Chris Reeve Giraffe Bone Mnandi

Introduction

The Chris Reeve Giraffe Bone Mnandi is what I would consider to be my grail knife. It isn’t too big, nor is it too small. It has some of the highest tolerances and best craftsmanship one can find in any production knife.

This will not be a review. I do not plan on using this knife and will only carry it on certain occasions. For the most part, it will be relegated to fondling at home and a special spot on my shelf.

Specs

Date of Manufacture: October 22, 2003
Blade Material: CPM S30V at 58-59 RC
Blade Length: 2.75″
Handle Material: 6Al4V Titanium
Overall Length: 6.375″
MSRP: $400

Video

Coming soon.

Packaging and Paperwork

Luckily for me, the knife came with all of its original packaging and documentation.

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The box is interesting, as it is the older rectangular style. Since the knife was made in 2003, it only has the stickers for winning the 2000, 2001, and 2003 Manufacturing Quality Award.

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The right end of the box has stickers labeling the contents.

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Inside, there is a small sheet containing information about this specific limited edition.

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There is also the original birth card, which is often lost over the years. It is completely handwritten, in comparison to newer cards, which only have handwritten dates and Chris Reeve’s signature.

Included Items

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There is an Allen wrench that comes with each knife. I believe they were all taped to the lid of the box, as shown. They are 5/64″, which fit the screws on the knife.

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Additionally, there is a small calf skin pouch. The are still manufactured, although I have heard that there are quality and design differences between the old and new versions. It is quite interesting that this pouch is completely new, as it doesn’t show any sign of stretching at all.

Newer Mnandis come with a microfiber cloth and fluorinated grease. This one had neither.

Design

The Mnandi features the Chris Reeve Integral Lock design. In essence, it is a one piece framelock. The slabs of giraffe bone are not scales or overlays, but are, in fact, inlaid into the titanium scales. The titanium is slightly milled to precisely fit the giraffe bone. They are attached using 3M VHB (Very High Bond) tape.

The Mnandi has 13 different parts different parts.

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1. Front Scale
2. Blade
3. Back (lockbar side) Scale
4. Pivot
5. Smaller (rear) washer
6. Spacer
7. Larger (front) washer
8. Bushing
9. Long screw
10. Body pin (product page)
11. Back spacer (product page)
12. Clip (product page)
13. Short screw (product page)
14. Allen wrench

I will be doing a write-up as well as a video tutorial on how to disassemble and lubricate a Mnandi. It will be linked here after it is complete.

Fit and Finish

Tolerances are great. There is no blade play (side-to-side, up/down, back/front) at all. The blade centering is perfect both closed and opened. The lockup is good at around 50%. The lockbar itself is still, although not overly so. I never worry about the knife closing on itself.

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Left: Lockbar deploys at around 50%. Right: Blade centering is near perfect.

The hollow grind is symmetric and incredibly thin.

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Top: Lubricant residue shows the path of the detent ball. Bottom: The “S” signifies S30V steel.
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Lockbar side

Functionality

As I mentioned in the introduction, I do not plan on using this knife. Chris Reeve Knives does not offer re-blades for pre-2011 knives, preventing me from acquiring an extra blade to use. Furthermore, as Tim Reeve, son of Chris Reeve, pointed out, using the knife would eventually show wear on the handle, which would reduce collector’s value over time.

However, I still do find occasions to bring the knife out. The clip looks very innocent and fashionable when clipped on a shirt pocket. It is a nice accessory to have and an easy way to conceal a knife in situations where it something larger, like a Sebenza, might not be appropriate.

Value

Precises of this piece have varied wildly through the years. The original MSRP was $400, which was a small premium over the a regular Mnandi. Prices did not appear to increase until recently, when fewer and fewer have been surfacing on the market.

Previous Sales:

October 2003: $400 on Knifeart (Link)
January 2006: Unknown on British Blades (Link)
June 2008: $445 on Bladeforums (Link)
May 2010: $325 on Bladeforums (Link)
December 2016: $1750 on Bladeforums (Link)

 

 

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Chris Reeve Giraffe Bone Mnandi: Unboxing/First Look

I’ve been chasing after this knife for quite a long time. Now, it’s finally in my hands.

Specs:

Date of Manufacture: October 22, 2003
Blade Material: CPM S30V at 58-59 RC
Blade Length: 2.75″
Handle Material: 6Al4V Titanium
Overall Length: 6.375″

The Unboxing

Some First Observations

The Chris Reeve Mnandi has always appealed to me due to the elegant curves the knife has. The handle has a slight arc in it which continues on through the blade. Now, holding the knife in person, I can attest to the aesthetics beauty of the knife. I seriously cannot get over the curves.

