Tag Archives: Tips

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 Spydiechef in Tuscany – Spyderco’s Polish Folding Office Knife

In the ease of maintenance department few knives are easy to live with, the Spydiechef is part of that very small club. You can pocket it while it is still wet. For a travelling knife this is a must and the reason I have taken it for that Xmas Journey.

 

Reuniting with an old friend: the 110V CF Native.

 

When used in the kitchen or on the dining table, knives get dirty and the food is dried and hard to detached. Avoid the use of the green back of sponges or you could scratch the blade’s finish badly.

Hot cheese from that Napolitan Pizza is part of that dirty equation but the plate is also not the edge best friend as ceramic is harder than knives and will ruin any razor sharp knife. You should cut with an angle of 45° on the plate to avoid any real damage.

The Spydiechef is a actually whittling friendly. LC200N is not losing its edge as fast as H1 and I was able to work on wooden rods with ease.

Of course mine has been enhanced with some gentle convexed edge.

But really that knife is really happy in the wood. It has not the most ergonomic handle for hard wood cutting but the gentle belly helps a lot in push cuts.

LC200N is really easy to keep fresh on ceramic. no need of diamonds like on other Hyper Steels.

 

 

 

 

RealSteel Knives Bushcraft Folder – Beefy Folding Tool.

I have been dreaming about that kind of folder for quite a long time. Something heavy, strong with a rounded handle to take in the forest and built some shelter.
RealSteel Knives, a Chinese company, may have heard my prayer as they are producing a Bushcraft Folder in two versions: with and without the one hand opening option provided with two studs.
180 grams of a very well balanced 90mm blade length beefy companion.
My first experience with Real Steel was the beautiful Megalodon which has had review here. Its main flaw was the awful clip and you know what ? The Bushcraft Folder has no clip but a beautiful textured G10 handle. Also the red liners are a very nice touch bringing a real touch of class. The blade is perfectly centered; the action is smooth; the action Southpaw friendly…
So let’s have a look:

The blade is made of D2. This air hardening classical steel is not my favorite but some of my friends and co-writers like JD do have an excellent opinion about it. As a reminder let’s not forget D2 has 13% chrome steel which can stain and can be a bear to get sharp. RealSteel seems to have bought tons of D2 as their production of fixed blades is mainly using that alloy. The HRC is 58-60 which is not the hardest heat treatment for that steel but it seems appropriate for a knife destined to resharpen in the field. Oh and this is a true scandi: no secondary bevel on that baby ! You can put it flat on some stone and you should be able to keep it like a razor !


The lock is a thick Michael Walker’s liner lock and it reminds me of the one on Spyderco Gayle Bradley; thick liners locks are easy and confortable to use. Here the steel liners are heavily skeletonized to reduce weight and keep a great balance.
Don’t forget: batoning with a folder is not a good idea with the lock engaged. Let’s say it’s not a good idea, period. Some chores are better kept for the uses of thick fixed blades. But the RealSteel BF can easy drill in wood and be twisted while cutting: there is no movement, no play; everything is very well adjusted. So this is a very serious outdoor knife. The spine of the blade is sharp, certainly for striking a rod and lighting fire. I will soon round mine, as I prefer to have a confortable ramp to push with my thumb during woodworking. The handle does not have a fully open construction; there is a G10 spacer in the butt along with a lanyard hole. It looks really easy to rinse and keep clean.

The G10 has got a very nice texture: not harsh. You can notice it on the picture. Also there is no hot spot on that handle so you can hold it really tight; it’s almost like a fixed blade. The linerlock is recessed and you can not disengage it by holding tight the handle. Just be careful and always remember: regardless how strong a folder is, it will never be as strong as fixed blade. Use it with respect and care; should the lock fail, there is no choil to protect your precious fingers!

This the heaviest folding blade in a 4 inches folder I have ever owned!
You certainly can put that 3,5mm thick blade in good use. Especially as the scandi is very keen and easy to keep ultra sharp – as much as you don’t create a bevel.
Even though the studs do not get in the way when sharpening, it should be easy to remove them with a flat screwdriver if you want a pure two hands opener.

A first test on dry wood shows I have got a very serious contender; the blade cuts deep and makes as good chips as my Casstrom (Scandi type blades give you a lot of control when cutting wood). This is always such a pleasure to use them. Also the solid tip is great to drill and open crates without fear of breaking it.

The pouch which is provided with that big heavy workhorse is well made, but I will certainly carry it vertically in my front pocket against my leather wallet. I have tried that before going for a one hour walk and the knife did not move.

The knife snuggles perfectly inside the pouch you can pass in a belt.

