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Pleasure of whittling — Which knife ?

A knife and a piece of wood make my day.
I can sit and enjoy a good blade taking nice wooden chips.
Steel chemistry is important, especially how fine its grain is.
Back in the 90’s I have found how a Benchmade in M2HSS was more enjoyable than the same model in ATS-34.
How is the blade is ground is also very important, scandi makes shallower cuts when hollow grind got deeper in my experience.
But more than this: the general ergonomy of the knife and especially the spine of the blade do make a difference for me.

But let’s have a look at the knives: Ed Schemp’s Tuff and Bowie, Police 4, Yojimbo 2, Sebenza, Spydiechef, PPT, Paramillie, Lil’Native, Wolfspyder, A little TOPS scandi, Mantra2, Millie and Nilakka.

A rounded spine like my Sebenza is great. It’s very thin edge is also a plus but ATS34 is not making the moment enjoyable. Of course it will cut but the pleasure of feeling how the edge is making the chips is not there. Its edge is like a mad cow !! Hard to control.

 

One of the great surprise in term of pleasure has been that Lil Blue 2 from Raker (Ray Kirk). Made of 52100 ball bearing steel and brought to razor by JD !
The rounded spine of that small fixed blade makes it super enjoyable. The fine grain 52100 makes thin chips but can also be use hard for deeper cuts. That would the kind of knife you can enjoy all an afternoon without thumb soar.

A good old Opinel N°8 is able to cut deep and with power, for sure. Do I enjoy it ? Not really. It does the job but there is no pleasure when the thin spine bites my thumb during push cuts.

A great surprise and even a better surprise that my previous whittling with a Yojimbo 2 in S90V is my Yo2 Jade with a CPM M4 blade.
It is not a knife designed for whittling but it does the job perfectly. Better even is a tougher blade in CPM M4 which is very aggressive. The spine also is thick and my thumb can push with with confort and control. The Yo2 and especially that version is a great wood companion I can use with serenity.

Another knife I highly recommend for going in the woods and whittling with pleasure. And another knife with some martial pedigree has proven to be a great whittler: the PPT.
The S90V thin blade of that edition with a very confortable handle has been eating wood like a chef.

Speaking of chef: lets’ continue with the surprises. One important side of the Spydiechef is how easily it can go out of the kitchen. Sailors and sea kayakists are using it without any risk of failure but within the woods? OK mine has been convexed but this is another great tool to bring with you everywhere. I was able to create beautiful chips and the spince have not bite my thumb. Really a nice experience with this one.

My CPM Cruewear Paramillie has been convexed and its edge was really hungry for wood.
It was in all the bunch the one which went the easiest in the rod of wood. But then the square spire was so sharp and thin: it was not enjoyable. More about it later.

The Lil’ Native with JD sharpening skill is nice and powerful for its size. Really a nice you should not judge by the size. But then again, JD reground it to almost a scandi level. The belly and the thin edge does marvel for whittling. Just a tad longer blade will improved the experience but then you got a Native not a Papoose no more.

Another knife improved by JD sharpening skill is the Mantra 2. I had rounded the spine on this one and it turned to be a very powerful wood cutter. The kind of knife which disappears in your pocket and once deployed is a game changer. The very solid construction and great ergos of that Eric Glesser design is blooming in the woods.

The Police 4, as powerful as its K390 thin convexed blade was a real disappointment. The thin spine is really hurting my thumb when push cutting. The Police is and stays a very urban design. I was not really able to enjoy fine whittling with it. It does the job but the thin spine ruined it for me. This one is much better in cutting cardboards or ropes…

Of course the Nilakka is a five stars experience. nothing new: thick spine, zero ground blade. It is powerful and accurate. Pekka Tuominen knows. Just the thin point could be an issue when digging in the wood to make a hole for example. This is were the Wolfspyder shines: a very solid point !

