Category Archives: Fixed Blade

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.

 

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 https://www.mathe-fa.de/fr#result, 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)

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… 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”! https://www.lamesduphenix.fr/

 

Benchmade 200 Puukko – Call me Snake.

This is the first Benchmade’s review for a long time. Why ? Not because of the quality of Les De Asis company’s products but because I was not really excited by their production in the last decade after a huge love with their AFCK back in 90’s, and also with Nimravus and all those blades in M2HS which is a tungsten high speed steel, the granddaddy of CPM M4.
I still got a AFCK in M2HSS and browsing that blog, you will find it here.

So here we go, two words has caught my attention on that new Benchmade: Puukko and CPM3V.

“CPM 3V is a high toughness, wear-resistant tool steel made by the Crucible Particle Metallurgy process. It is designed to provide maximum resistance to breakage and chipping in a high wear-resistance steel. It offers impact resistance greater than A2, D2, Cru-Wear, or CPM M4, approaching the levels provided by S7 and other shock resistant grades. CPM 3V is intended to be used at 58/60 HRC in applications where chronic breakage and chipping are encountered in other tool steels, but where the wear properties of a high alloy steel are required.” Source Crucible.

COMPOSITION
C Mn Si Cr Mo V
0.80 0.30 1.00 7.50 1.30 2.75

To quote my friend Max Wedge:
“3V loses 1/3 of the toughness going from 58hrc to 60 hrc (still 1/3 above A2 at 60 hrc, and A2 is indestructible… almost). Both 4V and Cruware start to shine around 60-62 Hrc… so, 3V for choppers, 4V or Cruware for slicers, Cruware having best corrosion resistance ( trait appreciated by soldiers & foresters)”

So this tough short blade made of chopper steel is at a very good bargain !! Let see what it is all about.

The leather sheath is beautiful even (if there is a loop in the stitching… I will upgrade it into a kydex for pocket carry.) and cleverly designed as a dangler. You can remove the loop to transform it into a classical sheath.
There is a place for sparkling rod in the Bushcraft fashion. I don’t care about carry a knife of that size attached to my belt. I prefer to have it inside my pocket or my bag.

The blade is an eye candy for some reason it reminds me the small SOG Seal Pup knife with no false edge but that’s me… Is this a Puukko ?

That handle is made in some kinf of thermorun… but it is rubberized Santoprene is a soft, non-hygroscopic elastomer which exhibits excellent surface appearance, a durable soft-touch feel, excellent colorability and excellent “processability”… made by Exxon.

It is made from underground forgotten dinosaurs and jurassic biomass aka “petroleum” hence the look of scales on it ?  Because that handle looks like some sort of snake or cold blood creature. I love it.

Now is this a scandi ground blade ? Nope. There is a secondary bevel. Is the knife sharp ? Yep, very sharp but could be better. Later/soon on that.

It is a hidden tang construction and you can see the steel in the lanyard hole. This knife is solid as CPM3V is really tough !!
Hidden tang are great when you work in cold weather, protecting your hand from a frozen steel.

That blade is short but handy: it asks to be used hard like… Snake Plissken’s hard actually ! Because 3V is magic in toughness ! 😀

Compared to a Mora or the Urban Hunter (from Pekka Tuominen) the Benchmade 200 stands its ground.

Here are two vision of CPM3V industrial use. Ed Schempp Spyderco Tuff is pure business. So that BM200 should be even tougher as a fixed blade.

Teamed with a Manly Wasp, you got a great combo.


But a puukko (in my book) needs a thinner edge and it is time to scratch that blade to de-shoulder all that. Diamonds do scratches but then scratches will be polished later. Thinner convexed edge is destin to go deep and get twisted; this is a tough steel.

Diamonds, ceramic and leather. Who needs more ?  CPM 3V is really like chewing gum you need abrasive medium to form that convex edge.

A some compound with the leather stropping is mandatory to erase those scratches

See ? Now it is convexed and will be smooth on whittling wood. No worry for that edge stability again 3V is perfect for that use.

Standing next my Serrata which is my only naturally serrated knife.

So now, I just need some white ceramic to keep it sharp and some stropping. It is ready for testing. The Puukko shape is more for me a “Coutelas de Rahan” shape actually (French people will understand but here is the link: Rahan in Wikipedia.
making this little tough knife very appealing to bring it everywhere.
Everywhere is a good point to start. 😉

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Spyderco Lil’Nilakka – My Romantic Gentleman Puukko.

