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Pleasure of whittling — Which knife ?

A knife and a piece of wood make my day.
I can sit and enjoy a good blade taking nice wooden chips.
Steel chemistry is important, especially how fine its grain is.
Back in the 90’s I have found how a Benchmade in M2HSS was more enjoyable than the same model in ATS-34.
How is the blade is ground is also very important, scandi makes shallower cuts when hollow grind got deeper in my experience.
But more than this: the general ergonomy of the knife and especially the spine of the blade do make a difference for me.

But let’s have a look at the knives: Ed Schemp’s Tuff and Bowie, Police 4, Yojimbo 2, Sebenza, Spydiechef, PPT, Paramillie, Lil’Native, Wolfspyder, A little TOPS scandi, Mantra2, Millie and Nilakka.

A rounded spine like my Sebenza is great. It’s very thin edge is also a plus but ATS34 is not making the moment enjoyable. Of course it will cut but the pleasure of feeling how the edge is making the chips is not there. Its edge is like a mad cow !! Hard to control.

 

One of the great surprise in term of pleasure has been that Lil Blue 2 from Raker (Ray Kirk). Made of 52100 ball bearing steel and brought to razor by JD !
The rounded spine of that small fixed blade makes it super enjoyable. The fine grain 52100 makes thin chips but can also be use hard for deeper cuts. That would the kind of knife you can enjoy all an afternoon without thumb soar.

A good old Opinel N°8 is able to cut deep and with power, for sure. Do I enjoy it ? Not really. It does the job but there is no pleasure when the thin spine bites my thumb during push cuts.

A great surprise and even a better surprise that my previous whittling with a Yojimbo 2 in S90V is my Yo2 Jade with a CPM M4 blade.
It is not a knife designed for whittling but it does the job perfectly. Better even is a tougher blade in CPM M4 which is very aggressive. The spine also is thick and my thumb can push with with confort and control. The Yo2 and especially that version is a great wood companion I can use with serenity.

Another knife I highly recommend for going in the woods and whittling with pleasure. And another knife with some martial pedigree has proven to be a great whittler: the PPT.
The S90V thin blade of that edition with a very confortable handle has been eating wood like a chef.

Speaking of chef: lets’ continue with the surprises. One important side of the Spydiechef is how easily it can go out of the kitchen. Sailors and sea kayakists are using it without any risk of failure but within the woods? OK mine has been convexed but this is another great tool to bring with you everywhere. I was able to create beautiful chips and the spince have not bite my thumb. Really a nice experience with this one.

My CPM Cruewear Paramillie has been convexed and its edge was really hungry for wood.
It was in all the bunch the one which went the easiest in the rod of wood. But then the square spire was so sharp and thin: it was not enjoyable. More about it later.

The Lil’ Native with JD sharpening skill is nice and powerful for its size. Really a nice you should not judge by the size. But then again, JD reground it to almost a scandi level. The belly and the thin edge does marvel for whittling. Just a tad longer blade will improved the experience but then you got a Native not a Papoose no more.

Another knife improved by JD sharpening skill is the Mantra 2. I had rounded the spine on this one and it turned to be a very powerful wood cutter. The kind of knife which disappears in your pocket and once deployed is a game changer. The very solid construction and great ergos of that Eric Glesser design is blooming in the woods.

The Police 4, as powerful as its K390 thin convexed blade was a real disappointment. The thin spine is really hurting my thumb when push cutting. The Police is and stays a very urban design. I was not really able to enjoy fine whittling with it. It does the job but the thin spine ruined it for me. This one is much better in cutting cardboards or ropes…

Of course the Nilakka is a five stars experience. nothing new: thick spine, zero ground blade. It is powerful and accurate. Pekka Tuominen knows. Just the thin point could be an issue when digging in the wood to make a hole for example. This is were the Wolfspyder shines: a very solid point !

