Much internal used power tool nastiness and broken plastic later, I have this mysterious collection of gears.
This collection of gears assembles into this
The first and second sets of planetary gears from the three sets that live(d) inside that drill.
I'm the sort of person who fiddles with things, especially to stay awake when the plant manager or some windbag from the regional office has a new policy to discuss at us. I've never been into "fidget spinners", or those.. beads on ropes.
No, not those beads on ropes. The ones with the Italian-sounding name.
Whatever. The point is, I am the sort of person who "fidgets" with something, and people get nervous when you start flicking your knife for entertainment.
I hate the word "fidget", actually, and I wasn't about to buy a spinner, no matter how classy it might be. But the recent explosion in their popularity got me thinking about finding something of my own for the same purpose.
And I loves me some planetary gears.
I'm a little stuck where to go from here, though. The diameter is perfect, but the whole assembly is 1 3/8" long, far too big for handy pocket carry. I could get around that with a little satchel or something, but that still doesn't solve the major problem: nothing's fastened together!
All of those little parts were inside a housing, which kept them lined up and meshed, so they all danced together in clockwork harmony. Now that I've removed that, it falls apart into a pile of gears just as easily as it turns. So I need a way to hold everything together, but still be able to see what's going on, as all those little gears do their mechanical waltz.
I count myself lucky in that knives are the only (EDC-related) thing that I really geek on. Sure, I have preferences when it comes to flashlights, watches, pens, prybars, and the rest, but a Timex is just as good for me as a Rolex. Better actually, since that leaves more money for buying knives.
Lum-Tec makes some of the nicest watches I've seen. My problem is that I'm scared to death to spend what they want for one. There's a inverse... something... that goes on between how much I spend on something, and how easily it gets scratched.
But there is a completely linear relationship between how much it costs, and how much it hurts me when it gets banged up.
A review of the Columbia River Knife & Tool, Large Batum
I've been compiling this for a couple weeks, because I know how this goes. When I first get a new knife, it's the best knife, ever, and I'm not going to make you listen to that nonsense, since I would just have to come back later and say “wellllllll... there are a few things it's maybe not the best at”. If I'm going to be wrong, it should be about something less important than knives.
I had my eye on the Batum for a while, but wasn't quite ready to make a purchase, until I noticed that the blade thickness was 3/16”.
Almost all factory knives are 1/8”. I like things that fit with my knuckle-dragger persona: granite furniture, hard-toe boots, hammers, and when I saw that the Batum is a more proper knuckle-dragger knife by way of it's thicker blade, I was sold.
Other goodness that I only noticed after getting it was the flat bevels.
Again, the vast majority of factory knives have concave, or “hollow” bevels. To get a flat grind, you usually have to go to one of Spyderco's full flat ground blades, which terrify me by feeling incredibly thin and dainty. I know a lot of you love Spyderco, and will tell me that they are tougher that you think, and anyway, a knife is a cutting tool, and you have to respect it's limitations. I agree. And I will stick to my sharpened prybars, thanks.
So who cares? Well, me. Flat-ground blades push better in deep cuts, like cardboard, or sharp cheddar cheese blocks. You should probably at least rinse the knife off before switching from one to the other.
One thing I will give Spyderco is that the hole in the blade works well as a deployment method. Vox even got CRKT to give the hole a little chamfer about 70% of the way around.
It's a thoughtful detail that I appreciate.
The blade steel is 8cr13MoV, CRKT's stock in trade. Columbia River has problems with heat treat, and they always have. Sometimes you get a good one (my Lightfoot M1, and the Batum). Sometimes, like my Carson M16, you get one that just won't get sharp.
The XcrXXMoV steels keep the prices low, but at the cost of edge retention. Even when they get it right, the edge goes away after 3-5 pizza boxes, and you should plan to retouch it on the regular.
See what you don't see on the spine of the knife? No jimping, and no thumb ramp.