In my opinion a nice cocoon to transport the knife in a coat pocket or in a bag, featuring its toolish function in opposition to all those fast draw tactical response tools always regarded as weapon and also marketed as “tactical” knives, conveys a comforting message.

My wonderful Wolfspyder is dwarfed by the heavy RealSteel folder which’s size is very close to any classical bushcraft fixed blade. You feel you can easily use it for light chopping, for finishing off a cut. Again, impacts are not folding knives’ best friends, but the momentum of that heavy blade could be used for light chopping in wood, like trimming branches in one whip of the wrist.

This is a mean blade perfectly centered beware parallax illusion in this photography.

And the handle is even thicker than the fixed blade.

Of course the main limitation of a folder is the blade length which cannot exceed the handle length (except for some hunting daggers).

So what have we got in the end ? An heavy, solid, easy to keep sharp bushcraft tool.
OK. But for what price ? Mine was bought for less than 60 euros ! This is great for a knife destined to be used a lot and not kept in a safe.
In my opinion, this is a very solid bargain for a very serious wood companion.
“Made in China” tools are getting better and better in terms of quality, prices are competitive and don’t forget…. your Iphone X are also made in China. Here you have got a Chinese Viking Folding Knife, which is great !!
More to come soon !

last edited by Pascal Jaffré on 17 jan 2018.

Knives for Self Defense — Is it a good idea ?

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Some knives are marketed on self defense purpose but self defense is not a current situation in the use of a knife. Before you get yourself in a situation where your life is at stake, there is a lot of extraordinary thresholds you have already crossed where your personal knife was not part of the equation.
It’s not the famous Sandbar Duel anymore and we are not, any of us, Jim Bowie’s heirs.
Finding yourself facing dangerous people with guns is not a good situation for “knife self defense”. As you know: “never bring a knife to a gunfight”.
Finding yourself assaulted by someone unarmed, is not a good situation for drawing a blade, especially in front of witnesses. Your lethal response is much too high.

When coud be the knife a good equalizer ? And in what situation ?
Against many opponents, drawing a blade can make you win some times but then your aggressors will adjust their ways to attack you, like throwing chairs and miscellaneous missiles for example.

Also, knife wounds are not painful, especially if the blade is razor sharp: you don’t feel the cuts or the stabs. A furious or drugged opponent won’t feel anything and will continue to attack and even bleed on you…

An opponent in a dark alley draws a knife  on you? Are you ready for a duel “mano a mano” ? Do you think the knife in your hand would be the best way to get away without being wounded yourself ?
Knives are part of the dirty fighting arts; if used as a weapons they are for attack – not defense..

wp-image-258869882(Bud Nealy’s knives were sold as “fast response defense knives”. Here a Peshkab near a Spyderco Mantra 2 for scale purposes.)

It’s like a piano string, the famous “wetworks” used in the commando. Warfare knives are made to kill silently. They can be good stealth weapons in the hands of specially trained soldiers but as a “defense” tool, they are much better equipment like…

The good old hiking staff, a walking stick or the humble cane.
In France, when swords were forbidden, cane fencing developed as a way to protect oneself against knives and for the record common used and carried knives were slipjoints.
After some training, rods, staffs, canes and even solid umbrellas can be used for parrying and inflicting pain should you be in need.

Before to get yourself in dangerous situations where self-defense can be useful, there are certainly other things to be honed than a knife’s edge: your awareness. This is the most important skill. Check your surroundings: always. Being immerse in music under your headphones won’t help. You need your ears and your eyes. Avoiding dangerous areas and avoiding people who makes your instinct react; so many ways to avoid a real self-defense situation. Don’t fall asleep in the subway!
Professionals who get themselves in that kind of situation will not count on their blade as their main self-defense tool. They have telescopic rods, electrical weapons, mace, even flat suitcases they carry are in fact used to “protect” as a shield. Remember: a knife will not protect you; it can arm the opponent. There are no parrying methods with a knife. Also a knife does not have any reach. It’s a close quarter combat weapon. Even a kick has got more reach than a lunge made with a knife in one’s hand. Agreed it’s not the case with a sword or a rapier, or a spear or a staff…

Now you can always learn from those various technics of using a knife as a weapon. It’s like fencing or iaido, it’s always good to learn fighting skills with all tools and the knife is one of the oldest tools used in combat. It helps you to understand a culture. It helps you also to understand the threats and the body language and the stance and the balance. You will learn that from boxing too; footwork and mobility are the first things to master…. “fly like butterfly”. Learning how to fight can also help you to learn how to carry out first aid if someone gets hurt. Knowledge is always good and the more you will learn about knife fighting the less you will dream about using it in a real self-defense situations even though dreams fuel good marketing.

