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Old 12-07-2008, 03:54 AM
The Tourist The Tourist is offline
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Default This always gets me thinking.

In my area, they played the movie "Kill Bill" on our cable system. I know better, I shouldn't watch it, but I always get caught up in the story. Yes, I know the plot. I suffer a bit for the sword maker, and the idea of "the curse."

I am not a cutler or a polisher. I am a tinker. I use the tools of a Japanese polisher and modern sharpening items to refine and sharpen tool edges. In short, that is all I do.

The problem is that life is never as simple as one would design for himself.

My skill is to hang a shingle and provide a service. And there is no way to discern where my edges travel. Or where they serve. Or who they benefit. Or if a benefit is gained, at all.

Many years ago I decided to work for myself and foolishly took the curse. As is my OCD nature, I made the boastful decision to become "the best sharpener in the world." And oh, did I apply my craft! I now bring polished Japanese kitchen knives to Japanese chefs to cook my dinner, and they lay their own edges aside...

Boastful. And foolish.

As is the curse of any craftsman, and the dire thoughts of the cinema swordmaker, is that the best works of his hand may bring the destruction of others. Granted, several soldiers have taken my edges to Iraq. At the day's end, this is a childish veneer to assuage my other deeper concerns.

But the stark reality attached to this admittedly decorative polished edge is that anyone ignorant enough to face a trained aikido/kendo master is going to die.

Yes, I am careful on how I produce. I sharpen for hunters. I seek out chefs. I sharpened a real-deal tanto for a martial arts student--once. I once refined the edge of a konjo to my best abilities, and then thought the worse for actually having done it. That knife now sits in a collector's showcase where it will never see any use, good or bad.

And then this movie "Kill Bill" will make the rounds. It will be re-broadcast for a few weeks, and I get a tad melancholy. And being the holiday season, this is never a great aid.

The master swordmaker hands the katana over to "The Bride" despite his own demons and vows, knowing full well where and how his craftmanship will see its end.

But I will never know. However, there is now a faction of police science that claims to be able to study and trace the tool marks used in crimes. My wife and I have discussed that "knock on the door" when a dour faced officer comes calling about a Tourist's edge.

It's this facet of the craft that has no humor or romance. There is no 'woosh' of steel proffered in fantasy to mask reality.

I'm told there's a famous, more aptly infamous, school that teaches clients how to fight with Bowie knives. It's a legal pursuit, and certainly a customer has the right to spend his money in any pleasure he wants. And I have sharpened Bowie knives.

Don't ask me to take any pleasure there.
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Old 12-07-2008, 11:28 AM
American Woman American Woman is offline
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Default Re: This always gets me thinking.

I would hate knowing something I enjoyed that much could also be used as a weapon to take a life.
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Old 12-07-2008, 11:30 AM
urednecku urednecku is offline
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Default Re: This always gets me thinking.

Always take pride in your work. You can NOT control how some-one uses it, no more than GM can control a car being driven by a drunk, or Wilson can control a golf club being used in a robbery.
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Old 12-07-2008, 12:12 PM
The Tourist The Tourist is offline
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Default Re: This always gets me thinking.

Thanks, guys. And I tell myself these very things.

But the study of these edges, and the knives used, are directly related to crime and a bloody history, as well as art and fable. Now granted, the craft of refined edges shaped what we know as modern Japan. We used firearms in this country to "win the west."

We also build fighter aircraft and missiles.

Additionally, if a craftsman wants to work, that is his choice. I'm referring more to my choice.

Let's suppose I wanted to make money--and I mean a pile of money. I could easily pack a bag and polish tantos for the Japanese Yakuza. In fact, I'm bet there are working polishers and tinkers working right now doing that very thing. There are gun runners arming our Mafia. There always will be this trade.

And when I sharpened that konjo and my thoughts drifted, don't think for one second I didn't imagine polishing a modern tool, like a CS Master Tanto, replete with a period tsuba and made of modern stainless alloys. When my new resellers catalogs come out, I still fantasize.

But there is just "something" about knife edges and the craftsmen, a marriage of sorts. If you saw the modern rendition of "The Alamo," you also saw the first flash of actor Jason Patric's Bowie knife. Did any of you say, "Gee, I'd like to have that in my kitchen for slicing bread..."

BTW, in viewing the movie "Kill Bill" I am reminded that there really was a man named Hanzo Hattori. Depending on who's writing the history, he was either a revered samurai or a ninja in the 16th century. Either way, his fame was so wide-spread, his bones were interred in the walls of Sainen-ji temple.

There is a point where you must be careful in what you wish.
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Old 12-07-2008, 01:57 PM
Trakternut Trakternut is offline
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Default Re: This always gets me thinking.

Tourist, I commend you for questioning yourself on moral grounds. That said, I must back Rednenck's post. That said, I offer this: Once you've done your job and provided the knife, sword, whatever, with the finest edge you can create, how it's used is no longer in your domain. The owner can, of his own volition, choose to use it to kill someone, or, he can put it up in a glass case and admire the beauty of the steel, which is enhanced by the edge you put on it.
Simply put, It ain't your problem.
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Old 12-07-2008, 04:37 PM
The Tourist The Tourist is offline
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Default Re: This always gets me thinking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakternut View Post
Simply put, It ain't your problem.
For some reason this is one of those issues where there is an "academic" side and a "visceral" side.

Some items, like electric toasters, coffee grinders or garlic presses mean nothing to us. If they break, we make a rudimentary attempt to repair them, and failing that, we unceremoniously throw them away.

However, knives don't seem to fit into that category. A client will pay large sums of money to repair a knife "his grandfather used," but care little if anything about a coffee pot the elder had for over fifty years.

There's a connection there we cannot explain--but we feel it.

As stated, I'm a tinker. A definition of a tinker is one who fixes kitchen items.

So one day you come home and find two UPS boxes, both from my shop. One of them contains a completely refurbished, brass trimmed Krupp's cappuccino maker. Every surface has been trued, polished and made better than new.

The other contains a tanto. In like manner, every grind-line has been trued, polished and then sharpened better than new.

Tell me, which do you do first? Brew a fresh espresso, or cut something?

Some items in life seem to exhibit a power, or an aura, or represent an uplifting in our spirits. Even a complete idiot has an abiding respect for the edge of a freshly polished katana.

During the Packer game this afternoon, I realized my resellers' catalog was laying in front of me on the coffee table. And, yes, I checked pricing on Master Tanto.
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