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Js Performance Knife Handle Question Some say it HAS to be full tang! Is that right?

#1 User is offline   Phil Dwyer 

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 05:30 AM

Hi Friends,

At the recent ABS hammer-in in Maine I understood a couple of master smiths to believe the JS performance test knife handle MUST be a full tang handle. I cannot find that reference in the (4-24-10) Journeyman Smith Applicant testing guidelines (excerpted below).

Test Knife Specifications:
  • Overall Length of Knife: Maximum fifteen (15) inches.
  • Blade Width: Maximum two (2) inches.
  • Blade Length: Maximum ten (10) inches from point to the beginning of either the guard, bolster, or handle of the blade.
  • Handle Configuration: Any handle configuration is acceptable with or without guard, bolsters, ferrule, etc. Handle Material is irrelevant and solely the choice of the applicant.
  • Blade Material: The Journeyman Smith may test with any forged homogenous carbon steel of his or her choice. No Damascus steel (pattern-welded) or other forge-welded material (welded cable, etc.) will be allowed for this test.

Testing:
The applicant must supply materials needed for the performance test:
  • The ABS Performance Test Certification Form.
  • All safety equipment including safety glasses, heavy shop apron, gloves, etc.
  • A sufficient length of one (1) inch minimum diameter sisal or manila rope.
  • A four (4) foot or longer length of 2x4 construction grade pine wood stud of the applicant’s choice.
  • The applicant’s test knife. No special handle or finish is required. This is a test of performance, and the test knife will ultimately be destroyed during the testing process.
  • While not a part of the formal test, the applicant is encouraged to bring several finished knives for the Master Smith to inspect for quality of workmanship, fit, finish, design, etc. The feedback from the Master Smith is intended to help the applicant better evaluate if the quality of his/her work (design, detail, finish, etc.) is likely to meet the criteria of the ABS Judging Panel at the annual show.

I understand a hidden tang is required for the MS test. It is logical a full tang would be for the JS test. A JS applicant would hate to arrive at a test with a hidden tang handled test knife and end up being turned away untested because the knife wasn't up to undocumented specs or the master smith believed it wasn't.

Please know that I am deeply respectful and appreciative of the ABS, its mission and educational and certification efforts! I ask simply for clarity for myself, other potential JS applicants and all potential JS-test-administering master smiths.

Humbly, Phil
Phil Dwyer
Earth Crafts & Applied Arts
www.eartharts.us (update pending)
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#2 User is offline   Dan Cassidy 

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 09:06 AM


Phil

You are asking a good question.

There is no requirement in the rules for a particular tang type for the Journeyman Smith Performance Test knife. In that the rules are silent on this specification and do not either require nor prohibit a particular type of tang it follows that the JS candidate's Performance Test knife can be either a full tang or a hidden tang.

I will talk to ABS Chairman Jim Batson and see if we can definitively address this issue in the written rules.

Good luck on your JS Performance Test!

Dan Cassidy
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#3 User is offline   BrionTomberlin 

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 07:40 PM

Phil as far as I know you can use whatever handle style you desire, be it full tang or hidden tang. Most applicants tend to use full tang. I would have no problem if an applicant showed up with a hidden tang knife for their JS test.

Good luck when you go for it.

Brion
Brion Tomberlin
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ABS Mastersmith
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#4 User is offline   Ed Caffrey 

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Posted 20 July 2011 - 02:25 PM

Good questions to ask! My input is that as a general rule, it's much easier to build a full tang to pass the bending portion of the test than it is a hidden tang, which is why I believe the MS testing must be done with a hidden tang knife.

The thought process for either the JS or MS performance test should be one of understanding what the knife is required to do, and then building a knife with specific characteristics tuned to those requirements.

For example, since we're on the subject of tangs/handles....when an aspiring JS or MS asks me about what handle material to use on their test blade, I always recommend Micarta or G10. Why? Because it will lend support/strength to the tang during the bending phase of the test....think about it. I also caution individuals not too get carried away with big handle bolts and such....the bigger holes you punch through a tang, the weaker it becomes. My advice is nor more than 2-3 pins, no larger than 1/8", which are peened (another good reason to use Micarta or G10)

If you choose to make a hidden tang blade for the JS test, it would be wise of you to build it more like a "rabbit" tang.....making the tang as large/wide as possible and still be covered by the handle material....then mill out the handle scales to encompass the tang.

I think a lot of people try to dig too hard, or knit-pick at the JS and MS testing rules.....they should be taken at face value. I say that because every year in the early spring, my phone starts ringing with perspective JS testers, many of which only seem to want to argue about "what ifs". If it's not in the rules, then its not a requirement, if it is in the rules.....well, you folks get the idea.
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#5 User is offline   Phil Dwyer 

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Posted 20 July 2011 - 06:26 PM

Thanks for your thoughts guys! I do not have a problem with the rules as they are written. Well, at least I didn't think I did until Lin said JS performance test knives had to be full tang. Then when I asked Jim he said yes too. So when two master smiths (one the pres) say they have to be, then I start to wonder not so much about the written guidelines, but about the clarity/consensus of understanding/interpretation of the guidelines within the organization and the master smiths administering the tests. I do not mean to nitpick, nor do I mean to point fingers. I'm just trying to be a responsible and participatory ABS member (albeit an apprentice at the periphery). Thanks again for all you fine folks do!
Phil Dwyer
Earth Crafts & Applied Arts
www.eartharts.us (update pending)
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#6 User is offline   Ed Caffrey 

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Posted 22 July 2011 - 06:16 AM

Quote

but about the clarity/consensus of understanding/interpretation of the guidelines within the organization and the master smiths administering the tests.


The easy fix for this is participation. Frequently I refer to it as "doing your homework". By that I mean that rather than a person being a member of the ABS and just sitting on the sidelines, then all of a sudden decide they will "step up" to take the JS test, it's about the journey getting there. Participation in ABS events, shows where ABS smiths are presence, etc. Your doing part of that now by asking questions. (Good on ya!)
What I have witnessed over the years, from those who have come to my shop for JS testing....those who communicate with me (and other MS) on a regular basis generally have no issues and regularly pass their JS test(s). Those I've never seen or heard of, who call me a day or two before they want to test, always seem to have problems...everything from unacceptable test knife dimensions, to just plain faulty design and/or heat treat.
I suppose I should have used the term "Communication" because that's what it really boils down to. Participation is simply the avenue to that communication. It's all about the preparation....fail to prepare....prepare to fail.
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#7 User is offline   Dan Cassidy 

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Posted 22 July 2011 - 06:37 AM

I agree with Master Smith Ed Caffrey's observations. Communication and participation are key to passing the JS Performance Test and Judging.

I ask the Journeyman Smith candidates if they have shown their presentation knives to a Master Smith, attended a Judging Standards class at an ABS Hammer-In, or read the JS/MS Certification and Judging posts on the ABS Forum when they contact me to be placed on the Judging List for Atlanta or San Antonio. I have found that those who have been in communication with several Master Smiths and been active by attending ABS Hammer-In classes have had the greatest success in obtaining their JS rating.


Dan Cassidy
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#8 User is offline   Lin Rhea 

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 04:28 PM

I'm sorry for steering you wrong Phil. If I was a bettin man, I would have lost that bet. Your question has clarified the point and I thank you. Lin
Lin Rhea, ABS Mastersmith
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