Spyderco is a company that is fun to follow because, even with well worn design paths, they regularly stray from their preferences and history and make some genuinely weird stuff. Think of their line up as having three parts—the evergreen stuff (the Delica, the Endura, the Native, etc.), the collabs (the Nirvana, the Techno, the Air, etc.), and the weird Spydercos. A few of the weird ones are in-house designs (see: Spyderco Scorpius) and a few are collabs (see Spyderco Rock Lobster). Of the weird knives, quite a few are good blades but so challenge expectations that they are hard to swallow the pills, so to speak. From the magnetic locking T-Mag, to the spoon for a clip Gunting, to the abstract art piece that is the Zulu, Spyderco, more than any other production company in the knife business, explores and embraces the weird.
The Spydiechef continues that tradition. In looks and feel, this knife is weird. Not bad-weird, just weird-weird. But all of that unusualness is redeemed by a sublime cutting experience. This is a knife that easily rests in the upper echelon of cutting performance. Only the Chaparral and the Le Percival live in this stratosphere.
But the greatness of the Spydiechef is not limited to its design or performance. Oh no. There is much, much more here. This is a knife that truly hits the top of the scale because it has an amazing new steel that gives it a substantial advantage over 99.9% of other knives. LC200N, also known as Z Finit, is a highly corrosion resistant steel that, unlike all other such steels before it, actually holds an edge very very well.
Quirky design, great performance, and exceptional, rare, high end steel. That trio of attributes is about as quintessentially Spyderco as it gets. If you read this site, what else do you need to justify buying this knife? Honestly, this is one of the best Spydercos in a long time, maybe, dare I say it, one of the best Spydercos ever. As a person fascinated by edged tools, you should go buy the Spydiechef before it disappears. Its a no-brainer.
Scoring the Spydiechef is something of an academic exercise—the knife is so good in so many ways that actual number score is pretty meaningless. This is a knife that literally anyone could benefit from owning—a soccer mom could use it for food prep and a hardcore knife guy with dozens of customs could try out a new steel. Still, it wouldn’t be a knife review without a score so here goes.
And here is the review sample:
Twitter Review Summary: Weird, wonderful, and quintessentially Spyderco; buy this before it disappears.
Review Sample Info: This knife is my own personal knife. I purchased with Blade HQ gift cards from Christmas 2016 and 2017 (yes, I save gift cards for a long time).
Marcin Slycz’s collaborations with Spyderco have been some of the best knives of the last 5 years. I love the Techno, even with its Rubenesque blade stock. Though its hard to discern, I am fairly certain that other people, Nick Shabazz included like the Slycz Bowie. And there is a strong consensus among reviewers in the IKC that the Spydiechef is a good knife.
The key feature of any Slycz design is his focus on a clean appearance and very strong lines. There is little waste in the design, few cuts or curves to put a hitch in the ergonomic giddy up behind the design, and a spare appearance. The Spydiechef follows this formulate to a “T.” But unlike the Techo or the Bowie, the Spydiechef’s clean lines are in service to a truly unique design. The blade is a modified Santuko shape, a clear indication of the knife’s kitchen design aesthetic. Meanwhile the handle looks something like an offset boomerang. There is even a pair of divots at the end of the handle that make for excellent chopping cuts on a cutting board.
But the true genius of the Spydiechef is this simple fact—most kitchen knives would make excellent EDC or outdoor knives. We have come to assume that blades need to be massively thick, in part because in days gone by, with lesser steels, they needed to be. But that assumption about blade stock does not carry through to today’s knife market thanks, in large part, to exceptionally hard powder steels. When kitchen knife designs are made with such steels, they can be very, very thin and still not chip. That’s the beauty of the Spydiechef. Its design is kitchen in origin, but thanks to an advanced, high hardness steel (comparatively speaking) you can easily use it as an EDC knife and outdoors. Its folder, so don’t think it can baton, but it had no trouble making feathersticks, busting up heavy duty cardboard, and the like.
Thanks to that thin blade steel, the Spydiechef has respectable performance ratios. The b:h is .74. The b:w is .88. Interestingly this is a rare Spyderco in that almost all of the blade length is cutting edge thanks to the unusual design. The blade length is 3.32 inches while the cutting edge comes in at 3.31 inches. None of these are best in class, of course, but they are all good enough that the performance ratios don't hold back the knife.
Fit and Finish: 2
This is a Taichung blade and so you can rest assured that the fit and finish is top shelf. One day these folks are going to realize that they are making the best production knives on the planet and launch their own brand (if they haven’t done so already...OEMs are always hard to figure out). When they do, it will be a boon to the knife world and a blow to Spyderco, especially if their OEM contracts don’t continue on.
