Tuesday, September 04, 2007

What's In My Pocket? #4: Chris Reeve Sebenza

Knife collectors have a term: "safe queen."

A safe queen is a knife that you never use or carry, in order to maintain it in pristine condition. Typically, a safe queen holds particular value to the collector — usually monetary value that would be diminished with usage. It's a knife, to explain the metaphor, that you keep in a safe and treat like a queen. It's an investment, not a tool.

From my perspective, the concept of safe queens is silly. A knife is a tool, and a tool only has value if it's used for its intended purpose. Safe queens are like CGC-graded comic books, slabbed and sealed in plastic, never to be opened. Just as a comic whose contents can't be viewed is redundant in my opinion, I think a knife that can't at least slice open the daily mail is redundant, too.

Not that point of view prevented me from keeping at least one safe queen in my collection for the longest time.

Meet my Sebenza. (I hear The Knack in my head every time I say that.)

Made by Boise, Idaho-based Chris Reeve Knives (no relation, so far as I'm aware, to the late, lamented Superman star), the Sebenza is considered by many blade aficionados to be the finest production folder available. Its sturdy bead-blasted titanium handle houses a razor-sharp blade made of S30V stainless steel, one of the most durable American knife steels on the market today. The Sebbie's rock-solid lockup, butter-smooth action, brilliantly functional design, and flawless fit and finish are often imitated, but rarely equaled. (I know this from experience, as I also own a couple of decent Sebenza knockoffs. Quality knives, and well-used, but not in the same league.)

Chris Reeve's exacting specifications and personalized approach — although built from standardized components, each Sebenza is assembled by hand, and comes complete with its own "birth certificate" listing the manufacture date and salient details — has earned the Sebbie its lofty reputation. (Mine, by sheer coincidence, was "born" on my wife's birthday, four years ago.) The quality comes at a price, as a new Sebenza will set you back anywhere from $300 to several times that amount, depending upon the options ordered. No wonder, then, that many Sebbies never see the light of day, their owners content to lock them up in secure quarters and only occasionally take them out for careful admiration.

I used to be one of those owners. For the longest time, I kept my Sebenza (there goes Doug Fieger again!) tucked away in its box at the back of a desk drawer. Once a week or so, I would risk exposing the knife to air and sunlight so that I could marvel at its mirror-finished blade and its handsome inlays of reddish-brown cocobolo wood. Then, ever so gingerly, I would return my prize to its refuge until I once again hankered to fondle its titanium scales.

Then, one day, I realized how stupid that was.

It's a knife, for crying out loud, I told myself. Use the doggone thing.

My hands trembled when I ran my Sebenza's blade under the flap of its first envelope. I held back a tear the first time I clipped it into the rear pocket of my dress slacks. (You didn't really think I'd stick it in my crusty old jeans for its maiden voyage, did you?) I shuddered in horror as I tenderly wiped the first crumbs of Priority Mail cardboard from its rapier edge.

I got over it.

I make it a point to carry — and yes, use — my Sebenza often now. It's a regular participant in my everyday pocket rotation, and it's always the knife of choice when I'm wearing my Sunday-go-to-meeting duds. I keep it away from the heavier-duty cutting jobs, but it opens newly arriving packages like nobody's business.

Every once in a great while, I still stroke it lovingly and call it "my Precious."

Just kidding.

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2 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Blogger Mr. Fabulous offered these pearls of wisdom...

Now I have The Knack in my head.

Luckily I like The Knack.

6:33 PM  
Blogger SwanShadow offered these pearls of wisdom...

Mr. Fab: Knowing you, the Knack song running through your fevered brain is the uncensored album version of "Good Girls Don't."

1:18 AM  

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