Review: T.H. Rinaldi LUK (long)

Oct 3, 1998
This is a review of T.H. Rinaldi's LUK. You can see a picture of it
at Actually, that's the first generation
version of this knife. I had spec'ed out this knife originally, and
after receiving the first one I asked for some changes. Trace asked
for the original back, made my suggested changes and then sent me the
new one -- all at no charge but shipping.

The Blade:
4" long and 1/8" thick, ATS-34 heat treated by Paul Bos. The blade
shape is a drop-point. Full flat grind, and the blade has a distal
taper over its whole length. Drop-blade format (no separate guard).
This is the kind of thin, high-performance edge I love!

The Handle:
The handle had indentations for the index finger (thus making the
drop-blade "guard" more effective) and the pinky. It's got a bird's
beak at the end rather than the upswept pommel show on the web page.
I found the upswept pommel too slippery.

The Sheath:
Kydex sheath with a protruding tang. The tang is actually a belt
loop, and at the top there's a swivel clip, for easy carry. It
swivels out of the way when you move and sit.

I am going to review this as a utility and camp and kitchen knife
first. However, even though it wasn't a top objective in my mind, I
am going to follow up with some points about its use for defense. If
you're a defensive-use guy, please at least read my comments at the

A knife that performs superbly, and is extremely carryable, at a nice
price. I've come to think of this as a kind of Tactical Kitchen Knife
-- more on this in the conclusions section.

Those of you who've been reading my posts know my favorite fixed blade
is the A.G. Russell Deerhunter. The whisper-thin blade outcuts just
about everything, and it's extremely carryable with it's swivel-clip
sheath. I worked with Trace to design a knife that was a tiny bit
beefier, had the drop-blade as an improvement, was just as carryable
and had the same great performance, at a reasonable price. The point
is dropped for controllability but still sharp enough to thrust well.
The generous belly slices very well. And the drop-blade works about
as good as a guard, finger-protection wise. On top of that, I could
do a rolling speed-chop with this knife, which is not possible with a
blade with a guard.

The 1/8" flat-ground blade performed excellently in my tests. The
edge as provided was a touch wide for me, so I re-sharpened it on the
Spyderco Sharpmaker, taking most of the edge to the white stone, but
leaving the back 1" or so at the grit of the diamond sleeves. I
started off testing the knife on hard poly rope, which most knives
barely cut (they just slide across the top). The edge was thin enough
that even the polished part cut, then the coarser section bit very
deeply. It whittled wood extremely well.

To test thrusting ability and ergonomics, I slammed it into a phone
book in reverse grip. Between the drop-blade and the two finger
indents, my hand held rock solid. No worry about slipping at all.
Take note of that, all you people who think about using thrusts during
defensive use. The knife penetrated very well into the phone book.
To make sure the point was up to snuff, I jammed it into some pine and
snapped it out a bunch of times. Pine isn't the hardest wood in the
world, but this knife isn't a crowbar; I just wanted to make sure the
tip shape and heat treat were basically sound.

For camp and home use, food prep is one of the most important uses.
The thin flat-ground blade cut very very well, and ergonomically the
knife handled great. A special bonus is that with the drop-blade
format, I could do a rolling chop on small vegetables -- using the
belly as a fulcrum, I could bring the knife down quickly and drive the
veggies through with my other hand.

The kydex sheath fit well, but could have been a touch tighter.
Carryability is *excellent* with the clip on the sheath. I love this
method of carry. In camp, I can clip it on my belt loop, then move it
to my pack, then a convenient tree, etc., all without taking off my
belt. This is important, since everyone ends up borrowing my knives,
as they're the ones that perform routine chores the best.

After the tests, the knife remained razor sharp, it still shaves hair
easily. The tip was intact, no problem.

Suggested changes:

- Put some grooves on top of the blade for thumb purchase.
- Knife was shipped oiled. I wanted to use it on food right away, and
had to spend a lot of time scrubbing. If you must ship oiled, ship
with an edible oil, like mineral oil.
- On the sheath, the handle of the knife should probably line up
exactly with the protruding tang.


I'm not an expert, but have enough training in knife work to know what
I like. A dropped point for control, but sharp enough to penetrate.
A nice belly for slashing. Great ergonomics are a must, slipping off
is not an option. The LUK has all of these.

I couldn't help but think about the similarities between this knife
and the many 3.5"-4.5" highly-concealable "tactical" knives out these
days. The LUK, like them, has a nice thin profile. The LUK, like
them, has a very effective blade shape (for both defense and utility
work!). However, I notice many of the tactical knives have just
straight rectangle handles and no guards. The LUK's finger notches
give the user great purchase, and the drop-blade format provides
effective finger protection. Only a large guard, which would detract
from carryability, could possibly provide more protection. But in my
tests, the drop-blade was *not* just a speed bump, it did give a
reasonable amount of protection up front.

I would seriously consider this knife with a multi-carry sheath system
if I were to carry this knife concealed for defensive use. I am
somewhat apalled by the lack of finger protection on many of the
hideout knives you guys are carrying, but understand the need to save
space. This may be a partial answer for you!


I like this knife! For the money, you're getting plenty of bang for
the buck. In fact, I'm thinking about ordering a 5.5" version.

I've come to think of this knife as a Tactical Kitchen Knife.
"Kitchen Knife", because it doesn't look mean, and the drop-blade
format is reminiscent of a kitchen knife profile. Also, kitchen
implies food prep and utility uses. "Tactical" because I feel the
knife, despite its utilitarian design, would make a top notch defense
knife. This knife, and its big brother when I order it, will do
double-duty as kitchen/utility and travel knives for me.

BTW, though I did some of the design, I'm not associated with the
business side (i.e., I get no remuneration).

Sounds like you got a winner there. I've looked at the LUK on his site. It looks to be a very functional knife in my opinion. Would be great in the outdoors too.
Buck --

I agree, it would be great in the outdoors. In fact, I embarked on this project specifically to design a great outdoors knife. I had noticed after many camping trips, no matter what knives people brought -- big military knives, kitchen knives, folders, etc. -- everyone *always* ended up borrowing my Deerhunter, which just blew everything else away. I tried to figure out what the Deerhunter's strengths were, and add in just a little more robustness and the drop-blade format.

No matter how much we like to pretend we're SEALs, for most people >80% of their camp use for a knife will be food prep. This knife excels at that, especially with the drop-blade format and good ergonomics. Other cuttings, such as whittling walking sticks and hot dog sticks, cutting cordage and bandages, etc., will all be handled easily by this knife. Perhaps most important is carryability and accessability. In the backcountry, I'll walk around with the knife clipped to my belt loop, but on hikes I'd like to clip it to my pack so everyone can get to it. This knife is small enough to carry everywhere, and the sheath with the clip is a great carry option, as proven by the Deerhunter.

This blade is evolving into what we are calling a TKK (Tactical Kitchen Knife)
Anyone interested can look at the mirror site and see the evolution...

Take Care
Trace Rinaldi...
Please forgive. I am not trying to direct posts to "Another Channel" but there is a lot more info on this knife at the other forum which I am sure we all frequent. I guess I am stepping all over myself to be be Nuetral.
Sorry if I am out of order;-)

Take Care.
Trace Rinaldi...

The TKK seems to have evolved over there. There's nothing wrong with that. Had it not been for Joe's thread there, I would not be inline to get my new Tactical Kitchen Knife (or is that Kutlery :)

I look forward to its arrival!