Free USA Shipping On Orders Over $150

Resilience

by Brian Griffin August 01, 2018 6 Comments

Resilience

Resilience is, by its very definition, the capacity to adapt to and easily adjust to changes. It is toughness incarnate and durability in tangible form. Take the ink pen for instance. Yes, they are obviously much different today than in their beginnings. The ink isn't made from tinctures of crushed berries, and the pens aren't made out of fragile feathers, so they have themselves been made of more resilient materials over the years. Yet just the continuous existence of the pen and the hand written words themselves, in the presence of such advancements in writing technology, has shown that it has great resilience even in our modern electronic age. It gives me hope that I'm not the only one who prefers notebooks that are powered by passion rather than electric cords and batteries. I can't imagine my life without paper, pens, and pencils and I hope I never have to experience that.

Knife makers, as well as the makers of many other tools, started looking into synthetic materials shortly after the turn of the 20th century. The goal being to make their tools easier to produce and less environmentally sensitive. The best evidence of when this practice became more widely available and less cost prohibitive can be seen in government issued military equipment from around the globe. Military personnel have to be able to function in any environment and in any weather, in order to be effective in their duties. In WW-I most of the furniture on tools and weapons; rifle stocks, bayonet handle scales, shovel handles, etc. was still being made of wood as they had been for centuries. By WW-II much of the wood had been replaced with plastics. By the 1960s most of the wooden furniture had been replaced with synthetic materials and blades made of corrosion resistant alloys were being developed and issued.

Naturally once the military purchasers were able to embrace the synthetic materials on a large scale in a cost effective manner, this drove the research and development even further. By the 1970s most of the furniture on sporting knives were made from synthetic materials. While the Delrin® and Stagalon® handles lacked the heart and soul of the stag and jigged bone they were used in place of, they were certainly more stable and environmentally hardy than the bone, stag, and ivory they were used to replace. The Uncle Henry™ Golden Spike, the lower knife in the photo below, has a Stagalon® handle. And while it lacks the feel and look of the Sambar stag handle on the knife above it, at 40 years old and having seen a lot of use over those years, it has definitely demonstrated its resilience. It has been through several instances of sudden temperature changes while hunting and fishing over the years, going from the extreme cold outside to the sudden warmth inside without cracking or chipping. I have seen where ivory and bone handles have cracked on their first exposures to such sudden changes in temperature.

Of course temperature isn't the only concern when it comes to organic materials, it's not even the most common one. Humidity levels are a more common problem with organic materials. Porous materials such as bone and wood are actually fairly sensitive to extremes in humidity in their environments. Too much humidity and they swell, too little and they shrink. The expansion and contraction can cause issues with bonding, and it can even cause damage to the material itself by causing it to crack. A well oiled wooden handle can easily handle getting a little wet now and then, but when it comes to long exposure to a wet and rainy environment over time, synthetic materials almost always fare better than organic ones.

If you look at most modern commercial butcher and kitchen knives, you'll notice that most of them have synthetic handles. This is because the synthetic handles are more hygienic as they are easier to sanitize. Thus they are less susceptible to contamination from pathogens. Similarly, most knives made for food consumption these days have synthetic handles as well, and for the same reasons. The less porous materials are easier to keep sanitary and they stain less easily.

It is due to their enhanced resilience; corrosion resistance, abrasion resistance, moisture resistance, etc. that the vast majority of items intended for us to use on a regular basis are made of synthetic materials now. Two benefits of this are that there are many more choices in colors options to begin with, and that it is much easier to color coordinate your things, if you like doing that. My youngest daughter's favorite color is blue, and she likes them to complement. You can see that with some of her things in the picture below.

I'm not saying any one material or type of material is any better or worse than any other. Better is relative to the opinion of the user. I'm just saying that some materials are better suited to specific applications than others are. In the end it all comes down to how the knife is going to be used, and reasonable expectations of the materials used.




