Tag Archives: Opinel

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.

 

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Spyderco Paramilitary 2 C81CF52100P2 52100 Exclusive Run – New Old Timer Workhorse !

I love Grandpa’s knives in a modern form, like the AFCK in M2HSS twenty years ago. But I was not able to jump on bandwagon to catch a Military in 52100. Lucky me, soon a Paramillie II designed by Sal and Eric Glesser was able with the same Carbon Fiber handles and the same 52100 blade.

“52100 is a very good steel for cutting organic material. If you stay with organic material it will edge hold very well.
I use it for a core steel on high carbon pattern welded laminate. My competition cutters are a laminate of 15n20-52100-15n20.” Ed Schempp

“52100 is a ball bearing steel. Most ball bearing steels make pretty decent blade steel. Especially where edges are concerned. It is my favorite steel to forge. It is hard to find in sheet. Actually, I would like to do a run of a model in 52100, but I’d prefer to make it in Golden, so it will be a year or so.”   Sal

Ed Fowler in his many articles in Blade Magazine and his books introduced me in the “magic” of 52100. Also my first blades in 52100 are my two gifted Lil Blue II made by my friend Ray Kirk of Raker knivesRaker knives. Ed as a cowboy and Ray as a Native American ? Made in Golden ? This knife is the true heir of American traditional blades !

“52100 is the steel of which most of the bearings used in all walks of life today are made. Civilization rides on 52100 steel. If it were less than reliable, another steel would be used instead. I have used 52100 exclusively in my knives for the past five years. I have forged many bearings into blades. I have given my blades every opportunity to fail, subjecting them to rigorous, destructive tests. I have found 52100 to be the cleanest, most uniform steel that I have ever used. Properly forged and heat treated, 52100 produces a high-performance blade that knows no peers. I have reached this conclusion based upon extensive personal research, testing knives for the things that they need to do in the real world of knife function.

Bearing-quality 52100 steel blades are tough and normally pass the 90° flex test without cracking or breaking. Their strength is evidenced by the force required to flex them.

I demand three levels of performance from any knife intended for serious use. First, it must have the ability to cut and cut well. Second, the blade must be tough. By tough I mean it must flex without breaking like a piece of glass. Last, but not least, it must be relatively easy to sharpen. Through the years, I have tried many steels and heat-treating methods and have tested the results by cutting a lot of rope and breaking many blades. Some combinations have cut extremely well, but have
broken or chipped when subjected to hard use. Drawn to a point where they were tough, these blades were too soft to cut effectively. I had settled upon one steel that when properly forged and heat treated cut very well. I had invested a great amount of time and effort getting the most out of that steel, so I was reluctant to change.

The nature of 52100 has changed drastically since that first bearing was made more than 100 years ago. Bearings are performance oriented, and those that last and gain a reputation for high performance are in demand. Every bearing is, by nature of its job description, routinely tested to its limit of performance. Competition is based solidly upon quality steel, and the outfit that makes the best steel enjoys a ready market for its product. Quality control is a high priority in the manufacture of bearing steel.

In addition to everything else, 52100 is easy to work, grind, and heat treat. Even less than perfect heat treatment can result in a good knife, though it never should be said that bladesmiths should settle for simply “good enough.” As the knifemaker’s skills develop, the performance potential of the steel will offer ample room for growth.
The high chrome content of 52100 promotes a beautiful mirror polish and enhances the steel’s machinability. The 1 percent carbon is more than can go into solution in the steel. However, unlike 1095, which has about the same amount of carbon, the excess carbon in 52100 also has 1.5 percent chrome to react with to make chromium carbides that can enhance cutting performance.
The “Cadillac of steels,” 52100 has been and continues to be one of the cleanest blade materials suitable for cutlery. Its primary use demands great care in manufacture. It’s also extremely versatile. For example, I’m aware of one man who makes
“52100 has been and continues to
be one of the cleanest steels suitable for cutlery.”

