What are Those Boomerang-Shaped Knives Called?

what is a ghurka knife

TLDR: They’re not machetes. They’re kukris.

When your character absolutely, positively must hack an appendage free from another bag of human meat and bones, consider the kukri. Although the oversized blade design recalls machetes, kukris are their own distinct category of carnage, and for good reason. Here’s the scoop on these devastating knives. Continue reading

Are Your Characters Following Proper Gun and Knife Safety?

Writing tips guns fiction

Characters placing their fingers on triggers well before they should is a safety violation common to movies. Here’s an example of a pistol being drawn from its holster correctly. Keep that finger off the trigger until it’s time to fire, please, or face the embarrassment of your dumb ass shooting yourself in your own dumb ass. (Shutterstock photo)

TLDR: If a character is supposed to know something about firearms and knives, abide by common sense safety rules.

Not every character is or needs to be the embodiment of safe firearm and knife handling, but some should demonstrate a basic understanding in keeping their backgrounds. When this doesn’t happen, it’s a clear “tell” that something is wrong with the writer (in the weapons area, since it’s safe to assume writers wouldn’t be writing if there wasn’t something wrong with them in the first place).

Here are the basic safety principles accepted by the firearm and knife worlds.

Continue reading

Unusual Methods for Honing and Sharpening Knives

Sharpen Knives without Sharpeners

Long before commercial knife sharpeners, people around the world used rocks to put an edge on their blades. That still holds true today. (Shutterstock photo)

TLDR: Anything as hard or harder than steel can sharpen a knife. Softer materials, such as newspapers, can hone.

In honor of my recent binge of MacGyver on Netflix (viva technology!), I’d like to share with you the secret about sharpening and honing knives: harder objects will sharpen softer objects, and softer objects can hone harder objects. Voila! You are now smarter than 90 percent of the consumer knife market.

I’m oversimplifying here, but it’s true. If your character is in a pinch and needs to sharpen or hone a knife using only mundane objects (i.e. not traditional knife sharpening equipment), here are a few suggestions. Continue reading

Honing vs. Sharpening Knives: What’s the Difference?

Writing fiction tips knives

(Photo by Bob Knight via sxc.hu)

TLDR: “Honing” doesn’t remove metal from the blade. “Sharpening” does.

I wish I had a crisp $100 bill every time I read a piece of fiction that used “honing” and “sharpening” incorrectly when depicting a character handling a knife. (Why cut myself short and settle for nickels and dimes?) I’d have enough to retire on a choice Greek island. These terms describe similar actions, but are different in one major way. Continue reading

An Interview with Bear Grylls About Survival Knives

At the time of this interview, Bear Grylls partnered with Gerber to produce a line of survival knives. If you'd like to read the entire article, click the image and download the full issue. (BLADE image)

At the time of this interview in 2011, Bear Grylls partnered with Gerber to produce a line of survival knives. (BLADE image)

And now for something a little different.

I started my full-time career in the publishing industry as a crime/government reporter wayyy back in 2007 for a newspaper called the STAR. That led to a position with BLADE magazine as a print editor the following year.

I didn’t know a ton about knives at the time, but I grew into the role soon enough. I still work with BLADE and its parent company, F+W, although my days in the editorial realm are few and far between. I suppose that’s why I get nostalgic for things like an interview with Bear Grylls I did for the July 2011 issue of BLADE.

I never met Grylls in person, but we did work out this interview about survival knives via e-mail. At the time, he was launching a line of Gerber survival knives that went on to become a staple at sporting goods stores across the U.S. I thought it’d be fun to post it here. Continue reading