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Getting to grips with the Congress 444

Zombie Apprentice Posts: 17,515 I'm not a pessimist, I'm an experienced optimist!
Getting to grips with the Congress
« on: March 26, 2020, 06:15:21 PM »
I have a Boker Congress Carver that I've had for a few years now, and despite really liking the looks of this knife, it's one that I've not really gelled with in use. I decided to spend some time with it, try to get to understand it better, and see whether or not this knife and I are compatible or not.



It's called a Congress Carver, because it was set up specifically for whittling. Something I've never really done beyond sharpening a pencil, or dressing a splintered area on a fence or bench. The blades are asymmetrically ground, almost chisel ground, but for me that's of little consequence. The issues for me were ergonomics and excess choice.



Being a fairly simplistic chap in many ways, I've typically had one knife, and done everything that needs doing with that one tool. Maybe i'll have a fixed and a folder, or a plain and serrated. Yet here is a pocket knife that presents you with a choice of four different blades every time you want to cut something. The old Sheffield knife makers, were masters at convincing the Americans that they were shipping knives to in vast quantities, that they really needed a different blade for every job, so they could sell them more and more knives. A sales technique that still seems to work today :D

For this simple Yorkshireman though, that's more thinking than seems necessary, and adds another couple of steps in the form of firstly deciding what knife to use, and then going through the motions of opening the right one.

I've decided that should be a relatively easy issue to circumvent and still get to understand the knife better - simply reach for the spey blade (the least versatile in my opinion) for every task, and only swap if that blade isn't well suited to what needs doing. Let the task make the decision. It may transpire that I only ever use two blades, much like carrying a Barlow with a couple of extra stowaway blades on board.

That's the first issue dealt with.

In terms of ergonomics, I've spent the last few decades using knives a certain way, and with most pocket knife tasks, I hold the knife quite forward on the fingers.





With the Congress, this isn't particularly comfortable.



Having all the spines of the blades angled up as they are for easy nail nick access, makes gripping the knife in that position far less comfortable than with other traditional knife patterns.



The key to the ergonomics on the Congress, at least from my perspective, is the arch of the backsprings. This makes it a very comfortable knife to hold in a chest lever or whittling grip, with the edge pointed towards the thumb, rather than away.



It also sits quite comfortably deeper in the hand, with the backspring arch sitting along the thenar eminence at the base of the thumb.



Both of these grips are great for wood carving, but neither are ones that I typically fall into in regular daily knife use. That's not a criticism of the knife, just an observation of my own knife habits. So is this the wrong knife for my needs, or am I just limiting my knife usage due to old habits?

Only time will tell. I'm going to continue with this knife for a while, and let it retrain my hand into using alternate grips that I wouldn't ordinarily fall into. Maybe it will expand my knife use. Maybe it will just get annoying. Maybe it'll be great for some tasks, but I'll be wanting a different knife pattern for others. I won't be carrying two patterns though, as I know for a fact that I will fall back into using that one other knife for every task that arises.

Any other Congress pattern users here? Do my thoughts align with yours, or do you view/handle it differently?



The cantankerous but occasionally useful member, formally known as 50ft-trad
Sr. Member Posts: 383 Average Old Guy.
Re: Getting to grips with the Congress
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2020, 07:19:43 PM »
I've got one of the Boker Carver's Congress also.  Still prefer a CASE Seahorse Whittler.  They always feel good in my hand.

Addicted to sharp pointy things.
Global Moderator Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 21,758
Re: Getting to grips with the Congress
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2020, 07:23:25 PM »
Lots of blades for sure.  I guess for a whittler you'd want a variety.  I only want 2 max and others I am happy with one.  It honestly does't make sense when I carry 2 knives tho does it?

With time you'll definitely bond or not with it.  Its a looker tho. 

Esse Quam Videri
Zombie Apprentice Posts: 17,515 I'm not a pessimist, I'm an experienced optimist!
Re: Getting to grips with the Congress
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2020, 09:00:19 PM »
I've got one of the Boker Carver's Congress also.  Still prefer a CASE Seahorse Whittler.  They always feel good in my hand.

I had one of those, but sold it a year or two ago  :think: I loved the Wharncliffe blade, but hardly ever used the pen or coping blade. Maybe I should have forced myself to spend more time with it, like I'm doing with this one.



The cantankerous but occasionally useful member, formally known as 50ft-trad
Zombie Apprentice Posts: 17,515 I'm not a pessimist, I'm an experienced optimist!
Re: Getting to grips with the Congress
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2020, 09:15:26 PM »
With time you'll definitely bond or not with it. 

What a way to hedge your bets  :rofl:

Yeah, I'm not sure what blades I'll end up favouring. Scoring cuts, and blade tip piercing, can be done with the pen, coping or sheepsfoot blade, and you can sharpen a pencil with any of them. I'm not convinced at this stage that I will in any way benefit from having four different blade styles. As I'm used to using whatever I have, for whatever needs doing, part of me is thinking "Will I unleash the potential of this knife, or just learn to compensate for it's quirks and shortcomings?"

