Knife review : Douk Douk Tiki


Knives :

This review consists of :

Introduction

More than a dozen years ago the review of the classic Douk Douk by Nemo and Fred sparked an interest in this simple but yet essentially elegant and function driven blade and finally one was obtained through a generous gift from knife maker Geoffroy Gautier ( Gamma Brand). Rather than attempt to discuss the history of this knife and shed some light on the origin's the words from Nemo and Fred's review will be used :

Born in the City of Thiers, french famous city of Cutlery. The designer of the Douk Douk was Gaston Cognet . The year was 1927 ! Nowadays, his grandson Pierre Cognier is the director of the factory, helped by his father Guy Cognier (previous director during the last 50 years) If the Douk Douk is a industrial production, all the assembly, the check are made but hands since 1927 !

The handle is made with folded black steel. A spring is inserted inside the handle and the all in assemblied by two pins. The first pins is at the blade axe and the second is blocking the spring and attached to a steel loop for a lanyard.

This knife has been made for the French Colonies and the foreign markets especially for the Pacific Islands and East Europe. But finally its the many bargains from Caravan in Africa which spread the Douk Douk over all the Black Continent. The biggest success of the Douk Douk was eventually in the North African countries (Marocco, Algeria, Tunisa…). The knife will be back in Europe after the “Guerre d’Algérie” and after a part of the Algerian Population went to France.

Specifications

Maker Webpage : M. C. Cognet Cutlery , basic specifications :

Initial Impressions

Initial impressions :

Stock testing : main

The initial sharpness was low to moderate :

Some numbers : In the sharpness is about a third of optimal and this greatly increases the amount of force used to cut, made obvious by the very high numbers on the hemp cutting.

Carving wood alongside the #1260 Mora there were a few things immediately obvious with the Douk Douk :

In extended use making points on 3/4" x 3/8" pine with 10-15 lbs of force on the cut : The cutting advantage would be expected from the difference in angles, 9-10 degrees on the Mora and approximately 25 on the Douk Douk.

Initial Sharpening

Before more work with the Douk Douk it was reground to 10 (1) degrees per side this left the edge approximately 0.010" thick. The regrinding only took two minutes on a 1000 grit King waterstone as the steel is very easy to grind as it is fairly soft and has a very low carbide volume. There was also no significant issue with burr formation during sharpening. After the honing the Douk Douk could :

The Douk Douk now showed significantly higher sharpness and cutting ability as noted on the threat and hemp cutting.

Repeating the cutting again on another piece of wood, slightly larger

With similar edge angles, the Douk Douk now has a cutting advantage of 15% due to the primary grind providing a thinner edge at the same angle. Again this is with very light force, 10-15 lbs. If heavier force was used the Douk Douk would have a greater cutting advantage due to the further influence of the primary grind - but it would become very uncomfortable in hand at those forces.

Food

The Douk Douk works exceptionally well in the kitchen as a large paring or small utility knife due to the :

With the initial fairly high edge angle significant resistance can be seen on such work like peeling potatoes vs optimally ground production knives such as the IVO Paring knife however once the edge on the Douk Douk was reground as noted in the above to a suitable edge angle the performance was exactly in line with higher end cutting profiled kitchen knives which would be expected as that is the same grind as found on the Douk Douk.

The very thin edge, especially when reground does limit the performance on harder work. Preparing small fish was not an issue, cutting through smaller bones and similar on pheasants and rabbits. However if cuts were made a bit slopping in the disjointing then some flattening of the edge would be seen, again this is mainly an issue with the reground edge angle. However even with the initial edge angle then heavy work like cutting the knuckles off of chickens would be an issue and especially turkeys as this would likely damage the primary grind itself. But of course such work is generally done with heavier knives, cleavers or the heal of a heavier chef's knife, ideally with a suitable micro-bevel.

The only real concern in the kitchen in general is using the Douk Douk on foods which tend to be greasy as the handle is fairly slick. This isn't usually a concern even on breaking down a chicken however care would have to be taken to keep the hand off the blade as the very smooth grip and no guard do not offer a lot of security.

Utility

With the initial edge angle and moderate sharpness the using the Douk Douk on the following materials :

It was able to cut, but it was well behind the Mora #1260 except on the screw ties where the primary grind thinning the edge actually allowed it to pull ahead a little even though the edge angle was higher. With the Douk Douk reground to a 10 degree edge angle it easily out cut the Mora slightly on all materials and took no visible damage on any materials.

Using the Douk Douk for what is now an increasingly uncommon task, pointing a few wooden pencils it does it very well.

The last is extremely important to be able to make the very thin slices and especially point the graphite which requires very fine control. Even a recently reground Paramilitary can not match the performance of the Douk Douk. Even though the Paramility was was reground to under 0.010" thick and sharpened at ten degrees per side at the edge, the much wider blade makes it much more difficult to point and runs a higher risk of cracking if the pencil is tipped to a very fine point.

Grip

Ergonomics : This is one of the weak points of the knife when moderate force was used. While the handle has a nice shape as it is swelled in both thickness and contoured with a center palm swell. However as the handle is just folded metal just 0.040" thick, even though the edges are well rounded they became uncomfortable if more than 15 lbs was used on the cut and even cutting at about 10 lbs would start to generate hot spots if used extensively as in 500+ slices in woods. However if used moderately for light utility work, or sparsely giving the skin time to recover there were no issues.

Security : The grip is fairly slick even when dry. This isn't an issue for general cutting and a lashing could be used in extremes.

Durability : The grip durability is extremely high as it is one piece of solid steel. It is extremely resistant to abrasion, weather, extreme temperatures and solvents/chemicals. The only real weakness is that the handle could easily fold under impacts to the body and prevent the blade from locking, this in fact could be argue to be an intention part of the design.

Miscellaneous : The Douk Douk was traditionally converted as required to a fixed blade by just peening the handle to lock it around the pivot. This has its origins (usually argued) in military use, however from an emergency survival perspective it has its advantages.

Edge Retention

As a very basic check on edge retention, through 273 slices through pine with the edge reground as noted in the above there was no flattening of the edge, no chipping and in fact very little if any effect on shaving ability. As well in the utility cutting there was no visible effect on the edge during the foam, fabrics, elastics, plastic, and metal cutting. Similar the pencil topping also had no visible effect on the edge.

Sharpening

In general the Douk Douk was very easy to sharpen as it had a very high grindability and did not tend to burr significantly, if at all. Finishing on an ultra fine Spyderco stone the Douk Douk could :

The higher sharpness as reflected on the thread push and slice cuts carried over into cutting in general as the Douk Douk was now sharp enough to push cut newsprint readily (1"+ from the point of hold) and was sharp enough to use as a straight razor.

Overview

Overview :

Comments and references

Comments can be emailed to cliffstamp[REMOVE]@gmail.com or by posting to the YouTube Playlist or to the following thread :

Most of the pictures in the above are in the PhotoBucket album.


Last updated : 27/3/2012
Originally written: 27/12/2012
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