Böker is expanding their lineup of modern-style traditional knives with the Raphael Durand-designed Slack. Inspired by jack knives from the 19th century but rendered in modern materials, the Slack is poised to add a modern traditional offering to Böker’s gigantic lineup.
Durand says the Slack was inspired by single blade folding knives found in Europe over 200 years ago. “We find many folders like this in the 19th century, mostly in England, Germany , and France, and later through manufacturers like Case or Remington in the US.” Commonly called ‘jack knives,’ these folders incorporated a medium-length blade into a streamlined, lightweight handle. The Slack translates this efficient design with a 3.23” blade and a weight of 2.33 oz.
These old jack knives were made of carbon steel, pinned together, with scales of bone or wood that were prone to cracking and shrinkage. The Slack comes to market with VG-10 stainless steel, Torx hardware for disassembly and maintenance, and a G-10 construction. “[It] has the advantages of materials known to be tough and lasting,” Durand tells us.
Fans of historical cutlery will notice the Slack is missing a key feature found on traditional knives. “There’s no nail nick, because I don’t like them,” Durand says. Two-handed opening can be hard enough even with a nick, but Durand says he designed the Slack for easy pinch opening. The geometry of the blade tang is designed to provide a soft, easy deployment without altering the look of the blade with a nail nick.
Washers around the pivot are also absent on the Slack. The blade turns directly on the steel liners laid into the handle scales. Durand says this mimics a feature of his custom knives, and is one of the ways his style was incorporated into this production model. “It really catches the spirit of my knives,” Durand says.
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Durand has a unique background in a very different kind of cutlery. “I worked at a medieval recreation company, where I discovered the power of forging and blacksmithing.” Eventually his interest transferred from historical weaponry to folding knives, and he studied under Henri Viallon in Thiers, France. Durand bought a dilapidated factory and rebuilt it into a home for his family and workshop for his knives, which he began making full-time in 2001.
The Slack is available to purchase through Böker’s website and is on its way to leading North American dealers.
Knife featured in image: Böker Plus Slack