Spyderco K11 Cook’s Knife Review

October 1, 2016

Kitchen knives are not the most popular designs for most knifeknuts. That’s understandable, as most people don’t EDC kitchen knives and these knives don’t have any cool locking mechanisms, wave features or flippers etc. And the one time that you do help out in the kitchen, that folder in your pocket is just fine right? Well, if you’ve passed on the kitchen knives because you’d rather buy yet another new tactical folder, then you’re really missing out. You see, Spyderco puts the same performance and design refinement in their kitchen knives, as they do in their more familiar folding knives. The K11 Cook’s Knife is no exception. In terms of performance and style, I’d compare the K11 to such folders like the Spyderco Kopa and the Lum Chinese Folder.

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I’ll confess that in the past, I wasn’t too keen myself to invest my hard earned money in kitchen knives when I could also get cool new folder! However, I received a set of Spyderco kitchen knives as a wedding gift and that really opened my eyes. I’ve been eyeing every new Spyderco Kitchen Knife release since. That isn’t to say I don’t also test out new folders in the kitchen, to see how they perform, but they’re no match for a dedicated kitchen knife like the K11.

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Origin
I first encountered the K11 as one of the prototypes presented at this year’s Amsterdam Meet. The story I remember accompanying this knife, was that it was designed by a Japanese maker who just left a large Japanese knife manufacturer to become an independent knifemaker. A familiar route that can certainly end very well. After all, people like Al Mar and Pete Kershaw were employees of Gerber before starting their own company.

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Style
The K11 Cook’s Knife is long and slender, a lot like the Spyderco K04. I’m sure that, empirically speaking, both knives will cut ’just as well’. Well, a Ferrari and an Audi are both motor vehicles that both perform ‘just as well’ to get you from A to B. However, I think we’d all agree that the Ferrari would be a much more exiting ride. The K11 certainly is the Ferrari in my kitchen knife collection.

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Handle
The knife handles very light. Still, the K11’s handle is much wider and more hand filling than you’d expect from pictures. The shape of the handle is kind of non-descript, it seems to fit all hands in my household very well. The handle is also very adaptable to a wide variety of grips. Its smooth texture did worry me about the risk of slipping off the handle and cutting myself. This hasn’t happened yet though.

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Blade
The blade features a very slender profile and thin edge. It came extremely sharp from the box! The first time I used the Cook’s Knife, I didn’t seem to feel any resistance whatsoever when I cut a tomato. It really felt like cutting through air. I’ve never had this experience before with a knife straight from the box. I can’t offer much information about edge holding, as I religiously use my kitchen knives on cutting boards and I wash them by hand. I only sharpen them once a year to keep the edges how I like them. The rotation between the various designs also prevents me from really testing any knife to its limits.

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Overall
The K11 is just perfect for a stylish all-round kitchen knife. If you’re considering trying out the Spyderco kitchen knives, I’d recommend trying this one. The design is very versatile and will work well for almost any kitchen cutting chore. At the same time, the K11 offers a first class experience. This is the kind of knife that performs great, but it will also give you a sense of pride and joy of ownership. A lot like that Kopa or Lum Chinese folder you like to carry.

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Spyderco Lum Tanto Sprint Home Run

October 1, 2014

This is why I LOVE Spyderco sprint runs. I never got around to snagging the Bob Lum designed fixed blade Tanto when Spyderco produced it many years ago. As is so often the case, I only discovered the beauty of this blade when I couldn’t get one. So when I saw the prototype for this knife laying on the table at the Amsterdam Meet, I certainly took note. A year or so later and I managed to score one.

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I’m very happy with this sprint run version. To me, the burgundy paperstone handle is way prettier than the original black micarta. I will admit that this design isn’t the most practical for my uses, so the Tanto won’t see any real use with me. However, if I were still involved in traditional Japanese martial arts, I would have taken this knife along for demonstrations and such.

