Rockstead Higo-J part II (in the woods)

Bringing the Rockstead Higo-J in the wood is easy. The handle is smooth enough to find another pocket than the right front denim’s and the clip keep it attached.
The straight handle permits different grips and the grooves in the duraluminium help to secure them even with wet hands.

Now the edge is narrow, thin and mirror smooth and the back of the blade confortable enough to push cut with the left hand thumb.
The result are incredibly powerful deep cuts in wood.
Compared to my ATS34 Sebenza (narrow edge and mirror polished and my faithful CPM M4 Gayle Bradley the Higo-J cuts with much more ease.
It’s amazing and it’s logical.
The edge is so narrow, almost like a scandinavian grind. So the fibers of wood are no match for this wonderful tool.

But a narrow edge also means a much fragile edge. My version is the ZDP-189 version: a very hard steel wich is not a tool steel able to withstand torsion and very hard use. The Higo-J is a lamborghini not a tractor. The handle is enough confortable for long works. It’s not a UK Bushcrafter but for an open handle it’s better than my Sebbie ergos.
After two days of various works on differents woods, food and strings: everything a knife that size is confronted when you are in the wood. (Also I have whittle a lot as the sensation of ease of cutting is really addictive… I have only noticed a tiny micro nick in the blade.

Again, you don’t want to notice any nick on a Lamborghini.
So back home, I decided to gently caress the edge with the with ceramic of my Sharpmaker and succesfully removed 60% of the nick.
Then I have been stropping the blade for two hours to remove the marks.
Now it looks like new but it has lost its factory edge.
I will need more time to gently reprofile it and strop back to mirror.
Ah, the learning curve…
If you use your knife, you will be obliged to touch up the very thin edge and to reprofile it with a tiny wider angle…

OK. So after using the Spyderco Sharpmaker at 30° to rease the nick and eventually realign the edge and fifteen more minutes of stropping
on my Snail Belt and then on my razor leather. The crispy and hair popping sharpness is back to normal. (which means outstandingly amazing!)

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: Part III – Masamune in Winter”

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.

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°)… 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”

Douk Douk Corsica – Cheap, sharp and chic !

Doukdouk Corsica

A Vendetta Doukdouk ! The Doukdouk Corsica is a creation by Laurent Bellini Julien Maroselli & Fred Perrin
made in Thiers by COGNET the manufacturer of the Douk Douk !
Gorgeous lines, great full flat ground carbon 3,5″ blade.

Douk Douk Corsica

The occasion to dig out that old review we made with Fred Perrin 12 years ago….

Douk Douk Fred Perrin

“Like many knife user I got a stock of blades for my different uses and the trips I will do.
There is allways a knife I carry. In fact I got three of these knives.
It’s french folder known as Douk Douk (“dook dook”).
Twenty years ago this knife was unknown in France but a real superstar in Africa !
In some countries the name “Douk Douk” is even synonym of “knife”. Go figure !

Born in the City of Thiers, french famous city of Cutlery. The designer of the Douk Douk was Gaston Cognet . The year was 1927 !
Nowadays, his grandson Pierre Cognier is the director of the factory, helped by his father Guy Cognier (previous director during the last 50 years)
If the Douk Douk is a industrial production, all the assembly, the check are made but hands since 1927 !

There are three sizes.
The small, the medium of true Douk Douk and the (rare) Large like the Vaquero Grande of the Doukdouk…

The small is 3 inches blade.
The medium is a little less than 4 inches. (Like the Corsican)
The Vaquero Douk Douk is 5 inches. In fact the giant Douk is not the best seller. The medium Douk is.

The classic Douk blade is a turkish clip, a bastard of a Bowie and a Scimitar.
The steel is 1075 drop forged, and full flat grounded.
The rockwell is HC52-53.

The handle is made with folded black steel.
A spring is inserted inside the handle and the all in assemblied by two pins.
The first pins is at the blade axe and the second is blocking the spring and attached to a steel loop for a lanyard.

On the handle a Stamp ! The Sorcerer called “Douk Douk”. It’s a the God of Doom in French Polynesia.
(The giant Douk Douk don’t have a very flat handle. It’s more the kind of a “pregnant knife” ! Much confortable for hard and long use.)

This knife has been made for the French Colonies and the foreign markets especially for the Pacific Islands and East Europe.
But finally its the many bargains from Caravan in Africa which spread the Douk Douk over all the Black Continent.
The biggest success of the Douk Douk was eventually in the North African countries (Marocco, Algeria, Tunisa…).
The knife will be back in Europe after the “Guerre d’Algérie” and after a part of the Algerian Population went to France.