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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.

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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!

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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…

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…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.

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

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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!

 

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Casstrom No.10 Swedish Forest knife — My Woodlore Alternative.

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The title could have been the “Poor Man Woodlore” but it would have not reflect the quality of this N°10 SFK Bushcraft knife. For twenty years now I have follow with interest the long walk of Ray Mears in the wood. Producing an elegant fixed blade to make some magic of barks, sticks and leaves. First time I have seen him using his knife, I thought to myslef: “Who is this guy who walks in the countryside with a fixed blade in his pocket…” This is where my interest for the man and the tool has started.
I was already using a Hello Scandi grind knife back on those days with cladded carbon steel.

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Bushcraft is a childhoold adventure dream. It mixes Tarzan, Rambo and all those scouts and indian stories. You can go playing in the woods with your favorite new sharp toys, creating things like bows, arrows, huts, shelters… I was doing bushcraft with my uncle Guy back in the 70’s. He was using a sturdy slipjoint german knife we called a “Canif” (k-nife) and soon I was allowed to bring my own fixed blade knife. Later, when I was 11, I was really into it after investing all my money in a Glock Feldmesser 78 which was a game changer for me: I was able to chop wood !! Any way, a fixed blade was always my best friend in the wood and I have often asked for a sheath I could pocket easily. Don’t laugh but I still got my Rambo II knife… perhaps the subject of another article. Anyway here a picture:
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Ok back to the topic:  Casström No.10 Swedish Forest Knife.
Casström is a manufacturer and distributor of top quality knives and outdoor equipment. They got all a collection of knives and some beauties for bushcrafter. They are famous for having a survival knife developed with survival expert Lars Fält an old friend of Ray Mears. But I was not interested in that collaboration. Why ? because I was looking for a smaller knife. My attention turned to the N°10 with its 10cm long blade compared to the Lars Fält with it 11,5 cm blade.

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I add noticed they were selling Second Knives in their site. It sounds great to me since I got a great experience with Second knives in the UKBushcrafter sale some years ago.
So I have contacted them explain to them that an handle or cosmetic was not an issue as far as the blade was perfect for the review. Gently they have decided to send me a perfect knife instead of a second and that for the initial price. Very nice gesture.

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From their site we can learn that it was designed a multipurpose knife for hunting, bushcraft and general use in the great outdoors. The blade is 10cm long and made using 3.8mm thick Austrian made O2 high carbon tool steel (Böhler K720) and heat treated to achieve a hardness of 58-60 HRC. The knife is ground with a shaving sharp flat Scandinavian grind and have a satin finish… and it’s true, it was shaving sharp right out of the box.

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What I had noticed on the pictures of N°10 knife was the handle: it’s not straight.
Immediately after holding it for the first time, it was love at first palm ! The handle is so well thought after, it literally makes love with your hand. It’s like Ed Schempp or Paul Alexander knives designs, straight lines are not our friends, curves are our friends.

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You see where you pinky can wrapped itself ? It is so confortable !
You can also see the black liners between the handle scales and steel to enhance durability over time. The site explains also that the wood has been treated with a traditional Scandinavian linseed oil based varnish.

The knife comes with a sturdy welted sheath made from cognac brown 3mm vegetable tanned full-grain leather. The sheath features an extra wide belt loop, a fluid draining hole and a lanyard hole. All based have been covered. The sheath looks sturdy but I was happy to apply some bee wax and jojoba in it to smooth it a little.
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About the steel: Böhler Tool Steel K720 is a very tough and strong oil hardened high carbon tool steel also known as O2 : C. 0.9%, Si. 0.25%, Mn. 2.0%, Cr. 0.35% V. 0.1% (HRC 58-60)
Compared to
O1 Tool Steel. C 0,85%  Si 0.50%Mn 1.00% Cr 0.60% Ni 0.30% W 0.40% V 0.30% Cu 0.25% P 0.03% S 0.03%
They are brothers in the tool steel department as “Bushcrafters generally don’t seek the characteristics of stainless over the performance of high-carbon edge retention, and is why traditional Bushcraft knives are produced using tool steel for their blades.Spyderco Catalog.

Compared to the UKbushcrafter in G10 they also brother in the same department.

