The initial attraction to the Rock Salt, for me, was the ‘wow- factor’. Gorgeous lines, curves, cool size and amazing ergonomics. I knew from the start that I’d never use this blade to its full potential, but I simply had to have one. When Ed showed the concept model at the Amsterdam Meet last year, I knew it was one of those knives I’d have a hard time waiting for. But it has been released and I’ve been using it as a gardening tool, utility knife and kitchen knife for the past two weeks. Unfortunately there were no field trips or camping trips for me to give this knife a proper test. Nonetheless, I’d like to share my impressions of the Rock Salt.
The blade certainly looks the part, but how does it perform? The edge from the box was sharp but not hair-popping sharp. I’d call it a good working edge, it would shave hair in most places but it doesn’t compare to a Caly III straight from the box. It’s probably the sensible choice for a large field knife with a handle design that entices chopping. Still, I wanted to get a really sharp edge on the Rock Salt. It’s a relatively thin blade, I’d like to optimize that with a polished edge.
It took me about 4 sessions with a Sharpmaker and UF stones, to get the edge really –really- sharp. H1 sharpens easily, and I was mostly learning how to deal with the recurved edge. I almost exclusively used the corners of the stones to preserve the curves. The UF stones really add an extra level of sharpness to a sharpening session. Overall, it was real easy to sharpen the Rock Salt, especially if you’re used to large fixed blades or recurves. I can get the edge to easily pop hair of my arms.
The Rock Salt is a real nice cutter. In the kitchen I didn’t notice that much difference in performance compared to the Homemaker. Sure the Rock Salt is thicker and gives more resistance when cutting through a whole cauliflower for example, but not nearly as much as I expected. The recurved edge really does add extra cutting power. Starting a cut on a cucumber at the heel of the edge and then slicing through with the belly, is just plain fun. The slices just pop off.
I also used the Rock Salt to trim some vines in the yard. Not much of a challenge as the thickest branches were only as thick as a thumb. The Rock Salt chopped through such branches in a single chop. The edge held up nicely, after 30 minutes of cutting and light chopping, the blade would still scrape off hair from my arm.
Breaking down boxes and smaller cardboard packaging for recycling was a fun chore. The blade would cut and chop through them all. This showed the great ergos of the Rock Salt; I never had the feeling I was wielding an ‘large’ fixed blade.
The edge and tip were thin enough to comfortably open the mail and cut out articles. Sure, my Stretch II does this much easier, but it can be done with the Rock Salt too. I can imagine that the Rock Salt is able to handle fine work like cutting and scraping for wooden utensils in bushcraft.
The handle is a striking feature of the Rock Salt. Four of my NKP friends handled the Rock Salt and were amazed by the controllable grip and light weight. That’s where I got the inspiration to use the Rock Salt as a kitchen knife. It feels like a slightly heavy kitchen knife, so why not use it as one? The handle allows for a solid grip in many different modes. The Rock Salt does favor the point forward grips more than reverse grips. The nice thing about the handle design is that you can use a hammer grip back on the handle, and you’re wielding a large knife. Using the choil and resting your thumb on the spine, drastically enhances controllability and it seems the shrink the knife. I like the checkering on the handle slabs, ramp and inside the choil. However the hump is a bit too sharp for my tastes. Most of my uses for the Rock Salt involved fine work, where I want to rest my extended thumb along the spine. In this grip the hump pinches a bit. I found a good use for the trademark round hole, it helps control the knife (especially when wet) for finer work.
The sheath is an injection molded design. The blade locks in very securely, with a little practice the blade draws fluently. The material seems different from concealex/kydex/boltaron, it almost seems FRN. After a few days I noticed a slight rattle, which I think is inherent in injection molded sheaths. The rivets are shinier and larger than other sheath designs, it’s probably highly rust resistant as well. The G-clip is a really nice evolution of the mini-teklok design. The g-part of this clip does work nicely to hold the knife on a pair of pants without the belt. Overall, a perfectly functional sheath. I might try to reform the sheath a bit, but I’m not sure if the material responds to that.
The Rock Salt is a great knife that can do the work to back up its good looks. It’s a nice medium between a backpackers knife and the large choppers I occasionally read about in the knife magazines. I like the design a lot and can only wish I lived somewhere in the country, where I could use a knife like this more as matter of fact, as opposed to having to look for stuff to cut.