Another great surprise in term of pleasure has been the Gent knife from Massdrop. I had convexed the edge and its S35VN rounded spined blade is just great. Its natural belly helps a lot in term of push cuts. It is a great folder and 100% shot flipper, easy to keep clean, and look at the shape of that blade: it is stunning and for less than 100 dollars shipping included. It will be reviewed.

Sorry, but the Mora has been the worst. It was not able to bring me nice chips.
I’m certain it would be a great hard used tool in the wood but here for fine gentle whittling: zero pleasure.
The synthetic handle is becoming sticky, the scandi edge is rusting and it was not able to bite in the wood. Cheap fixed blade.

So eventually, using 400 grits sandpaper, I have decided to rounded the spine of my Paramillie 2 and of course it makes a huge difference. Actually I have been really surprise in how deep It was cutting in the wood, kind of remembering its brother in 52100.
Soon I will try AEB-L steel which is considered as a stainless 52100 on a Sprint Run Urban already in transit. So more will come.

In conclusion my more enjoyable whittler is still the Wolfspyder.
The surprise joy came for the Gent, The Yojimbo 2, the Mantra 2 and the Raker.
The Paramillie with a more rounded spine will be certainly part of the club.
The biggest down was the Police 4 and the Mora.

But in term of sitting under the porche and whittling a rod the Ray Mears designed Wolfspyder is winning. It was designed for that task.

 

Massdrop Ferrum Forge Gent — The Ultimate Contender.

My first experience with Massdrop exclusive design was one year ago.
The Falcon has been a surprise in its quality and design and since has been my Spyderco Techno replacement. The Gent is even a better deal !! We are in presence of a real masterpiece in modern cutlery and, pardon my French but I weight my words.
First thing I have noticed is the blade to handle ratio: in a folder, the blade will be most of the time shorther than the handle but with some designers tricks you can give the illusion… It was already the case with the Falcon: we got a real elegant knife despite being short, the blade is perfectly centered, the blade evenly ground, the action is smooth as butter and the edge cut my hairs… WOW !!

The large choil seems to be a Ferrum Forge signature and it is handy for precision cutting. Also when not using it I can hold the handle with 4 fingers. It is much more ergonomic and fonctionnal that my Izulas in that matter.

The lock is similar to the Spyderco PPT.  It is a thick pride liner lock made of bead blasted grey titanium. The slabs are G10 with a very nice texture. Attention to details is stunning: quality is at the rendez vous. The lock feels strong and any way your hand is protected by the flipper used a guard and by the choil if you choose to use it. This is a very solid folder.

The blade is exquisitely ground and the edge is thin, razor sharp our of the box.

The opening construction is ultra minimalist and VERY EASY to keep clean !!
I love ultra minimalists design as found on the Spyderco K2 for example.

The spine is gently chanferred for an excellent confort in thumb pushing cuttings.
Something I won’t have to do myself.

Immediatly you want to play with and put the high saber flat ground S35VN blade in its pace. A steel first introduced to me through the Spyderco Native 5.

As a Lady/Gent knife it is small like a jewel.

Non threatening is a must in that kind of EDC knife. But don’t get fooled by its size; this is a real workhorse !

The detent is a little harder than the one of my Falcon or my ZT0562CF but it works and fires every time. It is really smooth and no side play so far. I was not able easily to open the blade without using the flipper.

The deep carry clip is well thought and it makes the knife disappearing in the pocket. EDC is often better in low profile configuration.

So let’s put a little convexing on that baby: Stuff 2, Fallkniven DC4 and leather…

Diamonds are in play for the first round. The thin edge makes it easy to scratch and of course I have scratched it. You can notice the very nice belly on the blade.

But nothing some use and future stropping won’t erase in a “beautility” attempt. The idea is just to bring convex in the middle of the belly.

Leather stropping, razor sharp let try it on my favorite test in ergos and edge: the Bottle Butt !!

As you can see it was an easy cut for that little knife. There is power in this one. The blade is just thick enough to provide a comfortable spine to strongly push through.

The Belly always help for push cutting in hard material.

