I’ve started researching my issues with the S110V blade I have and found that pretty much no other user had the same issue I have. Not with a Spyderco, nor with any other brand using S110V. I have since sharpened the blade 3 times, thus completely removing the original factory bevel and any steel that might have been overheated or had any other problem out of the box.

20x Roll

20x picture of an edge roll

400x chips

400x picture of microchipping

400x chips2

400x picture of microchipping

The knife had an edge at 16DPS, finished on a 8k Shapton glass stone and then stropped very lightly on 0.3 micron AlOx on horse leather. The resulting edge passed the HHT 3 and I didn’t see any burr under magnification.After using the knife for a few minutes cutting cardboard boxes (maybe 15 cuts) the edge showed tiny chips. Some of them I could see with the naked eye under artificial light, but all of them could be felt by dragging the edge over my finger nail.

 

 

 

400x-8k Glass

400x convex edge

If Spyderco messed up the edge, my repeated manual sharpening should have fixed this issue. The edge angle isn’t too low imo, but I raised it in my next sharpening session to 18DPS in an attempt to fix this issue.

 

The edge showed the same deformations after 12 cuts in cardboard. I checked it under a scope and it looked like exactly like before. As a final resort, I made a compound edge of the 2 previous angles, and added a 19DPS bevel that I then blended with 0.3µ AlOx forming a convex edge that zeroed in at 19DPS approximately (no real way to measure it perfectly). This is the only edge that has held up to 15 cuts in cardboard.

So far this edge has held up pretty well with a lot less chipping than the previous edges. In all, if this is the only way I can get CPM S110V to work, it’s a steel I rather not see becoming mainstream.

 

Spyderco Manix 2 – S110V Review

First of all, I’d like to apologize for the lack of new articles here and on other media. The past year has been crazy with traveling and new things in my personal life that caused me to write less than I wanted to.

I recently received a Spyderco Manix 2 in S110V to try out the steel. According to online reviews, video’s and social media posts, this is one of the better knife steels used by Spyderco lately. I know online reviews don’t always mirror real world usage, so I’d try it out myself.

What is CPM S110V?

In short, this is a pretty new high wear resistance stainless tool steel from Crucible. I’ll spare you all the technical mumbo jumbo as you can look that up on Crucible’s website, but the important part of the alloy is the addition of Niobium

 

Carbon 2.8%
Chromium 15.25%
Vanadium 9.0%
Niobium (Columbium) 3.0%
Molybdenum 2.25%
Cobalt 2.5%

 

This addition makes for very hard, fine carbides.  The steel can be hardened up to 64HRC (Spyderco’s blade is 62HRC)

 Out of the box

Spyderco’s edges out of the box have always been shaving sharp power buffed edges… That is until recently. Over the past year I’ve received several knives from them made in Golden Colorado that had significant issues. Angles that were far too steep, under and over-ground blades and uneven bevels. The knives from Taichung in Taiwan were all in perfect condition though. Maybe Spyderco changed something in the production of these knives lately, but they tend to be hit or miss when it comes to the actual edge.

 Mine was sharp out of the box, but had serious grind issues. The entire blade was ground askew, so to make the bevels even on both sides, one side was ground at a steeper angle.  At this point I was angry enough with the level of fit and finish that I decided to sharpen the blade immediately instead of using it until the factory edge went dull. Measuring the edge with and angle cube showed that the right side of the blade was ground at 19° and the left side at 15° to make an even bevel.

On top of that, the heel was over ground with a steeper edge that the rest of the blade and there was black crud in the pivot and lock area.

Factory edge

Factory edge

Factory edge

Factory edge

 Sharpening

This can be summarized rather easily: Surprisingly easy. All in all I had no problems regrinding the blade and polishing it with diamond plates and Shapton  stones. I had my Shapton Glass stones nearby in case the knife would have given me any issues at lower grits, but sharpening the blade at 15° went fairly quickly (akin to 154CM).

 I used the following progression:

  • Atoma 140
  • DMT Coarse
  • Shapton Pro 1000
  • Shapton Pro 2000
  • Shapton Glass 4000
  • Shapton Glass 8000
  • 0.5µ CBN (Precise Sharpening)
  • 0.25µ Monocrystalline diamond spray (Hand American)

 

The results:

 

Finished edge

Finished edge

Finished edge

Finished edge

Finished edge

Finished edge

As you can see, the right side has a slightly larger bevel.

