Tag Archives: Xavier Conil

Choosing a knife for the city.

You don’t need a reason to carry a knife.
Whatever they ask you, just lie or tell them what they want to hear.
In the woods or in the countryside carrying a knife, whatever your gender, is wise.
But in the city ?
You really think you will defend yourself with a knife ? Let’s forget about it. A chair, a stiletto shoe, an ashtray will be better defense tools if you know how to train your mind first. And be prepared mentally whatever your gender, is wise.
Knife is not the best tool to get away of trouble. It’s like playing with matches in a gaz tank. It’s used by madness and idiots to create horrors. So unless you want to be an idiot.
Since knives, cheap and ugly dull knives, are often used to hurt people. Worst, some people think knives has been used when they were not even in history.
An example ? When Lucheni, a madman, has stabbed the Empress Elisabeth of Austria in Geneva he did it with a file. “There was no blood on the file and the tip was broken off, which occurred when Lucheni threw it away. The file was so dull in appearance it was speculated that it had been deliberately selected because it would be less noticeable than a shiny knife, which would have given Lucheni away as he approached.”
So you want to carry a knife in the city. It’s your choice, your business. Nobody else business. Your freedom of choice. In those days where metal detectors are common and official journalists are scanned all over their body before filming some president from ten yards away, when policemen can search you with no good reason because of the state of emergency… you better carry something which is small and sheeple friendly.
Better: you should conform with the laws of your country.

Younger I felt some kind of thrills being an outlaw. My first knife even was a folding AF dagger from Gerber. Go figure ! But later, I have found it is more fun to be lawful and cleverly respect the rules, because it gives you the occasion to try new designs and new makers. Of course you can always carry a Swiss Army knife. I almost never do. It’s in my bag not in my pocket. Because since the 90’s I have fallen in love with clips. Clips are such a great way to avoid a pouch or a scabbard or anything used to say to the world: I carry a knife !! So the clip is mandatory for me. My last clipless knife has been slipping under my wallet and at the Airport it has been taken away from me. So no more clipless knife for me.

So, in the city, I need to follow the rules and I need a flat design clipped to a pocket’s lip. Again a thick Victorinox Swiss Champ is a no-no as is an rounded handle Opinel. Opinel are not for the city unless they are under N°8. And I want a slick design something easy in and easy out without telegraphing around I’m going to use it.
I love the Worker design from Sal Glesser , the very first clip it, which could be used without opening it completely the blade thanks to its false edge. Very clever.
In the city I want elegance. the object needs to be warm and tell a story. I’m not a predator, I carry a tool not a weapon. For the records, hammer, screwdrivers are much more lethal than any Perrin Lagriffe destined to wound and not kill. I like to be able to cut my food without using the dull silverware of restaurants. Because there is some places which are not fast food too. And even at the Macdonalds, using a sharp knife can help to share in two portions a single burger. But in restaurants nowadays it’s not common to find good steak knives. I always enjoyed bringing my own knife like my grandfather used to and that manner that my father hated so much. My father was carrying a switchblade for SD and then a La Griffe. He also used a small turtle shell slipjoint folder made in Nogent in his bag. The exact opposite of my way. Strange how generations go counter clockwise just to complete a full circle thinking they are re-inventing the wheel.

A knife, may it be a slipjoint of a locking folder, is a door for adventures. I often walk on the avenue of the Opera remembering Ernest Hemingway.
“He was a customer of the house Kindal, 33 avenue de l’Opéra, he used to go through the shop, after his purchases, to the Ritz, Place Vendôme. His Parisian triangle was the Harris Bar, Kindal then the bar of the Hotel Ritz. His deer stag handle locking folder, with blade, saw, bottle opener and corkscrew, was his daily companion, he even packed his tobacco and curated his pipe with it. The stag’s wood cracked at the end with time and the tobacco was constantly caught in the cracks, obliging him to clean his knife regularly, he had the idea to place an ivory knob, coming from one of his African hunts probably.
Many years after his death, Mrs. May Kindal, found Hemingway’s knife at the bottom of a drawer, left there for maintenance.
She had him reborn by Jacques Mongin, knifemaker and Meilleur Ouvrier de France.
Since then, the Hemingway knife is sold exclusively by the Kindal cutlery.” Translated from Kindal.

I remember the first time I have seen Ray Mears on the TV. He was walking in the beautiful English countryside and he used one of his elegant Woodlore fixed blade to cut some plant and give some stories. Wait a minute, this guy is walking in the UK and carries a fixed blade in his pocket. But as a black belt in Judo he won’t go in trouble with bushcraft knife anyway.

