Tag Archives: Sal Glesser

STEEL K390 BÖHLER’S MICROCLEAN – UNCANNY BLADE MATERIAL.

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I have seen a video where someone is stabbing concrete with its Spyderco Police 4 to show how K390 is strong ! The blade of that famous knife is thin and this thinness is here for a purpose: Sal Glesser has decided to use the Police 4 plateforme according to his own desire but toughness and impact resistance may have weighed in on the decision. For once the Police is not especially aimed at the LEO but those ELU who use their thin knives hard !

“We make quite a few designs for the Law Enforcement market at this time, so the design for Police use is necessarily the case anymore, like it was in 1984. I designed the Police 4 to include what I would like in a knife, more than what a LEO might like. It’s still a kissing cousin, and large for most people. I widened the blade, enlarged the hole and selected a steel that I like to use. The design’s success in the marketplace is unknown at this time. But I get to have one. ” Sal Glesser.

K390 is not stainless. It’s a cold work tool steel which uses Bohler proprietary Microclean technology.  K390 has close to the same edge holding as A11 but is much tougher. Bohler’s third generation particle metallurgy contributes to the toughness of the steel.This steel will be hard to grind, finish and sharpen. Once it is sharp it will stay sharp for a long long long time. It’s CPM M4 on steroids which means K390 has more strength, durability, stability and wear resistance than M4 ! And I do love CPM M4.

Here is a video which confronts CPM M4 and K390:
https://youtu.be/TI53ziibeiQ

From Bohler’s commercial:

“K390 is quite simply the powder metallurgical cold work tool steel with the best properties for cold work applications available from BÖHLER at the moment. K390 MICROCLEAN was developed to meet the demanding wear resistance and compressive strength requirements of cutting, blanking and punching applications, for cold forming applications and for parts which are subjected to abrasive wear in plastics processing. Tool life can be increased by several hundred percent due to the outstanding wear resistance, high compressive strength and good toughness of BÖHLER K390 MICROCLEAN. These material properties enable our customers to make their production processes more efficient and consequently to reduce the price per part produced. Too hard to be machinable? Quite the opposite. The task of the tool steel manufacturer is to produce a steel which is, on the one hand, easy and economic to machine (with a hardness of around 280HB) and simple and unproblematic to heat treat, but which, on the other hand, has a very high hardness (up to 64HRc) and optimum performance in use. The secret lies in the powder metallurgy process. A very fine, homogeneous microstructure guarantees optimal machinability.

K390 owes its superior properties above all to the powder-metallurgical production process. The main advantages of BÖHLER MICROCLEAN steels over conventional steels are: • uniform carbide distribution • small carbide size • uniform chemical composition over the entire cross-section and length • virtually isotropic behaviour due to improved homogeneity and the absence of segregations.”

From Phil Wilson on the Spyderco Forums.:
“I have been using K390 from the start ever since it was introduced by Bohler and I got some small samples to try. A bit of history is that it is the European version of CPM 10V but not the exact chemistry (about 1% less V plus small addition of a few others). That is because the CPM 10V chemistry was protected by patent at the time. If you check the K390 data sheet it claims that the bit less V gives K 390 a little boost in impact toughness. It also can be heat treated at a lower temp. than 10v. So it is pretty much the same as the A11 grade but different in a few small details. It is hard to tell the difference between CPM 10v and BU K390 in the real world in my experience. I like both grades and they are the base line (along with Vanadius 10 and K294) from which I measure wear resistance. The 5 chrome is there to make them all air hardening among other things and does not contribute much to corrosion resistance. It is going to make a killer knife in the new offering and be another classic. Phil”

On my Urban, K390 has proven to be very tough. It is my main travelling folder. And it is a real wolf under sheep’skin. One of the little home test I got is by removing the metal around a bottle of wine’s cork. Most of the time, the knife edge is bent and shows some shining due to miss alignement but not with K390. The steel feels like plastic. On my three knives, the Pingo got the most stout blade and less pointy. This little knife is simply used very hard with zero damage to the edge: digging in wood, cut into staples, scrapping various paints and plastic. So far, even if the steel is not stainless, a mild patina has protected it from real rust.

So what do we got ? A tough blade which keeps its sharpness for a very long time. A forgiving edge which can be used by clumsy hands with no after thoughts.
The side effects are: the need of diamonds and ceramics to keep it razor.
Once convexed to me taste, I use white ceramic and some stropping just to get it mirror.

We definitively needs more knives in K390 !