Ed Fowler, the lover of 52100 ball-bearing steel, sheep horn, and dedication to the functional knife.

For Sal Glesser, the functionnal knife is carbon fiber handle and impervious to wear and tear. CF got that magic to age great even after some falls on concrete.

As you can notice mine came perfectly centered. The Colorado Plant is now bringing perfect quality controls and a love to details you can appreciate in all angles.
The action is smooth ans the blade can fall by gravity when the lock is released.
As on the Yojimbo2 the compression is lock provides an action which is one of the smoothest out of the box but othing new about that.

Ok time to smooth the peel ply CF for saving my trousers from being filed and also smooth the hump which catch my pocket’s lip. Sandpaper at 500 has been used.

For the hump, like on my previous Paramillie, a diamond file is mandatory. 15 minutes later it’s much better !

Then, knowing 52100’s fun is the fact it can get a patina very quick, green lemon juice was used to start a gentle patina.

For good measure I wanted to compare how a 1075 carbon steel Opinel and that 52100 knife will react to the lemon juice.

In the same time I could try the new Double Stuff 2, Howard korn from the Knifecenter of The Internet has just offered me.

I was able to remove the shoulder and convexe my grind in a pair of minutes. Then with the white ceramic it was own to a mirror polish.
This is true 52100 get polished very easily. And the edge is like a mirror after some pass on leather. So this is also going to be fun.

WIth the lemon juice drying on its size, a patina soon appears.

And I was able to get a nice contrats with the convexed edge.

The knife bites in the wood like an hungry edge will. This should be a dream for Bushcrafters to get that kind of steel on such a modern and reliable plateform.
It can be turned into beyond razor very easily just by stropping my new convexed edge.
Yes, so easy to get it dangerously sharp and whittling hairs !!

The good thing also is that 52100 is supposed to be tougher than S30V and the thin point of the Paramillie needs plenty of strenght. Now I wonder what is the HRC of that blade.

I also like the matte black clip provided. It’s made for a low profile EDC.

It seems like the 1075 is getting drak faster than the 52100 as the wipe marks are visible on the Opinel blade.

So the Paramillie 2 is now ready to get some used. I will go near the Ocean for four days at the end of the week. It will be occasio to test it in a humid and salty environment.

 

 

The new king of bottle butt cutting is my Opinel N°12. It goes through plastic like in butter. The Paramillie is stuck but slowly and steady goes through.
But so far nothing beats the Nilakka or the Opinel in that exercise.
But the 52100 will be slowly more thinned for that matter. 52100 is a steel to be thinned on the edge.

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Cutting bread is another great test. The cruch is hard and the inside is soft. That’s why Opinel are great on that too. But here the Paramillie is also reliable.
52100 is “alive” . It means it needs care and the patina will evolve in time.
I have greased the pivot and now the cheese is greasing the blade. Let’s not forget Carbon Steel folders have been in use much more longer than stainless steel. Roman folders have been found in archeologic sites. So this Eric and Sal design enhanced by this bold move — bringing 52100 to a modern folder — is all an adventure !!
So…
“New” because it’s a new idea to give ball bearing steel to a tactical folder when the tendance is to S35V and M390 manufactured in China (Don’t mistake me I do love my Falcon). “Old Timer” remembering the Schrade 1095 collection made in the USA and Workhorse because this is a knife made to be used not kept in a safe. It needs to be oiled and sharpened and used and oiled and honed…
More to come !!

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I remove the edge’s shoulder with the diamond side of a Double Stuff 2. I do that until I got a burr.

Doing it without guide, free hands, gives a gentle convex edge.
Then I use the white ceramic to erase the deep diamonds cuts.
And then leather stropping. On 52100 it is a breeze to do.
Now it can whittling hairs.

 

And for good vintage look, some P1000 sand paper on the clip will age it.
But rust could be a problem in the pivot area… as shown on part II.

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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.