Sunday, December 30, 2007

Free Bushcraft Knife Review

I posted a few weeks back that I had one a Dan Koster Bushcraft knife. Bascially, Dan was making this knife new and for providing input, I won the prototype.

For a quick summary, I REALLY like this knife. Here are the full details.

Disclaimer1: This knife is the proto bushcrafter. Therefore it is possible that it is different than all the others being shipped. For sure, it is O1 steel. From there, only Dan really knows what is different. Since Dan was gracious enough to have a contest and give something away, I figured the least I could do was give a review with as much detail as possible. (added: The bushcrafter is now available as a standard model from Dan, and available in O1, along with other steels too).

Disclaimer2: There are no facts presented here :) Any time I state something, it is my opinion, and therefore subjective. So, if I state something that you don’t agree with, it is not fact anyway, and my opinion is not likely to change :)

First Impressions: The knife as received is exactly what I was expecting from the photos. Since this one was the proto (I think anyway) the edge was not as sharp as probably all the ones that were officially ordered. So, we spent some quality time on the belt sander. I merely followed the bevels that were currently in place (I am guessing 12-15 degrees per side??? I never measure anything :). I went down all the way to a leather belt with compound. This knife is now the sharpest thing that I own.

I touched it to my arm, and a whole lot of hair came off…..real easy. I meant to get a photo of that later, but forgot. My arm hair is grateful for not having to go through that again…….there is so little left from sharpening stuff these days :)

First, photos of the knife itself:

On to more review. First, the kitchen:

Kitchen Review: I used to quickly discard this type of testing. But, it has become really important to me. When I go into the woods for an extended period of time, I generally like to take 3 edged tools. A hand ax, a sheath knife, and a pocket knife. In general I don’t want to take any extra stuff, which can include kitchen knives, potato peeler, etc. Which means my sheath knife needs to get dinner ready as well as it can get a fire going.

The apple peel test. This knife performed excellent at this. In fact, it is the best non-kitchen knife I have ever used for this. It was very easy to do, and very little waste.

Now, try some carrots. The photos speak for themselves here. Not only was I able to cut pieces easily, the slice I am trying to show is darn thin!

On to some more fun stuff. I figured that the best way to test a bushcraft knife, is to do some bushcrafty type of stuff. So here we go:

Making a simple notch: I first started making a more traditional notch. Since this thing is so darn sharp, this is a piece of cake.

Finished notch:

Pointed notch: This one is not so typical. I make it by batoning the knife into the stick in two different places, 90 degrees to each other. Then, you carve out the notch.

End result:

Pot hanger: The pointed notch made earlier if very useful for and adjustable type of pot hanger. Here I carved off a section of stick, and put a dimple in the end to use with the pointed notch. All of this stuff was REALLY, REALLY fun and easy to do with this knife.

Making and eyelet: Cutting a small square eyelet is something that is typical in bushcraft. Here, I thinned down a branch to do just that. The point geometry of this knife makes this very easy to do. The first picture I am trying to show the tip popping out the eyelet hole, cross grain.

The final hole:

This knife does really well at this. A knife with more curvature to the blade (like the nessmuk) will actually make the feathers curl much, much more. But as far as being thin, I am able to make some of the thinnest feathers even with this knife. Just not much curl, which is just a nit picky thing.

Firesteel: Not so good on this one. The spine, while square seems to have a very small bevel on it. It makes it look very nice, and I can see how it would look “unfinished” without it. However, it does not make for easy striking of a firesteel. I think I might spend more time on the belt sander to make this square. But, I could actually get sparks, but it was not easy. Normally, I could light a featherstick like this, but not this way. (added: I just found out that after making this prototype, Dan made square spines on all his other bushcraft knives. So, this should not be an issue anymore. Additionally, a thumbramp can be added, which is a bunch of lines machined into the back for traction. I suspect they would produce a pretty good spark).

As an aside, I know that the firesteel strikers work well, and all that. But, for me, that is yet one more thing that have to have. I am much more aware of my knife, and where it is, and I am much less likely to loose it than I am a small striker. Therefore, I really like my knife to be able to do it to. I tried to get a photo of some sparks, but they were difficult to produce and time with the camera.

Suggestions: Besides a more square spine (for the firesteel) I only have one suggestion, and it might not even be a worthy one. I have seen (but not used) some bushcraft knives that try to have curvature all along the blade length. I will try to describe that with the following photo.

Overall, there is a long section of the blade that is basically straight. Attempted to be shown by the red line. It might be cool to have the blade more similar to very poorly drawn in blue line. Of course, this could effect the tip geometry which I like so much about this knife. So, once I had my own suggestion in my hand, I might not like it :)

Other things to note: The texture of the handle is great. Canvas micarta is one of my all time favorite handle materials. The texture on this is excellent (I believe it has been bead blasted in some way). It fits really well in my hand. I am sure the thicker slabs will be nice too. I am sure I would be happy with either. The blade length and proportions are all great.

Summary: This knife is a must have. It seems I change favorite knives as often as I change underwear :) But, I really like this one. As a general purpose type of knife, it works out great. As a camping type of knife, it is small and light, and you will not even be aware that you have it……which means that you will actually have it with you! The other great thing is that unlike some other knives that I own, it is very small and compact. So, if you are camping around other people, say a more typical campground, this one is not likely to scare people the way other knives might :)

As an added bonus, this knife is MUCH less expensive than you might think!


At January 12, 2016 at 11:56 AM , Blogger Filletknifehq. com said...

Nice Fillet Knife


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