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Sunday, 25 June 2023 03:15

Vosteed Nightshade

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The Shilin Cutter is a Taiwanese knife that was first made in the mid-19th century by a cutler named Kuo He. By the 1960s, there were more than 20 knifesmiths making the cutter in northern Taipei. The Shilin Cutter is a slip joint with a san mai blade shaped like a bamboo leaf, and an eggplant-shaped handle made out of horn. It was a common knife in Taiwan and Japan, and was used by market vendors, mechanics, fishermen, and even carried by bureaucrats.

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That little bit of history is necessary, because today we're taking a look at the Vosteed Nightshade. The Nightshade is Yue Dong's take on this historic blade and has reimagined it with modern materials. Yue says he drew inspiration for the Nightshade from his aunt, who used a Shilin Cutter in the kitchen. Vosteed's Nightshade comes in a few blade steels and deployment methods, the one I have is Nitro-V steel with thumb studs for deployment.

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The Nightshade comes in at 4.22 inches closed and has an overall length of 7.48 inches. From the closed position the knife has a symmetrical look to it because of the curved handle and leaf shaped blade. The handle has a gentle curve with a swell at the heel of the knife, similar to an eggplant as mentioned above. This handle profile locks into the palm of my hand with the swell resting right in the center. A lot of knives with a straighter profile tend to rest near my fingers with the top of the handle in my palm. This shape is a nice departure from the norm, and it feels organic. The handle is made of micarta, and it has a nice smooth texture to it. Micarta on the Vosteed's is really nice and has a similar feeling to worn demin jeans. I like the copper accent to the pivot combined with the stylized pin that they have been using on all their knives. It's classy and adds a bit of spice to the show side of the handle.

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The leaf shaped blade is a full flat grind, and it makes for a great slicer. The downward tip (or pointy negative as Vosteed calls it) is great for draw cuts and doing precise cuts thanks to the thin tip. The tip is not great for penetration because of its angle but the way this blade cuts makes up for it. I've used this blade for food prep, opening boxes, and other sorts of everyday activities. It wasn't till just recently I had to touch up the blade, and it came back hair popping sharp. Before this knife I had never heard of Nitro-V steel, it seems to be on par with the popular 14C28N yet isn't as tough nor as corrosion resistant. I think the steel performed just fine for everyday tasks but wouldn't not be good for any long-term cutting sessions.

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Vosteed knives come with an assortment of locking methods, with the Nightshade they went with the tried and true liner lock. The lock is easy to disengage thanks to the large cutout where your index finger rests. The jimping on the liner not only gives your index something to lock into when gripping the handle but makes unlocking easier as well. I much prefer this style of jimping on the liner compared to the aggressive teeth we find on other knives. The detent is fairly strong on this particular knife, I cannot slowly open the blade using the thumb studs. I have to put my thumb in front of the thumb stud, press in and rotate out. A combination of the strong detent and the studs being pretty close to the handle, result in the blade firing out as if it was assisted. I find myself opening and closing this knife over and over, simply because the action is so satisfying with that snap.

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This timeless design has been popular for a reason, it's function and form are time tested. I found the Nightshade to be an excellent everyday carry blade, and it feels just about perfect. Anything I found lacking with this model can be remedied by going with a different opening method, such as thumb hole or changing the blade steel.

David Bowen

As Co Founder of Multitool.org David has been a multitool enthusaist since the 90's.  David has always been fascinated with the design inginuity and uselfulness of multitools.

David is always looking forward to what's new in the industry and how the humble multitool continues to evolve as it radically changes and improves the lives of users.

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