All posts by pjaffre

Caper: Kid of Picardie






My former colleague and now friend Pascal is a new blacksmith; he makes folders and also fixed blades in the Picardie region near by the Paris area. I recently purchased one of his early makes that has become my “EDOT” (“Every Day On Table”).

The overall size of the knife is 17.5 cm. The length of the blade is 7.7 cm long and 2.2 cm wide with a small boister and a spine a bit over 2 mm. This is a full flat ground blade made from D2 steel with a belly; the profile looks to be a mix between wharncliffe and sheepfoot. The handle is made of Zircote (a tree of Central America having brown wood streaked with dark almost black lines – thanks Meriam Webster) with indentations for the fingers. The rivets are discrete and the scales perfectly joint with the tang; it’s a full tang.




I really like the caper shape which if we were to simulate the curve would be at minimum a 3rd degree polynomial function with an inflection point: the caper! Goto, enter f(x)= (x/10)^3 and g(x) = (x/10)^3+2  and you will have a good idea of the knife’s overall wave! For me the size is right and the handle’s organic design fits well in my hand. Said otherwise and in a much simpler way: “ça tient dans la main, ça tient dans la main!” (Coluche)


… and the blade’s curve (belly) enables to concentrate the force in one point for increased efficiency. The hardest I cut with it has been very dry saucisson and the result was great enabling energy optimization and transfer between the forearm muscle and the masseter muscle!



So I am very satisfied with my capper born in Picardie and do recommend “Les Lames du Phenix”!



Morakniv… in the wilderness of my garden


In my latest review, Pear of Cydonia, I got surprised by the chemical reaction when cutting quinces with the Morakniv ; immediately the quince’s juice and its high concentration in tannins combined with carbon steel blade lead to dark traces on the fruit and accelerated the blade’s patina. Many thanks to Max Wedges for his explantations:
Now quince is high on Tanins, & the “1095” steel in the Carbon is high on Manganese… thus black staining. (Natural “bluing”… like on O1 that has even more Manganese) I never use Carbon with Quince, or Pumpkin (funny “sardine” taste”).

So I had stopped testing the knife in those conditions. That was frustrating and is why I have extensively used it this morning in the tamed outdoor wilderness of my garden!

The Morakniv Pro C is classified among the Construction Knives by the manufacturer. By construction they refer to building worker professionals like electricians, carpenters, roofers… The knife is comfortable in the hand even when applying force. The blade grind is a Scandi type (or Zero ground Saber) and the steel in this case is the Carbon steel that needs to be kept dry and is subject to patina. For more information, best is to go to their website and view their page Pro C .

Step 1: easy stuff. Pose with the metallic mosquito, partly laying in sage and on the dried stems it just cut. It was very easy and fast to cut the stems taken as a handful. Pro C was really sharp and gently pushing through was sufficient.

Step 2: getting a bit tougher. The Mexican orange bush. Pro C cuts these thicker stems very easily. More than just a decent cut, you get a cut with de scent!

Step 3: larger diameters and the stems are getting tougher. Pro C does great bevel cuts in Kerria given it’s a bit tricky as the exterior is hard whereas the center is soft and foamy. By the way bevel cuts is the secret to keep flowers longer in a vase because it does not crush the canals in which the water circulates (unlike when using a shear).

Step 4: Small branches from a birch and from a Blue Ceanothus. I use the Latin name because I cannot find the English translation. In French: “Céanothe Bleu”. Here it was necessary to use both hands and the toughest was the Blue Ceanothus because the branches were dead and hence very dry and hard. So the right hand holding the grip and the left pushing the blade’s spine. The spine being not grinded, but polished makes it soft when pushing the blade with the thumb; no sharp edges. The scandi shaped blade reveals its power here; it sinks into the wood while always being in control.

Step 5: The wood gets harder. In one case I have cut dead and dry rose bush branches and equally dry bamboo. In fact, Pro C is really a workhorse both in a controlled push configuration (rose bush) and in a fast yank against the bamboo. In both cases the result is very neat and we are not in the hands of… defeat!

Step 6: we now know that in Pro C, “C” does not only stand for Carbone… and no I did not cut my neighbor’s cat!

In summary I have been really favorably surprised by this knife’s capabilities. Once all these tests done, the edge needed to resume its initial state and the Carbone steel is one that makes that a friendly task.



Pear of Cydonia

IMG_8602Its quince season here in Paris (October – December). Quice originate from the Caspian sea banks and has been cultivated as early as 4000 BC. It comes from the quince tree (no kidding) and the fruit looks like a big pear. Raw it is sour, very hard and has a strong scent.
The Greeks would eat quince with honey and the Romans used it to make perfume. It has sevral medical virtues mainly related to the intestins and as anti sceptic. In the very famous book from Cervantes (that I recommend to read if not already done), Don Quichote advises Sancho Pança some slices of quince to ease his digestion!

