Once in a while I invite some friends to write reviews about knives. Pascal Jaffre is a passionate of classical music, shooting and computing with a lot of cultural background, he’s also a skipper. So, he was the right person to review the
A Spyderco Tusk Review
« Try Spyderco’s Tusk folding knife and tell me what you think about it! » were captain Nemo’s words one evening at the shooting club in Asnières (town’s name comes from “ane” = donkey). No donkey hunting for Tusk as the quadrupeds long left the patches where they used to graze and rest from barge tugging against the Seine’s current. On the contrary, Tusk’s tasks have been diverse and peaceful; in turn it has proven to me as a great inspirational source!
If I were a castle, which one would I be? Marlinspike Hall of course and Tintin would have been better equipped against the “l’Oiseau brothers” with me in his pocket.
Could I have influenced world famous composers like Mozart and Wagner? Maybe I have… take a close look!
Given that folded, my shape resembles that of a drop of water, had I been a musical note, which one would I have been? “A flat” of course which is Chopin’s “drop of water” in the famous Prelude N°15 – Prelude à la goutte d’eau!
Transposed to music this picture does not sound as harmonious as it looks: A-flat and G (Tusk and la sole – not Schubert’s trout)! The fish was delicious and it was a pleasure to eat “a flat” fish with a G-em.
More seriously let me show how sharp the blade is. Even trickier than the tomato test: the rotten pineapple test! Hard on the outside and soft (much too soft) in the inside. However Tusk did the job perfectly and my trash can got the pinapple – less the first bite.
Let’s finish off the food test with a panel of some other tricky things to cut. The sausage (saucisson): very thin slices. The avocado hard skin and yet ripe inside not crushed and perfect cut. The well cooked French bread – I was really impressed how a blade without dents cut the crust. To finish 2 types of Comté cheese (24 and 32 month aged) from the Jura region. The most difficult cheese to cut out of the 2 is the eldest because less moist and having a tendency of breaking: Tusk cuts the cheese at ease!
Birds of a feather? No, not feather but leather – courageous Tusk about to beat the baby crocodile and the result is below! Well done Tusk!
Tusk also participated in the assembly of C 4.8 my French catamaran built in the early 80’s.
The result I’d say is contrasted in the sense that in my case the marlinspike was preventing from using the shackle key. This is due to the small volumes in which the tool needs to evolve. Had the shackles been oriented with a 90 degree rotation, that limitation would not have appeared.
Here is a demonstration of how the marlinspike limits the rotation: blocked at one point by the top of the hull. Obviously shackle keys that have an outer curve add further difficulty so it’s important that the tool be as thin as possible.
Another similar situation when installing the shackle key that holds the stays, forestay and shrouds to the mast. Again unfortunately the length of the marlinspike hinders the ability to rotate by a wide angle. However what I found really comfortable is Tusk’s ability to deliver power when working with the shackle key; this is due to its length combined with its overall robustness.
So to summarize a long strong tail does not necessarily get to go everywhere! That said, as during the assembly of C 4.8, wind was blowing up to 33 knots the marlinspike eventually had a good effect after putting it in the wind because in the evening we were down by some… knots!
Tusk ne manque pas d’air!
Tusk has been a great knife to test: discrete in the pocket, a beautiful gem that fuels imagination and a strong working tool. I’ll have to test against larger boat!
(Text and Photo Pascal Jaffre.)
Thanks to my friend Nemo I have had a chance to check out the Spyderco C(SB) steel with a full flat grind(ffg). This is my first ffg Ladybug and my first experience of Super Blue steel. Let me tell you what I found!
I have had a Ladybug before. The VG10 model with the saber grind.I did not like how it cut, for my taste it was far to thick at the edge and the back. I ground the bevels flat so now it has a singe bevel grind. It cut much better but I did not use it much.
The day I brought the Ladybug SB in to service I put a fob on it, Spyderco Jur style, to give me a little extra to hold on to. I oiled the joint with a little Nano Oil. The mid-lock was smooth and easy to operate. There was just a little vertical blade play. Which is not uncommon on mid-locks and back-locks. My older Ladybug was the same in that regard.
I then sharpened it, as the edge was only cutting note book paper roughly. At the same time I lowered the edge angle. When I sharpened the back the of blade, the part above the Spyderco hole, was about 1mm above the hone. This gave me a final edge that was just below 10dps(degrees per side) blended into the main bevel.
My idea is that a knife this small should cut with very little resistence. You are not going to put much force on the blade as the handle is to small for that. So, thin and sharp is the way to go! Grinding the whole blade flat on the stone would make it cut even better but is just to much work for me.
I cut a little cardboard just so see how well it would cut, how the edge would respond, and how the handle would feel in the hand. The blade cut well with little resistance but the edge had collapsed. After de-stressing the edge (lightly cutting in to a stone to remove the damaged steel) and resharpening it I cut some more cardboard. The edge seemed to be stable but more cardboard cutting revealed a small section had collapsed again. It took a few times de-stressing and resharpening to stabilize also this part of the edge. It has been my experience that often a knife need to be sharpened a few times before you see its full potential.
These sharpening sessions gave me the opportunity to use different hones to sharpen the blade. And I must say: this is a very nice steel to sharpen! No matter the hone. I sharpened with diamonds, a Norton fine India hone, and different ceramics. After de-stressing it could be apexed quickly with hardly any burrs forming. The burrs that did form could be removed with just a few light, high angle, passes into the stone. It was not just easy to sharpen, but easily took very sharp, hungry, edge! 🙂
The handle is large enough for me to get a two and a halve finger grip. During the cutting task I used the knife for, I found the handle to give me a good grip and precise control of the edge. I did find the handle small and fiddly for opening the knife with the thump in the Spyderco hole. So, usually I opened the knife in a different way.
