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Thread: French traditionnal knives

  1. #61
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    Great thread Madnumforce! I really like the looks of the Capucin shown above I've never seen one like it.

    This thread gives me a proper place to show my Nontron off.

    Last edited by zealot; 11-30-2008 at 07:51 PM.

  2. #62
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    Really nice indeed! This shape is what we call "violon" (violin in english). The wood seems to be ebony, right? It seems there is a nice file work also (in french, we call it "guillochage"), could you show us a picture of it? I guess this is a slip joint, not a "cran forcé" (i still don't know any translation, see post #22, page 2 on this thread).

    And now, a tip for you american guys, not extremly used to slip joints and crans forcés: as there is a spring that makes the blade slam, there always have to be a space between the blade and the spring, so the edge is not damaged by hitting the spring. We call this "poncetage" (don't know the translation either), and you can check your knives when the blade is closed, just by pushing on it. If the knife is well made, the poncetage is hard and the gap relatively important (2-3mm, not possible on some knives though). A knife without poncetage will damage the edge easily, making a typical rounded dent in it. I will post a sketch to explain it (and how it works), but right now i have to go.

  3. #63
    A really interesting and well-presented thread thank you.

    I have a book on French knives which shows an amazing variety of pocket knives from the regions.The regional aspect is typically French,food,wines,architecture and climate which is what makes it such a fantastic country to visit.

    The small cutlery shops in France are a real treasure trove of pocket knives. I would like to ask about fixed blade knives,are there distinct French styles there as well?

  4. #64
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    awesome post! thanks for the education.. keep them coming!
    tvg.

  5. #65
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    As promised, a simple but relatively accurate sketch of what is "poncetage" and how it is made. I remember this is a feature that avoid the edge to be damaged too easily when closing the knife. You see the concave section on the blade, whose two points make contact with the spring. As a result there is a resistance when the blade is getting closer to the spring. Very simple, but a must have on any traditional spring knife. I don't know if you have this feature on your classical "old style" pocket folders.


    And as far as i know now, there is no real typical french fixed blade. I'll ask around me, but in fact, i don't think i will have any positive answer. Though hunting is a very old tradition here, we never developped any distinctive kind of fixed.

    Well, it seems this thread is still interesting some peoples. Maybe i'll go on with it. But now i've done the Opinel, the Douk, the Laguiole, the Nontron, and some other old designs, it will be hard to find a particular style to talk about. Maybe the new-born Thiers, that have an interesting story and project around it.

  6. #66
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    Thanks, Madnumforce - very clear and quite helpful.

    Also, a question - I think in those parts of colonial America that were under French rule or influence in the XVII - XVIII centuries we had knives that to me seem related to the "Capucin" and the "Montpellier." These are called "French clasp knives" and are documented here:

    http://www.lanouvelle-france.com/frenchclaspknives.htm

    Do you think these are related to the knives you show?

  7. #67
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    Also Madnumforce, what do you know about the quality of Therias & L 'Econome?

  8. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by Madnumforce View Post
    Really nice indeed! This shape is what we call "violon" (violin in english). The wood seems to be ebony, right? It seems there is a nice file work also (in french, we call it "guillochage"), could you show us a picture of it? I guess this is a slip joint, not a "cran forcé" (i still don't know any translation, see post #22, page 2 on this thread).
    Merci, yes it is ebony and a slipjoint. I am having a hard time getting a good picture of it but here it is. the stamp on the blade says "Chaperon Nontron Inox" and on the tang its stamped T12..


  9. #69
    what about Nontron? I have seen a few pop up on ebay, but do not know much about them. Thank you again for the education on these knives. I have a couple Opinels, using a #6 carbon currently, have a #7 stainless that has not seen any action yet. Good little blades. I do not think I could use them as a primary EDC, but they are carried along with my larger EDC as a welcome companion.

  10. #70
    Disregard the Nontron inquiry....it seems I skipped a page reading this forum.

