Sandrin Torino On-going EDC review (pic heavy)

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The Meat man
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Sandrin Torino On-going EDC review (pic heavy)

Postby The Meat man » Wed Feb 10, 2021 9:19 pm

As some of you know, about a week ago, I purchased a Sandrin Knives Torino.

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Sandrin is an Italian knife company that makes knives (fixed and folding) with tungsten carbide blades.
Tungsten carbide is extremely hard, much harder than steel, and harder even than most carbides. For more information about Sandrin's tungsten carbide, check out Larrin's excellent article: https://knifesteelnerds.com/2019/11/18/ ... hat-is-it/

This is a very exotic material, at least for use in pocket knives, and since it's so hard and difficult to work with, it's quite rare in cutlery. It's also pretty expensive as you can imagine. A Sandrin fixed blade might be a couple thousand dollars. Their high-end slip-joint collection knives are around $300+.
Unfortunately, there's not a huge amount of information out there on how tungsten carbide knife blades behave and hold up to regular EDC use; so I thought I'd put together a sort of on-going EDC review of my knife and report my experiences for those interested.

The Torino is an attempt by Sandrin to produce a more mainstream, EDC-friendly folding knife.

The presentation is quite nice, with a magnetic closure box inside a slip, microfiber cloth, and authenticity card:

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As with all Sandrin folding knives, the blade stock is extremely thin (0.050") and has what you might call a very low hollow grind. No FFG for tungsten carbide!

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The factory edge was super sharp - easily as sharp as any Spyderco, and better than some. Popped arm hair and sliced phonebook paper no problem.

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(and this photo was taken after some use.)

The blade finish has been controversial. It is sort of a random, sanded finish with scratch marks going every which way. The surface itself is smooth, though, similar to a stonewash in feel. Sandrin calls it their "Raw carbide" finish. It's probably a good way to cut down on cost since I can't imagine how difficult it must be to grind this stuff. (And most of Sandrin's other knives come with a mirror polish! :eek:) Personally, I don't have a problem with the look, especially if it's saving me $100.

Now I don't like that they seemed to have skimped a bit on finishing the moving surfaces, plus the top edge of the blade is a little rough and un-finished looking. It's hard to capture in a photo, but pretty obvious to the eye:
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The lockbar/blade tang interface is just a tad rough, enough to feel but not enough to really interfere with the action. Oh well. I can live with it.

The pivot runs on captured ceramic bearings. The bearings themselves are sandwiched between the blade and thick steel? washers inset into the G10 handle. I've had mine apart already. It's super smooth to operate and the blade swings freely while at the same time having zero side-to side-play. I mean zero. It's pretty cool, and a nice touch, I think, from Sandrin.

The lock is unique. It's somewhat similar in concept to the ball bearing lock, in that it wedges a bar in between the tang and stop pin. So you get no vertical play or "lock rock" either. To disengage, you pull the (slightly protruding) lockbar straight back. It is jimped to aid in this purpose.
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I usually disengage by pulling the lockbar back with the pad of my thumb and letting the blade drop onto my index finger.
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This requires two movements though to close, so sometimes I instead use my index fingernail to pull the bar back and let the blade swing completely shut in one motion.
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(Usually my grip in this position is much more secure; I'm holding it this way for the camera.)

I like the G10 handles. They are actually pretty thick, but contoured, so you get lots of strength and rigidity with ergonomic comfort. I'm ambivalent about the red color. I wear size XL gloves and my hand has plenty of room:
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The clip is nice, PVD coated titanium.
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Retention is fairly light. It also flexes somewhat in a tight grip. But it does the job fine, is smooth in and out of the pocket, and hasn't caused any issues with catching or snagging yet. The Fibonacci number pattern is a cool touch IMO. It carries pretty deep too for what that's worth:
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Overall I like this knife.

NOW, for use.

My EDC uses are pretty light these days. I have been carrying this as my primary cutting tool, with a backup folder/fixed blade for the harder-use stuff. Over the past week or so, I have used the Torino to cut say 20' worth of single-ply cardboard, cutting a thick plastic drop cloth in half, opening a few boxes, cutting the tip off a caulk tube, shrink wrap, food prep, and maybe a few other things. I have detected no discernable loss in sharpness. It still bites and catches the hair on the back of my head when laid lightly against it, shaves and slices phonebook paper no problem. No chips.

