Evil's question

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sal
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Evil's question

Postby sal » Sun Oct 20, 2019 2:13 pm

David asked this question on another thread and said he didn't want to hijack the thread. I thought to give an answer in another thread. Knowing David's "Evil" but deep mind, I thought I'd give it a shot. Please pardon my rambling.


When I design a knife more to please my own odd preferences, like the Shaman or the P4, I am finding that some you you have similar odd likes. I think it's because of the leaning more to function.

sal

I don't want to derail this thread but I would love it if you'd elaborate more on this, especially what about the Shaman you like or feel is odd. I think it's possibly your best design and is right up there with the Military as being close to perfect for what it does. I kind of understand how a design like the Caribbean goes against the grain since choils are all the rage, but everything about the Shaman seems to fit the trends to me. I know we've talked about people's preference for thinner handles but I just don't understand why most people wouldn't prefer a handle like the Shaman...it's barely a 1/16 thicker than a Para 2 and the difference in ergonomics is incredible. I would have every knife I own like the Shaman if I could. I don't believe anyone who says that extra 1/16 thickness in the pocket isn't a fair trade off for the amazing difference it makes in your hand.
SHARPEN IT LIKE YOU LOVE IT, USE IT LIKE YOU HATE IT
~David

Hi David, I say odd because in my mind, my designs are based more on an intangible than the eye or function, but more in the "spirit" of what I'm trying to achieve. Much like Plato's theory of Pure Forms.

Let's take some great designers; Bob Lum, the extraordinary artist had an eye few could match. Every curve, line, grind, was there in the finished product. Truly a piece of art. The influence he created still lives today in the creations of many knife makers. I'm, working with Mike H and Craig to see if we can pull these together.

Gayle Bradley designs a knife with his hands all over the piece. forming with his hands to perform the function of the design. Little by little, the design takes form and when he feels it will perform the proper function, that his hands tell him, then he puts his eye to the piece. This makes it very attractive and being a master of materials, he selects what will work best for the design.

Murray Carter, the master of detail uses the teachings of his masters for initial form and then he sharpens and cuts, sharpens and cuts, 10,000 times. details like weight, balance, straightness are massaged into their final form. I use Murray's knives in my kitchen and the shear pleasure of cutting with them comes through in the cut......from the material, through my hand, arm. eye and the finished slice. Makes you just want to make another slice just to duplicate the experience.

"I can do anything", Ed Schempp, will push the envelope, often just to see if he can. I did a "hammer" in at Ed's house. Just a bunch of knife afi's with great skill working on a globe. But no hammers. Ed designed and built a series of miniature rolling mills so we can produce mosaic
Damascus pieces, each with an assignment. Ed's my "go to" guy for Ethnic series knives. Take a design hundreds, or even thousands of year old, capture the purpose and function and re-create that in a modern folder. He studies the design, the history, function and purpose before beginning. Those of you that have studied and used Ed's designs know what I'm talking about. True original classics, each and every one.

My designs begin with an "idea", hard to put into words. The final design says it better than words can. I also refine that design (idea) over time to make it closer to the pure form originally envisioned. The P4 is in it's 4th refinement and in my opinion, closer to my original "idea" than ever.
While the P4 is very different from the Shaman, they both embody the "spirit" of what I was thinking of for their purpose. I'll start with pencil and paper, CAD it, make plastic models with Peter from CAD drawings, often for months until I get as close as I can at the time to my "idea". Like carving an elephant; take a piece of material and cut away everything that isn't elephant. Once the design is close to it's "pure form", I'll refine the materials based on the original idea and run with it. I don't have the "eye" of a Lum, so appearance plays little in the fished outcome.

I've discussed this method of creating with other knife designers and their usual comment is "that's odd", though some have called me crazy.

