The Konjo project begins.


The Tourist
June 19, 2008, 10:55 PM
As you know, a few weeks ago I bought a Cold Steel Konjo. It is a better knife than I imagined, and actually quite sharp. I decided to put my original idea on hold. In fact, I put all ideas on hold.

However, this column also covers edged tools as weapons. Over the past few months, my contribution here has been about sharpening and improving our daily tools for more peaceful uses. I have not fully discussed edged weapons.

Clearly, the Konjo is a tanto. While having a stylized American tanto point, the roots of this knife could feasibly be traced to a samurai's obi. It ain't a vegetable knife.

Applying a more traditional sharpening schedule might enhance my ego, but it does nothing for the character and design of the knife. Despite any debate on realism and history in which we might engage, the knife belongs in the hands of a trained Kendo/Aikido practitioner.

In that light, the project begins. I carefully taped up the Konjo and placed it into the freezer where it chill for a week or more. We have debated the necessary temperatures and durations, and the only way to answer those concerns is to freeze the thing dead solid.

If during the initial steps to true the bevel I sense the knife is thawing, it will go back into the freezer.

My goal is to provide a more slender edge for slashing, and a stout yet sharp tip for piercing. No denials, it's going to be a weapon, and if I can enhance the facets of this knife, it's going to be a very dangerous one. No excuses.

Let's see where this goes.

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Brian Dale
June 20, 2008, 12:27 AM

This is going to be good.

The Tourist
June 20, 2008, 02:12 AM
This is going to be good.

I sure hope so, the the thought process has been a pain.

I've watched the interview with the Japanese sword polisher (on youtube) several times, and his comments got me thinking on my craft. Just what I am trying to accomplish? His position on ego was quite stinging. An observer of the blade should see the craftsman, not the polisher.

I decided this was true and accurate. A man seeking a tool simply wants the best tool. So, how do I fit in?

This knife was designed for defense. You cannot schedule an emegency. Taken to the conclusion, a serious MA practitioner would use the knife to save his own life or those in his care because it was the best implement. In the end, the successful fighter is my "client."

If I simply wanted to stun folks with beauty on a project, I would call on Valkman. I'd tell him to build me a fancy-schmancy knife out of aluminum, it was not for use, anyway. We'd buff it to a mirror, I'd polish the bevel, find some mammoth ivory for a grip, get some furniture upholsterer to sew us an ostrich sheath and display the fraud under glass. All of you people would gush. Is that where I'm headed?

At some point I am going to have to investigate edged tools as weapons. I'm going to have to take a position in a debate. For right now, I'm backing Japanese principles based on feudal armor. To my way of thinking, the function of any debate is to uncover the true, best and most beneficial aspects of the OP. For example, is Ford better than Chevy and why.

To offer proof of my beliefs, I have to base this premise on how I came to those postulates. And to put a final point on it, I believe that a serious kendo student with a modern rendition of feudal weapons can best survive when outfitted with a polished edge. You may disagree, and argue a Kabar is best. Some might believe in the Randall.

At some point in the discussion, someone is going to remark, "Put up or shut up, Tourist." For that response, I'm going to make the weapon. This section offers a place to discuss non-firearm weapons. When the knife is finally ready, there will be a hard and fast place to start.

June 20, 2008, 04:39 AM
I can see what your saying, I think, but remember that utility and beauty can co-exist. A working tool doesn't need a mirror polish, but it isn't going to hurt it, either.

The point about ego is well taken. As a general rule, craftsmanship of any type suffers when the craftsman's ego overtakes his pure passion for the craft. I am no woodworker, but I can tell you that I would pay for a Sam Maloof chair even if a "better" chair could be found, and in large part it's because I have met Sam Maloof, and a nicer, more humble gentleman can not be found. Of course Mr. Maloof knows his furniture is awesome: He has built chairs for Presidents. There isn't anything wrong with taking pride and making something awesome (or making it more awesome) as long as the intent lies in the pursuit, not in adulation.

It's interesting that you bring up Valkman, because there have been a few threads in which he could have puffed up and said "I make sweet knives, and you don't know what you're talking about blah, blah, blah, blah", and he doesn't do it. Why? Because it is obvious that Valkman enjoys the craft, and the accolade and money comes secondary. When money is less of an issue for me, I have every intention of ordering a knife from him, and while the fact that he is a THR member and seems like a good guy weigh into that decision, the main reason is because from the pictures and reports I have seen and read, it's obvious makes one hell of a good knife.

The Tourist
June 20, 2008, 11:08 AM
craftsmanship of any type suffers when the craftsman's ego overtakes his pure passion for the craft.

