Tag Archives: Review

Spyderco Lil’Nilakka – My Romantic Gentleman Puukko.

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When I consider a new knife, I like to choose it in such a way that it conveys values that appeal to me; in synch with my mood with what I recognize as exemplifying a tradition, a nation; when craft turns into art.

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I also opt for features complimentary to the ones I already have so that each knife stands out as champion in its category. Ie this one does not rust, this one will not be taken away from me in UK or Denmark, this one is really good for heavy duty stuff, this one has something so obscene about it I can’t resist!

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Setting the mood: read Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt; listen to Symphony n.5 by Jean Sibelius (pictured): dears belling in a barren wilderness where primitive elements collide – wind, sheer stones and icebergs…

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…envision cold tundra landscape depicted by Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s paintings – the hard conditions forging men and women. Suomi.

 

A gentleman folder with no pair equal.

Which Spyderco better conveys rigour and austerity of the North other than the Pekka Tuominen designed Lil Nilakka Puukko? It stands out immediately recognizable with its character unlike any other and its craftman, alike the aforementioned finnish artists, is a true representative of the Nordic tradition and nation.

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So to summarize: as Sibelius was once said to be the “Chopin of the north”; Pekka the Sibelius of blacksmith and cutlery.

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So what is so fantastic about Lil Nilakka?

Still life:

  • Matter of taste: traditional finnish Puukko – I love it!
  • White G-10 so elegant – like ivory but walrus friendly.
  • RWL 34 the Robert W Loveless “in memoriam” steel with excellent combination of corrosion resistance, edge sharpness and hardenability. Also its said to be easy to maintain; good for me!
  • Solid clip that nests Lil Nilakka deep in the pocket

In motion:

  • The Lil Nilakka is snug close-fitting in hand; the forefinger in the G-10 handle opening and the thumb comfortable on the spine thanks to the chanfer.
  • So perfect control when cutting – should that be the x-mas tree branches in excess or the ultimate test: pealing a ripe pear and skinning it angstrom style. The point of the blade and the blade’s width also contribute to making this tool one of extreme precision.
  • Easy to action linerlock and the blade fits perfectly; great engineering work!

 

Mine is #589; with me to stay as my gentleman Puukko!

 

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Spyderco C214TIP: The Devil’s Advocate by Gayle Bradley.

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“You sharpen the human appetite to the point where it can split atoms with its desire…”

I feel like in the “Honest Trailers”: “Please review the Advocate…” OK here we go:

Oh yes, the Advocate is a looker and really catches the light.  Knowing Gayle Bradley since his first hard chores folder, I really wanted to see his new design.

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At the moment I write those lines, we are all under the official statement from Spyderco about the Advocate. To sum it up: “A careful review of the Advocate’s design revealed that the steel washers used in its pivot are measurably thinner than those used in our other flipper models and are therefore vulnerable to the effects of overtightening….We have suspended production of the current version and are working diligently to redesign the pivot to completely eliminate this concern. We have also decided to suspend shipment of our current inventory of Advocate knives until a satisfactory redesign is complete.” Michael Janich 10th of April 2017.
I don’t have any issues with my Advocate pivot, so I’m not concerned.

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Unless major purpose, I don’t feel the urge to disassemble my knives and I always find that rinsing them under hot tap water and oiling them back once dry, is more than enough to keep them going. I do however have got a gripping pivot issue with my Southard but this was before discovering and using nano oil. Here on the advocate, it seems like even nano oil did not help. but again It do not have any issue on mine. I got other issues and they are from the design, not the manufacturing.

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So I was able to snatch a model before the factory line stopped and I really wanted to try and love another great Gayle Bradley design. The Advocate is his first flipper and he’s using my favorite steel: CPM-M4 (drawing from Gayle Bradley’s extensive experience as a competitive cutting champion, CPM® M4 is a high-performance tool steel renowned for its extreme edge-holding ability).

“The Advocate’s handle consists of two 3-D-machined solid titanium scales that are radiused across their width and feature a unique “orange peel” finish that is both visually striking and provides an enhanced grip texture. The precision machining of these features ensures maximum comfort in the hand and contributes to the knife’s stunning, custom-quality appearance.”