The last few weeks I cut medium size apples, cardboard, I opened mail, cut open and removed the seed from and avocado, trimmed a nail here and there, and cut plastic food packaging. The knife handled all these task without much of a fuss, though the apple was at the limit of its abilities due to the length of the edge and the size of apple. Some of these task would have been easier or faster done with a larger knife, but you do not alway have that option. In those cases it is nice to know that this, slightly modified, ffg Ladybug will get the job done. As the saying goes: „I does not have to be big, just sharp!” As for the steel…It takes a great edge! 🙂
Text and Photos by JD.
Ok stop the press: here is a 100 dollars folder destined to be a workhorse: everything in this knife means business and the blade is made from CPM S110V !!!
This is Science Fiction. And this is real !
The Manix 2 Dark Blue is NOT a sprint run. This is the lightweight version of the Manix 2 C101G2 as instead of skeleton stainless steel handle with G10 the handle is made a solid tough fiberglass-reinforced nylon (FRN) and features Spyderco’s distinctive Bi-Directional Texturing™ pattern to ensure a secure grip in all environmental conditions…
Meaning: very light, well balanced, solid, impervious to the elements and easy to clean.
Yes, this very light blue handle gives a very nice balance to the Manix. It’s alive in your hands as I had noticed on the previous lightweight blue transparent handle version: this version is fast and well balanced.
Once clipped inside your pocket you forget it. This is a feather. You can clip it to you shorts with no afterthoughts.
The ball lock is as strong as ever. I’m ever able to open it as fast as an axis lock. Go figure. It opens in one fluid snap and closes in a flash with a gentle pull of the thumb on the encapsuled ball lock.
Four rivets are giving you some great reliability and the blade’s axis got screws on both side.One my friend, who was working in the African rain forest was sensitive to rivet: he knew his knife won’t betrayed him. Screws are getting loose and lost in the big wild Green. For him, rivets were security and reliability. The only noticed screws are on the axis as its tension is adjustable.
So that Manix is a workhorse not a cheap brother of the hard chore folder C101 but an “expedition ready” tool. Knowing that once you go in the wilderness every ounce you are carrying is important. BTW the C101DBL2 weights only 82 grammes !
Now about the blade: it’s an ultra wear resistant flat-ground CPM-110V blade !!!!
This is the best of the best in modern powder technological cutting performances alloys. It’s really stainless, strong and resilient.
Better than S90V. So they say. And it’s available on a 100 dollars knife. (The previous CPM110V Spyderco was the Native 5 Sprint Run with Carbon Fiber handle C41CFP5…). The cutting experience is unique as the End Lin User got access to the most modern alloy at a bargain price. The Ball Lock has also proven to be totally reliable evn on a FRN handle.
Now this kind of cutting edge proposition can be tricky. Not everybody knows how to maintain such speciality steel. For example, IMHO S90V is like chewing gum. It hates to give away its molecules. S110V should be even trickier on stone and ceramic. So diamonds will be its best friends…Oh and compared to S90V which is hardened at 59HRC by Spyderco, CPM110V should be around 62HRC !!
Unless you got to much time on you hands, diamonds should be used but now “real knives” users will get the best steel on a full flat grind drop point blade with a strong lock?
For example: this folding knife would be a great tool for any Rain Forest explorer ! It has even killed my folding Izula dreams !! This is the kind of folder that will cut and cut and cut with no need to touch up during the trip far from civilization. S110V is like that. It won’t let you down ! You even won’t plan to re-sharp it once away from the base. I remember a Jeff Randall and Mike Perrin review in Tactical Knives where they were testing a Military in S60V… The knife was not touch up of all their trip. This is the kind of experience you will have with CPM110V: its working edge is destined to run for very very long. It should be some kind of Duracell Rabbit experience ! The edge will keep cutting cutting and cutting…
1095 will need a touch up for example but not CPM110V.
This is a great news as we end line users we got this HUGE opportunity to drive a Formula One for the price of a FIAT. And I had loved my FIAT… Of course my huge Manix S90V feels now like some kind of Aston Martin of a knife… Because it feels much heavy and here we are talking featherweight. But performance wise it’s not better and for its price I can buy 2 ou 3 CPM110V Manix 2 !!
And after the Serrata (which is also a bargain!) this lightweight Manix2 is bringing the best in the modern cutlery world for a Laguiole price.
Respect to Eric, Sal and the Spydercrew for this very democratic gesture. 😉
A beautiful knife with dangerous curves !
The Serrata is a beautiful massive short fixed blade designed by Stuart Ackerman and released by Spyderco and manufactured in Taichung Taiwan.
Holding that knife in your hand is the only way to feel how sexy this tool is.
Sexy is the term. It almost feels like it has been grind in a broken Iron Mistress. So go figure !
This knife got almost a 1 centimeter thick blade. The slabs on the handle look out of proportion. This is massive. But then it is perfectly balanced. The handle sits in your palm with authority and confort. Despite the lack of guard I have never felt like I was going to cut myself.
The leaf-shaped blade is nicely tapered to the point where the Serrata is almost a delicate knife.
Yep almost for such a brutal cast steel beast !
