I've been fooling around with them for many years, and it finally dawned on me that they really are a jack of all trades, but master of none. I've had 4 layer sak's, three layer sak's, and even one layer sak's like the bantam. But I almost never seem to need the tools on the things, and if I do, they are not up to the job, or something else will do just as well.
But I guess what really got me in the end is the lack of edge holding. I don't know what mystery steel is used by Victorinox, but it is pretty soft compared to some other knives I use.
This all came about from a few things happening recently.
I went to put some extra insulation up in my attic. I bought the big plastic cased rolls of the Dowe-Corning fiberglass, and as my wife handed then up to me, I'd cut open the bag and the roll would fluff up and I'd put it down. This happened two bags before my sak wouldn't cut open the bags anymore. Two bags per sharpening and the edge was shot. I used my Case CV sodbuster and it went through 5 bags before it started to get dull. It touched up fast like carbon steel does. I switched to one of my Opinels, and it went through 7 bags before getting dull enough to hang up on the thin plastic. Even my little Case peanut with the yellow scales and the CV blade did well.
The other thing that got me to re-evaluate was my trips to Florida. My aged Aunt is being moved to an assisted living place here in Maryland to be closer to family in her final years. Me and a cousin have been flying down often to close up her house for sale and move her. I don't like to go without a knife, but I had to leave mine home as I like checking bags even less. But I've gotten used to having a screwdriver and can opner on me. So I went back to carrying my .99 cent Sear's key chain screwdriver on my keyring again, as well as my old army P-38. I sent down one of my Opinels by mail to keep in her kitchen drawer. I found out that everything I was doing with the screwdriver on my sak, I could do just as well with the sears screwdriver. Plus it and the P-38 on my keyring goes right through TSA security. Never gets looked at. If I have to open a beer bottle, I just use my house key or my Bic lighter like my son taught me. I wonder if that's the only benifit I'll see from his expensive college education?
I think 99% of the time I reached for my sak, it was to cut something, open a UPS box, open my mail, open a dirty plastic bag of mulch, cut jute twine for the tomato plants out back. Once in a great while I'd need a screwdriver. I never needed a small saw, it was easier to cut a notch and break off the wood. In fact, looking back, I don't think I ever used most of the tools on the sak at all. Some of them once in a blue moon. It seems like I have more use for a dedicated knife with a good blade than a pocket of half size tools.
So in way, I've went a full circle and come to imitate my dad. Dad lived his whole life with a Case pocket knife, and one of those sears keychain screwdrivers and a P-38 on him. It seemed like he could fix anything with those items.
So I guess I'll just stick with my Case sodbuster, my Henckels sodbuster, and my Opinels. All in good old fashioned carbon steel of course.
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August 25, 2010, 05:34 PM
I was always a fan of Swiss army knives but as I grew up i felt more and more like they where cheaper and cheaper. Plus as I ventured into the world of pocket knives and better steels I dismissed them all together. It seems like you said. They use some sort of surgical stainless steel if im not mistaken and its pretty soft. I have 1 left in mossy oak but I'm gonna give it to the misses.
August 25, 2010, 06:01 PM
Come on...give a Delica or Endura a try... you're already halfway there :)
Just kidding, sort of. I mean, I'm not throwing off on the Soddies. Just saying...
August 26, 2010, 07:53 AM
I have swore off non Carbon steel aka SS knife blade.
August 26, 2010, 10:28 AM
i personally never saw the use in a SAK. i had one, as a kid, but i never carried it. i've had a couple over the years, mostly gifts, but i never used or carried them, and i always ended up giving them away. the knife blade is useless for all but the most minimal tasks, and the tools are no better. i don't see why anyone else would carry one, but that's just me.
August 26, 2010, 10:50 AM
Aw, come on . . . give 'em one more chance! This one even has a key ring!
Honestly, I almost fell out of my chair laughing when I saw this.
I had some kind of SAK when I was a kid; took it out in the woods and tried as many of the gadgets as I could -- VERY unsatisfactory.
August 26, 2010, 11:10 AM
"I have swore off non Carbon steel aka SS knife blade. "
I think that very well may be the root of where I have come to.
I've tried all the so called stainless steels, and I just find them lacking in overall knifework. Just too much of a compromise. Yes some of them can hold an edge better than a carbon like 1095, but then you run into other problems, like brittle edges, chipping, or difficult to sharpen up quick while on the go. I've just never been very impressed with the stainless wonder steels of the month. It's taken me a while to come to this realization that my old friend Bill was right the whole time.