Why such a big success ? The Douk Douk was (and is) cheap and the Steel is of premium quality.
The temper and the grind are so good , algerian people used Douk Douk to shave instead of Razors !

It’s very easy to resharp and to get razor sharp after some stropping on leather.
This knife got the spring covered by the handle and cannot harm the user if the spring breaks.
The general flat shape of the knife permits a lot of various way to carry it.

The Douk DOuk has even been used as a weapon in Algeria, because of its concealability.
It’s easy for maintenance: with a hammer you can smash the handle close to the axis and you got a secure fixed blade easy to hide in the Lapel vest or under a baboosh.
If many people regret the fact the Douk Douk is not a lock back, on the other side, without the lock being a slipjoint with a strong secure spring the knife is internationnaly legal and reliable.

As far as I am concern, I use the medium and the short Douk Douk has been one of my “gift knives”.
In the Army it was part of my gear and I use it during my SERE training.

For civilian, the Douk can be easily in a pocket or in a wallet or can complete a medical or survival kit.

In the 90’s, I have the opportunity to offer some Douk Douk to Masters Smith of the ABS and all have become hooked to the Dook !

In the middle size there is a Stainless version for mariner and deep forest explorer like our friend Geoffroy De Gentille, who use the Douk Douk in the rain forest of Congo. The Douk has become the main knife of the Pygmy tribe who works with him during the years for hunting “Bongos”. (A large antilope of the forest…)
The Pygmies main tools are the Machette and the Douk. We have even noticed that they only sharped one side of the blade like a chisel.
So you see chisel concept is not only japanese !

For the “Hooks to the Dook” there is a leather pouch to carry the three sizes all together.
There is also a colored version with a leather pouch and a small sharpner.
The colors Douk (non black) are all stainless.
In the Forest, we used to paint in fluo the handle of our Douk to prevent their loss.

Cheap, excellent material quality, when you need a knife for hard chores and you won’t mind to lose or destroy it:
call the Douk Douk !”

The Corsica Douk is an exclusivity of Fred. He also developped a kydex sheath to neck carry it.
You can contact Fred through his site.


(The Vendedouk is available directly at fredperrinconcept (hat)yahoo(dot)fr )

Update from 27 january 2013 – Pour ls francophones vous trouverez aussi un excellent article sur la génèse du Vendedouk. For those fluent in French you will be able to learn about the Vendedouk’s genesis on Alex Castell great site: Xtremsurvival

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.   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”

Spyderco C22 Walker : Sky The Limit !

Thea and the C22CF
Thank to Jurphaas from Spyderco, I got the chance to own one little wonder of that limited production ! Thea loves it too and she’s in charge of the technical review…
The Michael Walker C22CF is not a new pattern in the Spyderco line.
The first C22 were produced in Switzerland 18 years ago. They were the first industrial folders with Carbon Fiber handles !
This Sprint Run got a gorgeous thin blade made of Hitachi Super Steel ZDP189.
The 67 mm long blade is wide and 2,5mm thick offering incredible performance in pushcuts.
The Hollow grind is so well executed by Seki City craftmen, you know by holding it between your thumb, it’s so thin, it could be almost transparent.

Black and Wlaker

Opening the C22 is not as smooth as a Sage (for example) but the positive force used to deploy the blade give a feeling of tough tool to this gentleman blade.
The knife is so light but feels so solid, it screams to be used ! And then, it’s like piloting a small racing car. The cuts are accurate and outstanding in their power.
My Plastic Butt’s test was passed with flying colors in one push cut. The C22 was even better than my reliable Gayle Bradley in that matter which is really remarquable !
The ergonomy on that little knife is so great, the strenght is directly transmit to the edge. And hidden choil give also a big sentiment ot security as you can keep your fore finger next to the edge for delicate/strong cutting.

The liner lock is also very “manly”: you need to push hard to disengaged it. The spring is very strong.
The carbon fibers handle is ultra smooth and you trousers will thank you for that.
Using the knife with greasy hands is not an issue as it anchors well in your palm.
So what do we got here ?

A light little big knife ! Carried like a breeze. Sharper and harder than many bigger knives. Pure efficiency in a small package.
It’s like driving a Lotus Seven on steroids. This little tool is really representing well the brandname “Spyder”co !
It cuts cuts cuts… and super powder steel ZDP189 if strop often enough is a great steel to use in EDC situations.
The C22cf is really a knife which make you smile once you have used it as you are amazed by the power of this pocket lightsaber.


