Category Archives: Review

Spyderco Shabaria – Dangerous Curves

Spyderco Shabaria  photo by Nemo Sandman
“Israeli knife designer, Eduard Bradichansky, co-mingled the Shabaria鈥檚 traditional utilitarian profile into a modern folding knife. Mr. Bradichansky was a gunsmith and gifted jeweler by trade, new to the knifemaking community, but already attracting collectors and enthusiasts to his fresh design work and crafting skills. His career cut short, he fell victim to a terrorist attack on the West Bank.”
Spyderco Shabaria  photo by Nemo Sandman
Eduard Bradichansky was also behind the design of the clever Spydercard we had reviewed with Fred Perrin back in the 90’s, so when the first Shabaria was released with an ATS 34 blade and a G-10 handle, back in the previous century, we were very excited to test this unique design. For us, it was an evidence: the Shabaria was a weapon and a great one — lean and mean.
The wasp handle or hourglass handle is not a new thing and thousand of people rely on this for eons ! Once you grasp the knife you understand how it works and how clever the design of the Shabaria is. Our was partly serrated and really it was really made to be an Assassin tool.
Spyderco Shabaria  photo by Nemo Sandman
Now the Shabaria is back in a sprint run with a beautiful carbon fiber handle and a plain edge recurved VG10 blade.
This is a very sexy knife. The blade is saber hollow ground, giving a substantial thickness which give you the identity of the knife: a piercing weapon.
The penetration of the strong and thin blade is remarquable. Also the hour glass handle provides you with an additionnal inch of reach. Yes “mean and lean” are the words which are still coming in mind !

Spyderco Shabaria  photo by Nemo Sandman

But now, Spyderco is not a company which is making weapons but tools and Eduard Bradichansky was aware of that. The design was inpired by people of the Jordan River Valley nomads. In the Middle East and North Africa, those wasp handle curved knives are sacred tools which can be used in religious rituals as for everyday tools.
My first thought when I was handling a Shabaria was about Franck Herbert’s Dune books and the Crysknife of the Fremen. The Shabaria could be a folding version of the sacred knife of the fremen ! “Long live the fighters!!!” 馃槈 or better: “Who sees that knife must be cleansed or slain!” !!!

Spyderco Shabaria  photo by Nemo Sandman

A curved edge means a great deal of cutting power. My Spyderco Dodo is my best hard wood cutter for example. My two Shabarias came razor sharp and my arm’s hairs were flying with just a caress of the edge. Some pass on my razor leather and both knives were upgrade to vorpal status. VG10 is a great steel of EDC. The kind of steel which is forgiving and easy to bring back to peak performances. What the Shabaria’s design brings is a nice belly at the tip of the blade. This is really useful in everyday task. The recurve helps to catch the matter you cut and the positive and negative bellies works like a guillotine.
Spyderco Shabaria  photo by Nemo Sandman
This is a sprint run and limited edition I was really glad to see. As I thought the Shabaria was long gone and I missed it. The previous version got a lot of screws (six ?) on the handle and this one is refined with only three screw including the pivot. Also that new version got a very nice improvment: now a lanyard hole is available ! I really love those constant research in making the design better and better. The wasp handle is easy to clean with no skeletonized liners and an open construction. Also the beautiful CF handle is anchored in your hand but not with the help of a false guard but just by holding it. This is a very very secure grip ! You need experience it. This handle design is as old as the Old Testament ! Generations have been using them and people who counted on their knives everyday. Hammer grip, reverse grip, pikal grip… everything works because the handle is pure symetry. Again this is the kind of knife which makes me smile once open. This is serious business.
Closed, the Shabaria is also really beautiful. the kind of Syd Mead design for Tron’s lightcycles. It doesn’t scream “knife!” and is a great impact tool ! Because even with the blade closed, the grip on the hourglass handle is still very positive and is anchored in the palm of your hand.

