Saturday, 23 April 2011

Axe Sheath Tutorial

Since getting involved in refurbishing and restoring old axes, I have noticed that most don't have sheaths. I am not a fan of putting a razor edge on an axe only to give it back to the person unprotected. The sheath not only protects the axe's edge, but more importantly protects the person carrying the axe. I know most people may not have much fancy equipment for leather work, so I have tried to make the simplest axe sheath possible using minimal equipment. So lets see what we will need to make a quality, nice looking axe sheath.


This is all the hardware you will need to make this axe sheath:
  1. 2 stitching needles
  2. Heavy scissors / shears
  3. Ruler
  4. Fork or overstitch wheel
  5. Stanley knife
  6. Bone burnisher
  7. Heavy awl
  8. #2 edger
Optional (but recommended)
  1. Belt sander / grinder
  2. Drill press
  3. Needle nose pliers
  1. 3mm veg tanned saddle leather (minimum)
  2. Artificial sinew for stitching
  3. Dye (if you intend to colour the leather)
  4. 120 grit sand paper
  5. Contact cement
  6. Beeswax or saddle soap for burnishing
  7. Paper / cardboard and a pencil
Step by Step Process

Step 1

Take a sheet of paper and lay it on a nice flat surface. Trace around the edge of the axe and about 2 - 3 inches up towards the eye. Outline this template, giving yourself about half an inch. This extra room is necessary as you will need to glue and stitch in a spacer. This extra width allows the glue to properly grip all surfaces.

Step 2
Cut out the template. Trace the template onto the leather twice. REMEMBER, you will need to reverse the template so you don't have 2 of the same side. Also bare in mind that you want the nice side of the leather to be facing outwards. I usually use a ballpoint pen to draw onto the leather. It works much better than a pencil.

Step 3
Cut out the leather templates using scissors / shears and the ruler and Stanley knife.

Step 4

Since we added half an inch to the blade outline, you should have an outline of what the spacer will look like. Cut this out.

Step 5

If we leave the spacer outline whole when cutting it from the main leather piece, we will create more unusable leather as it's such an awkward shape. I chose to cut it into smaller pieces to reduce waste. At this point, it is also prudent to edge the leather that will be near the opening on the inside. The picture was taken before I had done this. Also, take a moment to check that everything lines up and there are no glaring problems with the fit of the axe in the sheath so far.

Step 6

Apply contact cement to leather. Don't apply it to both sides of the spacers right away. One side will do, plus the portion that will make contact with the other pieces of the spacer. Make sure you don't over apply the glue. Use a small amount but work it into the grain of the leather. In the above picture you can see the edging has been done. Avoid doing the edging where you will glue the spacers as this will result in a gap.

Step 7

Once the glue is tacky to the touch, press the pieces together. make sure the spacers are pressed firmly together. If you are sloppy at this point, there will be gaps that you won't be able to hide. At this point check the fit again. It should be quite tight as friction will be responsible for holding the sheath onto the axe. Even though it is glued, minor adjustments can still be made as the glue is flexible.

Step 8
Apply contact cement to the other side of the spacer. Once this is dry, attach the other side of the sheath, pressing firmly together.

Step 9

At this point the 2 halves and the spacer are firmly held in place by the glue. Mark a light line where you wish the stitching to be. Using your fork or overstitch wheel, mark around the sheath. Now it's time to move to the awl or drill press to make the holes. Because I prefer to over-engineer my sheaths, using an awl is close to impossible. It's extremely hard work and rarely leaves a good result. I use a 1mm drill bit and drill out the leather instead. Be sure not to stray so that you miss the spacer.

Step 10
Now the stitching begins. I stitch using the saddle stitch method. This requires that you put a needle on each end of the artificial sinew. Threading one needle into the hole, pull it through until you have reached the halfway point of the thread. Now you move onto the next hole. First put one needle through, so that both needles and thread are on the same side, now thread the other needle through. You are stitching a kind of "figure 8". Needle nose pliers help here as it can get difficult, especially when back stitching at the start. Here is a great tutorial from Brirish blades to help demonstrate the method:

Saddle stitch tutorial

You can dye the leather before or after stitching. You generally get a better result if you dye before however I didn't as it makes it harder to see what I am doing in the photos.