More to come as I will complete this review later. I’m now carrying that little blade every day with a gorgeous borrowed Rockstead Higo (I will review on a longer run), together they are forming a great daishō of ZDP189. Two examples of ultra high perfomance of modern cutlery.
Rockstead Higo J + Michael Walker C22CF

A little example of the raw cutting power of that incredible beast:

The plastic of that 1,5 liter Coke bottle is almost as thick as its blade and it passes through in one push cut (no sawing necessary!)
It was like in butter !!! Incredible !!!

Here is Valter reviw of this knife used as a skinner.

Here is a link of the Walker 6 years after skinning used.

Nemo’s Bottle Butt Test on the Bushcrafter, the Sage II and the Gayle Bradley

You know my “bottle butt test”: cutting though the center “south pole” of a plastic bottle where the injection of plastic has been made and where the plastic is thicker. This is not an easy test for any blades. It’s tricky.

Today, my idea was to test the incredibly sharp edge of my new BushcraftUK knife. The zero grind, the O1 steel, the ultra sharp blade and the confortable handle of that little heavy fixed blade are amazing. For strong whittling or pruning that knife is a king. It’s the sharpest Spyderco I ever own with the Moran FB01 convexed.

Unfortunatly I was not able to cut the bottle through the “south pole”. The blade was stuck at one good inch from it. Sawing did not change anything.
The blade was to thick, it was stuck in the plastic preventing the keen edge to effectively cut.

OK. It’s not the first excellent blade who cannot pass that test.
So I decided to finish that bottle with my Sage II. I have convexed the edge and that little rascal is a aggressive wonder toward wood and cardboard. I love it.

Unfortunatly, the Sage II Blade was stuck at half an inch of the South Pole. This time it was the handle which seemed not comfortable enough to transfer all the force. Despite my strenght (I’m 1m98 and 97kg BTW…) the blade was stuck and would not go further.

OK that bottle seemed really thick. It happens. ALl plastic bottle are not equal. That Cola one was harder than many others.
I decided to finish it off with the Gayle Bradley.
This time I was able to get a confortable grip and to cut perfectly through the South Pole in one attempt.
You feel the M4 edge going through the hard plastic in one push: this was purely amazing and relieving !

Why ? All three knives are razorsharp. But we got here three different geometry and three different destinations.
The Sage II is a “polyvalent EDC”. The Bushcrafter (reviewed soon) is a “versatile wood tool”. The Gayle Bradley is an “hard used folder”.
But only the Gayle Bradley gives enough leverage near the handle (the choil is incorporated in the wide blocky handle). You can apply a lot of vertical force on a very thin hollow ground blade. This is the best recipe against hard plastic.
But here we got three excellent tools designed toward high performance but only one was able to cut hard and deep in the plastic.
I told you my little Bottle Butt test was tricky.
My favorite knives for that test was Xavier Conil’s Pointu. A thin zero full flat ground folder which cut everything like butter ! I have since send it to Sal Glesser for him to test it in Golden…

Bottle Butt test on Gayle Bradley Bushcrafter and Sahe II

Later on another bottle I was able to make the Sage 2 pass through the exact center.

It was harder to go through (handle less confortable and different grind) than with the GB but it still was possible.

Sage II Through

Eventually (part 2) I was able to change my technic for cutting with the Bushcrafter.
As on a fifth attempt I was stuck again by the thickness of the blade, I have decided to push with two hands.
And this time the razor sharp edge got enough force applied to cut right through the but:

Bushcrafter cutting through the bottle

So… for the easiest cutting of the butt of a plastic bottle you’ll need a thick confortable handle and a thin ground blade.

— Update from Surnia, registered member of the SPyderco forums:
In regards to your plastic bottle tests, plastic bottles are not actually injected from the bottom. They’re made into blanks first which are very thick walled plastic test tube shaped things with the bottle threading already present at the top.

From there, they’re passed to a molding station where the blanks are heated, inserted into the molds, then inflated with air pressure to form fit the mold. If you carefully heat a plastic bottle (cap on, and evenly warm it up slowly… vent the air every so often to continue shrinking it. The air allows it to retain the bottle shape and not shrivel up excessively in one spot) and do it evenly, it’ll eventually get close to the original blank’s shape. It won’t go back to it, but it’ll get within a certain limit…

Best example i have of the blanks are here:
where they’ve used them for other purposes.

From The Edge To The Point Since 1995

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