Spyderco Shabaria  photo by Nemo Sandman
So eventually you got a very unique folding knife with a very strong lock: a variation of the Michael Walker liner lock wich use the height of the handle instead of its length, another clever design from Eduard. The Spyderhole may be more recessed than other designs preventing a quick spyderdrop but as the hole’s edges are sharp it catch your thumb and is smoooooothly open. There is even an hidden choil 脿 la Michael Walker, so once open the blade is really secured twice. Oh and just by holding it open you feel like that very pointy blade is a permanent invitation to pop some balloons ! 馃檪
Playing and using the Shabaria is pure pleasure as this is a very reliable design once you understand how centuries in refining can be used and trusted.

Spyderco Shabaria  photo by Nemo Sandman

The Spyderco Shabaria is a knife with a lot of attitude but also a tool which offers a lot of control during the cuts. I was surprised how its blade was handy for whittling.
This is not only a collector piece but a very serious “silent companion” with design’s roots digging in history of mankind.

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Rockstead Higo-J in the spring time

I don’t have cherry trees or I would have pictured the Higo with some cherry tree blossoming… but here we got roses almost a month earlier !
So it was the occasion to picture the blade in the middle of them.
As you can notice, the Rockstead quality is something you can mesure in time. The knives which has been included in my EDC rotation and my hicking in the woods, did not suffered from his chores. The mirror polished blade is still perfectly intact. The lock up is secure and there is no play.
Now ZDP-189 is a very nice steel on the long run. I mean by “nice”…. “gentle” !
Using a Paramilitary 2 Sprint Run with a blade S90V, this last is a bear to get sharp. As Sal Glesser said S90V do not want to give away molecules.
ZDP-189 which I EDC with the Michael Walker and the Rockstead is “gentle” as I can polish it. (I was not able to do that yet with S90V.
The Higo is a very pragmatic knife, it is made to get dirty and to be clean easily. WIth his incredibely hard blade, I did not have any issue to keep it razor sharp in the woods. The choil makes it a very precise knife for wood cutting. You can applied a lot of force in confidence and the handle is very confortable despite it’s open fram structure.

Spring is the time for cleaning. I have used my Higo to cut hard plastic before to have it recycle. I was able to try to compare ZDP with S90V.
I’m very confident, even with a 66,6 HRC ZDP when I’m still very careful with S90V at 60HRC. S90V is like a “alien” steel, it can stay as sharp for “strange” reason I can not quantify even if I can qualify it, knowing how the steel carbid matrix is reinforced by vanadium…
ZDP on the other side both on the Michael Walker and the Rockstead got at first some micro chipping issue, but once resharpen never shown any more unreliability.
Oslo I was not able to get any patina on ZDP and my main way to keep it sharp is some white compound on a leather belt.
It’s razor and don’t want to give up.

My only little complaint is the shape of the clip but this is really not a big issue as I have prevent any scratches it could have done. (That was not the case on my various Sebenza clips wich has been very nasty on car paint…).
All in all after eight months of use, the Higo-J is still like a new knife. I was not able to scratch the handle, despite my rings on my left hands. The blade stay sharp with easy maintenance. The lock up is secure and the feeling of using a fixed blade is very strong.

Spyderco Sage 3 – The Blue Brother

The Sage II is one of the greatest Spyderco knives in my own humble opinion, so I was never really excited by another Sage…
What could have it more ? A better lock than the Reese Integral Lock ? A better Handle than the smooth rich full titanium scales ?
Enter the Sage 3 a.k.a. the C123GBL and the chance for me to change my mind. The Sage 2 and the Sage 3 are not the same animals.

