Tag Archives: Taiwan

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.

 

SLIVERAX — ELEGANT DREAMED ENGINEERED KNIFE – ACT II: Convexing.

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Many times, people asked me how I was honing my knives to my taste.
I love thin edges and I love edges which can be maintain by stropping on leather.
For that any sharp angle but the edge itself need to removed.

So my first step on the Sliverax full flat ground blade is to remove the shoulder on the secondary bevel. For that I use Fallkniven FB04 diamonds or Spyderco Double Stuff II.

As I don’t want recreate two other angles, I do it free hand creating a gentle natural convexed medium between the grind and the edge.

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Soo some dark dust of removed metal appears. The edge of the blade is untouched as after some initial testing I do trust it.

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I need that convexed edge on the belly of my blade, I don’t minde about the tip and the choil which are not where I do apply the most force to push cut through wood for example. It takes 30 minutes to get where I want without to make a mess by scratching the blade finish. It means each pass on the diamond is check with my finger before, sto be certain to focus on that edge shoulder. To obtuse it will scratch the edge and to acute it would scratch the blade finish. So it takes time to be certain for each stroke.

Luckily the manufacturing lines on the blade exactly follow my pass and some miss strokes were not visible.  It takes around 500 passes on each side on S30V.
Then I switch to white ceramic directly.

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White ceramic brings some mirror polish on the convexed edge and also hone it to razor.
Here I can go much faster as I won’t ruin my blade if I’m clumsy. White ceramic are very forgiving…
Soon I got a very nice mirror on both side and I can go to leather.

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I use a century old barber accessories I have found in a garage sale in Italy. With some white compound, it has honed my blade for 15 years.
Time to test the blade on a chesnut road.
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The thinner edge goes much more deeper and with more control and more ease.
Eventually after playing with the knife for 5 minutes on various material, I inspect the edge and there is no chipping or rolling.
It takes me around 45 minutes.
That’s how I proceed to get an edge which suits my need. 🙂
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Spyderco C228CFP Paul Alexander’s Sliverax — Elegant Dreamed Engineered Knife – Act I.

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This is a first glimpse review with Paul Alexander explanation at the end.

So I got the knife for less than an hour in my hand and this is just what passed through my mind just playing with it during photographies.
So it will be followed by more in situ testing. I remember Paul Alexander’s proto at the Minimeet and the fact that he is an engineer in automotive and not a knifemaker. I liked that. Sal Glesser is an inventor and he loves engineering, so it was logical for him to welcome some bold new designs coming out of the bladeshows sphere.

Oh, the Sliverax !!  She’s a looker. Pure beauty and this is not only in the eye of the beholder. Perfection of the grind, the bolt starship design. I’m whittling while I’m holding her. She got a wasp shape, something of a spaceship, created for performance…

But the first thing I have noticed is how light (94 grammes) she felt and how well balanced she was. The sweet point is just behind the pivot making the Sliverax alive. Also the blade got that angle with the handle which reminded me Ed Schempp’s design: once open all the back of the knife forms a bow. It’s ready to cut and really ergonomic.

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The Sliverax got that kind of wasp shape very biological, organical and natural in her lines.

This is pure a full flat grind with a perfect finish. Taishung at their best again. No jimping, no tactical frills: clean and pure lines.

And once closed she’s very much like a Yin and Yang symbol.

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This very thin handle is possible thanks to the Compression Lock which as the center of the design. It seems like an improved version with two pins which makes it feel very solid. Also two bronze phosphorous cages for the ball bearing is a very nice improvement compared to the Advocate or Mantra 2 pivots.