Another great surprise in term of pleasure has been the Gent knife from Massdrop. I had convexed the edge and its S35VN rounded spined blade is just great. Its natural belly helps a lot in term of push cuts. It is a great folder and 100% shot flipper, easy to keep clean, and look at the shape of that blade: it is stunning and for less than 100 dollars shipping included. It will be reviewed.

Sorry, but the Mora has been the worst. It was not able to bring me nice chips.
I’m certain it would be a great hard used tool in the wood but here for fine gentle whittling: zero pleasure.
The synthetic handle is becoming sticky, the scandi edge is rusting and it was not able to bite in the wood. Cheap fixed blade.

So eventually, using 400 grits sandpaper, I have decided to rounded the spine of my Paramillie 2 and of course it makes a huge difference. Actually I have been really surprise in how deep It was cutting in the wood, kind of remembering its brother in 52100.
Soon I will try AEB-L steel which is considered as a stainless 52100 on a Sprint Run Urban already in transit. So more will come.

In conclusion my more enjoyable whittler is still the Wolfspyder.
The surprise joy came for the Gent, The Yojimbo 2, the Mantra 2 and the Raker.
The Paramillie with a more rounded spine will be certainly part of the club.
The biggest down was the Police 4 and the Mora.

But in term of sitting under the porche and whittling a rod the Ray Mears designed Wolfspyder is winning. It was designed for that task.

 

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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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Caper: Kid of Picardie

 

 

 

 

 

My former colleague and now friend Pascal is a new blacksmith; he makes folders and also fixed blades in the Picardie region near by the Paris area. I recently purchased one of his early makes that has become my “EDOT” (“Every Day On Table”).

The overall size of the knife is 17.5 cm. The length of the blade is 7.7 cm long and 2.2 cm wide with a small boister and a spine a bit over 2 mm. This is a full flat ground blade made from D2 steel with a belly; the profile looks to be a mix between wharncliffe and sheepfoot. The handle is made of Zircote (a tree of Central America having brown wood streaked with dark almost black lines – thanks Meriam Webster) with indentations for the fingers. The rivets are discrete and the scales perfectly joint with the tang; it’s a full tang.

 

 

 

I really like the caper shape which if we were to simulate the curve would be at minimum a 3rd degree polynomial function with an inflection point: the caper! Goto https://www.mathe-fa.de/fr#result, enter f(x)= (x/10)^3 and g(x) = (x/10)^3+2  and you will have a good idea of the knife’s overall wave! For me the size is right and the handle’s organic design fits well in my hand. Said otherwise and in a much simpler way: “ça tient dans la main, ça tient dans la main!” (Coluche)

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… and the blade’s curve (belly) enables to concentrate the force in one point for increased efficiency. The hardest I cut with it has been very dry saucisson and the result was great enabling energy optimization and transfer between the forearm muscle and the masseter muscle!

 

 

So I am very satisfied with my capper born in Picardie and do recommend “Les Lames du Phenix”! https://www.lamesduphenix.fr/

 

A Spirit In a Material World: Sting, The Police.

Like I have said in my previous review of that venerable folding knife :
It has taken me a very long time before to get any interest in the Police model.

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My first real step in the wide Spyderco world was the Terzuola Starmate and the Millie. The Starmate was equipped with some super new steel the CPMS60V named CPM440V then. It was the beginning of the powder steels and Spyderco was experimenting on a bold plateforme even using (like the Millie) hidden nested liners !

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The actual Police with its “non nested” liners is thinner than the Terzuola C55.

Steel wise:
Meanwhile in the 90’s, new Japanese steel VG-10 was used on their first fixed blade “the Moran” and the Seki made Police was then “stuck in GIN-1 or GIN-2″… Ah, I was and I’m still a “steel whore” (a term of self qualification of Sal Glesser) after all. I was unfaithful and really attracted by M2HSS version of the AFCK…  Not for the patina (as they were PVD covered) but for the benefits of getting a thin pointy blade with more lateral strength than usual stainless steels of that time. As much as I loved the AFCK, the long version BM800 was “plagued” by a titanium linerlock which was less solid than the short version with its stainless liners.
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I have later used (a lot) an “oval hole” BM806 with a much stronger lock and D2 tool steel blade.