The food prep was mostly cutting up a number of citrus fruits to make juice. 3 lemons, 3 oranges, and 5 or 6 limes. The sharp edge and thin blade made for delightful cutting. I noticed the blade seemed to patina quickly when cutting the fruit, but it wiped clean with some water.

I'll continue to post as I use this knife. I'm looking forward to seeing how sharpening goes, when I get there. ;) :rolleyes: :D
- Connor

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Re: Sandrin Torino On-going EDC review (pic heavy)

Postby TomAiello » Wed Feb 10, 2021 9:42 pm

Where does it fall on the stainless-rust prone spectrum?

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Re: Sandrin Torino On-going EDC review (pic heavy)

Postby The Meat man » Wed Feb 10, 2021 10:07 pm

TomAiello wrote:
Wed Feb 10, 2021 9:42 pm
Where does it fall on the stainless-rust prone spectrum?
Sandrin says it's rust-proof on their website, but Larrin talks of the possibility of the cobalt binder corroding and weakening the edge? That surprised me because I didn't know cobalt could corrode. Being impervious to corrosion is the main selling point on cobalt bladed knives. (David Boye, for example.)

Pete from Cedric and Ada put a Sandrin kitchen knife in the dishwasher and left it for a day or so after washing. He reported getting some discoloration. Corrosion? I don't really know. That's partly what I hope to discover as I carry and use this knife.
- Connor

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Re: Sandrin Torino On-going EDC review (pic heavy)

Postby VooDooChild » Wed Feb 10, 2021 10:51 pm

Is it, like other carbides, something that you wouldnt want to pry with or hammer on? Not necessarily your knife but tungsten carbide in general?
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Re: Sandrin Torino On-going EDC review (pic heavy)

Postby Doc Dan » Wed Feb 10, 2021 11:05 pm

Very cool. I have always wondered about that for knife blades. I am interested to read what else you discover.
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Re: Sandrin Torino On-going EDC review (pic heavy)

Postby VashHash » Thu Feb 11, 2021 7:04 am

Thanks for making this thread. I'm curious how long it'll take to actually show loss of sharpness.

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Re: Sandrin Torino On-going EDC review (pic heavy)

Postby The Meat man » Thu Feb 11, 2021 7:25 am

VooDooChild wrote:
Wed Feb 10, 2021 10:51 pm
Is it, like other carbides, something that you wouldnt want to pry with or hammer on? Not necessarily your knife but tungsten carbide in general?
This blade is cemented carbide, which means it has a couple other elements in it. 23% cobalt is used for the binding material, to hold everything together. Some chromium is also used, around 2%.
So the blade doesn't feel really brittle, or prone to breaking. It has some flex, like you'd expect from standard steel. Still, I wouldn't pound on it or pry anything.
Now I'm very careful with the edge. (As I would be with any very high hardness, high carbide steel.) It only makes sense to assume that this stuff will be more sensitive to lateral forces at the edge than any steel.
That said, I have seen videos of guys really going at it on carving wood, with no apparent edge damage.

As for other cemented carbide types, I don't really know how they might behave. Roughly similar, I would imagine.
- Connor

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Re: Sandrin Torino On-going EDC review (pic heavy)

Postby MacLaren » Thu Feb 11, 2021 7:37 am

VashHash wrote:
Thu Feb 11, 2021 7:04 am
Thanks for making this thread. I'm curious how long it'll take to actually show loss of sharpness.
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Re: Sandrin Torino On-going EDC review (pic heavy)

Postby JRinFL » Thu Feb 11, 2021 8:26 am

The Meat man wrote:
Wed Feb 10, 2021 9:19 pm
<snip>
Thank you for posting this and bringing it to our collective attention.

