Mini-Review: Spyderco Lum Chinese folder.

Jul 9, 2000

Spyderco Clipit 65P
Bob Lum Chinese Utility Folder

<img align = right src="">Bob Lum, a custom knifemaker responsible for the creation of the "Amercan Tanto" with its hollow grind and reinforced point, is also well know amognst knife cognoscenti for his reinterpretation of an ancient Cantonese utility knife design. Here is a native example of the pattern with a 3" carbon steel blade, brass bolsters and horn scales:

The first hurdle to developing a Lum Chinese folder by Spdyerco was that Cold Steel had already purchased the rights to a production version from Bob Lum.

"This design has been a personal favorite for a long time and does have a history.

Lynn Thompson bought the design originally from Bob Lum, so I backed off. When Bob & I saw that Lynn wasn't going to use it. I asked Lynn to sell the design to Spyderco.

Lynn and I have been friends for many years. I have always found him to be honorable, in addition to my apprecation for his passion for quality.

Lynn said he had no plans for it so he sold it to Spyderco for his investment. Bob & I proceeded from there. "

--- Sal Glesser


Scan by James Mattis

The more than two year legacy of development began with four handmade protoypes by Bob Lum in different sizes. Each has a linerlock and titanium handle. Three of the different sizes are shown here (large, mid, and mini).

Spyderco attempted to change the knife to a lockback, but it altered the pattern unacceptably. Then in agreement with REKAT, Spyderco began development of a Rolling Lock to be used in the Chinese and other folders. Later when the agreement fell through, the knife was returned to its original linerlock design.
All of which appears to have doubled or tripled the length of the expected development period.

For the initial run, Spyderco decided to develop and produce only the mid-size model, but with the expectation that if it were successful that it would be followed by the large model, an FRN version of the mid-size model, and perhaps even the mini-model.


Scan by Serguisz Mitin

Here is an image the production protoype of the mid-size model, with a 3 3/16" VG-10 blade ground from 1/8" stock,12mm blade hole, a handle 4 1/4" long and 10mm thick, with emerald-green Almite-coated T-6 aluminum scales, a nested linerlock, an eccentric pivot pin, a reversible tip-up/down clip, and a total weight of 2 3/4 oz.

The idea to embellish the handle with a gold bat -- a traditional symbol of luck in China -- fell through when the bats wouldn't stick to the Almite.




Well the first production run has finally hit the shelves and are finding their way into the hands of covetous knifenuts like myself. Here are my poor images of Spyderco Lum Chinese folder #272. Unfortunately these pictures do not capture the true colour of the green Almite. The only apparent variation of the production model from the prototype is that the edges of scales have been polished, which creates a contrast between the Almite coated flats and the polished aluminum edges -- giving the knife a very "finished" look.

It is difficult to quantify the performance of a knife in less than a week of ownership, but its performance so far has exceeded my expectations. The dropped point of the blade combined with the curvature of tha handle results in powerful leverage for effortless point work. As would would expect, such a wide flat-ground blade has excellent push-cut peformance, but what suprised me was its penetration peformance.

Most people have speculated that a blade of this pattern would perform like a "sheepsfoot," with little if any penetration ability. Quite the opposite, I have found that it penetrates more easily than any other knife I own -- including a dagger-ground Gerber Covert. On closer inspection, the trick appears to be that as the point penetrates, the characteristic slope of the leaf shape actually forces the blade downwards in the direction of the edge. It does not "stab" in a conventional sense, but penetrates by cutting its way in at a downward arc -- which is much aided by the full flat-grind. It should not be mistaken as a "safety" type like a sheepsfoot.

The shape of the handle is highly ergonomic, and just large enough for some variation of grip in a medium-sized hand. With the small choil, there is room to spare in a hammer-grip, and when in saber-grip the final belly of curve at the tip of the handle becomes a "pinky shelf" akin to Spyderco's Navigator pattern. The sole compromise offered by the handle is that the Almite, while beautiful, is extremely smooth and thus could be slippery. So far this has not been an issue in actual use, due to the excellent ergos.

Hopefully this knife will be successful enough in the general market to merit the production of its larger sibling with the 3 3/4" blade (see prototypes image for comparative sizing). My only concern is that the $176 MSRP, which IMO is justified by level of refinement and craftsmanship, may alienate all but those "in the know." Only time will tell.
Very nice review Carlos. Thank you for sharing your impressions of this knife. It's interesting to read your impressions of stabbing performance. I too wondered about the point. Do you find it fine enough for delicate work?
Very nice job, Carlos. I especially appreciated your inclusion of the knife's developmental history. I hope to get my hands on the Lum soon to check it out.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Burke:
Do you find it fine enough for delicate work?</font>

Hi Burke,

The point is fine enough for very delicate work as long as what you are working on isn't too thick. The point is narrow but it widens very rapidly, and beyond a certain depth it will resist turning. As you would expect cutting in straight lines is easy.


"..And in those days the mad prophet Glesser did come unto the knife knuts, and He did speak of The Hole, and the knife knuts did see that The Hole was good, saying 'Yea, and verily shall we carry holes all the days of our lives!'"
-- The Hole Bible, by Ken Cook
Gotcha. Love that green Almite. I bet this is one heck of a slicer, with that wide flat ground blade. It might even be a better cutter than the Military. Uh-oh. I feel another knife coming up on me.
Nice review, the only thing that is saving me right now is that I hear they are back ordered, plain edged version anyway.....but someday there will be some and then I'll have to bite the almite....


"The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions!"
Take the time to read your Bible Now, don't be left behind...
Carlos great review.Very interesting to know about the history of the Lum folder.I'm looking foward to your next review.
Thanks Carlos for the great review! Now another Spyderco to lust for... in Plain edge though... come on Sal, squeeze some more plain edges out the door! Does anyone have a contact address or number for Bob Lum? This might be another custom to add to the safe.
Great review-

Unfortunately they had to add the extra fraction of an inch to make it less than legal for carry in these parts. It's amazing how many manufacturers add just a little over 3" to the blade length of their folders, such as the "mini" AFCK, which I just traded. I do like the shape and color of this knife.

Me too, I'm waiting for someone to get a plain edge in, this knife has been on my list for a long, long time.

Buck Collectors Club Member # 572
Dedicated ELU
Knifeknut(just ask my wife)

An excellent review.

I especially like your inclusion of the history of the piece.

Thank you,
Marion David Poff aka Eye

My website, guided links, talonite/cobalt alloy info, etc....

&gt;&gt;---&gt;Bill Siegle Custom Knives&lt;---&lt;&lt;

"To wait for luck is the same as waiting for death." -Japanese Proverb

"Place you clothes and weapons where you can find them in the dark." -Lazarus Long

"We cut things to create things" - James K Mattis
Thanks for excellent review, especially for the history how this knife came. Really cool piece, I'll play some time more with mine to know it better and then I'll share my impressions also.

However my modesty causes me to say that this nice scan is not mine. Writing about SPYDERCO news for 2001 I have used the production prototype photo from Photo-CD included into SPYDERCO press release I have received.
Here a (already posted by me a while ago) scan of the handmade version in comparison with other folders:

Excellent review! It just makes me want one even more. A FRN Lum Chinese would be great.

Thanks for the support everyone.


Thanks for bringing Mr.Ting-Chung's name to my attention. When I get around editing the spelling errors, I will credit the image to him in the text.


You still deserve some credit for posting the image. BTW, I look forward to your review of the Lum.