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See how the knife looks great? This is a very thin design. It slips into your pocket very confortably but, in my own experience, its thin handle create a lot of hotspots. I would have preferred a thicker handle even if the finish and lines are wonderful, it is really more a looker than a user so far.
OK mine fires perfectly and once unlocked, the blade falls free. So the action is OK but there is a strong break to it: the ball detent on the lock making the action less smooth than on my other flipper: ZT0562 or Falcon. It’s even noisy, you hear it. What is the point of having ball bearings when you put a brake on it ? Spyderco knows what smooth means ie Ed Schempp’s Bowie the Paramillie. Why not the Advocate ?


Also you can notice how the Zero Tolerance’s (ZT) handle is thicker and hence much better ergonomic-wise. I would not mind that for a Chaparral or for a shorter folder but the Advocate is a medium folder with a 9 centimeters blade and weighs 111 grammes; so it’s not a small folder! Even on the last picture you can see that it’s thinner than the Sliverax….

Also flippers have got a fun factor shared with spinners and balisongs. We love to play with them and because of that, we have tendancies to “test” them more in their opening and closing.
Again, the Advocate’s thin profile doesn’t make it easy to close. The tension on the lock bar is very important and the edge to unlock it is sharp. So it’s not easy on your thumb, almost painful sometimes compared to my ZT and its fat lock… Even the flipper’s tab feels too thin for such a strong detent. It’s biting into the index finger’s pulp….

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You can see the sharp edge of the lock bar; actually it comes from the steel insert.

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You can notice the marks on my thumb.

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Look at the way the lock bar is chamfered on the ZT. Rick Hinderer is not at his first flipper design obviously…

After playing for some time, there is no real fun. The detent is so strong it makes thumb-opening impossible on mine; only reverse grip works for me.

So the strong lock acts like a break; you understand why Compression Lock flippers like the Sliverax are a path to explore.  That said, after playing with both knives, I also feel the Sliverax could have benefited from a stronger detent.

So far the Advocate is not my favorite Gayle Bradley design.

My opinion is not based on any pivot issues as mine doesn’t have it but in my book,
it’s too thin, too slippery, not easy to close nor is it easy to open with the thumb hole.  It’s not smooth… It’s the total opposite to its famous GB1.
Perhaps it will grow on me but even the clip is not a deep carry option… Oh well.
I need to play with my Ed Schempp bowie for good measure… as it’s the perfect opposite in the way Taichung can deliver a great folder with great ergos.

So in summary, if you want a really fun and light Spyderco to play with, try the Sliverax.

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edited by pjaffre: jan 5, 2018.

Spyderco FB33GP Gayle Bradley Pocket Bowie !

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This is Gayle Bradley first Fixed Blade collaboration with Spyderco. A “unique blend of expert design and state-of-the-art metallurgy”… But is it a real Bowie ?

A true Bowie is “the most effective fighting and survival knife ever made.”
Just to quote Bill Bagwell as he was attending the Paris Knife Show, where one of his Bowies won the award for the best fixed-bladed Damascus knife in 1995…
A stiletto can pierce, but not more effectively; a cleaver or kukri can chop with similar result; and a razor can slice, but only in one direction and without the power of a combat Bowie. A 10 inches perfectly balanced beast with a false edge ready for a back cut… This is Bill definition of a big bad Bowie.
Actually I got a Cold Steel Trailmaster but much prefer the Fallkniven A2 for camp knife purpose. The A2 is not a proper bowie but the 8 inches blade gives you the scale of the Bradley Bowie which is not much longer than a Phil Wilson South Fork.
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Also I have noticed the edge is quite thick on the Bowie. It’s not a great whittler. I was immediately tempted to get a thinner edge. I felt also the edge to be very far from the handle because of its large choil.


In that matter its little brother the Junction was much more capable. Being much more thinner behind the edge.
But a 5 inches blade is not the best chopper. The size emphases the portability but not the chopping performance. This Bowie must be designed with a special purpose: hunting knife, pocket camp knife ? It’s a bastard dog but Gayle Bradley don’t design by guessing, he must have a reason. I have asked him in an email and will update this review as soon as he will be kind enough to answer me.

