Spring Knife Exhibition 2018 in Prague

Spring Knife Exhibition in Prague

Prague’s Spring Knife Exhibition was relatively quiet, but that turned out to be favorable for knife sales, as Martin Helebrant explains.
 
Text and pictures Martin Helebrant
 
In the Czech Republic, April is commonly understood to be a month of eclectic weather. On the one hand, you never know when the showers are going to come down from the sky. Yet, on the other hand there is always the looming promise in the air of better times to come. Early April this year was surprisingly warm, although clouds covered a good part of the sky.
After the Brno exhibition (European Blades Mag. #13), the Prague Spring Knife exhibition is the second opportunity to see what has been crafted in the workshops of Czech master knife makers during the winter months. The venue is by tradition the New Town Hall at Karlovo Square. This time there were 70 exhibitors, slightly less than was seen before, but 15 of them were from abroad. Surprisingly, most foreign craftsmen were from Poland this time, second were Slovaks with some Ukrainians and Russians following behind that.
 
In the back room is a place where the exhibitors can meet and share and discuss in a quiet privacy.
The nearest to the camera is Zdeněk Janča, organiser of the show.

By comparison, the spring exhibition is a bit more relaxed in terms of the number of visitors. The crowd this year was smaller, less than 1000. However, there sure were moments when the floor was crowded. Still, there was enough space and time to stop and look at the tables and carefully evaluate and consider the knives. This led to much more time for socializing for the cutlery fraternity and sharing an experience. Most exhibitors said that they did good business. According to some, this year was the most successful in the last five (or more) years.
Talking about this phenomenon with one of the experienced exhibitors, he said: “I noticed some time ago that the best business is to be had on a the more ‘relaxed’ exhibitions. During the busy ones, the people don’t have much of a chance to stop, look and consider or touch … Static people pose an obstacle for the crowd and pushes others away to another table. But during easy-going show the buyer has time to duly consider the knife - if it fits his taste, he has time to fall in love with it and properly consult his wallet”.
 
  
Left: Very few modern knife makers make Chinese swords and blades. Here is one of those few Emperor Swords by Michal Žežulák, Czech Republic.
Right: The corridor from the Dining Room of Commons to the main exhibition (the Large hall of the New Town Hall) floor was also occupied by tables.
 
The 2018 Spring Prague exhibition brought some new faces that seem to be promising; among others I can name Tomáš Čížek, who presented simple, well-made kitchen knives that demonstrated a pretty good level of quality for a young man at the start of his knifemaking career. It seemed to me that this time there were slightly more folding knives. These started with simple and somewhat rural famer’s knives with no lock at all (e.g.: the knife from Maxmilián Netrval) and went on to the locking liners (note for example the work Michal Jarý - Jakuza Knives) and butterfly (balisong) knives.
What pleased me most was the fact that a couple of Czech knifemakers picked up the challenge of the AXIS lock. In my opinion this is the perfect knife lock for a pocket knife. A year ago, the patent rights (formerly owned by Benchmade, USA) expired and now we can see knives with this lock being made by custom Czech and Slovak knifemakers. Special mention must be made of the work of Martin Hlinák, who modified the AXIS lock into an even more elaborated form. The original AXIS lock has a single cross bar operated by two studs protruding both both sides of the grip near the bolsters. The lock is operated by two omega (or harp, if you prefer) springs. Mr Hlinák retained the sturdiness of the original lock but modified the lock in such a way that the lock can be operated by a single slider on the knife’s back. Another unusual lock, perhaps also inspired by the AXIS principles, was applied on the folder of Aleš Vondráček. The lock is operated by a small lever tilting in a shallow mortice in the bolster.
 

Two knives by Czech maker Martin Hlinák. The top one is a butterfly knife with RWL34 blade and Maple handle, and an opened length of 235 mm. The lower knife, Mates IX, has a modified AXIS lock, where the two unlocking buttons are replaced by a single slider, powered by a single spring. The Mates IX has a RWL34 blade and Cocobolo handle. Its overall length is 210 mm.

 
Altogether, one can say that the Spring Prague exhibition met the expectations of both exhibitors and visitors. The atmosphere of the coming spring was full of promises for the new year, and it showed that most of the masters did not spent the winter in vain. And on another positive note: Prague obviously attracted more international exhibitors this time which is an additional win for the exhibition. The next major exhibition in the Czech Republic will be that in Příbram, the largest and most famous of the Czech knife shows, in early September.
 
Tomáš Böser, Czech Republic, made this knife with a D2 steel blade and Micarta (top) or Wenge wood.
Their overall length is 278 mm.
 
Three fixed blades by Czech maker Michal Petrovič. All three have 17 029 steel blades. Handles are, from
top to bottom, Bovine bone, Antler and Bone. The sheaths are strengthened by a wrap from phloem cord.
 