This is a good thing. Jimping is the little notches on the spine of most knives, that are supposed to give you better control by increasing the surface area of skin-to-steel contact, blah blah blah.
Except that if you choke up on the blade, your index finger ends up within an inch or so of the point, and jimping way back there near the tang is just about useless.
Same goes for the thumb ramp. It's a hold over from “tactical” knives, supposed to make your knife do something better when it comes to covert de-animation. I do love me some high speed, low drag, all black, oper8tor knives, but if you have serious delusions of using your 3” blade folder as an SD tool, then you are in the wrong forum.
The G10 scale on the presentation side is about what you'll find on other knives. It's got a reasonable amount of traction, although not enough for, say, river rescue duty, if that's your thing.
And if it is, you should be considering a vastly different kind of knife, anyway.
The lock side scale is stainless steel, and I'll guess that it's 410, for those of you who are really interested. It's been heavily stonewashed,
and I'm a sucker for stonewash finishes on knives (as compared to jeans, but now I'm showing my age). It gives it that “pre-worn” look, and I don't have to worry as much about scratches and scuff marks.
The lock over-travel tab is a thoughtful touch.
It's not really necessary, and putting it on the inside of the frame is one of the things that shows CRKT did a good job of listening to Jesper Voxnaes.
I appreciate the lockbar cutout.
They could have done it in one pass with an end mill, and called it good. Instead, they took the time to use a ball mill, cutting the center trough, and then the two outer cuts. It had to be done in that order to get what you see here, unless they switched tools. Either way, the extra time and tooling cost shows that some more planning went into this.
Same with the kerf for the lockbar itself.
I've seen knives (and not just from CRKT!) with lots of machining marks on the sides of the kerf, where somebody had the milling table going way too fast. This one looks like a waterject, because all you see is the grain structure of the steel.
An algebra problem:
Pocket opening width – your palm width + width of knife
If the answer to this math problem is a negative number, then your hairy meat hooks are going to scrape against your knife whenever you go digging into your pocket for change. This is a case for a pocket organizer, or one of the other modern EDC accessories we all love, but that's another thread.
I can pretty much guarantee that you are going to have a clearance issue if you clip this knife into one of your front waist pockets. The same wide scales that make it so nice to use, take up a lot of real estate. I can get away with it because I get my pants in size “comfortable”. If you go for a more “fitted” look, you'll need other options.
The pommel end of the Batum is an example of aesthetics over ergonomics, but that doesn't mean it's all bad. Let's face it. We buy knives because we like how they look, although we may like how they look because we believe they will feel nice to use.
Brief digression: It seems that humans are wired to not really know about ergonomics. In many cases, I've looked at something which claims to be designed to fit the human body better than anything else out there, and it just looks goofy. CRKT tried this with a fixed blade years ago, and the handle sticks out completely odd to the blade.
It makes a kind of sense, though. Before we had the ability to produce tools which were supposed to be so nice and form-fitting, we spent a lot of time coming up with stuff that worked just well enough to get us down the road, and it gave us cars that will do 200mph, buildings that withstand hurricanes, and rockets that fly out into space on an almost routine basis. So the most perfectly hand-fitting knife handle may not be the most perfect knife.
Back on topic
The Batum comes through with the clip set up so that the knife will carry with the tip up, and the blade tucked in against the outer edge of your pants pocket. This does a good job of making sure the blade stays closed. But it also binds the pointy bits of the pommel against your leg if you're not paying attention to your own ergonomics. Stick your hand in your pocket, and it scrapes past the backspacer, and the little chamfers around the backspacer screws.
Move the clip around to the other position, and all this disappears. The front of the handle slabs curve down, vastly reducing the amount of scraping that gets done when you hand goes past the knife, and making it easier to draw, as well. Tip-up, the lockbar cutout can bind against your pocket cuff, forcing you to do the “get out here, knife” dance. Tip down, the Batum slides in and out of your pocket with much less drama, and for those with smaller hands (me), it puts your thumb right over the deployment cutout, instead of having to do some wrist gymnastics to make up the difference.
