SPYDERCO SPRIG FB37GGR — Phil Wilson Bird & Trout Companion.

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

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

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

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

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

— August issue of Blade Magazine in 2002 —

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Spyderco C22 in ZDP189 — Amazing After Six Years Hunting in Tuscany !

Six years ago, my friend Valter Nencetti took my Walker for a one year mission which turned into a six years journey. It was his favorite knife for hunting and he reported that to me in this article:  https://nemoknivesreview.com/2012/12/30/spyderco-c22-in-zdp189-italian-hunter-update-by-valter-nencetti/

This year, he has given it back to me after I had offered him my Native 5 in 110V which is IMHO an upgrade for Hare Hunting. The Backlock of a Native 5 is a perfect lock for that kind of use, but you can notice the Walker lock as not travel very far. The curved concave notch prevents it to go further.
There is absolutly no play !

For the record skinning hares is not an easy task for an edge as the hairs and the skin are ruining the sharpness very fast. There is a lot of dirt which acts as abbrasive. I have made a video and soon will put it on line.

Being used everyday, Valter eventually broke the clip which is a very fragile part of the walker compared to spoon clips used noawadays in spyderco line. You can also see it was not clean everyday and used as an EDC in the countryside of his beloved national Park in the North of Florence in Italy.

You notice the normal wear on the handle but Carbon fibers is incredibly sturdy as an slob material. It can be easily cure with some 1000 sandpaper work.

There were also no pitting on the blade or on the liner lock. ZDP189 is known for pitting strangely with its 3% of carbon and 20% of chromium. But here anyway, no issues.

I have started to clean the marks on the blade with some sandpaper.

Then I have restored the edge to razor.

No chipping.
No pitting.
No blade play.
No marks on the handle.
A broken clip.

Valter used his knife with no afterthoughts. I know it was not used on wood but mainly as a skinning tool. It has processed hares but also been used on boars and deers. Also it was used on plastic and everyday mondane tasks as Walter is breeding hunting dogs.

That’s not bad for a little gentleman knife which is a true workhorse.

Tuscan Raider #6 — Ed Schempp Bowie at his best, in the plates !

It’s not a surprise but Ed Schempp Bowie is not only a knife to keep in a safe for collection.
I have been taking a lot of knives in Tuscany. Fixed blades to test in the wood of the national parks and some folders. But eventually the Bowie has taken an important place in my trip.
Why ?
First it’s a gorgeous knife which create a lot of conversation.
Also it’s so easy to pocket. This is a huge plus for this EDC: it’s stay in your pocket like a much shorter folder. It’s easy to grab it and to take it. It’s always with you.
I have thinned the edge to the level of my Delica and the result on whittling wood are really outstanding.

It was easy to keep clean and classy. Meaning it can be used in the farm and in the city.

But it’s in the plate and in the kitchen that the Bowie was able to shine bright.

On the table, the Bowie takes its place with pride.

And the Kukri’s curve (Ed Schempp Signature) helps a lot when cutting in the plate.
At the opposite of my ZT0562CF with its flipper getting in the way…

The beef meat cookes at the flame is zipped open by the convexed edge.

The Tuscanian crostini are made of liver are gently spread on bread.

The trip back home leaded us through the Alps and the Opinel birth place.

Spritz, beer, hams and cheeses. The bowie was easy to open and close without to be noticed.


The roblochon is a cheese which needs a long blade.

Eventually the Bowie excellence can be expressed in the woods and in the plate. This is not the case of all folding knives. Ed Schempp’s EDC does it with elegance and efficiency.
So no, really it’s not a safe queen this is a knife to be used every day with pride.

 

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

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

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

Opinel N°8 Carbone — The Crowned Hand

(You can notice the factory edge is a mess…  Easy to fix !)

I have been using Opinel since my very childhood. I was 8 years whe I was throwing my Opinel N°8 in the dirt figuring I was James Coburn in the Magnificent Seven. The blade was dull like a butter knife and black of stain but it was a constant companion.
Later when I had started to really use it I had discovered that it was really easy to get really really sharp and even to get it to razor sharp and keep it that way with just a steel sharpener. It was with an Opinel paired with a Glock knife (The Field Knife 78 (Feldmesser 78)) that I was living my first bushcraft adventures: building a shelter, making fire and cooking, making bows and arrows, sleeping in the woods…

I was buying some plants for the garden when I saw at the cashier some Opinel N°8 for 8 euros. It was the occasion to buy a new one just for the fun of using it.
I got a stainless N°10 somewhere and a filet… This Tradition Carbon is welcome.

As you can see the factory edge needs some work. But it’s so easy and fun to do.


Locked once closed.

The Jade CPM M4 Military looks like a BMW X5 compared to a Renaud 4L.
But both are fun in their own way.

Manufactured in the heart of the french Alps since 1890, Opinel N°8 hasn’t changed much. It got a new rotating ring which works also to block the blade when closed and this is a really great improvement in my own opinion.
“In the 90s, the Virobloc® system was modified to allow the blade to be locked in its closed position. ”

The con:  a round handle which not help to know in which direction the edge is. You need two hands (or your teeth and one hand) ton open the blade. Two hands to lock the blade. No clip, so the knife will disappear in the pocket. Carbon blade which can rust. But that not a problem if you know how to keep your tools oiled.

The pros: 8 euros !! This is a bargain. Half the price of Douk Douk. A very confortable rounded handle.
To quote them : “To protect our handles from external aggressions, there are two available finishes: buffing and varnishing.
Handles shaped from rare and precious tree species are buffed with wax applied with a cotton disk. For every other wood, we apply a varnish which has been selected for its highly protective properties against moisture and staining.
The varnish is tinted for the carbon range and clear for all the other ranges. To create coloured handles, we first apply a water-based wood stain before the varnish.”
The lock is reliable and easy to check.

A full flat ground blade with a thin edge. 40mm made by hand. German steel with 0.90% carbon heat treated in France at 57-59 HRC. (The Stainless version is Swedish 12C27).
“When it was first designed, the OPINEL blade was made from carbon steel. We still use a similar grade today, with an approximate carbon content of 0.90% which is still better than stainless steel. Our carbon steel is first produced in Germany and finalised in France before being worked by OPINEL.”

And this is where the Opinel is so fun to use. In all my knife it’s with my Opinels (stainless or not) that I got the best results in cutting plastic. Of course the steel won’t last like one of the new super steel but it’s so easy to go back to a very high sharpness: it’s fun.

Of course the Opinel beats all my other knives in my plastic butt/neck bottle tests. Even my great Nilakka or my reground Yojimbo 2.

The crowned hand.

Thinner and thinner !

I’ll  keep my new Opinel in my kitchen drawer. Sometime I will pocket it for going into the woods.
Compared to many modern folders, I know its performance are incredible and shows how thick the edges tend to be especially in the “tactical” scene. Strider comes to mind…
My Opinels wer beaten in wood work by the Dodo ! The Dodo got a belly which does miracle on cutting wooden rods.

I have read in a magazines some years ago that a famous hunter guide in Scotland was using an Opinel N°8 Carbone as his main hunting knife. He was using one knife by hunting season.

Anyway my good old new folder provides me “The original Opinel steel, the famous high quality cutting edge, easy to sharpen.”

Coke bottle are getting thicker at the butt, certainly a new manufacturing using more material and my new reprofile Zero Tolerance 0562CF cannot not cut through when she can still cut easily mineral water bottle’s butts.


The Opinel still can. Thin edge powaaa ! But you notice the 4mm thick plastic at the center.