A week’s worth of use

I’ve been using this knife almost exclusively for a bit over a week now. Daily cutting tasks range from opening mail, cutting up cardboard, cutting zip ties and some very light kitchen work. In all, I’ve been disappointed with the steel

At 15° per side, it became evident quickly that the edge wasn’t holding up. After cutting 3 cardboard boxes, the edge was clearly microchipped to the point I could feel the blade jump when dragged over my finger nail. It still shaved, but also ripped paper apart when performing a test with phonebook paper. At that point I went back to the Edge Pro and added a microbevel with the 4k and 8k glass stones and finished with the same CBN strops. It seemed to fixed the issue as I tested cutting cardboard again without any chipping.

A few days later I did feel more chipping where my S35VN, M390 and 3V blades never had that issue. The chipping was less that D2 and S30V, but it was still very much noticeable. I’m having serious doubts this steel will hold up well at anything less than 20° per side.

Luckily I didn’t spend a whole lot on this knife at the Manix 2 is fairly cheap. Now these issues could be because of Spyderco’s HT, I don’t know. At 62 HRC particle breakout is higher than at 60 HRC, and maybe having the final hardness a tad lower would be better.

Conclusion: 

I learned a few things from this knife: 

  1. Spyderco needs to get back on track with QC. This is a disappointment considering they used to be pretty much perfect
  2. S110V needs a well supported edge as one would see in convex edge, or need a 20° microbevel in order to hold up to daily tasks
  3. As soon as the initial hair popping edge is gone, a working edge stays for a long time. It’s like S30V, but on steroids. 

I’ll be refinishing the edge and trade or sell this knife fairly soon.

 

Michiel Vanhoudt design, Kuo Shan-Hsi blade

When I first saw a few pictures of the knives Kuo Shan-Hsi made, I was left impressed by the steel grain and how simple, yet elegant they looked. Some had steel ferrules that I didn’t care for, some were absolutely astonishing. When I was invited to design a blade and he would make it for me, I obviously jumped on board right away. The man may not ring a bell to all of us, but he made the sword for the movie “Hidden Tiger, Crouching Dragon”. The next pictures I saw left me in awe for his craftsmanship.

During a trip to Germany I designed a number of blades. I prefer cleavers myself and use a petty for smaller tasks like mincing garlic and chili peppers. I have a number of cleavers that serve me very well and while I have a soft spot for them, I believe a petty would be a better choice, so I put away all the nakiri and cleaver designs and emailed Tom Blodgett the design I drew with the specs I wanted so Kuo Shan-Hsi could go to work.

Here’s a first quick picture Tom just sent me and it is spot on to the design I sent him. I look forward handling it when it arrives.

Specs:

 

  • Blade Length: 152mm

  • Cutting edge: 140mm

  • Spine thickness: 2mm tapering to 1.1mm at the tip

  • Handle: Taiwanese cedar with ebony ferrule.

  • Steel: High carbon cladded steel

  • Grind: Full convex

 

Picture courtesy of Tom Blodgett – Jende Industries

Zen

Deadlines, customs pissing you off, spam, cuts, sweating, and burnt fingertips. It’s easy to get frustrated while sharpening sometimes, especially when doing bulk work. It’s hard to relax when you’re doing 50 belt sander jobs during one single day. You get in the zone and you just get the job done.

Then a knife pops up that changes all of this. A nice Japanese knife, or a folder with amazing build quality and a new exotic steel. You break out the stones, perhaps even step away from your precious splash and go Shaptons, and switch to Nubatama or Chosera stones.  You calm down, take out the blade and carefully examine it, plan your sharpening session and put on some music. Bob Dylan, Neil Young or maybe something more modern like Two Gallants, Jack White or Nick Cave. The 400 grit Chosera comes out of the water, you lap it flat and start sharpening. The world calms down, the room dissolves and what is left is the stone, the blade and your hands. The rest of the room and world has evaporated in a few minutes. Your mind fixed, hands precise and your body comfortable. In a matter of minutes the work of the 400 grit Chosera is done, and you switch to the 1k Chosera, or the Hulk as I like to call it.
This is where even the music kind of disappears. Even the wonderful lyrics of Nick Cave or the sweet guitar sound from Jack White’s Gibson become blurry and fade away in the background. There’s nothing in the world except steel, swarf and water. The creamy feedback of the Chosera stones are pure Nirvana and your mind starts to think about other things. Maybe sharpening related, maybe not. You’re at peace.

That, my friends, is true sharpening happiness.

Taiwan trip!

All my bags are packed and ready to go….

You know the song, but this is really it. over the past 2 years Tom Blodgett and I have been trying to meet up. Considering we don’t even live in the same continent, this has become quite the ordeal. But now, 18 months later, it is finally happening and I couldn’t be more excited. There will be sharpening, a visit to the Maestro Wu factory and much more.

To say I am thrilled is an understatement.

Taiwan, here I come!