It’s no secret to those who have stumbled even for a moment on this blog before that I have long been a Spyderco fanboy. Regardless of the sometimes undeserved high price or sporadic quality issues that Spydercos at times have, I maintain that Spyderco’s product line is a breath of fresh air in what is otherwise a pretty boring industry.
It’s easy to stay safe and produce a 4 inch tactical folder, but it takes guts to consistently come out with something just a smidgen odd or different. I think this is something Spyderco excels at, and the Spyderco Squarehead is no different. People often ask me what my criteria are for choosing knives to review, and I tell them I go by 2 factors: 1. Are they popular and requested by my readers? or are they 2. Interesting and unique in some way? I can think of only two companies that really bring their “a”-game to the table when it comes to weird and quirky knives, and those two companies are Spyderco and Cold Steel (in very different ways, obviously).
I wish more companies would take risks with their product line, as a 4 inch alphabet steel, drop point in G-10 is becoming exhausting to review. What can I write that hasn’t already been written before? At least with the odd little knives like the Squarehead, I certainly don’t lack in things to talk about!
Right off the bat, you’ll notice this folder is all innovation with a limited bias towards utility. Does it function as a small utility EDC? Technically, yes. But as you would expect, a lot of compromises were made to maintain a sense of aesthetic congruence. To have such a square (for lack of a better word) folder, Spyderco did forgo ergonomic considerations – although I will say that they did try, they really did, but at the end of the day you have a 2 inch (closed) slab of titanium with the blade exposed. The Squarehead is very, very cool, but has quite a few drawbacks as you would expect.
The scales are particularly interesting, Spyderco opted to have the whole scale milled out of one piece of titanium. No liners, back spacers or other additions. It’s a very neat design quirk. My only gripe is with the pivot – it simply does not match the rest of the knife. We have a very stark stonewashed titanium knife with a fancy polished steel pivot laden with detail? Why on earth would you do this Spyderco? If it were mine (it’s Elise’s) I’d acid wash the outside of the pivot as soon as possible because right now it sticks out like a sore thumb.
I feel this is the only flaw that they should have fixed – all other issues are a byproduct of the design and I can’t criticize what is in a lot of ways the perfect example of a usable collectible. Very few people would purchase this knife as a primary blade and I think Spyderco understands that and didn’t bother trying to cater to the masses for that reason. This is a niche knife for aficionados who want something interesting for a premium price (more on this later).
It’s an odd feeling having such a stout knife of such diminutive stature in your hands. The Spyderco Squarehead is a 2 inch CPM S30V blade, but with a chisel grind and no point. Technically, it’s a sheep’s foot blade, but really it’s a rectangle with a deep chisel grind on one side.
Sadly, the side they chose to grind is the wrong side. I have never understood why Emerson (and now Spyderco) chose to have the chisel grind on the wrong side for right hand users. Just doesn’t make sense, and it makes cuts leading away from your body much harder. With that said, this is probably down to aesthetic considerations like I mentioned before, and frankly, it’s a stout 2 inch blade: it can open boxes as well as you would expect.
I doubt anyone would buy this knife for anything other than light EDC tasks, and frankly, for that the blade will suffice.
The reverse of the blade features Darriel Caston’s badass spaceship logo. It’s neat and I dig it. I like knowing that a designer and manufacturer sat down and plotted out this blade’s life from paper to steel. It makes it more special somehow. I think a lot of us collectors feel this way, whether it’s with Kershaw and the Ken Onion collaborations, CRKT and James Williams collabs, or Boker with Chad Los Banos – it’s something special and I certainly appreciate it.
As you can see below, when I said the blade was stout – I wasn’t sensationalizing (you get that enough from the media). This is a 2 inch blade with a 3 mm blade stock. I have fixed blades that are thinner than that! Spyderco, you are crazy. Please don’t change.
You can also see that the back of the blade and the scale has some nice jimping. It’s pretty darn aggressive, and whilst I don’t advise you to treat this knife as a beater, I will say that the only thing holding you back are the mediocre ergonomics. In terms of stoutness and design features to encourage strength (one piece titanium scale for example), the Spyderco Squarehead is pretty impressive. The jimping latches onto your thumb and this tiny blade ain’t going nowhere.
The titanium framelock is pretty ingenious. It’s basically a tab that they cut out and bent. Sounds simple right? That’s because it is and it works damn well! My Squarehead has zero blade play of any kind and the lock up is impressive for such a simple implementation. I will also say that the detent is spot on. Very crisp and perfectly made. The construction reminds me a lot of a Swiss made Klotzi I once had. I can think of no higher compliment.
As I mentioned earlier, cutting performance is mediocre – it’s a 2 inch chisel grind that can be put to use to replace a box cutter. Except a box cutter cuts better so… yeah. If you want peak cutting performance, this is not your optimal knife, but if you have eyes you would have known that already! This is not to say that it doesn’t cut – the chisel grind is nicely executed with a lean transition taking into account it’s working off 3 mm of blade stock. At the end of the day, I think Spyderco squeezed out the most performance they could, and whilst it won’t win any slicing awards, it’s hardly a pry bar either.