So I had about 2.5 kg to prepare for the freezer. We eventually de-freeze and cook quince dices to make quince paste (great with cheese) and jelly.

Quinces being pretty hard, after cleaning the skin and drying them, I had a rather tough job ahead. I had done this already and had some hands-on experience so wanted to test alternatives. I made a selection of heavy duty fix blades and folders in order to figure out which would turn out being the best fitted for the job.

The knives I chose were:
1. Spyderco’s 2010 Para Military 2 (folder)
2. Spyderco’s Alcyone (folder)
3. Philippe Perotti’s Commander (fix)
4. Morakniv Pro C (fix)



1. Spyderco’s Para Military 2 (folder)
The length of the CPM S30V blade is well adapted to the size of the quince.
The full flat grind reduces any drag during the cut; solid compression lock – no surprises.
Working with the tip enables to get rid of each quarter of the core. The handle being skeletonized for weight consideration, blisters can appear when having to prepare much more quinces. This is what I was referring to as “hands-on” experience last time I prepared quinces  but in much greater quantities (+6 kg). The job was completed at good pace; you can see this on the picture based on the degree of oxidation (not too much).


2. Spyderco’s Alcyone (folder)
Similar behavior to Para Military 2 as it also features the full flat grind blade.
The CTS BD1 Stainless steel blade being a bit smaller, its not always possible to split the quince in halfs in one go. On the other hand, working to remove the each quarter of the core is a bit easier as the blade is shorter. The liner lock is very solid.


3. Philippe Perotti’s Commander (fix)
Longest blade; flat saber grind N690Co. Cutting in quarters was easy but I spent more time to extract the core. Again the oxidation intensity enables to reflect the increase time vs the folders. However the full grip is much more comfortable when performing heavy duty repetitively and for a long time.


4. Morakniv Pro C (fix)
Sweedish carbone steel. Has an optimized handle made of TPE rubber; comfortable grip that does not conduct the cold. Low price.
Surprisingly something unexpected happened to the extent of having to cease the test once I realized what was happening. First cut was easy but I immediately noticed black streaks on the quince. First reaction was to clean and dry the knife but that did not address root cause. So I continued and the quince was continuing to be tainted black; I guess its the carbon. On the blade a patina was rapidly developing. Hence STOP as this is a knive Nemo lended me to test!!
So there is a chemical reaction here and I have not yet identfied what combination of chemical elements are responsible for the rapid stains & patina.


I tested with a pear as it resembles and the constituants seem similar but I did not observe the same behavior; searching for the differences!


And the winner is…

So the test has been very instructive even though at this time I could do with a chemist to help with the full explanation.
As far as reducing the quince in dices, the winner for me is the Para Military 2. As I did not have a huge quantity to do I did not get the blisters. However if I had more, I would use a combination: PP Commander to cut in quarters and Para Military 2 to work the core.

Now I will taste the paste! Yum…


Alcyone : cutlery de bon alloy

Alcyone : cutlery de bon alloy


Back from the 2018 Mini Meet in The Netherlands, my freind Nemo had a nice surprise for testing and benching: the Sal Glesser signed Alcyone!

So I have been testing the knife in different conditions so to get familiar with it. The manufacturing is very precise; serious stuff. Its a lightweight heavy duty!

However before that, I did a bit of research on the origin of the chosen name. There are different mythologies about king Ceyx’s spouse: Alcyone. In all cases she ends up being transformed into a kingfisher (1) by pity, (2) as a punishment for a sacreligous stand, (3) to reward her for her courage and love of Ceyx. A hypothisis is that the kingfisher flew far away from earth and became a fixed star in the Bull Taurus Constellation Alcyone, greenish yellow star and the brightest in the Pleiades star cluster. Finally Alcyone thought to be center of the universe for the Mayan…

Now that we have travelled so far lets land back again for some down to earth experiences.

The idea of this article is to feedback on my experience. For the basic characteristics I found some interesting aricles on the web:
– official description and technical specifications:
– the Americain made CTS BD1 blade alloy:

The first test I like to do is against something that is both hard and soft: hard on the outside and soft on the inside. Imagine what a really dull knife would do: not get through the outer crust and squish the inside. Yuk!!
So I expect exactly the contrary as a demonstration of success. That is the idea with the first test involving an epiphyte (member of the bromeliads family able to store water in a structure formed by their tightly-overlapping leaf bases). For this test I call the ripe pineapple!
The result is great with minimum liquid escaped once the peeling complete and all pineapple “eyes” are removed.

