work, and we stopped by a bunch of tables and booths including Stephen Fowler, and Travis Wuertz.

As usual, time flew by, and before we knew it, it was time to start shutting things down for the day. Ken and I packed up and said our goodbyes to Kay and Clay before heading out to dinner with Ron, Mike and Carla. Mark, and Ron’s old friend Kelly (who was at the booth with them all day) came out to have dinner with us at the Longhorn Steakhouse, and we had the best of times over a great meal. Mike was more than impressed with the 10K Chosera edge I put on his EDC earlier. After dinner we parted ways, but not before they agreed to come out to my next sharpening party (which is the 30th of June).

After Dinner, Mark, Ken and I went back to the hotel and spent the next few hours contemplating how to take over the knife world, and I gave Mark a few straight razor blades that needed new scales. He (we) got really excited about some of the materials for the scales that he was going to try. We ended well after midnight, and after a group photo, Ken and I went back home to get what seemed like only a few minutes sleep before heading out to the airport.

It was truly a great BLADE show!

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