Having previously reviewed a number of Bob Lum’s creations (including the Spyderco Lum Tanto and the Benchmade Onslaught) I have always enjoyed Lum’s elegant approach to designing knives. The Lum Chinese Folder is no different, and in some ways it is even more special than his other designs. To start, I love the sheer simplicity of this knife. The Chinese Folder is a single graceful curve in the both open and closed positions. There is a real feeling of balance with this design, and it results in a knife that is both a pleasure to view and to hold.
Spyderco has released many versions of the Chinese Folder over the years, but what you are looking at in this review is one of the original versions of the knife, manufactured in 2000. Furthermore, this knife has been serialized. That designates it as part of Spyderco’s first manufacturing run, also known as a Spyderco “Collector’s Club” knife. So what we have here is a very special version of the Lum Chinese, and I couldn’t be more pleased to share it with you.
General Dimensions and Blade Details
The Lum Chinese has an overall length of 7-3/16 inches, features a 3-5/32 inch blade, and weighs a mere 2.8 ounces. The Chinese Folder could work as an EDC knife, a gentleman’s folder, or simply a collectible. Either way the size-to-weight ratio of the knife is pretty wild. A sub 3-ounce carry weight on this relatively large and sturdy knife is incredible. And I have to say, the Chinese folder feels impossibly light in hand. If this all sounds a little too delicate, Spyderco also makes a large version coming in at a beefier 4.3 ounces.
The blade of the Chinese Folder is often referred to as “leaf shaped.” What we have here is a graceful arcing blade that has been given a full flat grind, and a very small swedge running pretty much the entire length of the spine. This is not only a pretty blade to look at, but it is highly functional as well. The Lum Chinese is an exceptional slicer with its full grind and 3mm thin blade. Speaking of thin, this blade is very thin behind the edge, and is a big part of what makes the knife cut so well.
My Lum Chinese is made in Seki City, Japan and features Japanese VG-10 for the blade. A stainless steel, VG-10 is easy to sharpen and is capable of taking a razor sharp edge. It is also highly resistant to corrosion. I am a big fan of VG-10, and think it is a natural choice for the Lum Chinese. Fans of higher performance steel may be interested to learn that the Lum Chinese has also been previously offered in ZDP 189 as well.
Handle, Ergonomics and Pocket Clip
The handle on my Chinese Folder is aluminum, and has been given a green almite coating. Almite is simply a type of finish for aluminum (like hard anodizing). Over the years Spyderco has released the Chinese Folder in a number of different handle materials including carbon fiber, various colors of aluminum, titanium, and G10. I happen to really like the dark green color of this knife. It’s a deep green, and from a collector’s perspective I find the unique color to be extremely intriguing. As for actual construction, my knife is screwed together. There is a black G10 backspacer, and a single steel liner. Overall, construction is lightweight, but solid.
In hand the Lum Chinese fits surprisingly well, but is not without it’s caveats. The curvature of the handle matches the contours of my palm and the knife is quite comfortable to hold. Despite this, I wouldn’t recommend the Chinese Folder for anything beyond medium duty. The aluminum handles are somewhat slippery and there is no thumb ramp, finger choil, or any kind of jimping. For light to medium use I think the ergonomics are quite alright, but lets be honest – this isn’t a knife you will want to take to war, or be in your pocket aboard a commercial fishing boat. I really don’t mind that as the knife market is already well saturated with those kinds of knives.
The pocket clip is a simple stainless steel Spyderco clip. It offers good retention and makes the knife easy to insert and remove from your pocket. For carry options you have the choice of right side tip-up or tip-down carry. All-in-all I really like the way the Lum Chinese carries, it’s extremely light and very thin. This is a knife you will forget is in your pocket.
Deployment and Lockup
The Chinese Folder features a 12mm thumb hole that is easily accessible from either side of the knife. The Chinese isn’t the fastest deploying knife in my collection, but it opens easily and feels very smooth. Thin phosphor bronze washers aid in deployment.
The Lum Chinese has a thin linerlock and it snaps open crisply. It’s a very satisfying sound from such a small knife. Lock engagement is early, and I detected no zero blade play. I know that the somewhat thin liner lock will disappoint some, but given the intended use I have found it to be quite adequate.
Spyderco Lum Chinese Folder – Final Thoughts
The Lum Chinese is a graceful knife that is a delight for all the senses. I have greatly enjoyed mine, and spend a fair amount of time admiring the clean lines, the beautiful handles, and the crisp action. The knife works, and it will certainly cut, but the form-over-function approach to the ergonomics keeps this knife from becoming a real user for me. That doesn’t mean I don’t like the knife, but I just want to “keep it real.” If I had to pick one EDC knife to take to the grave, then the Lum Chinese wouldn’t be it. But if I was looking to add an elegant and unique Spyderco to my collection, well, I’d be all over this one. I feel that the Chinese Folder is a very special knife, and it has been an absolute pleasure to spend some time with this gem of a folder.
At the time of this review the Lum Chinese Folder can be had in both a carbon fiber version and a large version in black G10. If you really like the knife then I recommend picking up a couple – like my original green-handled beauty, you never know when the knife might slip out of production.
Spyderco Lum Chinese Folder – $139.95
Retail Price: $219.95
You Save: $80.00