Auction #1 for Freethought Blogs Legal Defense Fund

This for the FtB legal defense fund. See [pha] for details. Rules are below:

AUCTION CLOSED – Winning Bid: $151 to an anonymous bidder

For your consideration we are auctioning a chef’s pwning knife in 1095 and 15N20 high carbon steel, with ebony and resin-impregnated spalted maple handle. Overall length is 14″ (400mm) with 6″ of that being handle. This is a big handful of knife.

It has a fairly thick back and a nifty sweep to it. You can do a hell of a job on chicken or cauliflower with it, and it would do hellacious slash-damage or thrust penetration if necessary. In other words, this is a “kitchen defense” knife.

High carbon stains and can rust, so it needs to be cleaned and lightly oiled before it’s put away for any period of time. Red meat will stain the blade in an attractive bluish color so everyone will know you’re not a vegan. The handle can be brought back to looking great by the simple expedient of rubbing a drop of olive oil (literally, a drop) across the wood in the palm of your hand. Do not put this in a dishwasher.

[Note, I am doing another auction in parallel with this one, so if your taste is more gothic, you may wish to check that one out first.]

Shipped “usably sharp” or “lethally sharp”

Flaws: Normally, I’d have pre-shaped the handle on my bandsaw but the bandsaw needed a new blade so I freehanded it on the grinder. I think it’s fine but it has a hand-shaped look and the planes are not machinist perfect. But, then, very little that I do is machinist perfect. The primary flaw is that the blade has plenty of scratches; I don’t mirror finish things very often and if you’re freehand grinding large bevels like I do, there are almost always a few low spots. To chase the scratches in the low spots out, the blade would get all distorted. So I just remind myself to grind better next time. In other words, this knife has flaws because it is handmade.

The cloudy-looking transition-zone along the edge is where the 15N20 (higher nickel steel) is sticking out from between the layers of 1095. It is not a temper-line. The blade is edge-quenched in a way so as to de-emphasize a temper line.


You can bid in the comments, or bid by emailing me [link]. If you email, I will assume that you wish to remain anonymous and will post a comment in the bidding section that reads: “Anonymous bid in the amount of $___”

Whoever bids the most for the knife wins it for $1 more than the second highest bidder bid. For example, if I bid $75 and Joe bids $50 and I’m the highest bidder, that makes Joe the second highest bidder, and I win the knife for $51. This is a variation of the Ebay bidding algorithm and, while it is less effective at milking money from the bidders, it discourages people from feeling that they need to log in at the last minute and try to bid over someone else. At the time when bidding closes, whichever bid is the highest, whether it’s email or a comment, wins.

The winner is expected to donate the agreed-upon amount to the defense fund and send me suitable proof (a screenshot or whatever) and give me a shipping address, and I’ll send the knife along.

Since we don’t have an automated bidding system like Ebay, I’d like to discourage “auction sniping.” If you want the knife, bid what you’re willing to pay for it and just see what happens. If you simply must have it, bid $1million for it and if the second highest bidder bids $50, it’s yours for $51.

If you do not win, you owe nothing!


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I am doing this auction this way because I want to give FtB members first shot at it. If I post this on ebay and instagram it, then FtB members would be bidding against well-heeled internet security millionaires. Obviously, I’d like to maximize the amount I can raise for FtB but it seems that auctioning more knives at a reasonable price is better than trying to auction one for an overreached price.

What is a “pwning knife”? To “pwn” (pronounced ‘pawn’) is hacker-speak from the 90s for “to totally own someone’s systems” – the term got uploaded into gaming community and now I sometimes hear gamers use it and they don’t even know its origin. The implication of a “pwning knife” is that it’s a knife that a chef might use to totally dominate their kitchen against all enemies, whether they be foodstuffs or foes. In other words, this is a tactical chef’s knife.

My comment settings require manual approval for the first comment from a person. If you comment and don’t see it, I’ll get it, fear not. If you email me and do not get an acknowledgement, and you are gmail user, check your spam box. Google’s spam algorithms don’t like me for reasons I have never cared to figure out.


  1. says

    I have an anonymous bid for $125.

    It had not occurred to me there might be ties. (that doesn’t happen with Ebay’s algorithm)
    I’m going to just hope that someone bids a dollar higher. ;)

  2. Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach says

    I certainly don’t have enough money for a sustained bidding war, but its a beautiful knife (and fuck assholes who file slapp suits). So I’ll give it a go.


  3. Badland says

    Lordy that’s lovely. Was about to bid but unfortunately the AUD to USD conversion rate is a killer

  4. Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach says

    I totally failed to consider that I was not bidding in CAD. But I’ll stand by it (and hope I get it for 131).

  5. says

    I’m glad the auctions are going so well. Sadly our car broke so I’m out of money, but if anybody is interested I could contribute some resin work.

  6. sonofrojblake says

    In the event of a tie, I’d say the earlier bid should take precedence. Simply inform the second bidder “You’ve been outbid by $0, would you like to raise your bid?”. Assuming they’ve not sniped (i.e. bid at the last minute, something you explicitly asked people not to do) they’ll have time to revise their bid if they’d like.

  7. says

    That seems like a reasonable resolution.

    I never understood auction sniping. It’s always been my approach to decide what is the maximum I’d pay for a thing, then bid that amount, and let the great RNG in the sky decide.

    Since I’m running this auction manually, I don’t want to get stuck in the middle of having to do a flurry of updates.

  8. says

    Marcus @#11

    I never understood auction sniping.

    Says the person with above average income who, on most occasions, can simply buy the things he wants without worrying much about the price.

    For the rest of us, prices matter. When your finances are limited, getting a good price can mean the difference between being able to afford something or not being able to get that thing we need (or really want). People who have little money tend to be very conscious about how they spend it and how much they pay for everything. Not because they want to worry about prices, but because they are simply forced to do so. You probably didn’t notice that, but the way how you view spending money is inherently different from how I look at it. The way how you don’t pay attention to how much your food costs or how you just click on whatever catches your interest on eBay is something I would never do.

    Of course, there are also some well off people for whom getting a good price is a trill that creates a rush of dopamine in their brains. But that’s an entirely different situation.

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