 

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The Spyderco PPT Round 3- Long Term Review of a Faithful EDC with Supersteel.

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Since last year round with the PPT, the very unique ergos of this unique folder have made me come back again to its radical design and I have decided to EDC it in all circumstances (instead to keep it safe).

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Still, I really enjoy how the weight of the handle glue it to my hand and I have found zero hot spots after filing a bit the choil. Smoothness of its action has been really enhanced by using it everyday. Now it deploys fast and close by gravity.
After some work on the blade, the edge has been thinned as my Manly’s.

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The PPT is a very easy companion. My main battlefield is the kitchen. It is not an open handle design but with some hot water I have been able to keep the spacer and the skeletonized liners clean. A dip in very hot soap water is all my maintenance after a full day in the kitchen but a tiny drop of oil is then always welcome. It has been used in the woods where I was able to use it on wood. The knife has behave perfectly even when twisting the edge. Zero issue here. The chips are flying everywhere as the full flat ground is fast in making deep cuts in wood. While in the forest, when working with it, most of the time I have thrusted its blade’s point in a tree instead closing it and opening again.

No damage at all. For the record, Sal has developed and sold his own version of a Bushcraft knife, at first named the NASA Bushcrafter with S90V blade and Carbon Fibers handle and later the Proficient. It means that the melange S90V plus CF is approved by Sal for being used in the wood with reliability.

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The lock which is almost a RIL lock has not failed me because your grasp reinforced it when you hold the knife in your hand. Zero movement vertical or horizontal. I have not been able to fumble my grasp when closing. The opening of the knife is now made with my major finger flicking it like.


I have sanded the handle (just a bit) to smooth the edges of the corrugated CF, just to protect my trousers from being chewed. Nothing changed in the look but the PPT is now much easy to retrieve and introduce in my denims. I carry it in my right front pocket along with a leather wallet.

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Once brought to “razor sharp level”, S90V is easy to maintain to that level mostly only with white ceramic and some leather stropping. ( JD has given me some diamond compound that help the process too). After some cardboard cutting, the ultra razor level is lost but the working edge is keen enough to slit through paper and this sharpness will last for a very long time. Zero chipping even after various cuts into very hard plastics. It is almost a maintenance free knife, like my Manix in CPM110V which I use for travelling (It is light and stays sharp for a very long time avoiding me to bring some sharpening tool).

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When cutting with the PPT you got a very agile blade with its center of gravity inside your hand and, by just holding it by its hole, it immediately orients itself tip up. It helps when you need to change your grip: it like a compass telling you where is the point and the very sharp edge even with greasy or wet hands.

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Despite its martial pedigree, sheeples seems not afraid of my PPT. No raising eyebrows even when used in restaurant or family dinners. Nobody seems to notice it which is a very good thing.

 

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Eventually if the PPT was a dog, it would be an Amstaff : compact, bold and powerful.

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Spyderco Police C07GP4 – The Steel Cheetah.

I remember one of the very first advertising of the Clip It collection of Spyderco. The Police was presented in its stainless handle serrated edge version of that time (80’s…) and it was written something like: “Pure Performance” … The cheetah is a good example of incredible fast and lean animal and as this knife, it is thin and light and totally performance oriented.

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The venerable Police model designed by Sal Glesser is at its 4th version. Born in the early 80’s it is now part of Spyderco’s Legendary knives. I remember seeing some models with “Pride Integrity and Guts” engraved on their blade: they were the very first. This knife can be spotted in so many Hollywood movies, mostly in the hands of bad guys and even in the excellent classical Spike Jonze’s musical video for the Beastie Boys: Sabotage ! The stainless serrated hollow ground blade was really catching the lights hence it’s success for a dramatic entry in various films !

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I was never a real fan of the first 3 versions of the Police models even if I recognized it has a valuable tool. In my book, the Tantaka was the true heir of those years. The fourth version caught my eye as it was promoting a new steel the KC390.

Many times I had noticed some vertical play on “Made In Japan” folders from Spyderco and decided to buy one if only I could test it before.
But this one came from a Massdrop sale and I was very happy to get one with zero blade play in any direction. Mine feels solid and knowing how strong a good backlock is, this flat long folder is really impressive. So it was about time to review this venerable classic folder which is delivered with a plain edge only and K390 … but why choosing a “staining “steel high performance steel when the Police as always been serrated and stainless ?

