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/

 

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The Spyderco PPT Round 3- Long Term Review of a Faithful EDC with Supersteel.

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Since last year round with the PPT, the very unique ergos of this unique folder have made me come back again to its radical design and I have decided to EDC it in all circumstances (instead to keep it safe).

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Still, I really enjoy how the weight of the handle glue it to my hand and I have found zero hot spots after filing a bit the choil. Smoothness of its action has been really enhanced by using it everyday. Now it deploys fast and close by gravity.
After some work on the blade, the edge has been thinned as my Manly’s.

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The PPT is a very easy companion. My main battlefield is the kitchen. It is not an open handle design but with some hot water I have been able to keep the spacer and the skeletonized liners clean. A dip in very hot soap water is all my maintenance after a full day in the kitchen but a tiny drop of oil is then always welcome. It has been used in the woods where I was able to use it on wood. The knife has behave perfectly even when twisting the edge. Zero issue here. The chips are flying everywhere as the full flat ground is fast in making deep cuts in wood. While in the forest, when working with it, most of the time I have thrusted its blade’s point in a tree instead closing it and opening again.

No damage at all. For the record, Sal has developed and sold his own version of a Bushcraft knife, at first named the NASA Bushcrafter with S90V blade and Carbon Fibers handle and later the Proficient. It means that the melange S90V plus CF is approved by Sal for being used in the wood with reliability.

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The lock which is almost a RIL lock has not failed me because your grasp reinforced it when you hold the knife in your hand. Zero movement vertical or horizontal. I have not been able to fumble my grasp when closing. The opening of the knife is now made with my major finger flicking it like.


I have sanded the handle (just a bit) to smooth the edges of the corrugated CF, just to protect my trousers from being chewed. Nothing changed in the look but the PPT is now much easy to retrieve and introduce in my denims. I carry it in my right front pocket along with a leather wallet.

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Once brought to “razor sharp level”, S90V is easy to maintain to that level mostly only with white ceramic and some leather stropping. ( JD has given me some diamond compound that help the process too). After some cardboard cutting, the ultra razor level is lost but the working edge is keen enough to slit through paper and this sharpness will last for a very long time. Zero chipping even after various cuts into very hard plastics. It is almost a maintenance free knife, like my Manix in CPM110V which I use for travelling (It is light and stays sharp for a very long time avoiding me to bring some sharpening tool).

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When cutting with the PPT you got a very agile blade with its center of gravity inside your hand and, by just holding it by its hole, it immediately orients itself tip up. It helps when you need to change your grip: it like a compass telling you where is the point and the very sharp edge even with greasy or wet hands.

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Despite its martial pedigree, sheeples seems not afraid of my PPT. No raising eyebrows even when used in restaurant or family dinners. Nobody seems to notice it which is a very good thing.

 

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Eventually if the PPT was a dog, it would be an Amstaff : compact, bold and powerful.

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Spyderco Ikuchi C242CFP — First glimpse at Slim Shady.

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The Ikushi is a very strange Taichung made spyderco and his father, Paul Alexander is a perfectionniste-engineer who got radical new ideas on portable cutlery. Remember the Sliverax ?
My first impression after opening the Knifecenter’s parcel (thank you Howard and Tom for the fast shipment!): wow so slim ! So easy to pocket ! What a great handle to blade ratio !
My friend JD and Pascal introduced me to front flipper with both owning Des Horn and I even was a proud owner of one of them.

The Ikushi is an eye candy. The knife is unique in many ways. It is a tour de force. So let’s quote Spyderco:

“The ultra-slim Spyderco Ikuchi is a radically different approach to pocketknife form and function. Designed by Paul Alexander, a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering and a lifelong knife enthusiast, the Ikuchi (pronounced ee-koo-chee and named after a mythical Japanese sea monster) has an elegantly curved handle crafted with full, skeletonized stainless steel liners and stunning carbon fiber/G-10 laminate scales.

In the closed position, the handle’s narrow, open-backed profile completely contains the knife’s blade—except for a small textured section of the tang that serves as a flipper opener. Stroking this section of the blade with an index finger or thumb provides leverage to swiftly pivot it into the open position, where locks securely via Spyderco’s patented Compression Lock™ mechanism. The satin-finished CPM® S30V® stainless steel blade is full-flat ground for exceptional edge geometry and cutting performance and has an acute, scalpel-like point for detailed work.

