Tag Archives: Rockstead

Rockstead Higo-J in the spring time

I don’t have cherry trees or I would have pictured the Higo with some cherry tree blossoming… but here we got roses almost a month earlier !
So it was the occasion to picture the blade in the middle of them.
As you can notice, the Rockstead quality is something you can mesure in time. The knives which has been included in my EDC rotation and my hicking in the woods, did not suffered from his chores. The mirror polished blade is still perfectly intact. The lock up is secure and there is no play.
Now ZDP-189 is a very nice steel on the long run. I mean by “nice”…. “gentle” !
Using a Paramilitary 2 Sprint Run with a blade S90V, this last is a bear to get sharp. As Sal Glesser said S90V do not want to give away molecules.
ZDP-189 which I EDC with the Michael Walker and the Rockstead is “gentle” as I can polish it. (I was not able to do that yet with S90V.
The Higo is a very pragmatic knife, it is made to get dirty and to be clean easily. WIth his incredibely hard blade, I did not have any issue to keep it razor sharp in the woods. The choil makes it a very precise knife for wood cutting. You can applied a lot of force in confidence and the handle is very confortable despite it’s open fram structure.

Spring is the time for cleaning. I have used my Higo to cut hard plastic before to have it recycle. I was able to try to compare ZDP with S90V.
I’m very confident, even with a 66,6 HRC ZDP when I’m still very careful with S90V at 60HRC. S90V is like a “alien” steel, it can stay as sharp for “strange” reason I can not quantify even if I can qualify it, knowing how the steel carbid matrix is reinforced by vanadium…
ZDP on the other side both on the Michael Walker and the Rockstead got at first some micro chipping issue, but once resharpen never shown any more unreliability.
Oslo I was not able to get any patina on ZDP and my main way to keep it sharp is some white compound on a leather belt.
It’s razor and don’t want to give up.

My only little complaint is the shape of the clip but this is really not a big issue as I have prevent any scratches it could have done. (That was not the case on my various Sebenza clips wich has been very nasty on car paint…).
All in all after eight months of use, the Higo-J is still like a new knife. I was not able to scratch the handle, despite my rings on my left hands. The blade stay sharp with easy maintenance. The lock up is secure and the feeling of using a fixed blade is very strong.

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Rockstead Higo-J: Part III – Masamune in Winter

The Rockstead Higo-J # 102 continues to be worn and used daily as part of my testing of this high quality knife through the seasons in France.

The road so far:
“Rockstead Higo-J part I – A Folding Masamune in Paris”
“Rockstead Higo-J ZDP-189: Fears and Cures”
“Rockstead Higo-J In the woods”

Rockstead Higo-J ZDP

The mechanism did not show any sign of wear since I got the knife used daily. The feeling/sensation of holding a light fixed blade is real once open. The opening and closing is getting smoother (the retention ball was the main brake to the butter like opening provided by huge phosphoric bronze washers) the clip (despite its lip) was a great surprise in confort of carrying and did not caught anything.

Rockstead Higo-J

What is appreciated in the ergonomy of the Higo-J conceived as “a very pragmatic knife” is the natural way the fingers find their places on that very straight design.
The choil offers a very nice position for the index for any precise work. And the balance of that light knife makes it a natural extension of your hand. There is no issue or hot spot while using the knife even on hard wood.
Some bushcrafters friend of mine really appreciated its grind which is almost scandy. It seems to remove the bark of wood stick like a zipper: with a lot of control.
The Higo was also used in hunting dejointing and skinning and the ZDP grind and heattreated by Rockstead did not failed us.

Rockstead Higo-J

Now how the ZDP-189, hard as Rockstead like to treat it (HRC66,6) was a concern for me. The initial grind was a little to fragile and my regrind did not permit to recover the initial performance of the knife. This was an issue that many users of thin grind knives may have encountered: rolling edge on stainless can be messy.
Now with patience and elbow grease, the edge of the Higo-J has been restored and maintain to an excellent level of working sharpness.
As a very polish edge (I don’t see myself putting a toothy edge on it, sorry…) the knife shows a constance in performance: it cuts cuts and cuts with accuracy and reliability. Now I only strop it once a week with compound and leather and it enough to keep it sharp.
So I don’t use saw motions and mainly pushcuts. It’s easy to reproduce the demo of Hanada-San. even the “Schtock” sound of the repeating cutting is reproductible.
Also the encounter with some hard surface and even some stapples were not able to mark the edge: no nicks, nothing which could not be fixed with a light ceramic and a lot of stropping.

Rockstead Higo-J ZDP-189

The more I use it, the more it grows on me. It’s easy to use and very easy to clean. So you don’t mind getting dirty and use that beautiful blade on messy jobs.
I have even seen Hanada-San being able to put it apart in a matter of seconds: there is only two main screws on that incredible design.

