Category Archives: Advice

Pleasure of whittling — Which knife ?

A knife and a piece of wood make my day.
I can sit and enjoy a good blade taking nice wooden chips.
Steel chemistry is important, especially how fine its grain is.
Back in the 90’s I have found how a Benchmade in M2HSS was more enjoyable than the same model in ATS-34.
How is the blade is ground is also very important, scandi makes shallower cuts when hollow grind got deeper in my experience.
But more than this: the general ergonomy of the knife and especially the spine of the blade do make a difference for me.

But let’s have a look at the knives: Ed Schemp’s Tuff and Bowie, Police 4, Yojimbo 2, Sebenza, Spydiechef, PPT, Paramillie, Lil’Native, Wolfspyder, A little TOPS scandi, Mantra2, Millie and Nilakka.

A rounded spine like my Sebenza is great. It’s very thin edge is also a plus but ATS34 is not making the moment enjoyable. Of course it will cut but the pleasure of feeling how the edge is making the chips is not there. Its edge is like a mad cow !! Hard to control.

 

One of the great surprise in term of pleasure has been that Lil Blue 2 from Raker (Ray Kirk). Made of 52100 ball bearing steel and brought to razor by JD !
The rounded spine of that small fixed blade makes it super enjoyable. The fine grain 52100 makes thin chips but can also be use hard for deeper cuts. That would the kind of knife you can enjoy all an afternoon without thumb soar.

A good old Opinel N°8 is able to cut deep and with power, for sure. Do I enjoy it ? Not really. It does the job but there is no pleasure when the thin spine bites my thumb during push cuts.

A great surprise and even a better surprise that my previous whittling with a Yojimbo 2 in S90V is my Yo2 Jade with a CPM M4 blade.
It is not a knife designed for whittling but it does the job perfectly. Better even is a tougher blade in CPM M4 which is very aggressive. The spine also is thick and my thumb can push with with confort and control. The Yo2 and especially that version is a great wood companion I can use with serenity.

Another knife I highly recommend for going in the woods and whittling with pleasure. And another knife with some martial pedigree has proven to be a great whittler: the PPT.
The S90V thin blade of that edition with a very confortable handle has been eating wood like a chef.

Speaking of chef: lets’ continue with the surprises. One important side of the Spydiechef is how easily it can go out of the kitchen. Sailors and sea kayakists are using it without any risk of failure but within the woods? OK mine has been convexed but this is another great tool to bring with you everywhere. I was able to create beautiful chips and the spince have not bite my thumb. Really a nice experience with this one.

My CPM Cruewear Paramillie has been convexed and its edge was really hungry for wood.
It was in all the bunch the one which went the easiest in the rod of wood. But then the square spire was so sharp and thin: it was not enjoyable. More about it later.

The Lil’ Native with JD sharpening skill is nice and powerful for its size. Really a nice you should not judge by the size. But then again, JD reground it to almost a scandi level. The belly and the thin edge does marvel for whittling. Just a tad longer blade will improved the experience but then you got a Native not a Papoose no more.

Another knife improved by JD sharpening skill is the Mantra 2. I had rounded the spine on this one and it turned to be a very powerful wood cutter. The kind of knife which disappears in your pocket and once deployed is a game changer. The very solid construction and great ergos of that Eric Glesser design is blooming in the woods.

The Police 4, as powerful as its K390 thin convexed blade was a real disappointment. The thin spine is really hurting my thumb when push cutting. The Police is and stays a very urban design. I was not really able to enjoy fine whittling with it. It does the job but the thin spine ruined it for me. This one is much better in cutting cardboards or ropes…

Of course the Nilakka is a five stars experience. nothing new: thick spine, zero ground blade. It is powerful and accurate. Pekka Tuominen knows. Just the thin point could be an issue when digging in the wood to make a hole for example. This is were the Wolfspyder shines: a very solid point !

Another great surprise in term of pleasure has been the Gent knife from Massdrop. I had convexed the edge and its S35VN rounded spined blade is just great. Its natural belly helps a lot in term of push cuts. It is a great folder and 100% shot flipper, easy to keep clean, and look at the shape of that blade: it is stunning and for less than 100 dollars shipping included. It will be reviewed.

Sorry, but the Mora has been the worst. It was not able to bring me nice chips.
I’m certain it would be a great hard used tool in the wood but here for fine gentle whittling: zero pleasure.
The synthetic handle is becoming sticky, the scandi edge is rusting and it was not able to bite in the wood. Cheap fixed blade.

So eventually, using 400 grits sandpaper, I have decided to rounded the spine of my Paramillie 2 and of course it makes a huge difference. Actually I have been really surprise in how deep It was cutting in the wood, kind of remembering its brother in 52100.
Soon I will try AEB-L steel which is considered as a stainless 52100 on a Sprint Run Urban already in transit. So more will come.

In conclusion my more enjoyable whittler is still the Wolfspyder.
The surprise joy came for the Gent, The Yojimbo 2, the Mantra 2 and the Raker.
The Paramillie with a more rounded spine will be certainly part of the club.
The biggest down was the Police 4 and the Mora.

But in term of sitting under the porche and whittling a rod the Ray Mears designed Wolfspyder is winning. It was designed for that task.

 

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STEEL K390 BÖHLER’S MICROCLEAN – UNCANNY BLADE MATERIAL.

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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 !

