Monthly Archives: December 2005
I’ve been a fan of Japanese-influenced fixed blades for some time, the ancient cord-wrap over ray skin combined with modern steels and shapes. One of my favorite contemporary makers in this space is Mike Snody, whose website has lots of examples of these fusion designs, alas most of them out of my price range and patience scale.
So I was delighted to find out that Benchmade has taken one of my favorite designs (very similar to Overlord Fighter) and mass produced it, now called the JuJu. Not sure if this is Juju in Japanese (sizzling?) or West African (fetish object or magic.)
Almost synchronously (on the geologic timescale) my beloved Spyderco announces an RJ Martin collaboration called the Kumo (which is simply Japanese for spider.)
I am combining these two reviews NOT because they compete in the same application space (they don’t, as you will see) but because of their Japan-meets-the-future styling.
Lets begin with the JuJu, a beefy knife to be sure, sporting a wharncliffe shape and real chisel ground edge. What is amazing to me about this knife is the very low cost (I got mine for $54) combined with a decent feature package. The aggressive looks border on fantasy-knife, therefore I won’t be carrying it much.
- the chisel grind is nicely done
- the point is needle sharp (well done Taiwan!)
- the blade is thick is a pleasant way, I like the traction ridges on the spine
- despite being inexpensive, the knife comes in a nice foam-padded box
- 440C steel, not my favorite, and the out of box sharpness was not great
- Menuki is substandard cast-metal, cheap looking (someone called it a monkey-skull)
- Red ray skin (not sure it really is?) suffers on close inspection
The sheath is wow huge! The belt attachment is to blame here, but I never like many factory sheaths for fixed blades. The imitation rayskin on the sheath is an interesting touch
This brings us to the Spyderco Kumo, a smaller knife with a thinner blade and more expensive materials. Whereas the Juju feels beefy enough to be a camp knife, the Kumo is more refined and discreet.
- The swedge on top is excellent and enhances the unique look
- Scarysharp VG-10 right out of the box
- The cord-wrap and rayskin are very good and mindful, the treatment on the cord feels more secure and long lasting than the Juju
- Spyder Menuki. Just awesome. I want to buy some loose ones!
- Tek-lock for the sheath: good options on a marginal sheath
- The pommel containing the lanyard hole seems a sukoshi too small and rounded
- I would prefer tighter ridges (more closely spaced) on the spine
- The sheath (surprise!) is not my favorite: too large (I know I’m unfair)
I can see myself trying to carry the Kumo from time to time, however it still looks aggressive compared to a folder. Sometimes it’s hard for me to get out of the dirk and dagger California mentality.
I am happy to own both of these knives; I hope they do well for the factories as well as the designers.
Coming next: some non-knife gear!