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Deejo UL Knives

A very lightweight and practical backcountry knife. Useful for food prep with good hardness for its price.

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by Roger Caffin | 2014-05-27 00:00:00-06

Introduction

For reasons best known to themselves (i.e. they haven't told me), gear-maker Baladeo recently spun off a small company called Deejo in France. Deejo's products (at the time of writing) are a range of ultra-light knives in three different sizes. These were mentioned in Matthew Pullan's report on ISPO 2014 in Germany, and given their very light weight and minimalistic construction it seemed we should take a closer look at them.

Basic Technical Details

Deejo knives come in 3 sizes: 15 g, 27 g and 37 g, and in 3 styles which they call Naked, Colors, and Wood. Not all combinations exist. All three weights exist in the Naked series, while the colored ones are all 27 g and the wooden ones are all 37 g. We received a 15 g Naked knife and a 37 g Wood knife for review.

In addition there are sets of knives in black flocked lined boxes: suitable for gifts maybe. We didn't go that far.

Naked Series

There are three sizes of knives in this range. The 15 g knife claims a 55 mm blade, the 27 g knife claims an 80 mm blade, and the 37 g knife claims a 100 mm blade. These lengths also apply to the other series. The measured lengths of the cutting edges for the two we received are 54 mm for the 15 g unit and 94 mm for the 37 g unit. The 37 g knife is 100 mm blade from the tip to the centre of the pivot (making the knife just 'street-legal' in Australia). (The 3 plain photos are from the Deejo web site.)

 - 1
The Naked Series, 15 g, US$26.43.

These little ones consist of little more than two flat bits of metal, plus a pivot. The blade locks open against the small round peg visible below the pivot; it is kept open by the blade of metal labeled 'Press'. This rather cunning and almost invisible mechanism applies to all models, and will be explained later. The handle in this little one has a hole at end for a string loop; fairly thick string is provided.

 - 2
15 g knife in hand.

As you can see, the 15 g knife is quite small. Well, at 15 g, what did you expect? The loop of string can be seen at the end of the handle.

The Colors Series

 - 3
The Colors series, 27 g, Red.

This series features a thin strip of colored polycarbonate along the handle, where it provides some protection for the cutting edge against the world - or vice versa depending on your point of view. There are lots of bright colors available: I won't list them all.

It may be worth noting that polycarbonate is an extremely tough plastic. I don't think there would be any chance at all of the plastic breaking. It is held to the handle by three little Torx screws, which are sized to not stick out at the back.

The Wood Series

 - 4
"The Wood series, 37 g, Rosewood, US$42.71".

Here the plastic protection strip has been replaced by some good (genuine) wood: you have a choice between Rosewood, Juniper Wood and Granadilla. These are the sorts of woods you might find in good wooden-handled knives: tough, fine-grained and not particularly susceptible to water. Again, three Torx screws hold the thin strip of wood to the metal handle. In this case there is also a 'belt clip' on the back of the knife. A light soft black fabric bag comes with the knife.

 - 5
37 g knife in hand - light, but a decent blade.

The blade length for the 37 g knife is quite respectable and useful, although with such a light handle there would be a limit to how much force you could put into the cutting edge. An expert would say to substitute skill for force of course. I will add that all three sizes have extremely wicked points.

 - 6
The presentation boxes, magnetically stuck together.

All single knives come in presentation boxes as shown here. (The sets come in more glamorous black boxes.) What is not obvious is that there are small magnets in the sides of these boxes, so they can be stacked up on the shop counter in high towers with the curved plastic covers facing the customer. They are somewhat Lego, but very fancy.

More Technical Details

Blade edge

The 37 g units have a symmetrical grind (i.e. both sides) to a 1.9 mm thick back. The major grind is ‘hollow’; while the edge grind is flat (this is normal). The little 15 g units are different: they have one dead flat surface and one ground surface, and the back is 1.7 mm thick.

Pivot Details

 - 7
Lock pin (red) and friction dimple (blue).

