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Flattening Water Stones

I’ve been sharpening my knives on the same Japanese water stones for a dozen years now. Despite my best intentions, I do not always use the full length of the stones. Somewhere in the back of my mind I have always been concerned about dishing the stones. Last month I took a sharpening class at Bernal Cutlery, which was the first hands-on instruction I’ve ever had in the subject. One of the things I learned was that there are other stones that can be used to flatten sharpening stones.

After the class I purchased a 95-micron DMT Dia-Flat Lapping Plate. It only took 30 seconds or so for it to flatten my water stones. Either it works extremely well or my stones were not as dished as I thought they were. After using it, there was a very obvious improvement in how the stones sharpened. More than I would expect just from flattening them. It makes me think that perhaps the pores of the stones had been clogged from years of use, which was addressed by removing the top layer of material with the lapping plate.

Sharpening

The lapping plate is certainly not cheap. I’m sure that they do not last forever for professional sharpeners, but given how frequently I use my stones I think the lapping plate falls into the buy-it-once-for-life category. It has extended the life of my water stones, which I think makes it a justified expense.

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Alternative Carry of the ESEE Candiru

The ESEE Candiru is another nice knife that suffers from a terrible sheath.

In fact, it is a great little knife. Unfortunately the only sheath that the Candiru comes with is a simple Cordura pouch. I threw this away immediately upon receiving the knife and replaced it with a horizontal belt sheath from Dark Star Gear. The Dark Star Gear sheath first came to my attention on pistol-forum.com. At the time I hadn’t purchased the Candriu, but horizontal carry of a small fixed blade at about 11:00 on the belt impressed me as a great idea. I knew I wanted to give it a shot.

Dark Star Gear Sheath

I considered ordering the sheath for my Izula, which is the knife I usually carry when I want a fixed blade, but I was concerned that it would be a little too big to conceal horizontally on my waist1. Instead I decided to purchase the ESEE Candiru, which Brian Green had raved about last year, just for this carry method. (I actually ordered the sheath before I ordered the knife.)

I’m extremely pleased with both purchases. The Candiru is not quite as general-purpose as the larger Izula, but it performs all the functions that I require of an urban EDC blade, and provides yet another option for an EDC fixed blade. This is something that I have come to prefer over a folder since I purchased the Izula about 4 years ago. The Dark Star Gear sheath allows me to carry it comfortable and conceal it with nothing more than a t-shirt, while still providing for a quick draw. The sheath has also exposed me to the idea of carrying at 11:00, which is a very nice piece of real-estate on the belt that I have previously overlooked.

ESEE Candiru / Dark Star Gear Sheath

  • ESEE Candiru / Dark Star Gear Sheath
  • ESEE Candiru / Dark Star Gear Sheath

I have carried the Candiru in the Dark Star Gear sheath as my primary knife for about 2 months now. Up until a few days ago the Candiru’s handle had been cord wrapped2. I just recently purchased and installed the optional Micarta slabs. The Candiru does suffer from a small handle — a necessary evil for a knife this size. It can use all the extra bulk it can get. My initial impressions of the Micarta slabs are that they greatly improve the feel of the knife in the hand without any negative impact on the ability to easily conceal the knife in the Dark Star Gear sheath.

For a second carry option I also purchased a Kydex neck sheath for the Candiru. This is the sheath that the Candiru should ship with. The size of the knife makes it a great option for those who find the Izula a bit too large for comfortable carry around the neck3, but still want something a bit more functional than a tiny CRKT RSK Mk5 or Nemesis Hellion. I carry the knife around my neck when I run, since for that activity I’m not usually wearing a belt appropriate for the Dark Star Gear sheath. Adding the Micarta slabs does make the Candiru a bit heavier and bulkier around the neck. If you intend to use the Candiru primarily as a neck knife, I would stick with a cord wrap on the handles.