Another example is the pear test. Here the harder element is inside the softer one: the pip! See how the pip got cut without squishing the pear.

So Alcyone passes both tests!

The next test is a “no going backwards test” over a long distance and observing whether matter builds up (which would be the result of a dulling blade). So for this resistance test I have used honeycombed cardboard over a meter long.
The result is very neat from start to finish both thick exterior and thinner inside making up the alveolus. Somewhat similar in structure: the french baguette and the test was conclusive too!

Cheese or the art of preserving milk…
The idea of Conte cheese was to accompany the bread I had just cut! That with the cork, we enter the realm of the famous “perpetual movement”: reserving oneself of wine, bread or cheese as an excuse to finish the trilogy.
In this case the Conte is one that has aged in good conditions for atleast 20 months in the french Jura as we start to see Tryosin crystals (the white spots). Tryosin is an amino acide that enters in the composition of milk protines. All that to say that the cheese can be moist inside but crumbly near the crust: even more with one aged 30+ months.
With all respect due to the Ceyx’s spouse, Alcyone cut the cheese well!

Finally the Big Sirs: two legs of lamb. Here I focused on working mostly with the tip of the blade to be precise when cutting the meat and removing it from the bones; tagine was excellent! From the mini meet to the big meat!


Approved, Approved, Approved…

Pingo Star…

IMG_6523Another inspiring knife but what more to bring to the table about the Pingo that has not yet been written either in Spyderco’s catalog or in captain Nemo’s great Pingo review ?

Here we go…


Parsley stem cut very neatly tree times thanks to the N690Co stainless steel full-flat ground blade. Next time i’ll have to test in supplement of parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme! More seriously recent outdoor chores have been cut a branch of mexican orange blossom and wisteria vine; really simple!


Lillian is jealous as Pingo gets along very will with Stitch.

Perfect baguette push cut.


Another tribute to 1966 (after Simon and Garfunkel) and to the first round debate of the last french presididential election: Pingo and pudeurs de gazelles!


Pingo and the pumpkins: the blade’s belly shape concentrates cutting power and Pingo sinks in with ease. Sorry Linus!


The wire clip enables Pingo to be snug real deep in the pocket.


Now we know whom Prokofiev’s three oranges really love!


Just before the soup, where is Pingo?


Pingo Star and the groupies!

Spyderco Lil’Nilakka – My Romantic Gentleman Puukko.


When I consider a new knife, I like to choose it in such a way that it conveys values that appeal to me; in synch with my mood with what I recognize as exemplifying a tradition, a nation; when craft turns into art.


I also opt for features complimentary to the ones I already have so that each knife stands out as champion in its category. Ie this one does not rust, this one will not be taken away from me in UK or Denmark, this one is really good for heavy duty stuff, this one has something so obscene about it I can’t resist!


Setting the mood: read Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt; listen to Symphony n.5 by Jean Sibelius (pictured): dears belling in a barren wilderness where primitive elements collide – wind, sheer stones and icebergs…


…envision cold tundra landscape depicted by Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s paintings – the hard conditions forging men and women. Suomi.


A gentleman folder with no pair equal.

Which Spyderco better conveys rigour and austerity of the North other than the Pekka Tuominen designed Lil Nilakka Puukko? It stands out immediately recognizable with its character unlike any other and its craftman, alike the aforementioned finnish artists, is a true representative of the Nordic tradition and nation.


So to summarize: as Sibelius was once said to be the “Chopin of the north”; Pekka the Sibelius of blacksmith and cutlery.


So what is so fantastic about Lil Nilakka?

Still life:

  • Matter of taste: traditional finnish Puukko – I love it!
  • White G-10 so elegant – like ivory but walrus friendly.
  • RWL 34 the Robert W Loveless “in memoriam” steel with excellent combination of corrosion resistance, edge sharpness and hardenability. Also its said to be easy to maintain; good for me!
  • Solid clip that nests Lil Nilakka deep in the pocket

In motion:

  • The Lil Nilakka is snug close-fitting in hand; the forefinger in the G-10 handle opening and the thumb comfortable on the spine thanks to the chanfer.
  • So perfect control when cutting – should that be the x-mas tree branches in excess or the ultimate test: pealing a ripe pear and skinning it angstrom style. The point of the blade and the blade’s width also contribute to making this tool one of extreme precision.
  • Easy to action linerlock and the blade fits perfectly; great engineering work!


Mine is #589; with me to stay as my gentleman Puukko!