That's exactly my point and the center of the debate.

For example, how many times have we debated which caliber is best or which pistol is better for the military? There might be a lot of passion in the argument, and the discussions are a lot of fun. My position is that sooner or later we give a defensive knife to Jerry Vancook and ask him to cut something.

And yes, I think Valkman believes in exactly that same course of study. If some cutler found a more ergo handle and grip that enhanced cutting ability I would simply assume it would be incorporated into Valk's next knife. And you know what they say about "assuming." But it has to be craft before ego.

So, a year from now, or even a decade, there will be a debate here about what is the best knife for non-firearm defense. And some one will opine that the sweep of a tanto coupled with its piercing design offers the best defense for that discipline. Why would he feel this way? Because some one built a real world example. Not a dream or fantasy knife, but a blade in the here and now.

I wonder if a CAD program is running in Pahrump...

The Tourist
June 21, 2008, 02:25 AM
An update.

I checked the Konjo this afternoon when I needed ice from the freezer. As the cutlers here can tell you, a knife that is frozen--especially frozen quite solid--makes a distinctive "ting" sound, like a bell.

I am going to mirror finish a few Pampered Chef knives for my wife, and they are also undergoing this same freezing process. As I moved the knives around, they all touched, making this clear bell sound.

I believe that sometime this weekend, perhaps as early as Saturday evening, the Konjo can undergo a "roughing in" beginning. This is a process where I make the bevel uniform front to back, and left to right. As you know, I am not satisfied with the way the bevel meets the choil--on both sides.

It's going to be slow. After the bevel has been repaired, the knife goes back into the freezer. This is not a time to be impatient.

As stated, our focus is different here. I am not making a "cheese knife." The idea here is that all of the work and polish done to this knife will allow a trained fighter to use the knife in successful self-defense. In effect, the idea is to give him a weapon so superior the outcome is clearly in his favor.

That's an odd thing for me. Most of my jobs are on tools, you know, pocketknives, camping tools, kitchen appliances, chefs' gyutos.

I will be crafting an edge a man may use to protect his life. His life. And getting that idea firmly in my head is not something I do everyday.

The Tourist
June 24, 2008, 12:58 AM
Tonight, I decided that the Konjo project would begin its sharpening phase by straightening the bevel and removing any grinding errors from the original factory edge. And there were more than I thought.

As you will remember, I found two errors, one on each side of the knife near the choil, which simply appeared like the factory sharpener engaged the edge with some hesitation. It resulted in an imperfect looking bevel, and clearly not as sharp.

Additionally, there was a 5/8 inch section on the left side of the edge, directly in front of the choil which didn't even meet the edge.

So, reluctantly, my work tonight--nearly two hours--was spent making initial cuts, re-freezing the knife, making more cuts, re-freezing, switching to a final stone, breaking the working burr and checking the progress. In other words, simple repairs, on a new knife. All of this work was done on the professional model Edge Pro sharpening system.

The driving force was obvious. You cannot schedule an emergency, and this is a knife with one purpose only. This is a self defense knife. It is not for opening UPS boxes, or boosting your ego as a drawer queen. This is a weapon for facing an aggressor in an armed struggle, possibly taking a life to save a life.

No section of the blade can be ignored or devalued. Every section of the knife must be razor sharp. It must be perfect.

Only the belly was done tonight, not the tanto edge. No paste, glass or tapes were even mounted for polish. However, to gauge progress, I sliced a piece of newsprint, in both directions of the bias. Even in this rough condition, it sliced effortlessly. I even took a picture of the slice marks if you want to see them.

The knife is now back in the freezer. Possibly for two days.

The Tourist
June 29, 2008, 01:19 AM
The Konjo project has been completed. It is sharp, perfect and polished.

June 29, 2008, 01:53 AM
Well now we know why the freezing works - and you found out a secret! Title a thread with a CS knife and talk about me and I won't come near it! :D

The Tourist
June 29, 2008, 02:42 AM
My wife had not seen the knife, both the edge and the decorative part of the blade are mirrors which don't do well in a pic. She was stunned.

It's done, I'm greatful. One of my high-end collectors want to hang it in his den with his previous knife collection.

cracked butt
June 29, 2008, 11:35 PM
What does freezing the blade do?


June 29, 2008, 11:48 PM
There's an article on this in Blade this month - Tourist knew that freezing the knife helped him sharpen it but none of us knew why. It turns out that freezing it raises the Rockwell Hardness temporarily, so it's harder which winds up helping him.

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