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To quote Bill Bagwell: ” There is a difference between the ideal fighting Bowie and an ideal survival Bowie, even though the basic design is relatively similar. The ideal fighting Bowie and survival Bowie would have roughly the same blade length of about nine to ten inches, because this is the length that offers the perfect amount of balance and leverage in both scenarios. But the ideal survival Bowie might be a fair amount heavier overall and have a greater concentration of the weight further up the blade. This concentration of weight further up the blade gives the Bowie a balance more like a hatchet, so that it has greater chopping power, separating it from the more nimble fighting Bowie class.”

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The Bradley Bowie is a Jack Of All Trade focused on a Sub 6 inches fixed blade market.
In that domain I already got some favorites Spyderco: the Serrata !
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The Serrata offers a cleaver power in the field. But the Bowie is tougher in the choice of its steel. “An incredibly tough spray-formed tool steel. Like the particle metallurgy process, spray forming rapidly solidifies molten steel into small particles so its component alloys cannot “segregate” or settle. This creates an ultra-fine, extremely homogenous grain structure that is ideal for knife blades. PSF27’s alloy composition includes molybdenum, vanadium and a generous 1.55% carbon, but because its chromium content is 12%—just below the official threshold for stainless steel—care should be taken to maintain it properly.”

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The Bradley Bowie is also an eye candy, even if I don’t like where the trademark hole has been placed, at least it is very very small and even smaller than on the Junction.

The contoured polished G10 handle is very confortable in the hands. much better than the Junction which is very very flat. I’m not a fan of the tubular holes on both models but it offers some potential in creativity: who want to make a spear from they knife ? Boar hunting anyone ? And it respects the prime designs of Gayle Bradley.
I also love the balance of the Bowie making it “alive” in the hands.

IMHO the Bradley Bowie would be great as a soldier’s knife. Some kind of modern KABAR…
It’s thick enough to withstand some serious abuse. The tip and the blade shape would make it easy for opening crates if needed.  It can be used for batoning of even light chopping.

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So it’s a Bowie easy to pocket in its boltaron sheath or rigged upside down thanks to its great retention. The pancake sheath works great and is very secure. There is no play or rattle when shaken. It’s a sheath of great quality.

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Conclusion, the Pocket Bowie made in Taichung is ready to follow you in any kind of expedition you got in mind. Its full tang construction and general design make it fit for any tasks where a solid and reliable knife is needed. The Bradley Bowie is a tough cookie.

More to come soon.

 

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/

Choosing a knife for the city.

You don’t need a reason to carry a knife.
Whatever they ask you, just lie or tell them what they want to hear.
In the woods or in the countryside carrying a knife, whatever your gender, is wise.
But in the city ?
You really think you will defend yourself with a knife ? Let’s forget about it. A chair, a stiletto shoe, an ashtray will be better defense tools if you know how to train your mind first. And be prepared mentally whatever your gender, is wise.
Knife is not the best tool to get away of trouble. It’s like playing with matches in a gaz tank. It’s used by madness and idiots to create horrors. So unless you want to be an idiot.
Since knives, cheap and ugly dull knives, are often used to hurt people. Worst, some people think knives has been used when they were not even in history.
An example ? When Lucheni, a madman, has stabbed the Empress Elisabeth of Austria in Geneva he did it with a file. “There was no blood on the file and the tip was broken off, which occurred when Lucheni threw it away. The file was so dull in appearance it was speculated that it had been deliberately selected because it would be less noticeable than a shiny knife, which would have given Lucheni away as he approached.”
So you want to carry a knife in the city. It’s your choice, your business. Nobody else business. Your freedom of choice. In those days where metal detectors are common and official journalists are scanned all over their body before filming some president from ten yards away, when policemen can search you with no good reason because of the state of emergency… you better carry something which is small and sheeple friendly.
Better: you should conform with the laws of your country.

Younger I felt some kind of thrills being an outlaw. My first knife even was a folding AF dagger from Gerber. Go figure ! But later, I have found it is more fun to be lawful and cleverly respect the rules, because it gives you the occasion to try new designs and new makers. Of course you can always carry a Swiss Army knife. I almost never do. It’s in my bag not in my pocket. Because since the 90’s I have fallen in love with clips. Clips are such a great way to avoid a pouch or a scabbard or anything used to say to the world: I carry a knife !! So the clip is mandatory for me. My last clipless knife has been slipping under my wallet and at the Airport it has been taken away from me. So no more clipless knife for me.