  11. #71
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    Very interesting link, Skookumchuk. I was looking for something like that, strange to finally find it in english!
    Yes, these are all knives of the same kind, except a little difference: the Capucin is a two pins knife, as all the other are what we call "piémontais", wwhich is a type of knife with only one pin for the axis, and a protruding tang that stop against the handle. The Jambette (i allready heard about it, but forgot to mention), Siamois and Dauphine are of this type. These designs are very old, and nowadays, certainly no one use it anymore.
    About Thérias & L'économe, i have a friend working there, i'll ask him.

    Yes, very classy knife, Zealot. May I allow myself to ask you how much you paid for it?

  12. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by Madnumforce View Post
    Yes, very classy knife, Zealot. May I allow myself to ask you how much you paid for it?
    It was around 100 euros I think. I got it while in Paris a few months ago.

  13. #73
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    Some more beautiful and quite recent french knives to get the afficionados drooling:

    Quite a nice recent french knife is "L'arconsat", a small cutlery who baptise their elegant creation with the name of the village. Actually, this concept of several regional french knives is for a large part a marketing gimmick, in my opinion, but who cares when the knives are as pretty and still classic as this one. Handle is ram horn, blade dependable 12C27:


    I don't have one yet but I was tempted when i saw them at a local knife show (in the end I bought a nice Belgian custom) .
    There are also incredible looking but quite expensive variants of this one with a turtle scale handle.

    Another splendid looking newcomer is "Le Montagnard":


    That's an edelweiss flower sculpture on the blade, it's not meant for one-hand opening. Lovely looking, but I was not 100% convinced about the build quality of mine (a bit of blade play, and I hate that).

    One day I will buy one of the elegant customs by Stéphanie Mottais, she has wonderful eye for detail:





    And what do you think of the artisanal knife maker Mongin:


    Perhaps the most radically modern french knife of the moment is the reinvention of the classic Le Thiers design by Fontenille Pataud. One hand opening and liner locks are not that often seen in french knives, yet I predict that this one has a timeless beauty:



    Finally, a recent "Kolibri" variant of the classic laguiole:

  14. #74
    Dagon, That Ram's Horn knife is fantastic (the others are all excellent too) what workmanship!

    Not sure I go along with the idea of Turtle (Tortoise??)scales as this could be from an endangered species though

    Good to see a woman cutler making an outstanding knife,that file work speaks for itself Thanks for letting us view these rarely seen knives.
    Last edited by willgoy; 12-02-2008 at 03:20 PM. Reason: error

  15. #75
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    Yes the ram horn knife is pretty isn't it. I do like the material for handles. I have 2 "Le Camarguais" knives (in 2 sizes) with the same handle material for the big one (and "corne blonde" for the small one). It seems I forgot to include that one, it's another relatively modern design, with enough hints to a glorious past:



    Unfortunately the blade often needs a bit of adjustment as it has a bit of play. Not a big deal but irritating for us knife maniacs.

    > Not sure I go along with the idea of Turtle (Tortoise??)scales as this could be from an endangered species though

    I don't know the details but the maker has to comply with EU legislations, so I don't think that it's from an endangered species.
    Here is an older style laguiole from the same makers with the tortoise handle, with a thin layer of ivory behind to make the colour come out better:


    Lovely isn't it. It's somewhat similar to a Toothpick.

    It's remarkable that the French cutlery world isn't that obsessed with the latest developments in steel: generally 12C27 (next to damascus and classic carbon steel)
    Last edited by Dagon; 12-02-2008 at 04:52 PM.

