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1960s-70s 'YAX' knife (Lynn's $15 MT Challenge) 573

Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 7,890 Any tool is better than nothing. Some not by much
1960s-70s 'YAX' knife (Lynn's $15 MT Challenge)
« on: April 05, 2018, 05:35:43 PM »
This review is part of a challenge, to find the best tool I could for $15, with tax and shipping included. Here's a link to the rest of the challenge...
https://forum.multitool.o...ex.php/topic,76694.0.html

This knife was originally offered on ebay for $15 + $3.80 for shipping. I watched this knife for more than a month. I offered $11.20, to bring the total to exactly $15, and the offer was accepted.

This is an all stainless steel 'officer' style knife (having backside awl and corkscrew). It is only marked with a blade stamp of 'YAX' and under it 'Stainless'. It has lightly engraved patterns on the scales.



It weighs 3.77 oz (108g), and the body of the tool is 4" (103mm) long.

Tool retention on the blade layer is about the same as a 91mm Victorinox. Tool retention on the other tool layer is a little stronger, but not as strong as a new Victorinox Pioneer. There is a slight amount of side to side play in all tools.

Here it is with main blade extended, compared to a Victorinox Pioneer. Both rest on 1/4" grid paper for reference.



And here it is showing its width, again compared to the Pioneer.



As received, the blades had pretty serious scratching. I purchased some polish (Flitz) to try to polish out some of the scratches.

Initially, the main blade looked like this...


And the small blade looked like this...


Polishing hasn't removed the deepest of the scratches, but has generally improved the look of the tool, and i consider this an ongoing project.

Everything I just said above is all true, but kind of misses an important point. The very first moment I saw this tool listed on ebay, I thought it was maybe one of the most aesthetically pleasing knives I'd ever seen. I loved the way the awl met the lines of the rest of the tool when closed. I loved the funky can opener. I particularly loved the stainless scales. I've never liked bails/shackles/clevises, but the one on this knife at least had some style to it. I also saw a knife that needed some TLC. And I figured I could practice polishing on this knife, and if I messed it up, it wasn't like the condition was going to get a lot worse.

In trying to determine the manufacturer of this knife, I found some posts on a knife forum saying that the 'YAX' is for Yaxell, a Japanese manufacturer. I have also seen a few knives of similar design dated to the mid 1960s, and others stating 1970s. If anyone can add or assist in a better identification for this knife, I would greatly appreciate it. I'm honestly a little shocked how little information I could dig up on this thing.

Stay tuned for the review of its functions.


Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 7,890 Any tool is better than nothing. Some not by much
Re: 1960s-70s 'YAX' knife (Lynn's $15 MT Challenge)
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2018, 06:10:54 PM »
The blades.

As received, the blades were dead blunt. However, sharpening them was a very easy task, of 40 strokes on each side of the blades on ceramic rods. At this point, they would cut regular paper. 20 more strokes per side of each blade, and they cleanly cut telephone book paper.

At this point, I took the large blade against corrugated cardboard, giving 10 cuts across the corrugations.


The blade handled the cardboard easily, and was surprisingly controllable making the cuts. Ergonomics were tolerable. Honestly better than I expected, but what's an upside for slim pocket carry is a downside when driving a narrow handle into your palm under heavy force. The very slight side-to-side play of the blade seemed to have no effect on the performance or sense of how safe the tool was in use. It did fine.

After the cardboard, I took the blade back to paper to test edge retention.



And it cut... better? I'm not kidding. I've had this happen a couple times, and I thought the first time I was imagining it. The knife cut the very flimsy telephone book paper much better AFTER cutting the cardboard. I wonder if the cardboard is actually polishing the edge or something? Weird.

I only tested the small blade on paper cutting, which it did quite well, except a duller place near the tip that I need to touch up, apparently. Okay, that's not 100% true. I also tested it one other way. I was eating a banana that was a little over ripe, and used the small blade to cut the peel near the stem to let me peel it more easily. I am happy to report that the small blade with VERY easily cut over-ripe banana peel.