So, in the city, I need to follow the rules and I need a flat design clipped to a pocket’s lip. Again a thick Victorinox Swiss Champ is a no-no as is an rounded handle Opinel. Opinel are not for the city unless they are under N°8. And I want a slick design something easy in and easy out without telegraphing around I’m going to use it.
I love the Worker design from Sal Glesser , the very first clip it, which could be used without opening it completely the blade thanks to its false edge. Very clever.
In the city I want elegance. the object needs to be warm and tell a story. I’m not a predator, I carry a tool not a weapon. For the records, hammer, screwdrivers are much more lethal than any Perrin Lagriffe destined to wound and not kill. I like to be able to cut my food without using the dull silverware of restaurants. Because there is some places which are not fast food too. And even at the Macdonalds, using a sharp knife can help to share in two portions a single burger. But in restaurants nowadays it’s not common to find good steak knives. I always enjoyed bringing my own knife like my grandfather used to and that manner that my father hated so much. My father was carrying a switchblade for SD and then a La Griffe. He also used a small turtle shell slipjoint folder made in Nogent in his bag. The exact opposite of my way. Strange how generations go counter clockwise just to complete a full circle thinking they are re-inventing the wheel.

A knife, may it be a slipjoint of a locking folder, is a door for adventures. I often walk on the avenue of the Opera remembering Ernest Hemingway.
“He was a customer of the house Kindal, 33 avenue de l’Opéra, he used to go through the shop, after his purchases, to the Ritz, Place Vendôme. His Parisian triangle was the Harris Bar, Kindal then the bar of the Hotel Ritz. His deer stag handle locking folder, with blade, saw, bottle opener and corkscrew, was his daily companion, he even packed his tobacco and curated his pipe with it. The stag’s wood cracked at the end with time and the tobacco was constantly caught in the cracks, obliging him to clean his knife regularly, he had the idea to place an ivory knob, coming from one of his African hunts probably.
Many years after his death, Mrs. May Kindal, found Hemingway’s knife at the bottom of a drawer, left there for maintenance.
She had him reborn by Jacques Mongin, knifemaker and Meilleur Ouvrier de France.
Since then, the Hemingway knife is sold exclusively by the Kindal cutlery.” Translated from Kindal.

I remember the first time I have seen Ray Mears on the TV. He was walking in the beautiful English countryside and he used one of his elegant Woodlore fixed blade to cut some plant and give some stories. Wait a minute, this guy is walking in the UK and carries a fixed blade in his pocket. But as a black belt in Judo he won’t go in trouble with bushcraft knife anyway.

In the city, knives are making conversations. So it will leave your hands for those of a friend who want to see it. And you will be sitting in the sun drinking a cappucino. So the knife needs to be beautiful and smooth and not aggressive in any way because it can be display in public like smartphones and cameras.

I also need the knife to be out of the way, because I carry stuffs in my pockets or I got a messenger back and it happen sometimes: the knife get hooked to something and falls. So the clip and the way to carry it needs to be secure.
It needs to be very sharp also. And stays sharp. Because I’m not going to show my honing and sharpening skills in the street and a dull edge is dangerous for your finger. So, a good geometry and a good steel. A knife thought to be used not only to be displayed.

So here are some examples.

The Delica in its Knifecenter Special Edition is my actual companion. This one is so sharp it goes beyond my scale. HAP40 can be thinly honed, it’s a true razor. More can be found on it following that link:

In the very highest performances you also got Pekka Tuominen little Wonder Nilakka. You can click on its link. Again a little big knife with performance and ergos which change the game of current gentlemen folders.

The Michael Walker is a rare Gem and this Sprint run has proven how excellent it was as a skinner for very serious hunters.

In the Slip It territory the Urban is the perfect companion unless one hand operation is forbidden by the law. The steel of this one just does wonder and I’m thinking a lot about testing the new Police Model…

One of my old little city companion has been that little Tim Wegner Mouse II knife.

Spyderco has covered all the ground about small knives to carry by men or women. The Dragonfly is one of their pure example of acceptable locking Clip It.

My friends Xavier Conil and Laurent Monnier propose an elegant not threatening folder: le Pointu.

