Tag Archives: Workhorse

Maxamet defiled and born again.

As far as I know I have always noticed how blunt and scratched were my father, grandfather and father in law EDC folders. The old timers were using their knives hard and their blades were tools to be reliable in all situations. They were not expensive and used as screwdrivers and skinners and staples removers and whittlers and they were in contact with plates while eating with them…

Swapping the Maxamet blade on the Lightweight plateform was done for “Mule” testing  on a steel I had always babied since Eric told me it was 70HRC and since I have been waiting 9 months for getting the Para3 Maxamet.

Anyway encouraged by the Cliptools great results on opening oysters…

 

Well the maxamet lost its blade tip at the first attempt. I was able to open 4 oysters but the blade was already a mess.
On the other side the Clipitool was able to open 32 oysters with almost no damage but light scratches and edge bending. This is the kind of knife my family fathers would have chosen: thin and strong blade was always their favorite.
So really kuddos to Eric for designing the clipitoolas a reliable workhorse.

So now time to fix the Maxamet blade. And with no pity !
It means using diamonds DC4 and Double Stuff 2 to repair that edge.

Actually when you got nothing to lose, you go hard on the fixing.
Also doing that by hand will repair any factory burnt edge syndrome…

It a matter of minutes it was already going back to part serrated to plain edge.
The tip is going to take a little more time but it will be reshaped slowly.
Anyway, it is back to razor and ready to be used harder than before.

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Crucarta’s Family — The Spyderco Shaman reveals its power.

Since its arrival my Crucarta has been used hard, fallen twice on rocks and pavement and been immerged in dirty water.
Well this Shaman is made for that.
In fact I have notice how well it could inserted between my CPM M4 Millie and my CPM 3V Tuff.  Theyu both could be his parents.
Knowing the Tuff is Ed Schempp design for a “Built As A Tank” folder and the Millie “Built As A Tool” Sal’s Glesser design, the Shaman got the best of both world:
A tank knife built as a tool: a solid folder which is really sharp.


This is not the easiest design to achieve. The result is a very powerful folder: solid in term of lateral strength and razor sharp for deep push cutting.
So yes, the Shaman is outstanding bring the slicing power of a Millie with the toughness of a Tuff.
CPM Cruwear is the right choice as it is really standing between CPM M4 and CPM 3V.
It is tougher than CPM M4 and less tough than CPM 3V and in term of pur edge retention it is also in between both.

Being clumsy and getting clumsier, my Shaman has fallen on tiles and rocks twice.
No damage after a very close inspection. Nothing on Micarta or on the blade. The recess steel spacer is immaculate too. The blade is not Stonewashed on the Crucarta sprint run, it it gets some scratches from use but nothing really bad so far.
It has been used on wood, dirty roots, plastic and kitchen duty.

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For those who know how tricky a coke bottle butt push cutting can be… The Shaman  is “that” powerful.

I had notice some hot spots to my delicate hands.
The were easy to erase on the micarta handle.

A gentle filing is eliminating them and the rounded handle does marvel in terms of confort.


I have used the same diamond file, and it was a longer task, to file the teeth of the blade’s spine as I use my thumb for my push cuts. Also you can notice there is a flat place for the hand before the lock as I mentioned it in my previous review about the Para3 Lightweight which lack of that “flat bed”. It changes every thing in terms of confort when cutting in repetition hard thing without gloves.

Eventually IMHO the real son of the Shaman is designed by Sal’s own son: Eric.
TheLil’Native is really playing in the same league in term of strong workhorse folder but at a lesser scale. Like its father it conserves a thick spine for a very strong tip.
The Native and the Chief on one side with their thinner blade and lockbacks and the Shaman and the Lil’Native and the other.

Like father, like son. Les chiens ne font pas des chats as we say in French.

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.

MANLY PEAK S90V — THE BULGARIAN WONDER AT WORK.

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The Manly Peak is a workhorse. So, it has been put to good use in various tasks.

The main features of that folder are a very thin geometry and a zero play mid backlock.
It has not developed any play and the edge has ever been thinned for outstanding results.

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Tomatoes are great for testing. As you can notice, it was a very easy task to cut through the skin.

The same for any fruits it was confronted to. The thin and long blade gives a lot of hand control when peeling and cutting or on the cutting board. No pitting on the S90V alloy after intense and daily kitchen duty.


Pushing the envelop, I have thinned both my S90V Native and S90V Peak. I was inclined to think that the Native 5 with its belly would be better than the Bulgarian folder but in fact not. The thinner grind of the Manly got better results on hard plastic and when the Native was stuck, the Peak was going through like the Nilakka or my Opinel would do.

