New way To “Screw Up”

… or down, or sideways

Every now and again a tool guy just HAS TO buy a kewl new tool. This was my latest.

From Swedish maker BAHCO comes this sweet Model 808050S Magnetic Ratcheting Stubby Screwdriver with a bulb handle.

[The unit comes without any extras… the other stuff came right outta my tool box].

The driver itself is right at 4″ with a bit installed. Perfect for tight spaces, and I have always been a fan of a bulb handle for a better grip and the ability to add some palm force to better drive the screws.

This little guy really delivers on both. 

For those you who may not understand exactly what it ratcheting screwdriver is, it’s simple. Inside the metal collar between the body and the shaft of the screwdriver is a gearwheel and a locking cam. If the gray arrow points to the center, the shaft is locked, and operates just like a regular screwdriver. However, if you turn the collar to the right or left, the cam will slip backwards or forwards on the gear teeth allowing you to twist only your wrist instead of changing your grip on the handle of the screwdriver. On the BAHCO, the gearwheel has a very high number of teeth. It allows for very smooth movement and greatly reduces the chance of stripping out the screw head.

As far as I am concerned, the BAHCO folks absolutely nailed it with this product. Their ratchet driver has a good, solid weight in your palm without being heavy, and the ergonomics of grip and operation are equally great. You can change the rotation or lock functions just using a thumb and forefinger and without changing your handhold at all.

The bit tip is interchangeable for any of the standard bits you buy or that come with battery powered drill drivers. Flat, phillips, hex, star, square drive, Torx… whatever. You can even use shafted nut drivers or wrench sockets in mm or inch sizes. The Bahco’s shaft itself is magnetized to hold the bits securely without any chance of drop-out, but is not so strong that it is a bother getting them off to change.

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I paired mine up with a slip-collar extension shaft [also magnetized] from an old drill-driver kit so that the whole unit really acts as a full length screwdriver as well. [The slip-collar slides up around a screw held in the bit and stabilizes it for one-handed driving… as the screw goes in the collar slips back down the length of the shaft]. Together with the little bit holder strip, it makes a nice pocketable kit.

I am fairly certain that this is going to be the one that is pulled out when I reach for a screwdriver from now on.

Truth Be Told Disclaimer: Nope. Didn’t get this one to fit the 90%/50% Rule

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Putting a Fine Edge on Things… pt.2 ~ Stones and Sharpeners

Several months ago, I showed you my new Lansky System multi-stone blade sharpening kit. [Post linkI wanted to follow up on that one with some more info on getting a fine edge on your knives and other tools. These miscellaneous stones are what I have used for 50 years, but I have to admit that they pale in comparison to using the Lansky and some strops with different grades of compounds. The Lansky gives you the edge and the strops make it a piece of cake to maintain it. If you really give a blade a workout in the field you can go back to the Lansky quickly to set the edge again.

Over the years I have picked up many various stones and steels. And over the years I have afforded both better and worse alternatives. Additionally,  the technology has also advanced. My father and grandfather never had the option of diamond impregnated steel hones.

The “112” double-sided combo was my first, all the way back in the 1970s. The package has $1.19 as the price. It is a back-to-back, oil-impregnated grinding stone of man-made corundum compounds in relatively coarse and medium fine…. these are about 180-240 grit in the corresponding sandpaper grades. It’s a decent pair, but the resulting edge is still a bit rough. They also remove quite a bit of material, causing wear-down on the blades. The old 112 is my primary stone for finish edges on axes and machetes, and even my sickles and mower blades. I start those with a file, and I have an old piece of a terrazzo floor grinding stone that I picked up on a commercial jobsite back in the 1970s that I use for the medium-coarse honing on those heavier blades.

I had the small “Washita” stone and the black Arkansas one from my Grandfather, and these would let me further refine the edge… these two probably fall around 800 and 1200+ grit. For a long time my efforts were unknowingly frustrated by that gap in grits. The fine stones could not refine the still-too-rough edge by themselves.