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The main difference between them is the weight; 68 grams lighter for the N°10. G10 is heavier and more dense than oak. I do prefer also the wood handle which feels less slippery than G10 when my hands are wet.

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The sheath also is less bulky that on the UK Buscrafter which feels like a bigger knife all in all.
But compared to the original Woodlore we are in the same game: same length , same weight, same kind of steel, same grind… Which makes a great alternative with a very clever handle at a fraction of the price.
Really, Casström people are entering the bushcraft game with great products at a very nice price. The N°10 made in Sweden (*) can be found around 120 euros with international shipping and you can compare to the 460 euros of the last Ray Mears design made in the UK. Alternatives are good.
Time to test the knife  now. More to come soon.

* “The knives are manufactured predominantly in Spain, but with design, material selection, final finish and quality control here in Sweden. The finish is very high in relation to the price and materials used as you can see. The wooden handles we make are close to custom grade.” David Cassini Bäckström — Casström AB

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Spyderco FB33GP Gayle Bradley Pocket Bowie !

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This is Gayle Bradley first Fixed Blade collaboration with Spyderco. A “unique blend of expert design and state-of-the-art metallurgy”… But is it a real Bowie ?

A true Bowie is “the most effective fighting and survival knife ever made.”
Just to quote Bill Bagwell as he was attending the Paris Knife Show, where one of his Bowies won the award for the best fixed-bladed Damascus knife in 1995…
A stiletto can pierce, but not more effectively; a cleaver or kukri can chop with similar result; and a razor can slice, but only in one direction and without the power of a combat Bowie. A 10 inches perfectly balanced beast with a false edge ready for a back cut… This is Bill definition of a big bad Bowie.
Actually I got a Cold Steel Trailmaster but much prefer the Fallkniven A2 for camp knife purpose. The A2 is not a proper bowie but the 8 inches blade gives you the scale of the Bradley Bowie which is not much longer than a Phil Wilson South Fork.
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Also I have noticed the edge is quite thick on the Bowie. It’s not a great whittler. I was immediately tempted to get a thinner edge. I felt also the edge to be very far from the handle because of its large choil.


In that matter its little brother the Junction was much more capable. Being much more thinner behind the edge.
But a 5 inches blade is not the best chopper. The size emphases the portability but not the chopping performance. This Bowie must be designed with a special purpose: hunting knife, pocket camp knife ? It’s a bastard dog but Gayle Bradley don’t design by guessing, he must have a reason. I have asked him in an email and will update this review as soon as he will be kind enough to answer me.

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To quote Bill Bagwell: ” There is a difference between the ideal fighting Bowie and an ideal survival Bowie, even though the basic design is relatively similar. The ideal fighting Bowie and survival Bowie would have roughly the same blade length of about nine to ten inches, because this is the length that offers the perfect amount of balance and leverage in both scenarios. But the ideal survival Bowie might be a fair amount heavier overall and have a greater concentration of the weight further up the blade. This concentration of weight further up the blade gives the Bowie a balance more like a hatchet, so that it has greater chopping power, separating it from the more nimble fighting Bowie class.”

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The Bradley Bowie is a Jack Of All Trade focused on a Sub 6 inches fixed blade market.
In that domain I already got some favorites Spyderco: the Serrata !
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The Serrata offers a cleaver power in the field. But the Bowie is tougher in the choice of its steel. “An incredibly tough spray-formed tool steel. Like the particle metallurgy process, spray forming rapidly solidifies molten steel into small particles so its component alloys cannot “segregate” or settle. This creates an ultra-fine, extremely homogenous grain structure that is ideal for knife blades. PSF27’s alloy composition includes molybdenum, vanadium and a generous 1.55% carbon, but because its chromium content is 12%—just below the official threshold for stainless steel—care should be taken to maintain it properly.”

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The Bradley Bowie is also an eye candy, even if I don’t like where the trademark hole has been placed, at least it is very very small and even smaller than on the Junction.

The contoured polished G10 handle is very confortable in the hands. much better than the Junction which is very very flat. I’m not a fan of the tubular holes on both models but it offers some potential in creativity: who want to make a spear from they knife ? Boar hunting anyone ? And it respects the prime designs of Gayle Bradley.
I also love the balance of the Bowie making it “alive” in the hands.

