All posts by nemosandman

Journalist Reporter Filmmaker Author Photograph "Turn and the world turns on, we're riding out with the dawn All fired up again like a thousand times before Beneath the blessed sun and the coming day And the years don't change a thing - the rush remains the same And I feel like a knife, these days are calling I feel like a knife, sharpened like steel Touched by the hand of the gods on these golden mornings I feel like a knife for you." "KNIFE" Justin Sullivan 1991

STEEL K390 BÖHLER’S MICROCLEAN – UNCANNY BLADE MATERIAL.

20190220_161257-012564009346563921525.jpeg

I have seen a video where someone is stabbing concrete with its Spyderco Police 4 to show how K390 is strong ! The blade of that famous knife is thin and this thinness is here for a purpose: Sal Glesser has decided to use the Police 4 plateforme according to his own desire but toughness and impact resistance may have weighed in on the decision. For once the Police is not especially aimed at the LEO but those ELU who use their thin knives hard !

“We make quite a few designs for the Law Enforcement market at this time, so the design for Police use is necessarily the case anymore, like it was in 1984. I designed the Police 4 to include what I would like in a knife, more than what a LEO might like. It’s still a kissing cousin, and large for most people. I widened the blade, enlarged the hole and selected a steel that I like to use. The design’s success in the marketplace is unknown at this time. But I get to have one. ” Sal Glesser.

K390 is not stainless. It’s a cold work tool steel which uses Bohler proprietary Microclean technology.  K390 has close to the same edge holding as A11 but is much tougher. Bohler’s third generation particle metallurgy contributes to the toughness of the steel.This steel will be hard to grind, finish and sharpen. Once it is sharp it will stay sharp for a long long long time. It’s CPM M4 on steroids which means K390 has more strength, durability, stability and wear resistance than M4 ! And I do love CPM M4.

Here is a video which confronts CPM M4 and K390:
https://youtu.be/TI53ziibeiQ

From Bohler’s commercial:

“K390 is quite simply the powder metallurgical cold work tool steel with the best properties for cold work applications available from BÖHLER at the moment. K390 MICROCLEAN was developed to meet the demanding wear resistance and compressive strength requirements of cutting, blanking and punching applications, for cold forming applications and for parts which are subjected to abrasive wear in plastics processing. Tool life can be increased by several hundred percent due to the outstanding wear resistance, high compressive strength and good toughness of BÖHLER K390 MICROCLEAN. These material properties enable our customers to make their production processes more efficient and consequently to reduce the price per part produced. Too hard to be machinable? Quite the opposite. The task of the tool steel manufacturer is to produce a steel which is, on the one hand, easy and economic to machine (with a hardness of around 280HB) and simple and unproblematic to heat treat, but which, on the other hand, has a very high hardness (up to 64HRc) and optimum performance in use. The secret lies in the powder metallurgy process. A very fine, homogeneous microstructure guarantees optimal machinability.

K390 owes its superior properties above all to the powder-metallurgical production process. The main advantages of BÖHLER MICROCLEAN steels over conventional steels are: • uniform carbide distribution • small carbide size • uniform chemical composition over the entire cross-section and length • virtually isotropic behaviour due to improved homogeneity and the absence of segregations.”

From Phil Wilson on the Spyderco Forums.:
“I have been using K390 from the start ever since it was introduced by Bohler and I got some small samples to try. A bit of history is that it is the European version of CPM 10V but not the exact chemistry (about 1% less V plus small addition of a few others). That is because the CPM 10V chemistry was protected by patent at the time. If you check the K390 data sheet it claims that the bit less V gives K 390 a little boost in impact toughness. It also can be heat treated at a lower temp. than 10v. So it is pretty much the same as the A11 grade but different in a few small details. It is hard to tell the difference between CPM 10v and BU K390 in the real world in my experience. I like both grades and they are the base line (along with Vanadius 10 and K294) from which I measure wear resistance. The 5 chrome is there to make them all air hardening among other things and does not contribute much to corrosion resistance. It is going to make a killer knife in the new offering and be another classic. Phil”

On my Urban, K390 has proven to be very tough. It is my main travelling folder. And it is a real wolf under sheep’skin. One of the little home test I got is by removing the metal around a bottle of wine’s cork. Most of the time, the knife edge is bent and shows some shining due to miss alignement but not with K390. The steel feels like plastic. On my three knives, the Pingo got the most stout blade and less pointy. This little knife is simply used very hard with zero damage to the edge: digging in wood, cut into staples, scrapping various paints and plastic. So far, even if the steel is not stainless, a mild patina has protected it from real rust.