At some point in the 1980s I got the three top stones. These were glued to a triangular block of cedar in a support frame. You just went from one grain to the next by turning the whole set. Very convenient, but over the years the stones started to detach from the block, and I finally cut the glue and cleaned them up to use individually. Like the 112, these need lubrication with oil to “float” the debris that is removed by sharpening. The “Tri-Hone” kit was from Smith’s and is still offered, but no longer comes on the nice cedar block with its accompanying cedar box. The gray Smith’s stones are Arkansas Novaculite* [the darker one is a man-made corundum].

*Novaculite is a dense, hard, fine-grained siliceous rock only found in the Ouachita [Washita] Mountains of central Arkansas and southeastern Oklahoma… hence the name. It is a Devonian to Mississippian-age rock unit that ranges from about 60 feet thick in the northern Ouachitas to about 900 feet thick in the southern Ouachitas. Outcrops of the Arkansas Novaculite Formation are prominent landscape features, and the stone was used and traded by the First Peoples along with the fine fire flints found from there west into Panhandle Country. Novaculite is chemically resistant, so lubricating oil and grit are easily cleaned off. WD-40 works wonderfully for this… grit just wipes right off to the original surface. These stones do wear down in the lower grades, although I have never had the problem in my use. However, they can be re-flattened by the user with wet-dry sandpaper in a similar grit mounted on a piece of glass.

Dieter Schmid Fine Tools has a great info page about all facets of natural and man-made sharpening stones, although it focuses on Japanese stones rather than Arkansas >> LINK

 

In this photo you can see some of the variation on my own set of Arkansas stones, although the photo-flash has changed their colors.

The top left is the Smith’s corundum, the yellow is their “ultra-fine”, and the mottled is mid-range. The older “black Arkansas” is at the bottom, but reveals far more color. It would be just below the yellow in grade. These probably range from 200-800.

My Grandfather’s small Washita stone is about 800-1000 grit. [It too still has a blue label with the original price of 29¢ penciled on it on the reverse side]

 

My next sharpening set was a mixed one from the 90s with a large medium diamond block from DMT, and two small diamond paddles from EZE-Lap. The paddles fill in “coarse” and fine grades.

Used together with a chef’s steel from the restaurant supply, these are what I have used to keep my kitchen knives sharp for the last couple decades [as well as whatever EDC knife and pocket tool I might be carrying at the time]. The diamond hones are excellent because they can be lubricated with water, resulting in easier, quicker cleanup when you are in the middle kitchen chores.

These are made by pressure bonding fine grades of industrial diamond grit right into a steel backing plate. Over time the grit can wear down with excessive use. For most casual users this will never be a problem. Harbor Freight currently offers both a three-grit set for only $9.99 and also a block mounted one with four surfaces. HF grades theirs from 180-360 on the 3 piece set, and 200-600 in the four. Either would be a super starter set for anyone. [DMT sets go over $100 on Amazon]

Along the way I had gotten the little pocket sharpener to take along in my pack. This one is a clone of a similar one offered on Amazon from Smith’s. They have a pair of carbide blades set in a V and a second set of rods in ceramic. I am not a big fan, because the angle is fixed and can do more damage than good. Fine for a beater maybe, but not on anything good.

The diamond rod sharpeners are from EZE-Lap. This is their M-model in solid brass. They also make an aluminum version that is marginally lighter for take-along. The rod and collar store securely in the brass sleeve, and reverse/screw-in for use. The open one dates from the 80s, and the grit is wearing off. Given that this has always been a “go-to” sharpener in my gear bag, that’s a decent lifetime. However, EZE-Lap offers a lifetime guarantee, and they recently sent me a brand new replacement. [I had to send back the sleeve as proof-of-purchase, but they were happy to return it with my new one. Took about ten days… I do love good customer service] The EZE-Lap M is a great piece of kit. You can give a blade a few quick lappings, either forehand or back, either into the blade or away, and get a nicely refreshed edge with nearly zero wear-down on the blade.

 

Some more lovely tourism posters found on the web…

DO plan on visiting the amazing “Four Corners” area if you are going out west… just realize that these states are not quite in their proper arrangement…

Still, it really is quite fun to balance on one foot and be in four states at once. I can do two states and four counties right up the river from Moosenut Falls, and that has its own charm… it’s on a island in the middle of the river.