All the knives have a lock pin to limit their opening. This is shown here on the 15 g unit by the red dot. It is solid. There is also a dimple on the end of the spring, pointed to by the blue line. We will come back to that shortly.

Liner Lock

The small dimple shown before seems to be there to control the alignment of the spring with the blade. It spans the thickness of the brass washer at the back (see below).

 - 8
The liner lock trick.

When the blade opens fully, the end of the blade at the blue line just clears the part of the handle labeled 'Press', and that strip of metal pops up against the large pivot to lock the blade open. To close the blade you press down on the 'Press' label so the strip clears the blade, and then the blade can pivot towards the shut position. This is shown in the lower part of this illustration, where I have just started to close the blade. The blade just overlaps the liner lock spring by a millimeter or two in the photo.

The small dimple shown before on the 15 g unit seems to be there on the smallest of the range to control the alignment of the spring with the blade. It spans the thickness of the brass washer at the back (see below).

What is not shown in any of the photos is that there is a small thinning half way along the strip of metal marked Press: that is where a lot of the spring bending takes place. It is not a 'defect' in the stamping.

Pivot

The large cap on the pivot in the above photo hides a brass shim - there's one on the other side as well. The brass makes the blades rotate smoothly: otherwise the metal surfaces could gall and drag. It's a small detail, but an important one for long life. Since the blade rotates about the pivot, the (stationary) cap at the back is smaller. Ah yes: keep the pivot clean and lubricate occasionally very lightly for best performance.

Belt Clip

The 37 g knife has a belt clip. It is visible in the top photo in the last illustration. I don't want or like a belt clip, so I inquired about removing it. Possible, was the reply, but not advised. It helps to stabilize the pivot, and the screws have their length set to include the clip. Well, hum, maybe one day I will 'modify' the clip to keep the bit at the pivot and remove the rest.

One caution was mentioned: Deejo has carefully adjusted the tension in the pivot screw to hold the blade securely but let it open smoothly. If you undo the pivot screw it may be tricky getting the right torque when you reassemble the knife. I image 5 minutes with a Dremel or some sort of grinder might be an alternative.

Steel

Obviously what sort of steel has been used is important. Some Deejo literature says they use 420 Stainless Steel; other literature says the blades are 2CR13 stainless steel hardened to 52-54 Rockwell while the handle and clip are 2CR13 hardened to 45-48 Rockwell. I enquired about this but got no answer. Checking on the web showed that '2CR13' is simply the USA designation for 420 SS: it's the same stuff. The steel in the screws and pivot is not specified. What is 420 SS steel? I quote:

420 SS is a general purpose medium carbon straight chromium high hardenability martensitic stainless steel with good strength and fairly good corrosion resistance. It is generally supplied hardened and tempered. Due to its excellent hardenability it is capable of being through hardened up to Rc52 or higher depending upon carbon content and section size.

I tested both knives at shaving the hairs on my arm. That is a 'standard' test for a knife blade (or axe blade, or machete blade - whatever). I found maybe 1/3 of the hairs were cut off at the skin surface, with some drag. That is not bad, although I can get a better shave from my 400 mm long 6 mm thick (16"x1/4") Brades machete manufactured in the UK about 1900, but that one is some very serious carbon steel. It is also rather heavy! Whatever it hits stays down.

The Deejo blades are not the hardest steel used in knives. For instance, the blade in the Benchmade 530 is made from 154Cm steel, with a hardness of 58-60 HRC. The Benchmade knife is on the other hand a lot more expensive - up around $100 or so.

If you explore the MyDeejo part of the Deejo website, you can find some interesting variations. You can have the surface of the steel either shiny or with a 'titanium' finish. Exactly what the 'titanium' amounts to I am not sure, but it comes out rather matt grey. The sharpened edges do shine normally. Then you can have a 'tattoo' embossed on the blade if you want: they were offering a somewhat elfish-looking tree and an owl when I wrote this. Finally, there seems to be an option of having some writing on the handle, but this option was not functioning when I looked, so I don't know what that is about.