My biggest attraction to this knife is the details. It’s like holding a mechanical construct – not a tool. I love how it all fits together (except for the pivot which is garish) and I completely understand what Spyderco and Darriel were trying to do here. This is symmetry at its finest. I like to think of this as a toy for grown ups that can also be used for some tasks.
Deploying the blade is… odd. The Spyderhole works but I almost feel like my regular size hands (size L) are too big for it. This is not a knife you can whip out quickly, and I had to find my groove with regards to holding onto the scale. After a few minutes, I got the technique down pat, but it wasn’t as natural as a Delica. Once again, this is not a true criticism, as this is a byproduct of the design. You cannot have a truly angular ergonomic design – it’s an oxymoron. As you can see below, the butt of the knife is squared (as the name suggests) and is quite happy to dig into the fat of your hands.
The lanyard hole is milled out of the entire length of the butt. No worries about paracord fitting here! Which is a good thing, seeing as this knife offers no pocket clip.
It’s in this pocket – somewhere. One of the most frustrating aspects of this knife is how to carry it. It’s teensy, but very angular, and thus prone to stabbing you from all angles. Not the best design decision frankly. In which pocket do you place it? Phone pocket? Nope. Say goodbye to your pristine screen. So this proved an issue for me and frankly I just carried it loosely in one of my jacket pockets.
Elise was happy to use the Squarehead as a “set it and forget it” kind of knife which she’d throw into one of her purse pockets (back in Canada obviously, as here in the UK this knife is not legal to carry out). It worked out as a back up knife for her in case she forgot to throw a knife in her purse, or in case she forgot to re-place a regular EDC she’d taken out to use momentarily. This could never be a primary EDC for me. Too awkward, and as much as I enjoy fiddling with it – it just doesn’t cut muster. I need a knife I can consistently withdraw and deploy easily when I need it. A titanium rectangle, albeit – a very pretty and unique one – is less than ideal for primary use.
The lock itself is strong enough for whatever you can do with a 2 inch blade. This ain’t a tactical beast like my Recon 1 or XL Voyager, but be assured that if the lock fails, the blade will take a souvenir with it.
Ergonomics are… a compromise. You will not be able to hold this like you would a regular EDC knife. Every aspect of this folder wants to fight you because our hands are just not designed for sharp, angular shapes. It’s workable, but certainly not comfortable.
Choking up (or as much as you can taking into account this is a teensy knife) is actually way more comfortable and secure than the default saber grip. This is the grip I would use when slicing open those Amazon boxes.
Reverse grip is amazing. Basically the best tactical knife ever. Sell your Cold Steel Valquero now – its pretty much useless!
Yeah, no. I’m of course kidding – the Squarehead is a terrible, terrible idea in a reverse grip, and the only reason I am showing it is for review consistency (I do have a format you know!) and so Elise can get a laugh out of it. It looked ridiculous and we all know it. Pretty much the worst option for any kind of tactical use.
Balance is perfect, but then again it’s a symmetrical slab of metal so that’s hardly surprising. The Spyderco Squarehead weighs in at 1 ounce, or to be more specific, 1.1 ounce. So it’s damn light, but it’s a 2 inch blade, so if I said it was heavy I think I would question my sanity (or physical health).
Jimping, once again on the bottom. Makes sense to have some form of retention when you are left with 2 inches of grip. I hesitate to say it’s necessary as I do not see people using this knife for serious work, but I am glad it is there.
When Elise saw this knife in the Spydie catalog it immediately went into the wishlist – I know many of you won’t be interested as this is a very niche product, but not all of my reviews have to be super practical. I do try to make sure whatever I review is available for purchase which is why my Spyderco Dodo is unlikely to be seen on this site beyond being featured in EDC dumps or knife drops, but I think it’s good once in awhile to step away from monstrous Cold Steel folders or overbuilt Benchmades and look at something interesting, regardless of whether it’s altogether practical to have around. The Spyderco Squarehead exists in a world of its own. It doesn’t have a clearly defined purpose, but rather simply exists for the sake of existing, and I am okay with that.
We can all agree that knives are useful tools, but we obsess and collect them because it’s inspiring to see what is essentially just a sharpened slab of steel being refined into something complex and unique.
The bias when it came to designing the Spyderco Squarehead was 100% aesthetic, and performance is consequently sub par.
You knew this before reaching this far down into the review.
The only application I see this as being especially viable in is as a collectors piece (I imagine value will skyrocket once it is discontinued), or as the backup knife in an Altoids emergency kit or in the bottom of a bag/purse. It lays flat and is quite tough albeit its limitations.
Beyond that, walk away my friends. This is an odd duck and clearly targeted at aficionados and collectors who would be willing to spend close to 80 bucks on a 2 inch slab of steel and titanium (ehhem* – Elise?).