Ukrain knife maker Alexander Kravchuk (KravaKnives) presented these one-piece knives made from N695
steel, with an overall length of 148 mm.
 
Three knives from Polish maker Radoslaw Legowik. From top to bottom: Hauler, Kwaiken and Monkey.
All three have K720 blade steel and Micarta handles.
 
Karel Krebs is one of the leading Czech swordsmiths. Shown here are two of his knives, called:
‘Celtic Daily’s’. The blade is hand forged 19 452 carbon steel. The handle is wrapped in leather.
The smaller one measures 235 mm, the larger one is 295 mm overall.
 
Two knives by Jakub Míčko, CZ. The 425 mm long Kukri has a spring steel blade and a handle of Apple
tree wood and leather. The smaller knife has a Wootz blade en Yellow Plum wood handle, and measures
222 mm overall.
 
A dagger by Czech maker Radim Dachs. The blade is carbon Damascus, the handle is Birch with horn
inlays. The overall length is 305 mm.
 
Karel Vančura (Czech Republic), named these knives: ‘Jaroměřický Nesmuk’ (Nesmuk from Jaroměřice - top)
and ‘Černý Pštros’ (Black Ostrich). The first has a carbon Damascus blade, the second one from 19 191 steel.
The Nesmuk has a handle from Padouk wood, the Ostrich from Ostrich bone and Padouk wood.
 
Slovak knife maker Karel Daneš, BLC knives, presented these two fixed blades, both from hand forged
carbon steel. The upper knife has a Poplar and Ebony handle. The lower knife, called Vesmírný (Space)
has a handle of meteoritic iron and walnut.
 
Two knives by Miloslav Dlask (Czech Republic). Both have a 19 312 carbon Damascus blade. The upper
knife, measuring 345 mm, had a handle made of Moose bone. The lower knife (395 m long) has an Antler
handle.
 
A folder by Czech knife maker Aleš Svátek. The blade is ATS34, the handle is Titanium and Carbon
composite. Note the unique eccentric lock of this folder.
 
Two fixed blades by Aleš Svátek, Czech Republic. The blades are torsion Damascus and the handles
stabilized bone. The overall length is 255 mm (top) and 245 mm.
 
An AXIS lock folding knife by Slovak maker Štefan Galovič. The 90 mm blade is AK MO steel, the handle
Ebony. The overall length is 205 mm.
 
Two fixed blades by Václav Čížek (Czech Republic). The blades are carbon Damascus (top) and D2.
The handles are made of Alder (top) and G10. The overall length is 185 / 182 mm.
 
Czech knife maker Aleš Vencovský made these two fixed blades. The top one has Elmax blade and a handle of Padouk wood and copper. The overall length is 315 mm. The lower knife has a D2 blade and Makassar wood and brass handle. The overall length is 298 mm.

Two fixed blades by M. Tomíčekk, Czech Republic. Both have blades of 19 270 carbon steel and Ebony
and Beech handle. The top knife measures 364 mm overall, the lower one is 255 mm long.
 
An elegant fixed blade by Czech maker Jan Pomahač. The 105 mm blade is made of carbon steel and
nickel Damascus, the handle is Bovine bone and Oak.
 
A folding knife and a fixed blade by Maxmilián Netrval. The folder has a 95 mm carbon Damascus blade
and antler handle. The fixed blade has a carbon steel blade and Ironwood handle. The overall length is 210 mm.
 
A fixed blade by Czech maker Petr Janda. The blade steel is carbon Damascus, the handle is Sambar
antler. The overall length of the knife is 295 mm.
 
A linerlock folding knife by Czech maker Michal Jarý (Jakuza Knives). The 95 mm blade is stainless
Damascus,the handle material is Mammoth bone and Mokuti, with a titanium backspacer.
 
The ‘Japonský komár’ (Japanese mosquito), an extreme lightweight linerlock folding knife by Michal Jarý
(Jakuza Knives). The 82 mm blade is stainless Damascus, the handle Mokuti.
 
Two fixed blade knives by Czech maker Arkady Davbakjan. The upper one has a Wokote handle, the lower
one a handle made of Boxwood and Oak.
 
Filda’s Knives, by Czech maker Filip Kurota. The fixed blade knife on top has a 19 312 steel blade and a
stainless wired handle. The bottom folding knife has a N690 blade and Maple and wrought iron handle.
 
Three kitchen knives by Czech maker Tomáš Čížek. The blades are made of A2 steel, the handles are
(from top to bottom): Wenge and brass, Ash wood and brass, Elm and epoxy. The overall length of the
knives is 272 / 265 / 290 mm.
 
A ‘multitool’ by Konol, Czech Republic. The tool is made of stainless
steel and has an overall length of 87 mm.