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Bushcraft techniques, kit reviews, fire-lighting, motorcycle camping, knife making

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Bushcraft Knife in Pau Rosa & Bearing Steel

When I was a young teenager I was given my first knife by my father, a Boys Brigade folder he had when he was himself a young lad. I collected a few knives over the years, purely as tools and along the lines of a Weatherman Wave and the odd penknife. Recently the need for a proper bushcraft tool for use while camping became evident, with fire making a more frequent experience and a decent tool was required. I stumbled upon the excellent British Blades forum and their help and advice was second to none, so my journey began to make my first bushcraft knife.

The first step was to obtain a suitable blade that I could handle and Paul "Frenchy at Custom Knives and Sticks came highly recommended to me as a man who eats, sleeps and breathes knives. He had available a blade he calls the Talisman and offered me one in 52100 bearing steel. Now this blade is a bit of a beast and the specs are:

Material - 52100 bearing steel
Overall length - 228mm
Blade length - 115mm
Handle length - 112mm
Blade thickness - 4.2mm
Widest part (at start of cutting edge) - 32mm
Widest part (at pommel end) - 32mm
Type of Grind - Scandi
Depth of grind - 9mm

For the handle I decided to go with an African hardwood, Pau Rosa, meaning "red wood" in Portuguese from Jean at Knife Scales. With mosaic pins and a newly acquired B&Q pillar drill I undertook my first bushcraft knife project. The Pau Rosa was tough but beautiful to work with and the dark red liners worked a treat with the overall look I was going for - hardwearing, beautiful but functional. Now I'm very much a beginner at this so the shape was something that I studied online a great deal and went with a traditional coke bottle style.

For the sheath I decided to use 3.5mm vegetable tanned leather which seems to be the norm and made a simple sheath, similar to the Ray Mears Woodlore type design with a firesteel holder for the fire lighting tool I would also fashion from the wood. It wetformed to hold the knife securely and is dyed dark brown with leather dye to match the wood to some extent. Finished in carnuba wax.

So far I've had the opportunity to spilt wood with the knife, use it for firesteel striking, make pot stands and prepare food with it. It performs well and the bearing steel, although tougher to sharpen, holds an edge well.

Overall, it's a bit of a beast and I quite like that as it seems almost indestructible.

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