Schrade SCH402L Ceramic Blade Folding Knife
By Chuck Hawks
Illustration courtesy of Taylor Brands, LLC.
The Taylor Brands' (http://taylorbrandsllc.com) Schrade SCH402L is very similar to the previously reviewed SCH401L. (In both cases, the "L" stands for large and there are somewhat smaller versions of both knives. See my review of the standard size SCH401 for details.) The ceramic blades used in the SCH410L and SCH402L are identical in every way (length, thickness, shape, etc.), as are the stainless steel thumb studs and the hinge pins on which the blades pivot. Liner locks keep the blade securely open. Both knives have carbon fiber handles and pocket/belt clips, although the shape of the handles and clips are different.
The handle shape is what differentiates the two models. The handle of the SCH401L is about a quarter inch longer, tapers more than the SCH402L handle and has two wide finger grooves. The SCH402L handle is a bit wider with a single finger "swoop." As cutting implements the two knives are identical, so the information in this review necessarily duplicates much of what was written about the SCH401L.
Taylor Brands acquired the Schrade, Uncle Henry, Old Timer and Imperial knife brands after the Imperial Schrade Corporation went bankrupt in 2004. At one time, Imperial Schrade had been the largest knife manufacturer in the U.S. Taylor Brands, LLC has resurrected many of the historically popular Uncle Henry and Old Timer knife models (see our review of the Uncle Henry LB7 Bear Paw) and introduced many new Schrade designs. The ceramic/carbon fiber SCH402L is one of the new models. Like most Taylor Brands Schrade knives, it is made in Red China.
The Schrade SCH402L is one of Schrade's most expensive folding knives. The 2014 MSRP is $69.33. It is a high tech folder with a ceramic blade and carbon fiber handle scales. The blade length is 3.2" and folded the knife measures 4-3/8" long, but it only weighs slightly over two ounces. Open, the knife measures 7-11/16" long.
The single blade is opened by means of ambidextrous thumb knobs and locks open with a liner lock. The blade's husky hinge pin is blackened stainless steel, as are all other metal parts. A removable belt/pocket clip is provided for secure carrying and there is a lanyard hole in the end of the handle.
According to Taylor Brands, the SCH402L is intended to be a general purpose folding knife, suitable for daily carry. It weighs less than half what a similar knife with a steel blade would weigh, but I consider it too long for comfortable carry (loose) in a front pants pocket. I suggest using the pocket clip, or clipping the knife inside the waistband.
Light, but adequate, spring tension holds the blade closed. It is easy to open the knife one-handed with the thumb studs, but I prefer to open the SCH402L's blade with two hands, as I would open an ordinary pocket knife. There is no nail notch to facilitate opening, but plenty of blade is exposed by the handle to allow an adequate grip. There is no nail notch, but one is not needed.
I find that the knife's extreme light weight and thinness make it practically disappear when carried clipped inside the waistband of my jeans. It is easy to forget it's there. The handle shape allows a secure grip. The stainless steel liner lock is positive and easy to release. Everything about this premium knife is user friendly.
A ceramic blade is ideal for cutting relatively soft items, such as fruit, vegetables, skin, meat and so forth, which is why they are popular for kitchen knives. Unlike most kitchen knives, the SCH402L's blade is hollow ground, which makes it even more efficient for slicing soft materials.
A ceramic blade will not corrode in water and neither will the SCH402L's carbon fiber handle. The knife's stainless steel parts are resistant (but not totally proof against) corrosion.
With its charcoal-black blade, handle and metal parts, the SCH402L certainly looks like an ultra modern knife. The blade is razor sharp out of the box. It will easily shave hair from my arm.
The harder the material, the more difficult a knife blade is to sharpen and the more brittle it becomes. Ceramic knife blades are very hard and hold an edge extremely well (some manufacturers advertise 8-10 times longer than a steel blade), but they are also brittle. Be careful not to flex or twist the blade when cutting and do not attempt to pry with the blade, or it is liable to snap. Avoid cutting on hard surfaces, such as tile, glass, stone or marble. These admonitions apply to all zirconium oxide (zirconia) ceramic knife blades.
Frequent light sharpening, as required, is much better than letting a ceramic blade get dull. If you let it get totally dull, it will take a lot of work to resharpen. Ceramic blades are too hard to sharpen on a normal steel or whet stone. To touch-up the cutting edge, use a diamond-dust-coated sharpening steel, such as the Schrade Compact Pocket Carry Diamond Dust Tapered Sharpening Rod. This sells for $8.43 (2014 MSRP) on the Taylor Brands website.
It is impractical to use a high quality ceramic knife like the Schrade SCH402L enough to require sharpening it in the course of a review of this type. All I can say is that it arrived sharp and stayed that way under normal use. It should remain sharp for a long time.
The SCH402L is covered by Taylor Brands Limited Lifetime Warranty for cutting tools. This warranty applies only to the original purchaser and covers defects in materials, manufacture or assembly. Taylor Brands, LLC will repair or replace the knife free of charge if it fails. Note that this warranty does not cover damage caused by abuse, misuse, improper handling, etc. Take proper care of your Schrade SCH402L and it should provide a lifetime of use.
Copyright 2014 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.