Again the Taichung plant is offering a close to the perfection production knife with a rich blue handle.
You know that beautiful G10 like the one found on the Dodo or on the Manix sprint run…. It’s very sheeple friendly.
Blue is a cool color. The Navii, the Smurfs, the Cops, the Collars, the Sky, our planet… all are blue and my Blue G10 Dodo is really one of my favorite knife ever made.
So I got that feeling as I grap the beautiful handle.
The weith on that knife is not as lightweith that I thought. It’s even 1 gram heavier than the Sage 2 titanium tank ! Looking closely inside the handle they are two stainless steel nested liners ! Those are really the kind of hidden features you only find in a Spyderco Knife. There is even no mention of that in the Spyderco official communication.
So this is a very very solid handle destined to be on a heavy duty knife.
Once open there is no play in any direction. The knife feels solid like a fixed blade. The Bolt Action Lock has been patented by Blackie Collins and is operated like the Manix 2 lock with its caged Ball Bearing lock. It’s even a little easier as I’m able to disengage it using only my thumb.
So this is a very fast knife to open just by disengaging the lock and flicking the wrist and fast to close to.

The real difference with the two other Sages is that this knife doesn’t have an open handle construction. There is a blu G10e backspacer running along all of it. The result, filling the gap between the two scales, is a much more confortable handle for hard cutting. I remember a video of Bluntruth4U where he was complaining about his Sage 1 handle and he was obliged to wear gloves for hard cutting. The Sage 3 is really an improvement in ergonomy thanks to it full blue spacer. I remember how the Tim Wegner Spyderco serie was gentle on my palm. Same here with the blue Sage.

So we got a very strong knife, which feels even beefier than the Sage 2. The full flat ground S30V leave blade is equally strong and accurate in all the cuts.
With its backspacer and skeletonized nested liners, the Sage 3 will be a little harder to clean than the Sage 2 but the confort of its handle is really appreciable on hard chores. So if you use your knives very hard, the Blue Bro strong lock and confortable ergos is really something to try. Another little big knife from Spyderco and real workhorse with a royal blue robe.

Oh, something also to remember. The Sage serie is about memory. Memory and hommage to the inventors of the locking folding knives. And 5% of the sales is donated to the National Alzheimer鈥檚 Association Denver, Colorado Chapter. Another great initiative.

Spyderco Sage 3 The Blue Brother by Nemo Sandman
Spyderco Sage 3 The Blue Brother by Nemo Sandman
Spyderco Sage 3 The Blue Brother by Nemo Sandman
Spyderco Sage 3 The Blue Brother by Nemo Sandman
Spyderco Sage 3 The Blue Brother by Nemo Sandman
Spyderco Sage 3 The Blue Brother by Nemo Sandman
Spyderco Sage 3 The Blue Brother by Nemo Sandman
Spyderco Sage 3 The Blue Brother by Nemo Sandman
Spyderco Sage 3 The Blue Brother by Nemo Sandman

Amsterdam Spyderco Minimeet 2011 – The Forbidden Pictures !

Only here, you will be able to see the forbidden pictures of the Am’dam Minimeet.
Here we go:

I’m everywhere ! 馃檪
The Lucane and Eric and Sal Glesser
Sal, Eric and Jur looking at the Lucane prototype.
The Lucane and Eric and Sal Glesser
Sal taking a closer look.
Amsterdam Spyderco Minimeet 2011
The gathering of the spydernuts is starting !
Amsterdam Spyderco Minimeet 2011
Father and son…
Amsterdam Spyderco Minimeet 2011
JD and Sal !
Amsterdam Spyderco Minimeet 2011
Gail and Sal Glesser
Amsterdam Spyderco Minimeet 2011
The proto, the concepts all in one pic !
Amsterdam Spyderco Minimeet 2011
Jur (with his new Spyderbeat Sheath made by Emmanuel Amoreau) giving his last instructions to Sal. 馃槈

Amsterdam Spyderco Minimeet 2011
And all the feedbacks are welcome !
Amsterdam Spyderco Minimeet 2011
Gail, Sal and Eric.
Amsterdam Spyderco Minimeet 2011
Gail and Sal’s old van where Spyderco started last century…
Amsterdam Spyderco Minimeet 2011
The Massad Ayoob is inspected.
Amsterdam Spyderco Minimeet 2011
Eric explaining the raffinements of the new back lock !
Amsterdam Spyderco Minimeet 2011
The graph of the Spyderco Knives Breaking Machin !
Amsterdam Spyderco Minimeet 2011
Joyce Laituri chatting with Ted and friends…

Gail and the boys ! 馃檪

All the knives came back on the table eventually.