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For a collector, sometimes using is not needed to appreciate a knife. The Lum Tanto’s grind lines are very nice and it’s a stunning piece to look at. The workmanship is certainly top notch; from the polish of the blade all the way to the stitching in the sheath. This knife is one of the highlights of my display case, and sometimes that’s more than enough. Well, that and the hunt for the next knife!

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New pics for old post: Spyderco kitchen knives

July 19, 2013

I figured some of my pictures of my Spyderco knives were way out of date. Especially if the knives in question are blades I still use everyday. These kitchen knives are still great performers. We use them everyday and only have to sharpen them once a year. Mind you, we -always- use them only on a cutting board and wash them by hand and not in a dishwasher.

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Click to see my review of the K08

See more pics of this K04

Click to see my review of the K05

Click to see my review of the K09


Terrific Temperance Two

November 13, 2010

The Spyderco Li’l Temperance folder was a watershed knife for my collecting career. It proved to me that a manufacturer, compared to a custom maker, could make a very unique and practical knife of amazing quality. The Li’l Temperance, or Li’l Temp for short, got me hooked on leaf blade designs and made me pretty much a single-knife-brand kind of guy. So when the excellent fixed blade Temperance came out, I had to get one as well. That fixed Temp did not disappoint at all. And now there’s a Temperance 2; a worthy successor to the Spyderco Temperance lineage.

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I must admit that I hesitated a bit when I read about the first design plans for the Temperance 2; brown canvas micarta handle, no divots in the handle, only .5 inch increase in blade length? I think the divots are a crucial part of the Temperance concept. Handling the Temperance 2 prototype certainly did not disappoint. The feel is all Temperance. That is to say that it feels ‘alive’ in the hand.

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Sheath
The stock sheath that came with the knife was better than I expected. The fit is very good, it doesn’t scratch the blade and it still provides a tight fit without any rattle. The knife snaps in and out of its sheath with authority. However, the sheath is a too wide for me. The ‘footprint’ of the stock sheath is simply too big for my taste. One of the many forum discussions caused me to take a good look at the Spec-Ops line of sheaths. They offer cordura/nylon sheaths with kydex inserts that can fit a variety of knives.

The tan 5,5 inch Combat Master sheath by Spec-Ops Brand works like a charm. The kydex insert is not form fitted to the Temperance’s blade. However, the strap that secures the knife in the sheath at the handle/blade junction is adjustable. I adjusted the strap to a proper fit over the knife’s handle. Lo and behold, the blade doesn’t rattle. The strap closes tightly but a firm tug releases the snap. I also haven’t discovered any scratching of the sheath on the blade so far. The sheath is nice and compact and suits the blade much better than the stock sheath.

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The construction of the Spec-Ops sheath is superb, at least on par with the Maxpedition gear I’ve used for years. It’s likely to be a better quality, but time will tell for sure. The accessory pouch is a nice feature. Stuffing it with my Spyderwrench turns it into a ready to go do-all package for my next camping trip. If I could just find a way to carry my Surefire C2 (with R5 light engine) in that package, I’d be completely covered.

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Handle
The Temperance 2 handle is a departure of the 3D polymer handle of the original Temperance fixed blade. The grip changing divots and the recessed area on the butt of the handle made the original Temperance an innovative, fast and versatile MBC knife. The brown canvas micarta slabs on the Temperance 2 seems more ‘old fashioned’ and a bit ‘boring’ by comparison.

I have to admit that the micarta handle does work. It’s grippy enough for a secure grip but smooth enough to work the knife for hours. Still, I want my grip-changing divots. The Temperance 2 will work as an MBC knife, I’m sure. But the divots gave the original temperance a solid dose of ‘fighter-feel’ and prevented the knife (the trainer actually) from flying out of my hands on quite a few occasions. Then again, I suspect the knife’s design-purpose seems to have shifted from ‘MBC knife, capable of field use’ to ‘Field knife, capable of MBC use’. At least that’s my personal impression based on the increase weight, thickness and handle material. I’m sure the brown canvas will appear to more outdoor afi’s who are looking for a field knife, than the black ‘plastic’ handle of the original Temperance.