ESEE Candiru / Kydex Neck Sheath

Notes

  1. While bigger folk could probably conceal an Izula in the Dark Star Gear sheath, I’m confident that this was the right choice for me. I feel pretty sure that the Izula handle would stick out too far on my small waist.
  2. The handle was wrapped with Technora Four Hundred Cord. I had bought a hank of this cordage a while ago to play around with and found that the smaller diameter worked better than paracord (gutted or non) on the Candiru’s small handle.
  3. The Izula is at the upper-end of my size range for comfortable neck carry.

CRKT RSK Mk5 Sheaths

The CRKT RSK Mk5 is a nice knife cursed by a terrible sheath.

I’ve been EDCing the knife since my Nemesis Hellion was lost last November. Unfortunately, the “glass filled nylon” sheath that the RSK Mk5 ships with is a poor design. The grommet in the tip is too small to accept a piece of paracord. This was done to keep the overall size of the sheathed knife small enough to fit inside an Altoids tin. I have never understood the obsession with the Altoids tin survival kit. I prefer to carry a knife about this size around my neck.

CRKT RSK Mk5: Standard Sheath

Some time ago I purchased a new sheath for my RAT Izula from a fellow on eBay who goes by lemonwoodgallery. I was pleased with that purchase, so as soon as I bought the RSK Mk5 I shipped it to him to make me a custom kydex sheath. It’s nothing fancy — just your standard taco style sheath with two grommets at the top for a piece of paracord and one on the side for retention. This is the same design as the sheath for the Nemesis Hellion, which served me well for 6 years. The new sheath has held the RSK Mk5 around my neck for about 8 months now. It’s a much appreciated upgrade.

CRKT RSK Mk5: Custom Sheath

Emerson Field Strip

I somehow managed to loose the pivot screw from my Emerson Mini-Commander. Last week I ordered a replacement, which arrived today. Rather than just installing the new screw, I decided to strip the entire knife to clean and lubricate it.

I had never done this before. The knife was purchased in 2006 and has seen some (ab)use. I was surprised at how clean it was in there. But for a little wear around the pivot point the liners could have been new. I wiped everything down with a towel and some rubbing alcohol, dropped a little ProLink on the washers, and screwed everything back together.

New Pivot Screw

It’s good to go for another 7 years.

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Izula Knife Mods

About a month ago I gave my Izula a cosmetic make-over, inspired by Widerstand‘s similar mods to his Becker knives.

Originally the knife had a light tan powder coating on it, which protected the blade from rust and other wear, but did nothing for style. The first step I made in the modification process was to spend a couple hours with a piece of sandpaper, scraping off the coating until I was down to bare metal. That gave the knife a nice, raw look. But it also made it susceptible to rusting. The solution: a patina!

Izula Patina

The last time I talked about patinas I achieved it with moldy potatoes and citrus fruit. This time around I went the easier route and dumped the Izula into a bowl of vinegar over night. I thought it looked great when it came out, and I was pleasantly surprised that I could still see the RAT logo and Izula ant. To finish off the coating I rubbed a little mustard on a few spots on either side of the blade.

Izula Patina

The way the knife comes from the factory, the gimping is nice and rounded, providing a comfortable grip for the thumb. I almost never place my thumb on the back of the spine, so gimping doesn’t do much for me. And because it was rounded, it couldn’t throw any sparks off a ferro rod. To make the whole affair a bit more useful I took a Dremel tool and redid the gimping. It’s much more rough and sharp now, less ideal for thumbs but great for throwing sparks.

After that all that was left was to re-wrap the handle with a new piece of paracord — black this time — and the job was done. My favorite EDC knife: even better than before.

Izula on the Beach

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Every Day Carry

It’s been about a year since the last one, so today I did another dump of what is currently in my pockets and bag. Everything that I am carrying today is representative of what I carry most every day. Much of it is the same as last year.

Some things occasionally change: I frequently switch between the Emerson Mini-Commander and the Izula (I probably carry the Izula more frequently than the Emerson). If I need more stuff, I might change the bag to my TAD Gear FAST Pack EDC or the Kifaru E&E.

Urban EDC Level 1: Worn

Urban EDC Level 2: Carried

Urban EDC Level 3: Vehicle

As usual, you can visit the Flickr photo pages for identification of every item.

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