The Spydiechef is thin. Very thin. How thin? This is the Spydiechef compared to a AAA battery. That is very, very thin.
Despite that thinness, it still has an excellent grip, in large part thanks to good chamfering around the edge and an excellent shape. I’d love to see contoured titanium, but that would probably add cost and heft, so, in the end, I think the right choice was made. Folks could learn a lot about how to make effective handles without a lot of extra material or thickness by looking at the knives Spyderco produces. They are wonderful 2D profiles and the Spydiechef is no exception.
The grip actually promotes kitchen cutting, putting the knife’s generous belly below the hand—meaning you can chop and perform rocking cuts without hitting your knuckles.
As I carried the Spydiechef around I realized that it was an excellent knife in the pocket. In my head I could here the late Jim Nabors as Gomer Pyle saying “Surprise, Surprise, Surprise...” The trick here is how the handle envelops the blade. By making sure that virtually the entire blade is covered the knife masters a great trick—it is a tall blade with a relatively short handle. This, plus the thin proportions and excellent clip, make the Spydiechef a great carry.
As you can guess from the knife grade that immediately preceeded this review (found here), I really really like LC200N. The truth is, aside from a weird smudge/filming issue you can see in the first picture in this review, the steel is excellent. There is literally no application that I have found where it is bad. There might be better big chopper steel, but until they make a big chopper in LC200N we won’t know. For the first time since I can remember, and maybe ever, there is a steel that is the correct answer to the question: “What is the best all around steel?” For 99.9% of people the answer is, and for the foreseeable future, will be LC200N.
Blade Shape: 2
Santuko shapes are excellent in the kitchen, serving as the Japanese rough equivalent of the more traditional German spearpoint chef knife blade shape. My limited (and I mean LIMITED) experience in the kitchen shows me that I like Santukos better than the Teutonic equivalent by a large margin. With a sharp enough point and plenty of belly, Santukos do real work. Even with the slight modifications made here, the same is still true. This is a great blade shape even if it looks a bit cartoony. Like the Zulu before it (another in the Weird line at Spyderco), this is a blade that has to be used to be truly appreciated.
Any thinner and it would be transparent. This is a very thinly ground blade. It also happens to be a very tall blade (which is cleverly hidden in the handle leading to a relatively short handle hiding a relatively tall blade). The end result is a master slicing knife. In the pantheon of great slicers this sits above the Viator (and now the Neutron) and Chaparral and just a smidge behind the Perceval. The cuts you can perform with this are stunning. The knife easily sailed through the apply slicing test and was even able to cut a folded free standing business card in one slice. This is a mega slicey blade.
Deployment Method: 2
This is a Taichung knife which means that it has a snappy deployment thanks to a masterfully tune detent. I can get the blade flying open with just a quick bump of the thumb hole, much like I could with the Techno. If you are solidly in the flipper camp, you should give one of these well-tuned thumb hole openers a try. You will realize that it is just as addicting.
Retention Method: 2
The Spyderco wire clip isn’t the most beautiful version of a pocket clip, but it is damn functional. Everything stays in place, it stays mostly out of the way, and it is super simple. Cedric and Ada’s review of the Spydiechef made this point—while there are fancier clips there aren’t more functional ones. Like with most things gear-related I tend to agree with Pete.
Don’t worry about the lack of a replaceable lock face (which seem to be as useful as moveable shelves, that is, not at all). This is a well cut framelock of the Taichung variety which means no lock stick, no blade play, and just the right amount of resistance for disengagement. In all, other than the totally anti-lefty thing, there is nothing to complain about with this lock and since I am not a lefty, I am not docking the knife a point. If you are a lefty, well, sorry, this, like many things in life, is not for you.
Overall Score: 20 out of 20; PERFECT
If there is ever a moment of consensus among the IKC (Internet Knife Community), stop and pay attention. While there are some outliers (ahem Auston ahem), for the most part everyone that has a bit of experience with knives reached the same conclusion I did—this is a pretty damn good knife. I have no criticism of it at all and hence the perfect score. It is weird enough to be unique, ergonomic enough to use all of the time, and has an amazing top shelf steel. This is a must buy blade.
One of the benefits of a truly weird design is that there are no competitors. If you want another knife with LC200N steel you can either fish through (pun alert) the B/S/T boards on the internet for Gavko custom or look at the Spyderco Mule 25, the Carribean, or wait for the soon to be released Spyderco Native in LC200N. In other words, as is often the case, the only real competition for a Spyderco is another Spyderco. Just in case you were wondering, that is a very good sign.