This is not a bushcraft impact edge tool like the Spyderco Bushcrafter or the BRKT Canadian Special, actually the Serrata is a knife for meat and fibrous material processing. Stuart Ackerman even does not advise to use it for batoning as the steel is not “made” for that.
The edges on the blade back are smooth and there is no lanyard hole. So if you want a knife to use hard you should invest in something more shock proof. but I will use it for like chopping as the weight will help it a great deal. The nice belly should bite deep on gentle impact. I will compare it to my Fallkniven A2 which I was able to keep unchipped after a decade of use.
But the Serrata really shines when you need to cut into fibrous materials.
OK let’s put everything in perspective, the Serrata is a solid knife though but it is performance oriented. It would be a perfect companion for a hunter and a cook.
Let’s understand the process to create that knife: it has been “made by casting 440C stainless steel-a process that creates dendritic (“tree-like”) crystalline structures”.
And God this is dangerously sharp! The meat of my thumb can feel that hungry microscopic toothy edge waiting to draw blood.
My Dutch friend JD has provided me some old catalogs from the initiator of Cast 440C: David Boye. He’s famous for posing next to huge pil of 3000 pieces of 1″ hemp rope cut (without resharpening) with his 8 inches knife.
Reading “Dendritic Blades” an excellent article from Michael O’Hollaren published in Knives Illustrated Magazine in Summer 1994 (Page 8,9,40-43, another piece of great information provided by JD!) I have learned that it was a machinist friend of Boye (Don Longuevan) who has suggested him that casting blade might reduce grinding and fabricating time which would be a majo help when it comes on stock removal. The idea became a challenge for Boye. And by 1982 he started to cast his blade with Larry Veenker of Intermoutain Precision Casting on Lindon, Utah. then Boye built a drop hammer to reduce and refine even further the pattern of his 440C cast blades.
According to Boye, at first he “did not realize the carbid crystal structure of cast steel contributed to better edge-holding.” But soon he found that “when edges were prepared identically, the dentritic steel consistently outperformed forged steels used in the testing.”
He found that forging was breaking up and reducing the size of the microscopic carbides in the original ingot. Paradoxically with forged steel the smaller the grain size the sharper the blade can theoretically get but the less “bite” it will have.
The carbyde crytals of the dendritic steel are rooted in the steel matrix hence the long last aggressive edge. They form a fern like network throughout that 56-58 HRC steel matrix.
To cast steel you need to turn it into a liquid state and pour it into a mold. This is a century old technic known in jewelry. So first you create a mold by pouncing a hard knife between two blocks of aluminium with a drop hammer, forming a cavity in the shape of the blade. Then hot wax is shot into that mold and when it cools it is removed as a wax model of the knife. The wax blades are “ganged” together to form a tree which is dipped into porcelain slurries. Between each slurry dip, sand is applied to the wet slurry, each sand dip a little coarser than the previous one. This make the mold stronger, thicker, and able to support the heavy molten steel.
The mold is left to dry three weeks to guaranty there is no moisture left in the porcelain.
Then it’s placed in oven to burn the wax out.
With the wax burned out the hot mold is ready for the molden steel which must be poured when the mold is still red hot !!
As the poured steel cools the carbide crystal network forms through the blade.
The porcelain is broken away and the individual blades are cut from the “tree”, trimmed, annealed and straighten.
Boye stated that this method is more expensive pound-for-pound but it is well worth it in the long run.
Thank you Michael O’Hollaren of Knives Illustrated, my English seems much better when I copy your article. 🙂
Anyway, do you remember the film “Conan” and its beginning credits ?
So back to Stuart Eckerman. The man looks like a character from Wilbur Smith’s South African saga: a veteran from the Rhodesian wars and there is some “aura” of high adventure in the design of his knife. Like a call for the hunt…
The Serrata is a knife you should bring in a Safari if you want to process the meat in the field.
now I do not advocate murdering animals just to please the Safari Club, a long shot lens camera is a much better companion than a rifle IMHO but there is something about Hemingway in the Serrata. Something wild.
On hard matters, like dry wood, the Serrata is good, but not as good as a CPM3V thin convexed BRKT Canadian Special or a zero ground Nilakka. But I still got the factory edge on my FB32 and I’m planning to thin it later for a full convex edge.
On the two last pictures of this post you will notice how the wooden chip forms on the Serrata and the BRKT. If had noticed that the grain of the steel changes the texture of wooden chips. The smoother the chip, the finer the grain. Best results were obtain by comparing ATS 34 AFCK with M2HSS AFCK, the second was almost polishing cut wood. (There is a reason why the best wood chisels are made from M2HSS Speedstar).
In the kitchen the Serrata is incredibly good on tomatoes ! This is another great test as tomatoes got a elastic skin over a tender flesh. Cutting tomatoes gives you a lot of information on your edge. The Serrata has a very thin micro serrated edge which cut in vegetable like a dream. And it cuts just with the weight of that massive knife.
I will update that article soon as I need to prepare some rabbit next week.
So stay tune for more experimenting with the Spyderco Serrata.
(Oh and with a steel like that, there is no need to strop it on leather as you want to keep some kind of natural coarse edge.)
– Igor ! And if I could swap the blade from my C90FPGYE with my C90CF ?
– Why, master?
– To obtain a Carbon Fiber handle with a Super Blue Steel blade ? Igor !
– Why ?
– Because I love super blue steel ? igor !
– And not ZDP189 ?
– Yes ZDP189 is a great steel. I have already written a review about it.