No Progress…

 

…at least on working on the “Project Knife”. Prepping for my upcoming move has just sucked up my time. I’ve been sorting through boxes that may not have been audited since my parents move to NC in 1963… seriously.

The poor knife is just like I left it in the last PK post, but it did get a new suit of clothes. These fit, instead of letting 3/4″ of sharp blade tip poke out of the sheath [and into your pants and leg].

I picked up a cheap sheath off Amazon that turned out be fairly nice. Reasonably decent leather with a machine stamped basketweave, riveted, and sound stitching… and a near perfect fit. [There is a snap strap that is off right now]. I will most likely give this sheath a Lexol rubdown; something I wouldn’t do to a really fine sheath like the BRK ones come with.

Money saved always goes out in another direction… and I did spree on a second Bark River when someone in one of the BRK forums put it up at a price that I could feel OK with [and that all the stuff in those boxes financed thru sales on eBay]. That pretty top knife is a Fox River II “First Production Run” with a Desert Ironwood handle and brass pins, A2 steel. It came without any signs of use or wear, and I’m glad I went for it.

I had wanted a Fox River back when I got the Adventurer nekker last Fall, but the original full run sold out a good while ago, and Mike Stewart hasn’t fitted another run into the very busy Bark River production schedule yet. You can get a Fox that is “magnum” or one that is LT [a lighter/thinner blade] but not a regular II. At 5″ the FR II is an inch bigger than the original FR, which makes it smaller by an inch than the PK Bowie I’m restoring, but larger than the others I have [a Buck 692 and a D.H. Russell Canadian #1 from Grohmann]… so…. imma justifyin’ fillin’ a niche!

Other than that, in a quick message exchange with forum guy who is a well known knife maker, as well as collector, I found out that the Project Knife is actually better than I thought. Under that ugly blade tape-up job, it is convex ground just like the pricy Bark Rivers.

Bad Knife!… No Biscuit.

I am pretty effete with my selection of knives, [I just bought a “First Production Run” Bark River Fox River II off the forums an hour ago] and I do take really good care of my cutting arsenal. Today’s review [although you probably would be better off calling it “a savage attack”] is of a donor knife that came my way in a box of miscellaneous tools a few years ago. Badly executed, and even more badly maintained, it’s only home has always been an my gardening tool bucket… This is just about as bad as the knife can get, and NO big surprise… It’s from Pakistan!

 

 

What it is…. above left, and what it would like to be if it had had better upbringing…. above right. What it is is completely representative of why everyone bashes knives from Pakistan. It is an absolutely wretched clone that is so badly reconceived, and then so poorly executed it will never be mistaken for the real thing…. a BUCK 110, one of the epitomal knifes of the last hundred years.

The Fakistani’s brass bolsters are right-angled off the edges so that they are guaranteed to dig into your hand with a firm grip, and they abandon the Buck’s ergonomic, user friendly shape entirely. The handles themselves are done in what looks to be mahogany with an open grain, and no finish has been used at all… at least there are no traces left.

 

Just about the only positive thing that can be said about the build is that the handles and rivet pins are ground down flush with no harsh transitions between materials… even across the spine.

BUT…

 

 

Cue the theme from Jaws…. dundum,dundum, dundum…and check the shot below!

 

They missed the entire point of a folding “pocket” knife….. the blade is supposed to be contained in the handle when folded so that you can carry it in your pocket without the risk of injury!

This is the “locked in” position. The blade has not been ground down to expose the blade tip… that’s how it came.

And just as bad, the lockback lever sticks out just as far on the other side!

The Pakistani knife industry gets a really bad rap among the blade fanboys. Partly this is due to the fact that they repurchased old machinery from Europe that is unable to deal with some of the higher tech metals used in blades today. But quite justly, the plain, out and out bad craftsmanship shown on this knife is another reason. I’m not even bashing the steel used. Hey, it is Stainless like it sez on the ricasso so it doesn’t rust away between uses, and it does take an edge. It’s just that the edge seems to fade away without any use at all…even while it only sits in the pocket of my yard tool bucket. We’ve all had an untold number of cheap Japanese kitchen knives that do that same thing… one soap-and-water washing and they’re dull.