In the city, knives are making conversations. So it will leave your hands for those of a friend who want to see it. And you will be sitting in the sun drinking a cappucino. So the knife needs to be beautiful and smooth and not aggressive in any way because it can be display in public like smartphones and cameras.

I also need the knife to be out of the way, because I carry stuffs in my pockets or I got a messenger back and it happen sometimes: the knife get hooked to something and falls. So the clip and the way to carry it needs to be secure.
It needs to be very sharp also. And stays sharp. Because I’m not going to show my honing and sharpening skills in the street and a dull edge is dangerous for your finger. So, a good geometry and a good steel. A knife thought to be used not only to be displayed.

So here are some examples.

The Delica in its Knifecenter Special Edition is my actual companion. This one is so sharp it goes beyond my scale. HAP40 can be thinly honed, it’s a true razor. More can be found on it following that link:

In the very highest performances you also got Pekka Tuominen little Wonder Nilakka. You can click on its link. Again a little big knife with performance and ergos which change the game of current gentlemen folders.

The Michael Walker is a rare Gem and this Sprint run has proven how excellent it was as a skinner for very serious hunters.

In the Slip It territory the Urban is the perfect companion unless one hand operation is forbidden by the law. The steel of this one just does wonder and I’m thinking a lot about testing the new Police Model…

One of my old little city companion has been that little Tim Wegner Mouse II knife.

Spyderco has covered all the ground about small knives to carry by men or women. The Dragonfly is one of their pure example of acceptable locking Clip It.

My friends Xavier Conil and Laurent Monnier propose an elegant not threatening folder: le Pointu.

This knife got no clip and is not one hand opening but I have bought it in South Africa at the Good Hope Cape’s shop. This is my Southern souvenir. It has no vertical play and got a story to tell.

respecting the Danish law, the Pingo is one of the solutions for having a clipped knife with no opening hole.  The hole here is only a trademark.
There is a Sprint run with Elmax blade and Titanium handle, I often look with envious eyes…

This one is French, it’s JD’s folder a Sacha Thiel which will be reviewed soon. The blade can be open with a gentle flick helped by the thumb and the deep pocket clip makes it disappears.

So here my knives for the city. My Griptilians are too tactical. My small Sebenza has been lost. I could dig my drawers for more but I think you were able to catch my drift.
Here is a following up about choosing a 3 inches folder.

Couteaux des Sorgues Anniversary By Xavier Conil

I had written an article on the Couteaux des Sorgues back in March 2012.

We all know the film “Legend of the Fall” directed by Edward Zick with Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins and Aidan Quinn.
Or at least, as a knifenut you should know that movie as the character played by Pitt (Tristan) is a carrying and using a Bowie knife through the movie and his Iron Mistress is to him what the vibranium shield is to Capt America… 😉
Anyway great movie, big drama, nice music… and adapted from a novel by Jim Harrison. You need to read his books. Especially his early works including the formentionned Legend.
And digging in Jim Harrison work , I have found out that he was (and still is) a huge fan of René Char.
You don’t know René Char poet and writer ? You think poetry is for sissies ? TO quote wikipedia: Char joined the French Resistance in 1940, serving under the name of Captain Alexandre, where he commanded the Durance parachute drop zone. He refused to publish anything during the Occupation, but wrote the “Feuillets d’Hypnos” during it (1943–4), prose poems dealing with resistance. The man was legend.
Let me tell you something: I’am a warrior and a poet. A warrior because you have to live and a poet because eventually you have to die.
Poetry is mandatory. Written with ink or blood, it is what makes us human being “specials”.

The great René Char was living in Xavier Conil family street. He was also their friend and never the last to share a meal or a story with them. Xavier was born around men of legend. His father was a collector of knives and Xavier got his first folding knife “Canif” when he was 8.
BTW “Ca-nif” the French word for folding knife (used to whittling feathers to write poems) hence… “k-nife”.

Xavier has been a bladesmith since 1995 and really gifted one. The man got a knack for bringing beauty into function.
On that, his “Le Pointu” is a perfect example of friendly EDC Born In Marseille knife.

Now Xavier and his good friend Laurent Monnier are releasing a special 20th Anniversary edition with an ebony handle and a very clever pocket sheath.

The sheath is clipped to the lip of the pocket and a gentle push pops the knife out. Very clever and gives you a “One Hand handling Legal Knife” always on the ready. And this blade is always “incredi-belly” powerful on wood !!

Le COUteaux Des SOrgues

Le Pointu Minimal Luxe part II – Friendly, fun and reliable.

