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Review : Frosts of Sweden and Kellam knives

Cliff Stamp

Oct 5, 1998
Taking a break from hacking with the Ontarios, I did some cutting with a couple of very low priced fixed blades that came with my recent order of a couple of Spyderco's.


Keeping the price in mind the performance was very nice. The Kellam would be a good choice for a rugged blade that slices really well. The only change I would make is to convert the v-grind to a convex one. Easily done by hand.

PJ, there are those who would argue that time has not yet passed. Drop me an email with your address so I can send you the handles for the Uluchet that I modified.


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 27 April 1999).]
These Swedish knives are easily some of my favorites for the price : cutting ratio. I highly recommend that everyone buy at least one; don't be surprised if these things outcut many of the high dollar factory production folders/fixed blades.

Note that last part. Outcut only. If you're looking for a sharpened prybar/wood splitting wedge, look elsewhere. These knives cut so well due to the thin blade, and Scandinavian grind (zero degree secondary bevel). One benefit of these knives is that they make excellent trainers for those people interested in learning free-hand sharpening on a stone.

Simply lay the knife on the stone, and adjust the knife's sharpening angle until the secondary bevel lies flat against the stone, and sharpen away. It's easy to find this angle because the Scandinavian bevel is so wide, and "mates" well with the flat of the stone.

Cheap, eminantly replaceable, cuts decently even when poorly sharpened, it's the perfect beginner's knife to learn freehand-sharpening.

Ditto, I love puukkos for their incredible keen edge. Not the toughest, but they do cut like nobody's business.
Hmm, that reminds me. Is there such an animal out there where the Scandinavian grind goes all the way up to the spine, essentially giving a fully flat-ground knife with no secondary bevel?

I don't know enough about steel types and heat treatment to know what steel would be necessary to sustain such a thin edge, but DAMN would it cut!

Protein, in would not agree with the :

Outcut only. If you're looking for a sharpened prybar/wood splitting wedge,look elsewhere.

The Kellam knife M571 is forged high carbon steel and it is very tough. I would bet it would come out very well in both cutting *and* toughness when compared to any knife in its size. It can be pounded though and dig holes in wood, stabbed through thin mild steel, and slice up tin and aluminum with no significant damage. I am willing to put my Kellam against any custom fixed/folder in its size range in a limits test.

As an update I converted the Kellam to a convex grind instead of the flat (thanks to Mel Sorg for the method) and it should have a slightly stronger edge now.

Protein, I haven't heard of anyone doing a full-width Scandanavian grind. I think part of the reason is that you have to remove an awful lot of metal when you sharpen. On a regular knife, the sharpening bevel is maybe a millimeter wide. On a scandanavian grind, it's typically about 1/4" wide. On a full-length scanadavian grind, you're talking about removing metal from possibly 3/4 inch of blade! Then you have to turn it over and repeat on the other side.

But yeah, it would cut! That'd be one thin edge...

To answer a question I asked in another thread, Joe I think Madpoet will do a full flat grind, no edge bevel. I just dropped him an email. I am wondering about 3V as a blade steel.


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 28 April 1999).]

The major reason I would subject these knives to lots of prying is that on the two models of knives I own, I don't believe either of them has more than a rat-tail tang.

With that said, both knives are mounted in a hard, rigid plastic for a handle, so perhaps the strength of the handle material makes up for the lack of steel in the tang.

The two models I own are:

A Frosts of Sweden analogue of the Clipper model on James Mattis' site. It has a plastic handle, overtop of which is a Kraton-type rubbery overgrip. The plastic handle peeks out at both the tang and butt end, and is red on a carbon steel knife, and blue on the stainless version. I have not seen pictures of these on the 'net, but they are also sold under the Normark brand name.