This knife got no clip and is not one hand opening but I have bought it in South Africa at the Good Hope Cape’s shop. This is my Southern souvenir. It has no vertical play and got a story to tell.

respecting the Danish law, the Pingo is one of the solutions for having a clipped knife with no opening hole.  The hole here is only a trademark.
There is a Sprint run with Elmax blade and Titanium handle, I often look with envious eyes…

This one is French, it’s JD’s folder a Sacha Thiel which will be reviewed soon. The blade can be open with a gentle flick helped by the thumb and the deep pocket clip makes it disappears.

So here my knives for the city. My Griptilians are too tactical. My small Sebenza has been lost. I could dig my drawers for more but I think you were able to catch my drift.
Here is a following up about choosing a 3 inches folder.

Tuscan Raider #2 – cheese and wine, boar, scorpion and Delica.

For now this post has only been edited on my smartphone. It’s more of a journal kind and some thoughts I wanted to share. It is the occasion also to share some pics of knives being used.

Once arrived in Tuscany one of the first duty of my Delica was to open a wooden crate.

Delica are thin bladed. Snapping the point is very easy.

The trick is not to apply leverage but simply to twist the blade. Even with a thin point you can apply a lot of torque. The crate was open easily.

The good thing with that knife is how well it is accepted by people and sheeples.

Tonight it has been borrowed a lot and ladies used it when a keen edge was requested.

Liver…

Boar and mash potatoes…

So far HAP40 is stainless from being used everyday as silverware. No patina has been spotted. It seems more resistant than CPM M4…

A delicacy from Naples.

Hard crust and soft inside. You need a very thin edge to cut all those blades of pasta’

The dog was playing with a scorpion. Nobody seems to care about it. But it was the chance for a bug picture…

Eventually the dog was alive despite annoying that poor scorpion for a very long time.

The scorpion escaped somewhere. Tuscany country life.

And as I’m writing now in the shade of the evening a mosquitoes has decided to taste my blood. Smallest animal are feeding in the biggest.

Sunday morning we will go hunting.

Tomorrow time to test the Euroedge.

Knife conversation part 1 — Sharpening !!

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Nemo: when you buy a knife you will be sooner or later, depending of many factors, confronted to a dull edge. Getting away from the factory edge is like leaving your parent’s home: it’s uncharted territory for most of us. So should you waith for the knife to be dull or immediatly hit the stones to make it yours and why ?

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JD: When I get a new knife I check the edge to see what condition it is in. I pinch it between my fingers to see how thick it how thick the blade is just behind the edge. And just look at the edge see if the edge bevel is even. Some times you can see unevenness close to the ricasso. That will take some extra attention and work on the hone to get right. I use light to see if it reflects of the edge, if it does there is a dull spot. Then I check for a burr with my thump nail.
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If there is a burr I take a hone, usually the diamond side of the Fallkniven DC4, and remove it. Now I take a receipt of shopping, they are usually thin and consistent, and try push cutting and slicing it. If it cuts the paper cleanly and easily it is good enough to start using. If not, then I will sharpen it first. Depending on edge thickness, edge angle, and steel and what I feel like (knives are a hobby for me!) I will pic a hone and start sharpening.

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Nemo: knowing sharpening is your hobby is a knife easy to get dull a dream for you ? Or do you prefer your sharp edge to remain sharp for a long time ?
Would you enjoy D2 more than Elmax ?

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JD: a knife is for cutting and it cut better when sharp. I prefer a sharp knife! 🙂 It needs to cut what I need to cut with ease otherwise it is back to the hone it goes! I also like a knife that when it looses sharpness is easy to get sharp again. So I have no need for high wear resistant steels. But if they are thin at the edge and I like the rest of the knife it would not hold me back either.
If they are both well heat treated and kept cool in production and sharpening there after, both D2 and Elmax would work fine form me. I do not think I could tell them apart in use or sharpening. I am not much of a steel junky, though I like reading about the science of how steel works in knives. (I highly recommend the following books: (in German) Roman Landes: Messerklingen und Stahl and (in English): John D. Verhoeven: Metallurgy of Steel for Bladesmiths!) For me blade geometry and sharpness make a relevant difference. I can tell a thick knife from a thin knife and a dull one from a sharp one far better than the edge retention one steel from another.

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The biggest differences in steel that I notice are, first, how they sharpen, how easy or hard it is to remove steel, and second, how stainless they are. The last bit mostly when cutting fruit.