I always back stitch first. I start 4 holes from the last hole and stitch to the end, then stitch back up again, all the way to the other end. When I get to the other end I stitch back 4 holes again, then clip the thread. This makes the ends stronger and more resistant to seperating.

In this photo I have reached the end, now I have to back stitch.
Once I have back stitched, I clip the threads very close and I am now done with the stitching.

Step 11
At this point the sheath looks pretty rough. This is where the belt grinder / sander comes into it. Use the sander / grinder to grind the irregularities so that you are left with smooth edges. You can also use 120 grit sand paper for this, it just takes longer. Once this is done, go around the sheath with the edger. You will be left with this:

Step 12
If you have left off dying the leather, now is the time to do it. Dying needs to be done before you burnish the edges. I don't use a wool swab. I just use a piece of sponge dabbed into dye and then dab that onto the leather. I make sure to get it inside the sheath so I am not left with the natural colour contrasting against the dark dye. Once the dye is dry, it's time to burnish the leather.

Step 13
This is the final stage. Rub your thumb against the edges first one way, then the other. You will see that the leather has a natural grain orientation. Remember which way the grain naturally wants to lay flat. Now, using a little saliva on the tongue, give the edge you want to burnish a lick. It should now be moist. Now apply your beeswax or saddlesoap. if you use beeswax like me, you will need to rub quite vigerously to rub it into the grain. wetting the edge with saliva first makes the fibers more supple, giving a better finish in the end. Once you have finished applying the wax / saddle soap give the edge another lick so that the burnishing tool will slide easier (not necessary if using saddle soap). Now, using your bone burnishing tool (which can bee a piece of hardwood or even a bit of lambshank bone), rub the edge back and forth quickly. You will see that a shiny finish is starting to appear. Now start to rub the edge in the direction that you noted the fibers naturally wanted to go. You will have to press firmly. Do this to all the edges. Give the edge a final polish and you are done. This is how mine turned out.

Keep in mind this is the most basic sheath you can make. If I was to make it prettier, I would have grooved the leather so that the thread sat flush rather than proud of the leather. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and found it useful. The more leatherwork you do, the faster you will get. This took me about 40 minutes to make with interruptions.

Stove and Eating Utensils

I love titanium stuff. It's true. If you gave me a choice between aluminium and titanium, I would choose titanium every time. Of course that is only true if the items were the same price. I won't pay a premium just so I can shave a few grams off my cup. Titanium utensils and ultra light weight stoves have the cool factor that's for sure, but I am just a humble bush bum that does not have a limitless supply of cash. For this reason I try to be practical about my choice of cooking and eating tools and try squeeze out every drop of value I can. here's a look at what I use and can recommend.

The Stove

Coleman Feather 442 Review

I love this stove. I think it represents the ultimate value for money ideal. It is sturdy and well built, and given the choice of materials, it will take a beating before it needs any repairs.

Operation: All you need to do is unscrew the primer and pump it between 20 - 30 times. Be sure to hold your thumb over the hole. Screw the primer back in. Next, pour a little fuel over the bowl and light it. Wait until the fuel is nearly burnt off and slowly open the valve. The vapour will ignite and after 10 - 20 seconds you will be presented with a lovely blue flame.

Maintenance: Other than putting a few drops of oil to keep the primer cup moistened, there is little that needs doing. If you notice a drop in performance, you just have to wriggle the valve and a self cleaning nozzle will take care of the rest. This is as easy as it gets.

Why a Feather 442? I use a Trangia alcohol stove too and love it. Alcohol does have it's limitations though. At high altitudes it's a poor choice as it takes a great deal longer to burn properly and in the cold there is greatly reduced performance. This was the initial reason I bought the Coleman. Since it can be pressurised by hand, I can compensate for altitude and cold. Many people advocate the use of heating paste in the cold but I just use either a cotton ball with vaseline or just pour fuel over the bowl and light. That's the beauty of this stove. Easy to light and tough as nails. It has been used by military forces the world over and only recently has been replaced by the Whisper-lite series of stoves. Here is a youtube review i did of the stove:

The Cook Set
Like I said, I love titanium. I just don't love the cost. I have used aluminium cook sets most of my life and have found them to be light, robust and easy to repair. I prefer anodized sets as they are tougher. This is a cheapie set I bought here in Norway:

As you can see it has a frying pan and a pot and it is sold under the name Rast. I rarely take the frying pan but I guess it's nice to have the option. The pot itself holds 1.2 litres which I find ample for one and in a pinch it could hold enough for two. The set has plastic handles which requires some thought when using. I make a fire and just put the pot on the ground with the handles pointing away from the fire. I push it up to the fire so that the edge is up against the coals. There is a little hole in the lid so once it starts to boil I can see the steam hissing out. It's not fancy but then again, it doesn't have to be.