To put it simply, I ripped the Kraton-material off, and ground down the plastic to yield a handle approximately 1/4" thick. It was my intention to roll a Kydex slip sheath for this knife, and keep it in my pocket for food prep uses. A side benefit of this is that it's extremely easy with a small magnet to "probe" through the thin plastic handle to find the tang. About 1 inch from the butt end, the tang ends, and I estimate its width at a little over 1/4". This width appears to be constant all the way through the handle to the blade tang.

The second model is a high-carbon green handled Mora, which is marketed as the 4" hunting knife at www.rapala.com. Here, the entire handle is the hard plastic; no Kraton in evidence. I havne't bothered to thin down the handles, but again, I don't think knife has a full tang.

Whether the full tang is required or not is an individual preference. I don't have a Kellam knife to compare against, so I defer to your experience here. What I do know, is that these knives are wonderfully cheap ($14 and $10 Cdn respectively), and cut all out of proportion to their cost.

Joe, for the full flat ground knives, I think I've seen pictures of REALLY expensive puukkos like the Tommi line, where I guess the extra price motivates the supplier to grind those knives higher. I was hoping someone might have an inexpensive source for the cheapskates like myself!

As an aside, I once tried thinning out one of my cheap Frosts knives with a grinder, burned out the temper in seconds flat, and vowed never again to ruin a perfectly functional knife! Sometimes it hurts trying to squeeze out that last 10% of performance.


[This message has been edited by Protein (edited 28 April 1999).]
Protein, Joe, et al......
Yup, Cliff did drop me a line. What I told him was that I've done a few similar to what he is describing, full width flat grinds that taper right down to the edge. Usually for a skinning or field dressing blade that is only going to see slicing chores. To reinforce it a bit I usually leave a slight convex bevel at the edge, but its so small that it doesn't alter the performance all that much, but it does help to make the edge a bit more durable.
Like you said, and I mentioned to Cliff, the major drawback is the amount of steel that has to be removed when sharpening. Again, you can cheat a bit and take the entire bevel down from time to time to restore the edge thickness, or thinness, as the case may be, then touch up in between with a very shallow convex edge.

Ian, understood. I think both knives mentioned in the above review have similar tangs. In fact I know the Mora does because it extends to the end of the butt, the Kellam is masked by the plastic handle but I doubt that it is full tang. The blade on the Kellam though is very stout for its size.

Joe / Mel, I realize that sharpening would be a major problem if the knife got really dulled but what I was thinking was that in regards to some of the really strongly hyped new blade materials is this really a factor? I know for example that say a flat ground AUS-8A (not a wonderfully tough or great edge holder) blade with a low secondary edge bevel, can be maintained with a simple ceramic stick for an awful long time. Now assuming these wonder materials have much better toughness (resistance to impacting, rolling) and much greater wear resistance, I think that with regular stropping the edge would require a lot of work before any major reprofiling was needed. It would be a definate time to break out the Diamond hones then tough, or better yet the power tools.

Protein --

I actually have a Tommi knife! I caught an outrageous sale and decided to pick one up. You're right, the bevels are higher than the lynx-style puukkos you normally see. Jim Matthis has some higher-ground Scandanavian knives on his site also -- the Rosellis look to have a slightly-bigger-than-usual grind. These knives are not totally ground to the spine, but they *are* probably as much as twice a big as the bevels you normally see.

IMHO, that Kellam "all purpose" knife with the forged carbon steel blade is a strong contender for most pure cutting performance per dollar. It does want a better sheath than the lightweight plastic one that's issued with it, even if the sheath ended up costing more to produce than the knife. Unfortunately, there aren't many on this side of the Atlantic this month.

The "Kainuun Puukko" workshops in Finland that make the expensive Tommi Knives also make the "KP Juniors," a lower priced line with similarly high bevels, in zone-tempered carbon steel. The handles and especially the sheaths are more simply and economically made than the Tommi knives, and the smith's initials are not on them.

One thing I've found with the traditional Finnish knives is that a tight fit of blade to brass at the front end of the handle is not a high priority there. Users who want to prevent rust in there, or keep germs from growing in there if it's used on anything edible, may want to seal that joint with epoxy.