Blades: both PASS
Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 7,890 Any tool is better than nothing. Some not by much
Re: 1960s-70s 'YAX' knife (Lynn's $15 MT Challenge)
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2018, 06:27:26 PM »
The flathead driver.

The flathead on this tool is strange. It tapers to a pretty narrow width, meaning, it seems to be made for fairly small screws. This gave me some concern as to how robust it would be on harder tasks.

So, the testing. The driver slotted cleanly into the screw of a lightswitch faceplate.



I decided to give it a go on the larger screws on my door hinges.



And it did amazingly well. Huh. I was actually pretty surprised with this. So much so, I pressed on with the 'crusty paint can pry test'.



Yeah... it handled it with no problem. I didn't even feel any flex in the tool.

It might not look impressive, but it performed great.  :shrug:

Flathead as screwdriver: PASS
Flathead as light duty pry tool: PASS
Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 7,890 Any tool is better than nothing. Some not by much
Re: 1960s-70s 'YAX' knife (Lynn's $15 MT Challenge)
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2018, 06:57:27 PM »
The Awl.

This awl is... uhh... sharp. It's a very wicked spike of metal. I think as a marlin spike, it would be fantastic.

I gave it a go against an old small coffee can...



The initial puncture took surprisingly little effort, and then it sort of slid in the rest of the way, again without much effort.

I then decided to give it a go on the heavy plastic of an old trashcan...



Again, it slid in pretty easily.

I decided at this point that it was a fantastic awl. Meaning, it would puncture things well, but I assumed it would be pretty terrible as a reamer/drill type tool. But needing to prove that experimentally, I gave it a fair shot at a 1/2" thick piece of aged Ash.



I swear to you, I am not kidding when i say this was the fastest tool to drill through hardwood I've ever had. I was really baffled over that for a minute, but I think the reason it was so much faster is because it creates a fairly small hole. It simply has to remove less material to punch through. But I have to say, this is one of the most shocking text results I've ever had.

Okay. I said at the top that I thought it would be good as a marlin spike. I meant at least in the sense of using it to untie knots. I guess that needs to be tested.

How did it do against knot in 550 paracord?



Easy, and I expected it to be. The slick casing makes 550 almost easy to take apart with no tool.

So I needed to find something more difficult. What about against jute twine?



And... yep. I don't think there are many awls out there with a point fine enough to get into that. I missed by one strand, and had some separation of one part of the Jute, but it otherwise came out unharmed.

This awl is really amazingly good.  :tu:
Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 7,890 Any tool is better than nothing. Some not by much
Re: 1960s-70s 'YAX' knife (Lynn's $15 MT Challenge)
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2018, 07:46:30 PM »
And the moment you (or, really, I) have been waiting for...

The combination tool, cap lifter/can opener!

Does it pull caps off your favorite bottled beverages with comfort and ease?



It certainly DOES. This is a better-than-average cap lifter, in my opinion. Seems like it would still function well even with the decreased manual dexterity accompanying the consumption of  multiple adult beverages. (MT.O urges you to drink responsibly, and only if you are of legal drinking age in your location).  :D

Does the can opener open cans? It sure... uhh... yes... Bear with me.

I covered the 'safety can opener' in the $10 challenge, with the Mil-K knife, and have covered many other tools with can openers so far, whose can openers would be considered 'safe'. I would not put this one in that category. It requires caution. I have now opened three cans with it, and I can now use it with no fear of injury, but that first time was a bit frightening. So, here's how you do it.

Step one. With the thumb stud facing the outside of the can, punch the blade straight down into a can, until the thumb stud rests on the can's rim.



Now, while maintaining downward force on the tool, rock the handle clockwise,using the thumbstud as a fulcrum against the can's rim, and forcing the edge of the blade into the underside of the can's lid. You will cut about 2mm or 1/16th of an inch. Reposition the tool to set the blade against the uncut portion of the lid along the cut you just made, and repeat. Each time, you will advance counter-clockwise around the rim of the can. It will take forever, and the entire time, your palm is pressing against the very VERY uncomfortably thin scales of the butt end of the knife. And a mere 3 or so minutes later, your can will be open! The jagged edges will all be protruding upward from the top, so be careful opening it.