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Blade
Compared to the original Temperance, the blade on the ‘2’ is a bit thicker and longer. On paper, the Temp 2 is only 0,5 inch longer than the original Temperance, but in person it seems a lot bigger than just 0,5 inch. No doubt the increased weight has something to do with that perception. The Temp 2 is a heavier knife, it feels solid; definitely a knife I can put to work.

I’ve used the Temp 2 on a camping trip this past summer, and for the past few months around the house and garden just to see how it holds up. I can tell that the Temp 2 loves to eat wood. It cut impromptu tent stakes, whittled and made kindling for a few small camp fires. I loved using the knife. The cuts were always deep and controllable. The VG-10 blade held its edge just fine all week long.

I also used the (cleaned) knife for food prep, I made many meals and a bbq with it. I can confirm that the tapered leaf blade is –not surprisingly- a fine cooking knife. The thicker and heavier blade of the Temp 2 doesn’t work as well as the thinner and lighter original Temperance. Still, I wouldn’t hesitate to stow the Temp 2 in my rucksack for the next field trip. The slightly thicker blade and tip makes it –in my mind at least- a more all-round design. The bigger and heavier knife inspires a bit more confidence to me, I’m not an experienced bushcrafter so YMMV.

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Overall
The Temperance 2 looks simple, but simple is good. Picking the knife up and using it makes you realize how refined the design has become over the years. The knife just plain works. I performed a few non-stop prolonged cutting tasks and the knife just kept on cutting. I never felt any hotspots in my hand. Controllability of the knife is also very good, the canvas micarta and jimping on the thumbramp did an excellent job of keeping the knife under control. Even when the knife and my hands were covered in meat, fat and juices.

The sheath could be better, the stock version is functional but for me it’s too big. The whole knife exudes that motto; no more than is necessary, no less than what is needed. The stock sheath just does not conform to that motto. I’d prefer to see the Spec-Ops sheath come standard with the knife, with a molded insert. Even with the pouch and all that cordura/nylon, it’s a much more compact package. If it can be done with the Spyderco Warrior, it could be done with this knife.

Do I have any wishes for a Temperance 3? Apart from the sheath and the divots in the handle I can’t think of anything. Even the blade length that disappointed me at the knife’s announcement is no problem at all for me anymore. The Temperance 2 is my go-to field and camp knife.


Review: Aqua Salt SE Yellow

October 28, 2008

To me, the Aqua Salt knives were –yet another-  ‘must have’ since I first saw the prototype. It never was the ‘must-have-now-or-else’ love affair I have with some other new models (the Phoenix comes to mind). It’s more of a ‘yep, that’s what I’ll get as soon as I get a chance’. That kind of sums up my feelings about the Aqua Salt. It isn’t very flashy or particularly innovative, but it is a handy little fixed blade that’s ‘just’ a good working knife and you’ll miss it when you lose it.

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Sheath
When I finally received my Aqua Salt, I immediately checked out the sheath first. The injection molded sheath was my main concern for this knife. The Perrin Streetbowie was Spyderco’s first injection molded sheath and I didn’t like it much because of the blade rattling inside it. I managed to fix it by using hairdryer to warm up the throat of the sheath and tightening it a bit. The sheath for my Rock Salt, that appears to use the same design as the Aqua Salt, has also developed a slight rattle. The Aqua Salt’s sheath, however, is still rock solid after about two months. The knife snaps in securely and stays put, no rattling. Using the ‘thumb push off’  technique works great to draw the knife fast but controlled. I think that injection molded sheaths, and the internal ‘bumps’ used to retain the knife, work best for small to medium sized blades. A blade like the Rock Salt has significantly more mass that wants to move inside the sheath. Apart from the fit, the sheath is very nice. It’s not too large, but light and fully ambidextrous. I really like the new ‘ G-Lock clip’.