I want to like it, but that may not be enough to actually like it. I think I ought to set myself an end date for how long I plan to carry it, like three months or six months, and only swap it if I get thoroughly sick to the back teeth of it.



The cantankerous but occasionally useful member, formally known as 50ft-trad
Global Moderator Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 21,758
Re: Getting to grips with the Congress
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2020, 10:57:41 PM »
 :rofl:.  I carry knives I want to like for certain durations of time to feel them out.  It usually takes a couple months to know.  I then put it away and return to it to try again.  Usually a couple of forced carries lets me know.  I've made the mistake of stopping short and gifting items only to rebuy them so a second go around for me is needed.

Its a lovely knife.  Can you recall the intentions of having or wanting this knife?  Maybe predetermine which blade does what?  Lot to think about but as you've noted certain blade do certain chores and multiple chores. 

I only use the small blade on my 91mm SAKs as razor blades.  The main blade gets the call for everything else.  My Camillus has two blades.  I find myself using the small blade most  :dunno:

Esse Quam Videri
Zombie Apprentice Posts: 17,515 I'm not a pessimist, I'm an experienced optimist!
Re: Getting to grips with the Congress
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2020, 11:48:24 PM »
Its a lovely knife.  Can you recall the intentions of having or wanting this knife?  Maybe predetermine which blade does what? 

Thanks  :cheers:

I bought a Flexcut palm carving tool with 5 or 6 blades several years ago. There were two options at the time, a set which was tool only, or a deluxe set which had a tool roll and that knife. I went for the deluxe set. Saw it, liked it, bought it, and figure out where it fits in the array later.  :P I hardly ever used the palm tools, and this knife sat unused in that same tool roll for a few years too.  :-\

Predetemining which blade does what, is where I fall short. I did try that before, but as I was doing so, I realised I was being quite contrived in my reasoning, because there wasn't really any tasks which only one blade could do :dunno: Every task I thought of, could be done perfectly adequately by at least three out of the four.

There's no such notion as clean blade and dirty blade, as using the nail nick on any blade, will flex it enough to make contact with the blade behind. If I want to make a piercing cut, to cut the top off a plastic bottle for example, three blades will do that. Three blades will score a line, open a package, or cut in a cutting mat, and all four will sharpen a pencil, None are really big enough to eat an apple with (not that I like doing that with folding knives anyway), and none are particularly thicker stock for doing heavy cutting tasks. There's no clear distinction in usage to me.

That's why I thought about using the least versatile as the "go to" (the spey), as when this won't do whatever it is that needs doing, I'll be consciously aware of the decision process, and what drives me to using certain blades for what task.

I only use the small blade on my 91mm SAKs as razor blades.  The main blade gets the call for everything else.  My Camillus has two blades.  I find myself using the small blade most  :dunno:.

What do you mean by "as razor blades"? The only razor blades that I use, are double edged, and I shave my face with them. I'm assuming that's not your meaning here  :D



The cantankerous but occasionally useful member, formally known as 50ft-trad
Zombie Apprentice Posts: 18,277 Oxygen and magnesium toghether?! OMg!
Re: Getting to grips with the Congress
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2020, 04:38:43 PM »
I like Canoes and Stockman. Beyond that, it's just way too much blades to have in one knife.

 :cheers: :tu:

________________________________
It is just a matter of time before they add the word “Syndrome” after my last name.

I don't have OCD, I have OCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ.

Eff the ineffable, scrut the inscrutable.

IYCRTYSWTMTFOT

Global Moderator Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 21,758
Re: Getting to grips with the Congress
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2020, 05:00:00 PM »
My blades are sharp but I wouldn't shave with them  :D.  My little blade on my 91mm I like to use when I want a precision cut.  Every summer I put a window AC unit in the room we use most.  I install insulation around the unit that cut while in place.  I could use any blade but I find the little one very exacting as the blade is nearer to my hand.  I use razor blades at work and the cutting precision is like an exacto knife which tends to produce more detailed cuts. 

I'm not sure how much thinner the small blade behind the edge but it sure feels like it is and makes a difference.  I've also used the small blade when I do my leather crafts.  I can "draw" my shape very accurate.  Yes I can use the larger blade but 1. I prefer the smaller one in this work, 2. Its no different to my mind when using a pairing blade vs chefs knife. 

 


Esse Quam Videri
Zombie Apprentice Posts: 17,515 I'm not a pessimist, I'm an experienced optimist!
Re: Getting to grips with the Congress
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2020, 05:47:33 PM »
Ahh, makes sense. I have a couple of scalpel type knives for that kind of work  :tu:



The cantankerous but occasionally useful member, formally known as 50ft-trad
Zombie Apprentice Posts: 17,515 I'm not a pessimist, I'm an experienced optimist!
Re: Getting to grips with the Congress
« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2020, 05:24:32 PM »
I've decided that should be a relatively easy issue to circumvent and still get to understand the knife better - simply reach for the spey blade (the least versatile in my opinion) for every task, and only swap if that blade isn't well suited to what needs doing. Let the task make the decision.

