Are you familiar with the watch brand Hublot? No? I am only mildly familiar, but let me summarize them as best I can. Well-built, expensive time pieces that push the modern size norms and emphasize (huge, bulky) form over function. The Spyderco Stovepipe is the titanium knife version of a Hublot Big Bang – impressive in a lot of ways, but wrapped up in a bulky and impractical presentation.
When I first saw this online, I was intrigued – another cool Spyderco titanium knife that highlights a custom knifemaker…awesome! The fact that the design had whispers of the Yojimbo (am I the only one to think this?) was also interesting. I loved the idea of the ‘Bo, though I was fairly disappointed in hand.
I worked out a trade for a used Stovepipe, and within minutes of opening the package I knew I had made a mistake. While it looks very interesting in pictures, in a lot of ways it takes every frustration I had with the Yojimbo and ramps it up a notch.
Before I list my complaints, let’s start with what this knife does very well. As one might expect from a Taichung Spyderco, the construction is flawless, and leaves nothing to be desired. The action is unbelievably smooth, the centering is dead on and the pocket clip is a beauty. In fact, the clip is easily one of my favorite things about the knife – well designed, great spring tension, super practical and very much in the aesthetic of the rest of the knife.
On the bad side, it’s a chunkster – a manageable 5oz, but with a massive 4mm 20CV blade spine and 4mm matching scales to boot. With the pocket clip, you’re looking at 19mm of raw titanium and steel thickness – not totally obscene until you take into consideration what that thickness gets you in blade length…a disappointing 2.65″. To add to the tank-ness, the knife is 1.8″ wide at its widest point, which takes up a ton of pocket space. To summarize, this is not a knife I want to carry. Strike one for me.
The blade has that semi-cleaver design that I find myself drawn to over and over again. I love the Kizer Mini Sheepdog, especially in titanium, and the Stovepipe sort of reminder me of a cross between that and the Yojimbo. Unfortunately it errs on the side of the Yojimbo – and I do mean errs. The blade edge is a razor-like straight edge that comes to an incredibly thin (relative to the design) point. I don’t mind the straight blade, but when it’s combined with the sweeping tip, it seems to contradict itself.
I’ll never forget an ex-girlfriend in college borrowing my favorite knife and breaking the tip off within 5 minutes. Man, she would have wreaked havoc on the Stovepipe! To be fair, it’s probably not *that* bad. But juxtaposed with the absolute unit that the rest of the knife is, it’s a stark contrast. I think if the blade tip had been more of a sheepsfoot style, or even just ground thicker I wouldn’t have minded so much. But I could just never bring myself to carry this thing for actual use.
And while there’s a lot more to say, that’s really where I am with this knife. It’s just not for me. Cut.
One last thing – my review here is solely scoped to the Spyderco Stovepipe. I absolutely love Spyderco’s commitment to partnering with custom knifemakers and supporting the entrepreneurs and small businesses of America. I had never heard of David Rydbom and Kingdom Armory before this knife, and while I wasn’t a fan of the ‘pipe, it did introduce me to his work. He and I appear to share a lot of common interests and principles, and some of his custom knives look *really* interesting to me (the Griffon looks incredible). As a small business owner and employee, I am aware of the impact of negative press and reviews, and that’s certainly not my intention.
Support your small businesses and give David a follow!