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Blade
There have been reports about the PE versions having rather dull edges. I’m happy to report that my SE edge came very sharp from the box. The only part that was a bit dull was the tiny PE part close to the tip. A few swipes on the Sharpmaker remedied this problem. I immediately put the Aqua Salt to work as an all-round ‘house knife’. In this capacity it opened lots of packaging, mail and envelopes, broke down cardboard and it’s been a welcome addition to our arsenal of kitchen knives. It won’t replace any of my kitchen knives, or my Morans for that matter, because the blade is rather thick compared to the aforementioned knives. However, this thickness does make the Aqua Salt a nice strong outdoors knife. The tip is sharp but definitely thicker than my Moran or Streetbeat. It should be able to take some abuse. The edge holding has increased from ‘AUS 8-ish’ from the box, to a really good ‘VG-10-ish’ type of edge holding after a few sharpening sessions. Mind you, I started sharpening as soon as I couldn’t cleanly slice newspaper print. The H-1 combined with the serrations keep the edge working for a looong time.

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Handle
The handle is what makes me think of the Aqua Salt as a medium-sized Temperance. The Aqua Salt is more blade heavy than the Temperance, but the grip is equally secure and versatile. With wet hands, that were also covered with chicken grease and fat (don’t ask 😉 ), I never felt I lost control of the blade. Once you grip the handle, the knife stays put, in any of the 4 major grips. Yet when carried on the belt, the surface of the FRN is somehow smooth enough to not catch on clothing when out and about. For one type of grip, edge out/point forward/index finger along the spine (for precise point work), I’d like to see some jimping on the spine of the blade. That way, I’d get a bit more control for this type of grip.

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Overall
The Aqua Salt is one of those must-have knives you should keep in your toolbox, tackle box and on your boat. It’s not a very glamorous knife, but a really nice working blade. It’s one of those designs that works pretty good in all sorts of roles, while other more specialized designs get all the attention. I wouldn’t feel “underknifed” with an Aqua Salt when hiking, camping, doing chores around the house. However, I can also imagine the Aqua Salt being useful as a diving knife, or for SWAT, Rescue and Military use. With its relatively thick tip, compact size, sure grip and very low maintenance, I think the Aqua Salt could be a nice tactical knife for Military, Police or Rescue work. I’d love to see this knife tested and evaluated by some of the people in these professions.


Review: Perrin Streetbeat

March 23, 2007
I’ve always liked Spyderco’s fixed blades. They featured sharp edges and the edge geometry has always been geared to slicing as opposed to prying or chopping. As cool as the FRN models were, I and many other wanted to see some higher end fixed blades from Spyderco. The Lum tanto was cool, but not a real user to me. The Streetbeat is –to me- the first high end practical fixed blade from Spyderco. It’s small enough to occasionally carry and use in my urban environment and it’s bound to be the camp knife I’ll reach for this summer.
 
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Blade
The short blade is nice and wide to support that thin and sharp edge. I’ve used the Streetbeat around the house for the past few months. The Streetbeat is an excellent little kitchen knife. I know that’s not a big surprise. The dropped edge and thin edge really come into their own on a cutting board. The jimping on the spine is relatively ‘long’, which is great for finding a grip for your thumb or index finger, even if your hands are wet and gooey.