So far what do we got:

an elegant, non threatening short folder with premium materials (Titanium and S35VN).
It can be deployed and close with one hand.  Great balance with its sweet spot just behind the pivot. Great ergos, thin edge and easy to clean ?
This is almost the perfect EDC, worst it the best EDC you can buy for 80 dollars !!
This kind of high quality knife could be the only folder to bring with you anywhere. A great little big knife ready for anything ! Thank you to my friend Dan Sharpe for having introduced me to that little wonder !

ONE YEAR LATER: MASSDROP X FERRUM FORGE FALCON S35VN FOLDING KNIFE

I really do love that short stubby folder which are turned to be my Spyderco Techno replacement.
In term of ergonomy first, the rounded hand, large choil, smooth thick blade spine, all concours to make your hand “at home” when holding it.
This large choil gives a lot of control and force on precise cut need at the start of the edge. It is the exact opposite of an Izula for example when the index finger is blocked behind the guard, here you can whittle with index finger near the piece of wood giving you a lot of accuracy.

This handle also scales the blade up in term of proportions making it a beautiful short knife. Also in the elegance department, the edge feels like the tip of a lance with it spear’s point. Mine has aged beautifully with a gentle sanding on the titanium.

The clip has hold perfectly and is not hurting my palm when holding the knife tight.

The edge has been gently convexed and did not show any chipping or bending after a year of rotation.
So far I am very happy with my #734 and I highy recommend it.

Massdrop is not always offering bargain, especially regarding some famous 1095 steel made American Blades like TOPS, but for their US/China connection they are often great purchase. My friend Dan Sharpe (thanks to Loremicus a young Mangaka from Hong Kong) highly recommends their FF CRUX which turn to be two of his favorite folder.
I will certainly follow his advice at one moment, those folders are a bargain of high quality.

Titanium Handles Sanding ? Why not !

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I always believe in personalizing your own tools. I also love how titanium can turn sweet under the fingers. So here I am on this afternoon testing different sandpapers on handles.
Eventually I have found that 800 grid is more than enough to make the frame and edges standing out. This is what I was looking for, this feel of old denim.
Of course I can always go back to it and by using scotchbrit refining the finish but I wanted something rough.
The Spydiechef was the first to be sanded. The idea is to keep always the same direction.

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On the Spyderco Tuff the effect can be more dramatic for a much more steampunk look.

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I’m quite happy with final results.
So let’s try that on the Falcon !

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Massdrop x Ferrum Forge Falcon S35VN Folding Knife — Flipping Modern Lady/Gentleman Knife at a bargain !

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(Fresh from out of the box)

As my friend and co author JD I had ordered the Ferrum Forge Falcon for 124 dollars. Titanium handle à la Sebenza (* the RIL is a South African invention ) with steel insert in the lock to prevent excessive wear, S35V blade with high flat grind, reasonable size for the city. And a two main screws construction ? What not to love ?


(Here with a new convexed edge the day after)

This was a first time for me with those companies. The knife has been made by WE knives in China and designed by San Diego based Ferrum Forge.
124 dollars for a knife this quality, this is almost the third I would normally pay.
This kind of excellent ratio price/quality have been noticed on the Megalodon folder.
And like the Meg, the only flaw on my Falcon is…. the clip.

 

 

First thing I have noticed: it was smooth as my ZT0562CF. It fires easily. A lot of work has gone on the blade and the handle to smooth everything. It’s as good as Taichung factory in the attention to details. It runs on ball bearings and the detent is perfect on mine. The blade feels heavier than the handle, it gives a nice momentum.

Zero play in any direction. The handle is smooth with its rounded edges and so nice under the thumb. No hot spot even if the jimping are quite aggressive. The blade is chanfered on the right places making a very precious package.

 

 

Second thing I had noticed is the great balance. The knife is perfectly balanced. The blade looks wider than the thick titanium handle.