If you choose aluminium, just be sure to understand it's limits. Don't let the water boil out so that it sits empty on the fire. This is a sure-fire way to destroy the set. If used on the open fire (which I mostly cook on), it will take on creasote and blacken. Don't let this bother you too much. Once it gets thick enough it can be chipped off. just be sure to give it a rinse and put it in a storage sack before packing it or else all your other gear will be black.

Eating Utensils
I do most of my camping alone so I don't bother to take a plate or bowl with me. I just eat straight from the pot. This has several advantages.
  1. Less washing up
  2. Less equipment to carry
  3. Easier to reheat food
The disadvantage is that you need to think about boiling water before hand as your pot will be in use longer. Also, if someone comes along to bum food you have no way of sharing. If I think i will have company, I will take an extra fold-a-cup. This cup can be seen in the picture above and is an ingenious cup that hails from Sweden.
Like most of my gear, I dummy chord mine so I can hang it to dry. It also makes organising your camp kitchen as easy as finding the nearest tree and hanging your things from it. In the Summer I use this cup a great deal however in the Winter I use the lid from my thermos.

I love my spork. Again, you can get titanium sporks and aluminium sporks. I chose a poly carbonate one. It's cheap and more importantly, won't burn your lip when eating hot foods. This particular example has the right mix of volume for soups, and handle length for stirring the pot. Mine is in bright orange because these little buggers are so easy to lose. It is made by Sea to Summit  and is dirt cheap:

Cheaper than chips at $.75

I always have a spare too in case unexpected company shows up for meal times. Again, my personal spork is dummy chorded for obvious reasons.

Water Storage
In Australia water storage is a tricky business. The lack of water in the environment means that any water you plan on using has to be carried with you. In Norway this is not such a big deal. there is water everywhere and for the most part, it is safe to drink straight from the source since most is fresh snow melt. I use several methods to store liquids here in Norway.

In the Summer I mainly use the Platy bag from Cascade Designs. This little device weighs next to nothing and once empty, can be rolled up. It takes up little room in the back pack. I chose a 1litre bag because the abundance of streams and lakes means I don't need anything more. I like the sip lid version as it means I have no cap to lose and I can adjust the flow if I am using it to wash my hands.

How to fill: These bags can be tricky to fill so here is how I fill mine. After taking the lid off, I inflate it. By holding it on the seams, I can maintain it's shape as I dip into the water source. This is by far the most effective way of filling this bag that I have found.

BPA free: I am not a fan of cancer or dud reproductive organs. It's just something I can live without and as such, avoid products that contain BPA. If you don't know what that is, it's time to get educated:

BPA as birthcontrol

Nearly all plastics still leach synthetic hormones though so we still have a long way to go until we are safe. For this reason, I try avoid using plastic to store hot or acidic liquids (except for my fold-a-cup).

Nalgene Bottle
I like my Nalgene which is also BPA free. It's tough and holds a litre of liquid. It has been made nearly redundant by the Platy Bag however if I think my bag will get knocked around, I take the Nalgene instead. I know it can take the abuse without leaking.

In Winter the Thermos is a must. Mine is a 750ml model which I bought cheap. I don't know what brand it is and to be honest it probably does not matter much. Most are now made in China and have pretty similar performance. My routine when I make camp in Winter is to start a fire ASAP and boil water. I fill my thermos with boiling water and 2 tea bags. While I make dinner and eat, the tea steeps. I mix a couple spoon fulls of sugar and enjoy. I'll drink the whole thing before bed to warm me up. While the fire is dying down, I boil some more water and refill the thermos. This is placed in my sleeping bag so I will have water to make coffe and porridge for breakfast.

