Spyderco Temperance

The review consists of the following work: military and


The Spyderco Temperance is made by stock removal out of 0.152" (5/32") VG-10 hardened to 59-60 HRC. The blade is 3.5 centimeters at the widest, 10.3 cm long with a full distal taper. The choil is 1.1 cm in length. The Temperance weighs 140 g with the balance 2.5 cm behind the guard. The edge is 0.012" thick near the choil and sweeps up to 0.020" through the tip. The edge angle is consistent along the blade at an acute 10.0 (7) degrees. The Kydex sheath is well fitted to the knife no rattle, made from 1/16" stock, as good as the better customs work seen. The sheath comes with a multi-position Tec-Lock attachment and has a drainage hole.

Stock work

The Temperance was extremely sharp new in box, it could shave free standing hair, even catch it backwards. It easily push cut into newsprint straight down. On light thread and poly the Temperance push cut the thread with 69 (7) grams and cut the poly in 0.71 (5) centimeters of edge under a 500 gram load, under a 1000 gram load the knife cut through the poly on no draw.

On a push, the Temperance cut through 3/8" hemp with a rocking push with 10.0 (5) lbs through the tip and 11.0 (5) lbs through the base of the blade near the choil and made a slice with 9.0 (5) lbs.

Pointing some ends on a basswood dowel the Temperance needed 2.0 +/- 0.3 slices. The performance was extreme due to the thin blade stock and acute bevel, combined with the excellent leverage due to the edge being fully sharpened right to the handle. On birch flooring it took 12.4 (8) slices to make a point.

Cutting television cable the Temperance took 44-46 lbs and was undamaged through twelve cuts.

The tip penetration was in general high, it sank to 245 (10) pages into a phone book with a 50 lbs push and with a hard vertical stab the penetration was 636 (12) pages. The extreme distal taper, high flat grind and triangular blade design all combined to form a a slender tip to give near optimal penetration on soft targets. However the stabbing performance was expected to be higher but there were ergonomic issues which reduced penetration. In reverse grip the divots in the grip were abrasive to the finger tips, and in an icepick grip the guard will impact the heel of the hand hard. This tends to prevent maximum force from being applied to the blade.

The 2x4 digging was not attempted due to the thin cross section of the tip.

The wood chopping ability was 23 (2) % of the penetration of the Wildlife hatchet. The penetration was high however there was little power on a swing due to light weight and inertial moment.

Food preparation

For paring work the Temperance it light in hand and comfortable in a side pinch grip around the choil in spite of the thick and contoured handle. However such work is usually done with a much more narrow blade which increases efficiency in turning cuts. With the Temperance potato peels tend to come off in fairly short sections, similar difficulties can be seen when cutting the rind off larger fruits. Intricate coring work is also a bit awkward due to the size and something like the Jess Horn is much easier to remove eyes from potatoes and cut the stalk out of a tomato. Spyderco does make a dedicated paring knife.

The Temperance makes a nice utility knife in the kitchen with the high flat grind and thin and acute edge. On binding vegetables like turnips and carrots cuts it requires about 60% more force than a completely optimised kitchen knife such as japanese utility. Similar performance was seen on onions and other thick vegetables which makes the Temperance far more efficient than blades such as the Model 10. The Temperance also easily prepares a medium sized chicken (8 lbs). It cuts the body into sections and divides the legs and wings. It also trimmed the meat from the legs which it did well though being a bit too oversized for such precise work. The VG-10 stainless steel also suits kitchen use well showing no patina or other corrosion after extended use.

The only significant drawback which stood out for kitchen work is the guard prohibits full cuts on a cutting board unless the work is done on the very edge of the board to keep the guard from making contact.


The Temperance easily cuts light vegetation with its razor sharp edge. It is easy to handle being light in hand and readily cuts through grasses with wrist snaps and clears a couple of square meters of land in minutes. It gathers an armload of heavier vegetation just as fast. This material works well as a covering for a debris shelter, bedding or to generate a thick volume of smoke when thrown on a aggressive burning fire. The Temperance does suffer from a lack of reach due to the short blade length, a longer blade is generally more efficient with a a quality light machete being optimal.

The chopping ablity is however low, as the Temperance is quite light and even though it has a very efficient cutting profile the lack of power on the swing limits the chopping functionality to small woods. It requires multiple notching even on small woods and it takes the Temperance about 25 hits to clear through a small piece of board which can easily be cut in one chop with a larger knife. However as the wood gets smaller and more lively the Temperance will gain relative performance compared to small axe because the wood just bends and absorbs the force of the axe. On live Alders one inch thick, the Temperance and Wildlife Hatchet were similar at about 5/8" deep cuts, as the wood got smaller still the Temperance pulled ahead.

