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.