Cutting Edge

by Norman C. Berns

KnifeKnives are primal. Almost as ancient as mankind and a strong part of our fundamental psyche. I’ve used them for work, to work, at work, but never really given them much due. That’s been changing of late.

There’s been one in my pocket ever since my recent move out of the Midwest and back East. At first, whatever knife I carried was merely handy when I had to open a box or slice through some bindings. Then, more and more, those blades became an extension of my hand. Pry this, slice that, open another, have a piece of cheese. I knew I had become a knife person when my wife insisted I stop using it at the table….

by Norman C. Berns

Knives are primal. Almost as ancient as mankind and a strong part of our fundamental psyche. I’ve used them for work, to work, at work, but never really given them much due. That’s been changing of late.

There’s been one in my pocket ever since my recent move out of the Midwest and back East. At first, whatever knife I carried was merely handy when I had to open a box or slice through some bindings. Then, more and more, those blades became an extension of my hand. Pry this, slice that, open another, have a piece of cheese. I knew I had become a knife person when my wife insisted I stop using it at the table….

Knives aren’t just an essential part of my toolkit now, they’re part of me. So I’ve been looking for knives that are more than just functional – easy to carry, tough on the job and handsome enough to show off.

I found three beauties from Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT). As in most cases, pretty is as pretty does. And these really are and certainly do….

TWO OUNCE WORK HORSE

The ENTICER is the smallest and lightest at two ounces. Incredibly scrappy for its size, it was designed by MJ Lerch, one of the few women who design knifes. The blade opens with its patented “Fire Safe” thumb-disk;  it takes a strong thumb and a bit of time to master. Once done, the “OutBurst” opening system snaps the 3.24” drop-point blade in place with a satisfying clunk.

The molded, glass-filled nylon handle is neatly patterned with crossing lines for added grip. The hollow-ground HRC56-58 blade is razor sharp, its toughness belying its delicate shape and diminutive size. This knife is a serious tool; it may be light to hold, but it’s been designed for serious work

Overall Length: 7.19 inches
Closed Length: 3.93 inches
Blade Length: 3.24 inches
Blade Thickness: 0.09 inches
Blade Material: Hollow Ground HRC56-58
Total Weight: 2 ounces


BIG BLADE, TOUGH GRIP

For a bit more heft in the hand, I turned to the CARAJAS from Brazilian designer Flavio Ikoma. The deeply carved G10 handle conforms nicely to my grip; its extra-wide blade is stainless-bright, super-sharp and totally-gorgeous.

The hollow-ground, drop-point blade uses a thumb flipper with a trademarked pivot system (IKBS) for a very smooth, one-flick release.

The Carajas is available in either a razor-sharp edge and the new Veff flattop serrated edge. They’re both head-turners – this knife is really gorgeous and I love the look of its impressively wide blade. Use it and you’ll know its heart is set on doing your most serious work. It’s a really fine addition to any pocket or tool kit.

Overall Length          7.38 inches
Closed Length          4.3 inches
Blade Length            3.12 inches
Blade Thickness       0.1 inches
Blade Material         12C27 Sandvik
Hollow Ground         HRC59-61
Total Weight             3 ounces


A GENTLEMAN’S TACTICAL KNIFE

The last knife I looked at, maybe the last one I’ll ever want to own, was the RIPPLE which designer Ken Onion designateKnifes as a “gentleman’s tactical knife.”

Striking an easy balance between functionality and form, this all-around everyday folding carry knife is distinctive looking and exceptionally useful with its razor sharp blade.

No, seriously, it’s actually sharp enough to shave with, right out of the box. If you doubt that, check the new bald patch on my arm; I really have to stop testing blades that way….

The curved stainless steel handle (bronze titanium nitride coated 420J) has been designed with deeply cut rippling grooves in keeping with its name. The blade lock is integrated into the handle, gorgeous, but needed a bit of extra care (and a strong thumb) to close an open blade. The thumb-flip opening is smooth, fast and easy using the IKBS pivot system.

The Ripple come in two blade size, 2.78” and 3.16”. I opted for the larger, a bit better suited to tougher jobs, though both are made to handle serious work. Not just utilitarian, this knife adds class and style.

Overall Length:            6.38 inches
Closed Length              4.33 inches
Blade Length                3.16 inches
Blade Thickness           0.10 inches
Blade Material              Acuto 440 steel
Hollow Ground             HRC57-58
Total Weight                 3.1 ounces      

KEEPING SHARP KNIVES SHARP

Even the best knives dull quickly with use. And if you use a knife, you know how dangerous a dull blade can be.

When I’m back at the office or off on location, it’s not a problem to grab a sharpening stone or steel. But when quick jobs mean cut-now, sharpen-later, I’ve even been reduced to relying on the back of plate or a nearby rock. No more.

Designer Tom Stokes created a compact sharpener that slips on a keychain. I was skeptical – it’s as small as a pinkie – but this can really get the job done.

Plant the sharpener firmly on any hard surface and pull the blade towards you a few times, through the “V” of the carbide sharpener blades. That’s it, that easy, all done, sharp again, back to work.

This little CRKT Micro Tool & Sharpener includes a flathead screwdriver, small channel cutter (to slice through a seatbelt in an emergency), and a bottle opener (presumably for different emergencies)….

Overall Length           3.375 inches
Weight                       0.6 ounces
Handle                       Glass Filled Nylon

Overall, these three great knives are gorgeous looking tools, made for serious work. Plus another great tool to keep the first three in great shape, just the way they began.

Columbia River Knife & Tool (CRKT)
Enticer (MJ Lerch)
– MSRP $90
Carajas (Flavio Ikoma)
– MSRP – $90
Ripple (Ken Onion)
– MSRP $135
CRKT Micro Tool & Sharpener – MSRP $17