So... yeah, not the best can opener as far as ease of use, but it absolutely works, given caution and patience.

But I'm actually kind of more interested in it for more general purpose use.

I tried it as a ferro rod striker, and it was absolutely fantastic.



I think this has the most potential as a general pry tool. The blade is sharp enough to slide into very thin gaps, and the tool is thick enough to withstand some serious torque. I imagine it would be fantastic for cracking open stubborn pistachios and walnuts. In those instances where you need a scraping tool but don't want to wreck a blade's fine edge, this would be great. If any of you have a scratch-off lottery ticket habit, for instance. :D

I often joke about the 'generally pokey bit of metal' kind of tool, and this one fills that slot perfectly.

Combo tool as Cap Lifter: PASS
Combo tool as Can Opener: Marginal PASS (solid pass with some practice and patience)
Combo Tool for general purpose: PASS
« Last Edit: April 05, 2018, 08:24:29 PM by Lynn LeFey »
Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 7,890 Any tool is better than nothing. Some not by much
Re: 1960s-70s 'YAX' knife (Lynn's $15 MT Challenge)
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2018, 08:10:08 PM »
I am sorry to say, that due to lack of cheap bottles of wine in my house, i will not be testing the corkscrew.

However, I have tested enough to feel confident in saying this one would indeed open a bottle of wine.

So what does that leave? The bail/shackle/clevis...

It's there. It mostly seems to be in the way, honestly, but seems solidly connected.

I have had this tool for almost two months. I take it out in odd spare moments to try to polish more of the scratches out of it. It's kind of a practice tool for me, in that regard. And in that time, I have kind of largely regarded this thing as an art object, a relic of a time when gentlemen carried pocket knives that looked impressive, so as to look more impressive themselves. The knife is rather too large for that, in my opinion. It's larger than the Poineer/Soldier. It's as heavy as the Marbles' Mil-K knockoff (reviewed here... https://forum.multitool.o...ex.php/topic,75730.0.html) which was a big tank of a tool.

The problem is, my testing changed my opinion. It's NOT a knife made to look impressive and then oversized. It's a really sturdy hardworking knife, just dressed in fancy clothes. It's bigger and beefier than the 91mm Victorinox line. It's much more comparable to the 93mm Victorinox knives. Only it's not a Soldier knife. It's an Officer knife... BUILT like a Soldier knife, dressed in fancy stainless steel scales.

If this is indeed a product of Yaxell, they are a company with a long history of making quality knives. Their website says they have been making knives since 1932. I am 100% convinced that this knife was made by a company that knew what they were doing. This thing is solid, and the blades are fantastic, even with the wear the tool had before I got it. It didn't take much to bring the edges back to life.

This knife is absolutely worth every cent of $15, as a working, functioning object alone. I think it's also worth $15 as a beautiful example of functional design. I'm not a collector, but I'd certainly be willing to pay $15 for this item.

Like with the Aitor from the $5 challenge, it pleases me to no end to find fantastic tools by makers I had previously never heard of.

While other tools in the challenge might come along that are more functional, I'm not sure anything else will be this 'cool'.
Sr. Member Posts: 470
Re: 1960s-70s 'YAX' knife (Lynn's $15 MT Challenge)
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2018, 08:19:50 PM »
That thumbstud on the can opener was a cool thought, regardless of execution. Makes you want to put one on all the tools in a MT!!!
Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 7,890 Any tool is better than nothing. Some not by much
Re: 1960s-70s 'YAX' knife (Lynn's $15 MT Challenge)
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2018, 08:32:05 PM »
That thumbstud on the can opener was a cool thought, regardless of execution. Makes you want to put one on all the tools in a MT!!!