  16. #76
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    Wow! that was great Dagon thanks for all the pics. quite a few designs I've never seen before.........this is an awesome thread ya'll

  17. #77
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    Dagon, you have taste!
    About Mongin's knives, i heard that they were mostly knives to show off than to use, there is a rumor they don't hold an edge and that you can't even make it sharp. But i never had one, never tested one, so i can't tell if it's right or wrong. But they look quite good, that's sure.
    And about Fontenille-Pataud, i have a friend working there. In less than two years, he became a favorite of his boss, and he his the main worker for the fileworks. It's really impressive, in maybe.. 1 or 2 minutes, he do the "guillochage" of a spring. In 5 minutes, you can be almost sure he have done all the job, spring, blade and scales.
    He made for himself a knife of this kind, and it really works like a clock, better than my Delica (it's a lockback). 150E, but worth the price!

    @Skookumchuk
    I asked to the guy working at Thérias, and he told me that the quality was not regular. Some are well made, with a nice finish and a working well, and that some still have grinding marks and have play. He told me you have to check what you buy in the store.

    Personnaly, i have a "great" project, a new locking mechanism i would like to patent, first in France, and then in Europe, in the USA, and maybe also in Japan. If anyone can help me to deposit a patent in the USA as a foreigner, i would be most gratefull to him. Mainly, i'm looking for something that explain clearly what are steps of the process, and also the costs. Thanks if anyone can help.

  18. #78
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    Mandumforce: Can't tell you about patents unfortunately. But very good to know about Thérias. I would have no stores nearby that would have them - it would have to be by mail, so I won't take the chance. I will let you know how the Nontron is when I get it probably in two weeks.

    There is also a French fisherman's knife with a curved handle, correct?

  19. #79
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    > There is also a French fisherman's knife with a curved handle, correct?

    Le London is a classic french mariner's knife but the handle isn't curved.

  20. #80
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    My first 4 French knives.

    Well OK, a new corkscrew plus three new knives. I'm sure there are people here with 20 times as many French knives for whom this is nothing new. Also, this is my first time posting images, so please forgive the lack of quality. Anyway, from left to right - a Forge de Laguiole corkscrew, a Nontron Model 25 Turning Ferrule Clog Pocket Knife, an Opinel 10 locking knife with corkscrew, and a Douk - Douk slippie. Since most people may not have any French knives, here are some brief reviews.

    The Forge de Laguiole corkscrew is pretty good, with good corkscrew penetration and leverage. Easily opens every corked bottle I've given it, no problem. It had a little burr on the back of the foil cutter that I had to clean up with a jeweler's needle file, but otherwise the quality is very good. This is a keeper. Besides, my wife gave it to me as a Christmas present, so it really is a keeper.

    The brand new Nontron will become a favorite. Madnumforce is right, to me the boxwood feels great in the hand. It is a higher quality locking knife than the Opinel. There are little thin almost invisible plastic squares placed between the wood and the base of the blade where it pivots. I wonder if these help to keep the wood dimensionally stable at that point. If so, they do a good job. It's a very secure rotating lock. Though curiously it only locks open and not closed. I wonder if they would run up against some Opinel patent if they offered a closing lock feature? But with that nitpick aside, it is a really good knife and I can see many uses for it. You could EDC it easily. I might do that, if I could ever give up my beater Scallion...

    The Opinel's corkscrew is marginal. My old Victorinox Camping SAK has a better one. But the Opinel 10 is a great all-around knife with a decent stainless blade and now has a place on the kitchen counter where it is really useful for a wide range of things. If you are willing to fuss with the corkscrew and keep it clean and dry, it would be a great picnic or light use camping knife. Which it might become.

    Then there is the Douk-Douk, made in France for sale in the old colonies. I never knew these knives existed until, well, this thread. I don't like slippies for everyday work due to a few bad experiences, but this is one simple and very rugged knife that feels pretty secure when open, too. It has a "half-catch" when open halfway and it takes a lot of effort to close. I think that within reason you could use it pretty aggressively and not worry about it folding up on you. The blade is painted, not engraved, as Madnumforce mentioned, but the "witch doctor" on the handle is stamped. It is an interesting and unusual knife.

    All in all, I'm very pleased with my new French knives.
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