The build quality is exceptional. There is no blade wiggle of any type and the inlays are fitted perfectly. And that titanium milled clip is just a work of art.

I’ll do a full on review after I spend some more time with the knife. Until then, enjoy some preliminary photos of the knife.

Pictures

 

Mike Draper Mini Titanium Spatula Review

Introduction

A key tool in food preparation is a good spatula. They can be used to flip burgers on the grill or to make the perfect egg. Mike Draper gave his spatula high end treatment with the use of titanium. Coming in both standard and mini sizes, the shiny titanium is definitely a show stopper. However, is the titanium just a gimmick or is there value to its usage?

This product was provided by EatingTools for review.

Specs

Maker: Mike Draper
Materials: 6AL4V Titanium, stainless steel screws
Dimensions: 2.125″ x 2.875 x 7.875″, 0.22″ thick
Weight: 1.5 oz
Price: $32.50 from eatingtools.com

Design

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Mike Draper has two sizes of spatulas available: A larger “standard” spatula and a mini spatula. The basic shape of the two are the same, but there are also some differences. The larger version has both an angled and a flat blade style.

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Picture from eatingtools.com

Additionally, the larger version uses four screws instead of only three on the mini version. The butt of the handle has two different designs. One version is curved, matching the curves of the drilled holes. The other version has a slightly pointed end.

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On both versions of the spatula, there are two main parts consisting of two pieces of titanium, a handle and a blade. The blade has a single bend in it, giving it rise up to the area that connects to the handle.

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The handle also has a bend, which corresponds with the bend in the blade. There is a hole drilled at the end of the handle for a wrist thong or for hanging up.

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Fit and Finish

When it comes to any handmade product, fit and finish is a defining feature of its quality.

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The fit and finish on the spatula is great. The spatula has a brushed finish that resists scratches and wear well. However, it is a finger print magnet. Thankfully, a wipe with a cloth will remove the oils left from your hand.

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One area that was a tad imperfect was the screws. I believe that the screws were longer and had to be cut down to size in order to be flush with the handle. Somewhere during the progress, it appears that an actual piece was trimmed off. The brushed finish, however, looks great on the screws.

Functionality

To test the spatula, I put it to work making eggs every morning. Even with its small size, flipping eggs is a breeze on my cast iron. With all metal spatulas, I would not recommend using this on a non-stick pan.

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The titanium is very flexible, though it retains its shape very well. This makes getting under eggs very easy. The handle, although un-insulated, does not get hot.

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Food particles can easily get stuck on the surface, but a bit of scrubbing and elbow grease makes it look like new again.

With its small size, the spatula easily fits in a backpack for camping trips. I took it out into the woods with my cast iron for a nice cookout. I definitely recommend titanium tools and utensils after this experience. Between my American Kami SporkTiStix, and Spatula, I was never worried that my tools were going to give out. The spatula, even with its thinness, did not suffer any deformation on the trek and returned just the way it left.

Conclusion

A spatula might seem like something you’d pick up at the dollar store, but the this titanium spatula really shows you how great a cooking tool can be. Its durability is second to known and its design really showcases craftsmanship at its best.

Alan Folts TiStix Review

Introduction

Titanium is all the craze nowadays. With food utensils, they provide a distinct advantage over steel, with properties such as anti-corrosion and weight being among the most notable. However, Titanium tools are often much more expensive as they are harder to work with. When it comes to something as simple as chopsticks, does the added cost still make them worth it to buy?

This product was provided by EatingTools for review.

Specs

Manufacturer: Alan Folts
Place of Manufacture: USA
Length: 9.375″
Weight: 1.7oz
Price: $75 (link to purchase: here)

Packaging

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The TiStix come in a nice black sleeve packaging. There is a small loop that slips over the flap to keep it closed. Over the left side has the logo printed on faintly.

When it comes to packaging, the TiStix really hit the ball out of the park. I can see myself reusing this packaging for months if I continue to be careful about drying them off before putting them back.

Design

The TiStix are cut and milled at a small machine shop in South Carolina. After that, the TiStix are finished by hand by Alan Folts. This includes the anodizing, polishing, and bead blasting.

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Starting at the tip, the front inch are bead blasted. This gives them some more grip and contrasts with the rest of the polished body.

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Moving to the middle, there is some milling that add to the aesthetic. The largest milled ring are bead blasted for higher contrast. The other milled rings are not finished differently from the body.

