I have been interested in knives since I was as youngster growing up in Texas. Every male adult I knew, and most of the boys my age, carried pocket knives. These were your ordinary hardware store two or three blades slip joint knives. They were used for everything from whittling to killing turkeys. If anyone needed something cut there was always a knife handy.
I’m one of those men who just doesn’t feel dressed without a knife on me somewhere. Over the decades I have had knives from a wide assortment of makers, some well known and others not. I flirted with “high end” knives like Zero Tolerance but they were too tactical (a term that has now become meaningless. Tactical pens? Tactical Pants?) and too heavy and specialized. I don’t need a knife to dispatch enemy infiltrators. Guns work better.
These are some of the knives I have or had.
Great Eastern Cutlery #25 Barlows
Great Eastern Cutlery #25 Barlow
Bob Lum slip joint
Bob Lum Chinese folder, BHQ exclusive, natural G10, HAP40/SUS420 steels
Paul Alexander’s Ikuchi
Bob Lum and Me
First, I never knew Bob Lum. Initially heard of him maybe four or five years ago when I got interested in Spyderco knives. When I did see photos of his knives, most particularly his Chinese folders, I was immediately captivated by them. How could a knife be made so well and be so aesthetically pleasing? There are no extras on Bob’s Chinese folders, no guards, finger swells, opening studs or projections, no spring assist or flipper tabs, just the bare essentials expressed in its Chinese heritage.
I searched for Bob on the internet only to find, on his site, that he had died of cancer about six years before I knew about him or his knives. He was a one man designer and maker of custom knives, living the kind of life I once wished for myself but never pursued.
In 1976 I spent time with an old knife maker on Alaska’s Kenai peninsula. He showed me his shop and equipment and talked of how he made his blades and tempered them in oil from seals he killed each year. That afternoon’s conversation sealed my knife interest. Although I never was able to start my own knife building activities, I maintain an ongoing interest in quality knife designs and manufacture.
As it turned out, Bob was also a cancer veteran and it finally got him on 2008. This year I was diagnosed with stage four cancer so in that at least we share something. Now his knives resonate more strongly with me. After a few ill-fated attempts to have a Lum Chinese folder of my own, I came into a bit of extra cash and quickly bought one of BladeHQ’s Chinese folder Spyderco exclusives. It should be here this week.
Now I will have a bit of Bob’s spirit to carry me through.
One-Eyed Jack, Rhino & Para 3
Don’t have one of Bob’s designs. He is dead now and his knives, even the Spyderco productions are expensive. This one represents one of his most appealing designs.
This is Spyderco’s rendition of A. T. Barr’s One Eyed Jack. This knife also represents me and my other brother, Howard Kiyota, brothers from different mothers. The two one-eyed jacks in a card deck are the Jack of Hearts and the Jack of Spades. One-eyed jacks are frequently wild cards and me and my brother are often wild as well. We have a history. So whenever I take out my One Eyed Jack I think of Howard and me.
Below, my own One-Eyed Jack. Photo at the top of the page courtesy of The Spyder Collector
In addition to the personal connections this knife represents, it is also the closest to a custom knife that I am likely to get. So, I am happy I have it and will treasure it for many different reasons.
The Big Bug
Dragonfly 2 Zome
Celebration Rhino Latte