– I don’t remember, master…
– Follow that link: https://nemoknivesreview.com/2013/05/26/spyderco-stretch-c90cf-part-iii-edc-of-high-performance/
Anyway, now the handle fits the Super Blue Steel laminated blade of the grey FRN Sprint run without any play.
We got now a new knife to test. So far the edge is hungry like a wolf and some stropping is enough to get it scary sharp. I have no plane (yet) to convex it as the factory edge seems thin enough for my taste.
I was even able to use some black spare screws on the clip.
A gentle patina was obtain by cutting strawberries in a matr of minute and off we go for adevntures…
More to come in coming weeks.
This review will be update on regular basis as we are also dependent from Spydercollector pictures.
Nemo: Again we have been 80 lucky people to attend the 10th Anniversary Spyderco Meet in Amsterdam.
Some were there since the beginning like my friend JD and this post will be both impressions.
Here the list of knives and our impression.
For the model pictures you can visit Spydercollector excellent blog here as he got the exclusivity:
29 concepts and prototype are a lot in a single session. They are a lot and a lot of ideas in non locking knives, bushcrafting, SD tools, long forgotten designs and performances researches but… without showing any pics it’s a little pointless to talk about them here.
Eric and Sal have harvested our impressions, sucking up feedbacks from 80 feverish minds.
For example JD gives the important hint that Walter Brent trademark was mirror finish blade on his Mamba Concept Model.
JD: Polished deep hollows, thats Walter Brend!
Nemo: And Eric will now see what would be the best steel for respecting that particular signature.
This is where the Minimeet shows how important exchanges are ! Eric and Sal are here to listen to the “hot” feedbacks and they take very good notes of each of them. It’s quite obvious after to notice the changes in a final product. (We got some very passionate exchanges three years ago with Sal about a huge folder featuring an “über” strong lock which could be used as a tough folding camping tool for example…)
Also the Minimeet is the chance now to see designers and knifemakers coming in Amsterdam to present their prototypes.
Like Ulrich “Uli” Hennicke:
Filip De Leeuw:
So let’s browse the memory of some models we liked:
Slisz Bowie Marcin Slysz Prototype
JD: Impressive! Ergonomic, solid, slicy.
Nemo: This one is my favorite so far in this 10th Anniversary. A sexy shape, a ergonomic titanium handle. This could be a Sebenza Killer with a bowie blade and full flat ground blade. It should be release for mid 2014. So we will have to review it in september.
(I will like pictures from Wouter site as soon as he will have them on line.)
His ‘father’ could be the K2 by Farid Mehr.
JD: Pocked machete!
Nemo: but again if it’s going to be produced in CPM10V this huge Sebenza / Bowie like knife is going to be a must have.
Farid is known for his Heavy Metal knives. He was making RIL locks in stainless steel on thick blades !! The K2 has been refined by Eric and Sal a lot before to born. Now it’s a big folder but with a slick appearance. It’s big but it’s a very useful shape. You can easily see how to cut a whole chicken or a pinapple with it. This knife is also very easy to clean.
Fortunatly we got a link to the pictures here:
The Native 5 Lightweight production sample
JD: Favorite Native so far !
Yes it’s light and it’s solid a s a rock. Sal loves it. This is a knife destined to be a classic.
It’s a Native 5 with FRN handle but the feel in your hand is balanced. A great tool to clip. The plastic handle is square and smooth. I really liked it.
ARK Sam Owens design production prototype
Nemo: This little FB is destined to be a self defense tool to prevent rapes under the shower in the Army… Go figure how people are crazy nowadays. What can I say ? Of course it will be rust resistant as it will made in H1. I would have preferred a Fred Perrin La Griffe as even with soap in my hands I would not have lost my grip. Anyway, fighting naked with a blade in the shower seems like a nightmare…
They should invest in video camera instead. The blade shape is like a Sharpfinger which is a very nice utility and skinning edge. For SD I would have prefer a serrated edge for a maximum of pain without to inflict lethal wounds. Anyway a razor sharp neck knife for shower does not seem like a good idea to me anyway. I’m much more for the use of psionic blasts…
picture and description here
Battlestation Alex Diaconescu production sample.
JD: Much of the jimping has been removed after feedback. Nice handle but this is not a thin slicer.
Nemo: Th grip once open is very secure. It’s a very solid feel. again it looks like a weapon oriented project. Would look great in a movie. It’s a “dramatic” design for Snake Plissken to escape from a battle station.
Picture and description here:
Bradley Folder 2 Gayle Bradley design Concept model.
We had the chance to tot two BG folders. One with a bolster and the other one without it.
JD: Both very nice, but the bolstered one is nicest. Most comfortable in the hand and prettiest!
Nemo: Yes, but the bolster does not leave any access to the pivot screw… Beautiful knives. No finger choil, very sexy lines. Like a stretched and lighter Gayle Bradley previous hardcore folder.
Chubby Michael Burch design Production Prototype
A lot of belly and a false edge for nice looking little big knife. But I did not get any vibes from this one… I did not like the clip at all as it is ready to scratch the car’s paint.
Pictures are here:
Condor Jot Singh Khalsa design CM
JD: Interesting look, awkward and uncomfortable in the hand.
Nemo: Yes, there is pig tail to the handle for the pinky to rest. But like you I was not convinced. They are a lot of curves in this knife but I was not able to find it confortable to hold too.
Dice Eric Glesser Design PP
JD: The Dice is Nice. Fits me even better than the Domino.
Nemo: The opposite to me. I miss the blade of the Domino which is the minimal length for me.
