If you like folding knives with a million built-in gadgets, stop reading this review. But if you value exceptional workmanship, excellent quality materials, and the sharpest blade that this sailor has ever used — bar none — meet the Basic 3 from the studio of boutique knife maker David Boye. After using countless stainless-steel diving knives that always end up corroding, as well as serrated knives that dull after tangling with synthetic cordage, the Basic 3 was a welcome change of pace.
This masterfully crafted, perfectly balanced, uber-sharp knife is made out of a single piece of dendritic cobalt using integral I-beam construction to produce an ultra-strong blade whose total weight clocks in at a scant 3.5 ounces. The knife’s total length is 8”, of which the hollow-grind blade takes up 4”. The handle is wrapped in thin-diameter nylon parachute cord for a stellar grip, regardless of apparent moisture; when wearing a pair of leather-palmed sailing gloves the grip is even more secure.
The butt of the knife’s handle is flat, and can function as a hammer to drive home a cotter pin in a pinch. The knife’s finger guard is angled so that it doubles as a sharpening guard, although I’ve never needed to sharpen the blade.
The knife comes with a brass-lined nylon sheath with a belt loop; the internal brass liner protects a user against accidents and keeps the blade safely contained (there is no corrosion effect from the dendritic cobalt and the brass contacting each other). The Basic 3 is available with either a pointed or rounded tip. If you’re seeking an all-around boating knife that can moonlight in the galley go with the pointed tip; if this is strictly for the bowman, go with the curved point (no seaboot could withstand a direct tip-on assault by this blade).
A word about dendritic cobalt: According to Boye’s office, this material acts, on a microscopic level, like a serrated knife, exposing whatever is being cut to many tiny, sharp teeth. Your average steel this is not, which accounts for its price tag (fully justifiable). I have never seen a blade — of any material — sever synthetic cordage like dendritic cobalt, nor have I ever used a blade that simply wants to cut like this one. This being a sailing knife, it will serve many purposes, including galley duty. Here, the knife’s dropped blade makes it an excellent chef’s knife, slicing through tomatoes with sheer ease. Best yet, dendritic cobalt is impervious to saltwater and will not rust, and is virtually non-magnetic (Boye’s studio calls it “compass safe”).
I wish the knife had a small-profile, foldaway marlinspike or shackle key. Also, I have big hands, and at times I’ve wished that the handle was just a tad longer, but this is a small — and personal — lament. But when I use the knife to effortlessly slice through synthetic cordage (it’s no contest when the blade touches any cordage) these grievances are immediately forgotten. Perhaps a bigger concern is keeping the knife on your belt and away from the galley, as it will immediately become the envy of every chef whom you take sailing. $360. Boye Knives. 928-767-4273, www.boyeknives.com
Posted: July 8, 2008