Customized Spyderco Schempp Balance

February 10, 2018

A few years ago, I got a very nice little folder from knife maker and frequent Spyderco collaborator Ed Schempp; a Balance. It wasn’t just any Balance, it featured some Damascus customization, but with a twist.

You see, Ed didn’t replace the standard VG-10 blade with a Damascus blade. No, he replaced a handle scale with one custom made from Devin Thomas stainless Damascus. It’s a slightly thicker steel than the very thin factory handle scales. And it helps to get a better grip on an already ergonomically designed knife.

The Balance was, in my opinion, the folder for people asking Spyderco to make a small ladybug-type folder with a clip. The regular production version is light, flat and small enough to actually carry on your lapel. The customized Balance, as well as the carbon fiber version, have been in my carry rotation for quite some time now, and they still get a turn every once in a while. They make an especially great carry companion while wearing a suit.

The Spyderco Schempp Balance is rarely seen or discussed and it has been out of production for a few years now. Still, this is an underestimated design in the Spyderco line-up. I predict it will become quite collectible in the future, especially this one…

Click here to see Ed discussing the design of both the Balance and the Equilibrium, and here  for Eric’s presentation of the Balance. Back in 2010, I got to shoot some photos of the prototype Carbon Fiber Balance and in 2011 the prototype Balance in stainless steel.

Advertisements

Spyderco 2013 Prototype Video – Equilibrium (& Balance)

January 21, 2013

For my last SHOT show video, Ed Schempp was kind enough to sit down with me and my camera to explain the origins of the Balance design, which in turn inspired the upcoming Equilibrium folder. These are very refined little big knives. I can highly recommend them. The customized Balance Ed shows at the start of this video, features a scale made from Warren Thomas stainless raindrop pattern damascus. Ed made the scale from this material.


Spyderco Ed Schempp Balance Review

April 21, 2011

For me and a few other Spyderknuts, the Balance concept-model was love at first sight. Unfortunately, it would take a few more years for the Balance to become a production model. Now that I finally have one, I seem to have forgotten the ‘ waiting period’. The knife is pretty much symmetrical when closed, hence the name, which makes for a visually striking design. More importantly, the knife has proven to be a very nice cutter in the hand even if it has limited applications. 

I like knives for many reasons; one is my fascination with the intricacies involved with knife design. Ed Schempp for example, is not afraid to build a knife around a principle that ‘works’, even if the end-result looks unusual. Ed is really good at positioning folders in your hand that line up perfectly with the bones in your forearm. This results in cutting tools that may look odd, but work incredibly well. The folding Khukri is a good example of this design principle. Lots of people scoffed at the idea, failing to see beyond the image of a khukri as a large fixed blade chopping knife. The folding khukri designed by Ed and made by Spyderco is probably the most ergonomic and efficient slicer in my collection. I feel that the Balance is a refined successor to the now-cancelled (due to poor sales) folding khukri.

Features
The carbon fiber handle is smooth but not polished to a mirror finish. It seems to be a compromise between the collectors who want polished CF and the afis who want to put their knife to work. The matte finish hides most common lighter dings and scratches. It offers a bit more traction to the touch than my smooth polished CF Delica 3.

The clip is a micro-sized version of the now familiar hourglass clip. It could have used an extra minute or so on a polisher, but after I took these shots I did the job myself. I spent about twenty minutes polishing the clip with my trusty tube of ‘Super polish’. That removed all imperfections in the stock clip. 

The linerlock is actually more like the ‘integral lock hybrid’ on the PPT. The liner is thick enough to almost match the thickness of the blade.

Use
The Balance is a nice conversation piece, but how does it work? Two words: portable zipper. I coined the term in my G10 Dragonfly review, but it’s more appropriate for the Balance. Simply put, the Balance excels at ‘opening stuff’. And that’s much more useful than you’d think. How often do you see (non-knife) people struggle with cords, packages, wrapping and what not? The Balance is perfect for these chores. The little cutter opened anything and everything I threw at it. Sharpening the thin VG-10 blade is easy, once you figure out how to deal with the angled blade. I use a Sharpmaker and when using the flats I prefer to ‘drop’ or ‘lower’  the handle to keep the edge as horizontal as possible.

The extreme negative angle of the blade combined with its short blade length make the Balance a poor food prep knife. A task that the G10 Dragonfly accomplishes quite well if need be. One thing that the short Schempp folder did do very well on a flat cutting surface, was cutting out coupons or articles.

 

Problem
I encountered only one problem with my Balance. The screw holding the stop pin wanted to work its way out after a couple dozen cycles of opening/closing. I ended up rummaging through my spydie-toolbox and found a baggie with spare Delica parts. Apparently the screws holding together a D4 handle fit perfectly in the Balance. The Delica’s screw was a bit longer than the Balance’s, so it makes more contact with the opposing female part of the stop pin assembly. I suspect this was the problem with the original screw. I added some loctite to solve my problem permanently and it worked. After reading about other owners complaining about the same problem with their Balance, I’ve come to the conclusion that the maker probably forgot to add loctite to this screw on the first production run. I suspect this problem has been solved by now, as I haven’t read any similar complaints about the Balance.

Overall
The Balance is an amazingly cool knife. It has very high gadget appeal and doesn’t seem likely to ever bore me. Functionally speaking it might have limited appeal, but it solves 90% of my urban cutting needs. On the downside, considering the price I would have expected a bit more finishing of the clip and no problems with the screw in the stop pin. Then again, this was a first production run knife of a completely new design. This knife is not for everyone, but if you’re interested in something fresh and functional you could be very happy with the tiny Balance, the Balance is it.


Spyderco 2011 Prototype Video – Ed Schempp Balance

March 24, 2011

A quick overview of the upcoming Balance, designed by Ed Schempp, with a stainless steel handle.


Spyderco 2011 Prototype – Balance SS

March 7, 2011

The first Balance concept model was shown a couple of meets ago and I and a few other spyderknuts had been pushing Sal to put this little gem into production. Last year it finally happened, and now we got to see the Stainless Steel model.

It’s thinner than my CF version, more slippery too. Still, Ed’s magic with ergonomics prevents this folder from being too slippery in the hand.

At first I thought the lock on this prototype was completely travelled over, but on closer inspection I noticed that the lock-up was just right. I would recommend rounding of the sharp lower corner on the locking tab. I think it could be a little hotspot when the knife is used for a longer period. 

I think I’d like to see the Balance a bit thicker, perhaps use some thicker Ti slabs? Then again, that would probably drive up the price too much.

Since I already have a nice CF version, this one probably won’t make it to the very top of my wish list, but I’m sure I’ll end up with one before the year is over.