Bill Moran was the finest blade smith I ever knew. But more than that, he was always experimenting and trying to find out more about steel. Every time they came out with a new miracle steel of the month, Bill would buy some and forge, or stock remove a knife out of it. Then he'd set about trying to test it to the point of destruction. Slicing hemp, chopping 2X4's, bend tests, chopping away on that old locust stump in back of his shop. No stainless steel ever passed. It was okay for table wear, but that was about it.
Growing up on the Chesapeake Bay, a very large body of salt water, we never had any problems keeping our knives and other tools from rusting. Just a little care now and then. Not too mention that my family were working watermen, havesting crabs in summer and oysters in winter. I remember as a little kid helping granddad on his boat, the Lady Ann, that he had a old tin bucket of bait knives under the work table aft. They were old butcher knives, and in the 1940's and 50's, they were of course carbon steel. By day they cut up salted eel or bull lips for the crab traps. They never got real rusty, in spite of sitting in that damp bucket. Every morning it was my duty while we were going out to check the traps, I'd take the knives and give them a lick or three on the big gray carborundum stone on the work table. They were stained almost black, with a rust spot here and there, but they weren't rusting away. They got wiped off at night with a rag and ropped back in the bucket.Now as a retired gentleman of lesure, I have more time to care for my gear than while I was a working man.
My name is Carl, and I love carbon steel.
August 26, 2010, 11:27 AM
August 26, 2010, 07:09 PM
Which Opinel were you using? Carbon or stainless?
Reason I ask is because I've tried and tried to love my Opinel (carbon #8), I really want to love it. However the edge retention on it is horrible. I don't mean sub-par or below average, it acts as if it were not heat treated.
Just wanting to know if my carbon steel is the exception or if you are using the stainless steel blade.
August 26, 2010, 07:24 PM
Both of my Opinels are carbon, and I've done very little to keep them in the razor-like state in which they currently reside. It sounds to me like yours was one that got past inspectors. :confused:
August 26, 2010, 07:27 PM
Carl, VG10 is really not like you described. It retains an edge better than any of my carbon steel knives I've owned (though not PHENOMENALLY better), and sharpens about 50% as easily. Actually it is really pretty tough and not too brittle so it tends to get an edge back nicely when steeled and stopped, with maybe one or two strokes at the point of greatest use. It loses cutting power due to deformation rather than microchipping...which is great since you rarely need to remove much steel.
I couldn't care less if it was stainless, though it is a nice plus now living on the coast where I also sweat a lot. It does get little rust spots if I am not careful to wipe it down weekly or so. Think about this: maybe you are just drawing too heavy a line between "stainless" and "carbon steels." Now, I don't need a knife made of CPM-S90V or some other steel I've never tried, but I do enjoy trying new steels, because they sometimes represent something worth using. I too try to steer away from the harder-to-sharpen ones, but VG10 is easy to sharpen, not totally truly stainless, and really seems to have an "edge" (;)) over carbon knives in every way that matters to me...
I like that it seems to hold a sharper edge longer than most of my carbon knives. In other words I can get a carbon knife this sharp, but it loses a lot of sharpness before it settles in and holds the edge well. VG10 can get ridiculously sharp and stay there...when it stops being that sharp you strop and steel and you're back in about 2x the time it takes to truly resharpen something like CV or 1095.
Now to be fair to fully resharpen VG10 will take about 10-20 minutes by hand (4-5 min or less if using my belt grinder), but who really cares since you should only have to do that about once every 3 months for a daily user??
August 27, 2010, 12:46 AM
I carry two pocket knives almost all the time one is a Case medium Stockman with Stainless Steel blades. Sharpens easily enough, hold a pretty fair edge and doesn't rust in my pocket the way carbon steel pocket knives have. The second knife is a Victorinox Tinker (sometimes a Camper). Vic. SAK are great knives and do hold an edge as well as as any Case or Schrade I own. I don't know what brand SAK you owned but maybe you try to put too fine an edge. 20 degrees is fine, any thinner is too thin.
August 27, 2010, 12:50 PM
"I carry two pocket knives almost all the time one is a Case medium Stockman with Stainless Steel blades. Sharpens easily enough, hold a pretty fair edge and doesn't rust in my pocket the way carbon steel pocket knives have. The second knife is a Victorinox Tinker (sometimes a Camper). Vic. SAK are great knives and do hold an edge as well as as any Case or Schrade I own. I don't know what brand SAK you owned but maybe you try to put too fine an edge. 20 degrees is fine, any thinner is too thin."