IMHO the Bradley Bowie would be great as a soldier’s knife. Some kind of modern KABAR…
It’s thick enough to withstand some serious abuse. The tip and the blade shape would make it easy for opening crates if needed.  It can be used for batoning of even light chopping.

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So it’s a Bowie easy to pocket in its boltaron sheath or rigged upside down thanks to its great retention. The pancake sheath works great and is very secure. There is no play or rattle when shaken. It’s a sheath of great quality.

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Conclusion, the Pocket Bowie made in Taichung is ready to follow you in any kind of expedition you got in mind. Its full tang construction and general design make it fit for any tasks where a solid and reliable knife is needed. The Bradley Bowie is a tough cookie.

More to come soon.

 

SPYDERCO SPRIG FB37GGR — Phil Wilson Bird & Trout Companion.

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Bird & Trout knives are small thin fixed blades, lightweight sharp knives able to process a bird or a trout. Those knives got of course no chopping purposes and no bushcrafting purposes but we have found the Sprig by Phil Wilson to be a reliable wood companion.

I already knew Phil Wilson as a knifemaker and clever metallurigist for his writing on CPM420V (S90V) back in 90’s. He was the first to provide fillet knives for people who process salmons all day and was measuring the edge retention of this new powder steel back in the past century.  His results were outstanding: the S90V steel was able to process much more fish than the normal stainless steel used on that time (440C ?). He was also able to heat treat them to 60HRC and higher. Bringing the powder steel edge to uncharted territories long before people were spoiled with S30V and S110V and Elmax…
When Phil Wilson did edge holding test, lower Rockwell numbers yielded much poorer edge holding in real world use. High hardness prevents rolling and blunting of the edge, a major cause of loss of sharpness, even though the steel has very high abrasion resistance. His blades do have very high soak temps, oil quenched followed by deep cryo in liquid nitrogen but he did not have any problems with chipping as he considers the use for his S90V knives to be only for slicing.  (source Bladeforums).

To quote him:
“Edge holding will be proportional to hardness to a large degree. Experience with CPM 10V, S90V, and 3V showed me that, with a particle-based steel, the hardness can be pushed a little higher up the Rockwell scale and still retain enough toughness to prevent edge chipping. (CPM S60V is the exception; it has it’s best qualities at about Rc56.) This is because the particle-metallurgy-based steels have a very fine grain structure.”

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Let’s quote Phil Wilson about knife making and steel testing to understand the way he design knives, this is from an article he wrote in 2002 about the coming of S30V then new to all 15 years ago:
” I chose to make a fillet knife because, in my opinion, it has the hardest work life of any knife. Use around salt water will reveal a fillet blades ability to resist corrosion in a short time. Edge holding is tested quickly when cutting through scales and bones and working against an abrasive cutting board. A fillet knife must have a thin, flexible blade to ride over the rib bones during the fillet cut. A brittle steel will soon chip out or break under such use. A fillet knife also makes a very handy kitchen blade. It’s a natural for boning a chicken breast, slicing prime rib, or filleting out a grapefruit. Kitchen knives are left wet on the counter and bounced around in a drawer with other utensils, which is another pretty severe test for a new steel.

In addition to the fillet knife, I made a simple slab-handle semi skinner with the new S30V, and two other [nearly identical] knives from CPM S90V and 3V. This effort would give me a fresh comparison on the heat treating, grinding and finishing of all three steels. It would allow me to do some cutting and edge-holding tests against the new grade. Does the new S30V meet the challenges? The answer is yes, and I’m willing to bet that it will be the favorite steel of many knifemakers in a short time.”

— August issue of Blade Magazine in 2002 —

So as you can see Phil Wilson knows his craft and was testing those new particle-metallurgy-based steels to their limits. No surprise Jim Ankerson and Sal Glesser are huge fans of Wilson’s knives.

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The Sprig is not the first Spyderco edition of Wilson knives. The South Fork FB30GB was the first. This design combines very high cutting ability, point penetration and grip ergonomics into a very high performance working knife, to quote Cliff Stamps test of the custom original version. Strangely I was never able to bound with the South Fork when with the Sprig it was love at first cut !!

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First thing was the handle. The rounded Sprig handle is much more confortable in my hand when the South Fork feels more square.  The Sprig is nested in my palm very very confortably and I can cut i wood for long time without any hotspots noticed. It’s important for a fixed blade. With folders there is often some kind of compromised due to the folding of the blade into the handle, but for fixed blade the confort during cutting needs to be optimum hence the Mora’s handles compared to any thick edged squeleton tactical gadgets.