For splitting the Temperance has little inherent ability again due to lack of power on the swing. However it can assisted with a baton to handle small rounds. Small seasoned pieces of alders were readily split directly in two pieces with just one to two impacts, cutting through several small knots with no visible edge damage. It is often necessary to split such wood if it is damp to induce it to burn, or to just get a lot of heat and light in a hurry as the more surface area exposed then the faster and hotter the wood will burn. Often as well the inner core of deadfall can be dry even though the outside has absorbed a lot of water through rain.

The carving ability of the knife is high due to the thin blade stock and acute edge angle as evidenced by the performance on the basswood dowel. Generally though for most work outside the rough shaping is best done by splitting and chop/batoning to rough shape. A saw is of significant benefit to make cuts which allow the wood inbetween the cuts to be removed much faster . The wide blade of the Temperance does prohibits turning and thus shaping rounded corners and tapers such as the neck of the spoon on the right. The blade is also a bit too long for a lot of precision carving, though it works ok when gripped far up on the blade so the work is done with the last inch or so of the tip. The Jess Horn is a much more efficient profile for shaping the corners of a spoon, however the Temperance does roughs the wood to shape much easier. Carving the hollow is a bit difficult to start, but once the basic outline is chiseled with the point, a rapid scooping motion to cross hatch the wood removes it very quickly.

Splitting larger wood is generally better approached indirectly as the Temperance lacks the length to baton the wood immediately in half and as well the edge is fairly thin and acute so unless the wood is clear there would be concerns about cutting through knots. If the wood is not too badly knotted then it is usually effective to split off slabs using a baton just like on the Alders until the log has been reduced in size enough to split directly with the Temperance, or the side slabs give enough wood for fire or construction. On larger wood which would take too long to keep splitting in sections, the first side slabs are formed into wedges which are used to allow heavier splits directly. The Temperance is batoned into the wood to start the cut and then the wedges pounded into the cuts to continue the splits. Once the wood has been split into slabs or shingles the Temperance works well directly to continue this splitting and split shingles into very thin strips cutting along the growth rings. Wood split this fine will burn even when wet on woods like pine and spruce. It also dries rapidly and in just 1-2 days will burn very well. To allow direct lighting from a match or ferro rod the wood can also be scraped to produce very fine shavings.

For fire starting, it is a valuable asset. As noted it can be used to both fell and split woods and make fine shavings and scraping for direct tinder. Generally though this is rarely necessary as there are usually many sources of natural tinders such as barks, grasses, lichen, dried boughs and very well seasoned deadwoods. All of these will light readily from a single match instantly and can be prepared by scraping or working with the hands to fluff/break them up to allow them to be lit from a ferrocium rod. With a brace used to pretect the fuel from crushing the tinder a strong flame is obtained in just minutes if the wood is nice and dry.

For prying / digging, the Temperance's very fine tip leaves it a low stiffness and strength and thus would not want to be used to pry up rocks in heavy soil. For such working a digging stick is readily carved with the Temperance. This is just a stick with a flat pointed end which is used as a pick to loosen the earth and pry up rocks. As it is much longer than the knife it can be used aggressively with both hands which makes it generally more effective as there is much more leverage. The knife however is more efficient cutting sods and rooty soil. This will blunt the knife rapidly though and remove fine cutting ability with just a few minutes cutting.

Edge retention and ease of sharpening

As a stock test for edge retention, the Temperance was used to slice through free standing 3/8" Manila hemp. Details :

Edge retention of the Temperance on 3/8" hemp with a 22 degree micro bevel formed by a fine DMT rod. The slicing sharpness was measured cutting 1/4" poly held under 1000 g of tension
# cutsEdge length required to cut the poly
  00.97 +/- 0.05
  21.05 +/- 0.09
  61.25 +/- 0.13
 141.60 +/- 0.04
 302.00 +/- 0.15
 622.42 +/- 0.19
1262.88 +/- 0.16
2544.42 +/- 0.24

In general it compared well to other stainless steels.

On used carpet the Temperance used on a draw with the edge finished with a 600 DMT rod set at 22 degrees. Several other blades were also used and in general the Temperance did well.