One week in...

I've been opening the less versatile spey blade first, every time I've needed to cut something, to give it chance to fail and force a different choice of blade. I've also achieved everything that needed doing so far with that one blade.  ::) I've opened parcels, opened milk cartons and food packaging, sharpened a pencil, cut up boxes for recycling... and the spey blade has done it all.

Many years ago, I had a couple of stockman knives, and gave/traded them away because there were blades on there that were never needed. For whatever reason, I don't have the urge to do that with this one yet, but my mind is still biased towards traditional knives with more than two blades being rather bereft of purpose.

... and yet I've caught myself looking at stockman pattern knives for sale online...

 :facepalm:



The cantankerous but occasionally useful member, formally known as 50ft-trad
Zombie Apprentice Posts: 17,515 I'm not a pessimist, I'm an experienced optimist!
Re: Getting to grips with the Congress
« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2020, 04:57:04 AM »
Had the first (albeit expected) failure of the spey blade to get a task done today. Cutting the top off a vape juice bottle. Coping blade sorted that easily, although in fairness, any of the other blades could have done it with ease, as they all have decent piercing points



The cantankerous but occasionally useful member, formally known as 50ft-trad
Zombie Apprentice Posts: 17,515 I'm not a pessimist, I'm an experienced optimist!
Re: Getting to grips with the Congress
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2020, 07:50:21 AM »
I've stopped carrying this knife for the time being, but I'm still using it.  :whistle:

I'm working on the assumption that every piece of mail or parcel, is a potentially contaminated surface. I'm therefore using a separate knife (this one) to open everything, and this is the only thing it gets used for. Open the exterior packaging, and any interior packaging that may have recently been handled. Close the knife, put it back, wash my hands. Remove the item, if I can do so without handling the packaging, or use one hand for contents, and the other for packaging. Then dispose of the packaging, using the knife again if necessary, and wash my hands again.

The rest of the time, I'm now carrying something else. Clean knife, dirty knife. Whatever knife is in my pocket is only used on stuff I assume to be virus free. I didn't do that at first - which is how the congress got demoted to dirty knife duty in the first place  ::)



The cantankerous but occasionally useful member, formally known as 50ft-trad
Zombie Apprentice Posts: 18,277 Oxygen and magnesium toghether?! OMg!
Re: Getting to grips with the Congress
« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2020, 06:31:31 PM »
I've stopped carrying this knife for the time being, but I'm still using it.  :whistle:

I'm working on the assumption that every piece of mail or parcel, is a potentially contaminated surface. I'm therefore using a separate knife (this one) to open everything, and this is the only thing it gets used for. Open the exterior packaging, and any interior packaging that may have recently been handled. Close the knife, put it back, wash my hands. Remove the item, if I can do so without handling the packaging, or use one hand for contents, and the other for packaging. Then dispose of the packaging, using the knife again if necessary, and wash my hands again.

The rest of the time, I'm now carrying something else. Clean knife, dirty knife. Whatever knife is in my pocket is only used on stuff I assume to be virus free. I didn't do that at first - which is how the congress got demoted to dirty knife duty in the first place  ::)

Good idea. I'm kinda paranoid with mail, too. Most of the mail I get is, I believe, made by machines. IRS, water and electricity, bank. Still, they have to be touched by postal workers, at least.


________________________________
It is just a matter of time before they add the word “Syndrome” after my last name.

I don't have OCD, I have OCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ.

Eff the ineffable, scrut the inscrutable.

IYCRTYSWTMTFOT

Global Moderator Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 21,758
Re: Getting to grips with the Congress
« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2020, 07:24:22 PM »
My SAK is my dirty knife these days and has been for a while now.  I like to carry a second blade/knife for food or clean stuff.  A small fixed solves that for me when I am home and when out I'll use my Dragonfly or one of the traditional I now carry. 

Esse Quam Videri
Zombie Apprentice Posts: 17,515 I'm not a pessimist, I'm an experienced optimist!
Re: Getting to grips with the Congress
« Reply #15 on: April 19, 2020, 09:12:56 PM »
Yeah, I've done dirty knife/clean knife before too, but never considered the dirty to be dirty enough to hospitalise or worse, before... even though it might well have been. It's all very alien to me, as I'm not a natural or practiced germaphobe. It was only when I started opening something, that I thought "hang on, this could all go rather pear shaped". So that knife suddenly became the dirty knife, and I've been rethinking what I do since.

So for the time being, I'm picking and choosing again for the daily carry, and trying not to have to put a second dirty knife before the first one.
 :facepalm:

I'll revisit this all again if I swap anything round and start pocket carrying it again. In the meantime, it's good enough to sit there and continue that function.



The cantankerous but occasionally useful member, formally known as 50ft-trad

 

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