Restoring faith

My son wanted a sharp karambit. (That’s one of those wacky curved knives with a circle on one end for your pinky, I guess so you can twirl it in a knife fight.) He has a couple inexpensive ones, but they are difficult to sharpen and/or keep sharp because their blades are made of some generic stainless steel.

I thought I’d look around and find him a decent one. A short search brought up a new karambit manufactured by the Ontario Knife Company, or OKC, an American knife manufacturer out of Naples, NY (residing in Ontario county, thus the name).

I was aware of OKC because they make a pair of regular folder knives, the Rat 1 and Rat 2, which are critically acclaimed as being among the best values for their price in the industry. I don’t however, own anything by them yet.

I decided to trust that their reported reputation for quality would extend into their other knife lines as well.

I went ahead and purchased the OKC Curve from Blade HQ.

Ontario Knife Company Curve Karambit in black

The Curve is a fixed blade karambit-style knife with an black-coated blade and a handle made out of composite laminated hardwood. It is slim and lightweight and felt comfortable in my hand. I’m not a karabit-type person, but I like this one. It appears well-build, sturdy, and has an interesting design.

It has an overall length of 7.875 inches. The blade length is 3.875 inches with a cutting edge of 3 inches. The blade is made of 1095 carbon steel (like some of my swords) with a hardness of 55-57 RC.

The nylon sheath was equally well-constructed and has a plastic liner inside to protect the nylon from the blade.

Now every knife I’ve ever purchased has come sharp out of the box. Sharp enough to slice paper or even shave hair on your arm.

But this one was relatively dull, by my standards. Disappointingly so. It tore paper and certainly didn’t shave hair. It didn’t even pass the finger nail test.

So I attempted to sharpen it using my Lansky sharpening system with stones specially rounded for curved blades. I immediately ran into trouble trying to keep it secured because of the shape of the knife.

OKC Curve spine facing forward

I don’t know if you can tell in the picture, but the spine of the blade about halfway toward the point starts to taper. Because of that, I had difficulty keeping the Lansky knife clamp secured onto the blade.

The clamp kept slipping during sharpening, no matter how much I tightened it, which posed a slight safety hazard to my fingers.

The clamp also put some light scratches on the knife’s black finish.

After two days of frustrating work, the knife wasn’t much sharper than when I started. It cut paper easily enough, but it still didn’t have the edge I wanted.

So, I emailed OKC expressing my dissatisfaction. I explained the blade came too dull for my tastes and I had attempted to sharpen it without success because the shape of the blade thwarted my attempts.

I finished by saying, even though the fit and finish of the knife is of good quality, I wasn’t sure I’d be a future customer.

I thought that would be the end of it. I had my say, the company would delete the email, and life would go on.

Imagine my surprise when I received an answer. And not just a stock reply, “thank you for contacting us, blah blah blah, please accept this attempt to mollify you,” but a real honest to goodness response from a real honest to goodness customer service person concerned about my issue and wanting to rectify the situation!

She said if I sent the knife to them, they would professionally sharpen it or even replace it, if necessary. She even included a FedEx shipping label.

Within a fortnight, they returned my knife, which now had a nice, shiny professional edge on it! And it cost me nothing.

To be honest, although I have read and watched several good reviews on the OKC Rat 1 and Rat 2, I hadn’t considered purchasing either knife any time soon because I have several other knives on my Wish List ahead of them.

But after experiencing such great customer service and learning that here was that rarist of breeds — a company that really does give a damn about customer satisfaction and is willing to go the extra mile to achieve it — my next knife purchase will definitely be from the Ontario Knife Company.

Thanks, OKC. You’re good people.