 :tu:

One of the few MTs I've ever seen with OHO bottle opener. This is IMPORTANT, people!  :cheers:  :rofl:

I do really like the look of it. Yeah, just... so many things about this thing that I thought were cool.
No Life Club Posts: 3,053 American Clandestine Materials Executive (ACME)
Re: 1960s-70s 'YAX' knife (Lynn's $15 MT Challenge)
« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2018, 02:26:08 AM »
Very nice piece, and probably not a bit of plastic in it so it can all be made with steel stamping. Sharpen a couple of them, use a hydraulic press to rivet them together, and tada! I totally dig the look, and even if the can openner scares me a little, it is a neat design. It has a very dieselpunk aesthetic to it, which is why I'm thinking it might be older than the late 60s, but also this is very well made yet requires very simple tooling which is typical of post-war, reconstruction Japanese export items. And the can opener does remind me some of a kiridashi, higonokami and other, small, utilitarian blades from Japan. Also, if it's a Japanese maker, the laws tighten radically in the early 60s.

"Even if it is only the handful of people I meet on the street, or in my home, I can still protect them with this one sword" Kenshin Himura

Patriotism is a lively sense of collective responsibility, Nationalism is a silly cock crowing on it's own dunghill.

Necessity is the mother of invention. If you're not ready, it's "a mother". If you are, it's "mom".
No Life Club Posts: 4,063 Apparently it is possible to have too many tools;)
Re: 1960s-70s 'YAX' knife (Lynn's $15 MT Challenge)
« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2018, 05:22:39 AM »

In trying to determine the manufacturer of this knife, I found some posts on a knife forum saying that the 'YAX' is for Yaxell, a Japanese manufacturer. I have also seen a few knives of similar design dated to the mid 1960s, and others stating 1970s. If anyone can add or assist in a better identification for this knife, I would greatly appreciate it. I'm honestly a little shocked how little information I could dig up on this thing.


Looking at your photos I'm almost certain I've seen some "pliery" MTs that are very similar in construction.  I'm thinking of a group of older MTs with non-folding pliers, some were labelled HUBEO (Solingen, Germany), others Seaboard (France), L'Electric (France), Executive Line (Italy) and Hi-Test (Japan).  I'll have to have a dig through my "OLD2" box and see which one matches most closely.  I'll let you know what I find.

babola: "Enjoy your tools and don't be afraid to air your opinion and feelings here, but do it in courteous and respectable way toward others, of course."
Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 7,890 Any tool is better than nothing. Some not by much
Re: 1960s-70s 'YAX' knife (Lynn's $15 MT Challenge)
« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2018, 07:32:50 AM »
Doing more digging, this page (http://www.bigwestcreek.c...fjmt_500_ishime_4td_.html) ... says that the YAX bladestamp belongs to Yamada Knife.

So, that makes the origin of the country definitely Japanese. More digging forthcoming, I hope.

EDIT to add... Yamada Cutlery Mfg. & Co. changed its name in 1992 to Yaxell... Okay. So it IS a Yaxell knife. Sort of.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2018, 07:43:30 AM by Lynn LeFey »
Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 7,890 Any tool is better than nothing. Some not by much
Re: 1960s-70s 'YAX' knife (Lynn's $15 MT Challenge)
« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2018, 07:54:29 AM »
Wanna see something interesting?

A knife listed as a French made 'Pradel', from the 1930s.



Now... see... this had been bothering me about this YAX knife. It looks TO ME almost art deco. I wonder if there's a chance it IS, because it seems to be very clearly 'inspired' by the Pradel... assuming the Pradel came first.
Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 7,890 Any tool is better than nothing. Some not by much
Re: 1960s-70s 'YAX' knife (Lynn's $15 MT Challenge)
« Reply #12 on: April 06, 2018, 08:08:58 AM »
And from this thread (https://www.bladeforums.c...-military-knives.1518458/)...