So there you have it. This is what i use and it's about as simple as I have been able to get. None of it is fancy or expensive. It is functional and robust though and in all the time I have been using these items (roughly 3 - 4 years), I have not broke or damaged any of them. You don't need the fanciest or most expensive because after all, getting the warm tasty stuff into the mouth shouldn't be made more complex than it needs to be.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Survival versus Bushcraft

Survivalists and bushcrafters have a great deal in common. In general both are believers in self reliance and appreciate the need to learn skills often thought of as outdated by the general populace. I think the difference is that in the survivalists mind, scenarios are quite extreme and they often see themselves alone and against daunting odds. I prefer bushcraft. It seems less complicated and requires less paranoia. By no means am I saying you shouldn't store some food and provisions. In fact, I encourage this. I am a firm believer that whoever feeds you owns you so make sure you have enough to get by in lean times. In my opinion this is good housekeeping, not survivalism.

So why is survivalism negative? I don't think it is, but it attracts quite a few weirdos. By weirdos, I mean folks who:
  • Feel the need to hammer their knives through an anvil to make sure that it will survive a typical survival scenario.
  • Folks who stockpile tactical clothing. They don't realise that if war broke out, someone dressed as a special forces soldier would be sniped or vapourised with a hellfire shot from a drone within the first minute of stepping out of the door.
  • Carry a giant knife when a small folder would do perfectly. I mean, you don't need a kukri to open a letter.
  • Paint their Chevy C10 in camo, even though they use it as a round' town car.
Bushcraft is romanticised and has become very popular. Really, it's just people who enjoy, and have become proficient at camping. It's nothing mythical or magical. If you know someone who hunts regularly, chances are they are great bushcrafters who could do quite well at living off the land.

Since Discovery channel has been featuring more "survivalists" and even men who are apparently competing against nature, people have started looking at bushcrafters as being extreme or following the survivalist line of thinking. I think this is a grave misunderstanding. For the most part, bushcrafters are not extreme adrenaline junkies, yahooing as they backflip off waterfalls after drinking their own urine from an elephant's foreskin. Quite the opposite really. They are generally people who like the quiet and enjoy activities that require patience. You see most of the old skills required time, patience and an understanding that everything takes effort and time if it's to be done properly.

So what is my take on survivalism? I think anyone can be a survivor. I think it's a state of mind rather than a preoccupation with tacticool equipment. When the chips are down, will you keep your head and do what you have to in order to get yourself and those around you through it? If you answered yes, then you are a survivalist. Some people have all the gear, but no idea. I think it's better to have less but know how to use it to it's full potential. This is why I advocate using less equipment, but buying quality. Learn to use less and you will learn to think and plan more. This is a useful skill to practice and no amount of gear will develop this skill.

Making the transition from a survivalist to a bushcrafter requires a shift in thinking. Start using your equipment and gear in practical ways. You will quikly find out if your gas mask is as useful as an aluminium pot when your out in the woods. I can guarantee you that you will start to realise that you have bought into a great deal of marketing hype and for the most part, have spent a lot of money on crap you will never use. I often chuckle when i read threads on forums where people ask what knife / axe / phone would be best in a survival situation. Most times, you won't have any of these items with you, that's why it's a "survival" situation. This is why skills are more important. Knowledge, skill and common sense will serve you much better than the best knife or camo paint.

That's my take. Skills and knowledge weigh nothing and only require use to stay maintained. For the most part these can be had for free. It just takes time. If your willing to spend the time, you are already on the road to being a bushcrafter. Stay safe this Easter.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Fallkniven H1, Helle Viking and SOG Field Pup Reviews

My grandfather used to say a man without a knife and a good pair of shoes is no man at all. I tend to agree. I love folding knives but nothing beats the practicality of a good quality fixed blade. The first decent fixed blade I received was on my 14th birthday. I remember my brother throwing it onto my bed with a simple, "happy birthday". Pulling it out of the sheath, I saw a lovely Buck General, later to be immortalised in the Scream movies. Unfortunately, an ex-friend of mine stole it because apparently, buying drugs with the money he sold it for was more important than us remaining friends. Live and learn I guess.