Quoting Paul Alexander on the Spyderco Forums:
“So, the compression lock is by far my favorite locking mechanism, and once I felt I had a good handle on how to implement the lock in a sound manner, I pretty quickly started to consider incorporating a flipper mechanism. As an aside, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with flippers. On the love side, I do really enjoy the almost instantaneous deployment you get with a good flipping mechanism; and somehow, incessant flipping never gets old… at least not for me, the wife and kids get understandably annoyed after a while. On the hate side, I’m not a fan of the protrusion flipper tabs usually entail. They can be cumbersome in pocket (I really do spend a lot of time considering the closed form of my designs, and while actual use is paramount, my personal knives probably spend a fair bit more time in my pocket than in my hand… sigh, office life). Plus, the tab can almost ruin the knife aesthetic if you’re going for really clean, svelte lines for a particular design. 

The Sliverax mechanism was the first workable version of a compression lock flipper I came up with, and it’s pretty straight forward. The flipper tab is just an extension on the tang, wrapping around the stop pin to get the tab into a location that gives it the right amount of leverage and generates a big enough moment to open reliably. This ends up creating a detail that looks a lot like a portion of an internal stop pin track just inboard of the flipper tab, but the cut out is further away from the pivot than a full internal stop configuration, to keep the blade as robust as possible. And that’s about it. I’ve got 2 or 3 other flipper incarnations I’m trying to work into newer designs, but really at their heart they are all fairly similar, you have to have certain features and components to make it functional, and then you come up with design inversions that better integrate into your target package.

I also believe in simplicity and elegance in a design whenever possible, so I try and not get overly intricate or complex, and start forcing extra elements or components into a knife. We’re already putting bearings in these things, and that’s probably on the upper end of what I consider reasonable for what is supposed to be a ‘basic’ hand tool. In the end, bearings are still a far sight better than most opening assist mechanisms out there, and they do provide consistent, smooth flipping action in a pretty cost efficient manner.”
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The CompLock makes it also a breeze to fire. It flips open with fast. My detent is OK.
The handle shape makes it also perfect for classical hole opening. This is a real pleasure to be able and to have access to the Spyderhole even with the left hand.
I can open it like my Paramillies: with a middle finger opening.

The texture of the carbonfiber/g10 handle is perfect in my book. It won’t tear my pocket. And the wire clip install is one of my favorite. Again It look a lot like the clip mounted on the Ed Schempp bowie. Both knives are cousin:

 

So as much as I love my Bowie, the Sliverax is a love at first sight. But she’s much lighter in my hand and in my pocket and the blade is actually thicker 3,6mm vs 2,5mm for the Bowie.

So the Sliverax feels like a dancer in my hands but the blade shape is oriented toward reliability in cutting and using as a tool. Sure, there is no play vertical or lateral what so ever.
But the funniest and amazing particularity of Paul Alexander’s design is the way the edge is actually longer than the blade. The edge goes under the pivot and stops at 2mm from the flipper.

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This design gives a lot of edge for a light EDC. On a portable solution we are always looking for the maximum of performance and here, for once, the cutting edge has been generously thought! This is a first for me.

The Sliverax seems also easy to clean thanks to its open construction. Really a serious tool for going in the wild or to be rinse in the kitchen sink. This is not a safe queen but a folder to be used.

Spyderco links is here.

So far here are the pictures:

 

And some comparaison with other knives…

 

 

And yes she cut right through the plastic bottle but with her factory edge.
And you can notice how the spine is chanfered too.

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I have asked Paul Alexander the story behind his design.
Here is his answer:
“As far as design intent, I was definitely going for a comfortable, average use EDC knife.  I’m a huge fan of negative blade angles and the less fatiguing loads it puts on the users wrist and forearm.  I personally think of this design in two different ways, it’s either a modified wharncliffe with a slightly negative blade angle or a thin leaf blade with a much more pronounced negative blade angle, it really comes down to how you approach the material to be cut with the edge/tip and what task you’d like to perform.
It was definitely not a design focusing on use on a cutting board or other flat backing surface (the negative blade angle limits that quite a bit, as does the flipper), but more for free cutting tasks such as breaking down cardboard, opening plastic clam-shell containers, opening packages, shaving/stripping the surface of various wood stock, etc.; and I think it performs tasks like this quite capably.
It’s been years since the design was submitted to Spyderco, but at the time making a compression lock flipper was a novel feature which I was trying to accomplish.  I also prefer a generous swell to the butt of the handle to fill the palm.  I like to secure the grip of almost all of my designs by primarily pinching it between the thumb and index finger in a saber grip, with the bulbous handle allowing the rest of your fingers to rather loosely wrap around it and be used to subtly direct the blade pitch and rotation when needed, but also be readily gripped much more tightly when necessary. “

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Time to start gently to convex that beautiful blade…. And here is the link to that.

