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Phil Wilson Vanadis 10 Bird And Trout
Custom Knife Review

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Phil Wilson Bird And Trout

Usage

- As mentioned above, majority of the usage was light utility cutting, and few sessions in the kitchen, where it was used as a paring knife. Let's start with miscellaneous cutting, which included variety of materials. Considering Vanadis 10 steel composition and top notch heat treatment by Phil Wilson, I've had quite high expectations for its performance. Like I said, I was not disappointed. As usual, number one was the cardboard cutting test. This time, I've mustered about 400" of it to cut. Because of the flexible tip, I was using the section closer to the end, about 3". Still, after cutting 400" cardboard, I couldn't tell much of a difference, although the blade was getting warm from all the friction :) Because the knife is so thin, cutting performance is exceptionally high, and the effort to cut corrugated cardboard was very little compared to other, thicker knives I've used in the past. Next test medium was the leftover foam rubber, which would be rather easy to cut, if it wasn't trying to stick to the blade all the time, but the razor thin blade managed that quite well. After the experiment described in the Super Hard vs. Soft Edges article, I routinely test high hardness knives using the wire cutting test. Copper, aluminum and steel wiring. It's a little risky test, and if not done properly, you'd most likely roll or chip any edge, specifically, I am referring to pulling the knife through the wire loop, that's baaad. However, you can safely cut the same wire using vertical pressure and push cutting technique. Vanadis 10 at 65HRC did just fine on all three types of wires. Next was the carpet tiles with rubber base. Pretty nasty stuff for any knife, and the only positive thing going for the bird and trout was the fact that that carpet was leftover from recent remodeling and was not dirty. Didn't have much of it, so all I managed was several cuts, totaling about 50" Again, no significant degradation, partly explained with very little material to cut, although couple weeks earlier, I've made a 12" long cut with a kitchen knife made out of X50CrMoV15 steel, which pretty much dulled the edge, and that knife had a thicker edge too. Although, in those cases, thick edge is not helping with edge holding at all. And the final test was wood whittling. I did it for about 10 minutes, and then gave up, hard to measure things using such imprecise activity :) However, what I could tell was that the edge is very resilient to chipping, 15° per side edge didn't have a single chip after all the testing. Even when during the wood whittling test I've repeatedly stuck the blade into the wood about 1mm deep and twisted the blade, there were no rolls or chips. That's one of the tests I've learned from Phil Wilson though, gotta give the credit here to the master maker. If I ever get to process a bird or a trout... I'll definitely update this section.

In the kitchen - Because of its dimensions, bird and trout knife is pretty good paring knife. Well, I thought it should be, based in its geometry, thickness and size. Not that I have a lack of paring knives in my kitchen, I have plenty of paring knives reviews online, some are mine, others were loaners, but still, I figured it was a good test for the bird and trout knife, why not, after all it is designed for food cutting. Not exactly a vegetable knife, but paring knife is a paring knife. I've used it during about an hour long vegetable preparation session. Basically, I've had about 15-16lbs of 20 different vegetables from the grocery store and had to prepare all that stuff for later, salad cutting session. In other words, I didn't cut 15lbs of vegetables with bird and trout paring knife, that would be very painful thing to do. However, there are miscellaneous cutting tasks, such as cutting the ends from the green onions, Italian parsley, red radish, Brussels sprouts, etc. Of all the above, Brussels sprouts are the toughest and very often when I test mainstream kitchen knives they(Brussels sprouts) are the one to deal killing blow to the edge. Of course it has to do with the amount I cut as well, but there are knives that go through all that very successfully, and Vanadis 10 bird and trout knife was one of them. Because of the relatively rough edge ~3K grit, (compared to my kitchen knives with 100K finish), I was using slicing predominantly. Like I said above, the blade is thin, even for a paring knife, and with 15° per side edge it is a super cutter. All in all, very efficient paring knife, except for the flexible tip, which was not very helpful when I was cutting out potato "eyes", manageable, but I had to be more delicate and careful. There were other vegetables to prepare, including celery and asparagus, but overall, the cutting performance was very high, and edge holding ability is a match.

Conclusions

- Overall conclusions are positive. It was rather an experimental knife, and as far as Vanadis 10 steel is concerned, that was a very successful experiment for me. I wouldn't have any doubts about that steel in light/medium use knife, and would choose it over many other alloys, no questions asked. As for the knife itself, if I had to have it made again, I'd opt for slightly shorter blade, perhaps 10mm less or so, and stiffer tip, but neither is a critical issue at this point to me, if it was, or ever becomes, I can grind away that extra length in 15 minutes on the simple belt grinder and sharpen in 30 minutes by hand. I have more than enough knives which have very rigid blades, and having one or two with flexible tips makes for an interesting change on occasion, at least from research perspective. If one day I decide it served the purpose, I'll just regrind. So, as stated above, Bird And Trout knife is one of the Phil Wilson's designs offered on his website. In my opinion, and experience it is a versatile, very high performance cutter, not necessarily limited to poultry and fish :) At least I've never used it in that area, but I find plenty of use in my house and garage. If you like the design, then I can vouch for the Vanadis 10 steel. Coming from master maker like Phil Wilson it will not let you down. Semi stainless, very high wear resistance and quite good toughness even at 65HRC. Not all that difficult to sharpen, if you know what you are doing and have proper sharpening implements. Other than that, Phil does very high quality work on any of his knives, so you can be confident, you wont' have to worry about QC problems and your knife will have top notch HT. Other than that, it's up to you.

Specifications:

  • Blade - 110.00mm(4.33")
  • Thickness - 1.48mm
  • Width - 22.00mm
  • OAL - 224.00mm(8.82")
  • Steel - Vanadis 10 steel at 65HRC
  • Handle - Ironwood
  • Weight - 68.30g(2.31oz)
  • Acquired - 02/2012 Price - 380.00$

Related reading:

Prev. - General, Blade and Handle.

Last updated - 07/23/12