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The end is bead blasted and is steeply tapered into a dulled tip. There is more milling here and, like before, only the largest ring is bead blasted.

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Other models come with different color anodizations that add some customizability.

Fit and Finish

The fit and finish on the TiStix are impeccable. It is impossible to tell the individual sticks apart from their size. This is expected, as they were professionally machined. The milled rings are distanced the same on both and the depths are the same.

When it comes to finish, even though the TiStix are finished by hand, they look perfect. The polished surfaces look smooth. They look a bit tumbled, which would explain their ability to resist wear marks. They frankly look like pieces of art rather than eating utensils.

Functionality

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I was a bit dubious at first about any differences the TiStix would have over other chopsticks. I was, however, pleasantly surprised by the weight increase. It might seem like a hindrance, but the added weight shifts the center of balance closer to the hand. As such, they are much easier to control. Further, the titanium has a slightly “grippier” feel in comparison to stainless steel. While not as textured as something like bamboo or wood, the TiStix makes up it by being much heftier.

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The sandblasted tips make it easy to pick up the most slippery of items. This contrasts greatly with other types of chopsticks that either do not have any type of feature to help with gripping, or those that simply have a few grooves cut into the tip.

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When it comes to cleaning, the titanium holds up very well to scrubbing and does not stain. Using a sponge and some dish soap, it took no time at all to remove hardened food gunk off of them. The milled titanium rings are not deep enough to make cleaning them difficult. The bead blasted contrast remains after cleaning.

Value and Competition

At $75, the TiStix do not come cheap. However, the price can be justified. In comparison to other titanium chopsticks, the TiStix’s design, with its milling and bead blasting, showcase a higher level of workmanship. The ergonomics are also better, with the strong tapering putting the center of mass higher up than with other chopsticks.

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When considering value, one should look at both the item itself and how it compares. While the TiStix may look simple, they handily beat out the competition through it’s design and attention to detail. These additional design aspects require more workmanship, which further rationalize its price. For those reasons, I feel like the TiStix are reasonably priced and present tangible advantages to its competitors.

Conclusion

I was a bit surprised by the TiStix. As someone who has used chopsticks for many, many years, the TiStix may be the best pair of chopsticks that I have ever used. This is not an exaggeration. The higher center of mass and bead blasted tips make grabbing food a breeze. With their hardy solid, one piece construction, I have no fear of bringing them out and using them in lieu of disposable utensils. Given the opportunity, I would definitely purchase many more pairs for household use.

American Kami Stubby Spork Review

Introduction

The spork is a combination of a fork and a spoon. It can be difficult to design the utensil to get both the utility of a fork and a spoon. If the fork prongs are too long, then the spoon cannot hold much liquid. If the spoon is too big, it will unwieldy. DJ Urbanovsky, from American Kami, has created what might be the beefiest spork on the market. But is this just a niche product, or is this a spork that everyone can appreciate?

This product was provided by EatingTools for review.

Specs

Place of Manufacture: USA
Length: 6.85 inches
Weight: 1oz (30g)
Material: 6AL4V Titanium
Price: $30 USD from EatingTools

Design

The spork holds true to its name of being stubby. With an over all length of 5.25″ and handle length of 2.75″, the size of bowl is quite overbearing in comparison to the rest of the spork.

The spork is made of US aerospace and military scrap 6AL4V  titanium. It is 0.071″ thick, which gives it strength and heft.

The handle shape steps down before tapering into the bow. The connection between the handle and the bowl is abrupt, although there are no sharp edges.

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The bowl itself is wide and deep. The tines are not too long and, as such, it has a higher fluid capacity compared to most sporks.

There are three other models of this spork created by American Kami. They all have longer handles, with some longer than others, and there is a variation on the handle that has a bottle opener.

Fit and Finish

The spork is handmade by DJ Urbanovsky, of American Kami, using dies. There are a few indications that the product is handmade. Some parts of the bowl in between the tines show stretching and compression, most obviously between the tines. Further, one of the middle tines is slightly longer than the other.

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Along the edges of the spork, there is a coin-edge-like finish. It is not rough and adds a certain aesthetic to the spork.

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The anodization is done by hand and, as such, there is some color variation between the handle and the bowl.

In the bowl itself, there is some really beautiful color depth in the anodization.

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Functionality

The spork does well in its intended purpose. The large bowl holds a large volume while not becoming cumbersome. The tines are dull and do not feel sharp at all. Overall, the eating experience is wonderful.

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There are some other uses that will take advantage of the beefy build. I took the spork out to put it to some unconventional tasks and it fared quite well. It was easy to dig through top soil and even clay. I did not feel any bending. The tines encountered small roots and pebbles during this test.

