I just introduced myself this morning on the member gallery forum (http://leatherworker.net/forum/index.php?showtopic=61360), so now it's time to start asking questions.
I've done a lot of research here and elsewhere regarding swivel knives. I don't own one yet and haven't handled one either, but I've read a ton of reviews, considered opinions, watched videos, etc. First off, I'm not one to shy away from buying quality tools. I'm a firm believer in you get what you pay for. That said I've considered the knives from what I would call the most highly regarded/frequently recommended manufacturers. I chose one model that I thought would suit my needs, be high quality and fit my "loose" budget. I will say that at this juncture I'm not up for spending over $100 for the knife. I have too many other tools and leather to buy.
From my research I was set on a 1/2" dia. barrel with a 3/8" straight blade. So, I contacted the manufacturer via email, gave him some info concerning my needs and asked for his recommendation. I won't mention the maker for obvious reasons, but his response puzzled me a bit. I don't know if he is an active leather worker or just builds leather working tools. Below is my initial email followed by his response:
My name is Mike and I'm new to leather crafting, so I have been thoroughly researching swivel knives on the internet. Your knives are highly regarded and I would like some information about them and how to select the best knife for my work. I have seen your website, so I know the basics features that are available, but if there is more I should know about selecting the "perfect" swivel knife please send that information along. I intend to tool leather on pieces as small as a key fob to those as large as a motorcycle seat. If you need any information from me that would help you tell me what to choose in a knife please let me know. I wear a size medium glove, so my hands aren't too large.
I look forward to hearing from you regarding the knife. Thanks for your time and assistance.
Thank you for your interest in the swivel kinves, From what you described I would reccomend a
3/8" dia. barrell X 2" long with a 1/4" angle thin blade.
So, I have some issues with his response given what I've read about swivel knives:
#1 I think a wider (3/8" to 1/2") blade will suit me better. I really want to learn good technique and I've read that bigger blades leave less room for error. I don't want to pick up bad habits as a novice. I'm leaning towards a 3/8" straight blade. I can always add a 1/4" later.
#2 The 3/8" barrel seems really small to me. That's about the diameter of a round Bic pen. Feels narrow between my fingers (which are kinda short and thick). I think 1/2" may suit me better. I took the cap off a standard Sharpie marker. It's 2" long (the length the maker suggested) and 1/2" dia. It feels more comfortable and rolls smoothly between my fingers. Several folks here suggest 1/2" or 5/8 to start.
The length on these knives is adjustable so I think the 2" will fit me fine.
I know this is long-winded, but I guess it boils down to the fact that I don't want to insult this guy by going away from his suggestions. In the end it's my choice, my preference and my money, so I shouldn't really care. But I do (for some reason). To be honest, I was just going to order the knife with my initial specs, but decided to ask for a suggestion. When I hit the send button I just knew I was going to get an opinion opposite of what I was considering. I must be psychic.
Let me know what you all think about this. I'm pretty set on this maker since I've read so many good reviews, but I do want to get the details right, so that the knife performs well for me. I will end in saying that I know ALL of this is personal preference and until I actually handle the knife I won't know if it's a proper fit. I also realize that no matter what knife I choose there is NO substitute for practice. Thanks for the help.