 

Getting my S30V Nilakka back to Zero Grind.

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As you can notice, my Nilakka was developping a gentle convexing ground since JD had the patience to give a decent edge to it two years ago.
But since, JD has sent me another video showing how tough well heat treated S30V can be and knowing how forgiving my Nilakka and my Wolfspyder were after sharpening beyond factory edge… I have decided to put the blade flat on on diamonds and grind it until the convex bevel disappearance. In fact I was very encouraged with my various experience with that Wolfspyder.  S30V heat treated by Spyderco is now back as a friendly steel in my book.

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So for one hour I have work on that using a new Double Stuff 2 which I have discovered thanks to Howard Korn from the Knifecenter who gently add it in my last parcel.
The new diamond surface is quite abbrasive and soon the blade was a mess.
But continuing in the same way made the scratches all going in one direction and both side of the Nilakka blade soon were acceptable in term of esthetics.

20171109_153932-011005452034.jpeg There is a lot of matter to remove and by hand, it takes some time.
But eventually I was able to get some sharpness back with not pressure on the edge while sharpening but an even pressure on all the side of the blade.

After all the Nilakka was made that way, the angle of the thicked stock blade was designed by Pekka Tuominen to be a zero ground edge, with no bevel.

There is still a micro bevel but I’m almost there.
My idea for future refreshing of the Nilakka edge it to do like with my Wolfspyder: like scandi sharpening shown in Ray Mears video…. only using the flat of the blade as guide.

For now I got a razor able to make hairs jumping and been harvested with only one caress.

But also it can stand whittling in hard wood: no chipping or edge warping.
More to come very soon, as I will erase definitvely that microbevel, but I need more time…
“I need more time to make good on the promises I made to the world
When the world was moving slower…” Justin Sullivan.

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Tuscan Raider #6 — Ed Schempp Bowie at his best, in the plates !

It’s not a surprise but Ed Schempp Bowie is not only a knife to keep in a safe for collection.
I have been taking a lot of knives in Tuscany. Fixed blades to test in the wood of the national parks and some folders. But eventually the Bowie has taken an important place in my trip.
Why ?
First it’s a gorgeous knife which create a lot of conversation.
Also it’s so easy to pocket. This is a huge plus for this EDC: it’s stay in your pocket like a much shorter folder. It’s easy to grab it and to take it. It’s always with you.
I have thinned the edge to the level of my Delica and the result on whittling wood are really outstanding.

It was easy to keep clean and classy. Meaning it can be used in the farm and in the city.

But it’s in the plate and in the kitchen that the Bowie was able to shine bright.

On the table, the Bowie takes its place with pride.

And the Kukri’s curve (Ed Schempp Signature) helps a lot when cutting in the plate.
At the opposite of my ZT0562CF with its flipper getting in the way…

The beef meat cookes at the flame is zipped open by the convexed edge.

The Tuscanian crostini are made of liver are gently spread on bread.

The trip back home leaded us through the Alps and the Opinel birth place.

Spritz, beer, hams and cheeses. The bowie was easy to open and close without to be noticed.


The roblochon is a cheese which needs a long blade.

Eventually the Bowie excellence can be expressed in the woods and in the plate. This is not the case of all folding knives. Ed Schempp’s EDC does it with elegance and efficiency.
So no, really it’s not a safe queen this is a knife to be used every day with pride.