When it comes to pocket knives, I’ve seen it all. I spent years in a career where having the biggest, baddest tactical knife was a rite of passage. More than once, there’s been a lot on the line where a great pocket knife bailed me out.
When I left that career, I started transitioning my style and EDC gear to a more smart casual, mature aesthetic. Big burly knives, carbon fiber accessories, and matte black finishes stopped appealing to me.
In the process, I grew an affinity for French-made folders. To be quite honest (and admittedly unfair), I had no idea that so many great knives came from France. When I got the chance to take the French-made Deejo pocket knife for a test drive, I jumped at the chance.
While I got a free product, you’ll get an honest assessment of a luxe, highly-customizable pocket knife. Keep reading to find out how this knife fared.
Ordering My Deejo
Most companies that send me products to review seem to grab something off the shelf, check it over quickly, and ship it out. Not Deejo.
One of the things I instantly liked about Deejo as a company is that they let me shop for my knife the exact way anyone else would. Creating a knife with Deejo is an experience, not the type of soulless “add to cart” and “checkout” online shopping that I’m accustomed to.
When you land on Deejo’s homepage, the drop-down menu holds a lot of choices. Essentially, almost all of those choices lead to the same basic knife, but in several variations. Try customizing your own knife here.
You’ll have choices between metal finishes, wood species, and three sizes. You’ll also get to choose between blade designs, which Deejo refers to as “tattoos.”
Tattoo is a fair description. Most of these designs would look just as at home in a sleeve as they do on a blade.
They have nautical themes, animals, motorcycles, guitars, sports, and a myriad of other choices. While some of them are busy, none of them appear hokey or cheesy. Even the guy downhill skiing somehow looks cool on the side of a knife blade.
Several of these tattoos resonated with me. I went back and forth between a few designs, and ultimately, I chose one that was the most sentimental to me (I’ll explain later) in the 37g size. I went with a mirror polish as well, as I felt the contrast between the shiny blade and the matte engraving would tattle on Deejo if the production wasn’t spot-on.
Once I chose the design, I was able to select the wood accent for the handle. I didn’t want some ordinary, stock knife, so I went with an olive wood handle to match some of my other pieces.
You can see how your design is developing in the 3D design tool, and I was becoming very impressed with what I saw.
Deejo also offers engraving. Of course, I had to go for it. I wasn’t going to cheap out now. I felt that I needed to put Deejo’s options to the test to see what they could create. So, I personalized my knife with a saying that means a lot to me and wrapped up my purchase.
If you can’t already tell, this review won’t just cover the knife, but also what it’s like to work with Deejo as a company.
I custom ordered a knife that I knew was coming from France, so I didn’t expect to see it anytime soon. The website states that knives ship within 48 hours, but I thought there might be some grey area for custom orders.
I don’t know if Deejo gave me special attention, but this knife was on my doorstep way before I expected it.
From the time I finalized my order to the time I had it in hand was a matter of days. Having said that, make sure you order as early as possible if you want it to arrive in time for Christmas.
It came well-protected in a very sleek black gift box. It was so secure, in fact, that it was initially challenging to remove the knife to check it out. A few seconds of struggle and it was free, mine for the reviewing.
When this knife arrived so quickly, I was skeptical about the level of finish. After all, I went with a detailed design, engraving, and a custom wood handle. How could a company throw all of that together and have it on my doorstep within a few days? Quality would be lacking, I was sure.
That simply wasn’t the case. The craftsmanship was outstanding.
Weight vs. Length
The first thing I noticed was that it was light. Oh, so light. It weighs just 37 grams, making it lighter than any of my other knives. It was even lighter than my Opinel No. 6, which I started carrying to save weight.
It could be easy for a knifemaker to create a tiny knife and call it lightweight, but that’s not what Deejo does. The 37g is the largest pocket knife that Deejo offers, and it’s not small by any stretch. The closed length is around 4.25 inches, while the overall opened length is just over 8 inches.
That impressed me. I knew the dimensions when I ordered the knife, but comparing its heft to its size in person allowed me to appreciate the design that much more.
The Laser Etching
The laser etching was clean, crisp, and smooth. I know, that sounds like a beer commercial, but there’s no better way to describe this work. The design I finally chose was a bar of music notes, with a large treble clef in the middle.
My grandfather was a fantastic clarinet player, and he kept a plastic treble clef hanging from a suction cup on his sliding patio door. This design was perfect for sentimental reasons, but it also features tons of curves and twists, so I knew it would put the engraver to the test. It passed with flying colors.
I don’t know what goes into engraving this particular grade of stainless steel, but I imagine it’s easy to botch. I had my grandfather’s favorite phrase, “You Win Some, You Lose Some,” engraved on the liner lock, and it came out absolutely perfect. Clean, well proportioned, and it seems deeper than the laser etching, though I can’t say that for sure.