JD and the Lucane.

A closer look at Jur sheath ! 馃槈

– End of line –

Edit 01/05/2017 There is a video made for BladeHQ “Meet Your Maker” using some part of this post and crediting the blog.
Here the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLcTWwh1Cpc

The Lucane by J茅r么me “Torpen” Hovaere

We met J茅r么me at last Paris Knive Show. This young gifted full time knifemaker just had received his Spyderhole licence from Golden. He’s a huge fan of Spyderco.
I immediatly fell in love with the radical lines of his Lucane Folder. An efficient powerfull blade and an ergonomic handle, this is a workhrose designed by a worker who needed a strong a practical knife as an EDC. It’s a knife to use for mondane task and even to eat with it. The back of the blade was especially though after pushing aliments on a plate without to dull the edge.
My prototype is made of 02 for the blade and G10 with SS liners for the handle. It was made to be shown around at Amsterdam Minimeet 2011.
This will be also the occasion to achieve one of J茅r么me’s dream: to have his baby pictured in the hand of Sal Glesser.
More on it later.



All the pictures down under are (c) J茅r么me Hovaere (so, you will notice the hand of the maker!)


The G10 Proto with another clip.






The ergonomy is amazing thanks to its wasp shape handle.

A previous aluminium handle prototype. Notice how the lock release is not placed as on the G10 version.




The Lucane next to a Spyderco Tenacious

I have forgotten the specs:

Length: 203mm (with clip)
Blade length: 90mm
Once closed: 110mm
Blade thickness: 3,4 mm
Handle thickness: 16mm

Weight: 140 grammes

The steel on this proto is 90MCV8 which another name for O2.

Spyderco Paramilitary 2: the second son of Millie

Paramilitary

Being the son of a legend is not easy and it’s not because you are shorter that you need to develop some complex. Designed by Sal and Eric Glasser, the Paramillie 2 is simply gorgeous.
Since its first incarnation, it did not walk in dad’s footsteps: the smaller version was using another lock than the good old linerlock (I love liner locks !) but the Compression Lock developped for Martial BladeCraft. This was the kind of lock you could find on the Yojimbo and the Lil’ Temperance and on the Gunting (but mounted on the opposite liner). The Compression Lock is strong reliable, easy to clean and was a great addition. Also the knife is so well made, the blade can be flicked in close position just by releasing the lock. This is a gravity knife for closing purposes.
The second version of the Paramillie got a longer blade, some ergonic improvements and a bigger lanyard hole. This is a very well balanced and homogenic package who offers the same “cockpit” of the C36 Millitary in a more civilian way. The cuts are equally strong as with the C36: the Paramillie keeps the same geometry (with a lil’ even more belly) than its dad.(*)

Paramilitary

Anyway, The first thing I have made when I have received my Paramillie 2 was to turn it thick G10 handle into a more “trouser friendly” version: sanding the grippy G10! (Also I get so much used to Carbon Fiber that I wanted to have the same feel…)
I prefer my handles softer than the factory’s one. G10 can be used to file the linen of your pocket and I don’t want holes.
After sanding it (beware the micro dust of G10 which is highly toxic!) I have polished it. I’m happy with the result. Grippy handle can be handy but once sanded my handles keep a positive grip without the side effects of filing fiberglass.

I also found the shiny clip a little to shiny for my taste. So I have switched it with my Gayle Bradley bronze clip. The result is more stealth for the city.


The GB clip screws are a little longer (and the diameter is perharps a little thinner) but it worked perfectly. Also the Gayle Bradley’s clip is known to keep its appearance for a long time. (mine is one year old and looks like new!)
There is another plus with second version: you can positionned the clip in four ways. So As I want to use my Paramillie in the wood and hard material, I have decided to reposition the clip Tip Up / Left Handed way.
(I’m right handed)
Why ? Because there is no more metal clip against my palm: no more sore or hotspot.
And thanks to it very large blade hole I can even open it in reverse grip easily.