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See how small it is ? I even think it would be a great knife for smaller female hands. For bigger hand it would be a three finger handle unless using the big choil.
This big choil is part of the charm of that design and it could be some kind of Native hommage: thick handle and false edge drom point blade.

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It’s about the size of my beloved Wolfspyder but more elegant. Let’s not forget Spyderco places function before the look. But the wide blade on the thinner handle does a lot in easthetics. The hole in the blade is purely for the looks and to remove some weight, you won’t open he knife with it. OK, you can do it but this is not made for that.
Also the large choil can be a problem when you cut ropes or strings and they get stuck into it. But the Native 5 got the same issue, it’s no major when the finger is in the choil.

 

 

The insert of steel in visible and the lock is new and the blade is perfectly centered.
As you can notice the titanium notch to bend the integral liner to create the lock is not on the outside but inside. This is pleasure to keep the handle smooth.
This notch combine to pocket clips often get caught in the pocket lip while drawing. It was the case of the Megalodon or even the Slyscz Bowie where I had changed the clip size !

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Right out of the box the knife is not shaving but the edge is thin and the geometry is good. It will be a matter of minutes on ceramics to get to the sharpness I want.

Only the clip is an issue. Like on the Megalodon, this is the only flaw but unlike the Real Steel flagship, I will get rid of the Falcon clip if it bends and carry it in the pocket.
First this clip is too thick and is not going enough deep inside the pocket. It has also a tendancy to bend, So we will see how it will go.

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Compared to my Delica, you can notice it is even shorter.

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And delica is a tad longer in edge value.

 

 

Now its thick handle makes it very confortable in the palm for hard cuts.

 

 

You can see the attention to details on the titanium spacer and the pivot.

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Two screws construction. The pivot and handle. Add the two clip screws and the two from the steel insert and a pin for the spacer but after all it is a very clean design.

“The Falcon’s 2.9-inch drop-point blade features a sizable choil for index finger placement when choking up. The spine has a concave cutout offering a natural thumb rest for a forward grip. As far as hardware, the Falcon has been crafted with the best materials on the market. Thanks to titanium’s spring properties, it makes for a safe and reliable frame lock that is almost impossible to accidentally disengage. The hardened steel lockbar insert won’t wear out in the long haul, drastically increasing the folder’s longevity. Holding the knife together is a titanium backspacer, bead blasted in gray. Also notable is the titanium clip, which has been adjusted for tension so that it stays put on the go, but it won’t rip your pants apart when taking out the knife.”
From the Massdrop page.

 

 

Compared to the ZT0562CF the Falcon can sustain the comparaison. But the clip in the ZT is one of the best ever made making the big folder easy to carry.

 

 

Sharpening is OK. CPM S35V is not the easiest steel to deal with but it can hold an edge if well heat treated. After diamonds, ceramics and leather, my edge is now convexed and the high flat grind gives deep cuts.
This is something wich needs to be tested on a long run. So more to come soon… But so far for the price 124 dollars shipping including, this is a great bargain and a beautiful knife especially compared to over marketed knives…
And once convexed the edge was able to cut through the 4mm plastic butt of a 2 liters Coke bottle. Excellent !!

 

 

*(Like…. the 300 dollars Urban S35V and Titanium handle from Canadian Robert Young Peyton claiming the Integral lock is an American invention when, Chris got an South African Award for his Pre Sebenza in 1987, move to Boise in 91 and get naturalized in 2001…The Integral lock is a South African invention by Chris Reeve !! )


Cutting the leaves of sucres…

Slicing the dried duck breast.

Removing the fat.

Dicing the cantal cheese.

Splitting fresh figs…

All the ingredients are ready. Add some sauce mixing olive oil, mustard, wine vinager and soja sauce.
The soft texture and fruity taste of the young cantal combine particularly well with figs and duck breast. But you can replace it with other cheeses, for example, tomme de Savoie, salers or laguiole.

JD got also a Falcon but he did not like it: here is review.
https://nemoknivesreview.com/2017/10/14/the-falcon-has-landed-by-jd/