Chris Reeve Project I - One Piece knife


A shot of the Project I from Chris Reeve Knives after some work :

project from chris reeve knives

The review consists of :

Specifications

This Project I from Chris Reeves knives was donated for a review by Murray Haday of ProEdge Knives. The knife is made by stock removal out of A2, uniformly heat treated to 55-57 RC. The overall length is 12.75" and the weight 14 oz. The 7.5" spear point blade has a deep hollow primary grind tapering to a convex edge, 0.035" thick at back and ground to 13 degrees per side, with an inch of wave serrations at the base of the cutting edge. The sheath is leather with a Nylon retention nob. The blade and handle are protected with Kalgard, a non-reflective coating. The cross guard is indexed on the right side to allow positive blade orientation by touch. The butt cap is made out of of 6061 aluminum which screws into the hollow handle against a Neoprene "O" ring to insure a tight seal. The handle is checkered for grip security.

The blade came shaving sharp and overall fit and finish was very high. The spine was well rounded, heavy hand pressure on the spine (200 lbs of force) caused no discomfort. The cross guard is also similarly ergonomic and secure while comfortable under significant strain. The transition to the edge from the stock is via a gentle sloping curve, not the abrupt transitions commonly found on production blades. Almost every edge is radiused which both increases comfort and enhances durability by preventing stress risers. There are also two distinct grip positions, completely on the checkered part for chopping (blade heavy balance) and choked up around the guard for fine work (neutral balance).

Comparison to a Busse Basic

The Project was compared to a Busse #7 Basic from Busse Combat which had had been heavily used and extensively sharpened, enough to change its edge geometry and even weight [ref]. The comparison was thus not meant to compare the two knives directly but just examine the influence of various geometrical properties. It also lacked very heavy work such as prying and cutting hard materials like bone, all of which would have favored the Busse Basic but were not attempted on the Project I as a requirement of doing the review.

Light cutting

Both knives were used to point eight small stakes. The Basic required about %50 more slices on average to shape the point due to a more obtuse edge profile. The Basic was then resharpend to a more acute edge angle and the relative performance reversed showing the influence edge angle makes on cutting ability. Details :

Whittling ability on small stakes of a Busse Basis and Project I from Chris Reeve Knives
Model Edge geometry Cuts
Profile Thickness Width Included angle
inches inches degrees
Project I Convex 0.035 0.075 26 16.8 (    8)
#7 Basic v-ground 0.035 0.051 38 24.7 (1.1)
 
#7 Basic modified Convex 0.055 0.155 20 12.0 (1.3)

The relative performance in the above corrosponds well in general to how the blades will cut on other stiff materials. On meats and other loose materials the sharpness and edge aggression is much more critical and edge geometry has only a small influence.

Chopping

Both knives were used to chop through several sections of small scrap. The wood ranged from slight 1x4 up to pieces of 2x3. Light force was used, a firm grip swinging from the elbow. The performance :

Project I vs #7 Busse Basic on wood chopping
Model Mass Balance point Rank Scaled
grams cm
Project I 435 8.0 100
Basic #7 340 7.0 45 (6) 57 (6)
Basic #7 (reprofiled) 67 (4) 85 (4)

The scaled rank, adjusts the performance to normalize for the mass, showing effectively the performance per gram. The Project was clearly the more powerful chopper, and even with the additional mass normalized it is still ahead showing the effect of the greater forward balance making it more powerful on the swing even with the same mass. However, when the Basic and Project were used on soft woods like Alder the Basic was more efficient. On softer woods the Project I wedging badly at the top of the grind.

Tip penetration

With both knives the penetration on a hard stab into a piece of 2x6" was similar, about 2.0 centimeters. The grip on the Basic being more comfortable and allowed heavier stabs. When digging and prying in woods with the tips it was immediately obvious that the Project achieved higher penetration much easier due to the slimmer point.

cutting ability

Slicing through thin cardboard, cutting rope, preparing food and whittling on a stick of wood, the Project I cut smoothly and efficiently. The one inch of serrations were aggressive on slices while not catching or binding unlike the chisel tipped serrations of the TUSK. The serrations also have a very high edge retention compared to even coarse ground plain edges. However the Project I would tend to bind on thicker materials like turnips in the kitchen and really heavy cardboard due to its low height to thickness ratio. These types of materials demand higher primary grinds and a thinner stock thickness. Shallow hollow ground blades like the Project I tend to wedging in deep cuts at the top of the grind.

Chopping

On light scrap (2x2 and under) the Project I performed well for its weight and size. It made deep cuts and was secure and comfortable in hand. It was also used for removing dead fall from trails, mainly stick three to four inches thick at the base and about ten to fifteen feet high. Some were a bit seasoned having been down up to a very months, but none were very hard. The Project handled the work well and the edge didn't chip or roll. It was also used for some limbing, and did ok but fell significantly behind some barteaux macehtes mainly due to reach.