Brian Griffin
Brian Griffin

Author

Brian Griffin is a photographer, knife enthusiast, wilderness skills instructor, professional writer, author, outdoor gear research & development consultant, and knife designer. He has a long history of using and developing outdoor related tools and gear.



6 Responses

Brian Griffin
Brian Griffin

August 31, 2018

Thanks guys!! I’m glad you enjoyed the post!! The blue handled knife is a Bushnub II model.

Abbey Strikling
Abbey Strikling

August 03, 2018

Great article as always! What model is the knife in the lead picture?

Joe Campise
Joe Campise

August 02, 2018

Good information here, Brian, thank you…..it’s important for daily everyday us that knives be sturdy and durable in everyday use. Past materials may have aesthetic and nostalgic value to certain collectors….keeping in mind that in years past, any material that was around and relatively inexpensive
was used.

Morten Elleby Sørensen
Morten Elleby Sørensen

August 02, 2018

Great article Brian!

Brian Griffin
Brian Griffin

August 01, 2018

Thanks Bob, glad you enjoyed it man :-)

big deal bob
big deal bob

August 01, 2018

good stuff Mist

Leave a comment


Also in Articles

Leftover Lemonade
Leftover Lemonade

by Brian Griffin January 22, 2019

No, I'm not talking about actual lemonade. It's just a play on the philosophy of taking life's little lemons and turning them into something we like better. During the holidays, most of us go to seasonal parties and holiday themed events with our friends and with the companies we work for. As most have likely noticed over the years, the theme of the table fare is usually a bit repetitive, and it's often on the heavy side due to the traditions from whence it came. By the time we prepare our own holiday meals as well, it can all seem so overdone that we get burned out, and we're utterly disinterested in the leftovers. Yet if we've depleted our bank accounts and our cards have bad friction burns, as is often the case, it can be really beneficial for us to find more palatable uses for them, if for no other reason than to give ourselves a little less financial burden with our grocery bill over the next few weeks, in order to recover financially just a little more quickly.

Read More

Hypoglycemic Hypothermia
Hypoglycemic Hypothermia

by Brian Griffin January 15, 2019 3 Comments

Hypothermia, being a malady that involves the lowering of the body's core temperature, is usually thought of as being a danger only during cold weather or due immersion in cold water. For the most part this is true, and it's one of the reasons I chose to write this piece this season, when hypothermia can be a real danger to anyone in any cold environment. It's a little known fact that hypoglycemia can lead to deadly hypothermia when ambient air temp is in the 60s, and well above freezing, so it can be a very serious danger in the cold season for those who are at risk. To put that into perspective, hypothermia sets in when the body's core temperature drops below 95F/35C. At 91F/33C the person can experience amnesia. At 82F/28C the person will likely lose consciousness. At 70F/21C it is considered profound hypothermia and is deadly.

Read More

Know Your Rifle
Know Your Rifle

by Kevin Estela January 08, 2019

As a young boy with an insatiable appetite for plinking with my Crossman Air Rifle, I built a pellet trap with my father and shot in my parents’ home basement unknownst to my mother. My dad and I had a code and I would listen for his knock on the basement door or for the unmistakable sound of footsteps to signal when I would need to stow my rifle and avoid getting discovered by mom who would have surely confiscated the pellet gun from me and given my father a serious verbal beat down. My father wanted me to become proficient with a rifle and those early lessons from him, my daily plinking practice in the basement, eventual “graduation” to my first .22 rifle, and ongoing carbine and precision scoped rifle training/practice has brought me to a point in my life where I am extremely comfortable with my rifles today. I’ve been fortunate to travel with my rifles for both training and hunting. I’ve spent many hours on the range, in formal shooting classes, and in the field applying rifleman skills.  Over the years and through trial and error, I have learned there are certain universal skills and understandings one should have and apply to any rifle they own. I believe you should not just own and use your rifles, you should know them.

Read More

Knives & News

Sign up with your favorite email.