Dog Tag Folder Serge Pancheko PP
Nemo: this one going to be a success as it is so cute. It could be a anti rape self defense tool too as this small folder can be a latch ditch weapon for naked fights.
*******Edition of the 10th of marc 2014. Further reading will be even more chaotic than the previous one. 🙂
Foundry Spyderco design PS
JD: Comfortable and useful design. Bit heavy.
Nemo: and it will be rare as the Carpenter workers will have it in priority. Eric told us it took him one year to design it as he wanted to design a simple knife for blue collars. This is a knife which can be used for eating, the kitchen and for hunting. This is the kind of knife my grandfather would have love.
Frontier Ed Schemp design PP
JD: Nice thin grind!
Nemo: I usually a big fan of Ed Schempp design but here the S guard is getting in my thumb’s way. I like to give pressure on the back of the blade with my thumb (that’s why I do not like vertical play also).
Mini Nilakka Pekka Tuominen design CM
JD: Interesting. Clip needs to move to the back of the handle.
Nemo: The clip was not as clever as the Nilakka folder. A very impressive little knife.
Grievous Dave Gagne design CM
JD: Do not understand what it is for.
Introvert Chris Knutson CM
JD: Interesting look, fun to flip, rings get in the way of use.
Nemo: another folding Lagriffe. Good thing is that Spyderco is always giving credits to the original designer.
Ion Brad Southard design
JD: Pretty and smooth. Liked the inlayed lock the best. Gentac knives.
Joule Michael Reinhold design
JD: Functional design if the handle is rounded. It has to many shar points now.
Kingyo Liong Mah design
Kiwi 4 G10 Prototype
Lady Finger Ed Schempp design
Lil’ LionSpy Gianni Pauletta design Proto
JD: Nice but thick.
Liong Mah Liong Mah design CM
JD: Nicest and most practical of the two Liong Mah designs.
Manix 2 LTWT 110V
Mike Draper design PS
JD: Big but comfortable and useful design.
Myrtle Filip De Leeuw design CM
Native 5 Fluted CF Proto
One-Eyed Jack A.T. Barr design
Opus 14 Ulrich Hennicke design CM
JD: Anonimus, would like to de a DE/UK legal design from him.
Ouroboros Paul Alexander design
JD: strange ergonomics.
Para Military 2 Composite – Sprint Sample
Para Military 2 Fluted CF – CM
JD: Most comfortable PM2 ever!
Parata Paul Alexander design
JD: strange ergonomics.
PIP Jamie Bailey design CM
JD: End of handle too pointy, fun little knife
PITS Mike Read design Proto
JD: Comfortable, practical & elegant. Most upscale UK legal production folder.
Retract Ed Schempp design CM
Roadie Spyderco design
JD: Cute! Sharpen flat on the stone to make a pocket scalpel
ROC Serge Panchenko design proto
Rockhopper Michael Reinhold design CM
Spydi hole hard to reach.
Roto Wedge Spyderco design CM
Rubicon Peter Carey design Proto
JD: Pretty! But clip is digging uncomfortable in the hand.
Shaman Spyderco design CM
Six Blade Tool CM
JD: Pointy holes.
Southard Folder (all black)
Spin Blue Nishijin
Splitter. Spyderco design CM
JD: Solid, ATR 2.0
SpydieChef Marcin Slysz design CM
JD: Impressive! Beautiful and practical.
Spy-DK Prod sample
JD: Nice thin edge! I could open it with one hand, but not easily.
Stop Lock CM
Swede Michael Henningson CM
JD: Nice look, lanyard hole very sharp and pointy.
Szabo Higo Laci Szabo dsign CM
JD: Needs to be found thinner, more like the knife it is based on. Other than that nice modernization of and classic.
Three Blade rescue CM
JD: Small holes have pointy tops.
Texture tech CM
Ulize M Ulrich Hennicke design
JD: Very Spyderco jet different. More carriable size.
Valloton Sub-Hilt 3.5 Butch Vallotton design CM
Victory Jot Singh Khalsa design
JD: Interesting look, awkward and uncomfortable in the hand.
JD: Comfortable handle. Will probably be sold out very quickly.
Genzow Hatchet Martin Genzow design CM
Lum tanto Sprint
Ronin 2 Michael Janich Proto
Packer Gayle Bradley design
Nemo: I was very impressed by the balance and the heft of that “Tomahaxe” 😉
Beautiful lines and great handling. I would love to test it as soon as it is released. I think this gorgeous hatchet has made a great impression !
The Dutchman tom Zoomer design CM
B & T Phil Wilson design CM
Nemo: But the “cobrahood” guard wich will go in the way when power cutting and batonning.
Whale Blade H1 w/handle Spyderco design.
JD: For the GI’s
I could not imagine that a knife with a 4.5mm thick stock blade could be considered as some kind of safe queen ever. A delicate collection folder destined to open letters (and clean nails). The Nilakka is from Pekka Tuominen for God’s sake. He is a exmilitary, a countryman, a masterbladesmith and a gifted knifemaker who is also genuinely “tool oriented” (even if he also loves precision and is “attention to details” driven). So. No safe queen. Let’s use his Nilakka like it deserves it: hard. Everyday. In all conditions. And it has to be successful ! I’m a grandson of a farmer which used to clean his knife on his trousers, drink like a hole, spit on the ground, and fart loudly to make his point. I will use the Nilakka like he would have use it.