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Nemo: Sharpening wise: what would be the main difference between hollow ground knives and flat grind ?

JD: If they are the same thickness behind the edge the hollow ground blade wil take less effort to make the blade even thinner behind the edge, and take less effort to keep the blade thin behind the edge. Hollow ground knives can be laid flat on a hone to make and keep them thin. I have done this with a few knives. One of them a Spyderco Salt1. Now it is almost a single bevel grind (‘scandi’) and much thinner behind the edge. This has made it cut a lot better.  

The same can be done with a knife with flat bevels, it just takes more work. When you use and sharpen a knife for a while the edge gets closer to the back of the blade and gets thicker. When it gets thicker it cut worse. To make it cut well again the area behind the edge needs to be thinned out. As a hollow ground knife has less steel behind the edge it takes less work to keep it thin behind the edge.

On flat ground you often need to remove the scratches after …

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On the edge of the Polestar by JD

Like Nemo I have received my Polestar as a gift from Spyderco. It was in the goodie bag at the 2017 Amsterdam Meet. When I took the knife out of the box and looked it over my first impressions were positive. The blade opened smoothly and locked solidly with the lock bar fully engaging the tang. I liked how the gray G10 looked and felt, a nice combination of grippy and smooth. Clip tension was also excellent. I could slide the knife in and out of the pocket and waistband without any problem. The edge it came with from was less impressive, it could push cut receipt paper but had no slicing aggression at all.

When I came home I put a drop of Nano oil on the pivot which made it even smoother. I could flip the knife open with my middle finger, which is a lot of fun! Other than flipping it a few times I didn’t know what to do with Polestar. For me it is quite a big knife, having a blade length of 8,5cm. In my urban environment and with my use I have found that a blade length between 5-7 is ample. Small knives are often just more convenient for me.

After a few weeks of from time to time picking it up and flipping it I decided to give it a try and see how I would like to carry and use it. Like Nemo I moved the clip to the tip down position. I was going to carry it in the waistband and tip down carry reduces the chances of the blade accidentally opening. Thanks to the Spyder hole hump it could still be easily and quickly opened with the Spydie drop.

Before I was going to use it the edge would need to have more slicing bite then it did new. So, I thought a few passes on a coarse DMT hone would be enough for a quick touch up. I was wrong! I found out that, especially close to the recasso, the edge was pretty uneven. In some places it was even a high angle convex. The edge would need to be formed anew!

I cut of the old edge with a few light cuts into a stone and then created a new edge with my extra coarse DMT hone. I was interested in how the knife would function as it was intended by Spyderco. So I did not change the angle of the edge much but just evened out the edge bevel and formed a new apex. The steel was not hard to grind but, due to the unevenness, some parts needed lots more work than other parts. After I had was sure of having formed an apex by creating a burr on either side of the edge, I removed as much of the burr as I could by using alternate and high angle strokes. The burr flip flopped from site to side a lot and was not easy to cut of. Once I had removed most of the burr on the extra coarse hone I repeated the procedure on the fine DMT with the same difficulty in removing the burr. At that time the edge would slice receipt paper well but I have had better edges.

From past experiences I know that often a new knife needs to be sharpened a few times before the edge reaches its full sharpness and edge holding potential. So, this did not disturb me much. It was to early for conclusions.

I proceeded to cut up some cardboard before repeating most of the afore mentioned sharpening procedure. Only this time I finished on the diamond side of the Fallknives DC4, one of my favorite hones, to an edge that would just split head hair. Removing the burr and finishing the edge had become a bit easier this time around. Over the following days I carried this knife and used it for my normal cutting tasks. Mostly cutting paper cardboard and plastic packaging material and perhaps a bread bun for lunch. A funny thing I noticed: the edge its cutting ability seemed to first increase, then settle down, before slowly starting to dull!

After about a week of use the edge would still work for most of my cutting tasks but had lost some of its sharpness. I decided to resharpen the edge with just the diamond side of the Fallkniven hone again. Getting it sharp enough to shave arm hair was easy but getting it to split head hair still proved to be a bit fiddly, although I did managed it in the end. By comparison: my Elmax Squeak went from not biting in to the hair to cutting the hair with much less effort. A few passes on the hone did the trick there.