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“We make quite a few designs for the Law Enforcement market at this time, so the design for Police use is (not?) necessarily the case anymore, like it was in 1984. I designed the Police 4 to include what I would like in a knife, more than what a LEO might like. It’s still a kissing cousin, and large for most people. I widened the blade, enlarged the hole and selected a steel that I like to use. The design’s success in the marketplace is unknown at this time. But I get to have one. ” Sal Glesser on Spyderco Forums in 2016.

 

Also the blade is perfectly centered. The construction is the same as my Endura and Delica, sandwiching the steel liners with the handle material. Here it’s black G10 on skeletonized liners: the knife doesn’t feel heavy at all but very well balanced and fast in the hands.

The long flat blade is still intimidating while deployed. Let’s see some comparaison pictures. Notice the black could of forming patina in the middle.

Here with Ed Schempp’s Bowie which is one of the best blade/handle ratio folder in the Spyderco collection, full flat ground versus high saber flat ground. The Bowie has been convexed to my taste. The large choil on the police is confortable though.

Here compared to the wonderful Manly Peak, another thin backlock lightsaber. The Manly has not been really convexed; it is really thin ground ! With its S90V blade, better edge/handle ratio and zero blade play construction, it is a real contender to the fourth version of the Police.

They share the same thin stock blade. The Manly (on the right) is even pushing the envelop a little further by proposing hidden nested liners for the same handle thickness.

It is obvious the Delica and the Police are sharing the same DNA even if the Delica main difference is the absence of real choil to choke up the blade. I have both in tip down carry position for easy spyderdrops opening. Here is the Knifecenter special edition of the Delica.

The Delica still got the Boy indentation on the lock when the Police is now leaner. This raffinement has never made a real difference to me. The spring on the Police model is quite strong actually so no worry about unlocking it will chocking the handle.

Here you can notice how longer the Millie handle is compared to the Police. Also the belly of the Millie is much more pronounced. I think now the Police 4 has been also designed to be used while wearing gloves (one of the Military plusses). Both finger holes are equally wide with a very pronounced blade’s hump. The Police’s choil is even wider than the Millie’s !

Also the Military blade is thicker as is its handle. The Police is perhaps more “urban” oriented: it is a large folder easy to wear with any suits.

Here you can admire how the Police is a steel cheetah: lean and mean. The clip was mounted that way and I was tempted to add a deep carry clip but eventually, the spyderdrop is the more handy way to open that large folder so the clip is now mounted near the pivot.

This thin blade enhanced by a great steel (K390) is pushing that venerable model to new heights. We are far from the serrated hollow ground model of the 80’s which was respecting special requirements from the LEO. “It was designed to have an as large as possible blade built into a thin, equally sized handle. Because of this, Save and Serve professionals continue buying the Police Model as an essential tool for their trade.”
From Spydiwiki.

It is a flat and elegant design with a very clever purpose: to insert easily the knife inside the pocket when tip down carried.

Some sanding was required to get the handle even smoother for easier pocketing.
Aerodynamism is one thing, pocketodynamism is another.

Again, never breath that dust it is toxic for your lungs.
“”The benefits of G-10 as a handle material are many. It can support a building, be drilled and sawed. It’s doesn’t retain heat or cold, shuns chemicals, discoloration and peeling. “

And that makes it long folder which can easily be pocketed. Carried tip down, the handle shape pushes my wallet away  when inserted and allow very quick and positive spyderdrop openings. They are four positions to mount the clip on the Police since the 3rd version in 2008.

Next step, with some diamonds, it was time to reprofile the blade to a Manly Peak level and to thin the edge by “deshouldering”. Not an easy task as K390 is a bear to sharpen.

The occasion to picture the blade before to scratch it.

The light reflections on the blade shows it has already started a mild patina while being stored.

K390 develops naturally a beautiful patina like storm clouds. Here is the Police with my Pingo and Urban.

Funny how it is hard to catch on photography but the Urban got the convexed grind I want to achieve for the Police. Both knives are signed by Sal Glesser’s logo.

I have check how the patina was easy to remove before going back to sharpening.