I was not able also to scratch the mirror finish and only some little scars are visible witnessing the use of the Higo on hard material.
So far I’m still very impress by the overall quality of that expensive tool.
The handle don’t show any scratches or anything which could alter their beautiful lines. I’m conscient that, if the knife would fall on concrete it would be marked (when G10 or carbon Fiber are very shock/scratches friendly) but it did not occur to me. So far the Higo-J only fell on soils and was rinse after.
BTW the ZDP blade did not stain (that steel is known for being sometime easy to stain).
This is the end of my update. The Higo-J will be used on X-mas turkey and I will come back to it in 2011…
Rockstead Higo-J

Rockstead Higo-J ZDP-189: fears and cures

My ZDP189 Higo blade was “chipping” today (!!!) quite badly on the tip (Arrrrgh!!!). So I have decided to passe it gently on a Spyderco white ceramic rod before to strop it for a good hour on leather and compound.
Now it’s much sharper than before (!) and I know my edge is stronger with a little convexing which should prevent it from rolling…
Amazing grind ! Amazing steel !
ZDP-189 is very forgiving.
I don’t know how the chipping appeared as I did not use the knife hard (yet). I think it came from the very thin hard edge on the tip and perharps one fumble of mine.
Now it’s “cured” and fixed !
(I did not pictured it when it was a mess as I was much to concern about fixing it.
Perhaps the edge touch something hard I did not notice ?
I don’t know.
Anyway:

Notice how the “chipping” on the edge start to be erased by the ceramic shouldering.

now it’s all fixed:

The more I think about it (and when I see how I could fix it)
I think it was the very edge which rolled “chaotically” giving the look of a bad chipping but which could be fixed with a light sharpening (without removing matter)
The edge has touched something hard (it’s happen at the tip and this could have happen without me to notice it)
It happen once to me with another knife (mirror finish, thin and stainless) I was testing by cutting bambu and I completly ruined the edge: it was almost serrated after my ten cuts…. but I was able to realigned the edge and the damage was almost invisible after and the high sharpness restored.

My other ZDP-189 blade is the Chris Walker which is not as “smooth” sharp as the Higo but so far di not rool or chip. (It’s not as hard as the Higo-J though)

“The bottom of this blade edge is 30 degrees, and it’s continuously change to top of the blade.The top edge’s angle is 24 degrees.”
30 degree (15 by 15) with a very hard steel can be tricky when the edge is brend new.

Anyway I gently realigned the edge with white ceramique and strop it a lot.
I my have created a secondary (and stronger) edge, but the stropping should minimize its effect in pure sharpness loss.

Any knives are made to be used. It’s easy to hit something which alter the edge. A good tool should be able to withstand that, get fixed and ask for more.
The Higo-J, as an excellent tool, is no exception.
Bob Terzuola says: “If you knife is still sharp, it means you don’t use it enough !”
So let’s use it !

Researching the Rockstead site:
“We realized the best edge angle near the haft of the blade is 30 degrees and in the point of the blade 24 degrees.(We adjusted the angle to 30 degrees in the haft side because power was most concentrated there, which improved toughness, and 24 degrees at the tip of the blade, where power was low. The angle changes continuously.)”

Ok the angle at the tip is shallower (24°)… that’s why the tip is more fragile … Good to know.

The road so far:
“Rockstead Higo-J part I – A Folding Masamune in Paris”
“Rockstead Higo-J In the woods”
“Rockstead Higo-J: Part III – Masamune in Winter”

Rockstead Higo #102 ZDP-189 – A folding Masamune in Paris (Part I)

Rockstead is worldwide famous for delivering the most exquisite hard polished blades in the industrial knife world. All made by CNC machines in Japan and painfully polished by gifted hands, those extraordinary blades are shown able to be used hundred of times on hard bamboo and still being able to cut paper like razors ! It’s made by hardening the blade to HRC67 and even beyond and being almost obsessed by edge angles!
So cutting with a Rockstead is like driving a Lamborghini: you pay for the best materials and the best performances.
Rockstead Higo in its balsa crate
The balsa wood crate with the wrench and the certificate.

Thanks to Hanada San, director and display pilot of Rockstead knives, I will have the chance to test and review on the long run one knife he choosed for me on his table: one of his Higo knife, #102 with ZDP189 (HRC 66,6 I wonder why I have baptised it “Diablo” …) with Duralum handle and an integral lock.

Rockstead Higo in the rain
Notice how the edge is perfectly ground ! Amazing !