 

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A Spydiechef in Tuscany – Spyderco’s Polish Folding Office Knife

In the ease of maintenance department few knives are easy to live with, the Spydiechef is part of that very small club. You can pocket it while it is still wet. For a travelling knife this is a must and the reason I have taken it for that Xmas Journey.

 

Reuniting with an old friend: the 110V CF Native.

 

When used in the kitchen or on the dining table, knives get dirty and the food is dried and hard to detached. Avoid the use of the green back of sponges or you could scratch the blade’s finish badly.

Hot cheese from that Napolitan Pizza is part of that dirty equation but the plate is also not the edge best friend as ceramic is harder than knives and will ruin any razor sharp knife. You should cut with an angle of 45° on the plate to avoid any real damage.

The Spydiechef is a actually whittling friendly. LC200N is not losing its edge as fast as H1 and I was able to work on wooden rods with ease.

Of course mine has been enhanced with some gentle convexed edge.

But really that knife is really happy in the wood. It has not the most ergonomic handle for hard wood cutting but the gentle belly helps a lot in push cuts.

LC200N is really easy to keep fresh on ceramic. no need of diamonds like on other Hyper Steels.

 

 

 

 

Yojimbo2: swapping the blades back and forth.

My project when I had ordered the Jade Yojimbo2 was to swap the blades with my Carbon Fiber / S90V Yojimbo2, to make a vinegar patina and enjoy a unique CPM M4/ Carbon fiber Yojimbo2.
Yeah well…
I have done it but the patina.

Here is the result. But you know what… As great as the CF handle is… this Jade version got something really special. I love the smoothness I have obtained by sanding the natural G10 and the action is smoother than butter.

So I have swapped it again. It was very easy.
What I can notice about this “sterile” experience is how well adjusted those Golden spawns can be. In both configurations the action was smooth as glass and the blade perfectly centered. It’s a joy to dismount and put back together.
So it’s just me, in the end, seeing the deep carry clip going esthetically much better on Jade natural scales and the heft of the BladeHQ special edition being more appealing to me. Also these transparent slaps help a lot for a non threatening aspect of a very pointy knife. I have already used twice in public place without being noticed…
So back to the start after some nano oiling and putting some fresh blue loctite on strategic screws: pivot and clip. Great knives easy to maintain clean even in the inside.

Cruwear and Patina, the Lemon Edition.

 

Back to trying to get a patina on cruwear after my first attempt.
Because lemon juice is not smelly and we use it a lot in the house, I have tried to let the blade all night in a tissue imbibed.

Tissue seems to be some kind of catalyst as it help to keep a contact between the citric acid and the surface of the blade.

 

In the morning the tissue was dark!

And you can notice rust starting to form in between strokes of the patina.

Rust is removed with some polishing which keeps the patina.

So here we are now with a kind of camouflage results.

It looks forced but should “mild” with uses but yes you can get a Patina from Cruwear with lemon juice and a night…

Which means if you forget your knife in the sink after making some salad, you can get rust on your Cruwear blade and a very swaggy patina.

Patina on Cruwear ? Not that easy !

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Forcing a Patina on Cruwear!
Why?
Because I’m going to the sea and I just need to be certain it won’t pit.
Now Cruwear seems tricky compared to 52100 or Maxamet.
Let see how it will get…

 

45 minutes later… No patina yet some stains…
“It’s not as rusty as 1095 usually, so it’s easy to get complacent. It can go 3-4 days easier than O-1 or 1095 but 3-4 months is a different story. It’s easy to get fooled by steels with this level of chrome ( 8%) as to corrosion resistance. It will appear as a tiny spot of rust. Easy to overlook as it does not make it apparent that spot is deepening, not getting wider. The surface layer of rust covers up the hole. ”
The Mastiff

And he was right…

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Trying to mix oxygen and vinegar using tissues and apple vinegar ?… Nope.

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Apple vinegar and apple sugar under the sun….. Nope.

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Aceto di Modena…. nope.

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Even in the wind…

Naaah forget it. This steel won’t stain beautifully… Just a bit but not enough in my taste.
It will perhaps pit if let unclean some weeks but in my daily uses it should not.

Putting the blade back in the handle the tolerances on that knife are so great you can tight the screws with locktite and pur a drop of nano oil… the pivot is smooth as butter.
Also ten passes on white ceramic and it is back to jumping hairs harvest again.
So cruwear seems to be a very “friendly” steel which doesn’t smell anything when confronted to apple, apple vinegar, various vinegar including aceto … nothing seems to harm it surface.
It is like CPM 3V and will be kept oiled and shiny. My Ed Schempp’s Tuff never needed or develop a patina as my grey Military in Cruwear.
At least I got less worry. 🙂

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Convexing Cruwear!

This time I have decided since the blade of this Paramillie is thin, to protect it with some gaffer tape.

Same process as usual: diamonds, then ceramic and stropping on leather.
The DC4 of Fallkniven and the Spyderco Double Stuff 2 were used.
I got also an old barber leather I use with some polish.

I use the diamonds to remove the shoulder of the edge to round it a little, this is where you can scratch the blade as the angle used is very shallow.
Once you see the edge is widen, you can switch to tsone and ceramics mainly to smooth the scratches made by the diamonds.
It is very simple and just ask for time and patience.

Cruwear is stropping friendly much less than 52100 though.

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Edit of the 24th of September:

More convexing after failing to Patina

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