I almost forgot about these photos until I found them while cleaning up the memory card from my camera. If you can’t make it to a knifeshow and wonder what the Spyderco booth looks like, this will give you a quick impression. I took these photos at the 2013 IWA show in Nuremberg, Germany. The main attraction is something I could not photograph though, it’s the warm welcome you get from the Spydercrew. From these pics, I just love the virtual ‘sea of spydies’. I wish I had that many in my display case!
After photographing my new Caly 3 damascus/cf sprint with my vintage Calypso Jr. knives, I decided to carry those old spydies to see what they were like today. This is in turn, inspired me to take a new look at some other vintage spydies in my collection. How would they stack up to today’s spydies? Last weekend, I dusted off my old large C48 Tim Wegner.
I think I got this knife back in 2001 or so. The Wegner was quite popular on the forums back then and the custom versions made by Phil Boguszewski were selling really well. I even read that this Wegner design was the ‘official’ tactical folder of the Gunsite institute. I was still into ‘tactical folders’ back then. Needless to say, I was sold and had to have one.
The Wegner didn’t turn out to be one of my favorite folders and I never carried it much. The handle design didn’t work for me, I disliked the knife’s weight and the opening hole was too small for me. I did like the curved blade and handle design. I even got the Ocelot later on which solved most of my ‘problems’ with the C48.
After cleaning and oiling the large Wegner, I found that the knife still works great. The action is smooth and lock-up is still excellent. The Wegner rode in my pocket all weekend and did all the cutting chores I could find.
The C48’s curved hollow ground blade is a great slicer for most small kitchen chores. It cut up onions, peppers, meat and potatoes like a champ. I could even get a little ‘rocking’ action with that curved blade. The Wegner’s blade is pretty thick all the way to the tip. Especially when you compare it to a full flat ground slicer like the Military, but in practical use this didn’t bother me. The hollow grind is very well done. The thick blade and tip inspired enough confidence to subject the blade to some twisting and turning when I had to ‘dismantle’ thick plastic packaging materials. It didn’t affect lockup or cause blade play. After three days of cutting paper, envelopes, fruit, meat, veggies, cardboard, plastic packaging etc… the knife got a little dull. There was still a good working edge, but the Wegner definitely couldn’t shave anymore. Sharpening was easy on the 40 degree setting of the Sharpmaker; one advantage of a ‘medium performance’ steel like ATS-34 (years ago ATS-34 was considered a high performance stainless though).
I found that the weight of the large Wegner didn’t bother me as much this time. In the years since the Wegner came out, I must have gotten used to carrying heavier spydies like the Chinook, Manix, PPT and the Lionspy. The texture of the G10 is really smooth. Back then, Spyderco didn’t use that extra glass-filled G10 they use now. It almost seems as smooth as non-patterned FRN.
The small opening hole still bothered me a bit, especially for a folder in this size. I had a few instances where I wanted to draw and open the knife and ‘misfired’. The grip still doesn’t quite match with my hand. I have the same problem with the Endura, that knife too doesn’t ‘click’ with my hand. I still don’t quite understand the full steel spacer. It adds lots of weight and I don’t quite get the functional need for this spacer in an otherwise refined design.
I realize that a future sprint run is extremely unlikely, as Wegner/Bladetech has launched its own line of production knives. The large “C48 design” is still prominent in their catalog. I love what they did with the design. To refine the C48, I too would suggest an ambidextrous lock, 4-way clip option and less weight. Oh wait; did I just describe a Stretch 2? The Stretch is very similar to the Wegner, but with better ergos, less weight and you can even get one in ZDP-189. The blade and tip won’t be as thick as on the Wegner though. I definitely recommend getting at least one folder with a sturdy tip in your ‘arsenal’. Spyderco makes some excellent folders in this category; the Techno and Lionspy come to mind. Those blades are probably even sturdier than the blade on the C48, while offering the same or better cutting performance.
I thought of dusting off these old Spyderco Calypso jr. folders, after I took them out for a photo shoot with my new sprint run Caly 3. I’m certainly not done with the CF & Damascus Caly 3, but I was curious how I’d like these vintage spydies for a couple of days of carry & use.
Both knives took some cleaning, oiling and sharpening after my many years of neglect. Once they were ready, it seemed they came fresh from the box. The workmanship on both knives is still great: excellent fit & finish, great lock-up and smooth opening action. The micarta Calypso jr. still is a great lightweight carry folder. I used the stainless steel Calypso jr. for most of my cutting tasks. I found it’s not the greatest cutter in my collection. The relatively low hollow grind works but when you’re used to thin full flat grind blades you definitely notice a drag when cutting. The opening hole seemed too small for me and the SS handle really makes this Calypso jr. too heavy for my tastes. It was weird to carry two midlock spydies that only offer one clip mounting option; right-hand tip-up. The Caly 3 definitely is a vast improvement over this vintage design. Still, this was fun little experiment. I will definitely revisit more of my vintage spydies.
