Episode 23: A Kershaw Christmas

It took me a while to set everything up, but I finally managed to get Thomas W. from KAI USA on the podcast and boy was it an awesome show.  If you have even a passing interesting in knives, how they are made, and the gear business, this is worth a listen.  Thanks again to Thomas for stopping by.

Virtual Pocket Dump:


ZT0888 (because, if you are the Brand Manager for KAI USA you can just go pick one up and carry it around).


Strider PT CC (here is Dan’s review)


XM-18 3 inch and McGizmo Haiku

New Stuff and News:

Basically we talked about the history and lineage of the ZT0888 as well as the ZT0777.  We discussed, in particular, the secondary market prices and whether or not they matter to KAI’s business concerns.  Thomas also gives us some official numbers on the ZT0888 and announces that there will be two other editions–the ZT0888MAX (which we had a hint of) and the ZT0888 in M390.  The MAX comes with a new-to-the-industry steel Maxamet (datasheet here).  The fascinating thing about the steel, which we touch on a bit, is the fact that it is so tough AND hard, coming in between high speed steels and actual carbides.  Here are the numbers breakdowns for the ZT0888:

0888: 212-216 units

0888MAX: 120 units

0888M390: 130-150 units

The MAX and the M390 version drop soon.

Main Topic:

The conversation ran the gamut from a give and take about the Cryo, the role of reviewers, Thomas’s start in the cutlery business, and a preview of some of the stuff for SHOT Show.

We hit the 0777 right away and basically it is a finished thing.  The amount of heartache and difficulty made this blade the bane of Thomas’s existence for a while.  Then we talk about how Thomas broke into the business–he started working at Plaza Cutlery and just kept plugging away.  He talks about going to custom shows, like the California Custom Knife Show, and chatting with legends.  He mentions his first custom a Ron Gaston folder (here is an example of Ron’s stellar work).  He tells us why there are so few lefty knives, why the Cryo is such a success and why I was wrong in my review.  I push back a little and I think we end up seeing it as a difference of perspective.  He tells us that there are a wave of special edition Cryos coming including a G10 version, which will hopefully be lighter.  I point him to the work of Eric Peterson and his heavily modified Cryo with a bearing pivot (found here).  There is a Cryo coming with a Blackwash blade and a recurve as well.  We then go through a few knives I did like from KAI, including the Chill, which Thomas tells us has been discontinued (RIP cheap RJ Martin folder), and the Skyline.  Thomas reveals that there are two Blackwash versions, the ones with black G-10 and the rarer blue G-10 version of which there are only 211 in existence.  We talk a little bit about how companies have to deal with big corporations like Wal-Mart and how it is more difficult to make a knife for them than it is to make the best knife possible.  We discuss how close the ZT0600 is to the RJ Martin Q36.  We ramble a little more and it is a great trip through the knife business.  We end up talking about clips, how expensive they are, and why Thomas HATES them.  In all, it was as illuminating conversation.  Note how quiet Dan and I were.  I basically lobbed out a topic and Thomas did the rest.  He was born to podcast.

Mail Bag:

Dan, Thomas and I discuss our procedures for testing knives.