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One perfect cut


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We were all sitting around the break table at work. One lady, Donna (kind of cute actually) always struggled with cutting her daily apple.

 

Today I took the apple from her, selected a large butcher knife, set it on a plastic plate and cut once using wrist and fingers.

 

The apple just sat there apparently unaffected. Everyone looked at me expecting me to cut again since I had obviously missed the first time. I laid the knife down and began eating my own snack. Finally, exasperated at my inability to finish the job, Donna reached for the apple to cut it herself. As soon as she touched it the apple fell apart in two perfect halves.

 

The following incredulous moments and looks on everyone faces where some of the most satisfying of my life. Almost as satisfying as the feel of the knife making the cut.

 

Tell me about your best cut.

 

Dan

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Last year at Batson's. During the rope portion of the cutting contest. Everyone was quiet, you could hear the creek running right beside us. Almost a zen moment. The knife hummed like a tuning fork when I made the cut. Left a nice clean cut on the rope.

 

Too bad I screwed up almost all the other cuts that night. :rolleyes:

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haha! very nice :) . my best cut would be when i made my first big blade and was cutting a melon in half and it just cut through like it was soft butter! i was so pleased i went out and bought 3 more to show everybody how sharp the thing was

 

 

HaHa

 

I understand that completely. I have been known to plane a piece of wood way beyond where I should have stopped because everything was working great and it felt so good.

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Last year at Batson's. During the rope portion of the cutting contest. Everyone was quiet, you could hear the creek running right beside us. Almost a zen moment. The knife hummed like a tuning fork when I made the cut. Left a nice clean cut on the rope.

 

Too bad I screwed up almost all the other cuts that night. :rolleyes:

 

David,

 

That brings up an interesting point. Learning to cut well is a skill all its own. I am speaking from total ignorance here regarding cutting tests but is it a test of the blade or the blade wielder?

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Both take practice like everything else in life.

I was a land surveyor in Florida for a long time and few things in life beat a sharp machete and a line going through a GREEN stand of brazilian pepper trees........till ya hit the deadwood then it's chainsaw time.

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Alex,

 

Isn't that a coincident-I was a land surveyor and spent many a day cutting line through the forests of deep East Texas. Your right, once you figure out how to swing and grip and get the rhythm right it is amazing how pleasurable cleaving 2-3" saplings with one stroke can be.

 

We ran into snakey areas at times but I bet in Florida it was always snake country.

 

I won't tell you how long ago that was but it was just before there was such a thing as a distance meter. I started my career as a tail chain-man trying to keep straight a belt full of chaining pins. :wacko:

 

Dan

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:D

I also started before edm's,data collectors and osha.

I don't mind snakes a bit,we're all god's creatures after all.

I have seen some horrendous self inflicted wounds caused by swinging through the item being cut.I had to pack one fella out on my back,he had buried the blade so deep in his shinbone we had to leave it in till he got to the er............just didn't want to come out.:blink:

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:D

I also started before edm's,data collectors and osha.

I don't mind snakes a bit,we're all god's creatures after all.

I have seen some horrendous self inflicted wounds caused by swinging through the item being cut.I had to pack one fella out on my back,he had buried the blade so deep in his shinbone we had to leave it in till he got to the er............just didn't want to come out.:blink:

 

Youch!!!

 

I look back at that time and I realize that after a lot of cutting we were using the same principles that I later relearned in Iaido- Use the fingers and wrist to "cast" the tip before the arm(s) move. Strike with the sweet spot (monouchi). Squeeze the grip (tenouchi) on impact. It is not about arm power but velocity and stabilization through the cut.

 

The physics of a good cut are the same-no matter the culture or weapon. :)

 

Dan

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As an archaeologist on survey, I've also hacked my way through miles of tough brush. One contract in particular was a survey of parts of Arnold Air Force Base in middle TN. The federal guidelines under section 110 had to be followed to the letter to keep the brass happy. That meant when the methodology called for digging a shovel test every 30 meters on a strict grid pattern we were not allowed to do our usual pacing off and estimating technique. The contract specified we had to use an optical transit to set up the grid. Not a big deal in open fields, but this was dense woods ranging from 50 year old second growth down to three year old second growth.

 

No chainsaws allowed, either. I learned very quickly the best way to use a machete, and I also carried a brush axe/billhook/bank blade (one of those two-handed long handled double edged hooked blades on a stick) with a 3.5 pound felling axe strapped across my back for the big stuff. We did get to triangulate around anything larger than 9" diameter, luckily.

 

Add to that a canteen and a pack full of paperwork and lunch, topped off with a ca. 1929 K&E transit/theodolite with vernier adjustments down to .01 second of arc on its original wooden tripod and a 100 meter steel tape, and you get in shape pretty fast too. :rolleyes:

 

We only had two casualties, one of which was a case of Lyme disease (average daily deer tick count was 200 or so), and the other was three stitches on the side of the left hand caused when one crewman decided to jump on another one while the second was sharpening his brush axe. :wacko:

 

That little "schnik" sound a sharp machete makes when slicing through a big limb at exactly the right angle is one of life's pleasures for sure. :) The clear ringing a piece of broken machete blade makes at it zips by your head from 30 feet away is cool, but I don't recommend going out of your way to hear it. ;)

 

As crew chief the first lecture on machete safety I delivered involved how to stand so you don't end up with the blade in your shinbone. :lol:

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That little "schnik" sound a sharp machete makes when slicing through a big limb at exactly the right angle is one of life's pleasures for sure. :) The clear ringing a piece of broken machete blade makes at it zips by your head from 30 feet away is cool, but I don't recommend going out of your way to hear it. ;)

 

As crew chief the first lecture on machete safety I delivered involved how to stand so you don't end up with the blade in your shinbone. :lol:

 

Alan,

 

Do you think that it more than a coincidence that at least 3 (maybe more) members of this blademaking community have spent considerable time swinging a machete?