The olive wood handle looked great. If you don’t have an olive wood handled knife in your collection, do yourself a favor and start shopping for one. I absolutely love this wood, and Deejo’s take on it did it justice. For such a small sliver of wood, it feels natural and rugged while also being refined.
For Transparency’s Sake
I want to be very transparent. There was one aspect of my initial impression that I didn’t entirely love, but I’ll wait to explain that. Given my penchant for being hard to please, the Deejo was already off to an excellent start.
Living with the Deejo Knife
I’ll be frank with you, right off the bat. I don’t carry the Deejo often. It’s not because it’s a lousy knife to carry. There’s no design flaw that keeps it from clipping to my left front pocket. It’s actually quite the opposite.
This knife is beautiful. It’s too damn nice to tuck in the pocket of my ragged old Levi’s. Remember, it wasn’t that long ago that I was clipping tactical, automatic knives to my pants pocket. To me, this knife belongs in plain sight. It needs to be where I can see it and appreciate it. It sits on my desk where I can enjoy it and use it several times a day.
When I do carry it, it’s because it fits the occasion. Whether it’s a date night with my wife, or I’m wearing a nice jacket, I carry it when it can really top off my style.
This is no ordinary knife; its stunning looks make it the perfect Christmas present. It’s not too expensive either – see prices here.
The Deejo uses Z40C13 stainless steel for their blades. A little research shows that this particular grade of stainless steel is a bit of a French thing. Other very well regarded French knife makers use Z40C13. All I can say for it is that it came sharp right out of the box, though I did hone it quickly. It’s been two months of daily use, and it maintains a very sharp edge.
The Pocket Clip
The pocket clip is very sturdy. In fact, it can be challenging to slide it over the pocket stitching of a pair of jeans. But that’s with good reason. Deejo states that much of the knife’s structural integrity comes from the pocket clip. I believe it; it’s burly.
With that said, the overall thickness is still noticeably less than my next thinnest knife — and that one doesn’t have a pocket clip.
The Blade Lock
It does feature a liner lock, and quite a good one at that. With the blade open, the thick stainless bar snaps right into place, chocking the blade open with almost zero play. In fact, the only play you really experience appears to be more a result of the Deejo’s overall thickness (or lack thereof), though it’s hardly noticeable at all.
Opening the Deejo
There isn’t a thumb stud or flipper lever on the Deejo. While that might seem like a drawback, opening this knife like a tough guy would just detract from its style and refinement. While you can open it with a flat thumb on the side of the knife, it opens quite nicely with two hands, like a gentleman would open a knife.
A Gentleman’s Knife
That’s who this knife is for, after all: a gentleman. While we all love our manly pursuits, this knife doesn’t belong field dressing game or cutting lashing for a makeshift camp.
In my opinion, it belongs in the inner pocket of a blazer or sport coat. It belongs in a briefcase pocket. In my case, it belongs on the desk of a writer and editor.
That’s not to say this isn’t a capable pocket knife. It’s just not the one to reach for when prying open a paint can. If you’re concerned about self-defense, as long as you have the capacity to open it with two hands, it could buy you some time to get away.
Deejo knows this isn’t the typical EDC-style knife. According to their own FAQs, it’s not a heavy-duty design. It’s meant for cutting meat, peeling and slicing fruit, and opening letters and packages.
Honestly, with the amount of Amazon packages I’m getting lately, it buys me at least a few seconds of feeling like a refined gentleman every time I use it to cut one open.
I’ve done a fair bit of gushing over this knife, so it’s important to me that you understand where the Deejo and I didn’t see eye-to-eye.
Remember that one moan I mentioned during my first impression? Here it is: the Deejo takes some getting used to in-hand. The minimalist design makes it very thin, and you’re not going to get a natural grip on it right away. I’m better acquainted with this knife now, so I’m over the awkward phase, but it does take a bit of getting used to.
My biggest complaint rears its head when the knife is in the closed position. The handle groove that the blade stores in is flat, and it’s almost 2mm wide. With the knife closed, the end of the blade rests on the wood handle, and it has enough room to wiggle and rub the blade edge against the wood.
My concern is this will dull the blade. A small v-groove instead of the flat bottom would solve this entirely. With that said, the Deejo still maintains an excellent edge.
Initially, I had some concern that choosing such a sentimental design and engraving would somehow distort my view of this knife. I thought maybe I should’ve gone with something more basic to allow myself to give a perfectly unbiased review. But then I realized, that’s what makes these knives so special.
Deejo does an incredible job of personalizing a knife. Even if you choose a basic model from their collection, the designs are so abundant that you can certainly find one to represent yourself. But it’s in building custom knives that Deejo really shines.
The Deejo knife makes one of the best, most thoughtful gifts that I can think of. The amount of thought and consideration that goes into creating the perfect knife for someone says it all. But, couple it with an innovative design and quality construction, and you have the ideal present.
It’ll be a cold day in hell before I give up my Deejo. I would certainly recommend it to anyone looking for a minimalist-design pocket knife with a bit of flair.