I knew about William Henry Knives for a long time, pretty much since I have been collecting knives. He is very popular in knife aficionado community. William Henry knives can be described as high end, gentleman's folders. Can't say they're cheap either, entry level folding knives are over 250$ and higher, with high end stuff costing more than a thousand. On the other hand, designs are classy, materials used are high end and exotic quite often, plus fit and finish is superb. Whether all that is worth the price is up to you to decide ;) Anyhow, even though I knew about his knives, I could never like one of them enough to buy, well I liked some, but the steel used in blade seemed a little too ordinary, other times steel was good, design not what I wanted. Finally in summer 2008 I saw William Henry model B12 spearpoint model made with Hitachi ZDP-189 PM steel, which was one of the steels I was researching and curious about, and running ahead, I can say it performs very well. Also, the specified hardness of the steel on B12 spearpoint folder was 67HRC. That's pretty much the highest hardness knife I have, maximum hardness for ZDP-189, and in general, it's pushing the upper limits of the knife steel hardness. Price tag, not too bad for the extreme knife, but I'm not so sure 425$ can be considered as anything but expensive. Still, for what it is, high performance exotic steel at maximum hardness, very good design and superb fit and finish, it was worth it.
General- William Henry B12 spearpoint knife is a classic gent's medium, (to be honest, I consider it on a smaller side) folder. Elegant design, smooth lines, high tech materials and very high quality craftsmanship. The knife blade is just 83.00mm(3.27") long, and closed knife is a little more than 0.8" longer than the blade. Knife came packed in a nice box. Initial examination showed no visible defects, not that any were expected. Actually my expectation levels were set very high, and I am very glad to state, I was not disappointed. Very well crafted knife. Out of the box edge was mirror polished, very sharp. Lightweight, weighing just 44g (1.55 oz.). It's pretty much weightless in the pocket. The action was silky smooth out of the box. Thumbstud is nicely polished, and has a blue stone embedded in it, not sure what type it is though. Obviously, that doesn't add much to its functionality as a knife, but certainly works for the looks :) Pivot pin is rather large, and well polished. Titanium handle is also nicely machined, and grooves in the handle are more decorative, but also probably slightly improve grip security. It's not a hard use knife, so grip security isn't really an issue. The clip and the screws are anodized in the same blue color as the grooves on the handle. The lock release button also has the same type of the blue stone insert in it. That sums up the general description of the knife, not onto the specifics.
Blade- As the name B12 spearpoint suggests, the blade geometry of this knife is spearpoint. Given its size, the blade is rather wide, 24mm to be precise. As for the edge geometry, it is one long, gentle curve. There is very little straight section, closer to the handle, the rest is curved. That gives the blade plenty of belly, and overall, increases the length of the cutting edge. Initial edge was closer to 15° per side, or 30° inclusive. That's quite thin compared to what you'd find in most of the factory knives, kitchen, folder or fixed blades alike. Given the ZDP-189 steel which can attain working hardness up to 67HRC does give the ability to grind thin edges on the knives, achieving high cutting performance and still having very good edge holding ability. At least for light and even medium cutting applications. Given its super hard steel core, 67HRC, it is no surprise the blade is clad. To be precise, William Henry B12 spearpoint folder blade is Warikomi Awase style cladding. The outer layer, or a Jigane is softer stainless steel. As usual, it serves as a protective layer from elements, and gives the blade strength, so it doesn't snap in half during work or if accidentally dropped. You can clearly see the line where cladding ends on the attached photo and other photos in the gallery.
Button Lock- B12 spearpoint folder features William Henry Studio proprietary Button Lock. The lock design is rather simple. It is a steel bar or a pin, perpendicular to the blade, which has a bigger diameter to the right side, and narrower to the left. That wider part is what locks the blade in the open position. When you want to close the knife, you push the button located on the left side of the handle, that moves the pin to the right, wider part is out of the way and the narrower part of the pin doesn't prevent the knife from closing anymore. As far as the lock strength goes, I wouldn't consider it to be hard use/high strength lock, but that knife is not designed to be used for chopping, prying and twisting, very few folders are. So, the lock is plenty strong for the knife designed use, easy to operate and reliable. Engagement is solid, and I didn't observe any blade play in locked position.
Handle- Titanium handle, with decorating, anodized blue color grooves. Nice and simple pattern, doesn't overload the knife visuals. Like I said above, then knife is rather small, at least for me. So, the handle feels small in hammer grip, but it's fine for any other grip. I don't really use hammer grip for most of my cutting tasks, at least, not with the knife designed for delicate and other every day mundane cutting. The handle consists of two titanium slabs connected with pin spacers and screws. There is no solid backspacer, thus cleaning the knife is fairly simple and on top of that, because of its open back it doesn't accumulate lint and dirt all that much. The anodized clip fits in the design nicely, and it has just the tension to keep the knife secure in the pocket, yet it's still easy to put it in the pocket, without ruining them.
Usage- Considering that William Henry, model B12 spearpoint is a light use, gent's folder, its use is limited to every day light/medium cutting, such as envelopes, occasional packaging, rope, wires, rubber, thin plastic, etc. Edge holding ability of the ZDP-189 steel at 67HRC is extremely high. Can't say I was using the knife intensively, but still, so far I have not had to sharpen it. The edge is still the same hair popping sharp as it was on day one. I don't EDC this knife, but when I am in the places where the blade length is limited, like city of San Francisco, or attending large parties, I prefer non intimidating looking B12 over larger folders. It'd make an excellent office knife for those who care about that in their office, as in having excessively nervous coworkers about the knives in general. Silly, but that's how it is :)
Part of the knife use and edge holding ability study is described in the long article Super hard vs. soft edges. To summarize the long, multi part testing results, the B122 folder was used in two separate tests to cut aluminum discs and various wiring, to observe edge behavior. Mainly to see if ZDP-189 steel is all that chippy as some users report, and compare edge damage on soft edges vs. hard edges, since primary argument for the soft steel and edged, by manufacturers and some users alike is their[soft edge] alleged toughness and resistance to the damage. For detailed account of the testing and its results, including micrographs, see the article linked above, but in short, soft edges failed miserably, and I didn't observe a single chip on 67HRC ZDP-189 steel b12 spearpoint edge. Obviously, a lot depends on cutting, and heat treatment is crucial, just the Rockwell hardness doesn't tell the whole story, two knives from the same steel, at the same hardness may behave very differently because of the differences in heat treatment, but when it's done right, ZDP-189 is not all that brittle as some users report.
Conclusions- Excellent knife, made from high end materials, and the blade steel is top notch. Very high quality overall. And a price tag to match. On the other hand, I've seen lesser knives for the prices closer or greater than what's B12 was worth, so, do I think it is overpriced? No, it isn't. Given current prices on knives and their performance, craftsmanship, etc, it is not overpriced. The price is high, but you do get what you pay for. Classy, hi-tech, gent's folder with very high cutting and edge holding ability. It's not a hard use or workhorse knife, but it has its users, me being one of them :) The rest is up to you.
- Model: William Henry Spearpoint B12;
- Blade - 83.00mm(3.27")
- Steel - ZDP-189 Steel at 67HRC
- Thickness: 2.30mm(0.11");
- Width: 24mm
- OAL Closed: 105mm(4.14"
- Handle: Titanium;
- Lock Mechanism: Button lock;
- Weight: 44g (1.55 oz.);
- Acquired - 07/2008 Price - 425.00$
- Warranty: Limited Lifetime;
Last updated - 11/23/15