Bob Lum Chinese Utility Folder (long)

Nov 25, 1998

Since I’ve had this thing for nearly a year I thought a brief review was in order for those of you waiting for either the hand made version or the forthcoming Spyderco version of Bob Lums Chinese broadbladed “tactical” utility. I’ve been buying knives (or trying to) from Bob for quite some time now and I was lucky to get this one from him at last years Solvang show. As undocumented in the west as the subject may be, the Chinese have produced a plethora of blade designs through the centuries w/a good number of them being fairly specialized in nature. Up until the end of the Qing dynasty (1911) most Chinese in fact were rather fussy about using the specific knife for a given purpose (See the basement exhibit of Chinese knives at the NHM in NY).

Anyway it appears that Bob has chosen a basic southern style (Cantonese) general purpose type blade for his Chinese folder. The general design isn’t really new to Bob since some of his very early slip joint folders sport the blade as well. Bobs skillful and flawless rendition of the very broad, flat ground blade provides a very strong yet relatively thin geometry up to the edge which excells at linear cutting or light chopping chores. When used on several layers of loosly held bubble wrap, the blade always maintained the cut and never dragged or ripped as is apt to happen. The width of the blade isn’t really condusive for cutting through and along rigid things that require a lot of curves, zig-zags or turning (like pumpkin carving) but it excells at most other cutting chores. Also despite the almost sheepsfoot like appearance of the dropping point, the thing actually punctures and penetrates deceptively well--at least on several layers of cardboard and an old wet telephone book.

The blade on my speciman is about 3.75” and is the fairly typical ATS34 in the 55-60RC range. At the time I got this one, Bob also had one in Devon Thomas Damascus which was very nice but the old wallet just wouldn’t spit out anymore cash. Bob makes the design w/either the Spyder hole or exaggerated nail nick (and in different OA sizes). Both work but the hole is a bit more positive w/wet or greasy hands. The lock remains the almost banal liner lock but Bobs rendition, at least for me is the best there is. Almost all liner locks have a nasty way of accidentally disengaging in my grubby hands. Bobs is the only one I really trust. It barely engages the blade which I prefer on a new knife but its also sprung fairly stiffly (like early Bob Terzuolas) and the combination of handle geometry, liner thickness and stiff spring constant seems to do the trick.

So in terms of function, design and execution the knife is hard to fault. There are a couple of druthers though. For one, Bob makes and designs his own clip to match each knife which is quite respectable the only problem is that he tends (after examining more than a few of his knives) to leave plier or vice grip marks where the clip was bent into shape. While this is only an aesthetic nit pic and easy to fix w/the right files and grades of sandpaper, it does tend to cheapen the feel of a rather pricy knife. A small guard or recess for the index finger would also be nice in order to limit the inate clod factor in some of us. The bannana handle shape helps in this regard though. Lastly, the blade stop pin is hardened drill rod (probably a better material for this purpose) and not SS so this will more easily rust on us sweaty types.
I’ll try and get a image up of the knife and a few other Bob Lums if anyone is interested.

I am VERY interested! Nice review, BTW! I am having MadPoet make me a D-2 version of this knife, so I'd like to see as many pictures as possible. Your other Lums would be of interest, too, if you can swing it...
Yeah, I'd love to see some Lums. I have only seen a few pictures of his work, but have always liked the clean simplicity .
Ok guys, due to overwhelming demand, here some more scans.





[This message has been edited by Ralf (edited 14 April 1999).]

You can see a few images of some Bob Lums at:

None of the pieces represent his fancier work, they're more his "field grade" type of knives. The Chinese utility folder is the middle knife in the lower image and the detail shot in the upper right. The knife in the upper left image (my favorite everyday carry piece) has had the handle modified (by me)and shouldn't necessarily be construed as Bobs normal pattern for this knife.

Sweeeet. Now if Spyderco does the clip like that it will be even cooler. But I imagine they will use what they have which is just fine.
Blades! It is one hell of a knive you've got there. It wasn't that impressive over the net but your scans brought out the shine yall'! Tell me how much you paid for it, cause i might just get one. Please do tell me more, thanks!
keninshiro has it right, your scans make this knife look gooood! I am very tempted.
Holy mowly, that is one fine looking knife!

I got the Spyderco Lum's booked already, hope they are of close in quality and looks as this custom one here.

Lum does some fine work I can see

Love that pocket clip, handle, blade, the whole dog gone thing soooooooo much !!!
Wish I could afford the 500 buck price tag, can't, so I'm going for the next best thing, the C46PS


P.S. Where on the web can this custom Lum be purchased at, for future reference is why I am asking?

" Knife Collectors Are Sharp People -- Most of the time, that is! "


You can usual find one or two at <a href="">Arizona Custom Knives</a>. That's where I first saw one and it was love at first sight. Now I'm not so patiently waiting for the Spyderco collaboraton next year

Take care,

"A witty saying proves nothing." Voltaire :)


I have a Lum field grade tanto on order and it should be ready by next month. The knife I ordered will have a blade length of approx. 5 - 5 1/2 in., mirror polished reinforced tip and satin rubbed blade. The knife I handled at the ECCK Show was the most beautifully balanced blade I have handled - it was very alive and repsonsive.

I was wondering, is this the same knife on your page of scanned Lums? Could you possibly make a close up scan of this tanto?

Mr. Reagan:

By your description, the field grade tanto I
have is probably very similar to the one your
getting. Bob changes things over the years
though. My version is about as field grade
as it gets, usually he has a visible cross-bolt pin, in the handle (it looks good) the one I've got doesn't even have that. In his recent versions I've noticed that the handles are bead blasted too. I'll see if I can blow that image up, although the resolution won't be that great.
I might be able to take a new pic of it too,
I'll see the camcorders been acting a bit


thanks for the info. If it's a hassle, don't bother with the enlarged pic - I just wanted to compare the models. The one I am getting also has a cut-out indentation in the palm area of the handle to facilitate grip- it's simple, practical, and aesthetically sound.