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Trace Rinaldi TTKK
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Trace Rinaldi TTKK

I have worked in the past with Trace Rinaldi and experience was positive. In other words I do like his designs, workmanship and he's good to deal with. TTKK which stands for Talmadge Tactical Kitchen Knife became my third blade from Trace. As you can tell from the picture that knife doesn't look all too tactical, however it seemed to have real useful utility configuration, I am referring to blade geometry and the handle here. So, I've decided to get one, for utility tasks, mainly kitchen use. Either way this is the place where I use my knives the most, and it's read hard on knives even though I try to take good care of them.
    Tactical or not, TTKK is still almost twice as thick as any of my kitchen knives, even Global Knives GF-33 8" Forged Chef's Knife. So, I've figured I could experiment with a thicker blade in the kitchen, but overall it's not too thick by today's standards, only 1/8. As you can see, it's not as extreme as using 1/4 thick Busse knife for potato peeling ;)
    TTKK is offered in several steels, such as, A2, CPM3V, CPM S30V, Talonite, which isn't steel at all, and so on. At the time when I was placing an order I was interested in the new, or relatively new S30V steel, which was next "wonder steel" on the knife market, promoted as "specifically designed for cutlery needs" and such. Considering that S30V is a stainless steel from Crucible, I've decided it would've survived kitchen life(or use) and went for it. besides like I said there were several debates going on Bladeforums regarding S30V steel and I did want a knife made out of it to test it myself. So, the order was placed, then the usual delays for knife industry. And I got my knife after all :)

General

 - TTKK is one of the most famous knives from Trace. The design is collaboration with Joe Talmadge, the author of well known Knife Steel FAQ, that you can find almost anywhere on the net. It's a medium size utility blade, sizeable belly and very comfy handle. Not too chick to be a serious chopper, but for the knife of that size that is hardly an issue, more of an advantage. Still thick enough to withstand serious prying.
    QC was good. No complaints. Kydex sheath also very well done. Fits well, no rattling, and the knife is secure inside. Yet withdrawing is not difficult at all. Handle slabs are perfect fit with the knife handle. Nicely machined, micarta slabs. NIB edge was quite rough for my taste, but thin enough not to require any serious sharpening.

Blade

 - TTKK's 4.5" long blade is simple, you could call it classic probably. The point is very slightly dropped as you can see on the pictures, and the knife is quite pointy. As I've mentioned above there is a lot of belly in TTKK, thanks to its rather wide blade. For most of the cutting tasks wider blades work well, unless you are cutting something real sticky such s cheese.
    1/8 inch thickness is a bit too much for the kitchen knife, but on the other hand sometimes you do need strong knife or even meat cleaver after all, depends what you do. Besides the goad was to test usefulness of TTKK in the kitchen anyway.
    NIB sharpness was good. TTKK could shave and slice through free hanging paper. Like I said, I didn't really wanted too rough edge on that knife. hence, before starting using it I've used mousepad/sandpaper method to smooth the edge. I've started with 600 grit and moved up all the way to 2000 grit sandpaper. As usual that method used on rough edged knives produces some kind of combo edge. Lower part of the edge becomes convex, and depending on the sandpaper grit polished to various degree. 2000 grit is enough to provide mirror polish. The upper part of the edge is practically untouched, so it is still rough, and can act as a micro saw when cutting in saw motion, but that highly depends on the material being cut. For soft things the very tip of the edge is what really becomes in contact with the medium and rough edge is not really used. However for tougher materials it does get job done. Obviously if I go on using this method, sooner or later the edge will be completely convex and all mirror polished.
    As of the steel, I wrote a lot about S30V in Small Sebenza review. S30V also was the subject of a few debates on Bladeforums as well. You can do search on S30V on BF and it'll come up with plenty results. I've been using TTKK for over 7 months by now, and I can say that I have positive impressions with both, the knife overall and the steel performance.

Handle

 - One of the best parts of this knife definitely is its handle. It's both, comfortable and secure. Two qualities that are not very easy to go along together. Like I wrote above, I've been using TTKK mainly in the kitchen. Obviously, very often my hands were either wet or oily. However, I never had troubles handling the knife. Yes, smooth micarta becomes more slippery when your hands are oily, but the design, mainly the guards prevented slippage. After all those escapades the green micarta slabs became darker, but that's the only aging effect you could see on the knife. Other than that it looks NIB. Handle geometry isn't very complicated, but does provide positive grip for both, standard and reverse grips. Matter of fact, I can't really remember the situation when I was using TTKK for long time and the handle became inconvenient or irritated my palms. Twice I've used TTKK to cut large amount of cardboard. I was satisfied with both, handle comfort and knife's cutting ability. As for the edge holding, it was reasonably good. I haven't conducted direct wear resistance tests with other blades, because I don't have similar blade out of other steel, and I don't have another S30V blade heat treated by someone other than Paul Boss. Otherwise the comparison won't make much sense. I don't want to speculate regarding S30V wear resistance without the numbers. Howver, if we talk about impressions then in my opinion BG-42 from Strider Buck and Nimravus. But again, both knives have thiner edges and blades, HRC is different, and so on. It's just my unscientific impression after prolonged use.

Kitchen Use

 - This is small recap of 7 month kitchen use of my TTKK. Only positive results to report. The knife held up very well. During this time I've been using TTKK as medium/heavy cutting knife in my kitchen, although not as a meat cleaver. Sometimes, for testing, I was using TTKK for all the kitchen knife works I needed, for the few days in a row. Overall, I can say that TTKK is a very versatile and stout blade. Somehow, it does remind me Global Knives GS-1 4.5" Kitchen Knife. Yes, the blade is larger, wide and thicker, but overall I use it for similar cutting chores, plus for much harsher jobs, since it can endure more.
    Even though most of the food is soft as usual and doesn't really stress your knife there are other factors that make kitchen knife life tough. Bones are obvious problem, but besides that, vegetables if not or even when washed are still retaining some dirt. Cutting things on the plates can be also real damaging for the blade. Needless to say I don't use dishwasher for my kitchen knives, so at least that is not a problem for my kitchenware. Nevertheless, during the use all of my kitchen knives get dings and nicks. Donno how, but happens. So was TTKK, it received a few minor edge rolls during al this time. But it's not really comparable to the damage other knives get. This is partly due to thicker edge and thicker blade as well.
    Thick blade most of the time is hindering knife cutting performance, but sometimes it becomes real handy, when you need to pry with it, or apply significant efforts during cutting. At those time I was really appreciating longer thumbramp on TTKK. It is real helpful in many situations, and as usual Trace doesn't make it too aggressive to get your thumb sore, but still well defined enough to be useful and keep your finger in place. So far, I never needed major resharpening job on TTKK. As usual after every or every other use I use smooth steel to align the knife. Once a month would use 1000 or 2000 grit sandpaper on the mousepad to get the blade sharpness back to required levels. That's pretty much it maintenance-wise.

To be continued...

Specifications:

  • Model - TTKK(Talmadge Tactical Kitchen Knife);
  • Blade Length - 4.5", Satin Finish;
  • Overall Length - 9.5"
  • Material - Crucible CPM SS30V;

Rinaldi TTKK Rinaldi TTKK Rinaldi TTKK Rinaldi TTKK

Last updated - 09/01/11

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