Field use

The little 15 g knife is actually rather convenient in my pocket. It is small and unobtrusive, and sharp enough for most any tasks I have given it. Basically, it serves as a useful pocket knife, and blow Crocodile Dundee. The edge of the blade is close enough to the handle that it does not catch on other things in my pocket, so the design seems to work.

The larger one is about the right length for carving up loaves of bread, blocks of cheese and French sausage when walking in Europe. I did not try splitting firewood with either Deejo knife - if the wood is dry I just break it. Anyhow, I seldom light a fire. The wood trim on the unit tested is quite effective at guarding the edge of the blade, and the wood seems determined to last. I could carry this larger one in my pocket - with some minor difficulty, or clipped to my belt - if I wore a belt. But I don't trust things clipped to my belt, so that is unlikely. But being inconspicuous has its own advantages.

The blades seem to hold their edge reasonably well. The steel is not as hard as is used in some more expensive knives, but it is quite hard enough for ordinary use. Resharpening is not difficult: best done before the blade gets too blunt and do it with a fine stone.


Citation

"Deejo UL Knives," by Roger Caffin. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/deejo-knives-caffin.html, 2014-05-27 00:00:00-06.

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Deejo UL Knives
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Maia Jordan
(maia) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Deejo UL Knives on 05/27/2014 21:50:26 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Deejo UL Knives

todd harper
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: Sunshine State
Re: Deejo UL Knives on 05/28/2014 09:08:09 MDT Print View

Very nice descriptions and pics, Roger.

Did I overlook the prices? I like the bright plastic for visibility if I drop it. I may have to pick up one of these.

Thank you.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Re: Deejo UL Knives on 05/28/2014 09:22:28 MDT Print View

They are different prices on different sites but here is Knife Works

Lou Z
(lugee) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
comfort on 05/28/2014 09:25:58 MDT Print View

How comfortable is the handle? Looks like it may be hard to get a good grip, to the point where I may be a afraid to grip it hard on the "press" part.

Adam Klagsbrun
(klags) - MLife

Locale: Northeast US
No serrated blades anymore? on 05/28/2014 10:08:55 MDT Print View

I was disappointed to see that they don't seem to offer the option to have a partially serrated blade... that's a huge sticking point for me, as I like to use knives to cut rope and separate things, and I like the partial serration for that. What a bummer...

Sebastian Ventris
(sabme) - F - M

Locale: SW UK
Baladeo on 05/28/2014 10:59:02 MDT Print View

Looks just like the Baladeo knives. I bought one some time back, too flimsy for me, sold it on eBay as a letter opener. I don't get the concept of gram counting when you sacrifice function and when most folks could more easily loose a few pounds of body weight.

Prefer a skeletonized neck knife personally. This one is very nice and can do real wood work. I was hard pressed to find something as tough for it's weight. They just need to fix the slight danger zone at the rear of the cutting edge. Mine's for sale if anyone's interested?

White River Knucklehead
http://www.whiteriverknives.com/products/knucklehead

Knucklehead

Edited by sabme on 05/28/2014 11:01:45 MDT.

Spyros Fykas
(lightgear) - M

Locale: Europe
Deejo Knives on 05/28/2014 11:06:54 MDT Print View

That's a great article, thank you.
In my opinion Deejo Knives are perfect for weight minimalists and design enthusiasts.
If it happens that you are one of those guys that want both, then with a Deejo, you are a happy guy.
I have a bought a 37gr Granadilla model and I really liked the crystal clear packaging (great for gift) and the wooden feeling upon the minimalistic steel surface.
Have a great day!

Edited by lightgear on 05/28/2014 11:07:35 MDT.

outdoors *
(outdoors) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Baladeo knives on 05/28/2014 12:19:10 MDT Print View

Owned a Baladeo knife which is the same in the lightest format with only one side ground.

Used for about three months.