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I was even able to do multiple cuts on the same bottle butt. This is really impressive. Let’s not forget that should should have the same results on a 45 euros Peak with D2 steel.

The mechanism feels a little smoother now on opening and closing but it is also due to a drop of nano oil.  The clip is really perfect, it is deep, secure and smooth. It has been well thought and I really wish the future generation of Manly folders will be likewise equipped.
So the Manly Peak is really a high quality workhorse in terms of reliability, power cuts and ease to wear. This is a serious tool for any users, from the LEO to the ELU.  It’s a thrill to see it compete against folders which can reach 4 times its price and see how easily it can beat them. Now this is a stiff mechanism “à la Cold Steel” and you will need some open and close mileage so that it folds and unfolds with ease. Once in action though you have a pocket lightsaber able to work hard and keep going. Highly recommended!

More Manly folders here.

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last edited by Pascal Jaffré on 18 jan 2018

52100 Paramilitary 2 by the ocean.

So here I’m in Southern Bretagne near Lorient, city of Eric Tabarly with my Paramillie Exclusive Run in 52100 Ball Bearing Steel.
For those who don’t know Sal is a fan, this is why Eric is named Eric. 🙂

The moisture and salt are present and cars got a serious tendacy to rust just by being parked outdoor.

The knife has been used on food and for all the chores around another anniversary preparations. The Patina is a real surface protector as no pit or coloration has been noticed during that 4 days week end.

It eventually has been used to pop the remaining balloons after the party.
No oil needed. The edge did not rust. It was used daily. Very happy with that knife.
This is a very robust folder, with a strong blade.
It was still shaving hairs after 4 days of mild but constant uses. I did not process a lot of cardboard for example, but a lot of meat ! Duck for the matter.

The 52100 makes a beautiful blade with its mirror convexed edge. It was noticed.

Spyderco C220GPGY Polestar – Workhorse for the budget-conscious user.

Spyderco Polestar

Designed for budget-conscious knife users who demand genuine Spyderco quality, the Polestar was offered to all attendants at the last Amsterdam Minimeet (2017). That’s how I got mine.

What could be the definition of a Workhorse ? We got example of knives which has been used hard, lost, bought again, always in our pocket, the one we use for dirty jobs and that we trust.
Classic examples are: Swisschamp from Victorinox and their Spartan, Buck110, Spyderco Delica, Opinel N°8, Mora’s Companion, Benchmade’s Griptilian, Coldsteel’s Voyager, Pradel’s folder, Doukdouks… to name a few…
Those manufactured knives do not have the best new hyper duper high carbide power metallurgy steel but they can get a keen edge and you won’t need a sharpmaker on the field to keep them sharp. And you don’t pay a premium.
So the Polestar leaf-shaped plain edge blade is a full-flat ground from American-made CTS BD1 stainless steel.

Again, the equation for a great blade is: steel + Heat Treatment + geometry. Fred Perrin uses 1075 steel but his geometry, heat treatment and great ergonomy makes the trick.
Twenty years ago, with Fred, we were testing a famous “tactical” collection names “Master of Defense” now discontinuited. Eventually we found, despite their high sexiness (black blade, premium material and designs) they were not able to hold an edge for a long time. Compared to our Spyderco Military (CPM440V) and my Sebenza (ATS34) they were almost useless for us. Thick edges on CPM154 did not make the trick for users.
The same year (I think it was 1996) we got the opportunity to test some Pakistani 1 dollars folders (Laguiole knockoff). Their thin blade were really capable. We were really impressed. Those shitty knives were users and keepers.

In June 2012 I was able to test a Spyderco Persistence. I enjoy many things in that knife but I did not like how fast its edge could get dull. I have tried to get beyond the factory (burned) edge but without any improvement. Based on that sample, it was really frustrating for my use. No chipping though, but a real tendency to ask for ceramic touch up twice a day. Since then, I have been staying away from Chinese Spyderco and Byrds.

I still got a Titanium Catbyrd wich has been a running test of 200 pieces to try the equivalent of 440C in China 9CR13MO. And despite a thick edge to my own standard, it has proven to be a much better option for an EDC user.

Back to the Polestar, this time the steel is American, made by Carpenter. You can find it on Spyderco Kitchen knives, a Mule, my UKPK and a lightweight version of the Manix 2. So this is a folding kitchen knife blade after all !!

What make the Polestar loveable is its design. Even if Spyderco recognised it has made some kind of retro engineering on one of their Byrd linerlock, for me the Polestar is the heir of their infamous Tenacious: there is no choil ! 🙂
The open construction makes cleaning easy. The wide lanyard hole is a reminiscence of the Paramillie 2. You got four positions for the clip which is much better than the Rubicon 2 in term of usability and “clipability”.