But before, I needed to change some details to have that gorgeous folder fitting my personal tastes. First thing to be tuned was the clip. This a great deep pocket clip but this one was going to eat my pants pocket faster than a porcupine in love. Also, it was so tight, the Nilakka was not a fast drawing tool at all. Easy peezy lemon squeezy, some sanding with sandpaper (600 grit) and the handle is now soften as a hedgehog neck. And also, the Nilakka is much easy to pocket (in and out). I need to have my tools out of the way as fast as I need them to be drawn.
Second important personal tuning: the back of the blade is just too sharp for my delicate thumb. It would be a blister magnet to keep it with all those sharp angles that way. Again, some elbow grease and some sandpaper were able to fix that and… now my thumb can push the blade with confidence. this is important for power and control of my cuts.
Like I had noticed it, My C164GBM is from the second generation Nilakka: it is not a zero ground blade. There is a tiny tiny bevel.
Anyway, that knife does pushcuts into hard wood with an ease which is simply unreal! The Nilakka is by far one of the best wood cutters in my collection if not the best. Even my CPM Cruewear Military with its now impoved with a thin convexed edge is not a match for the S30V blade of the C164GBN. Into wood, the Nilakka goes deep, steady and makes big chunks of wood. It’s so easy. It’s so fun ! It’s so reliable on the long run.
Oh, I’m so disappointed: I was not able to have my edge ruined !! I was expecting to have some damages by cutting bambu, hard plastic and bones… Nothing. I was able to dull it and I have also able to use ceramic and leather stropping to maintain the edge on a very keen level. In 2 minutes, S30V (which is not my favorite steel after using CPM M4, CPM3V…) is back to high level of sharpness and more stropping can make it a true razor able to whittle some hairs.
The handle is strange, isn’t it ? Diamond shape. But once you know how to palm it it is very comfortable to use despite all its sharp corners. And yes I have grind the corner with sand paper too. Why it’s so confortable in use ? It’s certainly because the handle is fat and in “3D”. This a particular shape you can find on Finnish fixed blades (Tapio Wirkkala’s design and Sisu’s version of Cold Steel named the Finn Bear, it’s the same diamond shape handle…). It’s very effective even when my hands are wet. If I need to stab anything I will rest the handle’s butt in my palm. (Sanded sharp corners…) Anyway, such a thin edge doesn’t need too much force to cut deep in any hard materials. I even cut into aluminium cans. I wanted to see how S30V would behave if I was using it like a CPM Cruewear blade. Spyderco excellent heat treatment and micro bevel is the key of success. The Nilakka’s edge is now reliable.
So far so good. We still got a thin point blade which makes look the Military as a crowbar. After drilling some holes in chestnut wood, I have lost half a millimeter of that thin needle pointy point. In fact, I had noticed it after drilling a dozen of holes, twisting the blade again and again… No big deal, there is still enough point sharpness to pop any balloon around. I had the same with my Spyderco Ronin, Dodo and Yojimbo and it was not a big deal. It’s relatively easy to regrind by hand and the new point is much more sturdy.
The kitchen is my main battlefield. You need to be able to process, flesh, bones, tomatoes,plastic bottles, cardboards, cling but also aluminium. Again as thin as it is, I was not able to damage the Nilakka edge. OK, I did not try to hammer the Nilakka through a concrete block just for the sake of breaking it. This would be (pardon the pun) pointless. But this is not a safe queen !
And I had used my folding puukko like my grandfather or my father in law would have use it.
Now, the Coke bottles are one of my favorite test and many famous knives were not able to cut through the hard plastic bottom center. This is the thicker part of the plastic. Try that on your favorite knives and you will be surprised. Try to cut right in the middle of the butt. Here, the Nilakka was able of miracles. The same kind of powerful push cuts a sharp Opinel can provide. You know, thin ground blade Opinel are really kings in pushcutting hard materials. Try any of them on plastic and you will be really surprised. The Nilakka is in the same league. It is even better than Urban II, the Hunting knife from Pekka Tuominen I carry in my bag. This is something that many “tactical” knives makers are forgetting. (Mad Dog knives or Striders are not the sharpest tools for that…)
I was really surprise in how the S30V thin edge behaved on the long run. No more chipping, no bending, no more damage (but the point). I was really impressed.
Through all the holidays, the C164 has been rinse after use but not oiled (I use Nano Oil than I get from Isidore in Armes Bastille) and the Nilakka is as smooth as the first day. The lock has not moved. I was not able to have lock failure. The knife is easy to clean and shows no rust despite its use for cutting lemon without real cleaning.
The absence of guard on that design is not an issue if you know how to adapt and how to use a knife. There is plenty of ways to choke up the blade for delicate work and the absence of the usual Spyderco choil did not bother me at all.
Something, I have noticed and that I love about that blade’s shape: it starts like a sharp wedge and ends like a needle. This is unique and radical in design. And you can find many use to it. The penetration power is tremendous and the slashing power at the top of my records.
I was not even able to notice any wears or scratches on the metal spacer.
So it has kicked my Millie from my pocket. And I will continue to EDC the Nilakka for the coming months until it fails me. Which is not certain.
I’m really surprised in how the mechanism is reliable and easy to rinse but most of all the keen blade is a pleasure to use and put all my other knives under a new perspective.
For example my Gayle Bradley seems like much duller knife compared to the easy deep cuts provided by the Nilakka geometry.
Also Pekka’s design is so unique and beautiful, open and closed… it’s really “sheeple friendly”.
So the test will be continued in round 3.
Stropping the blade is the best way to keep it to razor sharp level. It’s easy and quick.
