Florinox Lemaire Akma Folding Knife
By David Tong
The information about the late Denis Lemaire of Quebec, Canada is sparse. He was evidently a knife designer of some international repute.
The American company Spyderco built one of his designs under license in Seki, Japan during the 1990s. Those familiar with Spyderco know they invented the Clipit pocket clip, are one of the first builders of knives with 1/3 or 1/2 serrated blades and usually have a large hole on the blade's spine to provide thumb purchase for convenient opening. The Lemaire designed, French style, Spyderco Laguiole model notably lacked the usual Spyderco blade opening hole and pocket clip.
The Lemaire Design knife that is the subject of this article is of the "Akma" pattern, with a 2.25 inch drop point blade with partial serrations. It was made by the Florinox Cutlery company of Theirs, France, which has been in business since 1930. Their website indicates that they can build knives of "medium quality to one-offs."
I found this information about 12C27 steel on the Sandvik website:
"Sandvik 12C27 is Sandvik's most well-rounded knife steel with excellent edge performance allowing razor sharpness, high hardness, exceptional toughness and good corrosion resistance. Sandvik 12C27 is our main steel for hand-held knives, high-end ice skate blades and ice drills. Continuous improvement over a period of 45 years has evolved Sandvik 12C27 into the high performing steel grade it is today. The composition is tighter, the purity level is much higher and the fine carbide microstructure of today is far from how Sandvik 12C27 knife steel of the sixties looked. With a hardness range of 54-61 HRC, high toughness, scary sharpness and good corrosion resistance, Sandvik 12C27 is the recommended grade for hunting knives, pocket knives, camping knives, high-end chef's knives and tactical knives."
This knife has a finely wheel-polished blade of Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel and is marked "D. Lemaire Design" on the left blade flat near the hinge. The blade is flat-ground with a very short and fine cutting edge of approximately 1/32 inch. At 13.5% chromium content, it is quite corrosion resistant and typical hardness is approximately Rockwell C 59, so it holds an edge well. When necessary, it can be sharpened on a hard Arkansas stone.
What is unusual about this knife is the way the blade opens. It uses a 7/8 inch diameter stainless wheel that is serrated about its circumference. Rotate the wheel until the blade is fully open and the liner lock engages. This differs from most modern folding knives that use a nail nick, hole in the blade, or thumb studs to assist opening. Thumb studs can loosen and fall off.
The linen Micarta scales on my knife are retained by stainless Allen-type screws. While the edges of the scales are left crisp, they will not create holes in one's pocket when carried in that traditional fashion, as their edges are broken. In addition, the scales are oval in cross-section for comfortable use. However, they lack any kind of textured gripping surface and can be somewhat slippery when wet.
This is not a defensive weapon, just an attractive and useful knife. Others have commented that it appears "a tad thick" for a pocket knife, but I don't think so. Once it is in your hand, the feel is better than something very thin. Moreover, it will not wear a hole in your pocket from sharp edges or excess weight.
For those of you who appreciate finer things, you may recall that Gerber Knives of Oregon intermittently produced Paul Poehlmann designed locking folders during the 1970s-1990s. Unfortunately, these have been discontinued. (See Gerber Paul Model 2P Knife for a review of a Gerber Paul knife.)
The Paul mechanism is completely different from a Lemaire, but it does have a button within a round serrated ring at the front of the handle that must be depressed before the blade can be extended or folded. The Paul mechanism is more complicated and expensive than the simple and elegant Lemaire system, but it gives the two designs a somewhat similar look.
Approximately two years ago there were some patent drawings available online by Denis Lemaire discussing this knife design that do not appear today. Apparently, Lemaire died around 2004.
Fortunately, Lemaire knives live on at Florinox Cutlery. Florinox can be reached through their corporate website, which is: http://couteau-couteaux-coutellerie.florinox.com
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