The sak I used for quite a while was a Victorinox Bantam, and a Victorinox recruit.
One of the acid tests my knives are subjected to is cardboard boxes. At our gun club, we reload the machines on the skeet and sporting clays ranges, and after break down the boxes to fit flat in the recycle dumpsters. The cardboard is often covered in some dust from the few broken clay birds that are in every box. The sak's will break down 4 or 5 boxers before starting to bind and tear as they get dull. By comparison my Case sodbuster junior in Case's CV carbon steel can go through 8 to 10 boxes and still be cutting okay. Both knives are sharpened on the same 600 grit Eze-lap diamond hone to shaving sharp level. I free hand so I don't kow the exact angle, someplace in the 20 to 25 degree range. Like I said, both knives will smoothly shave when done. The Vic sak quits before the Case or the Henckels sodies. I've even broke down clay bird boxes with my Case CV steel peanut that out lasted the Vic sak. My Opinels do a bit better than the sak, but not as well as the Case or old Henckels carbon. But then, my cheepie stainless Gerber LST does better than the Victorinox sak. The edge holding of the sak's have been a disappointment, so I don't bother with them anymore.
I even had a Randall model 14 stainless that was disappointing in performance. The same knife in carbon was a totally different story. Much better performer. A wipe down once a day kept it in good shape, even under damp conditions.
I can only draw conclusions from what I've experienced. And my experience is that I've had better luck with plain carbon steel when it comes to actual cutting and edge holding on whatever I cut in the field.
August 27, 2010, 10:49 PM
Well, I am a fan of SAK I've used the corkscrew, screwdriver, and bottle opener-course I'm on the road a lot and except for the screwdriver and blade and maybe the tweezers. I've used it to help other ppl. I like having so many tools I already carry a hemostat, scissors, thermometer, cash, wallet, ccw(sometimes), hankerchief, cellphone, etc.
I do have to admit I only carry it when wearing slacks. I've found that a quick one-handed opening knife is what I need most often so I carry a Buck sirius or a keershaw leek, still sometimes I need the sak for weeks at a time
August 28, 2010, 01:05 AM
Not sure how similar the tests are but the guys at Spyderco also use boxes for testing. And their knives out of box usually cut 50+ boxes according to that test. Carl, I agree you can only go off experience. I just think you need some new experiences! When is your birthday? ;)
August 28, 2010, 09:47 AM
Just my .02.
Like Deltaboy I like carbon. Like Conwict I like Spyderco.
I have and use SAKS
I am facinated by old USA/Irish Schrades,Ideals, Colonials.
All have their place and use.
Like the rest of you I just plain like knives as evidenced by a draw full
Today i might just find a gem at a yard sale to refurbish, use a while, and put in the drawer.
Ah the life of a knife affecionado!
August 28, 2010, 07:03 PM
I keep a Tinker in my bag specifically for the tools, which I find useful on occasion. It also acts as a good back-up knife.
I own a ever-expanding variety of knives, but what I carry and use most frequently usually boils down to either an Endura or a Griptilian. I also frequently carry a Case mini-trapper at work, as I find them to be about the perfect general office knife, and I also think they are a good little small game knife if used properly. I do not personally favor "tactical" knives, but instead just modern designs made with modern materials. Example: Buck Vantage made of S30V with G10 handles. Not tactical, but very modern.
On the other hand, as I have gotten more and more into knives as a hobby, I have begun to look at some of the older, more traditional designs, particularly after I was so impressed by the mini-trapper. I think the Opinel designs are.... great! Good, inexpensive, working-mans knives. They aren't perfect, but they aren't obsolete either.
August 28, 2010, 08:04 PM
Cool, more for me. ;)
I bought this Victornox Pioneer sometime back in the early 80s. Definitely pre-84, as I took it with me then on a 6 week trip through Europe.
As you can see, it's been carried a lot. I've had other knives in and out of my EDC rotation over the years but keep coming back to it. It has what I find to be a very useful collection of tools without being too bulky for pocket carry.
It's in my pocket right now.
August 28, 2010, 08:41 PM
I like SAKs. I have been carrying a SAK of some sort for since 1980 when I spent a fair amount of time out of the country. The first was the Tinker and I liked it. It got stolen from my motel room and I spent a day looking for another in at any cost to replace it.
