I could not imagine that a knife with a 4.5mm thick stock blade could be considered as some kind of safe queen ever. A delicate collection folder destined to open letters (and clean nails). The Nilakka is from Pekka Tuominen for God’s sake. He is a exmilitary, a countryman, a masterbladesmith and a gifted knifemaker who is also genuinely “tool oriented” (even if he also loves precision and is “attention to details” driven). So. No safe queen. Let’s use his Nilakka like it deserves it: hard. Everyday. In all conditions. And it has to be successful ! I’m a grandson of a farmer which used to clean his knife on his trousers, drink like a hole, spit on the ground, and fart loudly to make his point. I will use the Nilakka like he would have use it.
But before, I needed to change some details to have that gorgeous folder fitting my personal tastes. First thing to be tuned was the clip. This a great deep pocket clip but this one was going to eat my pants pocket faster than a porcupine in love. Also, it was so tight, the Nilakka was not a fast drawing tool at all. Easy peezy lemon squeezy, some sanding with sandpaper (600 grit) and the handle is now soften as a hedgehog neck. And also, the Nilakka is much easy to pocket (in and out). I need to have my tools out of the way as fast as I need them to be drawn.
Second important personal tuning: the back of the blade is just too sharp for my delicate thumb. It would be a blister magnet to keep it with all those sharp angles that way. Again, some elbow grease and some sandpaper were able to fix that and… now my thumb can push the blade with confidence. this is important for power and control of my cuts.
Like I had noticed it, My C164GBM is from the second generation Nilakka: it is not a zero ground blade. There is a tiny tiny bevel.
Anyway, that knife does pushcuts into hard wood with an ease which is simply unreal! The Nilakka is by far one of the best wood cutters in my collection if not the best. Even my CPM Cruewear Military with its now impoved with a thin convexed edge is not a match for the S30V blade of the C164GBN. Into wood, the Nilakka goes deep, steady and makes big chunks of wood. It’s so easy. It’s so fun ! It’s so reliable on the long run.
Oh, I’m so disappointed: I was not able to have my edge ruined !! I was expecting to have some damages by cutting bambu, hard plastic and bones… Nothing. I was able to dull it and I have also able to use ceramic and leather stropping to maintain the edge on a very keen level. In 2 minutes, S30V (which is not my favorite steel after using CPM M4, CPM3V…) is back to high level of sharpness and more stropping can make it a true razor able to whittle some hairs.
The handle is strange, isn’t it ? Diamond shape. But once you know how to palm it it is very comfortable to use despite all its sharp corners. And yes I have grind the corner with sand paper too. Why it’s so confortable in use ? It’s certainly because the handle is fat and in “3D”. This a particular shape you can find on Finnish fixed blades (Tapio Wirkkala’s design and Sisu’s version of Cold Steel named the Finn Bear, it’s the same diamond shape handle…). It’s very effective even when my hands are wet. If I need to stab anything I will rest the handle’s butt in my palm. (Sanded sharp corners…) Anyway, such a thin edge doesn’t need too much force to cut deep in any hard materials. I even cut into aluminium cans. I wanted to see how S30V would behave if I was using it like a CPM Cruewear blade. Spyderco excellent heat treatment and micro bevel is the key of success. The Nilakka’s edge is now reliable.
So far so good. We still got a thin point blade which makes look the Military as a crowbar. After drilling some holes in chestnut wood, I have lost half a millimeter of that thin needle pointy point. In fact, I had noticed it after drilling a dozen of holes, twisting the blade again and again… No big deal, there is still enough point sharpness to pop any balloon around. I had the same with my Spyderco Ronin, Dodo and Yojimbo and it was not a big deal. It’s relatively easy to regrind by hand and the new point is much more sturdy.
The kitchen is my main battlefield. You need to be able to process, flesh, bones, tomatoes,plastic bottles, cardboards, cling but also aluminium. Again as thin as it is, I was not able to damage the Nilakka edge. OK, I did not try to hammer the Nilakka through a concrete block just for the sake of breaking it. This would be (pardon the pun) pointless. But this is not a safe queen !
And I had used my folding puukko like my grandfather or my father in law would have use it.
Now, the Coke bottles are one of my favorite test and many famous knives were not able to cut through the hard plastic bottom center. This is the thicker part of the plastic. Try that on your favorite knives and you will be surprised. Try to cut right in the middle of the butt. Here, the Nilakka was able of miracles. The same kind of powerful push cuts a sharp Opinel can provide. You know, thin ground blade Opinel are really kings in pushcutting hard materials. Try any of them on plastic and you will be really surprised. The Nilakka is in the same league. It is even better than Urban II, the Hunting knife from Pekka Tuominen I carry in my bag. This is something that many “tactical” knives makers are forgetting. (Mad Dog knives or Striders are not the sharpest tools for that…)
I was really surprise in how the S30V thin edge behaved on the long run. No more chipping, no bending, no more damage (but the point). I was really impressed.
Through all the holidays, the C164 has been rinse after use but not oiled (I use Nano Oil than I get from Isidore in Armes Bastille) and the Nilakka is as smooth as the first day. The lock has not moved. I was not able to have lock failure. The knife is easy to clean and shows no rust despite its use for cutting lemon without real cleaning.
The absence of guard on that design is not an issue if you know how to adapt and how to use a knife. There is plenty of ways to choke up the blade for delicate work and the absence of the usual Spyderco choil did not bother me at all.
Something, I have noticed and that I love about that blade’s shape: it starts like a sharp wedge and ends like a needle. This is unique and radical in design. And you can find many use to it. The penetration power is tremendous and the slashing power at the top of my records.
I was not even able to notice any wears or scratches on the metal spacer.
So it has kicked my Millie from my pocket. And I will continue to EDC the Nilakka for the coming months until it fails me. Which is not certain.
I’m really surprised in how the mechanism is reliable and easy to rinse but most of all the keen blade is a pleasure to use and put all my other knives under a new perspective.
For example my Gayle Bradley seems like much duller knife compared to the easy deep cuts provided by the Nilakka geometry.
Also Pekka’s design is so unique and beautiful, open and closed… it’s really “sheeple friendly”.
So the test will be continued in round 3.
Stropping the blade is the best way to keep it to razor sharp level. It’s easy and quick.
One of the most beautiful back in the folding knives industry. A steel spacer, a thick blade and a thin point. Unique !
Edit August 2017: Since then a Lil Nilakka has born !
10 thoughts on “SPYDERCO NILAKKA ~ C164GBN – Round 2 – Hard Use Folding Puukko”
Great review Nemo with excellent details and photos. It shows ones again that Thin is King!
Beautiful knife, you have great taste Nemo. Interesting info about new version of Nilakka as previous had some issues with chipping. I was curious if there is possibilitiy to review some benchmade folding knife as they seem to slip from your sight 🙂 cool knives too – I owned mini pika and pika in first versions and they were excelent knives. Looking forward to see another review of yours.
I wasn’t really interested in this knife, especially after hearing of the edge chipping issues. After your review though, it’s moved its way up my list. Great work, as always. I look forward to the next review.