Rockstead TEI S DLC Shinogi-Zikuri

The TEI-S DLC is a high end folding knife manufactured by Rockstead. Rockstead is in Sakai, part of the Osaka prefecture of Japan. This knife has several unique features that combine a strong history of Japanese blade design with contemporary materials, manufacturing and western folding knife influences.

Rockstead TEI S DLC YXR-7

The TEI-S DLC’s blade has been modelled after traditional Japanese blade shapes and shares a similar point or Kissaki found on the majority of single edged Japanese blades in the Shinogi-Zukuri style. This style is defined by the blade’s ridge-line and cross section. It could be argued that the TEI is a modified version of a Shinogi-Zukuri blade due to the lack of a Yokote (a visible bevel separating the main edge from the point). The clipped point also alters the profile but does pull the Kissaki’s cross section in line with the traditional version.

Rockstead TEI S DLC Profile

Also a classic feature that has been modified, the TEI has a miniature Hi, or milled out slot, in the flat of the blade. On one end of the slot there is a hole that is drilled through the entire width. More decorative than functional the stylized Hi can be found on all of the current in-production models. The blade sways away from tradition with the addition of thumb studs and jimping. Features that show the TEI’s Western influence, pulling the knife toward the recognizable anatomy of many modern folders.

TEI DLC ThumbstudsRockstead TEI S DLC Liner LockTEI DLC Pocket Clip

This model’s blade is YXR-7, a Hitachi matrix high speed tool steel. YXR-7 was developed for making manufacturing tools and dies but its high hardness combined with great toughness makes it an exceptional blade steel. Where YXR-7 falls a bit short is in its corrosion resistance. Rockstead has balanced this though, giving the very finely textured blade-flat and spine a DLC. While this is removed on the grind, the honed edges are polished to an immaculate mirror finish to both improve corrosion resistance while adding to the over all design.

The grind on the TEI is a convex grind that has a compound angle. Along the flat portion of the cutting edge near the haft of the blade, the edge is ground to 30º whereas it is 24º toward and including the tip. This is to improve the edge toughness where the majority of blade load will be and to reduce resistance where there is less force. Another unique feature is that the mirror finish follows right to the cutting edge. This greatly reduces or removes the micro-serations responsible for chipping and is said to increase the longevity of the edge. The final result is extremely sharp and debatably unmatched by any other production folder out of the box.

Shinogi Zikuri Rockstead TEI S DLC

The subtle complexity of the blade grind and extensive mirror finishing will also make it very difficult to maintain at its shipped state. Rockstead does however, provide a re-profiling and sharpening service at a minimum cost of $65.00. The price may depend on the blades condition.

Like the blade, the handle is both unique and familiar in its combination of materials. The A6063S Aluminum handle is made from two pieces that form a closed back, screw together construction. It is wider than most folders making it very comfortable to hold on to, but is bulkier in the pocket. There is a a topographical, wave like relief towards the pommel. This improves grip and adds and interesting organic counterpoint to the sharper angles found on the blade. Rockstead uses wave like patterns and reliefs on many of their folders, a theme that also appears in their printed and online materials that picture traditional Japanese wood block print imagery.

Rockstead Stringray Inlays
Each scale has Stingray leather (Same) inlays that have been perfectly fitted to their slots. Stingray is the traditional material of choice to help add traction and decorate Japanese blade hilts (Tsuka). The black polished Same inlays on the TEI are quite exotic in appearance. They fit perfectly with the wave theme, while providing practical function and history. Within the handle, the blade rotates around a bearing pivot. The pivot is extremely smooth and solid feeling with zero side to side play. When opened, the blade is met with an equally solid lock up. The liner lock on the knife is constructed from a leaf spring that is inset on one side of the handle. Although small it is strong in its design and has no movement once engaged. The knife has a fairly low riding pocket clip that is right handed and tip up only. It is fastened on the inside of the handle and loops over the butt. There is also a small lanyard hole.