K390 is a wonderful steel. Strong even not as strong as CPM3V found in the Tuff. I have used the 4th Police as an Ice pick with no fear of breakage.

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Like the famous Opinel: thin blades are such a joy to use. A super K390 gives strength to a thin ground blade and turns the “old LEO tool” into a workhorse designed for ranchers. I was disappointed the Spyderco Powerlock was not used in the new Police but, well, the Police feels so solid: I can’t complain.

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Now I would do a maximum of lobbyism to get a Nilakka Sprint Run using K390. This steel used is purely a pleasure to keep razor sharp only by stropping it on leather.

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Now for the con, I have found the grind is not really even. There is some sort of wave on both side of the blade. I have found it when I was convexing the edge and on light reflexion. This is purely cosmetic.
Let’s keep in mind, K390 is certainly a very hard steel to work on. I have noticed the same waving on my Pingo

Anyway I can explain now that passionated new love for that venerable knife. It is too long to be acceptable for the Law abide citizen but, what a great tool ! It is much better than my beloved K2: less hot spots and much better blade design from Sal.

This is the same kind of love I got with the extraordinary Bowie from Ed Schempp which shares the same thinness blade wise. I would militate for a K390 Bowie sprint run ! But it seems “Made In Taiwan” sprint runs are rare.

Thinness is good ! Look at that Strudel ! 😉

Here we got a “potentially staining” steel with great (extraordinary) qualities enhanced by a thin thin blade and thin thin geometry saved by a great heat treatment, all is delivered in a slim rock solid package hence the Steel Cheetah’s nickname from my initial review.
This 4th incarnation is an outstanding heir of a great 1980’s design. Sal Glesser is pushing the limits of folding cutlery quietly and gently:
“Integrity is being good when no one is watching.” Such an inheritance !

Spyderco C223GPDGY Para 3 Maxamet — The Grey Mouser.

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It has been half a year of patience before my pre order turns into a mail call. Howard Korn from the Knifecenter.com was kind enough to send it to me as soon as he has received it. It was a quick 6 days of travelling from Fredericksburgh, Virginia to Paris.
The name of this Para3 should be”Desire” but it will be “Mouser” in honor of its color: grey. Also in honor of its almost magical alloy used: Maxamet.
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What is Maxamet ?
According to Spyderco its full name is “Carpenter® steel’s Micro-Melt® Maxamet® alloy”. “Maxamet is an extremely hard high-speed powdered tool steel possessing properties that transcend conventional high-speed tool steels and approach those of cemented carbides – the ultra-hard materials used to machine other steels. When Carpenter developed this amazing alloy for the rollers in their steel mills, they sent samples to various companies in the knife industry to evaluate as a blade material. Although many tried, Spyderco was one of only a handful of companies to successfully develop the specialized methods necessary to machine, heat treat, and grind this demanding material to yield reliable, high-performance knife blades.”
It so difficult to work with that it has given some headaches to Eric and Sal hence the 6 months late in the production of that Para 3.
Maxamet should have better performance than CPM110V.  Now that I got both steel, I will try to see if I feel and see a difference.
What its composition reveals ?
Carbon 2,15% ; sulfure : 0.070% – 0,23%; chromium : 4,75% ; vanadium 6,00% ; manganese 0,30% ; silicium 0,25% ; cobalt : 10,00% ; tungsten 13,00%.

It’s not a stainless steel it’s an high tech tungsten alloy !!

Here its data sheet in Carpenter’s.

The wear resistance of Micro-Melt Maxamet alloy is better than that of conventional powder metal high speed steel grades and is equivalent to AISI A11 cold work powder metal tool steel. A11 is CPM 10V. Better? How much better ?
According to Cliff Stamps: “Maxamet is an extreme alloy, for comparison, it is to 10V what S90V is to 420J2. Maxamet is used when HSS like M4 fail because they are too soft or wear too fast – just consider that for a matter of perspective.”
(For the record he’s not talking about CPM M4 which comes from powder metallurgy process but good old M4HSS.)