This poor thing will get tossed back in the bucket after I give a go at the blade on my Lansky System just for the “halibut”. Even a beater beats nothing when you are wrist deep in manure and need to open that second bag….

Edit~ It did sharpen up pretty OK for a beater…

The Project Knife~ bonus

I almost took a “flyer”on this second “project” knife a week or so ago. Fortunately, it went for a price above my pay-grade, finally selling for $44US plus $7.99 s/h… fair, but not for me right now.

Described on eBay offering as:

“NICE OLD WADE & BUTCHER “TEDDY” MODEL, TEDDY ETCHED INTO BLADE, KNIFE SHOWS AGE AND SHARPENING, STACKED LEATHER HANDLE SLIGHTLY DRY, POMMEL CAP SHOWS SLIGHT DINGS, BLADE SHOWS SOME IDIOT PUTTING GRINDER MARKS ON IT.  SHEATH IS CRUDELY HANDMADE WITH A CROSSDRAW BELT LOOP BUT SHEATH IS IN GOOD CONDITION !”

Wade & Butcher are well known British cutlery makers in Sheffield, and most Sheffield is pretty nice steel… carbon and well formulated. Most interesting about this though is that the “TEDDY” is supposedly the first widely offered “stainless” steel hunting knife made.

The grip seems a bit bulbous to my taste, but I really loved the brass spaced catalin decorative disks at each end, and the single tang blade guard.

The fool and his grinder marks I can deal with, but what put me off making any bid was that I could see that the blade was rather heavily worn in right there before the ricasso [the squared off chunk between the edge and the guard… zoom the photo and you can really see it]. That was going to mean substantial regrinding forward on toward the point to flatten the bottom edge.

Still and all…. that’s a really nice looking knife, I will probably keep my eye on eBay in case another one comes along.

EDIT~ for a second “Bonus

Just to show that you can pick up a “good enough” used knife in reasonable condition for a reasonable price…. I passed on this KA-BAR USA 11″ Stacked Leather Bowie Knife with Leather Sheath as well, but it went for only $35US [shipped] over on eBay the other night… Screen Shot 2018-03-20 at 9.43.26 AM

 

 

 

 

 

The Project Knife Update #1-2

There has actually been some slow but steady progress being made. I started out a couple of weeks ago, and then got hung up on the rest of my life commitments…

The first steps involved “stabilizing” the leather handle. No disks were actually missing, but there were small gaps between some, behind the brass guard, and right at the front catalin disks. I worked some Gorilla Glue into some of the gaps to start with. I also used some braided casting line with the GG to wrap-and-fill behind the guard. Then I switched to furniture glue as it could be thinned and put in on a razor blade.

This first photo shows where I have glued and then tightened up and worked the spaces between disks to give a single, dime-thick void. I filled this with black “Sugru”.

 

 

 

I finally had some time this morning, so I taped off the catalin decorative disks, the pommel and the guard with painters tape to protect them while I broke out a rasp, a file and the disk sander to get serious with reshaping the now tight and secure leathers. [You can see the Sugru infill there in the center]

 

For safety while grasping, I also put a pair of duct tape strips up the edge of the blade and covered them with a third layer folded over.

Here we are after some heavy rasp work, some filing, and a go with 220 grit on my Porter-Cable orbital.

After making most of those dark rings there between the disks go away, I moved on up to 400 grit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just cleaned up with a rag to get off the sanding dust, I am pretty pleased with the progress so far. You can see the shine already coming up on the leather. The grip in the hand feels fine, with no real change from the very slight material removal. Sure, the Sugru infill is always going to show as a souvenir of the renovation, but that just adds character.

There are some more spaces that showed up in the catalin disks by the pommel, and the down slopes across the catalin on both sides at the guard need to be brought up to the 400g level by hand.

In the center photo you can see how nicely the decorative disks come back. So, my next play is to work a last bit of glue into the gaps, lightly file off the residues, and work down those front slopes to match the rest.