Edmund Davidson—The Art of the Integral Knife
By David Darom
Hardcover, 143 page, $95
3345 Virginia Ave., Dept. TK
Goshen, VA 24439; 540-997-5651
One of the hardest things for any new custom knife maker is to establish a personal style that is instantly recognizable by the public. Most start by copying the designs of another maker they admire or have trained under. Many never advance beyond that point with only a very few coming up with a unique approach all their own. Edmund Davidson’s full-integral grind, on the other hand, has been his trademark from the very first blades to come out of his shop in 1986. Basically, all of his knives are milled from one solid block of steel with no solder joints, gaps or vulnerable areas for stress risers. Needless to say, this makes for a very strong tool.
Edmund Davidson—The Art of the Integral Knife is the most recent in a series of coffee table photo essays by David Darom. The book provides a complete history of the maker’s work and includes a full chapter of shop photos detailing how an integral knife is actually crafted. Other sections cover examples of his working knives, art knives, and combat knives from the past. Full-page color photos are used to illustrate a majority of the knives covered. There are also chapters dedicated to Linda Karst Stone, Edmund’s scrimshawer, Jere Davidson, his engraver, and Eric Eggly, his photographer. A final section gives the facts and figures of Davidson’s knifemaking history as well as a full page of blade markings used at one point or another in his career.
While this book is obviously a must for anyone specializing in Davidson knives, anyone with a serious interest in custom knives as art work will find it well worth a read.
The Fighting Sword– Illustrated Techniques and Concepts
By Dwight C. McLemore
Soft cover, 266 pages, $39
Gunbarrel Tech Center
7077 Winchester Circle, Dept. TK
Boulder, CO, 80306; 800-392-2400
This is the latest in the author’s series of edged weapon training manuals for Paladin Press. I think even McLemore would have to agree The Fighting Sword is a little more esoteric than his past books. It starts with his search for a knifemaker to build his personal version of the perfect sword. He eventually strikes a bargain with Tom Maringer, a craftsman once well known for handmade swords and combat knives (Maringer left the cutlery field when he discovered some of his customers actually used his weapons for their intended purpose!). To make things even stranger, the sword McLemore chose to replicate was a relatively unknown straight-bladed Korean pattern.
Once the weapon is selected, the book goes into the standard techniques and concepts of guards, footwork, cuts, thrusts, blocks and parries used by most sword bearing cultures of the past. One of the games sword geeks love to play is “What would happen if a Japanese Katana armed Samurai fought a Portuguese rapier and dagger fighter?” or a Chinese broadsword, or a Viking with sword and shield?, or a skilled Bowie knife fighter, or a Scottish Highlander with claymore and target?” The potential list of match-ups is endless and these arguments can go on for weeks at various web discussion forums. McLemore has his own set of “combat scenarios” based on these types of theoretical fights between the Korean blade and various other well-known edge weapons.
Esoteric or not, it still ends up being a very entertaining book to read. Those that actually consider the sword a viable modern self-defense weapon will probably find it even more useful.
Survival Kits, Ditch Bags and Attaché Cases
By Howard B. Schechter
Soft cover, 102 pages, $19.95
The Perfect Edge
530 Grafton St., Dept. TK
Shrewsbury, MA 01545
High profile natural disasters like the tsunami in Thailand, Katrina in New Orleans, wild fires in California, earthquakes in China, and the floods in Iowa, have made many people realize no area is truly 100 percent safe from these problems. One of the simplest insurance policies is to assemble a basic survival kit in an easily carried “grab and run bag.”
The author has categorized the contents of this bag down into seven sections: fire, edged tools, light, finding your way, fix-it, fishing, and miscellaneous. Each chapter describes the strengths and weaknesses of specific brand name products that he can recommend. Cutlery, obviously of major interest to TK readers, is broken down into Swiss army knives, sheath knives, hones and honing, survival tools, and single-edge razor blades. I found it interesting that the author is still a strong believer in the traditional Randall Model 18 hollow-handle survival knife.
I also found it interesting he has had the same problems with Bic lighters I’ve had, namely that they don’t work well in cold temperatures. Most survival manuals speak highly of butane lighters for survival kit use. I would only recommend them for warm weather camping without a good backup plan such as waterproof match case and fire paste. The author also still prefers the classic Maglite over the current crop of “tactical flashlights” because of its longer battery life.
Overall I would rate the book as one of the better “how to assemble an everyday survival kit” manuals I’ve had a chance to read. Anyone interested in the subject will learn at least one bit of critical information that could possible save his or her life someday.