First thing you notice when you reveal the blade to the light is the exquisite attention to details. The edge is mirror polished and perfectly symetrical on both sides.
The hole in the blade (with a gauge) is the signature of Rockstead. It’s found on all their knives designed by Takeshi Saji. It gives some kind of high tech sci fi look to a very sober design.

Rockstead Higo
The infamous Saucisson test !

OK. the description of this knife as it’s found on their site is also spectacular: HIGO-J-ZDP BLADE / SHINOGIZUKURI
Full length : 213mm
Blade : 89mm
Material : ZDP 189
Thickness : 3.2mm
Weight : 104g
Hardness : around HRc67 !!!!


At that hardness…this can be used as a glass breaker !

Scale : A2024(duralumin)Hard-anolized treatment
Spring to chip : SKD11HRc61 (*)
Rockstead Higo Lock
(*) Because the sliding liner of the integral lock is termined by a chip of hard steel (HRc 61) like some unharded titanium lock can be more and more found.

Rockstead Higo CLosed
Perfect size for an EDC knife.

After the bamboo is cut and beat with this knife and Manila rope is cut 350 times, you can slice the paper. This easy maintenance knife is an easy-to-use knife that cuts well. The handle of the duralumin is light and is strong.The bottom of this blade edge is 30 degrees, and it’s continuously change to top of the blade.The top edge’s angle is 24 degrees. The change in this angle is a result of ROCKSTEAD that pursues sharpness. This is a knife of preeminent sharpness. You can enjoy its strong cutting capabilities for a long time. This scale is fixed with two screws and the resolution is easy. After cutting the fish and the animal, you can easily clean it.

Rockstead Higo
The tuscany ham was cut as thin as it desserved.

The straight folder is easily clipped on the front right trouser pocket. The Duralum handle is easy on the fabric and the clip is well positionned and all package is low profile. This is mandatory for an EDC.
The knife is absolutly well balanced in hand. Light and fast. Holding it in your hand is a pleasure. This knife exude pure perfection. It’s very straight and very versatile. The edge can be used up side down for skinning purpose.


Thea inspecting the balance of the knife. One centimeter behind the pivot.

Skinning ?!
Wait a minute, who is going to use a 1000 euros folding knife for skinning ?!

Rockstead Higo
The over size thumb lugs are very confortable to use and far enough not to be in the way.

Let’s not be fooled by the price of that jewel. The Higo-J is 400% performance oriented. It’s easy to clean and even is provided with a wrench if you need to take it apart. (Like Chris Reeve’s Sebenza). this the proof how the trust the designer has in their work. It’s of course an expensive tool but it has been designed to be used.
Remember the Emerson CQC6 craze 15 years ago ? They were as expensive as the Higo nowadays and some people used them hard.

Rockstead Higo

Of course, Hanada San is the first to display the unearthly cutting qualities of his knives. They are hard but they will not chip and they will cut and cut and cut until you strop them. Rockstead knives are mainly strop on compound. No need to scratch the beautiful finish.
That suit me perfectly as I love to refresh my edges on leather.   Mine did not get used enough to be stropped yet and I’m heading forward touching up its edge this way.

Rockstead Higo
Cutting a well done cheese is not the easiest talk. The mirror finish helped a lot !

As you can see the Higo has first been acclimated to our Whine Ham & Cheese country. And it passed that first test with flying colors.
Cutting fresh hot bread, Tuscanian delicate ham and all-done Saint Nectaire’s cheese were no problem for this beautiful folder. It get dirty but also get clean easily.
It’s sheeple friendly as its mirror and elegant edge is not as “scary” as on some other thick tactical folders.

The grind is saber with flat (almost convex) sides. It’s so gorgeous you can look at it fir hours and still be amazed but the worksmanship. The cut is powerful and easily control. All in all, it’s like a gentleman folder with a very very strong attitude which screams to be used !

The edge is pure razor. You could not expect less. So it goes through hard bread crust in a a breeze making thin slices by only pushcutting it. The only knife which can reach that performance out of the box was the mighty little C22 Walker which is also a ZDP189 knife and made in Japan…
(Oh yes, ZDP189 is new powder steel with 3% of carbon and 20% of chrome. At HRc 66,6 this is not a knife you want/can to get dull ! It will hold an edge and just ask some attention on a stropping belt to continue on and on… )

OK after that little civilized warm up, the beautiful Higo-J will now be confronted to hunting season and the joy of woodcraft.
Wood cutting do not lie…

The infamous cutting plastic bottle test… like in butter !

To be continued ! (and updated…)

Rockstead Higo Blade
Beautiful reflection of the clouds on the Higo’s mighty blade.

The road so far:

“Rockstead Higo-J ZDP-189: Fears and Cures”
“Rockstead Higo-J In the woods”
“Rockstead Higo-J: Part III – Masamune in Winter”