So far Mouser is shaving my arm’s hairs which are flying of its blade. Its factory edge is really thin. With that amount of tungsten it should not be sensitive to its final tooling in the Golden plant. I’m not planning to work on it yet and keep it that way for its first run.

Its complex heat treatment and the HRC should be on the very high..

Spyderco is offering that steel on many knives: not counting a Mule but a LW grey Manix 2 , a G10 grey Paramillie 2 and a lightweight grey Native…
The Maxemet version is not a Sprint run.

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I have also noticed the chamfered work they have made on the spine and the spyderhole and the jimping behind the hump. I don’t have to use my diamond rat tail file anymore !!
Thank you Golden ! 🙂

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Also the blade has been gently beadblasted which gives it a very industrial look. The grind is perfectly symetrical as always on my Colorado’s made.

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The thick grey G10 slab also concours to give that toolish look, again the attention to detail are stellar. There is nothing to change when you open your black and red box.

So far what I have changed is the clip, as I don’t plan to spyderdrop this little guy.
The smooth compression lock permits a lot of other way to open it elegantly.
Also I have sanded the G10 to smooth it to my taste and keep my pocket lips healthy.
I keep the pivot area rough for the ergos.
Now the game is on, let see all this fuzz about that Maxamet steel !
Spyderco catalog’s sheet is here.

EDIT: Eventually I have gone back to the OEM hourglass clip in a Tip Down carry option.
Because it’s so fast to draw like a I do on my Millie and Paramillie 2.
The spyderdrop is so elegant and bound to the spyderhole: it works like a breeze.
Also I have starting to test the sharpness which is uncanny right our of the box.
I did not have that kind of result with its S30V bro. The Maxamet thin edge goes through the plastic bottle butt to make tagliatelle !! The edge is really hungry.

 

Also my previous review on the Para3 is here.

 

 

Between both knives there is a little difference. It is the sound of the mechanism.
The opening and locking on the S30V version will be a TAK.
When the opening of the Maxamet version will be a TIK.
The pitch of Mouser is much higher. Different alloys, different hardness produce different sounds.

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The Mouser is a small (not much more than five feet) mercurial thief, gifted and deadly at swordsmanship (often using a sword in one hand named “Scalpel” and a long dagger or main-gauche in the other named “Cat’s claw”), and a former wizard’s apprentice who retains some skill at magic.
The cynical-sounding Mouser is prone to showing strains of sentiment at unexpected times. He’s a rogue, living in a decadent world where to be so is a requirement of survival. It was created by Fritz Leiber.
Part II is here:
https://nemoknivesreview.com/2018/06/12/spyderco-c223gpdgy-para-3-maxamet-part-ii/

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Spyderco PARA 3 G-10 Black on Black C223GBK — The Black Panther Cub

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This is my first Para 3 and also my first black coated Spyderco blade.
According to Spyderco:

“For tactical end users who are concerned about light discipline or those who just prefer the look of a black blade, the Para 3 is now available with a tough Diamond Like Carbon (DLC) blade coating. This low-profile coating is permanently bonded to the premium CPM® S30V® stainless steel blade…”

Cool I do really love DLC as it’s really scratch resistant. The primary reason for blade coatings is to reduce the reflective properties of the steel. Shiny things draw the wrong kind of attention and in a military environment, can tend to get people shot. However, like anything else intended to be used in a military environment, coated blades are not immune to wearing off but DLC is really strong.

I also specifically love DLC for adding corrosion resistance. The area which normally rusts on an EDC is in the pivot area. No worries about that with a DLC coated blade!