The Sprig is great on wood, even with its factory edge. It is ground thin in Taichung and is able to get to work right out of the box. The belly also helps a lot to push cut fibers acting like a guillotine edge. So really this knife can be used for bushcrafting purposes which are not implemented hard drilling in wood or batoning. The thin point is wonderfully handy and not made for snuff Russian tests.

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But for cutting wood and whittling the Sprig is even better than the South Fork or the Gayle Bradley Bowie and Junction, because its edge is so thinly ground.

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I had used some diamonds on it but it was not really necessary really. Just a compulsive attitude of mine when I got too much time on my hands… S90V is a legendary steel. I already quote Phil Wilson’s articles in my Paramillie 2 review.

“Crucible Materials Corp has introduced three winning steels in the past 10 years: CPM S90V, CPM 3V, and now CPM S30V. CPM 3V is still the undisputed toughness champ, even surpassing some carbon steels such as A-2. Originally known as CPM420V, S90V was introduced as an upgrade for S60V (originally called CPM 440V), and met all the targets of improved corrosion resistance and toughness. It has the reputation of being hard on heat-treating equipment and is a bear to finish, but is still the best edge-holding stainless steel going.”

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Easy to carry in my denim pockets with its kydex sheath, the Sprig is not really bigger than the Sliverax. The sheath is well made and flat enough to be packed in any Go-Hunting bag. So it’s very easy to bring him along for a walk in the forest or near the sea as S90V is very stainless.

I was really surprised by the cutting abilities of the Sprig. It really caught me by surprise.
The drop point design is useful even in the kitchen , so the Sprig will suit hunters as much as cooks and also it will take a very serious place in any expeditions needing a reliable cutting tool which you won’t need to sharpen every hours.

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You can find a lot to read and learn in Phil Wilson’s site here:
http://www.seamountknifeworks.com/articles.htm

Bushcrafters and Whittling: when the true Scandi grinds stand their ground.

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As I have found, a Scandi grind blade is not the easiest to be honed to your desire especially with modern powder metallurgy steels but once obtained it is a pleasure for the whittler. With that in mind I have bought two Mora Knives: a Morakniv Pro-C and a Bushcraft Survival Knife both in Carbon Steel and rubber handle. My idea was to get easily razor sharp scandi edges like I was able to obtain on the BuscraftUK from Spyderco.

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On the picture above only 3 of the knives are true scandis with no micro bevels.

I have been able to compared how Scandi behave with plastic bottles and also on wood . In fact, in my own experience, Scandi edge bites with some kind of hunger the cellulose fibers and soon also acts as a wedge which makes all the cuts strong and controlled. It doesn’t go as deep as a thin convexed full flat ground blade but the wooden chips produced are thicks. It’s a pleasure to use a Scandi ground knife on wood, there is precision in the cuts which can be shallow or radical (with the wedge effect).

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The “Zero Ground” Nilakka being an exception as it combines the strong cuts of the Scandi with the deep push cuts of the full flat ground blades. Which makes it voracious on wood and explain the 5mm stock of the Nilakka blade.

On the two Mora Kniv, the cheaper was the sharper. The Pro-C bites immediately when the Mora BSK was dull. I have put that on the fact there is some kind of coating and no secondary edge. So, my first move has been to remove that coating.

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The secondary edge put flat on a stone, the coating was removed steadily and the edge was quick able to shave hairs then the Mora BSK was able to bite in wood and was a pleasure to hold and work with.
Both Mora are much lighter than my Spyderco Bushcrafters as they are not full tang. as i don’t plan to do any batoning with them, it is not an issue. Both Mora are true Scandis like my Spyderco Wolfspyder and Buscrafters.
It’s not always the case, even in Norway.

Normally Norwegian knives looks like that:
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Scandi knives are a pleasure to cut and drill with as the thickness of the blade runs to almost the point of the blade, making a very strong tip.

But now you can also buy a Korean Puukko from Hyundai.

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It will cost you around 40 Krons, which is around 4 Euros, 5 dollars…
But here you can see. It’s not a scandi but a thick saber grind with a visible micro bevel.