One of the most beautiful back in the folding knives industry. A steel spacer, a thick blade and a thin point. Unique !
Edit August 2017: Since then a Lil Nilakka has born !
This a first glimpse at a new acquisition: the Canadian Special has been designed by Mike Stewart owner of Bark River Knives and it is his favorite knife of this size.
It’s his own version of the famous Canadian skinner D.H. Russell Canadian Belt Knife made by Grohmaan since 1957.
This is not my first BRKT knife. I already got a Bravo 1 in CPM3V and an Essential in CPM-M4.
Again my Canadian Special came razor sharp. (Ordered at The Knife Connection, it was in France in 4 days BTW.) I was already amazed by CPM3V on the convexed ground blade of my Bravo 1 but I wanted a thinner edge. The same edge I got on the RWL34 blade of “Urbain II” my state of art hunting knife made by Pekka Tuominen.
One of my favorite all terrain outdoors knife is the famous Spyderco Bushcrafter. But as far as I love his ergos, I wanted the same kind of tool with a thin convexed CPM3V blade. That was my first goal when I had purchased the Bravo 1. It was evident other BRKT knives got better slicing performance without sacrifice to much strength e.g. the Canadian Special with its full flat convexed grind blade.
Also I really loved the curves on the Canadian Special. This atypical shape was also really attractive to me. A thin handle for a wider and pointy blade. This design looks ancestral for me.
Now beauty is in the eye of the beholder but I really love the light recurved edge, the leaf shaped blade, the almost full flat grind …
My Canadian Special is foremost destined to be used hard in the wood: batoning, light chopping, wood digging. CPM3V on such a thin edge platform should perform great. So far, I was not able to ruin a CPM3V edge either from Spyderco (The Tuff) or BRKT (I still waiting for a CPM3V Cold Steel Design which does not look like a Ninja’s dream…)
The handle was a little to square to my like but everything was easily adjust with some sandpaper (they are two pictures here after, the first was the first stage and the second another 15 minutes more) .
And without to void the guarantee which is really nice from BRKT: having the possibility to adjust a knife to your own like is a real plus. Now the handle suits me much better. I have also filled the back of the blade for the confort of my thumb.
My Canadian Special is easy to strop on leather and right now I can shave with it. Some push cuts in bambu were deep and with zero damage on the edge. I was was surprise by the size of the chips the knife was able to produce: thin edge and great geometry.
So here are some pictures of this new hard chore user, before more tests in the kitchen and in the woods:
Some words from Mike Stewart (Knife forums the 12th May 2012)
“I took My time with this design because I am not an overthinker. I wanted a hunter and a bushy built into one package. I kind of thought that If i did all the ovrthinking on the front end of this one I could use it and not look back – I was right for me on the CS.
I love the Arched Back of the Canadian Blades for Scraping an mashing stuff while keeping the point out of the way.
I wanted part of the edge straight for Bush work and wood work and enough Curve to do hunting and meat work.
I wanted great Geometry with a good thickness edge spine and I still wanted the grind not to come up to the very top so that I had a parting shoulder at the top of the Blade to help in batoning and splitting.
The handle is deceiving – it looks like that finger grooves are limiting – in actuality they are not and when you open your hand the knife rights itself because the area under the grooves is actually almost totally flat.
The knife is Comfortable for me in every way I grip a knife in use.
I have no illusions about how people feel about the Woodlore style handles and how they have been taught it is superior – I love the Aurora and the Bushcrafter but the CS fits me better and more securely.”
A smooth G10 handle after some sanding.
Back in 1996 I was handling my first Military. It was a CPM440V (S60V) blade with a black G10. Here the link to our old review Fred Perrin and I back in the Geocities’times.
Since, well, the constant refinement have made it ever more reliable.
Anyway, when I heard a Sprint run will be made with a CPM Cru-Wear blade, I knew this was going to be a excellent update.
What is CPM Cru-Wear ? My old fellow forumite Cliff Stamp was able to give the link:
It’s the powder version of the ingot Cru-Wear an American cold work tool steel. A Mule MT12 has been made with the ingot version of Cruwear and their users were wishing out loud for a folder with that steel. Ingot Cru-Wear is tough and with a toothy edge which is really wear resistant.
Quoting Spyderco Mule Sheath: “Upstate New York’s Crucible Steel manufacturers Cru-Wear which is very similar to Vascowear, a steel used by Gerber Legendary Blades in many of their past production knives.
Cru-Wear is a high-performance “V” tool steel that is difficult to process making it challenging for knife manufacturers to work with. It follows the same high-alloy, metallurgical tool-steel recipe used to produce D2, but with greater levels of vanadium, tungsten and molybdenum. It is air-hardened and worked in a cold state. Cru-Wear exhibits exceptional toughness, impact resistance and hardness for exceptional edge retention and is the first tool steel offering in Spyderco’s Mule Team Series.”
Cutting aluminium is easy and do not damage the edge.
Here is also a link to a great discussion on Bladeforums: MT12-Cru-Wear-real-world-feedback/a>
Now “CPM” Cru-Wear should be even better.
OK now, why I’m so excited? CPM Cru-Wear is destined to be tough. Not as tough as CPM 3V but more wear resistant. It supposes to be tougher than CPM M4 but less wear resistant.
The fantastic blade of the C36 can only get better with a tougher steel especially the needle point. Though, I have never had any issue with it, knowing the steel is tougher is always a plus.
Also I got a excellent user experience with CPM3V from Bark River Knives & Tools and Spyderco (Ed Schempp’s Tuff!). So having a new steel in that range is a must for a great folder as the Millie.
