Ive been a user and long term happy customer of Ben Orford for a long time, i bought my first Ben Orford spoon knife from the Ray Mears web site many moons ago, not because Ray used them, but because id heard nothing but good things about Ben's tools and i therefore wanted to try one for myself.
The first spoon knife i bought was a Small Spoon Knife (the very top one in the picture) and it has served me well for a long long time, since i bought that first knife, i have added (top to bottom) the Small Flat Spoon Knife, the Medium Spoon Knife, a Sloyd Knife and yesterday a Big Pick knife.
Sure Ben's tools are not the cheapest ones going, neither are they the most expensive, but i like them, and having had the opportunity to handle and use some seriously expensive spoon and detail knives from other makers, i still don't think they hold a candle to Ben's tools, the thing i like about Ben's tools is the fact that he has designed and made them from a users point of view and that to me means everything, if you don't use it, how can you possibly understand it and then expect to sell it to other people.
All of the tools i have from Ben are incredibly well made, the Sloyd & Pick knives have a scandi grind on them and are partial tang, after all these are fine carving tools, why do you need a full tang?, I've used the Sloyd for along time and have never had a problem with the partial tang, the Pick knife i only received yesterday, but I'm already loving it, the spoon knives have a single external bevel on them and they bite into the wood superbly, the medium spoon knife is perfect for bigger spoons, bowls & Kuksa's, where the two smaller spoon knives are great for smaller spoons (obviously) and detail work, the flatter of the two small spoon knives is designed to give a smooth finish to spoon bowls and this it does superbly, leaving next to no trace of tool marks in the wood, obviously having a light touch and not removing too much material, also helps, all of the handles on Ben's carving tools are made from Elm and whilst simple in shape are very comfortable to use in any orientation, and even after extended use, your hands don't feel tired.
The tools are supplied like scalpels from Ben and they hold their edge superbly, when you do need to sharpen the blades all you need to do nine times out of ten is to just strop the edge, this normally brings the edge back to scary sharp in next to no time at all, if you do need to remove a nick from the cutting edge, then Ben recommends wrapping some wet & dry around a piece of dowel and gently rubbing this over the blade to remove the offending dink, i do agree with Ben 101% in that stropping the blade is far far more important in keeping a good edge than constant sharpening.
Am i a fan of Ben's tools, you better believe it, when funds allow i shall be sending off another order to Ben for some more, quite simply, I believe they are the best money can buy.