The Talonite Project completed: Simonich Wambli and Rinaldi Chimera

Oct 3, 1998
A journey that started the first week of September 1998 has drawn to a close. Both the Rob Simonich Wambli and the Trace Rinaldi Chimera have been completed, delivered, and held in hand.

What follows is but a preliminary synopsis as I have just received the Chimera; the Wambli has been in hand for over 2 months.

First the blade material Talonite. I have made numerous posts since first receiving the Wambli. Suffice it to say that the stuff cuts like crazy on all but rope. The "slippery" nature of the alloy would
seem to indicate that the microscopic "teeth" common with dendritic and conventional tool and stainless steels are much, much smaller as there is an absence of the familiar "bite". But a tad bit of additional
pressure finds the Talonite slicing through the rope quite effectively anyhow. I offer the observation as an indication of the difference in cutting feel. Meat might as well be butter the way talonite
effortlessly cuts. Other test medium such as wood, corrogated cardboard, etc are no challenge to this age hardened chemical
equivilent of Stellite 6Bh. For the knifemaker, Talonite's metallurgical processing has meant a tremendous reduction in belts required to grind and shape a blade from bar stock. The manufacturer claims a 30% improvement in wear characteristics (read edge retention) over Stellite. I haven't been able to do a direct comparison but suffice it to say that this stuff cuts, and cuts, and cuts without dulling. It simply blows away the CPM440V knives I own. It takes a great edge and is quite easy to resharpen too.

The designs:

- Wambli: this was basically a stretched Cetan model that is a standard offering of Rob Simonich. I wanted an OAL of 8.25" with
a bit longer handle than the Cetan. We decided to go with 3/16" stock to provide a beefy, bull of a short stout field knife. The blade is a flat ground drop point with two slight decorative bevels instead of any false edge on the forward part of the spline. The Talonite was taken to 400 grit and hand rubbed with final finish from a maroon ScotchBrite pad. The simple classic green-black micarta handle design, lightly bead blasted affords a palm filling
secure and comfortable grip. The 3/16" stock used means that for its size, the Wambli is heavy as Talonite is quite dense compared to
traditional knife blade material. I have no fear using this knife as a mini-pry bar although I have not pressed my abuse that far. I have managed to scratch up the blade a bit but a quick rub with a Scotchbrite pad can melt the scratches away effectively. Why if this stuff is so tough does it scratch? It is RC49 yet the cobalt itself suspended in the alloy's matrix performs more like RC65-70! The old Rockwell tests are quite misleading on this type of material as
Kit Carson has pointed out. Fit and finish as well as the multi-carry sheath Rob provides are superb.

- Chimera: Trace and I played with a design ultimately settling on one which incorporated aspects of three of his standard offerings:
the Spook, LUK, and Sharkstooth. I wanted 1/8" stock used to shape a flat ground drop point blade with distral taper. This wider,
thiner and slightly longer blade than that of the Wambli features a beadblasted finish. Originally I also wanted the spline to be 1/8" higher than the handle with a file worked thumb ramp. Trace deleted this aspect correctly as it really doesn't fit a 8.5" OAL
knife. Had it been a 10 incher, yes, that profile would have been a plus. The burgundy G-10 beadblasted handle with intricate mosaic pins is a more flat profile than the Wambli and features twin finger cutouts. It too has an exceptional feel and balance in the
hand. The thiner stock and wider blade give the Chimera a wispy feel compared to the indestructible feel of the Wambli. Both are
balanced effectively behind the index finger. When held in a thumb forward saber grip both knives imbue the handler with a feeling of
total control and flexibility in bring the edge to bear. While the weight saving between the 3/16" and 1/8" stock is significant, I have yet to determine if the Chimera's slimmer blade translates to any
lesser strength in actual use. Trace also supplied a neat multi-carry sheath system which features a thumb release allowing a slip pocket carry with the same system.


Yes since the Chimera has just been received I am unable to contrast actual use but suffice it to say that I anticipate the thinner wider blade of the Chimera to excell over the already exceptional Wambli
in the kitchen. Whereas the bullish strength and narrower width of the Wambli to have the advantage in dressing game and with general field and utility chores. Unquestionably these knives make a great
using pair.....the Talonite Twins.


When Rob and I first settled on design parameters for the knife he would make me, we didn't know if the Talonite would really work
out. Accordingly my preferences for a fancy handle were put on hold in favor of some nice green-black micarta until we had proof of
concept. Now that we know how great this stuff is, my Wambli is going back for a little dressing up. Rob will be replacing the six 3/16" pin handle configuration with removable torx screws which will secure a pair of fancy sheeps horn slabs.

Recommendations: Don't waffle, go for it! Try a Talonite blade! Both of these makers have created exceptional instruments with
outstanding fit and finish. I unhesitatingly recommend both men to all who seek a great blade!

I will try to arrange with Spark to have pictures of both knives posted here. Other photos may be seem at and
In the interim, anyone wanting jpegs of both knives with sheaths side by side and an edge on view illustrating the different thickness please e-mail me at

***LATE FLASH...see 4th post below for a link to see the pictures!****


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

[This message has been edited by bald1 (edited 14 February 1999).]
OK you've got me hooked and I wanna see the side by sides! I'm contemplating the Talonite plunge myself, already like both Rob and Trace's work. Good work again, Bob.
Hey Bob, thanks for doing the legwork on this on your dime. Now that I know it works well, I'll throw some of my own money at some talonite blades

Both knives look superb (got a sneak peek!). Get the feeling I'm gonna end up with a wambli and a 5.5" TKK!

Brian/Joe...thanks guys! It's appreciated.