Last year I have posted a glimpse about le Pointu and since it has been used almost daily.
This knife is completly invisible to sheeples. The gently rounded blade and non threatning look are perfect for that. Also the “open” design makes it more a curiosity than a weapon. Good.
Now how does it perform ?

I simply love the knife.
I was not a real fan of D2 Tool Steel (not my favorite steel to polish to a razor sharp as it prefers a coarse edge…) but here I recognized the heat treatment bring a very stone ceramic and leather stropping friendly knife. Not being stainless, the blade has develop a gentle patina with the vinegar of salad. This is something i always enjoy. You never know what pattern will be developped on the blade.
My Pointu has been used as my main plate/steak knife during the year. Something to notice is that you NEED to clean the blade before to pocket it after lunch:
with the “open construction”the blade is in contact with fabric of your pocket once clipped. 🙂

The chisel geometry, once you have integrate it, is a joy to use. Like a single engine propellor plane, you need to use the rudder to cut straight in line. This adjustement is made instinctively. I was really surprised how depp it cut in wood. It is a joy to use for whittling especially as a draw knife. The chisel hollow grind is not “that” hollow. It’s almost saber flat ground.

On the ceramic the D2 develop a nice burr, easy to eliminate on the chisel side by putting the blade almost flat on the stone.
It’s very easy to get it back to razor. D2 as expected stay sharp a real long time and my Pointu keeps a working edge forever.
The rounded blade is enough pointy for my task and I have found the 2,5 mm thick back of the blade very useful for scrapping and removing fat from meat for example. I have found a lot of use for that “non tactical” design. My Pointu has never let me down and was able to go threw every whore I put it in. Despite being flat it’s really confortable to handle and also really easy to clean. This is a great outdoor’s companion.

I also enjoy the “spyder drop” possible on this knife. It’s easy to catch the blade between two finger and flick it open.
I have use also Le Pointu hard. No blade play in any direction. The lock did not move forward after a year of use. Very very very reliable.
I would not had expected that “open”/single liner construction to be “that” solid.

So really I’m surprised and pleased on how great that flat gentleman folder is, especially in the woods and in the kitchen. Great steel, great ergos, clever design… Le Pointu is still growing and me.
Kuddos Xavier Conil and Laurent Monnier your knife is fantastic.

Le Couteau Des Sorgues III – The Legal Folding Bushcrafter

Lames des Sorgues Xavier Conil Laurent Monnier

Imagine a powerful blade in a legal folding package. This friction folder is the offspring of Xavier Conil who is a really gifted bladesmith knifemaker and designer leaving in the South of France. Like every Conil’s knife, you find a strong personnality in a very well thought package.
No lock. The blade is lock with your grip like with all friction folders. Also this new version (the third actually and for history the first batch has been offred and carried by Sal Glesser four years ago…) provides a choil which is a second security.

The really good point in the Couteau des Sorgues is… Wait a minute. you don’t know what a Sorgue is, do you ?
OK let’s start by this: the sorgues are a net of streams and rivers in the south east of France in the Vaucluse. The Sorgue is a river. So this a knife for the outdoors and for the amphibians…. the frogs !
The beautiful wooden Olive Tree handle is gentle and generous. You cut hard and deep. The belly of the flat grounded convexed edge blade helps a lot. This is a knife thought for great performance. Once open the “natural” lock works perfectly and the new add choil helps you to feel what is happening.
For reminder, the friction folder knives can be found since the antic times. But let’s not forget: what we call the handle was considered in that times has a attached sheath. So the cutting were made by holding the knife by the blade, like a barber with a razor. With this new batch of Couteaux des Sorgues, you can grasp the handles and cut with full power.
The construction is über solid and work is precise and reliable. Easy to carry in a Denim watch pocket and easy to pull and retrieve, you got here a great alternative to “tactical” folders.
This knife is made at Thiers by Claude Dozorme and the steel used is Xr50.
The factory edge is gently stropped and convexed which is an incredible attention for such a bargain.
Le Couteau Des Sorgues III is a great folding bushcrafter and it can be enjoyed in the UK.

Lames des Sorgues Xavier Conil Laurent Monnier
Lames des Sorgues Xavier Conil Laurent Monnier
Lames des Sorgues Xavier Conil Laurent Monnier
Lames des Sorgues Xavier Conil Laurent Monnier
Lames des Sorgues Xavier Conil Laurent Monnier

Mine can be found there:
http://www.couteaux.kingeshop.com/Couteau-des-Sorgues—Olivier–cbbacaaca.asp
(Knife pictured on the link is a previous version as there is no choil!)