I hope that answers your question?

sal

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Re: Evil's question

Postby captnvegtble » Sun Oct 20, 2019 2:48 pm

sal wrote:
Sun Oct 20, 2019 2:13 pm
My designs begin with an "idea", hard to put into words. The final design says it better than words can. I also refine that design (idea) over time to make it closer to the pure form originally envisioned. The P4 is in it's 4th refinement and in my opinion, closer to my original "idea" than ever.

sal
Hi Sal, interesting description/discussion of knife design. I'm curious... how much of what is embodied in a design like the P4 is the "form originally envisioned" vs. your design form/idea changing over time. It has been decades, I imagine, since your original Police vision/idea, and I'm curious if you can confidently say the P4 is closer to your "original" vision for the knife as opposed to it being closer to an evolved vision based on function and use over time? Or maybe that's what you're actually trying to describe... as a knife is used and refined, and as it goes through various iterations, it becomes more what you remember the original "essence" of your vision being?

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Re: Evil's question

Postby 013 » Sun Oct 20, 2019 2:57 pm

Sal,
Thank you for this glimpse behind the curtain.
The sword the body wounds, sharp words the mind.
- Menander :spyder:

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Re: Evil's question

Postby BornIn1500 » Sun Oct 20, 2019 2:57 pm

sal wrote:
Sun Oct 20, 2019 2:13 pm
Like carving an elephant; take a piece of material and cut away everything that isn't elephant.
I love that description. I've carved bows from tree limbs and people sometimes ask me how I "built" the bows. I always say I never built anything. It was already made. I just had to find it.

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Re: Evil's question

Postby Mushroom » Sun Oct 20, 2019 3:27 pm

Thanks a lot for the excellent insight, Sal! :D

As an aspiring designer, I've been really inspired by Spyderco as a whole. So any opportunity to read and learn about your design process is very much welcomed and incredibly appreciated! I wish I could properly express how beneficial it is for me.
- Nick

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Re: Evil's question

Postby sal » Sun Oct 20, 2019 3:29 pm

Hi Captnvegtble,

I would have to say the ideas evolve over time. The original Police model was a response to a request from Police for a Mariner with a point. I saw that as an opportunity to create a new design that was closer to what I personally liked. I thought to call it "LaSalle", but in the end, i pushed the ego out and called it the Police model. As the design evolved, details changed and from those changes I was able to see what I didn't like and went from there. As you said, it was decades in the development.

With the Shaman, it was two years just in the prototyping and again, with each variation, it was easier to see what I didn't like and modify.

sal

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Re: Evil's question

Postby sal » Sun Oct 20, 2019 3:30 pm

Hi Mushroom,

Glad to be of help. You are in a good field. Persistence is king.

sal

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Re: Evil's question

Postby ChrisinHove » Sun Oct 20, 2019 3:41 pm

Thanks for sharing your design ethos, Sal. Fascinating.

The only thing I’ve ever learned about good design is that it’s even harder than it looks.....

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Re: Evil's question

Postby Evil D » Sun Oct 20, 2019 3:58 pm

sal wrote:
Sun Oct 20, 2019 2:13 pm
I hope that answers your question?

sal

Very much so, thanks for taking the time to reply to all that. Your designs certainly have that form following function appeal but somehow most of them are still quite beautiful so you may not focus as much on looks but you're doing something right. Then again I can see the beauty in a good quality hammer so most of the folks here who find them beautiful also probably appreciate the form following function aspect too. I think it's a "beauty in use" sort of deal, when I first discovered Spyderco the thumb hole immediately made sense to me in use but it did take some time to appreciate the looks of it, but now I see solid blades with no hole and they look weird to me.

Anyway thanks again. This Cruwear Shaman is instantly one of my absolute favorites and it's definitely a "forever knife" for me.
SHARPEN IT LIKE YOU LOVE IT, USE IT LIKE YOU HATE IT
~David

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Re: Evil's question

Postby gundamaniac » Sun Oct 20, 2019 4:04 pm

Thanks for the insight into your design process Sal! I very much relate to your description of having an idea and trying to refine the design into the form that best encapsulates the original vision.

I'm loving my Shaman in S90V/CF. The contouring is just fantastic.

