Thursday, July 27, 2006
Songs in Steel
At the risk of turning this blog into a " ... and then I bought ..." series of posts, behold the latest additions to my household.
(Actually, I don't get a lot of new stuff; just so happens this particular summer has been good to me. I'm getting a new guitar and case in a couple months, I picked up a capo to go with those, and these wonderful knives are on the way. That's pretty much it.)
A bit about the knives:
The maker is Mushtaq Ali al Ansari, a Sufi, a martial artist of some note, and an all-around nice guy. You can find his blog here: http://tracelesswarrior.blogspot.com/
The knives are high-carbon tool steel. The kitchen knife (second picture) is designed for slicing vegetables and fruits and the like, has a handle of cherry wood, set with a brass rivet, and the finish on the steel is how it came out of the fire -- Mushtaq uses a fairly primitive set-up to make his blades, very hand-intensive. I hesitate to use the word "organic," but what the hell, that's how they seem.
The sheath knife, called Kuku Macan, (tiger's claw) has a handle of black walnut. The edge of the blade has been clay-tempered, ala the Japanese samurai sword forging method, which results in a blade with a hard edge and a springier back, so it will be much less likely to break.
If you look carefully, you can see the temper line, which the Japanese call hamon.
Both of the handles are finished in what Mushtaq says is a traditional Shaker furniture method, i.e., alternate applications of boiled linseed oil and bee's wax, until the wood is completely saturated, thus protecting it from drying or cracking.
The tiger's claw has a wrap of resin-impregnated hemp, in what is called a Turk's Knot, serving as a guard.
I am much impressed with Mushtaq's creations, having a fondness for working blades that are plain and not overly ornate. (I also have a kerambit made by his student, Chuck, that is very-well executed in a similar manner.)
Should you ever be in need of a good knife, the handmade work here is less than you'd pay for some machine-made stainless knives, and ever so much superior. Plus his waiting list is not that far out, currently -- a custom knifemaker's queue can sometimes run years long. And he will make you a fine leather sheath to match, too.
Can't beat that kind of deal.
The tiger claw, by the way, will be featured in a fight sequence in the upcoming novel, The Gangster Conspiracy, the final book in Chris Bunch's Star Risk series.