For a look at the pictures side by side go to:

Note: you'll first see my comments about a Guy Hielscher damascus custom that I wrote last year. It is followed by the Talonite Twins comments and the pictures. Simply click on them for a blowup view. My personal favorites now? You folks figure it out

My profound thanks to DC who took the time to set up these pictures for all to see. Thanks Dona! You're a sweetheart!


[This message has been edited by bald1 (edited 14 February 1999).]
That's great news Bob. I've got a Carson medium Model 4 Hunter on order from Kit. I originally chose CPM440V for the blade steel but, thanks to Walt Welch, I'll be getting it in Talonite instead. I *REALLY* look forward to getting it. Thanks for your reports.

A liitle extra about the sheath Trace made up for the Chimera:

In addition to the overall knife design, I challenged Trace to come up with a sturdy, lightweight, multi-carry, thumb release sheath system. One that could be worn horizontally or vertically on the belt, inside-the-waist, around the neck, in the small of the back, and as a pocket slip. He succeeded outstandingly and it is very secure. You may not be able to see all this from those pictures, but rest assured it functions as described!

Thanks Trace!


[This message has been edited by bald1 (edited 13 February 1999).]
Bob: Glad to hear you like your knife and sheath so much. It was a fun project and I was very impressed with the Talonite.
That knife was one of those you hate to see leave:) I am gonna have to make one of them for myself. Pleasure doing business with you and I look forward to more in the future.


Bald is right. I did set out to dull mine and with much work succeded. It met it's match against steel banding! I had looking like your average kitchen knife. Meaning the edge was round heh. It took little effort to have shaving sharp on a regular bench stone and back in to business. I had to send it back to Rob Simonich for another sheath since I ruined mine. I can hardly wait to get it back. Now if the postal service would get it to him instead of sending it back to me. Still trying to figure out why that took three days. I suspect that Talonite might just be the perfect material for a kitchen knife. I would prefer it over one in ceramic.


Rob just got my Wambli (aka stretched Cetan) back today for "dressing up". In the meantime I'm still wringing out the Chimera. I've already posted Trace and Joe Talmadge that I've been referring to the Chimera as a "scalpel".

Anyone who thinks you can't get a razor edge on cobalt hasn't tried Talonite. The advantage of the 1/8" distal taper flat ground from the spline blade of the Chimera over the Wambli is, as Joe states in his FAQs, simply a matter of thinner blades being more conducive to achieving a more apparently sharp blade. Both cut outstandingly but the Wambli is built for different tasks than the Chimera. The Chimera is more along the lines of a kitchen knife or AG Russell's ultra thin hunters.

The two designs complement each other outstandingly. As anticipated the Chimera excels in the kitchen and with tasks where an ultrathin edge profile and wider blade serves best. The Wambli can't be beat for tough tasks and its narrow flat allows getting into smaller areas such as presented when field dressing game. I'm happy as heck with both knives!

I noted someone posted elsewhere about an older quote attributed to Tom Walz the man behind Talonite where he said it doesn't cut well on rope and doesn't achieve a super edge. That is from one of the initial development stages of the Wambli. Rob did a lot, including using a very high power microscope and reprofiling the blade, in determining optimal edge geometry to bring out the best in Talonite. Both my knives exhibit razor sharp blades and I've already commented about the cutting "feel" you get with rope.

I see you're in "talonite withdrawal" too with your blade being back with Rob. You have my sympathy. I refused to send the Wambli back until I had the Chimera from Trace in hand


[This message has been edited by bald1 (edited 18 February 1999).]
Bob, the reference about Tom Waltz's comment was made by me. I am glad you cleared it up as what he was saying made no sense to me. You or Rob should drop him an email as he is advertizing on rec.knives that Talonite cannot take a razor sharp edge like steel or slice well on fiberous materials like rope. He has made a few posts on this and if this is not the case then I am sure a number of people would like to have it cleared up. I know for one if I had read his comments without reading your post first I would never have considered a Talonite blade.

Hey, Bob, those are two really nice knives, that should outlive us all. Rob has some really nice designs. I'm not surprised that it can take a good edge as I was sure that any previous problems were probably due from the person doing the edge putting.
Cliff/Dennis aka Cobalt,

Tom has been contacted and brought up to speed. He hasn't handled a working knife in Talonite yet although he has some being made. The edge he referred to was "attempt #1" by Rob.... the whole story is on Rob's website under "Talonite Project".

My 2-18 post here adequately describes just how sharp an edge on a cobalt (Talonite) knife can be. Dennis, you've reported elsewhere about your pair of Stellite 6K hunting knives and their sharp edges. No question that either of these "flavors" can be made extremely sharp and with edge holding that is simply uncanny.


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

From what I can tell talonite DEFINITELY will take a razor edge. My left arm is still bald after testing Bobs Chimera. I cut EVERYTHING I could find and it asked for more.... I am making one for myself as soon as I have time:)

Take Care
Trace Rinaldi...

I would like very much to see a side by side comparison of exact same profile and shape knives made of Talonite, D2, A2, CPM440, BG-42, ATS-34, and perhaps if it's possible even some titanium nitride coated blades.

What I envision is making a whole batch of test blanks identical except for alloy. For test purposes they wouldn't even need to be finished or have handle slabs or anything, but they would need identical geometry. Since Rob is already offering blanks and kits, the Cetan would certainly be one platform to do this.

I would be most interested in comparisons of how the different blade alloys perform when slicing hard lay poly rope, soft lay nylon rope, 1/4" leather, meat, tomatoes, corrogated cardboard, cigarette paper, foam rubber and styrofoam blocks.

This would seem to be the natural sort of testing for a maker that wanted to offer the ultimate choice of degree of edge holding.
I'm also waiting very eagerly to see the results of the Talonite chopping tests.

I was gonna post this on the Simonich board, but decided that this might offer a wider audience.