Normally I would have put the knife in pocket pocket as it was sharp enough for me use, but out of curiosity and to check my findings I resharpened it once more. I had become a bit easier to remove the burr and to make the edge arm hair shaving sharp. But to get the edge to split head hair was still a challenge. With other knives like my Maniago Spyderco’s in N690 and Elmax and, for instance, my Victorinox Bantam this had never been this difficult.

Overall the Spyderco Polestar is an enjoyable and capable knife: flipping the blade open with the middle finger is still fun and the handle works well, it handled my cutting tasks fine ones I got it sharp, but I am not impressed with the condition of the steel at the edge on my example. Still, it was interesting playing around with a knife that is so different from my usual fare!

JD

A first glimpse at the Spyderco C187CFP2 Peter Carey Rubicon 2

I’m not a fan of thick hollow blades for quite long time now. The Gil Hibben Rambo III knife is not in my dreamlist anymore and the last hollow ground knife I have reviewed has been the Recon 1. But one of my favorite knife, which has not been reviewed is my 1994 Sebenza. Anyway, the Sebbie and the Cold Steel or even the Gayle Bradley are holow ground but not thick blades.
The Peter Carey Rubicon 2 is 3,5mm thick and for a 3 inches blade it is substantial.
(The Slycz Techno was 5 mm though…)

The Rubicon 2 is not a big knife, is it destined to be an EDC. He’s not heavy, its liners are made of titanium and the scales of peel carbon fiber.

The first you enjoy is the ease of deployment. This knife flips like no other in my collection. No need for assisted opening on this baby: the heavy blade, the ball bearing pivot and the well designed flipper make the trick. The opening is positive everytime.

Eric Glesser told how difficult is it to have a flipper which also provides an alternative opening system. Meaning: sometimes you just want to open your blade gently with the Spyderhole and not with the flipper. You want to trade a “shlack!” for a “click!”.
The Rubicon can be open with the thumb and even the index. It’s fun how easy it is! The operation is so smooth and could be catagorized into the gravity knives family. This ease of operation has been a big charm upon me: the more I’ve played with the knife, the more I have enjoyed it.

The blade got a beautiful satin finish perfectly executed, perfectly executed, symetrical and and centered.

The second big charm on the Rubicon 2 is the handle. The way the flipper create a guard and a subguard, depending how you hold it. This short handle is married litteraly to my hand. For once, there is no lanyard hole and the butt of the knife is pointer than its blade.

A beautiful orange spacer gives a very hightech look to the knife as everyparts are perfectly adjusted: spacer, scales and liners. This high quality of manfacture is again provided by Taichung in Taiwan.

The bronze washers and the ball bearing gives the smoothness and the exterior stop pin assure that the washer are wide enough for stability: no lateral play.
The only break to the action could be the ball detent of the titanium liner lock but it is minor compared to the momentum of the blade.

The design is well thought also once the knfe is closed.  The Rubicon 2 gently rests in you palm confortably. The peels carbon fiber is very nice against the skin giving a very positive grip. The jimping on the blade are purely decorative and this is the way I like them two.
I won’t need to file them.

The blade is wide and thinly ground and very effective thanks to its nice belly. I was able to push cut through hard material easily. It has surprised me how it zipped though.

The balance of the Rubicon 2 is perfect IMHO. The choice of the material again provides that. The handle is very light.

I haven’t been able yet to find an easy to clip carry the knife. The texture of the scale and the very strong clip give a lot of friction. I was even able to carry it in the pocket watch.

Compared to the Ed Schempp Bowie for example: the Rubicon 2 is not pocket friendly at all.

It is not carried deep and the orange spacer screams loud : “Hey look !!!”

I’m so unhappy with the way the knife rides in the pocket that I’m thinking to use a pouch and get rid of the clip !

For the moment my cutting test with the Rubicon 2 has been really positive. It’s a short knife with a big potential.  Also your thumb can easily rest on the spine giving you more leverage.

So here we go with a first glimpse to a very well designed knife. I would have been more excited to get some exotic steel on such a radical design but S30V heat Treated by Spyderco does the trick.

The Rubicon 2 is destined to be a reliable workhorse and not only a looker and a very addictive flipping toy. There is a strong will behind its design to provide strong cutting power in a small package in its design and all is served by an ergonomy which is for me magnificent. The knife is simply anchored to your hand.

