In January of 2011 I reviewed CRKT’s Folts Minimalist Bowie and Tanto knives which were variants of the original Minimalist that featured a Wharncliffe blade. Last year CRKT added the slightly larger Folts S.P.E.W. to their line up of neck knives. The designation S.P.E.W. stands for Small Pocket Everyday Wharncliffe. Don’t be turned off by the odd moniker for this knife. At its core the S.P.E.W. is an extremely functional and well crafted fixed blade knife.
Over the last few years I have reviewed a several CRKT’s neck knives for the Woods Monkey. They are one of my favourite types of knives to utilize for everyday carry. I have about half dozen neck knives, all of them produced by CRKT and I wear one pretty regularly when not at work. Based on my previous experiences with Folts' Minimalist line a neck knife has become a standard in my hiking kit. Neck knives in my opinion are a great option for a car kit, bug out bag, or as a last resort, self-defence.
The Folts S.P.E.W. measures 6.25 inches in length and weighs an extremely light 3 ounces. The hollow ground Wharncliffe blade measures 3 inches in length and is made from 5Cr15MoV steel with a bead-blasted finish. The scales are manufactured from G10 that is mottled brown in color and textured with grooves that provide excellent grip. The handle also includes a small woven lanyard pull that helps to easily remove the knife from the sheath; The S.P.E.W.’s sheath is made black Zytel that includes a detachable belt clip and a long adjustable para cord necklace that weighs 1.1 ounces. Overall, the fit of the Folts S.P.E.W into the sheath is very secure with minimal rattle and at 4.1 ounces it isn’t noticeable when worn around neck under a hooded sweatshirt or coat.
I wore the CRKT Folts S.P.E.W for several months mostly in evening while shopping, dining out, walking and hanging out with friends. The S.P.E.W is extremely light and comfortable to wear and with the adjustable cord it can be adjusted to suit the wearer. A belt clip was included with the package and to be honest it didn’t fit any of the belts that I wear. I do not wear knives on my belt unless I am hiking and with this style of knife I definitely prefer wearing them as a neck knife.
In terms of function, the Folts S.P.E.W. was very sharp out of the package. I was able to shave the hair off my arm with very little effort. I have been remodelling my bathroom and in the fall I had my bathtub powder coated. Before that contractor came in I used the S.P.E.W to remove all of the caulking from around the tub. The Wharncliffe blade proved more than capable of the task and compared favourably to a razor blade that I normal use for such a job. It definitely made a great tool for scraping.
The Folts S.P.E.W. would make a great camp kitchen knife. I used it to dice onion, carrots and ham for making soup. In a way it reminds me of a paring knife and the Wharncliffe blade proved to be great for chopping. Given the handle design and size you can cut most things with great precision. If there is any sort of detail work that requires a fine blade, I think it makes a respectable choice. This usefulness carries over to other tasks as well such as cutting nylon rope and string.
This time of the year I don’t get much of an opportunity to camping or hiking. However, my neighbourhood always has a number of twigs and small sticks lying around. Using the Folts S.P.E.W. was easy enough to making kindling, fire pokers and even tent stakes. The knife is also very good at puncturing and carving up plastic bottles and aluminium cans. This caused a fair amount of scratching of the blade.
The last test I used the Folts S.P.E.W. was for fire starting. Using the spine of the blade I was able to get a good amount of spark with a fire steel to ignite tinder. However, after several passes on the fire steel there were some rough spots on the edge of the spine. Considering the usefulness of the knife a couple of aesthetic blemishes aren’t much of a concern.
Overall, I really liked the CRKT Folts S.P.E.W. that I tested for this article a great deal. As I am already a big fan of Folts’ Minimalist line the addition of this knife is certainly welcome. The Folts S.P.E.W. is just a bit bigger than the Minimalist and in my opinion more practical as well as functional. According to CRKT’s the MSRP for the S.P.E.W. is $44.99. A quick search for the knife on the Internet will turn up a price just north of $30 dollars. If you are in the market for an extremely lightweight fixed blade knife to throw into a pocket, secure to a belt, or wear as neck knife I highly recommend giving the CRKT Folts S.P.E.W. consideration.
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