So what do we got ? A tough blade which keeps its sharpness for a very long time. A forgiving edge which can be used by clumsy hands with no after thoughts.
The side effects are: the need of diamonds and ceramics to keep it razor.
Once convexed to me taste, I use white ceramic and some stropping just to get it mirror.

We definitively needs more knives in K390 !

 

20190614_173631-018512515208894579769.jpeg

20190218_162857-0113466156054395028.jpeg

Advertisements

The Spyderco PPT Round 3- Long Term Review of a Faithful EDC with Supersteel.

20190527_091110.jpg

Since last year round with the PPT, the very unique ergos of this unique folder have made me come back again to its radical design and I have decided to EDC it in all circumstances (instead to keep it safe).

20190526_133858.jpg

Still, I really enjoy how the weight of the handle glue it to my hand and I have found zero hot spots after filing a bit the choil. Smoothness of its action has been really enhanced by using it everyday. Now it deploys fast and close by gravity.
After some work on the blade, the edge has been thinned as my Manly’s.

20190526_134348.jpg

The PPT is a very easy companion. My main battlefield is the kitchen. It is not an open handle design but with some hot water I have been able to keep the spacer and the skeletonized liners clean. A dip in very hot soap water is all my maintenance after a full day in the kitchen but a tiny drop of oil is then always welcome. It has been used in the woods where I was able to use it on wood. The knife has behave perfectly even when twisting the edge. Zero issue here. The chips are flying everywhere as the full flat ground is fast in making deep cuts in wood. While in the forest, when working with it, most of the time I have thrusted its blade’s point in a tree instead closing it and opening again.

No damage at all. For the record, Sal has developed and sold his own version of a Bushcraft knife, at first named the NASA Bushcrafter with S90V blade and Carbon Fibers handle and later the Proficient. It means that the melange S90V plus CF is approved by Sal for being used in the wood with reliability.

20190525_202132-01.jpeg

The lock which is almost a RIL lock has not failed me because your grasp reinforced it when you hold the knife in your hand. Zero movement vertical or horizontal. I have not been able to fumble my grasp when closing. The opening of the knife is now made with my major finger flicking it like.


I have sanded the handle (just a bit) to smooth the edges of the corrugated CF, just to protect my trousers from being chewed. Nothing changed in the look but the PPT is now much easy to retrieve and introduce in my denims. I carry it in my right front pocket along with a leather wallet.

20190526_132205.jpg

Once brought to “razor sharp level”, S90V is easy to maintain to that level mostly only with white ceramic and some leather stropping. ( JD has given me some diamond compound that help the process too). After some cardboard cutting, the ultra razor level is lost but the working edge is keen enough to slit through paper and this sharpness will last for a very long time. Zero chipping even after various cuts into very hard plastics. It is almost a maintenance free knife, like my Manix in CPM110V which I use for travelling (It is light and stays sharp for a very long time avoiding me to bring some sharpening tool).

20190525_194311-01.jpeg

When cutting with the PPT you got a very agile blade with its center of gravity inside your hand and, by just holding it by its hole, it immediately orients itself tip up. It helps when you need to change your grip: it like a compass telling you where is the point and the very sharp edge even with greasy or wet hands.

20190526_125800.jpg

Despite its martial pedigree, sheeples seems not afraid of my PPT. No raising eyebrows even when used in restaurant or family dinners. Nobody seems to notice it which is a very good thing.

 

61222845_10156664360180958_6031297147842854912_n

Eventually if the PPT was a dog, it would be an Amstaff : compact, bold and powerful.