Zero Tolerance ZT0770CF – Fast and Furious.

I love my Spyderco mantra 2.
Great engineering, ergos and materials. An attention to details and a signature: Eric Glesser. He is a perfectionist and a clever one. But I do hate one thing: the trademark “little” hole. A place to catch grim and hard to clean on the field.

Why don’t you just print a circle instead to drill into the blade ? The trademark hole is even on my Spyderco fixed blades…
Anyway, the Des Horn was a first step. A second step is the ST0770CF.

I was in need of a “blind” folder. I mean a folder without any hole or thumbstub or disk.
The Real Steal Megalodon was on my list: with its beautiful lines like a Sukhoi 27, M390 steel….
But then the Zero Tolerance caught my eye through all its great reviews.

ZT knives were always synonym of heavy fat ground knives à la Strider. Not something I would enjoy as EDC.
Unless I start to follow a special project around the ZT0770in M390 and especially a version in CPM M4 (ended with 69 dollars of international shipping fees).

So I went to “La Coutelerie Tourangelle” famous for their good prices, great shipping fees (5.9 euros with tracking in France) and total absence of communication…. 😉 Just kidding, even if they are mute like a brick wall, they delivered a great service world wide.



The ZT0770CF got no name. Its blade is beadblasted. This is a user not a safe queen.
The assisted opening is strong and seems reliable. I have found some people were able to remove the spring easily and even order another bronze washer. But my idea was to have a spring making my flipping secure and complete.
Many times my flipping was not 100% on my Southard on my Domino…. and it was frustrating.
So no ball bearing on the ZT but a strong spring. Again if you don’t like it, you can remove it.
I love it.
It is positive and definitive. SCHLAKK !! It’s open.

Now if you don’t want to be noticed you can open it against your leg, halfway and with a gentle flick it is open.
All is silent.

Balance wise, the ZT is perfect: the Carbon Fibers handle is so light. There is a black spacer, beautiful and very scifi. But the point of balance is just behind the pivot ! Perfect.
The knife is “alive” in your hands.
The texture of the carbonfiber is smooth but matte. Just like my sanded G10 handles. There is enough blade to open the knife like a gentleman folder. It won’t jump from your hands, the spring is not “that” strong.
There is a detent you can also feel at the end of the blade course.
The action is smooth, enough smooth to have the gravity works fine when unlocked.
This is a beautiful knife with a great attention to details.

The liner lock is thick and nested. Easy to operate. The detent ball is visible. Everything is in place.
The jimping on the blade is not to aggressive. The jimping on the flipper is more aggressive but do not come in contact with finger once open.

The guard is very cleverly thought. The position of the pin and the jimping on the flipper. It’s a clockwork !
Closed or open, there is no hot spot on the ZT0770CF, all lines flush together: very impressive.

The pivot screw is beautiful and despite its exotic look just need a torx to be unscrew. You can rest your thumb on it, it works like my Calypso’s screw guard.
The CF handle is renforced by nested liners and despite being light the construction is very solid.

Ergos are great. I mean they suit my four fingers. I already loved on my Mantra how the flipper served as guard once the blade open. Here on the ZT the guard in integrated with flipper like on the Domino but more pronounced. I really love that configuration.

The ZT got a particular blade: high flat thinly ground with a kind of sheepfoot shape. It works.
You got some belly near the pivot and a straight edge near the point, something between a Spyderco Positron a stretch Cricket.

It cuts aggressively and pass my plastic bottle bottom with force and ease. Eventually I find the ZT’s blade is simply gorgeous, all in curves… The belly near the pivot will give a lot of power for pushcuts into wood.

I love Elmax since my Lionspy. I remember beating the crap out of it and it was really forgiving: no chipping and great sharpness.
Also I’m in love with a Squeak in Elmax with titanium handles for a year now and this pure little Italian wonder will be review soon.

Elmax is such a great knife steel. No chipping, edge stability, ease of maintaining. What not to love ?



The black clip is short but made for deep carry. This is a very low profil configuration which leave almost zero print. The knife can find a nest into the watch pocket too. We got here a very compact package and very light: a true EDC.

Great engineering all in all. Now more pictures:






Some more test once the edge is “de-shouldered”.