I recently found some old video from a few years ago, of my Spyderco FB05 Temperance. This is truly a classic Spyderco fixed blade design. I edited the clips together and decided to dig out my Temperance for another round of carry and use during this lockdown.
Looking back on the design, I think the Temperance was part of the so-called ‘tactical kitchen knife genre’ that arose in the late 90s and early 2000s. Internet-famous knife aficionado Joe Talmadge coined the term when he collaborated with knife designer Trace Rinaldi on the TTKK, or Talmadge Tactical Kitchen Knife. I can’t recall, nor seem to find, any detailed explanation on the design philosophy right now. But what I remember is that the compact TTKK was designed for fine cutting and slicing, with a comparatively thin edge supported by a wide full flat grind. The handle was both comfortable in use, but also secure and grippy enough for ‘tactical’ use. A multi-carry kydex sheath rounds out the package for this very sharp and practical fixed blade design. The FB05 seems to follow that design philosophy to a T (emperance?).
Spyderco’s early fixed blades stood out in the market at the time, by offering very practical compact or mid-size designs with relatively thin edges. The FB05 is no exception. This knife really doesn’t differ too much from my kitchen knives, the blade is a bit thicker, but not much. The cutting performance is amazing, definitely on par with my finest Spyderco kitchen knives.
The handle is another story in itself. It is a true 3D-design FRN handle, with divots to facilitate grip changes and a butt cap provides a very secure ‘shelf’ for your thumb. Even after all these years, I think it’s an amazing design. It’s hotspot free and extremely secure for a locked-in grip, but also able to freely change grips. You’d imagine this was some sort of huge computer designed project, right? Wrong. From talking to Sal Glesser about his design, I learned he carved this design from wood. Amazing. I can barely plan out an article from scratch in my mind! I can’t imagine being able to create such a handle design simply by whittling it out of a piece of wood.
The Temperance 2 is a great design in itself, but it’s bigger and heavier than this classic. And the 2 also doesn’t feature a handle with those (in)famous ‘grip change divots’. Some people might wonder about the handle, and how far the tang goes in the FB05. I understand the tang extends about halfway into the handle. This also contribute to its lack of weight. What I gather from Spyderco, is that they’ve never seen any actual customer problems with this type of tang. Still, customers seem to prefer a more robust ‘appearance’ in a fixed blade. I figure this explains the full tang design for the Temperance 2.
If you’re looking for a compact lightweight fixed blade that is a wonderful cutter and slicer, and not just a steel axe to split wood with, the Temperance is a great design. It’s a true classic and I don’t think we’ll see something like this again.
Read my first review of the FB05 Temperance, or visit SpydieWiki to learn more about the design, background and variations of the Temperance fixed blade. If you like to learn more about the original TTKK design, I suggest checking out this excellent review on zknives.com.