20190528_190957-01.jpeg

Spyderco Ikuchi C242CFP — First glimpse at Slim Shady.

20190417_123940-014475449447563622349.jpeg20190417_123929-017536119171612312312.jpeg

The Ikushi is a very strange Taichung made spyderco and his father, Paul Alexander is a perfectionniste-engineer who got radical new ideas on portable cutlery. Remember the Sliverax ?
My first impression after opening the Knifecenter’s parcel (thank you Howard and Tom for the fast shipment!): wow so slim ! So easy to pocket ! What a great handle to blade ratio !
My friend JD and Pascal introduced me to front flipper with both owning Des Horn and I even was a proud owner of one of them.

The Ikushi is an eye candy. The knife is unique in many ways. It is a tour de force. So let’s quote Spyderco:

“The ultra-slim Spyderco Ikuchi is a radically different approach to pocketknife form and function. Designed by Paul Alexander, a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering and a lifelong knife enthusiast, the Ikuchi (pronounced ee-koo-chee and named after a mythical Japanese sea monster) has an elegantly curved handle crafted with full, skeletonized stainless steel liners and stunning carbon fiber/G-10 laminate scales.

In the closed position, the handle’s narrow, open-backed profile completely contains the knife’s blade—except for a small textured section of the tang that serves as a flipper opener. Stroking this section of the blade with an index finger or thumb provides leverage to swiftly pivot it into the open position, where locks securely via Spyderco’s patented Compression Lock™ mechanism. The satin-finished CPM® S30V® stainless steel blade is full-flat ground for exceptional edge geometry and cutting performance and has an acute, scalpel-like point for detailed work.

To ensure discreet carry while keeping the Ikuchi instantly accessible, its handle includes a low-profile, deep-pocket wire clip that is reversible for left or right-side tip-up carry.”

Some user has argued about the point of the blade being able to catch their finger. If clipped to the right pocket, the seam will be against the handle and it is impossible to catch that tip. I can feel that sharp tip with the meat of my finger and I can understand how I could cut myself too. We will see that in future reports.

But first I have asked to Paul Alexander what was is thoughts behind that design.
“I’ve had a version of the Ikuchi in the works for 4-5 years, but only got around to submitting it to Spyderco at the end of 2016. Part of the reason was the non-functional Spydie-hole, which I thought would stop Spyderco from producing it. The release of the Positron and Mantra 2 made me rethink that, and I started to seriously prep it for submission.

The whole design started around the blade shape. My dad has always preferred a narrow blade because it’s easier to turn the blade in the middle of a cut if you are paring, whittling, etc. Most of my designs have had a fairly wide blade, and I wanted to do something that would fit his preferences a bit more. He’s also been partial to the narrow clip blade found on the American traditional muskrat knives, and the Ikuchi blade shape is my version of that. Sticking with the traditional inspiration, I used the toothpick handle pattern as the inspiration, which also kept the entire knife nice and slim. In the end, I suppose the whole thing came out looking like a modernized Laguiole… which is likely the design which originally inspired the American toothpick pattern.

The wheel flipper was a slower evolutionary process that was a collaborative effort with the Spyderco team. Eric had sort of mentioned that he was curious about adapting the compression lock to a flipper opening mechanism when I first started working with Spyderco, and I tried coming up with a handful of options, with this being one of them. I originally had more of a tab-like interface on the flipper surface on the Ikuchi design, and that morphed into the final wheel configuration through iterations and refinement with input and prototypes from Spyderco.

The early phases of that development process got me so excited for the Ikuchi, I adapted the locking and flipper geometry to three other traditional knife patterns and blade shapes I liked, and created a series of knives. I called the series by the working title of the ‘Four Horsemen’, and tried to tap into that theme for the look and style of all four pieces in the series. The Ikuchi was initially code named ‘Famine’, which fit the inspirational traditional pattern’s name and the overall aesthetic of the design. The other horsemen designs are ‘Pestilence’, ‘War’, and ‘Death’, but that seemed too dark of a theme to use for the marketing of the designs, so I officially named them all after different mythological beasts… and that’s how the Ikuchi became the Ikuchi.”