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I washed off the spork using a Scotch-Brite sponge. The stonewashed finish held up very well, with scratches blending into the finish and the anodization looking unchanged.

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With its small size, the spork can easily be dropped into a pocket or thrown into a backpack without being obtrusive. While this model does not have any holes drilled into the handle for a lanyard, unlike other models, its size would have made a lanyard an annoyance for use.

Conclusion

DJ Urbanovsky has created an indestructible spork. However, it does not give up functionality with its heft. Instead, the large bowl and effective fork tines make eating meals a breeze. The short, stubby length is very convenient while still being useful. This spork will replace my Snow Peak Titanium Spork as my go-to eating tool and will certainly prove to be a useful companion.

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Pentel Clic Eraser Review

Introduction

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I like push erasers. They provide a precise, long lasting erasing in a compact form-factor. However, since an eraser only erases as good as the eraser material, not only is the design of the push-mechanism important, but the refills themselves have to be decent.

The Pentel ZE-21 and the Pentel ZE-22 are the two models of “Clic” push erasers. The ZE-22 can still be purchased at local office supply stores, while the ZE-21 has been discontinued. Today, we’ll be taking a look at the two and I’ll be explaining why the Pentel “Clic Eraser” ZE-21 is in my EDC.

Specs

Place of manufacture: Japan
Price: $3 (ZE-21, must be purchased from reseller), $4 for four (ZE-22), $16 (box of 24 ZER-2 refills)

Design

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The ZE-21 is made completely from plastic while the ZE-22 has a plastic body with a rubber grip. On both, pushing the pocket clip down and then forward extends the eraser. The clip assembly holds the eraser refill through friction.

On the ZE-21, the body is smooth down to the grip, which is simply the same material, but ribbed. It is not particularly grippy, but is textured enough to get a firm grasp on when erasing.

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ZE-22 (right), ZE-21 (left)

The ZE-22 on the other hand has textured plastic, as well as a rubber grip with a texture of the same design. This adds a few millimeters to the diameter. The rubber is soft and can be removed.

The clips have slightly different designs with the ZE-21 having a flatter and more boxy look while the ZE-22 has more curves. The plastic used for the clip is darker and has a shiner finish on the ZE-22, which matches the type of plastic used on the body. On the other hand, the plastic used on the ZE-21 is duller and feels a tad rougher.

The end caps on the ZE-21 and the ZE-22 differ a bit, with the ZE-21 having a more refined look with an indentation, while the ZE-22 is flatter. The flatter look accentuates the molding lines on the plastic, although the ZE-21 has a very noticeable bump in the middle of the cap.

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The refill comes either in boxes of 24 or individually. The individual refills are packaged in thin plastic with a sheet with instructions surrounding the refill itself.

Though the model number is ZER-2, it appears that the “2” was not stamped on this particular packaging or that the packaging is generic.

Fit and Finish

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The product was not meant to be an expensive one and the fit and finish is reflective of this. There are molding lines on the plastic and the parts have uneven colors. The lettering on the body is a bit uneven and is prone to wear.

Functionality

The first thing you notice when you see my ZE-21 is that the paint has worn off the body. I didn’t intentionally scrape the paint off with my nail, but instead, the paint wore off through use and wear in wherever it was thrown into. The force required to extend the eraser has lessened over time, although this is only obvious through the different sounding clicks that it makes.

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Eraser Test on Rhodia Notebook

ZE-21 vs ZE-22

With respect to erasability, since the refills are identical, they have the same performance. However, while the eraser holders look similar and share many attributes, their differences make one superior, in my opinion, to the other.

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The ZE-22’s action does not feel sturdy after multiple uses. I believe this to be because of the design of the clip itself. The clip, while stylish, is connected by a thin piece of plastic. On the other hand, the ZE-21 is held together with a shorter piece of thin plastic, giving it less wiggle.

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Further, the ZE-22’s grip “improvement” is a short term and unnecessary improvement. With the rubber grip, the ZE-22 is no longer able to be placed flat on a surface. Further, the grip accumulates dirt and grime quickly. After a while, the elasticity of the rubber will degrade and the grip will not fit flush with the body of the eraser.

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The ZE-21, on the other hand, is simply one piece of plastic. As such, it’s only weakness is the “press” tab on the side of the eraser, which can lose its tension over time. This tab can However, as this is not necessary for the eraser’s usability, it is not important that it remain in perfect condition.