Just make sure your pivot screw is adjusted for “blade stays closed”, right?
The clip itself is very good, and this is a sticking point for me.
I like my knives to stay where I put them, even in situations that I will never encounter in real life. A little overcompensation, never hurts.
Too many folders go too far in the other direction, making it nearly impossible to pull or re-clip the knife, and while this is better than the alternative, I want to give CRKT a shout-out for getting the Batum's pokcet clip right CRKT got the Batum's pocket clip pretty much perfect
There you go. It holds the knife tight, but you can still pull it easily. The clip is small enough to cover with a shirt, which keeps it away from your furniture and car finishes. It's also easy to guide the knife back on to your pocket, when you're done.
The end of the handle is nowhere near your hand when you actually use the knife, and it's here that all of those compromises with pocket carry show their upside.
The wide chord of the handle makes the knife feel very secure and controllable, aided by the G-10's friction qualities.
The extra finger choil is an excellent feature. Pull your hand back from the blade, and you can give the Batum some “gorilla”, if you need to power through a job.
Put your index finger up in the second choil, and it becomes a precision instrument for sharpening pencils, opening envelopes, and all the chores that a smaller slipjoint might normally stand for.
Even though your finger is right up against the blade, it never feels dangerous. Vox nailed this one, and CRKT didn't try to improve anything.
Here is where I try to summarize all of this into a tidy little paragraph that you can read instead of going through all the text that you've gone through to get to this point.
That's a difficult job for me. I think too hard about knives, and I like to use three words where one would do. Instead, I'm going to cop out, with one of those obnoxious Pro/Con lists.
Con: Heavy for it's size Thicker blade stock means more resistance in deep cuts More obtuse blade belly can slide out of a cut, takes some getting used to Angular pommel makes pocket carry awkward in tip-up position Only two clip mounting choices can be a deal-breaker for some CRKT's Cro/Moly steel has very short edge retention Very wide handle takes up a lot of space when clipped to a pocket Some may question the lack of an assisted opener or flipper tab
Pro: Weight and blade thickness inspire confidence; feels like it was made for work Most of the objections about the pommel disappear if you switch to tip-down carry Pocket clip is small, but still holds the knife firmly G-10 scale offers good traction, without making it hard to deploy and stow the knife No thumb ramp to get in the way when you choke up on the blade Wide handle makes it easy to control Choil is wide enough to use for small work Thumb hole makes for easy opening Lock bar tab is one of several thoughtful design touches Fit and finish seem very high for an ~$40 knife
'Scuse the Amazon link. It's an easy example to grab off the Interwebs.
If you really want to do it up fancy, get a pair you like, then have somebody build a custom case for you. The thinking here, is that instead of "eh, those are just my reading glasses", now you have something really unique that you can say "hey! Check this out! Since I have to wear them anyway, I got this guy to build me something really killer."
Work day dump. In the pockets, on the belt loops. The Batum is coming to work with me. I really like this knife, and so I'm going to hurt it. Because it would happen eventually.
What do you use your breacher bar for?
Scraping, prying, an improvised screwdriver, and sometimes a chisel. In short, anything on the list of "knife abuse activities": scraping crud off motor nameplates and bolts, opening reluctanct connection boxes. Anytime I need to get the attention of some piece of equipment, the breacher bar is the first step. IMO, a knife and pry tool are complementary, and I try to make sure I always have both.
"Celebrating" my return to middle shift, with a bit of a fancy breakfast. Well, any breakfast is fancy, because I usually just have coffee. The Batum's thick blade means it isn't my first choice for food prep, but I wouldn't carry a steak knife for daily cutting chores, either.
There's a steak on the other side of the plate, that you can't see. At least there was, when I took the photo