Mine is not as easy to open/fire as I thought.
The detent is quite strong and it can be a hit and miss. I have hurt my index finger and failed attempt to fire open the knife. Not fun.
I wonder if it will get better but not being able to trust the fact to simply open it…
I have asked Paul.

Some beautiful Tour de Force but not flawless. I would be need to be certain the tip of the blade once closed won’t catch anything in my pocket and to be certain I can open the knife easily and not only half of the time. Unless I need to strenghten the tip of my index ?As you can notice this is the first design which can be easily locked to prevent children to play with it.
Also the flipper once open acts as a guard for your finger but not on a design like the Ikushi. I have never trusted a locking system even on balisongs so it is a knife which is intended to be used as a gentle tool: beautiful to admire as an engineer’s dream.
How will it perform in day to day basis ? We will see.

20190417_124339-018302507131409855529.jpeg20190417_124321-012392118497834303169.jpeg

 

Lil’ Native seasoned by JD – Lil’ Pocket Big Knife !

20190319_114750-01749558262975081454.jpeg

This is a follow up review from last year LUCKY MEETING THE SPYDERCO LIL’NATIVE BY JD

I got the opportunity to carry JD Native avter he has used it for months (since october).

Now the Lil’Native is smooth and easy to open it and close it but more interesting, JD as refined the edge to some sort of pseudo scandi grind !

20190319_114808-018506444640610069241.jpeg

And this knife is cutting so well…

20190319_113534-018677358694551115918.jpeg

Push cutting through bottle’s bottom is made easy with that new geometry.

 

JD has made a beautiful regular thin edge from the choil to the tip.

 

The very solid construction, glass smooth action and thin edge turned the Lil’ Native into a very impressive knife. Again this is SPyderco specialty to bring short powerful matter separators. The lock is strong, the blade is strong, it is a very capable tool in a compact size. The belly also helps for push cuts.

Really impressive EDC knife.

20190319_114834-013008267561032838193.jpeg

 

 

Roadie at the ready, Spyderco Work-Poney.

Another “late at the party” kind of review as JD gave me the chance to test some of his knives: the Lil Roadie is one of them and what a clever sharp folding object.

Being a pure Sal Glesser’s design it is always interesting to study it closer. Sal is an inventor and he always try to have a very pragmatic approach to all his knives. They are not looker but highly functional separating matters tools.
The story around its design is well detailed on Spyderco site here.

Some decades later this little knife is still a workhorse made to be legal in many countries where a band can tour.
Roadies needs little tools ready for anything like leatherman or small knives.
I use to offer my roadie friends Swiss Tech keys for example.

20190315_1112198799650465507084425.jpg

The blade got a signature hole (useless) and a distinctive “Double Dent” feature and a large choil. This is a work-poney not a display knife. It really look like a dodo (the bird).

 

 

The blade is thick enough to be relatively well abuse and the cobalt alloy steel is not hard to keep really sharp.

20190315_1112307848474375919511972.jpg

The Roadie is a tricky little critter which can be easily one with one hand thanks to his Dodo’s like beak. You hold the knife by the dent and with a flick of the wrist you can have it open.

20190315_111156230936385007826804.jpg

Manufactured in Maniago the contoured handle is made Zytel. It catches well the light.

So Let me pocket it and write about it later in this pages… To be continued !

20190320_1709321520506050815147741.jpg

 

20190320_1709533879312751189913706.jpg

A Spirit In a Material World: Sting, The Police.

Like I have said in my previous review of that venerable folding knife :
It has taken me a very long time before to get any interest in the Police model.

20190301_122109-015401402113240848470.jpeg
My first real step in the wide Spyderco world was the Terzuola Starmate and the Millie. The Starmate was equipped with some super new steel the CPMS60V named CPM440V then. It was the beginning of the powder steels and Spyderco was experimenting on a bold plateforme even using (like the Millie) hidden nested liners !