I'm enjoying the industrial aesthetic on this one. Nice thin blade stock as well.
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Re: Sandrin Torino On-going EDC review (pic heavy)

Postby TkoK83Spy » Thu Feb 11, 2021 8:50 am

Nice write up so far Connor, always very descriptive and well put together. I appreciate that! Such a thin, laser of a blade. I can't believe it's made out of the same stuff as my wedding ring. When, or IF you ever have to sharpen it...that will be a fun read. So far so good buddy, keep up the good work!
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Re: Sandrin Torino On-going EDC review (pic heavy)

Postby The Meat man » Fri Feb 12, 2021 10:35 pm

Thanks everyone for your interest.

I used the Torino some today, cut another 8 feet or so of single ply cardboard, cut up some chicken at lunch, opened some plastic packages. Again, no discernable loss in sharpness.

This afternoon I noticed that the blade finish felt rough for some reason. I could see rough patches on the blade, particularly on the hollow grind and toward the tip. Alcohol wouldn't take it off, nor would WD-40 or brake cleaner. I thought it might be some form of corrosion, then I tried hot soapy water and a Magic Eraser. Cleaned it right off! Here it was food residue from cutting my English muffin this morning at breakfast. :rolleyes: That stuff was like cement!

So no corrosion after all. Incidentally, the Magic Eraser seemed to brighten up the blade a bit so it could be I had some sort of low-level patina going on? I don't know.

This evening I decided to push the corrosion test a bit further. I cut up a bunch of citrus fruit for juice.

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After this I set the knife on the windowsill without wiping it down or anything. I guess I'll leave it there all night and hope that one of my blessings is a corrosion-free knife in the morning.

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- Connor

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Re: Sandrin Torino On-going EDC review (pic heavy)

Postby TkoK83Spy » Fri Feb 12, 2021 10:51 pm

Is that a tiny oil lamp on your windowsill?
23 :spyder:'s in 14 different steels
2 - Bradford Guardian 3's (Wharnie Vanadis 4E and 3V/Drop Point)
1- Zero Tolerance 0470
1 - Microtech Ultratech DE OTF
1 - Benchmade 940 (BHQ Exclusive/M4)
1 - CRK Small Sebenza 31/Macassar Ebony Inlays
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1 - WE Knives Gentry

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Re: Sandrin Torino On-going EDC review (pic heavy)

Postby The Meat man » Sat Feb 13, 2021 7:58 am

TkoK83Spy wrote:
Fri Feb 12, 2021 10:51 pm
Is that a tiny oil lamp on your windowsill?
It is indeed! I've never seen it lit but my wife tells me she used to sometimes years ago.
- Connor

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Re: Sandrin Torino On-going EDC review (pic heavy)

Postby The Meat man » Sat Feb 13, 2021 8:02 am

So approximately 10 hours later, here's what the tungsten carbide blade looked like:

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No visible discoloration or corrosion at all. After cleaning:

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Whether it has Spyderco Salt levels of corrosion resistance remains to be seen, but at the very least it's as good as any decent stainless steel. The edge has not lost any degree of sharpness.
- Connor

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Re: Sandrin Torino On-going EDC review (pic heavy)

Postby TenGrainBread » Sat Feb 13, 2021 9:51 am

From what I've read about tungsten carbide in industrial applications, the most common "binder" used to cement the carbides is cobalt, which can corrode relatively easily, causing degradation of the metal.

If corrosion-resistantance is needed, the binder used is nickel, making the resulting metal essentially inert to chemical reaction at ambient temperatures.

According to their website, Sandrin uses cobalt as well as some other elements in the mix. I wonder how they prevent corrosion.
Last edited by TenGrainBread on Sat Feb 13, 2021 10:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Sandrin Torino On-going EDC review (pic heavy)

Postby The Meat man » Sat Feb 13, 2021 9:58 am

TenGrainBread wrote:
Sat Feb 13, 2021 9:51 am
From what I've read about tungsten carbide in industrial applications, the most common "binder" used to cement the carbides is cobalt, which can corrode relatively easily, causing degradation of the metal.

If corrosion-resistantance is needed, the binder used is nickel, making the resulting metal essentially inert to chemical reaction at ambient temperatures.

