Wednesday, December 21, 2011

In case you missed it: ZDP-189 Spyderco Lum Chinese Folder

This is part of a sporadic series on gear that has just been discontinued.  My goal is to tip you off to this stuff while it is still available so you can avoid the massive mark ups that will almost certainly come when this stuff hits eBay years from now.  The subject of commentary today is a beautiful folding knife from Spyderco--the ZDP-189 Lum Chinese Folder.  Here is more information this specific version.  The knife was last produced in 2008.  A check on shows no resellers with stock, but there are more than a few forums that have a few for sale at or below the original retail price.

Here is a picture of the knife:

The knife was designed by Bob Lum, a knife designer that passed away in 2007.  His knife designs were uniformly excellent.  He is known for his clean East-meets-West-stylings and the popularization of the tanto blade.  Out of a range of gorgeous blades, the Lum Chinese Folder really stands out.  Its clean, sweeping lines terminate gracefully at one end and at a razor sharp point at the other.  Additionally, when folded, the knife's rear tang does not protrude from the handle, an aesthetic and functional coup-de-grace (note this is the large G-10 version, not the ZDP-189 version):

The Lum Chinese Folder has become a platform for experimentation within Spyderco--a favorite of the hardcore fans and the company itself.  There are more than a half dozen variations--some with amazing Nishijin carbon fiber handles, a few large versions, a pair of blackened versions, a green handled version.  The list is quite long.

Among these, though, the aluminum handled ZDP-189 version stands out.  First, it is the lightest of the Lum's clocking in at a feathery 2.6 ounces.  Second, it has that most amazing of steels--ZDP-189.  These two features on top of what is unquestionably one of the cleanest most elegant blades I have ever seen makes the ZDP-189 Lum Chinese Folder a knife to watch out for while browsing forum boards.  The combination of collector's favorite, amazing steel, and rock solid design means that this may be a chase knife down the line.

A few drawbacks, though.  First, I think the knife is a little too big for EDC use.  It is an exceptionally large blade.  It is not too long, but it is VERY wide.  It is curvy and all so it is not a problem removing it from your pocket, but it does take up a significant portion of your pocket.  Second, all of the regular sized Lum's have a cringe worthy inelegant pocket clip.  It is not so bad as to ruin the appearance of the knife, like, say, the Leafstorm's drunken-pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey clip placement, but it something that does not suit the sophisticated, clean Lum aesthetic.

I always kick myself when I think of the chances I have had to purchase a Caly Jr with Micarta handles.  That is a gorgeous knife and I just blew it.  Now they are impossible to find or if you do find them, incredibly expensive.  I think the Lum ZDP-189 will be one of those knives.  If you can take the width, I'd snag one right now.


  1. Thanks for the heads up Tony. I've been meaning to check out a Lum Chinese Folder anyways... and nothing makes me interested in a knife like scarcity. ;)

  2. Tony, I've never tried the Lum Chinese folder. I saw that the large Lum is now discontinued. I wanted to try one. Now my OCD tendencies are saying, "Buy three! It might be THE knife for you, and you will never be able to find them again." What do you think? Should I buy three of the large Lums? Seriously.

    1. No. That is a huge out lay of money for something you MIGHT like

  3. I can't believe people ask questions like these and then add the word Seriously at the end.