I went through that time where Rambo knives were the rage, and, given the chance I would have probably bought one. As I have grown older, I like to think I have matured and gotten a little wiser. I am living by the philosophy that less is often more and a little is often more than we need. As such, my taste in knives has changed somewhat. I tend to prefer blades no longer than 4 inches, knife and sheath combos that are light, and the dangler sheath design. If you ask me what I prefer, carbon or stainless, I will probably just shrug. I don't really care as long as it takes an edge and holds it. I am not really a steel snob so if I think I'll be anywhere near water, I'll choose the stainless low maintenance option every time.

Fallkniven H1 Review

So lets look at the line up:

Starting with the left we have the Fallkniven H1. It is made of the impressive 3G steel, laminated between 2 slices of VG10. Here are the specs according to Fallkniven:

I have found the handle to be extremely comfortable on this knife and the shape of the blade to be very functional. Maybe it's the soft spot I have for Scandinavian knives seeing that I live in Norway, but I really appreciate both the ability of this shape and the aesthetics.

The blade is quite thick at 5mm and this amounts to a substancial 180grams. This doesn't seem like that much for folks used to carrying big knives, but to me, I don't want to notice the knife on my belt until I need to use it. This is about as heavy a knife as I would wear and for the most part, I don't need this much knife. When processing game, I use the H1 as it keeps such a good edge that when I am done, it only needs a strop to return it to shaving sharp. The edge comes convexed as standard and is very strong. The only thing is that it may be a little too obtuse to do fine carving. Most bushcrafters are obsessed with carving feather sticks for some reason, so if this is your cross to bear as well, this may be the wrong knife for you.

For some reason, Fallkniven make great knives, but their sheaths suck like a chest wound. Shortly after purchasing the knife, a very gracious gentleman on the Fallkniven sub forum of Knife Forums:

sent me a new sheath free of charge. I much prefer the new sheath as it holds the knife much more securely and also houses a fire steel.

Overall, it's a great knife. Typical of wonder steels, it holds a great edge but is more difficult to sharpen than your tool steels and simpler stainless steels. Just keep the edge maintained and you should not have any major problems though. If your a hunter or outdoor enthusiast, this knife will do everything you ask of it.

Helle Viking Review
On one of my many trips to the forest to pick blueberries, I happened to find this knife. My wife makes an awesome blueberry jam, so this was just icing on the cake for me!

At first I thought it was a hand made knife by a local Smith, but when I asked my friend Mr Gaustad that makes my blades, he said it looked production. It was in a bad way when I found it as the blade was rusted to the point of locking the blade in the sheath. I worked it loose but in the process stretched the sheath considerably so that it is a bit loose now. Even still, it is a very capable, general purpose knife. It was designed as a reproduction of a Viking era knife and as such is very "no-frills". No bolster, a rough finish and minimal styling on the handle. I found the grind to be a little un-even but hey, it has worked for Norwegians for the last 1000 years, so I am sure this isn't a big deal in the grand scheme of things. If your looking for a beautiful show knife, this isn't it. It's a work horse that will keep a good edge and that's about it.

If we take a close look at the pommel, we see that the blade has been peened to the handle. This is probably the strongest way of making a stick tang / rat tang knife. I am part of the local knife making club and all the makers produce stick tang or rat tang knives. Stick tangs are tradition here and are plenty strong enough if you use an axe for the heavy stuff, and a knife for the fine cutting. I have made a few stick tang knives and to date have not broke a single knife. Of course I don't batton with my knives so that might have a lot to do with it. In fact, here in Norway I have not seen or heard of a single person who does.

I found the handle to be long enough for my ham sized hands and comfortable in extended use. You can often find them at Ragweed Forge for $85, which I think is reasonable.

I personally like this knife but it really comes down to a matter of taste and user style. I know Ross didn't think too highly of it but I guess that is the beauty of differing tastes.

I have used it to clean game and fish and found it to be a decent knife that would suit someone not fussed with showy knives.

SOG Field Pup Review
I am always careful when loaning out my knives. I mean, I even shudder when giving a knife to my wife. Enter the SOG Field Pup. This knife is a no nonsense knife. It has a plastic handle, AUS 8 stainless blade, and a balistic nylon sheath tough enough to choke a shark. It's not the prettiest knife but it will get the job done.