It means that even Scandinavian countries are not protected against pure cutlery heresy. It also means that Viking don’t mind to buy crappy tools for half the price of a Mora.

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Why ? Because true scandi means a good steel and a good heat treatment to stand the thin geometry. It’s a century old design adapted to people building everything from wood: home, tools, furnitures… A true scandi edge angle is acute enough to be reliable and sharp.
Quoting “Patriot Dan” on the blade forums:
“There isn’t one angle really but 22 degree inclusive (11 per side) is a typical swedish midway edge angle for a scandi grind. The angle can be anything from 15 – 25 depending on use. (This is with the steels and the heat treat typical for those knives, some steels may not be optimal for such acute edge angles).The swedish and Norwegian grinds/edges are more obtuse than their Finnish counterparts. I believe the english bushcraft (woodlore being the most famous) knives that sport a scandi grind are based on swedish grinds but that’s just because they’re very similar.”

So true Scandi are NOT saber grind on disguise and NOT convexed. You need to put the bevel on the stone to keep them “true” hence my work of patience on the Nilakka, restoring her edge to zero grind after some convexing.

I haven’t made that kind of mistake on my Wolfspyder and S30V have proven to be reliable with zero chipping making that little folder a pure joy to use on wood.

More to come soon as the tests will take some time.

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Tuscan Raiders #4 – Geometries, Gayle Spyderco Gayle Bradley Junction and whittling.

It has all started when I wanted to review the Spyderco Gayle Bradley Junction. It’s a great design for an EDC fixed blade which can be used for everything. Easy to carry in its pancake constructed bolteron sheath. But the edge was just too thick for my own use. To my knowledge, SPF27 is some kind of CPM D2 steel. A lot of carbon 1.5% and not a lot of chromium around 12%. Not the easiest on the stone as a semi stainless. It was not very soft under the diamonds compared to another blade in N690 HRC59 I got with me. And it was not really easy to remove the shoulder to create a gentle convex edge. Patience… In sharpening is important. And I often lack of it but I was able to improve it. Next some black stone mostly to remove the scratches. And then the white ceramic to get a better finish and a razor steel. You can notice the chamfered signature hole on the Junction. A première. The cuts were deeper. It was better! Much more enjoyable. But the spine was too sharp for my thumb and diamonds came handy to rounded the angles. It would never be a Sebenza spine…. Again the control during whittling was much much better. One should never be scared to round the edges for suiting your own needs. The handle is very flat on that knife. It’s an attention for people who wish to stash their knife in a pocket or a backpack without leaving a print. But a flat knife is not the most comfortable in the palm of your hand… Especially when cutting hard things for a long time. I decided to make a quick comparison with the Spyderco Sprig which is a pleasure to use. You can notice how the Phil Wilson’s Sprig got a thicker handle. And it change everything when cutting hard things. Also Phil Wilson’s is all about performances. Its geometry is stellar. It immediately cuts deep in wood without any real improvement needed…. But diamonds were there to be usef. 🙂 I was able to get thin regular cuts into the wood. So I have decided to try the diamonds on the Gayle Bradley Bowie I have brought with me. This one got a thicker geometry and is made if the same pulverized alloy as the Junction You can always improve an edge. Used as a light chopper it worked just fine. Gayle Bradley has provided a great compact Bowie which can be used as a light camp knife. You can see: it’s not a lot bigger compared to my Ed Chempp Bowie. And the edge once thinned is honorable. Of course it is not as thin as my Pekka Tuominen Urban II for example. And not as aggressive as the Sprig… I got…. too much knives on my table…

It was time to go to lunch. An Francesca knows how to prepare the pasta with pomodori. Crostini a la Toscane. Poultry liver, oignons, red wine, bread and a Bowie. Back in the outside I was thinking of a simple way to see the “impact” of good geometry on whittling. On the right, a single cut if the thin Delica and, on the left, a single cut of the thicker ZT0562CF. The Delica cuts deeper on a more open angle. Better geometry. But the ZT was pleasant to use even if it was not as fast at the job. Also the Delica was able to cut from the ricasso to the point without any hard pressure. In the end, I had noticed that the Junction was less good than the Sprig and the Delica was still the best whittler in the batch. No matter the steel, for wood cutting, geometry is queen. So I have taken my Bowie back to the diamonds and put a keener edge. Tomorrow it will be hunting day.