To ensure discreet carry while keeping the Ikuchi instantly accessible, its handle includes a low-profile, deep-pocket wire clip that is reversible for left or right-side tip-up carry.”

Some user has argued about the point of the blade being able to catch their finger. If clipped to the right pocket, the seam will be against the handle and it is impossible to catch that tip. I can feel that sharp tip with the meat of my finger and I can understand how I could cut myself too. We will see that in future reports.

But first I have asked to Paul Alexander what was is thoughts behind that design.
“I’ve had a version of the Ikuchi in the works for 4-5 years, but only got around to submitting it to Spyderco at the end of 2016. Part of the reason was the non-functional Spydie-hole, which I thought would stop Spyderco from producing it. The release of the Positron and Mantra 2 made me rethink that, and I started to seriously prep it for submission.

The whole design started around the blade shape. My dad has always preferred a narrow blade because it’s easier to turn the blade in the middle of a cut if you are paring, whittling, etc. Most of my designs have had a fairly wide blade, and I wanted to do something that would fit his preferences a bit more. He’s also been partial to the narrow clip blade found on the American traditional muskrat knives, and the Ikuchi blade shape is my version of that. Sticking with the traditional inspiration, I used the toothpick handle pattern as the inspiration, which also kept the entire knife nice and slim. In the end, I suppose the whole thing came out looking like a modernized Laguiole… which is likely the design which originally inspired the American toothpick pattern.

The wheel flipper was a slower evolutionary process that was a collaborative effort with the Spyderco team. Eric had sort of mentioned that he was curious about adapting the compression lock to a flipper opening mechanism when I first started working with Spyderco, and I tried coming up with a handful of options, with this being one of them. I originally had more of a tab-like interface on the flipper surface on the Ikuchi design, and that morphed into the final wheel configuration through iterations and refinement with input and prototypes from Spyderco.

The early phases of that development process got me so excited for the Ikuchi, I adapted the locking and flipper geometry to three other traditional knife patterns and blade shapes I liked, and created a series of knives. I called the series by the working title of the ‘Four Horsemen’, and tried to tap into that theme for the look and style of all four pieces in the series. The Ikuchi was initially code named ‘Famine’, which fit the inspirational traditional pattern’s name and the overall aesthetic of the design. The other horsemen designs are ‘Pestilence’, ‘War’, and ‘Death’, but that seemed too dark of a theme to use for the marketing of the designs, so I officially named them all after different mythological beasts… and that’s how the Ikuchi became the Ikuchi.”

Mine is not as easy to open/fire as I thought.
The detent is quite strong and it can be a hit and miss. I have hurt my index finger and failed attempt to fire open the knife. Not fun.
I wonder if it will get better but not being able to trust the fact to simply open it…
I have asked Paul.

Some beautiful Tour de Force but not flawless. I would be need to be certain the tip of the blade once closed won’t catch anything in my pocket and to be certain I can open the knife easily and not only half of the time. Unless I need to strenghten the tip of my index ?As you can notice this is the first design which can be easily locked to prevent children to play with it.
Also the flipper once open acts as a guard for your finger but not on a design like the Ikushi. I have never trusted a locking system even on balisongs so it is a knife which is intended to be used as a gentle tool: beautiful to admire as an engineer’s dream.
How will it perform in day to day basis ? We will see.

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The Spyderco Dog Tag sees a little action by JD

Recently Nemo offered me a chance to try out a Spyderco Dog Tag. I gladly excepted the opportunity to see how this little knife would work for me!

Spyderco’s Dog Tag folders are designed by knife maker Serge Panchenko and inspired by his customs. There are several version of this knife. The one Nemo send me is the version with the green titanium handle and blue aluminium back stop featuring a CPM S30V blade. The overall length is 82mm and the blade length is 31mm. The blade is held in the open and the closed position by means of a detent ball on a titanium spring. Effectively it functions like a slip joint.

