Previously I wrote a post talking about some of the poor transactions that I have had in the custom knife world and at that time I promised that I would later post about some of the better ones. So here is one of the transactions that I can only describe as perfect.
Several years ago I ordered two knives from Phil Wilson; one of these knives was a bird and trout. When speaking with Mr. Wilson I said that I would not abuse the knives and that I wanted knives with thin edges. He promised that they would have thin edges and that they would cut. He recommended using CPMS30V, I said fine and I sent him ironwood for the handle slabs.
I don’t have the words to say what a pleasure it is to receive ordered knives on time, and knives that are exactly what the maker said they would be. Both of the knives from Phil Wilson exceeded my expectations, but this is really about the little bird and trout.
The blade is 3 5/8” long measured from the front of the handle slabs and the spine is .105” at the thickest point. The blade is flat ground, nicely finished, and the edge is thin as promised. The knife is 8 1/16” overall in length, and the handle slabs are ironwood. The handle is nicely shaped and is comfortable in use.
The knife came very sharp which is not always the case with custom knives in my experience. It puzzles me that makers would ship a knife that is not sharp, it seems so basic to me that a cutting tool should be sharp. I suppose that they are falling back on the “it won’t be used anyway” mentality, or they are either too lazy or too incompetent to sharpen their knives before shipment. Anyway, Phil Wilson’s knives came sharp!
Because of a home-based business there are always cardboard shipping boxes around the house that need to be cut down for the recycle bin. I have found them a good way to test the edge holding, cutting ability, and handle comfort of knives. This morning I decided to try the bird and trout.
I started with the edge sharp and cut pieces from 10 to 12 inches long. I tried to cut about an equal amount with and against the “grain” of the corrugated box material. I tried to use the same section of the blade to do the cutting and be uniform in the cutting method or motion that I used.
At 127 cuts I could feel that the edge had dulled a little and I checked it on my thumbnail. It still bit into my thumbnail and was plenty sharp enough for just about any practical purpose. At 183 cuts there was a really noticeable increase in the force required to make the cuts and sort of a dragging feel so I stopped at that point. A few gentle, careful strokes on my well used Eze Lap 1200 grit diamond hone restored the edge to shaving sharp.
This is excellent, in fact outstanding performance compared to the other knives that I have tested this way. I suppose that it can be attributed to several factors among them being edge geometry, steel selection, and heat treating. Of course it could be argued that shipping boxes can differ and that I don’t have a standard. That is true as far as it goes but in all the tests that I have done in this manner the cardboard came from the same box supplier that we buy all our shipping boxes from. Some knives that I have tested on these same boxes delivered results that can only be called embarrassing when compared to this knife.
Phil Wilson has a website: http://www.seamountknifeworks.com
copyright Bill North 2013