I have used this knife for general camp chores and food prep and was impressed at the quality of the steel. SOG have done a good job with the blade because it hold an edge really well. The handle is very grippy, although some could find it uncomfortable due to the rough texture. I don't mind, after using it for a while I am sure the hands will toughen up and adapt. The shape of the handle is very ergonomic and the muscles don't want to tire while using this knife. If I lost my hand made fixed blade, I'd happily use this knife as a replacement.

I think the thing that puts most people off this knife is this:

I prefer my knives not to be Far East products but hey, if you only have $36 USD to spend on a knife, I can't see a problem with it. I mean, comparing this to a Mora, I would choose this knife in a heart beat. It seems well made and the most important things like steel and handle material are more than adequate. Here is some more info from SOG:

The hollow ground profile of this blade just begs to be put through meat. Using this knife to clean game was a pleasant experience. When I was done, I just put it in the dishwasher and all the fat that gets stuck in the handle is washed away without scrubbing. I know I am not alone when I say this knife will handle camp chores as this review found on Ol' Jimbo's blog line's up with my thoughts:

This knife would suit a beginner or someone who wants a low maintenance knife. It's light on the hip and great for processing game.

All the knives I have are pretty basic really. I mean yes, the Fallkniven is approaching the expensive side but they are all pretty simple. I don't care for saw backs or serrations. I don't even care for leather sheaths or natural materials. I want a knife that fits my hand, holds an edge and isn't too heavy. The knives reviewed see little use now that I have made my own.

This knife fits my hand like a glove, has a great laminated carbon steel blade (made by Mr Gaustad of the Tinn knife making club) and uses local materials. Even the aluminium was sourced from the local refinery before it closed it's doors. I had made this knife for a competition run on the Bushcraft USA forum and happened to get 3rd place. Not bad for a first knife. It may not be a combat knife that could take the head off a zebra with a single swipe, but it does everything I need it to. If I need more knife, then I use an axe. I hope you enjoyed the read, good camping and stay safe.

Pocket Knives I Own and Recommend

Since most folks interested in the outdoors are knife crazy, I figure I may as well put up some info on pocket knives I have owned and can recommend. I try not to buy things emotionally bcause this usually ends up in spending more than you can afford for a product you don't really need. I like to think about the task the knife will perform and then buy a knife that is QUALITY and best suited to the task. I have had quite a few pocket knives over the years but have only kept the quality ones. I did start off with a knife called a Mundial Squirrel which was a lovely little knife but some dolt of a flatmate lost it and I never saw it again. so I'll start at the start and write about the knives in order they were purchsed, starting with the oldest.

Victorinox Camper
After I purchased my Mundial Squirrel (the year was 1987), I was hooked. I had a birthday coming up and my mother asked me what I wanted. I had dreamed of a real Swiss Army Knife for ages, and so for my 11th birthday, she bought me a Victorinox Camper from the sporting section of K-Mart. This was a great little knife and unusually, it didn't possess the tooth pick and tweezers the regualr camper now does:

A quick look at mine shows that it has been around and seen use. Luckily, I have always been OCD with my knives and even for an 11 year old, I looked after it pretty well.

I found the combination of tools to suit me very well and used most of them a great deal... except of course for the cork screw. Maybe that was some French influence because for the life of me, I couldn't see the Swiss Army trecking across the Alps with a bottle of wine under one arm, and a baguette and wedge of cheese under the other. Regardless, if you ignore the useless corkscrew, it's a great little knife that takes and edge and resists rust quite well. Mine has survived 21 years and will end up going to my kids when they are old enough. This knife is great for youngsters learning about knives and would suit a kid in the Scouts or Royal Rangers without a problem.

Leatherman Charge Ti
When I was finally finishing my degree and had lined up a contract for work, I needed a multi tool. You see, as a sports and science teacher, I had a bit of equipment that needed maintaining and this knife had all the right equipment to do the job. Leatherman has made very similar knives to the Charge Ti like the Charge XT / TTi / AL / ALX/ XTi

I really didn't see the need for gut hooks and seatbelt cutters at the time so I went with the Charge Ti. It has been a great knife and I would have to say that of all the knives I own and have owned, the Leatherman has seen the most use. If I lost it, I would buy one again tomorrow.
So what makes it so great? It has a great combination of tools. The quality is high (at least on mine as I bought it in 2003, while they were still making everything in USA) and there is a wide selection of bits available for the bit holder. The bit holder IMO is a stroke of genius that elevated this knife from a gimmick to a real tool worthy of being called an Every Day Carry knife. I also must say that the fixed flat screw driver is an item that should not be underlooked. Having this fixed driver makes opening paint cans and prying a safer enedvour than using the changable bit holder.

