The term “Side Kick” normally refers to a unique relationship between two people and means such things as a confident, a partner, a companion, one who helps, an assistant, a wing man, a go to guy, best friend, straight man in a comedy due, one who compliments the other by doing what the other cannot do, one who in content to give the other the limelight and a duo team. Famous Side Kicks were Tonto as Side Kick to Lone Ranger, Gabby Hayes as Side Kick to Roy Rogers, Ed McMann as Side Kick to Johnny Carson and Robin as Side Kick to Batman.
Applying the name “Side Kick” to a blade shape is descriptive of the two cutting edges, one at the front of the blade and the second at the side as depicted in the photograph with graphics illustrating the “A” and “B” cutting edges on the blade. The knife is designed to be a slicing blade with two options of use while using the same knife depending on the direction the carver wants to guide the knife in making multiple slicing cuts. Illustrations of the various cuts are depicted in the following photographs.
There is no such thing as one knife that will do everything the carver desires and that is why carvers purchase a variety of knives (at least that is the excuse the carver tells the spouse.) The SIDE KICK is used primarily for roughing to basic shape of a carving project as it makes bold slicing cuts using the front end “A” almost like a bull nosed carving tool and then using the “B” cutting edge on the side to make a slicing cut in another direction. Where “A” and “B” cutting edges meet there is a small arching cutting edge that can serve as a mini bull nose gouge or for making controlled stop cuts and it also comes into play as a continuation of the slicing cuts of “A” or “B” to make a clean transition at the end of the slice. The front edge “A” has a curved cutting edge that creates a built in slicing action with the push stroke. The side edge “B” is basically a straight cutting edge that when used in a slicing action will shape the carving under the guiding hand of the carver. Like any new knife, a carver needs to use the knife by experimenting with various slicing cuts to discover the SIDE KICK Knives versatility.
In a limited way it can be compared to the SIDE WINDER which also has multiple uses of the cutting edges. The SIDE WINDER possesses snaking angles that allows it to approach the carving action in order to reach difficult areas. The SIDE WINDER and the SIDE KICK each have specific uses unique in their own design and yet are complimentary to each other. A carver who uses both will find that both are useful in their own right as multiple use carving knives.
The photograph below shows a series of knives used in shaping the basic form of the Mother and Child carving. On the far right of the carving is a proto type of a SIDE KICK which was used in the early stages of roughing the basic shape. Also used in that initial shaping was the SIDE WINDER between the SIDE KICK and the DRAGON with it long scimitar blade shape that comes to a sharp point. The other two knives to the left of the carving are the VIPER and VIPER III which were used along with the DRAGON to refine the detailing of the carving. The sharp point of these three knives is able to do cuts that the SIDE WINDER and SIDE KICK could not do because of their blade shape. The point is that it takes several knives to do the carving process.
The final two photographs illustrate how the SIDE KICK knives are stropped on a leather strop. Stropping is all that is necessary to keep any HELVIE Knife is top carving condition. Stropping by hand is much better that attempting to use a motorized buffing wheel which will round over the cutting edge and alter greatly the original cutting characteristic of the cutting edge.
To strop the blade on a leather strop works best to lay the blade flat on the leather strop with the cutting edge “trailing” the stroke of the blade along the strop with minimum pressure. Do NOT think about a bevel while keeping the blade flat on the strop because the stroking action with minimum pressure will polish the cutting edge and the bevel will take care of itself. At the end of each stroke pick us the blade, return to the starting place, lay blade flat and repeat the stroke and do this same action several time and then turn the blade over, to go the opposite direction, also having the cutting edge trail the stroke and also flat on the leather strop. Test the slicing action by slicing across the end grain of a basswood block. The only time sharpening will be necessary will be if the tip breaks off, or a nick appears in the cutting edge or the edge has become rounded. For best results the use of diamond honing plates are recommended in the grit composition of Medium, Fine and Extra Fine. Sharpening direction is laying the blade flat on the diamond hone and pushing the blade forward with the cutting edge leading the way. With a curved cutting edge, simply begin at the tip and with an arching action follow the radius of the cutting edge towards the heel and then reverse the action from heel to tip of blade in an arching action several times on one side. Next turn the blade over and with a pull stroking action do the second side of blade like the first, heel to tip and tip to heel. Once a burr edge appears the full length of the blade, move to the fine diamond hones until the Extra Fine hone has been used. Final process is to strop long enough to totally remove the burr edge and the test slicing results in a slick surface after the slice.
SIDE KICK knives may be ordered from HELVIE KNIVES ~ 765-675-8811 and in the near future the SIDE KICK knives will be added to the Helvie website. Rich, Holli and Skylar Smithson will be happy to help with knife selection. Each knife ordered is costumed made one at a time backed by a reputation for making excellent carving knives.