Not very sharp with only one side ground. Could barely cut a piece of moleskin without force. Force should not be needed when using a knife. That is how someone gets hurt.

Tip of knife eventually pulls away from frame and starts to catch on things and pokes little tiny holes in things.

Lightweight yes

Functional no.

Still sticking with a single razor blade, or a plastic box cutter with break off blades.

Adam Klagsbrun
(klags) - MLife

Locale: Northeast US
reliability on 05/28/2014 13:32:07 MDT Print View

Good point on the reliability, and good to know about the point pulling away from the frame. Other knives work great at a WHOPPING 2-3 oz :)

I know, I know, I've paid good money to eliminate twice that, just 6 oz, from my kit. But I think it makes more sense to keep the knife I carry now than to save about 3 oz on a less than reliable and sturdy item.

Come to think of it, my friend has a more sturdy version of this knife, and it opens really really easily. I love using it when we go camping. I think he got it from steepandcheap or some other closeout site:

http://www.crkt.com/KisassTanto

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Baladeo knives on 05/28/2014 15:20:16 MDT Print View

Yes, they are 'extreme UL' knives, and are not meant for rough use. So I will disagree with a few comments.

> I don't get the concept of gram counting when you sacrifice function and when most
> folks could more easily loose a few pounds of body weight.
Two issues here. First, I disagree that any function has been 'sacrificed': they were not designed to be meat cleavers. If they do not do what you want - then buy a different knife. As to losing weight - totally separate issue :-)

> Not very sharp with only one side ground.
Technically there is no difference between grinding one side or two. Try resharpening the blade.

> Tip of knife eventually pulls away from frame
That suggests the knife has been misused and either the pivot bent or the blade bent. They are not meant for that sort of treatment.

> Functional no
Well, I find them very functional. Ymmv.

Cheers

Edited by rcaffin on 05/28/2014 15:23:53 MDT.

Andre Buhot
(Shadow-MKII) - M
dimple on 05/28/2014 17:11:53 MDT Print View

Hi Roger, the small dimple is there to help keep the knife closed. There will be a corresponding recess in the knife blade in the closed position.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: dimple on 05/28/2014 19:06:47 MDT Print View

Hi Andre

> the small dimple is there to help keep the knife closed. There will be a
> corresponding recess in the knife blade in the closed position.
So there is! How very clever - and minimalist. Dimple and recess shown here:

Deejo Knife dimple (10)

Thank you.
Cheers

outdoors *
(outdoors) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Re: Baladeo knives on 05/29/2014 19:47:18 MDT Print View

@rcaffin Technically there is no difference between grinding one side or two. Try resharpening the blade.

Not correct. When you grind on one side also known as a chisel grind you change the handness of the knife. Meaning it now depends on which hand you cut with to determine if it is correct. So it really depends which way it is ground for the person. Since they only grind on the outside you are stuck. Which again I would say is poor in thought, and gimmicky.

Also because Japanese use this style in their knives of the chisel grind it requires very hard steel. Which these knifes, and the one I purchased do not have. Thus requiring sharpening more often. I say is this what I want to spend my time doing sharpening my knife?

Tip of knife eventually pulls away from frame
That suggests the knife has been misused and either the pivot bent or the blade bent. They are not meant for that sort of treatment.

Really Roger that can't suggest something. Its a knife not a person. Its a weenie knife. At least it should behave a little better than since it costs 30x more than my plastic box cutter that is always sharp. I used it as I said. It was not mailed in a box and said try it out. So it does not get a red carpet ride with four sherpas standing holding a velvet pillow for it to ride upon.

It plain old does not cut well. I don't have to open my knife often. I am not a whittler sitting twiddling my thumbs. I don't carry the knife in my pocket. I don' t have pockets. Should it not be sharp for at least 6 months or a year? I don't swim in salt water, and spend days and days dragging it in sand. It sat in my bag tucked away in a bed of moleskin.