The main blade also deserves some mention. I have found the 154 CM steel to be one of the best steel I have encountered. The heat treat on this knife blade is perfect as the blade takes an edge and holds it for a very long time.

This knife has served me extremely well and became an integral part of my kit when I changed careers and became a firefighter. It was used to maintain Holomatro Rescue equipment, pumps, BA and radio equipment and even used to cut up the much anticipated cakes we had on "fat Friday". They can be found second hand and should be snapped up if you see them with the older styled leather sheath (like the one pictured below) as this indicates the older models that were still using parts solely manufactured in the US.

Even though the Leatherman is not consider "bushcrafty", it should still seriously be considered when you are looking for a knife. It is sturdy, multi-purpose and with a 25 year guarantee it is also very good value.

Spyderco Salt H1

I usually shy away from serrated knives. I just find them impractical for the majority of tasks we tend to need a knife for. They only really excel at aggresive cutting needed for ropes or material where each serration acts as a seperate little knife blade, making short work of tough materials. This feature is what made this knife a benefit as part of my Road Accident Rescue kit when working as a fire fighter. The H1 steel is rust proof. I mean, we use some pretty nasty chemicals in firefighting foam that would rust most metals very quickly. This knife, despite riding around in my turn-out coat through chemicals and water, never developed a speck of rust. I had never once olide it or washed it under clean water and yet it stayed shiny and bright. The H1 metal keeps a very good edge, is quite easy to resharpen and resists chipping very well. Apparently the key is using Nitrogen to harden the steel instead of Carbon. Who would have thunk it eh? As it stands, these knives used to be made in Seki City, Japan, but like nearly everything else manufacturing was moved to China at a later date. I was lucky..

The Salt H1 can also be bought with a plain edge, which makes this knife PERFECT for people that spend their time near water.

Mine was so specialised that after I left the fireservice, it never saw much use again. I carry it in winter as the bright yellow makes it easy to find in my backpack and grip, large circular cut-out and shape make it easy to operate with heavy gloves. Again, I highly recommend this knife!

Fallkniven TK3
Every now and again I suffer from bouts of madness brought on by things I can consider beautiful. Ask my wife, she'll confirm this. When I first saw the Fallkniven TK3, I thought it was the most beautiful pocket knife I had seen. I was looking for a plain edge pocket knife to have on my belt as the Leatherman was a little too large and the Spyderco was too limited due to the serrations. I had read tales and legends of Fallkniven's G3 steel and decided I must have one. I promptly joined Knife Forums:

and became part of the Fallkniven sub-forum to learn what I could about this marvelous little knife. At this point a gentleman from Work Wear Canada:

contacted me and offered me a TK3 that had been slightly damaged that was his personal knife. I jumped at the chance and waited in anticipation for it to arrive in the mail. He had extreme knife OCD because what he considered damage was barely noticable so to say I was chuffed was an understatement.

The knife has cocobollo rosewood scales and locks up tighter than a retired basketballer's knee. Short of buying a custom handmade folder, you won't see this kind of quality from many other manufacturers. Here are the specs from Fallkniven:

This knife oozes quality but the sheath looks as appealing as boiled gonads. Although practical, the sheath is made of nylon and drops the ball when you compare it to the gentlemanly qualities of the TK3 it houses.

One thing needs to be said about exotic super steels though, they have their own personality. Harder to dull means harder to sharpen. This knife holds an edge like no other but it takes a fair effort to restore that edge if you let it go for too long. If you look closely at the picture above, you will notice a sutural line on the blade. This is present because the blade is constructed from laminated steel, with the 3G sandwitched between 2 slices of VG10. Despite the difficulty you may experience when resharpening this knife, if you want a good quality little folder, I highly recommend the TK3. There is a wide variety of scale materials to choose from so you can get one to suit your tastes.

It was never my intention to make this post a mini-novel, yet here we are. I hope you enjoyed the read. I will post my thoughts on various fixed blade knives I have owned soon.