The balance on the Paramillie 2 is perfect. The knife is very “alive” in the hands. No bladeplay what so ever, great ergos…
I have already test it on my Bottle Butt test and it has passed it with flying colors !

On this picture you can notice how the G10 looks once sanded. And also both signatures of Eric and his father Sal ! This is the very 1rst Spyderco knife which got both !
I will update this post later, but for now, I think I have found the perfect folding match for my G10 Bushcrafter.

Also I have gently convexed the edge like I have done on my Sage II.

**** edit****
(*) eventually a picture worse a thousand words:

Update of the 10th of March 2011.

Here are some pictures of the S90V/CF sprint run of the Paramillie 2. This is a dream come true folder: since the release of the C36 Military: a compact package and upgrade materials. I recognized to have been traumatized by Phil Wilson’s articles about S90V (CPM420V) in 1998

Sprint run Paramilitary 2 CPM S-90V Carbon Fiber
Sprint run Paramilitary 2 CPM S-90V Carbon Fiber
Sprint run Paramilitary 2 CPM S-90V Carbon Fiber
Sprint run Paramilitary 2 CPM S-90V Carbon Fiber
Sprint run Paramilitary 2 CPM S-90V Carbon Fiber
I have gently sanded the Carbon Fiber handle just to remove the biting. I don’t want to get a polished handle like on the G10 version.
Sprint run Paramilitary 2 CPM S-90V Carbon Fiber
Sprint run Paramilitary 2 CPM S-90V Carbon Fiber
Sprint run Paramilitary 2 CPM S-90V Carbon Fiber

On this last picture you can compare the edge of my polished CPMS30V Paramillie 2 blade and the CPMS90V (HRC60) which has been stropped for four days without any polishing improvement but the edge is incredibly sharp.


The blade is cutting meat like hot butter…


This a folder which is meant to be used and get dirty !

I have sanded the handle to smooth it and also the “hump” which can file your trouser at each extraction of the knife frome the pocket:


Now I can carry it “Tip Down” and open it with the SPyderdrop which is IMHO the most elegant way to open a folder.

Rockstead Higo-J: Part III – Masamune in Winter

The Rockstead Higo-J # 102 continues to be worn and used daily as part of my testing of this high quality knife through the seasons in France.

The road so far:
“Rockstead Higo-J part I – A Folding Masamune in Paris”
“Rockstead Higo-J ZDP-189: Fears and Cures”
“Rockstead Higo-J In the woods”

Rockstead Higo-J ZDP

The mechanism did not show any sign of wear since I got the knife used daily. The feeling/sensation of holding a light fixed blade is real once open. The opening and closing is getting smoother (the retention ball was the main brake to the butter like opening provided by huge phosphoric bronze washers) the clip (despite its lip) was a great surprise in confort of carrying and did not caught anything.

Rockstead Higo-J

What is appreciated in the ergonomy of the Higo-J conceived as “a very pragmatic knife” is the natural way the fingers find their places on that very straight design.
The choil offers a very nice position for the index for any precise work. And the balance of that light knife makes it a natural extension of your hand. There is no issue or hot spot while using the knife even on hard wood.
Some bushcrafters friend of mine really appreciated its grind which is almost scandy. It seems to remove the bark of wood stick like a zipper: with a lot of control.
The Higo was also used in hunting dejointing and skinning and the ZDP grind and heattreated by Rockstead did not failed us.

