Sunday, February 5, 2017

Cheap LARP Knife

If you're looking for a decent knife for a fantasy LARP there aren't many inexpensive options. I'm not talking about a foam weapon, but an actual knife for use in an encampment. Blades for reenactors based on period trade knives start at around $30, and you can quickly climb up into the triple digits for any kind of hand-forged work. If you just want a good knife and don't care about how it looks you can't go wrong dropping a tenner on the classic Swedish Mora. But the rougher, more primitive look appropriate for a fantasy LARP is, ironically, going to cost a lot more.

Unless you're willing to make some compromises.

That's what lead me to ordering this"Medieval Kitchen Knife" from Szco Supplies on Amazon.

For $12 I was under no illusions that I would be getting a shining example of the knifemaker's art. Szco specializes in selling low cost, imported knives of, at best, middling quality. It's the kind of stuff you would find at a flea market. That said, they're one of the only companies offering forged, high carbon steel knives at a ridiculously low price. When the knife arrived I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was.

The overall length is 10 1/4 inches, with the blade taking up 5 1/2 inches. It has that wonderfully rough, hand hammered look I wanted. I suspect it actually was worked by hand, or at least forged using a drop hammer, since most of the low cost knives here in the US are manufactured in India and Pakistan using recycled steel scrap. 

Take a close look at the shape of the knife.  Straighten the curve of the handle and you're left with a negative space that almost exactly matches the mirrored profile of the knife itself.  I'd bet these knives are made using a single pass with a torch to cut two blanks from a length of automobile leaf spring.  Based on some quick tests with a file that's consistent with the steel the blade is made of.

If you do order one of these blades be aware that they're going to require some cleanup before use.  They arrive in a plastic wrapper and are coated with a stinky, dark brown goo that I assume is used motor oil.  Or, as my stepdad called it, redneck cosmoline.  Not exactly the kind of stuff you want on something you'll be using for food preparation.

The easiest way to get rid of it is to burn it off.  Remove as much as possible by wiping down the knife with paper towels and then chuck it into a fire or hit it with a propane torch.  That will also get rid of the black coating on the steel, which I would guess is the residue from using the same motor oil to quench the blade after it's forged.

After that you're left with a decent utility knife that doesn't look too modern for a LARP environment.  The blade will take and hold a good edge, but the narrow handle does get uncomfortable after extended use because it bites into the flesh of the hand.  You can fix that with a leather wrap, or epoxy a real handle carved from some scrap wood over the steel.  Oh, and the steel will strike sparks from a flint, so you can impress your camp mates by going all mountain man when it's time to light the fire.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Awesome find :)