You guys ought to check out the KJ Erikson Mora 2000 that Ragnar, (Jim Schipnick) sells at Ragweed's Forge.

KJ Erikson is Frost's of Sweden's chief competitor, and from the dozen or so examples that I've seen and used, I've got a slight preference for them over Frost's.

The Mora 2000 has a dual grind that transitions from a standard Scandinavian grind at the rear of the knife to a thinner grind with steeper secondary bevel at the thinner front of the knife. It sounds akward when described that way, but what it means is that it's got good slicing power while retaining a thin, moderately strong tip.
The Sandivik stainless won't hold an edge forever, but at $20-25US it's easily one of my favorite camp knives. (As are the rest of my Scandinavian camp knives including the $8-$12US Frost's knives.)

As for flat grinds with no secondary bevel, that's how lots of tradesmen have traditionally sharpened their work knives. Trades like cobblers and insulation workers have done that for decades. For pure slicing it's tough to beat, but edge life is shortened and resharpening is near constant. While a lot of focus is given to woodworkers, hardly anybody pays attention to guys that literally use a knife all day long on softer materials.

Hee hee! It's like most of the people who've contributed to my knife education over the last year have been round up and packaged into one neat and tidy thread.

Cliff and madpoet, please keep the forum updated if the flat ground 3V project gets rolling. I'd love to see the fruits of high-end knife technology melded with the beautiful "old-school" knives that Mel's got on his web-page.

Joe and James, how I envy both of you for your Tommi's! However, even after checking out the less expensive Kainuun Puukkos on James' web-page, I'm still not convinced I could self-justify such a purchase, knowing how well the basic $10 Swedish knife cuts. Of course, dropping $100 on a production folder doesn't faze me at all.

I wonder if there's some sort of a "crummy knife threshold", where beyond a certain price, the diminishing returns yielded by a pricier knife don't justify its purchase. Since the Swedish knife is a worker, I can't rationalize paying more money for a relatively small increase in cutting enjoyment. However, since the folders are more toys than anything else, the expensive toys give handling pleasure nearly commensurate with their increased cost.

Mike, I went to Ragweed's web-page, and was astonished to find that just above the Mora 2000, was the listings for the "Clipper analogue" that I'd mentioned earlier in the thread. They are the 711 and 746, denoting the red handled carbon-steel, and the blue handled stainless model respectively.

They can be seen at:


Maybe I'll have to pick up one of the 2000's now, although I can't help but feel that knife looks like something I'd use to pry oysters open!


PS: Can someone mention how to convert the above URL's to a hyperlink so you can just click on it with the mouse?

Hmm. Thanks P.J. for the email to hyperlink the above website!

[This message has been edited by Protein (edited 02 May 1999).]

[This message has been edited by Protein (edited 03 May 1999).]

For what it's worth, some months ago I'd asked James Mattis to pick out a puukko style knife from his offerings that both represented the full merits of the design but also good value. I expressed that I wanted to determine if a puukko performed well for my uses. Well he ended up recommending the Urban Lynx for something around $30 to $40 if memory serves. Its a good knife with a 4" or so blade. As with many puukkos the handle to blade joint has some air gaps that could collect food particles or crap so it needs to be epoxied up. Function....puppy cuts great and does give one a good platform to evaluate the overall design before popping for a more pricey version. Worked for me


I did NOT escape from the institution! They gave me a day pass!

I will soon have the chance to work with some CPM steel knives and based on how they perform I will, together with Madpoet, work out a design for the hopefully fully flat ground 3V blade. What I hope to see in the blade I will be using is an impact resistance that is very high so that the 3V can take a full flat grind with danger of rolling / impacting on moderate work. And as well it should be very abrasion resistant so that it will hold an edge long enough to make reprofiling the entire blade like Madpoet describes in the above not necessary very often. I have some ideas but they are in the fantasy stage now as if I tried them with traditional steels it would not give a functional result.