On cardboard, the Temperance was compared to a Spyderco Military in S30V. Both blades had the edges cut with a 200 grit silicon carbide waterstone, polished with 1000 and then 4000 grit waterstones and finally 22 degree edge bevels applied with a DMT rod with 10 passes per side to produce a bevel which was about 0.15 mm wide. Details on the performance :

Edge retention of a Spyderco Temperance and Military on ridged cardboard cut on a slice over two inches of blade. Sharpness was determined by the amount of force (grams) necessary to push cutting light thread.
Model Initial Final
27.5 m (1/8") 25.9 m (1/16") 46.6 m (1/16")
Temperance 175 (10) 306 (60) 228 (10) 460 (61)
Military 172 ( 8) 306 (48) 205 (20) 436 (43)

The extent of blunting was significantly less on the run with 1/16" cardboard compared to a run with a similar amount of 1/8" stock. At the end of the 47 m run both edges had started to tear the cardboard. In short no significant difference was seen in regards to edge retention on a push. The initial edge sharpness was also found to be near identical and the condition of the edge after the cutting was indistinguishable under magnification [x10]. Both could be brought back to optimal using a secondary edge bevel with a few passes on the DMT rod.

The push cutting edge retention while slicing cardboard was also compared to a mora in 1095. The Temperance showed a consistent small increase in edge retention. No difference was noted in ultimate sharpness or ease of sharpening. The Temperance was also compared to a small Sebenza in S30V and the edge retention checked for slicing aggression and there was a large difference in the performance in favor of the Sebenza. This is likely due to the explained by the greater wear resistance of S30V due to the high vanadium content which produces very highly wear resistant varbides. The Temperance was also compared to a M16 in AUS-4A and Point Guard 420J2. The Temperance had significantly better edge retention.

On woods, the Temperance was able to keep a shaving sharp edge for extended periods of time cutting hardwoods, however even brief sessions of chopping on seasoned wood lead to chips in the edge below the visible, but felt by thumbnail. The edge is of course acute and the chips could be prevented by adding a more obtuse secondary edge bevel. As an example, a session of chopping some small diameter sticks to length of 250 chops produced four small chips of 0.1-0.2 millimeters in depth/idth and two 0.1 millimeters deep and 0.1 millimeters long. Repeating the same work with a 15 degree microbevel reduced the chips to two small ones 0.1 millimeters in depth/width.


As a general utility knife the Temperance worked well having a high cutting ability with a thin and precise tip. It readily slices through styrofoam and makes thin slices with no cracking. The point easily goes into a plastic bottle and sweeps around the side effortlessless. It is also robust enough to cut open a notch can or apple or tomato juice with no fracture.

Sharpening details

The edge is thin and acute and in general sharpened well. The blade is also a simple shape and has no specific demands. The grindability of the steel is lower than low alloy carbon steels and thus for significant reshaping a coarse waterstone, 200 grit works well.

Handle ergonomics and security

The handle is very nicely contoured and fills the hand well. It is of a decent size 1.9 cm thick and 3.2 cm wide. An extra large hand easily fits in the handle with room to spare, as well comments from users with smaller hands were also positive regarding ergonomics. The grip shows a number of positive refinements. Unlike the grips on the Swamp Rat line for example, the front of the handle on the Temperance rounds nicely greatly increasing comfort in a choked up grip. The pommell also has a contoured depression for the thumb which also extra security and control for reverse grip work. The only downside is that the handle material is not as nice in hand as others such as the "Resperine C" used in the Swamp Rat line which has a little give and is thus more comfortable. The Temperance handle is also significantly slicker (personally a more aggressive surface texture would be preferred - easily achieved with some grip tape).


The sheath is made from 1/16" thick Kydex and the construction and quality match the better custom work seen. It comes with a Tec-Lock attachment to increase versatility, and has a drainage hole for ease of cleaning.


The Temperance combines the cutting ability of the Mora 2000 with a higher edge retention for aggressive slicing on abrasive materials. It also has a much greater chopping ability and higher handle security. The wider blade does reduces turning ability in cuts which is optomized in narrow profiles like the Deerhunter. The Temperance works well as a light camp and general utility knife acting very much like a short chef's knife in the kitchen. It doesn't have the rugged nature of knives like the Howling Rat but offer a much higher level of cutting ability. The only significant drawback aside from some issues with the grip as that the choil notch can hang on some deep cuts.

Comments and references

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More information on this knife plus others from Spyderco can be seen on the Spyderco webpage. PhotoBucket Album.

Last updated : Wed May 12 14:37:23 NDT 2004
Originally written : Tue Nov 18 12:25:54 NST 2003