Another French knife, apparently issued to their air force (no year listed)

Thread Killer 2017 Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 5,061 Born to multitask.
No Life Club Posts: 4,063 Apparently it is possible to have too many tools;)
Re: 1960s-70s 'YAX' knife (Lynn's $15 MT Challenge)
« Reply #14 on: April 06, 2018, 12:54:21 PM »

In trying to determine the manufacturer of this knife, I found some posts on a knife forum saying that the 'YAX' is for Yaxell, a Japanese manufacturer. I have also seen a few knives of similar design dated to the mid 1960s, and others stating 1970s. If anyone can add or assist in a better identification for this knife, I would greatly appreciate it. I'm honestly a little shocked how little information I could dig up on this thing.


Looking at your photos I'm almost certain I've seen some "pliery" MTs that are very similar in construction.  I'm thinking of a group of older MTs with non-folding pliers, some were labelled HUBEO (Solingen, Germany), others Seaboard (France), L'Electric (France), Executive Line (Italy) and Hi-Test (Japan).  I'll have to have a dig through my "OLD2" box and see which one matches most closely.  I'll let you know what I find.

I had a good look at my old ones, and while I have a couple that looked superficially similar, once I looked closely at the details none were close enough to make me think they were made by the same manufacturer.  Sorry I couldn't help.  :(

babola: "Enjoy your tools and don't be afraid to air your opinion and feelings here, but do it in courteous and respectable way toward others, of course."
Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 7,890 Any tool is better than nothing. Some not by much
Re: 1960s-70s 'YAX' knife (Lynn's $15 MT Challenge)
« Reply #15 on: April 06, 2018, 04:13:22 PM »
I had a good look at my old ones, and while I have a couple that looked superficially similar, once I looked closely at the details none were close enough to make me think they were made by the same manufacturer.  Sorry I couldn't help.  :(

No problem at all. I appreciate that you tried. And it's just kind of a fun mystery for us all, I think. If nothing else, you got to go through some of your tools and scrutinize them with a new perspective.  :tu:
Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 7,890 Any tool is better than nothing. Some not by much
Re: 1960s-70s 'YAX' knife (Lynn's $15 MT Challenge)
« Reply #16 on: April 06, 2018, 09:10:45 PM »
After trying for another 4 hours to come up with anything on this knife, I decided simply to send a message to Yaxell, with an attached picture of the tool, hoping someone there can give me an approximate date of manufacture on the tool.

We'll see if they get back to me.  :shrug:
Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 7,890 Any tool is better than nothing. Some not by much
Re: 1960s-70s 'YAX' knife (Lynn's $15 MT Challenge)
« Reply #17 on: April 09, 2018, 06:29:27 AM »
To my shock and amazement, I just received this message from Yaxell. Name of the manager will be withheld...

"Dear (Lynn),
 
Thank you for your inquiry for pocket knife.
 
“YAX” is our old brand and current brand is “YAXELL”.
We can not see the YAX mark in your attached picture but if this knife would was made by us,
this was made about 40 years ago.
 
Best regards,

(name of manager)

General Manager"


A second e-mail followed within a minute or so, requesting a picture of the blade stamp showing 'YAX' on it. I have sent that picture, and may get more information, but as it stands, it's 'about 40 years' old.

So, mid/late 1970s.

I was incredibly pleased and a little surprised to get any word at all back. Good on the Yaxell Corporation for such attention to customer service.  :tu:

Edit to add: I also contacted the person who posted the picture of the french airforce issued knife, who could only say that the knife was issued somewhere in the 1950s, '60s, or 70s.  :shrug:
« Last Edit: April 09, 2018, 06:32:36 AM by Lynn LeFey »
Zombie Apprentice Posts: 13,871 Firm believer of Sturgeon's Law
Re: 1960s-70s 'YAX' knife (Lynn's $15 MT Challenge)
« Reply #18 on: April 09, 2018, 12:48:11 PM »
cool  8)

Lynn using a knife for her challenge that was made before I was born   :D

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Hero Member Posts: 640
Re: 1960s-70s 'YAX' knife (Lynn's $15 MT Challenge)
« Reply #19 on: July 07, 2018, 03:45:33 AM »
Did the manager ever get back to you after you sent the photo of the blade stamp?

Charles.

 

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