Rockstead Higo-J

Now how the ZDP-189, hard as Rockstead like to treat it (HRC66,6) was a concern for me. The initial grind was a little to fragile and my regrind did not permit to recover the initial performance of the knife. This was an issue that many users of thin grind knives may have encountered: rolling edge on stainless can be messy.
Now with patience and elbow grease, the edge of the Higo-J has been restored and maintain to an excellent level of working sharpness.
As a very polish edge (I don’t see myself putting a toothy edge on it, sorry…) the knife shows a constance in performance: it cuts cuts and cuts with accuracy and reliability. Now I only strop it once a week with compound and leather and it enough to keep it sharp.
So I don’t use saw motions and mainly pushcuts. It’s easy to reproduce the demo of Hanada-San. even the “Schtock” sound of the repeating cutting is reproductible.
Also the encounter with some hard surface and even some stapples were not able to mark the edge: no nicks, nothing which could not be fixed with a light ceramic and a lot of stropping.

Rockstead Higo-J ZDP-189

The more I use it, the more it grows on me. It’s easy to use and very easy to clean. So you don’t mind getting dirty and use that beautiful blade on messy jobs.
I have even seen Hanada-San being able to put it apart in a matter of seconds: there is only two main screws on that incredible design.

I was not able also to scratch the mirror finish and only some little scars are visible witnessing the use of the Higo on hard material.
So far I’m still very impress by the overall quality of that expensive tool.
The handle don’t show any scratches or anything which could alter their beautiful lines. I’m conscient that, if the knife would fall on concrete it would be marked (when G10 or carbon Fiber are very shock/scratches friendly) but it did not occur to me. So far the Higo-J only fell on soils and was rinse after.
BTW the ZDP blade did not stain (that steel is known for being sometime easy to stain).
This is the end of my update. The Higo-J will be used on X-mas turkey and I will come back to it in 2011…
Rockstead Higo-J

Ladybug Hawkbill Sprintrun – The Real Cat Claw !

“Everybody wants to be a cat,
because a cat’s the only cat
who knows where it’s at…”

My friend Jur told me: “the older you’ll get the shorter the blades you will love.”
The first injection came from a baby Wayne Goddard, then the C22 Walker… now that little claw which is an amazing little tool !

Wolverine, Sabertooth are not the only one to produce some sharp claws in a blink of an eye ! You can do it too and with a very sheeple friendly (and invisible) Spyderco knife. There is a little Ladybug which got all the attribute of a feline “blade”: the “LBKS3HB”. Of course it’s a limited edition but soon it will be (re)release in a H1 and yellow handle version !

What I love about that little knife is its smoothness and the quality of construction. This is the shortest knife I can “Spyderdrop” and close by releasing the lock with a smooth flick of the wrist. So, it’s short, serrated, powerfull, handy, secured in the hand (thanks to the little fob provided by Jurphaas.)
This is the kind of knife I love to use in the city: removing labels on clothes, opening parcels, cutting plastic, strings, paper and even bread !
With a baguette this is a great knife to make the long incision for some ham !

Also, this little knife can be a real contender as a last ditch self defense tool aiming at the hands or the face !
The serrated edge can make painful and bleeding wounds with a swift caress of the blade.

Invisible, fast to put in service, performant… a real Cat Claw indeed !

Thea

Thea checking the knife.

Mini mini mini !

Confortable in various grip !

Closed, it’s almost got a grin !

This is VG10, baby !

Thea approves it !

 

 

And this is the H1 version of a Ladybug !

Rockstead Higo-J ZDP-189: fears and cures

My ZDP189 Higo blade was “chipping” today (!!!) quite badly on the tip (Arrrrgh!!!). So I have decided to passe it gently on a Spyderco white ceramic rod before to strop it for a good hour on leather and compound.
Now it’s much sharper than before (!) and I know my edge is stronger with a little convexing which should prevent it from rolling…
Amazing grind ! Amazing steel !
ZDP-189 is very forgiving.
I don’t know how the chipping appeared as I did not use the knife hard (yet). I think it came from the very thin hard edge on the tip and perharps one fumble of mine.
Now it’s “cured” and fixed !
(I did not pictured it when it was a mess as I was much to concern about fixing it.
Perhaps the edge touch something hard I did not notice ?
I don’t know.
Anyway:

