Sunday, January 2, 2011

Kellam Wolverine Review

In this review I want to take a look at the Kellam Wolverine. It is a puukko style knife and is a fine example of that knife design. The Wolverine is a slight variation of the Kellam Puukko.

Knife Length:
8 1/4 inches (210 mm)
Blade Length: 3 11/16 inches (94 mm)
Blade Thickness: 1/8 inches (3 mm)
Blade Width: 3/4 inch (19 mm)
Blade Material: SPT (progressiontempered) carbon steel
Blade Hardness: HRC 62-63 on the Rockwell Scale on the cutting edge
Type of Tang: Rattail tang
Blade Grind: Scandinavian/single bevel
Handle Material: Curly birch
Sheath Material: Leather
Cost: $90.00

This is what I would consider an expensive knife. It is not as expensive as some customs, but with a price tag close to a $100, it is far from cheap.

When compared to the Mora 1, the Kellam Wolverine is very similar in style, although it is a bit more robust. The blade length is similar, but the Kellam one is a bit wider and thicker. The knife has no guard, and an oval handle, although a bit more shaped than that of the Mora 1. The knife has a single bevel/Scandinavian grind, but there is a slight secondary micro bevel at the edge. The blade is carbon steel, which has been differentially tempered using what Kellam calls their SPT technology. The result is that the cutting edge is harder than the rest of the blade, providing for good edge retention without making the blade brittle. A close look at the blade will reveal a line in the metal where the hardness changes.

The handle of the Kellam Wolverine is longer than that of the Mora 1. It is very comfortable to use in all direction and holds. For some reason however, I found the blade of the Mora 1 easier to use than that of the Kellam Wolverine. The difference seems to be that because the Kellam Wolverine blade is wider, the curve in the blade towards the tip is more pronounced. That results in a shorter straight cutting portion of the blade. In effect, that made the usable portion of the blade shorter than that of the Mora 1. As I have mentioned before, I like longer blades because with the short ones I run out of blade material before I run out of force in the push of my arm, especially when making slicing cuts. This results in the knife abruptly jumping off the wood at the end of each push. For some reason with the Mora 1, that effect is minimized even though the blade is short. With the Kellam Wolverine however, the problem was very pronounced. Keep in mind, that this is a problem for me, considering the way I use knives. The results will be different for every person. That is why I find statements about what the perfect knife length is, rather ridiculous. A good blade will have to take into account not only the length, but also the shape of the blade and the size and style of use of the owner of that blade.

Because of the differential tempering the spine of the blade is too soft to use with a ferrocerium rod. It will not create sparks. However, the spine closest to the tip of the blade (about a quarter of an inch) is made of the harder tempered material and will strike sparks without a problem.

The knife was shaving sharp out of the box, so I took it out for testing.

When it came to splitting, the Kellam Wolverine had no problem with a 2-inch log. It performed just as well as the Mora 1. In fact, because the blade is thicker, it felt more secure and robust. Because of that, it has a slight edge over the Mora 1 when it comes to splitting. The short length of the blade however, limits the size logs you can split. The truth is that both knives will have no problem with a 2-inch log. That being said, however, the Kella Wolverine feels more secure when you are hitting it with a baton.

I felt very comfortable doing a truncating cut with the knife. The added edge thickness and thicker blade made me feel more comfortable letting loose on it with a baton.

The knife retained its edge just fine, and had no problem with the feather sticks.

The Kellam Wolverine has a rattail tang. It is a piece of metal that goes through the whole handle but thins out all the way to the end, and it pinned at the back. Because it is not a full tang, I will not try to stick the tip into a tree by hitting the back of the handle. The thin tang can be damaged by such an action.

The knife comes with a beautiful leather sheath. However, when I got it, it was a bit too tight, and the knife did not go all the way in, similarly to the way the Mora 1 fits into the plastic sheath. Because the sheath is leather however, I was able to wet it and stretch the leather so the knife would go in perfectly.

The Kellam Wolverine is a beautiful knife. It is a pleasure to use and hold. The problem with the shortness of the blade that I mentioned is a personal one, so this may very well be the knife for you. It is a very usable piece of art and will serve you well for a very long time. When it comes to performance, it is a but more robust than the Mora 1, and feels more secure during heavier tasks, but the performance is comparable. On performance alone, perhaps it is not worth nine times more than a Mora 1, but as a work of art, you may want to consider owning one.

Just like with the Mora 1, for me this is a knife that would serve as a replacement for a good folding knife. I would not take this knife as my only cutting tool in the bush. It excels at small cutting tasks, but even though it can handle some larger scale work, it will eventually fail. The heavier work is best left for an axe. If you want to go into the woods with just one tool, just like with the Mora 1, this is probably not the knife for you.

Kellam makes many different styles of knives and they are all worth considering.