When I received the Dog Tag from Nemo it still had the factory edge but it was not in new condition. It had been cut with. It was still sharp enough to slice receipt paper but not sharp enough to push cut it. The edge was still good as a working edge, but could be sharper. And, I do like to put my own edge on a knife! The blade has a two bevel chisel grind. The front side has a flat main blade bevel and small, also flat, edge bevel. The back is completely flat.

I started sharpening the edge with the diamond side on my Fallkniven DC4 but soon found out that it was going to slow. The edge bevel had a sight wave in it as well. This is not unusual with an edge that has been sharpened on a belt at the factory. But it becomes visible soon after you start sharpening it on a flat hone. A little more work was needed to get the edge right and for that I switched to a DMT coarse hone. With  that I would be able to remove metal faster than with the DC4.

Besides getting the edge bevel even I also wanted to make it slightly convex so it would have a smoother transition from the edge to the main bevel.

Convex chisel grinds on knives are not that well known but have been, and are used on performance oriented blades. For example Jimmy Fikes, one of the pioneers of modern blade smithing and performance testing, used to make tanto’s that were convex chisel grind. Another example are the traditional working knives of the Yakut of central Russia. That knife also has a convex chisel grind. This knife is used traditionally for, among other things, woodworking and cutting frozen fish. On youtube there are quite a few video’s showing how this knife it made and used.

After I had used the DMT to removed the unevenness of the edge and had created a burr on the flat side of the blade, I knew the shaping work was done. Time to switch back to the DC4 to refine the finish and get her sharp!

After having finished the work with the DC4 it was time to remove the burr that had been created. On a chisel ground knife you only shape the beveled side but you have to work both sides  of the edge to remove the burr and make it sharp. Often with a chisel ground knife you remove the burr from the flat side by laying that side flat on the hone. As I did not want to scratch the finish of the that side of the Dag Tag, I lifted it just a few degrees of the hone. By going lightly I avoided creating an edge bevel on the flat side while still removing the burr there.

On this knife the burr proved easy enough to remove.  This  suggests that the blade has had a good heat treat and had sustained non or little damage during factory sharpening. The resulting edge was sharp enough to push cut receipt paper as well as cut a free standing head hair. Nice! Into the pocket it went ready for use.

I took a few time opening and closing the knife to find out how to do it confidently as the knife feels different in the hand than most conventional folders. after playing with a little the process became fluent and comfortable. The Dog Tag can be opened by just using the opening hole while the handle lying on your fingers. Or you can pinch open the blade between your thump and index finger and then snap the handle to the open position. Like in a Spydie drop. Good fun!

Closing the knife is also very easy. A little push is enough to overcome the detent and swing the blade so it is once again covered by the handle. After a little practice its easy opening and closing action turned it into a fun fidgeting knife!

Another advantage this easy opening and closing action is that the knife can be used very subtly. Handy when you want to open a package or remove a label in a public space where you do not want to draw attention your knife.

When using small knives like this Dog Tag, I am always impressed by how capable they are. I can do almost all the things I use a pocket knife for with a blade of this size. The most notable exception is cutting larger foodstuffs. The fact that it is a chisel grind sometime made cutting  straight a little bit of a challenge. But no more than that, a little. The small choil between the back of the edge and and the handle sometime hung up on what I was trying to cut. Like the sharpening choil on many knives can do. On a short blade I just notice it more. Other than these small issues it has been a fun and functional little knife!

Lil’ Native seasoned by JD – Lil’ Pocket Big Knife !

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This is a follow up review from last year LUCKY MEETING THE SPYDERCO LIL’NATIVE BY JD

I got the opportunity to carry JD Native avter he has used it for months (since october).

Now the Lil’Native is smooth and easy to open it and close it but more interesting, JD as refined the edge to some sort of pseudo scandi grind !

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And this knife is cutting so well…

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Push cutting through bottle’s bottom is made easy with that new geometry.

 

JD has made a beautiful regular thin edge from the choil to the tip.

 

The very solid construction, glass smooth action and thin edge turned the Lil’ Native into a very impressive knife. Again this is SPyderco specialty to bring short powerful matter separators. The lock is strong, the blade is strong, it is a very capable tool in a compact size. The belly also helps for push cuts.

Really impressive EDC knife.

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Roadie at the ready, Spyderco Work-Poney.