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(Edited by Pascal Jaffre)

Bushcrafters and Whittling: when the true Scandi grinds stand their ground.

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As I have found, a Scandi grind blade is not the easiest to be honed to your desire especially with modern powder metallurgy steels but once obtained it is a pleasure for the whittler. With that in mind I have bought two Mora Knives: a Morakniv Pro-C and a Bushcraft Survival Knife both in Carbon Steel and rubber handle. My idea was to get easily razor sharp scandi edges like I was able to obtain on the BuscraftUK from Spyderco.

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On the picture above only 3 of the knives are true scandis with no micro bevels.

I have been able to compared how Scandi behave with plastic bottles and also on wood . In fact, in my own experience, Scandi edge bites with some kind of hunger the cellulose fibers and soon also acts as a wedge which makes all the cuts strong and controlled. It doesn’t go as deep as a thin convexed full flat ground blade but the wooden chips produced are thicks. It’s a pleasure to use a Scandi ground knife on wood, there is precision in the cuts which can be shallow or radical (with the wedge effect).

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The “Zero Ground” Nilakka being an exception as it combines the strong cuts of the Scandi with the deep push cuts of the full flat ground blades. Which makes it voracious on wood and explain the 5mm stock of the Nilakka blade.

On the two Mora Kniv, the cheaper was the sharper. The Pro-C bites immediately when the Mora BSK was dull. I have put that on the fact there is some kind of coating and no secondary edge. So, my first move has been to remove that coating.

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The secondary edge put flat on a stone, the coating was removed steadily and the edge was quick able to shave hairs then the Mora BSK was able to bite in wood and was a pleasure to hold and work with.
Both Mora are much lighter than my Spyderco Bushcrafters as they are not full tang. as i don’t plan to do any batoning with them, it is not an issue. Both Mora are true Scandis like my Spyderco Wolfspyder and Buscrafters.
It’s not always the case, even in Norway.

Normally Norwegian knives looks like that:
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Scandi knives are a pleasure to cut and drill with as the thickness of the blade runs to almost the point of the blade, making a very strong tip.

But now you can also buy a Korean Puukko from Hyundai.

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It will cost you around 40 Krons, which is around 4 Euros, 5 dollars…
But here you can see. It’s not a scandi but a thick saber grind with a visible micro bevel.

It means that even Scandinavian countries are not protected against pure cutlery heresy. It also means that Viking don’t mind to buy crappy tools for half the price of a Mora.

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Why ? Because true scandi means a good steel and a good heat treatment to stand the thin geometry. It’s a century old design adapted to people building everything from wood: home, tools, furnitures… A true scandi edge angle is acute enough to be reliable and sharp.
Quoting “Patriot Dan” on the blade forums:
“There isn’t one angle really but 22 degree inclusive (11 per side) is a typical swedish midway edge angle for a scandi grind. The angle can be anything from 15 – 25 depending on use. (This is with the steels and the heat treat typical for those knives, some steels may not be optimal for such acute edge angles).The swedish and Norwegian grinds/edges are more obtuse than their Finnish counterparts. I believe the english bushcraft (woodlore being the most famous) knives that sport a scandi grind are based on swedish grinds but that’s just because they’re very similar.”

So true Scandi are NOT saber grind on disguise and NOT convexed. You need to put the bevel on the stone to keep them “true” hence my work of patience on the Nilakka, restoring her edge to zero grind after some convexing.

I haven’t made that kind of mistake on my Wolfspyder and S30V have proven to be reliable with zero chipping making that little folder a pure joy to use on wood.

More to come soon as the tests will take some time.

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Massdrop x Ferrum Forge Falcon S35VN Folding Knife — Flipping Modern Lady/Gentleman Knife at a bargain !

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(Fresh from out of the box)

As my friend and co author JD I had ordered the Ferrum Forge Falcon for 124 dollars. Titanium handle à la Sebenza (* the RIL is a South African invention ) with steel insert in the lock to prevent excessive wear, S35V blade with high flat grind, reasonable size for the city. And a two main screws construction ? What not to love ?


(Here with a new convexed edge the day after)

This was a first time for me with those companies. The knife has been made by WE knives in China and designed by San Diego based Ferrum Forge.
124 dollars for a knife this quality, this is almost the third I would normally pay.
This kind of excellent ratio price/quality have been noticed on the Megalodon folder.
And like the Meg, the only flaw on my Falcon is…. the clip.