Conclusion

The push eraser has a special place in a stationery user’s arsenal. It is compact and convenient while providing accurate erasing. The Pentel Clic series uses the polymer eraser refills that Pentel is known for in a mechanism that is cheap and simple. While Pentel has tried to improve on the product, the older ZE-21, in my opinion, beats out the newer ZE-22. However, either eraser would prove to be useful and, at this price point, getting a few spares won’t break the bank.

Cergol Tool & Forgeworks Hatchet Review

Introduction

As one of my first endeavors into bowl and spoon making, I decided to purchase a nice hatchet. A hatchet would both suffice as a carving tool, but also as an outdoorsman’s tool. Further, it well made hatchet should last me for the rest of my life with good maintenance and careful use.

I learned about Aaron Cergol while researching hammers, but soon found his axe-work to be quite impressive. Communication with Mr. Cergol was easy and 16 weeks later, I had a hatchet in my hand. Let’s take a look at it.

Specs

Maker: Aaron Cergol
Materials: 5160 Steel and American Hickory
Weight: 2 Pounds
Length: 14 Inches
Place of Manufacture: Milwaukee, WI
Price: Varies

Packaging

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The hatchet was shipped USPS priority, insured of course. The box was branded with a small “Cergol Tool & Forgeworks” stamp above my address.

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Inside the box was an excess of packing material. This is a good thing. When I first saw the package and shook it around (as always), I heard no rattling.

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The hatchet itself was well wrapped in the red paper and did not suffer any damage during transit.

Ordering and Design

Cergol Tool & Forgeworks usually has a few items in stock on their website (here). They will have occasional sales that are posted on Instagram (here).

However, when I wanted to order a hatchet, I did not find a model on Aaron’s website that I wanted. Instead, there were a few examples on his Instagram that I liked. So, I sent him an email. Aaron was very helpful in the ordering process. He explained all the choices that I had, giving both pros and cons for each choice. He was never pushy and always responded quickly to emails.

My particular hatchet is made from 5160 steel. Aaron explained that 4140 would be tougher and would be better for a general purpose hatchet, but since I wanted something that could be used for carving, the finer edge that 5160 could take would be better. As for the handle, he makes them out of American Hickory. I was given the choice of an oval or octagonal handle. I chose an octagonal handle as it is a bit smaller and is supposed to be easier to hold.

If you’d like to order a tool from Cergol Tool & Forgeworks and don’t see what you want on the website, I’d highly recommend contacting Aaron Cergol directly. You can email him at: cergolforge@hotmail.com.

Fit and Finish

The hatchet comes in a nice leather sheath that is secured with rivets. It is not the most secure, and the hatchet can shift around in the sheath, but it cannot be wiggled out in any way.

The hatchet is held in by a snap enclosure affixed on a leather strap that goes over the open top. The snap is firm and secure, though the long strap makes undoing the snap a breeze. There is no belt loop on the sheath.

The inside of the sheath does is raw leather. One can see the trace marks that were drawn in for the sheath. On one side, there is a deep cut into the leather. I am not sure what these are from, although I don’t believe this detracts from its function.

The hatchet has a nice satin finish to it. I preferred this look over a blackened look and had asked for the hatchet to be made this way.

The handle is 12 inches long from the end knob to the shoulder and is fitted securely.

There is a bit of space near the poll of the hatchet, although the handle is much to wide to ever wiggle into that area.

The maker’s mark is a simple “CERGOL” near the poll. It is not obtrusive and, in my opinion, adds to the hatchet rather than takes away from it. It would appear as though the “L” was partially cut off either from the initial strike or from polishing.

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There are file marks along the hatchet head adding to the “working finish”. They are deeper in some areas than others, but, overall, do not stand out.

Functionality

I couldn’t wait to take this guy out and give it a good swing, so I headed into my suburban neighborhood backyard and took it upon myself to destroy a 4×4. The weight of the head is well suited for one handed swinging and I found the hatchet doing much of the work.

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When I  split the 4×4, the hatchet impacted a small pebble in the ground, giving the edge its first battle scar. The cutting edge folded a little. It was an easy fix though, with my Opinel Sharpening Stone (review).

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I choked up on the handle and worked at getting a few controlled cuts along the edge. I was happy to have chosen an octagonal handle as the handle was just right for my hand. Any bigger and it would have been harder to control the cuts.

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I’ll do add onto this review after I get some more time to use the hatchet.

Conclusion

Buying this hatchet has been a very personal experience for me. I was able to give input from the very beginning and, after receiving the hatchet, feel like “this is mine”. I have no doubt that the hatchet will service me very well in the years to come and will definitely be going back to Aaron Cergol for other hand-forged tools.