Spyderco is making some fine premium keychain knives these days, like this sprint runt grey G10 Jester and regular production G10 Manbug. They are almost too nice to put on you keychain. Lucky for me, I don’t put them on my keychain I put them on a Victorinox Classic and carry them in my watch pocket. I highly recommend this knife/tool combo. This ‘watch pocket tool combo’ has worked very well for me over the past ten years.
When 9/11 caused security checkpoints and a fear of anything edged to spread like wildfire, I had to find an alternative to the Spyderco Ladybug on my keychain. I figured I would simply combine my other bladed keychain tool with my Spyderco Ladybug and carry it in the watch pocket of my pants. That way I can easily take off any blades I carry and never forget it’s on my keychain. After going through many micro-multitools, I settled on the Victorinox Classic. I settled on the Victorinox Classic and similar models, because they contain all the tools I could possibly need in an average day (and even many non-average days). It is a very compact and carry-friendly tool. I don’t need pliers or a can opener in my pocket, but on many occasions I have needed tweezers, a toothpick, nail file and scissors. I also like the fact that these tiny Swiss tools complement the grip of the Ladybug/Manbug like it was made for my hands. They are also very affordable and they come in many colors and variations.
The blade length on the Jester and Manbug is identical, but both micro-folders ‘feel’ completely different. The thicker Manbug easily feels like it is more of a ‘real knife’ than the lightweight Jester. They both cut equally well so far. Not that this means much coming from me. I consider the Ladybug/Jester/Manbug as back-up folders to my primary utility folder, or when I need to use a knife in front of some hostile non-knife people (NKP). These small cutters are only used to cut the occasional thread or opening a package etc… So these little knives don’t see much actual use in my collection, I do carry one every day and feel naked without them though. And if I had to, I wouldn’t mind having to use a Manbug & Victorinox combo as my only pocketknife.
It’s become sort of tradition for me to take out my Spyderco WTC knife for carry and use on this day. It’s hard for me to imagine that it’s been 11 years since that day in 2001. In case you are not familiar with this knife, check out this article on Spydiewiki to learn about the knife and the man who inspired it. The WTC skyline inlay is made from a beam from one of the towers. These inlays were never intended for use in a knife, and despite the treatment and coatings by Spyderco, these inlays can and will rust. Mine has survived pretty well. I carried this knife with pride and a bit of contemplation today.
I prepared this photo yesterday, right after my girls were safe and sound in their beds. I just caught the last beams of the setting sun. It made for a nice effect, there’s a golden glow all over the knife, but I definitely need more practice to shoot photos in direct sunlight.
Just in case if there’s anybody out there who never quite ‘got’ the design of the Sage 4, here’s a comparison with some nice Al Mar folders from my collection. The Spyderco Sage series highlight important contributions to lock design in the knife industry. The Sage 4 celebrates the lock used on many Al Mar folding knives. The Sage 4, in my opinion, goes a bit further than just the lock.
The Sage 4 is pretty much a ‘spyderized’ Al Mar Falcon. The Falcon pictured here (the larger Al Mar folder) is a recently produced ‘classic’ by Al Mar with cocobolo handle. The wood on the Sage 4 is Desert Ironwood. The smallest Al Mar in these pics, the Hawk with cocobolo handles, is vintage Al Mar. Made by Moki according to the stamp. As you can tell from these pics, the supposedly ‘large’ titanium bolster on the Sage 4 is a reflection of the classic designs of these legendary Al Mar folders.
The Sage 4 is decidedly less ´sleek´ than these Al Mars though. For a Spydie the profile is familiar, it´s about the same size as a Native or Calypso/UKPK design. But the Sage series has to stick with the same profile, I guess, or else it would become a different model. I love the variation though. There aren’t many Spyderco knives out there with wood handles. I still would have liked to see those trademark brass liners in this Spyderco tribute to Al Mar.
Al Mar knives have always had a special place in my collection. I’m happy I showed at least some good taste in knife collecting in the early 90s, when I picked up a few Al Mars. The quality and design still holds up. If I couldn’t carry one hand-opening knives anymore, I’d switch to an Al Mar Falcon in a heartbeat.
For a few years now, Spyderco has organized a calendar contest on its own factory forum. I though about my submission for a while and I decided to post a Spyderco that technically doesn’t exist yet. Read my motivation below.
