Work knives

I usually carry a knife at work as one of many tools. My last knife was a CRKT M16-12Z tanto style with serration near the handle. It served me well for many years until I used it to clean embedded moss from underneath my roof shingles. Before I realized what was happening, I had a nice fold-out butter knife. The abrasive shingles had ground away so much metal that the knife was just about useless.
knife damage

I talked to coworkers about knives they use, and two names stood out: Benchmade and Kershaw. I opted first to get a Benchmade Mini-Griptillian (blade alloy is 154CM). The lock on this knife was different than the CRKT, and the clip was oriented in the opposite direction (anchored on the butt of the handle). I carried it for about a month and it took some getting used-to having the knife in a different orientation than I had carried for years. But the blade was very sharp, and kept its edge well. It was smaller than I really liked, but had a good feeling handle. Another difference that I didn’t like was that it opened with just a thumb post, and had no index finger post.

Eventually, I found myself wanting a larger knife, and one that was oriented like my old CRKT. I looked at the Kershaw blades. I bought two, as they are far cheaper than the Benchmade. I bought a “Blur” and a “Clash” (blade alloy is Sandvik 14C28N).


I really like the shape of the Blur. It is pretty, a good size for my hand, and opens easily. The part I don’t like is that it only has a thumb post for opening. I also liked that the clip is anchored near the blade. This make drawing and opening the knife quicker and more natural for me than the other orientation.

The Clash is a similar knife, not as pretty to my eyes, but has an index finger post for opening. That makes it more natural for me, since my CRKT had both kinds of openers, and I used the index opener.

I find that the thumb posts invariably etch a hole in my pants. On my old knife, I took it to a grinder and removed about half of the thumb post on each side. I did something similar to one side of the Blur.

My ideal knife would be the Kershaw Blur with an index finger opener instead of a thumb post. I like the S30V version for the steel, but prefer a black blade.

The glass break on the butt of the Blur is a nice addition, which I wish were on the Clash. I’ve not seen anything online about retro-fitting a glass breaker.

I’ve chosen to carry the Clash, due to the opener and the orientation of the clip. The blade holds an edge well, perhaps not as well as the Benchmade which is made of a better alloy.

The assisted opening on the Kershaws is a nice feature when I’m in tight spaces, often up in a ceiling doing cabling work.

I use a small EZE LAP diamond stone to keep the edge and tip nice and sharp.

NOTE: One potentially dangerous part of the Clash is the way the blade locks with a “locking liner”. The vast majority of the time, this works very well. I was recently using the knife to clean out some fireproof foam from a pipe, and occasionally putting pressure on the BACK of the blade. Due to my grip touching the locking liner, the blade became free to close. I wasn’t injured, but it did get my attention. This kind of locking mechanism demands that the blade only be used with pressure on the sharp side until you intend to close the blade.

Old systems support

One of the facilities I support still uses Windows XP for door controls. It never has to see the Internet, so there is not much danger in that approach. However, the hardware is old. And new computers won’t necessarily be able to run XP. Even if I can migrate the OS, the hardware simply didn’t exist when XP SP3 was the rage.

So, I do what I can to keep some old IDE drives around, and a few old PCs of the type they have been using for nearly 20 years. I clean out the dust, and occasionally get called because one is acting up. I was recently working on one where I used some command-line code, and the worker commented “Did you just CODE?! Wow. I think our techs have to be great to support such ancient equipment.” I’m always surprised when techs don’t know the old DOS commands and keyboard shortcuts.

Here are just a few that I use even on all Windows systems:

chkdsk /f c: (makes the system check the current quality of the C: drive, and fix anything it thinks is wrong. This often requires a reboot since C: is in use.)

defrag c: (checks the fragmentation level of the drive and defragments it, if needed)

ipconfig /all (show the IP address, MAC, and other networking information)

Some basic ones for getting around in a command window:
dir (lists the files in the current folder, which used to be called a directory)
cd (change directory, change folder)
del (delete filename)
exit (closes the command window)

Another Windows based tool I use is Disk Cleanup. Occasionally, even after that I’m fighting for every bit of disk space I can free-up. I’ve found that the CBS log file can get to be several gigs, and so I delete that if I’m running out of room.
From the command console,
1. net stop trustedinstaller
2. net stop wuauserv
3. delete the CBS.log file (and other files in that folder)
4. net start wuauserv
5. net start trustedinstaller

Modern Windows is getting better at taking care of itself. But on these old systems, knowing some old commands can keep a facility operating and my customers happy.

On Linux systems, one of the best tools that a tech can have (and know how to use WELL) is “vi”. It is an editor that will function when all of the higher level editors will not. It can save your bacon to know it, and can give you an extra paycheck as a consultant when a company sysadmin doesn’t know it and is in a panic to fix a system he/she just hosed. Take time to learn and use it so that it is simple for you.