ErgoSlice Bushcraft


This review consists of :

Introduction and Specifications

Maker Webpage : on gearbastion . Basic specifications :

Stock cutting

The initial sharpness was low to moderate :

On 3/8" hemp :

Solid performance on the push cut, the slice shows a lack of aggression common with a stropped edge.

Through ten points on on some 1x0.5" pine making 2" points with heavy force (50-70 lbs) :

It isn't surprising that the Ergoslice is slightly ahead as it has the same angle approaching the edge as the Mora however the high grind then sweeps back into a lower angle to thin out the steel above that bevel and thus provide more mechanical advantage to the cut.

In extended use, making 1000 slices,

A few minor issues with ergonomics :

Food

In the kitchen there are in general a few main types of work done :

For work that requires a high sharpness :

The ErgoSlice does well as it comes sharper than average and of course can easily be maintained at a high sharpness. Now of course the weight and heft in hand is higher than what would be optimal for a boning or utility knife but again this a knife which is also designed for outdoor work so has to have a level of ruggedness to allow such work. However from a point of pure cutting ability there is no loss here.

Moving onto materials which can exert a binding force on the blade the thicker blade stock and the lack of a fully grind can be seen to start to cause a performance loss.

On some small fruits and vegetables then the performance is still ok :

However when trying to make horizontal cuts through onions to allow fine dicing is a problem as it requires too much force to do efficiently so you either slow down or just do a more coarse dice. It gets more pronounced on heavier vegetables and would be problematic trying to slice up a turnip and similar thicker and stiffer vegetables.

Peeling potatoes and other work where the blade has to be rotated and turned in the cut the ErgoSlice does surprisingly well. While the blade is a bit thicker than a paring knife the forward cant of the blade and ability to hold the handle so as to present the blade in a ideal position allows very efficient peeling.

The interesting thing was comparing it to the utility knife in the picture, the ErgoSlice did much better because it was both sharper and the edge is at a lower angle (and slightly thinner) showing just how sensitive peeling is to sharpness and how it is very much shallow cutting.

Of course on much thicker rinds the blade stock will start to be an issue just like it was for chopping and dicing.

Field

As a quick check on robustness and cutting ability the Ergoslice was used to section off a piece of spruce with an old broken and knotty piece of dead wood. The knife performed well with the limitations of the shorter blade as care was taken to avoid hitting the handle.

Once the round was removed it was stripped of the bark and a handled carved to allow a more secure and comfortable grip. The grip has a hollow cut to provide an end flare for security and the light convex grind of the blade allows it to easily scallop in the cut and make the gentle curve required in the grip.

The small mallet thus produced allows the smaller knife to easily do heavier work and making one out of a solid piece of wood with a decent handle allows that work to be done efficiently and comfortably for an extended period of time.

With the new mallet it is trivial now to :

Again the only real concern is avoiding direct impacts on the handle both to preserve the finish but as well to avoid fracture as wood doesn't have the impact toughness of synthetics such as G10.

Cutting down heavier wood for poles and steaks, the Ergoslice doesn't have the chopping power of a small axe such as some of the larger blades however it can easily cut wood about an inch or so by simply pushing the wood until it comes under tension and then slicing into it. The very thin edge grind on the Ergoslice makes this very practical and efficient.

The knife also has the chopping ability to limb off such small sticks, however care has to be taken to retain a grip due to the taper of the handle. The critical point is to ensure that the hand is kept forward of the center hump to ensure that there is still traction even when swinging.

Now a leuko style handle would give a more powerful chopping grip however this knife is designed to be more versatile and the use of the fine taper becomes very obvious when using it in the kitchen.

Over view :

In short, it is very capable for outside work.

Sheath

The sheath for the ErgoSlice is made from Kydex and well formed :

The edges are all also well finished, smoothed and in general it is very even/symmetrical. As Kydex sheaths go, this is a solid execution of such. The color was chosen specifically for high visibility, especially in the woods where orange stands out strongly against the common green/dark background.

In regards to general carry ability, this is normally carried as a neck knife, but it is fairly heavy and not very flat so it is an outer wear neck knife not an under shirt carry.

Grip

Ergonomics : the comfort of the grip is one of the standouts of the knife. The balance is right on the index finger which secure it in hand even in a relaxed grip. It also indexes very well in hand due to the shape and is not based on texturing or other friction based security which can make it abrasive in extended cutting. The grip is swelled in thickness and width which not only fills the hand and prevents the grip from turning in heavy cutting, it also, through making smooth contact so the handle has no hot spotting or focus points and can be used for extended cutting without build up of pressure abrasion on the hand.

The front of the handle slabs are also well rounded which allow for an overhand grip where the thumb runs along the handle slab. The spine is also well broken/chamfered to serve as a secondary point of contact for heavier cutting as well as finer work for indexing. The only real issue with the handle ergonomic wise is the heel of the dropped blade could be better rounded as that is a point of contact against the index finger in a lot of grips.

Security : the handle is very smooth, the spine has no jimping and the grip has no end hook or in general secondary retention methods. However the dropped blade and strong center swell in both thickness and width keep the blade very stable and minimize the risk of the hand ramping forward on the blade.

Durability : the handle is Amboya Burl, stabilized. It is thus very resistant to weathering but being a natural material does not have the extreme resistance to heat and chemical attacks that is found in the modern synthetics such as G10 and Micarta. Wood is chosen simply because of the preference for a traditional natural material and when extreme durability isn't a functional requirement.

Miscellaneous : as an aside it looks stunning and constantly gets praise for the appearance, obviously a matter of personal preference.

Steel

Nominal composition of N690 :

Cobalt is a critical alloying element in high speed steels because of its strong ability to enhance strength at high temperatures. However in the small amounts in stainless steels such as in N690 it is used for other reasons. Cobalt is a strong austenite stabilizer which balances the ferrite stabilizing aspects of the strong carbide formers and unlike Nickel, Cobalt raises the Ms temperature which reduces the retained austenite in the final form and thus acts to increase the hardenability and strengthen the steel. It also increases the corrosion resistance. The reason it isn't a more common alloying element is that it is extremely expensive.

In regards to edge retention, in extended slicing on cardboard the blade was found to be similar to VG-10 and other high carbide steels in a similar hardness range 1 .

Sharpening, in general, given the nature of the steel is a step up from simpler steels such as O1 which can be more easily ground with simple (natural) abrasives such as Arkansas stones. N690, similar to other high carbide stainless steels, in order to be ground efficiently does require a bit more of an abrasive. However it doesn't require this as much as steels such as ZDP-189 which tend to require very specialized hones such as the SPS-II series of waterstones. N690 is still readily honed on basic waterstones and most heavy grinding on this blade is usually done with a Bester 700 or Naniwa Superstone 400 and is typically finished on a MXF-DMT (6 micron).

Overview

In general, this is a very solid design, especially given it was the first knife by the maker, clean and functional approach with a strong aesthetic appeal. There were only a few small issues which could use some additional refinement (heel of the blade to be rounded). In other aspects the changes or commentary tend to reflect personal preference or user focus. For example some people really desire a sharply squared spine to use as a scraper/striker, in particular with a ferrocerium rod.

Comments and references

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

1 : Edge retention slicing cardboard, various steels

and/or the YouTube Playlist.

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


Last updated : 15/02/2015
Originally written: 18/03/2013
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