It can be easily open using the Spyderdrop technique so I have mounted the clip for tipdown carry. It’s fast and the knife is ready to cut. It suits my need.
At 3,3mm (0,13″) of thickness the full flat ground blade is a really beauty. There is a lot of Spyderco DNA in it. And it works great.
Yes, there are also a lot of quality  and attention in the manufacturing: my Polestar is perfectly centered and locks with zero play. This knife is serious business.
The G10 texture is something new. Some kind of peeled blue and grey G10 which gives IMHO a premium look to that knife. And under the thumb it is not abrasive at all. No sandpaper needed for my own use. The stainless steel construction give also some weight and no lateral bending.

So what do we got for around 60 dollars ? A solid sharp knife you can use with no second thought.
Like I wrote in the very first article of that blog here quality is not synonym with the geography. Viking used to got to Persia (using the Volga river) to buy the best steel for their swords because back in that time, some of the best alchemists were there. Chinese manufacturers are getting better and better. Just look at the Real Steel collection and especially at their Megalodon flipping folders. Chinese production will soon get pricey as they are investing a lot in robots. If you study the age pyramid in China they will be confronted to a demographic problem. So they need robots and computer controlled production able to deliver constant quality in manufacturing. Never forget all our expensive Apple toys are made in China not in Frankfurt !!

So, the Polestar is the choice for a hard use EDC and also a great guinea pig if you want to master the art of sharpening too. You will enjoy how fast you can get a popping edge back. And you won’t mind using the blade on hard surfaces. This what a workhorse also made for, cutting on a plate or on concrete, with no second thought.

My FranckenStrech is equipped with a Super Blue Steel. That was my idea of a EDC Workhorse: thin angry edge, easy to maintain, easy to carry and sheeple friendly. This tough cookie is hard to beat. Both designed by Sal Glesser.

The edge is not the thinnest (not bad actually !) but the cuts are precise and powerful. It can be thinned easily with sandpaper.

The Parmigiano chips is also a good test. They are transparent !

After whittling hairs, to cut against hard material like glass is not a concern.

You can notce where the edge has rolled. In two ceramic passes it was straight again.
I won’t have the same ease of realignment with K390 I think. 🙂

Some of my Spyderco workhorses: the Millie, the Manix, the Polestar, the Stretch and the Slysz Bowie.
Different budgets for different tastes. All those knives are easy to clip, got enough edge for a lot of application and are easy to clean. The three knives I have not reprofiled are the Slysz and the Polestar.

 

Spyderco Mantra 2 – Pure Flipper Workhorse !

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The Mantra 2 is Eric Glesser’s design and is one of a kind Spyderco as its blade’s hole is only here as a trademark. Your only way to flick the knife open is the flipper invented by Kit Carson at the end of the 90’s. There is no hump. It’s a very slick knife.

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There is a lot of edge on this blade/handle ratio as there is no choil too !  Not your typical Spydie huh ? (Apart from the autos destined for Militaries and LEO, you won’t find that in Spyderco Catalog.)
All of these makes the Mantra 2 a compact design with a deep wire pocket carry. A solid R.I.L. lock , an ergonomic handle and a full flat ground CPM M4 blade. This powder metalurgy super tool steel once introduced on Gayle Bradley’s designs has proven to be one of the best in strenght and edge retention.
So the Mantra 2 is a very powerful package which can withstand punishing and be easily washed under tap water thanks to its all open handle design (no back spacer).
Its strange nose seems here to strenghten the tip of the blade. Again with Spyderco, aesthetics come  second in their knives.

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The lock is wearproof and reinforced  with steel. All engineering details has been thought to get to the ELU a reliable heirloom tool.

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Dwarfed next to my K2, I use my M2 for mondaine chores including eating in a plate. M4 has no stain yet BTW.
It’s not the kind of knives which raise any eyebrows in the sheeple crowd which is good nowadays. It’s low profile apart from its flipping opening. There it could almost look like an auto. There is no way to open it in a softer way but to use both hands. It works also.

The deep carry clip doesn’t make it very fast to draw compared to the Wolfspyder for example. But it disappears in your pocket and is very stealthy, perfect for an EDC.

Edgewise I have found mine a little on the thick side. I will thin it even if CPM M4 can a bear on a stone.  Nothing serious there.

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All in all the Mantra 2 is a very unique design. A compact tool with a lot of applications.
Again this is a gentleman knife with the power of a much bigger knife.
Eric Glesser has provided another very clever design with the best material available and a great attention to details. This is not a safe queen but a compact and slick workhorse.

And FYI a portion of sales of the Mantra is donated to The National Parkinson Foundation.