I do not depend on the SAK tools for anything other than the odd need. I prefer a fairly basic SAK (two layer). I have one layers, two's, three's and four layer SAKs. My basic SAK (Adventurer model) has one large blade, an awl, phillips screw driver, can opener, tooth pick, and bottle opener/flat head screw driver. I use these off and on and the tooth pick does come in handly. But the knife is mostly used for cutting odds and ends, but it is used every single day.
Today I cut off some crepe myrtle shoots, opened some mail, cut open a box, cut up a couple case sized coke boxes so they fit in the trash can, and scraped some paint off my watch band. Yes, each of these tasks could have been done with most any knife. I will continue to carry my SAK. Even have spares for backup in case I loose one.
If I stopped carrying a SAK, I would go to a basic Trapper, probably a Case or my Remington Bullet knife (Boker made) for EDC. My work bag contains larger SAKs, the SOG Mini-Vulcan, and two Spydie Endura's (plain and serrated), and a SOG Multi-tool. The Endura is a very good knife.
August 29, 2010, 10:49 AM
"On the other hand, as I have gotten more and more into knives as a hobby, I have begun to look at some of the older, more traditional designs, particularly after I was so impressed by the mini-trapper. I think the Opinel designs are.... great! Good, inexpensive, working-mans knives. They aren't perfect, but they aren't obsolete either. "
That seems to be where I'm heading these days. I find myself going back the knives I used as a youth in the 1950's. They were so simple and cut so well compared to some of the junk they are pushing on the market today.
The Opinel can be an eye opener in blade function. Not too many knives will touch an Opy in sheer cutting ability. When I left my knives home the times I went to Florida to work on my aunt's home, and I just had the Opinel number 8 I had stashed there, I got used to using just that for days or a week at a time. Coming home, and putting the sak back in my pocket and then cutting with it, was a study in comparisons. Now, the Opinel is one of just a few old style knives that are on the very short list of my edc carry knives.
If you've never had a Case Peanut in CV, you should try one. Very thin flat ground blades in very good carbon steel. It's neat the way the blade just whispers through the top of a cardboard box. And the knife just disappears in a pocket. It looks small, but it is capable of cutting jobs you'd think out of it's reach if you look at how small it is.
August 29, 2010, 04:01 PM
I don't like Opinel's! I think they are crappy knives and compaired to Moras they just pale in comparison. If you ever watch Dual Survival on the Discovery Channel, you'll see a Mora hanging around Cody's neck. He was carrying that same knife last September at Rabbitstick.
I always force the patina on my carbon Moras with vinegar or onion. They really hold a great edge and are easy to sharpen. Here's my Mora 223...
They do if you apply enough force. They just don't take it very well.
September 2, 2010, 07:49 PM
I wouldn't call Opinels "crappy," but they are low end. That said, they sharpen really easily and slice very, very well. I keep a No.8 in my black powder shooting box. It makes a great patch knife.
September 3, 2010, 11:00 PM
Well, the whole point of an SAK is to have a variety of tools available in case you need them. I'm not sure that comparing them to a single blade knife makes sense.
I drive a 4x4 crew cab truck. For most of what I do- running errands and going to work- it's a lot more vehicle than I need. OTOH, if I need to pull a camping trailer with a bunch of kids riding along, bring home half a cord of firewood or a dozen sheets of plywood, or carry the family over the mountains to Grandma's house through a blizzard, the ability to do that is right there. I've talked about buying a little Toyota or something for when all I need to do is go from home to work and back, and for that a little Toyota would burn less gas and be easier to park. It wouldn't do all the other stuff I need a vehicle to do once in a while, though.
I think SAKs are kind of the same thing- not the best at any one job, but able to do just about any job that needs doing in a pinch.
Anyway, for most dirty cutting jobs these days I use one of those folding utility knives. I'd rather wear out a ten cent replaceable blade than a nice piece of Case CV or Spyderco S30V, even if the non-replaceable blade cuts a little longer.
Black Toe Knives
September 4, 2010, 12:01 AM
I have carried and owned many knives. I have come to conclusion you do get what you pay for.
There is no such thing as Good Cheap Knife.
September 5, 2010, 07:49 AM
There is no such thing as Good Cheap Knife.
The only exception is the dufus who puts out his dads or granddads knives at a yard sale because they are "old and dirty". I love those people. They keep my collection growing.
September 5, 2010, 10:19 AM
"There is no such thing as Good Cheap Knife."
Mora's, Opinel's, Douk-Douk's, Okapi's, Mercator K55's, Schrade's Old Timer's, sodbusters by many makers, and the Old Hickory knives.
Millions of people over the last 100 years have found that these work very well in spite of a low price.
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