Here you can see the dust formed by the diamonds of a DC4.
K390 is a very wear resistant steel…


Here what Phil Wilson said about it in the Spyderco Forums:
“I have been using K390 from the start ever since it was introduced by Bohler and I got some small samples to try. A bit of history is that it is the European version of CPM 10V but not the exact chemistry (about 1% less V plus small addition of a few others). That is because the CPM 10V chemistry was protected by patent at the time. If you check the K390 data sheet it claims that the bit less V gives K 390 a little boost in impact toughness. It also can be heat treated at a lower temp. than 10v. So it is pretty much the same as the A11 grade but different in a few small details. It is hard to tell the difference between CPM 10v and BU K390 in the real world in my experience. I like both grades and they are the base line (along with Vanadius 10 and K294) from which I measure wear resistance. The 5 chrome is there to make them all air hardening among other things and does not contribute much to corrosion resistance. It is going to make a killer knife in the new offering and be another classic. Phil”

So slowly it is deshouldered but I will be obliged to go back to the blade later. It is, for me, like painting a ceiling… I always come back for another layer… 😉

All right, the performance are already promising. The plastic Bottle Butt is as thick as the blade itself but it has been able to got through it right in the middle. Again, zero blade play on that huge folder: very happy.  Same punition for the bottle neck. The Police shows how powerful it is and that the recipe of “thin blade + super steel” is always a winner for high performance knives. More to come, as this one is going to be user !

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I have mounted a deep carry clip from Blade4sell.

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Cruwear and Patina, the Lemon Edition.

 

Back to trying to get a patina on cruwear after my first attempt.
Because lemon juice is not smelly and we use it a lot in the house, I have tried to let the blade all night in a tissue imbibed.

Tissue seems to be some kind of catalyst as it help to keep a contact between the citric acid and the surface of the blade.

 

In the morning the tissue was dark!

And you can notice rust starting to form in between strokes of the patina.

Rust is removed with some polishing which keeps the patina.

So here we are now with a kind of camouflage results.

It looks forced but should “mild” with uses but yes you can get a Patina from Cruwear with lemon juice and a night…

Which means if you forget your knife in the sink after making some salad, you can get rust on your Cruwear blade and a very swaggy patina.

Spyderco C81GPCW2 Paramillie CPM CruWear KnifeCenter Exclusive — Another Smooth Operator.

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This one will be my 5th Paramillie 2, so it is a well known plateforme but the offer was to great to pass: a CPM Cruwear blade and a smooth black G10 handle: another exclusive run from the Knifecenter which is synonym of of a great attention to detail. This sprint run is absolutely flawless and its operation is smooth like butter. You really feel in your hand one of the greatest all-terrain EDC version ever made by Spyderco, no more no less. You can also check my previous review of the Knifecenter Smooth S90V Native 5.

Perfectly centered and the grind lines just great. Golden is getting better and better through the years, it is like a real jewel of a “tactical knife”. Sal and Aric can be proud of that one !

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This sprint run got smooth black G10 handles but pardon my French, I do love my edges even smoother than that. It’s really a matter of personal choice but the relation with my tools goes through the finger and the palm of my hands.

So OK It was really a matter of minutes just to round a bit the G10, as I was not obliged to sand all the slabs. So it was an minor adjustment.

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The edge is already thin, So I cannot really improve it.

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CPM Cruwear is great for stropping: a mirror edge is done very easily.

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It is just the first try at deshouldering, the factory edge is still there and I want to test it that way.
This is not my first CPM Cruwear blade as my Grey Millie “Gandalf” was my first.

The knife operates so smoothly I have decided to carry it tip up and have installed a short deep carry clip which disappears under my ring finger once deployed. My intention is also to use the version of the Paramillie 2 hard so I want to hold it by the pivot without a clip coming in the way.
More to come soon.

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En this black smooth handle reminds me that knife of my childhood: Le Couteau d’Office Nogent Carbon (Nogent carbon steel paring knife) which was the sharpest knife in the kitchen.

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52100 A guilty pleasure !

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As you know my experience with 52100 has been enhanced with the owning of a great Paramillie 2 Sprint Run. This steel is staining and pitting just by gazing at it hence the forced patina I have done to protect the pivot’s hidden part.

But then ? After almost a year of rotation how 52100 has behaved ?

“52100 will take a very keen edge. What is often called “sticky sharp” or “a hungry edge.” said Sal in March 2018.  He also said he wanted a Millie in 52100 to be used as Mountain knife.
And this is true. Like SuperBlue steel ! Those folding razor steel are flirting with lightsabers and are strong. Of course you don’t use your folders like a fixed blade as the pivot and lock can be weaker than a tang. “Batoning” (if any) with a folder should be made with the blade unlocked to avoid any stress on the locking mechanism. But lateral blade jolting inside the cutting medium is commun. I do that in plastics when It got resistance but it can happen inside a wooden knot too. So lateral strength especially on a thin pointy blade like the Millie/paramillie and Para3 is not a luxury as is also edge stability.

