To set the record straight, the Spyderco Lum Chinese Folder is a gentleman’s knife through and through. It is absolutely gorgeous, but its intent hardly seems to be hard use. When designed, I don’t believe that this knife was supposed to be used for cutting cardboard or whittling sticks like other less pretty knives and as such, I am not going to judge it in this capacity. Instead, I view the Lum as knife art and while still very functional, I believe this knife is best suited for a suit pocket at a formal occasion or in the pockets of your groomsmen at your wedding reception. That is to say, it looks downright impressive and is one of the few knives that can double as a fashion statement much like a high end wristwatch or fancy cuff links.
But just because the Lum Chinese Folder wasn’t designed for hard use doesn’t mean there is any shame in it. Quite the contrary actually. Much like you don’t carry your Kabar to a wedding afterparty, you don’t carry your Lum to the peak of Everest. If you did, the lack of jimping anywhere on the knife as well as the glass smooth finish on the Nishijin scales would probably disappoint you when trying to grip with your icy, wet hands. In short, this isn’t exactly a Bear Grylls knife so if that’s what you were expecting, check out the Benchmade 300 instead.
About Bob Lum
If you delve deeper into the style of Bob Lum (who passed away a few years ago sadly), it’s obvious that his designs were extremely well thought out. In his own words, he strived to combine good design, ergonomics, and balance while favoring high quality construction. When Bob was still designing knives, he prided himself on continuous improvement of existing designs as well as creative expression in his new designs. His favorite part of the process was the design itself, and that’s is why his knives are so interesting to look at. You can see Bob’s old website with pictures of many of his creations here.
So when detailing the specs, you realize that this particular knife as pretty interesting. The leaf shaped blade is the most prominent feature, with a subtle swedge on the spine and a rather broad width. The thickness is a scant .125″ which helps keep the knife nice and light. The blade is full flat ground which decreases resistance and makes the knife quite a slicer. There is a slight belly to the blade which allows Spyderco to eek out a little more cutting edge length while still allowing a high degree of cutting pressure. The blade sports VG10 steel, which takes an unbelievable edge and holds it pretty well. For deployment, the traditional hole in the blade that Spyderco is famous for is present and functions great. It’s very easy to find with your thumb and takes minimal effort to deploy (I had to loosen the pivot slightly from the factory and add a drop or two of gun oil to make it slick but one I did it that it performs great).
As for other features, the Lum has a liner lock designed by the well known Michael Walker. The liner lock is about as easy to use as knife locks come. The spring steel takes just the right amount of effort to disengage, so you won’t lose your grip fiddling with a lock that’s too stiff. There is no discernible blade play worth noting. The pocket clip is black, and it sits rather low on the knife, so the knife rides kind of high in pocket. As a result, it’s clearly visible when you walk around. It is meant to be seen! If concealment if your game, this might not be the one for you. I personally don’t care if people see that I have a knife most of the time, so this is not a factor that I was worried about. The knife is super light at only 3.0 ounces.
Next is what I deem to be the highlight of this knife; the scales are made out of glass fiber using a Nishijin weave. It is essentially made the same way as fiberglass, but the weave pattern is improved for aesthetics. In practice as it pertains to knives, there is really no appreciable difference in performance versus normal glass fiber other than the style points. Nishijin itself is a term that describes a weave pattern developed in Japan in the 8th century. At that time it applied to textiles and was mostly reserved for the wealthy due to the tediousness of the work that could only be done by skillful weavers. As such, Nishijin garments were often donned by Samurai and other Japanese nobles. Considering Nishijin’s history of such high prestige, it’s obvious why it was chosen to adorn the handle of such a beautiful knife as the Lum Folder. Aside from history and looks they are smooth, comfortable, and don’t wear on the hands like rougher G10 or micarta.
Overall I think it’s a great knife. It has a wicked sharp edge on a blade made with great steel that has strong wear resistance. It has great looks and comfortable ergos. The craftsmanship is obvious, and the thought and creativity that went into the design are evident. From a user standpoint, it makes a great every day carry knife that won’t scare people when pull it out of your pocket. You really can’t go wrong with it. And did I mention it looks good?
I called this out at a gentleman’s knife early on as I believe this is where this knife’s value really shines. At just around 100 bucks, it is about the right price to give as a gift for monumental occasions like weddings or other formal parties. A groomsman or best man would be happy to receive this knife. So would the groom for that matter. The one drawback here is that there is no metal on the handle, so if you were to engrave the knife it would have to be on the blade.
In conclusion, I have no qualms about recommending the Lum Chinese Folder to you. In fact, it’s one of my favorites in my collection. If you are debating whether or not to pull the trigger, do it. You won’t be disappointed. Bob Lum was an elite knife maker and Spyderco makes top quality production knives. It’s a winning combination.