Gandalf the Grey is socially accepted
I have sanded the beautiful grey G10 handle to suit me taste and spare my pants. Now they are smooth and… sexy. I like G10. But I love smooth G10. Being long, tall and grey, I have christened it: Gandalf. I have tuned the pivot for smoother operation. The knife is light is the pocket and is open in spyderdrop with authority. No play whatsoever. The blade is centered. Holding and using a Millie is pure Spyderco experience and performance.
Anyway. I do use my knives in the plate. I eat with them. Cook with them. Plates are very bad with the edge, unless you manage to never cut with the blade at 90°, which is not really easy. They were no bending or chipping of the edge after some clumsy “accidents” in the kitchen.
There is no stain. Cutting acidic ingredients or even been in contact with hot vinegar did not change the finish of the blade. No pitting, nothing. It’s like a stainless steel so far.
I was not able to dull that CPM Cru-Wear edge, like, for example, my Persistence or my Delica. I was always able to shave my arms’hairs. Brown cardboard cut and disposed on every day basis were not able to dull Gandalf yet.
Stropping CPM Cru’ on leather is pure joy. Like CPM3V actually. I got some kind of mirror finish and a very agressive cutter. One of my favorite tests are tomatoes and bamboo. Both are no matches. The tricky tomatoes skins are cleanly cut and the hard bamboo do not roll or chip my edge (like I had experienced with ZDP189 at HRC66)
Also a Grey knife is not menacing like a tactically black camo counterpart: Gandalf is displayed in restaurant with stealth and elegance. Eating a good steack with a Millie is pure joy. They should have name it the “Meal-itary”.
The four inches blade give great polyvalence with its pointy needly point and its strong heel. You can push cuts in oak wood and later do some eye surgery. Anyway, Millies are Millies great knives which get even better in those sprint runs involving CPM M4, CTS XHP, M390, CPM D2, BG42…
But it shines even brighter with a tougher steel like CPM Cru-Wear.
I have had the chance to meet Pekka Tuominen two years ago at the SICAC (Paris Knifeshow) but six month before I was handling a prototype of his Folding Puukko at the Amsterdam Minimeet.
The design was very ZEN. For me it was like a Japanese hidden blade in a bambu handle. I was also impressed by the smoothness, the thickness and the profile of the blade.
For me, it was an object for collector. A tour de force, including the famous hidden stop pin.
Also the final choice of choosing S30V for a zero ground blade was really disturbing. I was hoping CPM3V or CPMM4 or even O1. But my experience with S30V has never been extraordinary.
Frankly S30V is not a steel which gave me good results even with the knives of the people who introduced that steel in the first place… I prefer VG10 for exemple which is not a powder steel but at least a reliable edge on thin grinds.
Anyway a folding Puukko in S30V was like a bushcraft knife in S30V. Why not. But I was not very excited by that choice…
Then I heard and read on Cliff Stamps forum how the burned edge was rolling. I was not surprised as S30V would have not been my steel of choice. Now perhaps the thickness of the stock available was the reason it was chosen ?
It was a shame as everything in Pekka design was oozing quality and his quest for excellence. It is also a very very clever mechanism. He is a perfectionnist. I remeber how he was inspecting the prototype of his Spyderco (not folding) Puukko’s sheath. He wanted everything to be perfect. And he knows his business about Puukkos.
I had experience with thin stainless grind blade rolling on very pricey folders too. My Rockstead was an example and since I have been able to hone a secondary bevel and the de-stress the edge for excellent results.
Then I got the honor to receive a gift from Pekka: his Nilakka, second generation.
I immediately tested on hard bambu and the edge did not suffered.
There is a micro bevel which now strengthen the edge. So there is no reason not to use it hard.
Again, the folder is smooth like Normandy butter. The heel of the blade is very thick when the blade point is thin like a needle. You find yourself contemplating, trying to understand how the tappered design works. The large gap between the liners on the back of the handle is not an issue when you know how to switch your grip (like I did on my Lionspy) to avoid hurting your palm during cuts on hard materials.
What I love in the Nilakka is how original, practical and radical the design is. Closed it is wonderful to handle and manipulate. It’s an absolutely non threatening design. The gentle curve of the handle give a very natural look to the package. Open, it’s real Puukko. There is no hint, no axis, showing this is a folder. (The axis screw is hidden under the G10 slabs!)
It is a pleasure to take on hike and use in the forest. The open design makes it easy to clean by blowing air and rinsing it. The choice of a stainless steel blade gives confidence to mechanism maintenance. There is no reason not to EDC and use that knife in the wild like it was designed. It is not a safe queen curiosity anymore. (A first generation after some work on the edge would have been the same anyway.)
Looking at Pekka official site and it’s easy to find other eye candy !
His blog: http://www.puukkopekka.com/ is a feast for the eyes !!!
Living in Finnish countryside, Pekka is a colossus with a great sens of humour. You can feel in every details of his Art that he has blown passion, intelligence and a special pinch of that natural cleverness from farmers and pragmatism of soldiers. His knives need to be reliable and beautiful. Also he needs to have fun while making them. From the design, to the forge, to the heat treatment, to the choice of materials, to the different type of sheath, Pekka does everything !
So eventually the Nilakka in its second incarnation is a very unique and practical EDC. It is also a great conversation starter because this folding Puukko is a great ambassador to modern and traditional cutlery. Mine is going to be used on a EDC basis and I will complete that review later.