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Re: Evil's question

Postby dogrunner » Sun Oct 20, 2019 4:11 pm

Thank you Sal for explaining your philosophy or concept of design. I think that is a really important insight into where creativity comes from.
One thing I have experienced over the years (and I think I purchased my first spyderco in the late 1980s and have not stopped since), I only really understand the design after I have held it in my hand and used it. There is a certain "eye" appeal, which will be experienced differently by different people (beauty being in the eye of the beholder, and all).
But really understanding what these knives can do requires using them. I did not think the Military would work for me (small hands) and bought multiples of the PM2 (after a PM1) and still really like that design. But when I finally decided to try a Military I discovered that it was about the best knife I had ever used, in ergonomics. Everything has a purpose, everything falls naturally into place and the thing is just an outstanding cutting tool.
I have tried the Native several times, but it never really clicked with my hands. So I did not think a Shaman would. Just recently found a nearly new Shaman in s90V, one of my favorite steels, and again, discovered that it was an ergonomic masterpiece. My Cruwear/micarta one should be delivered tomorrow.
The combination of Military and Shaman will cover nearly all my folder needs at home/in the field, the PM2 or PM3 have me covered in the office. All were "discoveries" that I had to have in hand to truly understand.
thank you!

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Re: Evil's question

Postby Sharp Guy » Sun Oct 20, 2019 4:13 pm

Fascinating post Sal!
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Re: Evil's question

Postby mb1 » Sun Oct 20, 2019 4:40 pm

So much like for a thread like this. Thanks for sharing Sal. :spyder:
- Mark

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Re: Evil's question

Postby jpm2 » Sun Oct 20, 2019 5:10 pm

Interesting descriptions of those Designers. I feel like I understand all of them, even though I don't have a designer bone in my body.

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Re: Evil's question

Postby ladybug93 » Sun Oct 20, 2019 6:26 pm

sal wrote:
Sun Oct 20, 2019 2:13 pm
I'll refine the materials based on the original idea and run with it.
sal, i’m curious why k390 for the p4. i guess maybe a duty knife deserves a good tool steel, but it should also be always ready and relatively worry free. why not a stainless?

i’m not trying to knock the design (or even the materials)... just trying to learn from the designer. i was really drawn to the p4, but decided not to pull the trigger because of the steel. i hope to see some other steels in the p4 with g10 and liners and not just a lw model instead.

i should add that hearing these insights from a designer always make a knife seem like more of a piece of art to me. i never looked at the yojimbo until finding mj’s video on it and then i had to have it. these kinds of insights on the designs really help me appreciate models i might have otherwise overlooked.

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Re: Evil's question

Postby jdw » Sun Oct 20, 2019 6:33 pm

Wow, Sal. Thank you for sharing such great thoughts and insight.
Do right always. It will give you satisfaction in life.
--Wovoka

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Re: Evil's question

Postby curlyhairedboy » Sun Oct 20, 2019 8:34 pm

Sal, thanks for offering us that window into your design process.

It's remarkable how the iteration you describe is so similar to the process of wood carving, where the art evolves in dialogue with the artist. It's a relationship to bring the final work to life.

The Shaman is my favorite knife and makes my hands very happy. Thank you for sharing it with us!
EDC Rotation: PITS, Shaman, CF S90v Shaman, Ikuchi, Amalgam, CruCarta Shaman, Lil Native, Sage 5 LW, 4V Shaman, Watu, Rex 45 Shaman, Rex 45 Lil Native, S30v Endura, Swayback
Always in Pocket: Hawkbill Dragonfly 2 H1
Special and Sentimental: Southard, Smallfly G10, Squarehead LW, Ouroboros, Calendar Para 3 LW, 40th Anniversary Native
Would like to own again: Sheepsfoot Caribbean
Wishlist: CQI Kapara, Tanto PM2, Shaman Sprints!

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Re: Evil's question

Postby Pelagic » Mon Oct 21, 2019 12:08 am

Cool post! Thanks
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Re: Evil's question

Postby standy99 » Mon Oct 21, 2019 4:01 am

Great insight into yours and several other designers/ knife makers minds.

Appreciate threads like this immensely.
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Re: Evil's question

Postby Doc Dan » Mon Oct 21, 2019 6:22 am

Highly interesting. Thank you Sal.

I hope somebody thinks to put this in Spyderwiki.
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