Wednesday, 22 October 2008

UnBoxing - Mikro Canadian II

Here in the UK due to the recent hysteria about young lads stabbing each other with kitchen knives filched from their mums kitchens, carrying any kind of knife in town is becoming 'contentious' to say the least. I've scaled right down to the smallest SAK (Swiss Army Knife) on my keys as my EDC and I've been pleasantly surprised just how handy it’s been for all those little jobs. The kit collector within stirs and sniffs the wind. The search for the perfect micro knife is on. I'm thinking of a 'Field Scalpel'.

In the same shipment as my lunch boxes came just such a knife. The Mikro Canadian (II), by the Bark River Knife and Tool Co. BRTK seem to feature in a lot of peoples collections, and their wares have received glowing reviews from a few other bloggers so I told myself there was a convenient hole in my tool kit for an inconspicuous neck knife, convinced myself it was a bargain, and clicked the 'order now' button.

Since it's arrived I've made a few visits to The Old Operating Theatre, a real life Victorian operating theatre left untouched from the 1850s. The museum has an amazing collection of period instruments; handmade sharps and saws from the days when speed was the thing most likely to limit the risk of infection. One surgeon had the claim to fame of being able to take a leg off in twenty eight seconds. The blade shapes were interesting; saws with hinged spines designed to give rigidity during the first part on the cut, then as the blade was deep into the bone, the spine would lift up to allow the blade to pass through. I also saw a set of scalpels where the blade shape was almost exactly a Mikro Canadian.

These little slicers seem to have been a big seller for BRKT and I can see why. They’re small enough to be unobtrusive, whilst having just enough handle to feel solid in your hand. I've been reaching for it as my EDC for a few weeks now and, yeah, it's a handy little thing. The original model was made from A-2 Tool Steel, where as the MCII is 12C27, which seems an easy stainless steel to maintain a hair popping edge on.

If I'd really looked closely at the picture I ordered from, I would have noticed the mosaic pins (which are really nice) aren't even slightly aligned.

When you consider how easy a job it is to stick a piece of tape with a line drawn down it on to the handle (so you can line them up before the glue sets) it’s a bit of a disappointment. The maple burl (what could be more Canadian?) is easily the nicest wood of any of the knives I've got.

The fit of the scales isn’t neatest of work either, there's a visible gap between one of the scales and the blades tang, making the ideal place for gunk to fester, which kind of rules out using the knife for boning out, which is a shame as it feels as if it would be ideal. I'd intended to buy one handled in orange Micarta or G10, which would probably been a better shout for use as a field scalpel but the wood is good looking.

My knife’s is etched with the words First Production Run which is kind of surprising as I would have thought the collector market would be somewhat more discerning than someone like me who just wants to sharpen pencils, slice salami and open the mail.

No knife review would be complete without the 'I made feather sticks, cut notches for a 'number4' and shaved a tomato' bit. I'm not sure if I really want to eat city fox as their diet of abandoned takeaways isn't ideal, so I missed out the number 4 trap, made some melt-on-the-tongue tomato wafers, and feathered some lailandi branches. While the blade gave ultra fine shavings a couple of deeper cuts left a tiny dink in the edge so maybe
12C27 isn't such a strong steel after all or the temper isn’t quite right.

Despite its flawed build quality I've really come to like the Mikro Canadian’s design.

So I’m giving BRK&T the right to reply to this review, let’s see what they do with it.

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