What kind of tungsten carbide does Sandrine use?
Yep, that's what I found too. Sandrin's carbide is 73% tungsten, 25% cobalt, and 2% chromium. So it's not nickel alloyed, jewelry-grade TC which, like gold, does not tarnish. Sandrin says it's "rust-proof", which may be technically true if by rust they mean dusty or flaky red rust. But apparently it can still corrode? I don't know to what extent, though, or how such corrosion would be visibly manifest.

However it does seem to be at least fairly corrosion resistant, nonetheless. Sandrin says that they have left blades exposed to pork for 2 days with no discoloration or corrosion. And mine had no markings or anything after sitting overnight in citric acid.
- Connor

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Re: Sandrin Torino On-going EDC review (pic heavy)

Postby The Meat man » Sat Feb 13, 2021 5:13 pm

We had some trash to burn which included some cardboard boxes and plastic jugs. I took the opportunity to use the Torino.

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It was a brisk 6 degrees this morning with a stiff breeze. Wind chills down somewhere below zero.

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I found the Torino to handle pretty well with thick gloves. Opening was easy thanks to the large thumbstuds. Not as good as a Spyderco Military, but better than I thought it would be for its size. Manipulating the lock was also pretty simple.

In all, I estimated it to come to about 20 feet of double-ply cardboard, 3 plastic water jugs sliced in half both ways, and a couple egg cartons for good measure.
When I came back inside, I thoroughly cleaned the blade and tested sharpness. It had actually lost the bite and would only barely catch on my back hair; shaving was good but not hair-popping. It sliced phonebook paper fine but did require just a hint of care when starting the cut to avoid catching or tearing.

I have no idea if this is normal or not. I could imagine TC being the type of material that would lose its super fine edge but keep a "working edge" indefinitely. But all the same, I thought the drop-off in sharpness was a bit abrupt.

Thinking about it, I had to wonder if my corrosion test had perhaps contributed to this. I researched the corrosion resistance of WC-Co alloys and found this chart:
tungsten-carbide-corrosion-resistance.jpg
This seems to indicate that cobalt-alloyed tungsten carbide is not very good with corrosion resistance. Lemon juice pH is around 2 to 3. So maybe there was some cobalt corrosion or "leaching" going on with the edge and that's why it lost that front-end sharpness more quickly? There is literally zero discoloration, rough spots, or anything else which might indicate corrosion, though. :confused:
Or perhaps that is normal TC behavior. I wish Larrin would offer some insight here!

ANYWAY, whatever the case...I decided to try bringing the top sharpness back. (Mind you, this knife was still by no means dull! It still shaved and sliced phonebook paper. I just wanted to see if I could bring back that hair-popping edge.)
So I set it up on my Hapstone (TC is magnetic) and put on the 4 micron CBN/kangaroo leather strop. Worked on both sides for about 20 minutes, then went to 1.5 micron, worked with that for about 10 minutes. At the end of that time, I'd say it went from 80% to 90-95% of factory sharpness. Not bad. I think a coarser strop would have made it quicker though.

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I'll keep using it and we'll see what happens!
- Connor

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Re: Sandrin Torino On-going EDC review (pic heavy)

Postby Cambertree » Sun Feb 14, 2021 9:06 am

Great review, Connor. :)

I’ll be following your experiences with this fascinating knife with interest.

Is the bladestock the same thickness all the way from the spine to the shoulder where the hollow grind starts?

Larrin’s article mentions the tungsten carbide size as being submicron in these knives. Does the ‘cutting feel’ seem similar to a carbon steel like 52100? Or does it have that slightly ‘saw tooth’ feel that some of the high carbide volume steels have, when they come straight off the stones, before stropping?

Are you able to measure the behind the edge thickness?

The Sandrin site says the edge angle is 18 dps, which seems pretty good for a factory edge with such a high carbide volume. Is the hollow grind set up like a straight razor, so you can lay the shoulder flat on a stone and it will contact the apex?

I see you have a magnifier. Can you examine the edge as it dulls, and let us know about any notable observations?

What are you planning to sharpen it with?