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Grip
The grip is just about as perfect for a small fixed blade as I can imagine. That big finger cutout keeps my hand where it should be, on the handle and not on the edge. Regardless of whether my hands were wet and slippery from kitchen work. The handle is also rather short. This makes the Streetbeat more comfy to carry on the belt and it makes for a more discreet carry package. Furthermore, that short handle with a round and wide end is perfect for resting in the palm of the hand for certain grips. For when you want to pierce through something tough, for example. On top of all that functional gripping action, the handle looks really pretty. It’s almost a kind of gentleman’s fixed blade. The surface of the Micarta is smooth to the touch, so the Streetbeat is comfortable to use for longer periods of time. I used the Streetbeat for preparing the Christmas dinner with my family, so my Streetbeat saw plenty of food prep action.
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Carry
A few years back I had a passing interest in fixed blades, and when I carried them I preferred the IWB appendix carry. I was inspired by the writings of the late Bob Kasper on that subject. The Streetbeat somehow doesn’t work as well for this. I prefer the Streetbeat as a little belt knife. Just regular vertical carry on the belt behind the hip and the knife is out of the way until I need it.
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Sheath
Sal, I’m sorry to have to say this but the out of the box sheath of the Streetbeat simply isn’t up to par with the rest of the package. I got the opportunity to try out a bunch of different knives and sheaths in the SFO and all of them had a less than perfect fit. The knives all wanted to rattle in their sheaths. The sample I chose in the end worked the best, it was rattle free and had a good tight fit. After a month or so, the sheath wore in a bit and the fit became loose enough to cause a rattle during carry.

I can appreciate how tough it must be to design and make a proper sheath for the Streetbeat. The handle becomes rather narrow at the handle/blade junction; I can imagine that there is very little material for the sheath to hang to, if you want to create a quick draw (with a full grip on the handle) type sheath. Luckily, I was able to obtain this Mike Sastre sheath which works wonderfully. I also wanted a sheath that looked more classy, so it could match that nice looking handle a bit better. That’s why I opted for the carbon fiber pattern concealex.

I don’t think the standard sheath is unsafe, as the retention was still good. It’s just terribly irritating to have this knife rattle in its sheath. I do think that factory sheaths, also from Spyderco, can be perfect and rattle free. The best sheath to date, came with my Moran fixed blades. The Temperance sheath was also really good. The Kumo sheath was OK, but not as nice as the previous ones. I would recommend to get more sheaths designed by the maker of the Moran sheaths. Another point I want to make is, for an expensive and high end fixed blade like the Streetbeat, I’d be more than happy to pay a little extra for a better sheath.

The Streetbeat is a really nice, and nice looking, fixed blade. Once I was happy with the sheath, I finally got to understand a little more about those bushcrafters that extol the virtues of small fixed blades. A knife like the Streetbeat can do more than the average folder, of similar size. It’s just as comfortable and safe to use right or left-handed. It also empties a pocket, where the clipped folder used to be. I really like this size for an EDC fixed blade. The design is excellent for EDC and for all sorts of tasks. It’s a versatile little knife. The downside of fixed blades for EDC is the legal issues involved. Urban carry of fixed blades (even as small as these) is probably frowned upon by the authorities. So for me, the Streetbeat won’t make the carry rotation. That is, until I hit the country side for hiking or camping.
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Overall
I’d like to see more Spyderco fixed blades in this size. I know the ‘Mule’ project is coming up, which is a similar size design, so that takes care of the leaf shape design in a small fixed blade. How about a Streetbeat with a Wharncliffe blade?


Yin Yang Kitchen Knife Set

November 18, 2006

I must admit that after the Homemaker, the other older spydie kitchen knives looked a little pale. The rubber handles just can’t match the looks and feel of micarta. Since the Homemaker entered my kitchen drawer, the Santoku has been gathering dust. With the Yin Yang set I not only had a chance to expand my kitchen knife collection with nicer looking designs, but also the opportunity to test new blade shapes.

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My wife really loves this set. The plainedge knife is the first she reaches for. I find the blades a bit to narrow. I prefer to ‘knuckle up’ to a wide blade when chopping and slicing. I do like the sharp tips on these knives, which the Homemaker lacks. The edge-holding is really good, but that should not be a surprise since I believe VG-10 was used for the blades.

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However, these are really versatile knives. They can be comfortably used for chopping, slicing, opening packed food, slicing bread, frozen foods, carving meat etc…. With this set you honestly don’t ‘need’ anything else. Of course, we always ‘want’ something else, but that’s a different matter.

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