 

And yep, the sound of steel whizzing past ones head at a high velocity is not easily forgotten. :huh:

 

I don't suppose the safety instructor (yourself) ever engaged in the unsafe practice of flinging machetes at trees to see if you could get them to stick. :rolleyes:

 

Second only to broken, sharp, flying steel narrowly missing vital parts is the sight of a machete bending like a spring from the force of the throw, failing to stick and rebounding in a perfectly straight line from whence it came. A moment frozen in time as the mind screams and the body freezes. Then the unmistakable taste of leaf litter, forest mold and dirt as the writhing specter of death passes over your prostrate body. :lol:

Edited by Danocon
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Brushhooks are just primevil when it comes to making the cut.

When I was a very young child,maybe 5 or 6 I found my Dads skinning knife on his dresser.

I took it into the living room and was sitting on the couch looking at it.I went to set it down on the cushion(blade down)and that thing just sunk into the cushion like it wasn't even there.

So...............I picked it up and touched it to the cushion again and again and yet again.The way it effortlessly parted the fabric and foam was just the most amazing thing I had yet too experience in life.

I can honestly say that moment has too a certain degree shaped my life too what it is today.

My folks were pissed,took all my pocket knives and got a whipping..................but it was worth it.

I gotta say that was my very first experiance with the cut.

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heres an oldy post.. by jeez i still remember it ..

 

spent sometime cutting paper tubes but later on.. i tuned in that edge and popped some cig papers.... hollow, free standing on the corner of the kitchen table

 

http://www.bladesmithsforum.com/index.php?showtopic=3026&view=&hl=pimp%20daddy&fromsearch=1

 

 

oh.. and cutting some free floating silk scarfs with a sword is fun B) the coarse silk is harder to cut than the really fine stuff..

 

 

sharp is where its at ;)

 

Greg

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Alan,

 

Do you think that it more than a coincidence that at least 3 (maybe more) members of this blademaking community have spent considerable time swinging a machete?

 

And yep, the sound of steel whizzing past ones head at a high velocity is not easily forgotten. :huh:

 

I don't suppose the safety instructor (yourself) ever engaged in the unsafe practice of flinging machetes at trees to see if you could get them to stick. :rolleyes:

 

Second only to broken, sharp, flying steel narrowly missing vital parts is the sight of a machete bending like a spring from the force of the throw, failing to stick and rebounding in a perfectly straight line from whence it came. A moment frozen in time as the mind screams and the body freezes. Then the unmistakable taste of leaf litter, forest mold and dirt as the writhing specter of death passes over your prostrate body. :lol:

 

 

No, I didn't ever do the machete-throwing trick, but that may change... :ph34r:

 

I also don't think it's a coincidence that several of us have spent a lot of time behind a machete. That was all well before I began the path of smithing, but I think it certainly helped me along the way. I still have a couple of them I use for certain jobs. The bulldog is an army-issue 18" by Ontario Knife. 1095, not the greatest cutter but it handles thick wood with ease. The ferrari is a 28" Tramontina from Brazil. I don't know the steel, but on light brush it's a pure demon. It actually sings when used properly!

 

I did learn about stress risers from the 18" Ontarios with the sawback blades. Those were the ones that tended to snap off about 5 inches back from the point when used on hard wood. My tape monkey on one job luckily had his head down when mine broke upon contact with a 4" dogwood. Boy, was that ring beautiful! After John's head popped up with a "WHAT the HELL was that, Longmire?!?" we were able to almost laugh about it. My turn came a few days later when the brush monkey on a neighboring transect snapped his off on another dogwood. It's surprising how far those things will fly. I was 30 meters away and it kept on another twenty feet past my head before it hit a big oak. That's when we retired the sawbacks...(we worked a three-man crew per line, one transit man, one tape monkey, and one brush monkey whose only job was to trim stuff out of the sight line between the transit man and the tape monkey.)

 

My least favorite tool on those jobs was the Swedish Safety axe, which we promptly renamed Swedish Death axes. Imagine a steel C-frame on the end of a 22" handle with basically a large straight razor held in the C-frame by spring tension. They're utterly useless as a cutting implement since the frame ends project beyond the blade by about half an inch. The "Death axe" name comes from their unnerving tendency for the blade to part company with the frame if used on something bigger than it was designed to handle, like a 6" or larger tree. The resulting projectile will then fly in any direction at high velocity, usually with a wicked curved trajectory. They do a great job cutting fiberglass tapes, though. Usually around the 60 meter mark... :rolleyes:

 

Then there was the time on another project when I knocked myself out cold by hitting what looked like a small sucker with a full-force roundhouse from the brush axe. It was attached to the tree alright, but the tree wasn't in the ground that well and spun around so fast I barely saw the big limb heading for the side of my head. 30 seconds later I woke up flat on my back in a pile of honeysuckle with another brush monkey standing over me. His only comment? "Dude, that looked like it hurt!" :lol:

 

Ah, memories!

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