Thursday, May 26, 2011

Kershaw Needs Work 1820GRY - The Unsung Hero of My Collection

Normally, when I look at knife reviews, I read and watch a lot of stuff about tactical this and tactical that or something about blades that look to fragile to work in the real world, but are really pretty.  I read a lot about EDC, or everyday carry knives, and decided that the knife to your left doesn't get enough attention, and I figure I might do my part to bring it to light.

Enter the unsung hero of my knife collection - the Kershaw Needs Work 1820GRY.  At first glance, you see that it is not shaped like most other knives at all.  With a really large handle, funky dip on the spine of the blade, and a straight blade profile, you're probably thinking that this is one of the weirdest looking EDC knives you can buy.  And I'll admit that it is not the prettiest knife in the world, but what it lacks in form, it more than makes up for in function.

First off, the specs.  The Needs Work is a 3.5 ounce knife with a straight 3" blade that features a Speed Safe assisted opening system, which allows this knife to flick open as fast as a switchblade with minimal effort from the user.  In fact, when I pull this knife from my pocket, I can flip the blade open before anyone around me knows I just pulled out a fantastic utility knife.  This knife also features a locking liner to keep it opened and a belt clip to keep it in place when not needed.

Now, let's think for a moment about how such a knife is used.  Well, I carry it at work, and I use it everyday.  In fact, I probably find the need to use this knife almost every hour when I'm on the job site.  A lot of guys at work carry around those utility knives with the disposable razor blades, and they will talk about how great they are, but from my experience with said knives, they aren't as great as you would think.  Oh sure, the utility knives are good for cutting box tops or getting into things, but when you need a knife that can get around the sheathing on a piece of 0000 electrical cable, or cut a 1 1/2" rubber hose quickly, or to have something with more than 1/2" of blade at the very tip, you will come to appreciate the Needs Work knife. 

The handle is large, and provides plenty of contact area for your hand, which helps out with those cutting jobs that require you to put some muscle into what you are doing.  When I'm slicing around a piece of cable, I like to have that large handle secured in my palms so the knife doesn't slip.  The finger grooves on the bottom are pronounced, but are not too deep, as to become a hindrance.  In the words of Goldilocks, it's just right.

The blade, probably the most unique and useful utility blade out there for under $50, is a field service technician's best friend.  The long 3" FLAT profile gives a lot of real estate for the work you are doing.  Curved blades are okay for general work, but a flat blade makes the knife more consistent when you are using it.  Plus, the flat profile is very easy to sharpen.  The back of the blade dips down and seems to flow back up before coming down to the point.  What pictures of the side don't show is how thick the spine of this blade is where it swoops down.  it is the thickest part of the blade, and remains that thickness all the way to where it turns down toward the tip, providing an excellent location for your thumb to go when cutting around things.  If you grip the blade in your hand, with your thumb facing the point, you can feel the ergonomics and it gives a very good sense of control in the hand.  Rotate your hand over like you were to use a scalpel, and you now have a nice pad for your index finger to rest on, giving you the precision needed to do fine cutting jobs.  Additionally, the flat blade makes it very easy to manipulate the knife at the tip because it doesn't curve upwards at all.  There is also a little jimping toward the top back of the blade for those times when you want your thumb back on the handle instead of out over the blade.  Indeed, it appears that Kershaw has thought of everything with this knife.

The locking liner makes up part of the knife's frame structure and positively locks the knife blade open.  I have yet to get it to fail.  There is also a little jimping on the movable portion of the lock so you get get a grip on it to close.  The design makes it easy to close this knife with one hand.

The clip is beefy and is retained with two little torx screws.  Mine has yet to loosen up and I've been carrying this thing into the field everyday for 4 years.  The name brand KERSHAW is also laser engraved into the clip.  As an aside, the name of the knife and MADE IN USA are proudly imprinted on the blade.

There are 6 torx screws that hold this knife together; there are three per side.  Of those, the blade fulcrum are the largest of the screws and help retain the blade with almost no end play.  The 4 smaller screws hold the knife from the spine and tie the entire thing together.  It's a very strong design.

I'm on my second Needs Work knife.  My first one was retired from field service work after I accidentally dropped it from 15 feet right onto the tip of the blade.  From then on, the knife had what I called "the raptor claw" because it did chip the end a bit.  But there was still 2 3/4" of blade left, so it soldiered on for the rest of the year (I carried to for almost a year with a busted tip) until I broke down and bought the one I have now.  As a word of note, I still have the broken one.  It's in my garage and finds use every time I'm working out there.  I didn't just toss the knife.  It still works great and refuses to die, even though I dish out relentless punishment for it.

While I don't normally lend out my knives, I've let a couple coworkers use it in my presence for a quick job.  Everyone comments on how nicely it feels and how sharp it is.  Of course, the next question is always "Where did you get it and how much?"

I think I paid a little on the high side for mine.  $50 out the door off the Snap-On truck.  But the Kershaw website lists it as $64, so I don't feel bad.  Even at $64, I wouldn't feel bad at all because this knife brings to the table great value for the user.  It is definitely the most useful of all my knives.

-James

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