Notice how the “chipping” on the edge start to be erased by the ceramic shouldering.

now it’s all fixed:

The more I think about it (and when I see how I could fix it)
I think it was the very edge which rolled “chaotically” giving the look of a bad chipping but which could be fixed with a light sharpening (without removing matter)
The edge has touched something hard (it’s happen at the tip and this could have happen without me to notice it)
It happen once to me with another knife (mirror finish, thin and stainless) I was testing by cutting bambu and I completly ruined the edge: it was almost serrated after my ten cuts…. but I was able to realigned the edge and the damage was almost invisible after and the high sharpness restored.

My other ZDP-189 blade is the Chris Walker which is not as “smooth” sharp as the Higo but so far di not rool or chip. (It’s not as hard as the Higo-J though)

“The bottom of this blade edge is 30 degrees, and it’s continuously change to top of the blade.The top edge’s angle is 24 degrees.”
30 degree (15 by 15) with a very hard steel can be tricky when the edge is brend new.

Anyway I gently realigned the edge with white ceramique and strop it a lot.
I my have created a secondary (and stronger) edge, but the stropping should minimize its effect in pure sharpness loss.

Any knives are made to be used. It’s easy to hit something which alter the edge. A good tool should be able to withstand that, get fixed and ask for more.
The Higo-J, as an excellent tool, is no exception.
Bob Terzuola says: “If you knife is still sharp, it means you don’t use it enough !”
So let’s use it !

Researching the Rockstead site:
“We realized the best edge angle near the haft of the blade is 30 degrees and in the point of the blade 24 degrees.(We adjusted the angle to 30 degrees in the haft side because power was most concentrated there, which improved toughness, and 24 degrees at the tip of the blade, where power was low. The angle changes continuously.)”

Ok the angle at the tip is shallower (24掳)… that’s why the tip is more fragile … Good to know.

The road so far:
“Rockstead Higo-J part I – A Folding Masamune in Paris”
“Rockstead Higo-J In the woods”
“Rockstead Higo-J: Part III – Masamune in Winter”

Rockstead Higo #102 ZDP-189 – A folding Masamune in Paris (Part I)

Rockstead is worldwide famous for delivering the most exquisite hard polished blades in the industrial knife world. All made by CNC machines in Japan and painfully polished by gifted hands, those extraordinary blades are shown able to be used hundred of times on hard bamboo and still being able to cut paper like razors ! It’s made by hardening the blade to HRC67 and even beyond and being almost obsessed by edge angles!
So cutting with a Rockstead is like driving a Lamborghini: you pay for the best materials and the best performances.
Rockstead Higo in its balsa crate
The balsa wood crate with the wrench and the certificate.

Thanks to Hanada San, director and display pilot of Rockstead knives, I will have the chance to test and review on the long run one knife he choosed for me on his table: one of his Higo knife, #102 with ZDP189 (HRC 66,6 I wonder why I have baptised it “Diablo” …) with Duralum handle and an integral lock.

Rockstead Higo in the rain
Notice how the edge is perfectly ground ! Amazing !

First thing you notice when you reveal the blade to the light is the exquisite attention to details. The edge is mirror polished and perfectly symetrical on both sides.
The hole in the blade (with a gauge) is the signature of Rockstead. It’s found on all their knives designed by Takeshi Saji. It gives some kind of high tech sci fi look to a very sober design.

Rockstead Higo
The infamous Saucisson test !

OK. the description of this knife as it’s found on their site is also spectacular: HIGO-J-ZDP BLADE / SHINOGIZUKURI
Full length : 213mm
Blade : 89mm
Material : ZDP 189
Thickness : 3.2mm
Weight : 104g
Hardness : around HRc67 !!!!


At that hardness…this can be used as a glass breaker !

Scale : A2024(duralumin)Hard-anolized treatment
Spring to chip : SKD11HRc61 (*)
Rockstead Higo Lock
(*) Because the sliding liner of the integral lock is termined by a chip of hard steel (HRc 61) like some unharded titanium lock can be more and more found.