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But the greatest joy and satisfaction in owning a 52100 blade is in its honing. This steel is made for leather stropping. In two passes it already get back to razor. Of course, I had convexed the blade to a very thin edge. In a simple 2 minutes round, after a full day of using, your knife is back to uncanny sharpness. This is so satisfying !!

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The thick bottom of any plastic plastic soda bottle is my favorite test for geometry and bite as it can collapse under the force if not thin enough. The Nilakka is the queen in that game. But my full flat ground blade are all convexed to achieve powerful and controlled cuts. The thinnest of the bunch are my 72100 et CPM M4.

Ghost my CPM M4 millie has been used on various cutting duty involving food and grease as has been my 52100 Paramillie. I don’t do cutting ropes tests or anything which can be numbered, I go with the feeling. Even if I enjoy reading those tests it’s “quantity” over “quality” as a blade is 33% steel 33% heat treatment and 33% blade geometry. Cutting hard wood, looking and touching the wood’s grain and the cut fibers and how the edge behave when twisted inside is my way ad as 52100 is also used in razors: shaving sticks of hard wood is done with ease and control.

For Ed Fowler (grand manitou of forging 52100) when carefully forged and heat treated, this is the most versatile and dependable steel available to the knife industry. He feels that a man who depends on his knife deserves and needs the most reliable knife possible that will not bend easily or break when he needs it the most. A knife that can be sharpened easily and is friendly to his hand.

Ed got a very oldtimer advice for keeping his 52100 blade rust free:
“Any oil will keep rust from the blade, many times I simply apply the oil from the side of my nose or from behind my ear…”
One thing is certain: the more you use your 52100 blade, the more you check it and oil it with your hands.

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Ed is not stranger to folding knives as he has teamed up with Ron Appleton and forged the blade out of 52100 for his “Chub” in 2001. Ron wanted to create a folding knife that would be capable of withstanding the rigorous demands of a straight blade user.

Our friend Ed Schempp is another fan of 52100 here what he was saying about it in 2005
“52100 is a very good steel. Ed Fowler has spent a life time tweaking this steel to improve performance. With multiple thermal cycles, normalizing and interrupted quenches, and low temp forging has accomplished and extremely fine grained steel.
Most of the time a good smith can further refine the grain on production steel. Some of the grain can be smaller then but not of the homogenous size that Crucible attains in their CPM products.
This translates to a finer cutting edge that can be sharper than S30V. This edge will not necessarily last as long as a high Vanadium steel like S30V, but can a higher initial sharpness.
The thermal treatment to bring the best of what 52100 has to offer will be expensive, although a simple heat treatment will still bring forward a good amount of what the steel has to offer. Differentially hardened blades would be very difficult to do commercially.”

So 52100 is still a guilty pleasure, because you know it will stain, it will need maintenance but when it come to using it hard and hone it back to sharp, this steel shows is true colors !

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Spyderco C223GPDGY Para 3 Maxamet Part II.

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The Grey Mouser has been in my EDC rotation since it has arrived in my pocket.
So this a little report.

Maxamet is like a super CPM M4 to me, it cannot seem to get dull. I have deshouldered the edge and keep it sharp (razor) with white ceramic and leather. The edge behaviour in wood is like M2, it gives a gentle patina to the part cut.
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The gently rounded spine is a must for thumb push cutting.

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The lock is solid and did not give in to any vertical or lateral play.

The Para3 is really a friendly 3 inches knife with a wide spectrum of uses.
Near the pivot you got as much as any C36 Millie strenght for power cutting as this is the same “cockpit” as the good old Military. The point is easier to control as your hand grabs the blade and the handle with more ease on smaller knives. So you got a very capable knife for the outdoors, able to carve and trim wood.

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Maxamet is giving a beautiful orange red patina. I have not been able to get any pit of rust despite my every day use on acidic foods.

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It’s less sensitive to medium than K390 and close to CPM10V. You got stain but nothing more in my experience.

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I clean it directly under the tap of in a soapy water. Nothing extravagant. The action is on the smooth side even without any oil near the pivot. I have decided to treat it the hard way.

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So far I’m really impressed by the ease of keeping razor sharp that very special alloy. It’s not difficult with only white ceramic and leather and it happen once a week just for a refresh.
The deep carry clip is back for tip up carry and it makes a very low signature for an EDC.

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It’s used every day for eating and mostly I use the spine to push in the plate.

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An apple a day keep the doctor away, especially if you got a good aim.
More to come soon but so far this is a very satisfying experience.

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