Lightness is one thing. Putting a knife in the category of what people on this site use it for you to decide.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Baladeo knives on 05/30/2014 16:08:58 MDT Print View

Hi 'outdoors'

A chisel grind does affect the 'handedness' of the blade - no argument there, although I found it did not matter much once I got used to it. But a chisel grind does not affect how sharp the blade is.

Is a chisel grind 'poor in thought'? It suits the tiny blade and design of the knife. If you don't like it, don't buy it.

> because Japanese use this style in their knives of the chisel grind it requires very hard steel.
Um - logic??????? I do not understand.

As to the actual hardness of the steel: the review explicitely addresses that. It's cutlery steel. There are harder steels - yes.

They are small, they are light, mine cut very well. If your knife is not satisfactory, have you tried contacting the company about it?

Cheers

Brandon =Þ
(Beeen) - MLife

Locale: California
Re: Baladeo knives on 05/30/2014 17:03:28 MDT Print View

"Owned a Baladeo knife which is the same in the lightest format with only one side ground"

Curious, am I the only dolt that tried to sharpen his Baladeo before realizing it was flat on one side?

Anyway, with a little effort, I got the other side worked down and it seems to hold an edge for at least a couple summer sausages.

Cas Berentsen
(P9QX) - MLife
about the ancestor... on 06/27/2014 03:16:42 MDT Print View

Using the tiny baladeo ancestor with clip (24g) now for several years in a row, on frequent hiking and weekend trips.

Use it to cut bread, sausages, fruits and dried fruits and other small kitchen usage. For bread cutting the small blade is a bit short but that is a matter of adopting a cut-round-the-block cutting technique. Sausage cutting requires some force. (I don't use it to cut through can lids, as I used to do with other knives). For stirring the blade is a bit too small

Currently the blade doesn't close as tight as in the old days and it could use some sharpening. However, nothing to worry about and definitely highly recommended

Delmar O'Donnell
(Bolster)

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
But, 420. on 06/28/2014 23:09:06 MDT Print View

I've been curious about these knives and was glad to find the article. I like everything about the knife except for the blade steel. Without going into a lot of technical detail, 420 stainless is the steel a manufacturer uses when he just doesn't care.

420 can take a very sharp edge but that's irrelevant, it will hold that edge for a short amount of time. 420 *could* be hardened further, but then it becomes very brittle, so mfgrs leave it soft. 420 tends to roll the edge, which is why it's infamous for blunting quickly. 420 is good at two things: 1) not rusting; and 2) being stamped, which is the easy way to make a knife blank.

If you really use a knife...I mean, more than just carry it...you'll quickly learn for yourself the difference between a low-quality and a high-quality blade steel. If I could get a Deejo with a decent steel, I'd be tempted. With 420, not interested.

Justin Whitson
(ArcturusBear1) - F
Re: But, 420. on 06/28/2014 23:21:44 MDT Print View

Dude, Delmar man, when i saw the subject title in your post, i totally initially thought you were referencing the wacky tabacky man. Needless to say, i was a bit surprised when you started talking stainless steel...

Anyways, Jah bless and all that. I'm not much interested in 420 also, either one really.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: But, 420. on 06/28/2014 23:48:46 MDT Print View

who needs wacky tabacky when you have an adorable cat?
yeah, 420 stainless sucks.

Justin Whitson
(ArcturusBear1) - F
Re: Re: Re: But, 420. on 06/29/2014 00:03:40 MDT Print View

"who needs wacky tabacky when you have an adorable cat?"

YUP, part of the reason i picked that pic is because it makes me smile and melts me heart everytime i look at it. Kenya when she was a wee and cute kitten, now all grown up,... how fast they grow up....

It's a bit hard to tell, but with my finger placement holding her, and her right paw sticking out, it looks like we are signing the "I love you" American Sign language sign (i use to work at a deaf and blind school and so know some sign language). Didn't realize that while taking the pic, just worked out that way.

Ok, i think even i am way above my allotted, and quota duty thread derailment level...

Time to take another vacation from BPL perchaps..?