The TEI-S-DLC is a fine example of tradition meeting modern manufacturing processes and design. It’s form is familiar to both the Eastern and Western world. This is seen through its combined use of traditional materials and forms; Rayskin and traditional lines meet modern folding knife features such as the thumb stud deployment and pocket clip. The labour intensive mirror finish against the DLC, extraordinarily sharp edge and stylized Hi mark the knife unmistakably Rockstead. It sound mechanism and good ergonomics make the TEI a pleasure to use while it’s unique design and impeccable fit and finish will make it attractive as a collectible.

Rockstead TEI Top and Bottom viewTEI-S-DLCRockstead Same InlayRockstead TEI-S DLC HandleRockstead TEI size comparison

Pros

Exceptionally sharp
Unique Design
Ergonomic
Great Choice of materials
Above average fit and finish

Cons

Costly

Specs

Weight : 5.47 oz  (155 g)

Overall length : 8.425″  (214 mm)

Blade length : 3.54″  (90 mm)

Length folded : 4.72″  (120 mm)

Blade thickness : .145″ (3.7 mm)

Blade steel: Hitachi YXR-7

Blade hardness: HRc 65.2

Blade coating / finish: DLC/Hv1300 and Mirror polish

Locking mechanism : Liner Lock

Opening mechanism: Thumb Studs

Aluminum Hard Anodized Black/Hv400
Inlays : Stingray (Same)
Clip SUS402J2 (stainless steel) .04″ (1 mm) thick HRc 48
Leaf Spring SUS402J2 (stainless steel) .079″ (2 mm thick HRc 48

Made in Japan

Visit Rockstead’s home page for more information

For a long-term use review of the Rockstead TEI visit this thread at Jerzee Devil forums.

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The Edge Observer

The Edge Observer is a site dedicated to knife reviews, primarily focusing on folding knives.

15 thoughts on “Rockstead TEI S DLC Shinogi-Zikuri

  1. Just amazing man. I know you handle a lot of high end folders; do you feel like the price on this blade is justified by what you receive? Obviously they go above and beyond on the blade, but considering everything what do you think? Very cool knife either way, I’d love to check one out in detail at some point.

    1. Defining the value of anything around this price point is tricky. This knife is definitely unlike anything I’ve held in my hand. I’d personally say that the difficulty of the precision machining and polishing of the blade alone is enough to justify the price. It really is something you need to see to appreciate. The ray skin inlays are also incredible and it’s great to see a folder with a sculpted handle outside of the slab type construction of most folders. The mechanism is totally solid too….

    1. A bit long winded but.. I’ve only seen the YXR-7 version of the knife. They make a laminate “clad” version in ZDP-189 with ATS34 outer layers and a full ZDP-189. ZDP-189 version is slightly harder at 67 HRC but less “tough” according to Rockstead. The YXR7 version is around 65 HRC. Also ZDP-189 is considerably more corrosion resistant and from my personal experience I find it slightly easier to sharpen despite its hardness. The clad is the most expensive, then the ZDP-189 and finally the YXR7/DLC. In a perfect world I’d have a clad version, which is nearly twice the price of the YXR-7 due to maintenance and corrosion resistance and engineering. All of them are pretty hard to find in stock. Thanks for reading/watching!

  2. Thanks for the detailed answer. I admire your write up and the great video. I have no doubt that this knife is the finest folder in the world and I will definitely buy one to treasure and pass down to my children. Best.

  3. At 2:48 in the video the scales aren’t matched correctly. I’d have expected you to catch that obvious fault and to comment on it.

    1. Indeed there is some mismatch and for the price it would shouldn’t be there.
      Thanks for pointing it out, watching and commenting.

      I also just want to clarify, the lower side of the scale is intentionally milled lower to accommodate the clip. It would have definitely been nicer if the two sides matched but it was a design choice, not a machining error.

      1. Thanks for your reply. If the scale was milled down intentionally, then it’s not a problem. What “mismatch” are you be referring to then?

        1. What I am referring to, is that the other side could also be machined to match, which would be aesthetically be more pleasing.

          1. Oh, I see. Actually as long as it’s done on purpose, then it’s total perfection to me! Thanks for your kind help and replies.

    1. It may be a while before I can afford to review a Rockstead fixed blade, I would love to though… thanks for reading!

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