Rockstead Higo CLosed
Perfect size for an EDC knife.

After the bamboo is cut and beat with this knife and Manila rope is cut 350 times, you can slice the paper. This easy maintenance knife is an easy-to-use knife that cuts well. The handle of the duralumin is light and is strong.The bottom of this blade edge is 30 degrees, and it’s continuously change to top of the blade.The top edge’s angle is 24 degrees. The change in this angle is a result of ROCKSTEAD that pursues sharpness. This is a knife of preeminent sharpness. You can enjoy its strong cutting capabilities for a long time. This scale is fixed with two screws and the resolution is easy. After cutting the fish and the animal, you can easily clean it.

Rockstead Higo
The tuscany ham was cut as thin as it desserved.

The straight folder is easily clipped on the front right trouser pocket. The Duralum handle is easy on the fabric and the clip is well positionned and all package is low profile. This is mandatory for an EDC.
The knife is absolutly well balanced in hand. Light and fast. Holding it in your hand is a pleasure. This knife exude pure perfection. It’s very straight and very versatile. The edge can be used up side down for skinning purpose.


Thea inspecting the balance of the knife. One centimeter behind the pivot.

Skinning ?!
Wait a minute, who is going to use a 1000 euros folding knife for skinning ?!

Rockstead Higo
The over size thumb lugs are very confortable to use and far enough not to be in the way.

Let’s not be fooled by the price of that jewel. The Higo-J is 400% performance oriented. It’s easy to clean and even is provided with a wrench if you need to take it apart. (Like Chris Reeve’s Sebenza). this the proof how the trust the designer has in their work. It’s of course an expensive tool but it has been designed to be used.
Remember the Emerson CQC6 craze 15 years ago ? They were as expensive as the Higo nowadays and some people used them hard.

Rockstead Higo

Of course, Hanada San is the first to display the unearthly cutting qualities of his knives. They are hard but they will not chip and they will cut and cut and cut until you strop them. Rockstead knives are mainly strop on compound. No need to scratch the beautiful finish.
That suit me perfectly as I love to refresh my edges on leather.聽聽 Mine did not get used enough to be stropped yet and I’m heading forward touching up its edge this way.

Rockstead Higo
Cutting a well done cheese is not the easiest talk. The mirror finish helped a lot !

As you can see the Higo has first been acclimated to our Whine Ham & Cheese country. And it passed that first test with flying colors.
Cutting fresh hot bread, Tuscanian delicate ham and all-done Saint Nectaire’s cheese were no problem for this beautiful folder. It get dirty but also get clean easily.
It’s sheeple friendly as its mirror and elegant edge is not as “scary” as on some other thick tactical folders.

The grind is saber with flat (almost convex) sides. It’s so gorgeous you can look at it fir hours and still be amazed but the worksmanship. The cut is powerful and easily control. All in all, it’s like a gentleman folder with a very very strong attitude which screams to be used !

The edge is pure razor. You could not expect less. So it goes through hard bread crust in a a breeze making thin slices by only pushcutting it. The only knife which can reach that performance out of the box was the mighty little C22 Walker which is also a ZDP189 knife and made in Japan…
(Oh yes, ZDP189 is new powder steel with 3% of carbon and 20% of chrome. At HRc 66,6 this is not a knife you want/can to get dull ! It will hold an edge and just ask some attention on a stropping belt to continue on and on… )

OK after that little civilized warm up, the beautiful Higo-J will now be confronted to hunting season and the joy of woodcraft.
Wood cutting do not lie…

The infamous cutting plastic bottle test… like in butter !

To be continued ! (and updated…)

Rockstead Higo Blade
Beautiful reflection of the clouds on the Higo’s mighty blade.

The road so far:

“Rockstead Higo-J ZDP-189: Fears and Cures”
“Rockstead Higo-J In the woods”
“Rockstead Higo-J: Part III – Masamune in Winter”