Another “late at the party” kind of review as JD gave me the chance to test some of his knives: the Lil Roadie is one of them and what a clever sharp folding object.

Being a pure Sal Glesser’s design it is always interesting to study it closer. Sal is an inventor and he always try to have a very pragmatic approach to all his knives. They are not looker but highly functional separating matters tools.
The story around its design is well detailed on Spyderco site here.

Some decades later this little knife is still a workhorse made to be legal in many countries where a band can tour.
Roadies needs little tools ready for anything like leatherman or small knives.
I use to offer my roadie friends Swiss Tech keys for example.

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The blade got a signature hole (useless) and a distinctive “Double Dent” feature and a large choil. This is a work-poney not a display knife. It really look like a dodo (the bird).

 

 

The blade is thick enough to be relatively well abuse and the cobalt alloy steel is not hard to keep really sharp.

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The Roadie is a tricky little critter which can be easily one with one hand thanks to his Dodo’s like beak. You hold the knife by the dent and with a flick of the wrist you can have it open.

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Manufactured in Maniago the contoured handle is made Zytel. It catches well the light.

So Let me pocket it and write about it later in this pages… To be continued !

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A Spirit In a Material World: Sting, The Police.

Like I have said in my previous review of that venerable folding knife :
It has taken me a very long time before to get any interest in the Police model.

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My first real step in the wide Spyderco world was the Terzuola Starmate and the Millie. The Starmate was equipped with some super new steel the CPMS60V named CPM440V then. It was the beginning of the powder steels and Spyderco was experimenting on a bold plateforme even using (like the Millie) hidden nested liners !

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The actual Police with its “non nested” liners is thinner than the Terzuola C55.

Steel wise:
Meanwhile in the 90’s, new Japanese steel VG-10 was used on their first fixed blade “the Moran” and the Seki made Police was then “stuck in GIN-1 or GIN-2″… Ah, I was and I’m still a “steel whore” (a term of self qualification of Sal Glesser) after all. I was unfaithful and really attracted by M2HSS version of the AFCK…  Not for the patina (as they were PVD covered) but for the benefits of getting a thin pointy blade with more lateral strength than usual stainless steels of that time. As much as I loved the AFCK, the long version BM800 was “plagued” by a titanium linerlock which was less solid than the short version with its stainless liners.
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I have later used (a lot) an “oval hole” BM806 with a much stronger lock and D2 tool steel blade.

K390 is a wonderful steel. Strong even not as strong as CPM3V found in the Tuff. I have used the 4th Police as an Ice pick with no fear of breakage.

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Like the famous Opinel: thin blades are such a joy to use. A super K390 gives strength to a thin ground blade and turns the “old LEO tool” into a workhorse designed for ranchers. I was disappointed the Spyderco Powerlock was not used in the new Police but, well, the Police feels so solid: I can’t complain.

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Now I would do a maximum of lobbyism to get a Nilakka Sprint Run using K390. This steel used is purely a pleasure to keep razor sharp only by stropping it on leather.

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Now for the con, I have found the grind is not really even. There is some sort of wave on both side of the blade. I have found it when I was convexing the edge and on light reflexion. This is purely cosmetic.
Let’s keep in mind, K390 is certainly a very hard steel to work on. I have noticed the same waving on my Pingo

Anyway I can explain now that passionated new love for that venerable knife. It is too long to be acceptable for the Law abide citizen but, what a great tool ! It is much better than my beloved K2: less hot spots and much better blade design from Sal.

This is the same kind of love I got with the extraordinary Bowie from Ed Schempp which shares the same thinness blade wise. I would militate for a K390 Bowie sprint run ! But it seems “Made In Taiwan” sprint runs are rare.

Thinness is good ! Look at that Strudel ! 😉

Here we got a “potentially staining” steel with great (extraordinary) qualities enhanced by a thin thin blade and thin thin geometry saved by a great heat treatment, all is delivered in a slim rock solid package hence the Steel Cheetah’s nickname from my initial review.
This 4th incarnation is an outstanding heir of a great 1980’s design. Sal Glesser is pushing the limits of folding cutlery quietly and gently:
“Integrity is being good when no one is watching.” Such an inheritance !

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