Get ready for the Tool jokes, ladies and gentlemen, because you’re in for a lot of ‘em. No, not the euphemism – The band. Designer Jason Stout is ready to rock the market with the Lateralus, a stylish blade with artistic aspirations. Let’s reach up, reach out, and ride the spiral with this new addition to the Boker catalog.
First and foremost, if you haven’t heard the song for which I’m assuming this knife is named, you can listen to it here. Second, I’d encourage you to buy the entire album here. Tool is one of the most interesting bands of my lifetime, and they deserve your attention. If you need a guide to my bastardization of the poetry of Maynard James Keenan, check out the lyrics here. The entire track was written to match the Fibonacci mathematic sequence and the Golden Ratio, so you’re in for an intellectual treat.
Oh, and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong in my assumptions on the name. I’ve been unable to locate any other use of the word “Lateralus” beyond the title of the above song. Not that that’s a problem, mind you. Stout couldn’t have picked a better album and artist to pique my interest. Either way, it was nice of Boker to send the knife along for review. It’ll be headed to Nick Shabazz sometime in the next couple weeks, so tune into his Youtube channel for his eventual commentary.
I’d like to preface this review with a few words from the designer himself. Boker’s website states that “[Stout’s] claim is not the creation of knives which everyone likes, but the realization of its own style.” I dig it, and I’d advise you to keep it in mind before reading further.
Anyway, let’s transition from the philosophical to the physical, with the help of the knife’s dimensions.
Overall Length: 8.25”
Blade Length: 3.625″ (3.25” cutting edge)
Blade Thickness: 0.14”
Handle Length: 4.625”
Handle Thickness: 0.47”
Weight: 4.43 oz.
As you can see from the comparison shot above and the disassembly photo below, this is a rather sizable knife. Its D2 steel blade swings on captive bearings, with what appears to be a steel washer set into the scale side. This scale is composed of nicely grooved G-10. The remaining body is made up of a stainless steel framelock and pocket clip. Grip is good in my medium/large hand, with no major hotspots.
The most visually striking component of the Lateralus is its blade. From the flat, thick flipper tab at its base to the deep trench running from east to west across its stonewashed surface, there’s an ax-like intrigue to the overall shape. Its flat grind is crowned with some rather prominent jimping, with a monstrous finger/sharpening choil at its base. Rest assured, we’ll come back around to that particular detail once we get to Function.
For all its visual appeal, I have several issues with the Lateralus. First and foremost is its clip-point conundrum of a blade. I’m not a fan of grooves along the cutting surface (known as “fullers”), and this has a big one. Worst of all, it’s been included on a knife forged from D2 steel. Riddle me this, Boker – Why would you put a huge “crud groove” on a material known to be rust-prone? Mine has already begun to discolor. Here, take a look:
Then there’s the pocket clip. While it’s begun to loosen up, my tester came incredibly tight. It’s still difficult to get in and out of my pocket, especially with that cavernous lock bar cutout beneath. In several instances, it’s actually pulled threads from the fraying pocket of my jeans.
So, kind of a middling score here. There are positives, yes, but also the start of a significant trend.
3 stars out of 5
I’m going to spend less time discussing this knife’s Function as opposed to its Form. I feel I’m justified in this, considering the Lateralus’ obvious preference of visual appeal over practical utility. I know that sounds like an insult, and I don’t mean it to be. But just because I can “witness the beauty” of the designer’s intentions doesn’t mean I can’t keep “my feet upon the ground.”
Let’s start with the good. First, the knife flips open fairly well. It was rather sandy upon arrival, but a disassembly and application of Nano Oil helped smooth things out. Its lock snaps into place with authority, and I have no concerns as to its security.
It’s also a better-than-expected slicer, considering the thickness of its blade. I was able to chop onions and other foodstuffs without difficulty, though clearing the debris from the fuller was something of an annoyance. Its tip is fine for opening packages, and the knife feels good in the hand.
But when it comes time to “push the envelope,” the stylish image of the Lateralus begins to bend. Worst of all is that damned choil. It’s too small to fit a finger, but large enough that it gets hung up on whatever you happen to be cutting. This becomes immediately apparent the first time you attempt any sort of long cut.
What else is worth discussing? Hmmm… Well, the detent is semi-soft. It’ll stay closed 98% of the time, but a really strong wrist shake can knock it out of place. Not as bad as a Stedemon, but it’s certainly no ZT 0562.
And really, that’s all I have to say about the Lateralus as a functional tool. Sure, it’ll open, lock up, and cut. But its practical limitations made it something of a chore to carry.
2.5 stars out of 5
The Lateralus is thick and sturdy, and I have no concern about its qualifications as a medium-use beater. But as with all Bokers, disassembly voids warranty. That’s not pretty, especially with its rust-prone blade steel. You could make the argument that its flow-through construction will make it easier to maintain, and I’d have to agree. And though it may not last ‘til “Saturn comes back around,” D2 will hold an edge for quite some time. What? Wrong song? Whoops.
For those who favor form over function, this could be a great long-term knife. But like I said above, my experience in carrying this blade was less “labor of love” and more straight-up labor. I’m disappointed that I didn’t enjoy it, because I think this is a visually interesting piece.
2.5 stars out of 5
If I had to sum up this knife’s value proposition in one sentence, it’d be this: There’s $70 worth of design and materials here, but not $70 worth of tool. I own $30 Kershaws that will cut circles around the Lateralus, ugly as they may be. The Ontario RAT 1 ($40) is a better knife in almost every way, except for the presentation.
And yet, I can’t argue that buyers aren’t getting their money’s worth. Certain kinds of buyers, at least. If you’re into knives as objects of art, then the Lateralus is absolutely worth your cash. But if you’re someone who tends to rely on their function as tools, then you’re going to be left bewildered, like me.
3 stars out of 5
One of the best lines from this knife’s namesake goes as follows:
“Over-thinking, over-analyzing separates the body from the mind.
Withering my intuition, leaving opportunities behind.”
In many ways, I feel this captures my experience with the Lateralus. Did my obsession with its shortcomings cause a disconnect between my heart and hand? Or did Boker ignore the blade’s obvious problems and, in doing so, miss the chance to create a really excellent tool? Hmmm… A little of Column A, a little of Column B.
Poetics aside, this knife is fine. But if you put poetics ahead, it’s pretty great. The Lateralus’ in-hand experience and visual appeal are considerable. The problem arises when you take this platonic, art-first form of a knife and bring it into the world of food prep and cardboard boxes.
I found the Lateralus to be a knife I wanted to love but, in the end, struggled to like. It’s a shadow on a cave wall, best suited for individuals who’re fine with being chained to an aesthetic. A pretty shadow, sure, but one that fades the nearer one draws to the stark light of reality.
Time for me to spiral out and for the Lateralus to keep going. Rock on, Mr. Stout. Maybe I’ll catch you on the B-side.