20190301_122140-01156303761133717567.jpeg

The actual Police with its “non nested” liners is thinner than the Terzuola C55.

Steel wise:
Meanwhile in the 90’s, new Japanese steel VG-10 was used on their first fixed blade “the Moran” and the Seki made Police was then “stuck in GIN-1 or GIN-2″… Ah, I was and I’m still a “steel whore” (a term of self qualification of Sal Glesser) after all. I was unfaithful and really attracted by M2HSS version of the AFCK…  Not for the patina (as they were PVD covered) but for the benefits of getting a thin pointy blade with more lateral strength than usual stainless steels of that time. As much as I loved the AFCK, the long version BM800 was “plagued” by a titanium linerlock which was less solid than the short version with its stainless liners.
20190301_122310-01938425163262591062.jpeg

I have later used (a lot) an “oval hole” BM806 with a much stronger lock and D2 tool steel blade.

K390 is a wonderful steel. Strong even not as strong as CPM3V found in the Tuff. I have used the 4th Police as an Ice pick with no fear of breakage.

20190301_122222-018449934185586895266.jpeg

Like the famous Opinel: thin blades are such a joy to use. A super K390 gives strength to a thin ground blade and turns the “old LEO tool” into a workhorse designed for ranchers. I was disappointed the Spyderco Powerlock was not used in the new Police but, well, the Police feels so solid: I can’t complain.

20190301_122243-01280269067752570436.jpeg

Now I would do a maximum of lobbyism to get a Nilakka Sprint Run using K390. This steel used is purely a pleasure to keep razor sharp only by stropping it on leather.

20190301_122532-015068199298524875476.jpeg

Now for the con, I have found the grind is not really even. There is some sort of wave on both side of the blade. I have found it when I was convexing the edge and on light reflexion. This is purely cosmetic.
Let’s keep in mind, K390 is certainly a very hard steel to work on. I have noticed the same waving on my Pingo

Anyway I can explain now that passionated new love for that venerable knife. It is too long to be acceptable for the Law abide citizen but, what a great tool ! It is much better than my beloved K2: less hot spots and much better blade design from Sal.

This is the same kind of love I got with the extraordinary Bowie from Ed Schempp which shares the same thinness blade wise. I would militate for a K390 Bowie sprint run ! But it seems “Made In Taiwan” sprint runs are rare.

Thinness is good ! Look at that Strudel ! 😉

Here we got a “potentially staining” steel with great (extraordinary) qualities enhanced by a thin thin blade and thin thin geometry saved by a great heat treatment, all is delivered in a slim rock solid package hence the Steel Cheetah’s nickname from my initial review.
This 4th incarnation is an outstanding heir of a great 1980’s design. Sal Glesser is pushing the limits of folding cutlery quietly and gently:
“Integrity is being good when no one is watching.” Such an inheritance !

Blade4sell Titanium Clips – Deep Carry Alternative.

20190220_1553438892665025613971523.jpg

Victim of his own success Blade4sell have taken almost 6 months to send to me two titanium clips. But again the perfection is at the rendez vous.
I have been able to use the original screws on the Police but I had 3 sets of screws (one black) provided with the two clips.
As you can notice the clips got that parallel lip at the tip which makes them less prone to scratch furniture or car paints.  It goes easy in and out of the pocket. Nothing catches.
Let’s hope Blade4sell will be able to hire soon to honor their orders faster. But they are very honest and were OK to refund me. It’s good to see good artisan standing behind their production and helping their overseas customers. Highly recommended.

20190220_1553406217393534049808913.jpg

You can notice how the screw flushes with the clip. Nothing to wear your pockets.

20190220_1601093038235236797790022.jpg

It works great on the Police and one The Paramillie.

20190220_1601481209879352237357687.jpg

The Paramillie can be open with a finger flip when the Police is spyderdropped.

20190220_16015461930904098059127.jpg

It is almost invisible and nothing telegraphes the size of that folder: very convenient.
Like on my Millie, it helps a lot for big folders.

20190220_1553534864525016576944791.jpg