The new Golden Co. factory is bringing some of the best quality in manufacturing to date. My Para3 is absolutely flawless: perfectly centered, perfect smooth action… I had noticed that rise in quality on my last sprint run Para2 in 52100 too. Now Golden is as good as Taichung in quality control – if not better. So kuddos Colorado! Also Eric told us during the last Minimeet that they have just hired two new engineers who will make a real difference. Spyderco has developed a speed training of their own engineers as no school had prepared them for the knife industry.

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Like the Paramillie 2 was a son of the Millie, the Para 3 is really Millie’s grandson. Same “cockpit”, stout hardchore 3 inches blade, smooth Compression Lock.

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My all black version is very discreet and the the short blade makes it even less threatening. A black “commando” feel on such a short folder is almost like an tribute to military blades. On a short knife like this baby millie the “cute” factor is very strong.

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My hand fits perfectly on that handle. That infact was a big question mark prior to holding the Para 3. You feel this short version of the Millie is ready for any task.

 

The DLC coating is absolutely stunning. I have sanded the G10 and put a great deal of care so to not scratch the steel hardware.

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Here after some plastic cutting which scratched some of my other blades, there were no marks on the diamond hard coating. Let see how it will age.

 

At first I had mounted the clip for tip down carry (left pic) and experienced great spyderdrops. The Para3 is so smooth in its action, a middle finger is sufficient for opening.
As I got the opportunity to get a titanium clip from Massdrop (right pic), after transformation it’s now a tip up solution and a middle finger opening work best for me. After all, a black knife, even of that size, needs to be as discreet as possible.

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Some thinning of the edge, from DC4 diamonds to white ceramic until leather stropping.

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It worked great as I was not able to scratch the DLC coating.

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I got much better performances on pushcuts into the thick plastic of this coke bottle butt.

Of course, I had soon christianized the knife with a fumble… Drawing blood means luck.

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The Maxamet PARA3 Review is here.

edited by Pascal – 14 march 2018.

SPYDERCO C192TIP – My Knife In Law.

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Following the arrival of the PITS, the daily testing has come quite quickly as it hasn’t left my pocket still so there have been a bunch of opportunities to put it in play.
The first thing I noticed was the action required to open the folder which is much harder than for any compression locks. This is something to keep in mind as you won’t be opening it quicky;  the Urban for example is faster to open.
This resistance is also a proof of how sturdy the spring and the design are.
The second thing I had noticed was how quickly the blue handle was subjet to getting scratched.
So, I was obliged to put my mind at rest by simply sanding the handle…

I just used a 600 grind sandpaper and the result kept the blue inside the holes and inside the mechanism, like a well worn denim jacket… The scratches are easy to keep at bay and the blue aura and reflections are beautiful.

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Another thing which I had noticed: there is one very hot spot…. The horn on the talon of the blade can bite you ! It happen once when I was sanding; a sharp and neat cut!
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After some convexing of the blade’s bevel, I was able to improve the geometry and cut really easily through plastic bottles which are everyday processed before recycling.

This is also a knife I wanted to compare with my faithful Urban.
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My Urban has got a hightech tool steel blade and a customized Cuscadi carbon fiber handle. I can carry it in my watch pocket. The PITS cannot go there but it provides a much stronger mechanism and a longer blade which makes it a real all terrain folder when the Urban is really limited to the city sleakers.
So far, and that’s not surprising, the N190co steel blade has been kept as a razor using some white ceramic and leather stropping. The PITS unique mechanism makes it great to strop on leather as the blade cannot easily fold on your fingers when the Urban softer mechanism asks for a lot more attention.

The PITS is really easy to live with. The steel keeps an excellent edge with no chipping or rolling and is easy to touch up. The bad weather these days makes it outside wet and cold but the titanium handle conveys a warm touch and the grip is secure. Currently I make it team up with the big bad Real Steel D2 bushcraft folder and both seems to go very well together.
Those are the two extreme among the folding cutlery bow.

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Oh and just for the pleasure, you can also play the comparaison game with the Spydiechef !

 

lasted edited by Pascal Jaffré on 25 jan 2018