 

 

First thing I have noticed: it was smooth as my ZT0562CF. It fires easily. A lot of work has gone on the blade and the handle to smooth everything. It’s as good as Taichung factory in the attention to details. It runs on ball bearings and the detent is perfect on mine. The blade feels heavier than the handle, it gives a nice momentum.

Zero play in any direction. The handle is smooth with its rounded edges and so nice under the thumb. No hot spot even if the jimping are quite aggressive. The blade is chanfered on the right places making a very precious package.

 

 

Second thing I had noticed is the great balance. The knife is perfectly balanced. The blade looks wider than the thick titanium handle.

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See how small it is ? I even think it would be a great knife for smaller female hands. For bigger hand it would be a three finger handle unless using the big choil.
This big choil is part of the charm of that design and it could be some kind of Native hommage: thick handle and false edge drom point blade.

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It’s about the size of my beloved Wolfspyder but more elegant. Let’s not forget Spyderco places function before the look. But the wide blade on the thinner handle does a lot in easthetics. The hole in the blade is purely for the looks and to remove some weight, you won’t open he knife with it. OK, you can do it but this is not made for that.
Also the large choil can be a problem when you cut ropes or strings and they get stuck into it. But the Native 5 got the same issue, it’s no major when the finger is in the choil.

 

 

The insert of steel in visible and the lock is new and the blade is perfectly centered.
As you can notice the titanium notch to bend the integral liner to create the lock is not on the outside but inside. This is pleasure to keep the handle smooth.
This notch combine to pocket clips often get caught in the pocket lip while drawing. It was the case of the Megalodon or even the Slyscz Bowie where I had changed the clip size !

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Right out of the box the knife is not shaving but the edge is thin and the geometry is good. It will be a matter of minutes on ceramics to get to the sharpness I want.

Only the clip is an issue. Like on the Megalodon, this is the only flaw but unlike the Real Steel flagship, I will get rid of the Falcon clip if it bends and carry it in the pocket.
First this clip is too thick and is not going enough deep inside the pocket. It has also a tendancy to bend, So we will see how it will go.

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Compared to my Delica, you can notice it is even shorter.

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And delica is a tad longer in edge value.

 

 

Now its thick handle makes it very confortable in the palm for hard cuts.

 

 

You can see the attention to details on the titanium spacer and the pivot.

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Two screws construction. The pivot and handle. Add the two clip screws and the two from the steel insert and a pin for the spacer but after all it is a very clean design.

“The Falcon’s 2.9-inch drop-point blade features a sizable choil for index finger placement when choking up. The spine has a concave cutout offering a natural thumb rest for a forward grip. As far as hardware, the Falcon has been crafted with the best materials on the market. Thanks to titanium’s spring properties, it makes for a safe and reliable frame lock that is almost impossible to accidentally disengage. The hardened steel lockbar insert won’t wear out in the long haul, drastically increasing the folder’s longevity. Holding the knife together is a titanium backspacer, bead blasted in gray. Also notable is the titanium clip, which has been adjusted for tension so that it stays put on the go, but it won’t rip your pants apart when taking out the knife.”
From the Massdrop page.

 

 

Compared to the ZT0562CF the Falcon can sustain the comparaison. But the clip in the ZT is one of the best ever made making the big folder easy to carry.

 

 

Sharpening is OK. CPM S35V is not the easiest steel to deal with but it can hold an edge if well heat treated. After diamonds, ceramics and leather, my edge is now convexed and the high flat grind gives deep cuts.
This is something wich needs to be tested on a long run. So more to come soon… But so far for the price 124 dollars shipping including, this is a great bargain and a beautiful knife especially compared to over marketed knives…
And once convexed the edge was able to cut through the 4mm plastic butt of a 2 liters Coke bottle. Excellent !!

 

 

*(Like…. the 300 dollars Urban S35V and Titanium handle from Canadian Robert Young Peyton claiming the Integral lock is an American invention when, Chris got an South African Award for his Pre Sebenza in 1987, move to Boise in 91 and get naturalized in 2001…The Integral lock is a South African invention by Chris Reeve !! )


Cutting the leaves of sucres…

Slicing the dried duck breast.

Removing the fat.

Dicing the cantal cheese.

Splitting fresh figs…

All the ingredients are ready. Add some sauce mixing olive oil, mustard, wine vinager and soja sauce.
The soft texture and fruity taste of the young cantal combine particularly well with figs and duck breast. But you can replace it with other cheeses, for example, tomme de Savoie, salers or laguiole.

JD got also a Falcon but he did not like it: here is review.
https://nemoknivesreview.com/2017/10/14/the-falcon-has-landed-by-jd/