Overall the performance was solid, it has many of the necessary elements of a quality chopping blade, a thin and acute edge, decent mass (425 g) and blade heavy balance (the distance from the center of gravity to the center of a chopping grip fully on the checkered part was 8.0 cm). Initially it was suspected that the checkering might caused problems with discomfort or that the round grip might be to insecure and may hard to keep the blade from turning, however these problems were not readily obvious after the above initial usage. The only real downside was the narrow blade and thus low primary grind was a detriment on deep cuts on soft woods.

The coating held up well to the chopping, after around 2000 or so chops wear was visible in the form of a slight grey line just at the top of the hollow grind. At about 3000 chops the hollow grind itself had regions of grey where the coating had worn and the blade looked as follows :

project from chris reeve knives

The coating also held up well to batoning. Using the Project to split four to five inch diameter Birch logs with a baton carved from a six inch piece of Blace spruce did remove the coating faster than chopping, but in general the wear was much better than seen on blades such as the Machax.

Sharpening, edge retention and edge durability

The edge retention tended to be poor in woods, the first session, of just a few hundred chops produced three visible fractures in the tip, one to two millimeters in length, no denting just fracture. After an extended period of use (~ 4000 chops), the edge was showing signs of fatigue and was no longer responded well to a strop loaded with chromium/aluminum oxide. With the edge freshly sharpened, the same chipping was seen with more chopping sessions, 250-500 chops woul be enough to produce chips which could be felt by the finger nail.

To maintain the convex edge, sandpaper was used on top of thick leather. First the blade was honed with 220 grit SiC (50 passes per side), followed by 280 grit paper (25 passes per side), this would eliminate most of the chips. 600 grit sandpaper would be used for 50 passes per side to polish the edge, and the 10 light passes into the paper using light pressure to remove the burr would produced an edge which would slice shave and slices paper roughly. The edge was then finished with leather loaded with chromium/aluminum oxide.

Grip

During utility cutting and chopping the handle was secure and comfortable. With heavy stabs though the grip was abrasive quickly, though the security was high and the handle could even be lubricated with oil and the stabs were still possible. The laynard can also be used to increase grip security but this was never necessary. With extended use the hand adapted to the checkered steel grip and the abrasion was no longer significant.

The butt cap can be used as a hammer effectively, easily driving nails into a plank, however on an off hit the head of a nail raked across the checkering on the grip and removed some of the points. The lanyard was also half cut through from an accidental hit. The attachment of the end-cap was very secure, no loosening during extended chopping sessions or any hammering work.

As the temperature drops the bare metal grip starts to get problematic, leaving the blade in the basement freezer for two hours it could not be handled without gloves, after just fifteen seconds the grip on the handle had to be let go to prevent frost bite. Any exposed metal will do this, even slabed handles with exposed tangs have the same limitations.

Charles Ulmann pointed the round handle allows the blade to be used as drill by spinning the handle between the hands. This was examined on hard and soft woods and worked well. Digging through the wood with the point is much faster, but drilling is more precise point and possible on bone and other such materials.

The hollow handle also gives one more place to store gear. It would not be sensible to rely only on the contents of the handle but as a backup it has obvious value. The handle can also be simply weighted to increase chopping power.

Sheath

The sheath leather is thick and the stitching neat. The blade is held firmly in place. There is a Nylon nob for retention instead of the usual cross-grip strap which has of ease of draw over a snap. The blade could not be shook out past the knob and was still easy to draw, pull out to the side and up. The belt loop snaps to the back of the sheath which allows the sheath to easily be removed from the belt. The snap has a small piece welded onto the top which only allows it to be opened one way, pulling up on the loop, it can not be unsnapped by pulling out. Thus even though the belt loop is only attached by a snap, it will be very difficult for it to come unintentionally.

Besides the standard belt loop there are two lengths of paracord attached to the sheath that could be used as rigging points. One length of cord is through a hole right at the bottom so the sheath could be worn upside down and there is another length through the belt loop. The sheath did suffered some rips and tears mainly from sharp edges of dried wood as it was used outside. Kydex would be more durable in regards to that kind of wear, however leather is much more durable in regards to impacts and does not get brittle when cold.

Overview

the Project I from Chris Reeve Knives had solid shallow cutting and chopping ability for a knife of its size. The grip was very secure, there were some issues with abrasion initially, but they went away with extended use. The edge retention was low on woods as the edge chipped readily. No really heavy work was done with the knife as per a condition of the review. In general flat ground blade such as the Becker CU/7, or Ratweiler tend to have a better balance of cutting ability and durability.

Comments and references

Comments can be sent to : cliffstamp[REMOVE]@cutleryscience.com or by posting in the following thread :

Chris Reeve has a discussion forum on Bladeforums, and another on Knifeforums, and a website, as does Murray Haday for ProEdge Knives.

Nemo and Fred Perrin's comments on the Project I :


Last updated : 04 : 20 : 2006
Origionally written : Jul 28 : 2000
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