Forum Name: Mr Blonde
Model: Spyderco C156GPBN Brad Southard Flipper
A large part of our collective enthusiasm for Spyderco knives, on this forum, is the anticipation for the next new design. Spyderco has always shared new design prototypes with us knifeknuts for feedback before they are finally produced. This knife doesn’t really exist yet, it’s the Brad Southard Flipper prototype that was shown at the 2012 Amsterdam Meet. I was more than happy to take the pictures and share them with my fellow knifeknuts online. Judging from my web statistics, it is the single most anticipated new Spyderco knife for 2013.
Last month the weather was very nice so I decided to ‘travel light’, with a pair of Spyderco Dragonflies, my ubiquitous Ladybug/Vic Classic combo, a Sunwayman V10R flashlight and a Spyderco grey Baliyo. When I dug everything up and laid it out, I couldn´t resist a quick EDC-pic. Even though I rotate my knives way too often to warrant the E in EDC.
I always liked the Dragonfly design, but I only started ‘loving’ the small cutter when the ‘2’ design came out. A lefty-clip option was the main thing I missed on the previous design. I jumped on the green G10 Dragonfly for this very reason. I’m happy to see the FRN versions coming out and the ZDP-189 version is a great performer. Before use, I applied some metal polish to make the ZDP’s surface more resistant to staining. ZDP-189 is ‘stainless’ and not ‘stainproof’; when cutting acidic materials the blade can stain. It doesn’t hurt performance, but it does hurt my eyes. I did the same for the smaller ZDP Ladybug. I think it’s hilarious to see such a high-performance steel in what most people will simply refer to as a keychain knife.
The V10R flashlight is simply great. Excellent fit and finish and apart from the strobe function, I really appreciate the light levels that the ring-selector offers. I used this light on a 2 week camping trip recently. Every night I used the light as a tail-standing mini lantern on the table on the porch of our cabin. The white ‘ceiling’ on our cabin’s porch offered excellent reflection to light our table as we played games etc… The light didn’t need a battery change until after the two week trip was over.
A few weeks ago I noticed that my Santa Fe Stoneworks collection pics lacked the patriot Kiwi I got quite some time ago. High time to update the SFSW family photos. I am happy that I managed to capture some of the swirls in the Mother of Pearl in the Cricket and Kiwi. Some purist could argue that some of the Kopas I have were also done by SFSW, I’m pretty sure that the Turqoise Kopa was done by Bill & Co., but these are true aftermarket SFSW Spydies.
I did pick up a few new spydies over the past few months, but the Amsterdam Meet and becoming a father again did take me away from my regular posts. Now, I’m enjoying a few days off to enjoy my new baby girl. The house is all asleep now, so finally some ‘me-time’. Time to show off my new R Nishijin Carbon Fiber sprint run.
At the Amsterdam Meet Eric Glesser explained some aspects of Nishijin Carbon Fiber. The pattern on each knife is a different, something I did notice when comparing the R sprint with my Lum Chinese Folder sprint. IIRC, this particular pattern of weaving carbon fiber is similar to a type of weaving used for kimonos. At one time a video of a Japanese car manufacturer found its way to YouTube. It showed how this Nishijin carbon fiber was woven. Unfortunately, it was taken off YouTube again in 15 minutes. Spyderco can’t get the information from the manufacturer; the production process of this type of carbon fiber is proprietary.
It doesn’t really show in these pics, but this Nishijin carbon fiber has a really smooth and shiny surface. It’s not very grippy, but the pattern is very pleasing to the eye. The new Nishijin R is a bit heavier than my other two Rs. The edges on the handle are nicely beveled, much more than the previous R editions. This Nishijn R is the first plainedge R in my collection, I´m curious how it will perform.
The R2 Sprint was my first introduction to this model and it was love at first sight. I always like to carry a serrated spydie for backup and serious cutting chores, while a plainedge takes care of all daily tasks. The R2 in SE is perfect for this role as it’s very lightweight and easy to carry. The size, blade length and cutting ability of the R is just right for me. The dimensions and ergos are very close to my favorite utility EDC, the Stretch 2. The Original R is as light as air. The slotted blade isn’t very user friendly, but I do carry it sometimes. In a perfect world, the Nishijn R (or R3?) would come with a serrated edge but I’m very happy with the knife as is. The ergos are great for me, much better than an Endura. It’s kind of odd that this design never really took off.
Click to read my review of the R2, even though it’s filed under ‘collectibles’ I still carry it often. I updated the R-family pics with the new Nishijin R.