View Full Version : ABS cutting competition

06-04-04, 12:32 AM

This weekend I attended the Batson Knife Symposium in Alabama. It was truly a great show, lots of demos by top blade smiths, knife show and lots of nice things to buy :) ..

The knife show included an ABS Cutting competition. ....

.......competitons are held at different venues over the year and the competitors with the most points accumulated over the year get to attend the world championship finals in June (Atlanta). The more competitions you attend the more chance of getting points.

This was the first official ABS competiton I entered.....so even if I won,. there was no chance of scoring enough points to enter the finals.

. The picture shows the knife I made and used.

Blade length and sizes for the comp/ must not exceed a 10 inch blade and no more than 2 inches wide. My blade is 9 1/2 inches long. Forged from 1095.

... convex grind all the way to a zero edge. The handle is a full tang with curly maple slabs which I textured for better grip. The handle has a distinct palm swell and , a necessary lanyard hole.
I designed the curve to handle the heavy duty cutting and chopping chores (when chopping, it falls nicely into the front curve), and the last few inches were designed for skinning (will skin a paper business card without cutting through). It has a finger choil in the ricasso so I could choke up on the blade for fine cutting if needed.

The blade was left with forge scale on the back and the ricasso area........ steel was blued.

The competition consisted of 19 competitors, several of them ABS MS and JS smiths........ This was the final competition to decide on the 5 finalists that will enter the world championships held in Atlanta this June. Finalists are chosen by a points system ..the more contests you enter, then the more points you will accrue. Some contestants travel around the US entering the competitions to win as many points as they can. This competition was important as it would make a final decision on who the finalists would be.

Some great makers and competitors , including the likes of Jim Crowell (last years world champion),John Fitch, Dicky Robinson and many others.
The judge was living legend knife maker Jerry Fisk.

There are various stages of the competiton. The first stage is inevitably the 2 x 4 chopping test....The 2x4 wood has to be chopped inside 15 seconds to score any points, and of course , there must be no edge damage to the blade ,which is inspected by judges afterwards.

My time was 11:54 seconds which I was very pleased with (quicker than some of the finalists!).

I took 7th place out of 19 on the chopping 2 x 4 test....John Fitch won the chopping stage with a time of 8:11 seconds (John Fitch is so consistant with the competitons that he must be the favorite to win the championships in June).

Other stages consisted of chopping a thick wooden dowel between a narrow predetermined mark (I missed !) and slicing a coconut in its husk which was placed on top of a tin coffee can. I sliced the coconut ok but also sliced into the can and thought it had damaged my edge , but it hadnt......

Two competitors were disqualified because of damaged blades.

Another stage was sticking a ping pong ball with the point of a blade. This I knew was going to cause me problems as I hadnt anticipated a stabbing test and didnt design my knife for this (neither did a lot of others!)....Also, stabbing a ping pong ball is quite dificult , as if you do not get it dead centre, it shoots off the table!!...not many passed this test...and I missed again!

Then of course, there is the 1 inch wide free hanging rope test ...a great test after the knives have been abused so much and not re sharpened!). I always think a 1 inch wide manila rope looks MUCH wider than 1 inch!)....The rope is free hanging and 6 inches is marked up from the bottom. The rope has to be cut in one strike within the 6 inche zone. I made an easy cut.

Overall, my knife performed as well as I could expect....if anything, it was operator error that let me down...and so I need to improve my aim for next time :rolleyes: .....and maybe make a bit more of a point for stabbing ping pong balls :)

It had been a great weekend, and I got to meet a lot of nice people, including attending a demo by Don Fogg (I really hope you manage to get him to attend next years BB hammerin as for me, it was the highlight of my weekend to see him work).

And , as usual, I spent more money than I had on lots of goodies!!!


06-04-04, 12:46 AM
very very nice knife.

06-04-04, 01:15 AM
Great work on the knife and competition Coutel :biggthump

Pilot errer aside it sounds like your knife did really well, regardless of it being your first attempt.

Is it the ABS or the JS that has a knife bending section in their exams ?
The thought of that alone must put a lot of people off.

06-04-04, 08:52 PM
I am proud of you Kevin:) i guess it is not just how the blade performs, but also at least as much training of the Knife driver ;)

06-04-04, 08:59 PM
nice one kevin!!!!!!!!! what demo did don fogg do?

06-04-04, 09:03 PM
Well done, beaut of a knife and sounds like a good time. Now, if we can just get all those big names to join our next KITH!!!!!! :) ;) ;)

07-04-04, 12:26 AM
I have been looking at your knife again and I must say that is probably the perfect knife in my mind. I like the way the blade curves and the handle suggests a delicate feel. When I have some extra dosh I might get you to make one for me just like that.

07-04-04, 11:03 PM
Hey Kevin sounds a good time ...to cut the 4x2 how did you do at skinning the business card?

The knife looks magic good job ...


Jason Cutter
08-04-04, 08:26 AM
Superb work, my friend, at the forge and and the comp.

I think this is what differentiates the cutting competitions from the ABS tests. The ABS tests are about the knife's performance. The cutting competitions are about "man AND machine" and I like that. (When I say man I also include Jan Dubois, ABS secretary, who apparently cuts VERY WELL.)

Are going back for more next year ?

Good one. Jason.

08-04-04, 03:31 PM
Thanks for all the nice comments.

Yog....The ABS Journey man (JS) and Master smith (MS) tests do include a 90 degree bend test on the test knife. Its not too difficult to design this into a blade if thats whats needed, but, as with everything, there can be trade offs.
My first prototype knife I made (identical to this one) , I put through a series of very abusive tests (more so than the cutting competitions). It was selectively hardened (softer back). I chopped 5 pieces of 2 x 4 in half to test the integrity......When chopping the 'V' in the wood at full swing and strength (nothing held back), it can put a LOT of sideways stress into the blade. The first blade I tested like this left a slight bend in the spine. I re annealed/normalised and did another heat treatment and made the spine a lot stronger and put it through the same tests which it survived.
I have made a and tested lots of knives to bend 90 degrees (including 3 test blades at ABS school). Its an impressive test...but not necessarily a practical test to give the best knife for all circumstances (IMO anyway).

By the way..I also experimented with different quench mediums for my test blades.....Interrupted water quenching and interrupted oil and water quenching...........I cracked and snapped 5 test blades till I decided what worked best for me :)

Jon ....Don Fogg gave a great demo on forging an integral and forging a dagger.As well as being a talented and knowledgeable bladesmith, he is also a great communicator. I hope he can make it to next years BB hammerin.

David. I spoke to Don Fogg, and he mentioned that he would like to try and attend the BB hammerin next year...Maybe there will be others who can also attend.

Karl..dont just sit and watch...join in :)

Stonehard....thanks for the comments...I am advertising these knives on my web page and would make them to order...

Mevaken......They didnt have the 'skinning the business card' as part of the competition this time (but I tested my knife on cards which worked well)....Thats the thing, ....you never know what the competition will include...Jerry Fisk decides on the tests and he likes to be adventurous :yikes:

Jason....Your right. The cutting competition is as much about the man as the machine :) ......I WILL definately enter more competitions. This years circuit starts in about 2 weeks at Texarkana. I would like to have gone for that one, but cant make it as I have other committments. Of course, the more competitions you enter, then the more chance to up your points to enable entry into the championship finals.....I will do as many as I can this year for the experience though ;) .