Thanks for the detailed and very well presented review. :) :cool:

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Re: Sandrin Torino On-going EDC review (pic heavy)

Postby The Meat man » Sun Feb 14, 2021 10:34 am

Cambertree wrote:
Sun Feb 14, 2021 9:06 am
Great review, Connor. :)

I’ll be following your experiences with this fascinating knife with interest.

Is the bladestock the same thickness all the way from the spine to the shoulder where the hollow grind starts?

Yes it is. 0.050" or about 1.2 mm.

Larrin’s article mentions the tungsten carbide size as being submicron in these knives. Does the ‘cutting feel’ seem similar to a carbon steel like 52100? Or does it have that slightly ‘saw tooth’ feel that some of the high carbide volume steels have, when they come straight off the stones, before stropping?

Good question! I would say in use, this stuff has more of a smooth feel to it rather than a toothy coarse feel. But it still has a lot of bite, for example when I lightly touch the edge to my fingertip it really wants to slice in. The factory edge came with pretty distinct looking "grind lines" which under magnification look almost like a little saw.

Are you able to measure the behind the edge thickness?

I did at work the other day, and if I recall correctly it was somewhere around 0.016". Thinner than most Spyderco knives.

The Sandrin site says the edge angle is 18 dps, which seems pretty good for a factory edge with such a high carbide volume. Is the hollow grind set up like a straight razor, so you can lay the shoulder flat on a stone and it will contact the apex?

No it's not like a straight razor. There is actually a standard V edge bevel which is a few degrees higher than the hollow grind. When I had mine on the Hapstone I measured the actual edge angle to be about 18.5 degrees, so Sandrin is pretty close on that. Incidentally, both the hollow primary and the edge grind are perfectly symmetrical from side to side.

I see you have a magnifier. Can you examine the edge as it dulls, and let us know about any notable observations?

I will try to do that! I really should get a more powerful loupe though, if I can stop buying knives for a few minutes. :rolleyes:

What are you planning to sharpen it with?

Hmm...Sandrin recommends using diamond lapping stones/compound. I have been using CBN on leather strops which has worked okay for touching up. I may look into getting some lapping equipment or just try using some of my Venev diamond stones. I've been considering buying a Wicked Edge sharpening system for awhile now. This may be a good excuse to get one.
Sandrin does offer a sharpening service for $20 in case I get stuck. ;)

Thanks for the detailed and very well presented review. :) :cool:
You're welcome! Glad for your interest. :)
- Connor

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Re: Sandrin Torino On-going EDC review (pic heavy)

Postby Cambertree » Sun Feb 14, 2021 6:10 pm

Thanks for the detailed answers Connor. :)

This is a really interesting knife, in that they haven’t just relied on the marketing potential of ‘tungsten carbide knife blade’, but really seem to have done their homework in terms of using thin bladestock, thin bte grind, acute edge angle relative to carbide volume, innovative lock, fine carbide size etc.

I’m assuming it’s a completely ambidextrous in setup as well - looks like the clip can be changed to lefty carry?

The sharpening service is cool too, although it probably wouldn’t work for me if I was using the knife frequently, having to send it overseas and all.

Larrin said that some people were reporting difficulty in getting it back to similar sharpness to the factory edge, which is interesting, as you would expect skilled sharpeners to be able to exceed that level. Sounds like an interesting challenge.

What do you think they mean exactly by diamond lapping stones?

I’m wondering if the older ‘legacy’ Venev stones might be a better bet than the OCB stones, as they also have an approx. 7μm abrasive in the binder, in addition to the advertised diamond grit size?

I have one of the legacy 1200/2000 bonded resin Venev benchstones which I would consider using.

Another option might be to use diamond powder on a glass plate. I bought some 50,000 and 100,000 grit vials of powder from a gemstone lapidary supply house a while back. You could potentially make a high concentration slurry with that. The lapidary recommended making an emulsion by mixing the powder with a little kerosene in something like a shot glass and then thickening to your preferred consistency with petroleum jelly/Vaseline.

I’m considering getting one of these to play with, so I’m interested to hear how you go with sharpening the knife, once the time comes. :) :cool:


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