Freitag, 7. Oktober 2016

Santoku Bushcraft - and some thoughts on utility

 Why is it that I keep constantly checking on reality? ;-) This is a knife I started some time ago and finally found my resolve to complete. I have worked with some pretty strange steels to date and have followed pretty weird concepts that were more art than artefact-not that they do not work, mind you. Máandevos is as good as they come and rides in my pocket constantly. It has abnormal edge holding capacity, and I also use it to remove grates from other knives, which actually made some jaws drop... ;-)....


This is but a study for a prototype. As you well know, I keep experimenting with shape, grind, tempering and fiddle with handle designs to achieve a refinement so that I can one day make a knife that has "the" feel. I have heard that Santoku shape is all the rage at the moment with "tactical" and Bushcraft users and I wanted to find out, so I made one with my trademark Fimbulmyrk handle. I hot-punched the tang and messed up a bit, but this one was just for testers anyway. I took some high-carbon spring steel, nothing fancy, roundabout 0,6-075% carbon, some silicium and maybe some tiny amount of chromium and manganese in it, a steel that most modern-day-knifemakers would not spare a second thought about.
 Spine thickness is 4-1.5 mm, tapering, and the tang tapers, too, albeit not that much. Length is a legal 12 cm. You do not actually need anything longer for everyday camp chores apart from chopping, but I find this length helpful in batoning and even cutting bread. Ever tried to cut a loaf of bread with a 60mm - blade? Then you know what I mean... the same goes for cheese and stuff, so I used up all the length the law had to offer. It´s not that you are not allowed to own anything longer, but you have to have a legal reason to carry it in public, and since I do not want to rely on rights of reason anymore, I tend to play safe. And if you mate it with a small campsite hatchet, you got everything you need for the most of occasions.

The blade is tempered using a three-step-process, with a soft spine, and has a high convex bevel, as is almost customary for me. I find when you do it right, a high convex bevel offers the best compromise between cutting prowess and edge stability. You do not want a hatchet grind, though... it is crucial that the edge has an angle of 15-40°. In this case it has some 20-25°, good and durable still but also cutting well enough.
 I fitted some birchwood burr scales on it, fitted with mosaic pins and a brass tube for a lanyard hole.
 The balance point to date is slightly back of the index finger, but I have to finish the wood still, so that will move slightly more forward. It handles quite dexterous.
And this is the culprit: Having tested and worked it some I can say one thing. The knife certainly is nothing fancy what concerns the materials and is certainly not a work of art. But I can safely say that it will take a lot of abuse and comes back for more. It chops deer antler and carves mild steel rods, and who could ask for more? It even whittles well, can be batoned through knotted hardwood and makes short terms of dicing onions and slicing up tomatoes being held by just two fingers. After all this, it still carved curves in free-hanging printer´s paper. It is a knife that works. On the one hand I am glad that making knives like this costs me less and less effort, so that implies I am on a good path. And while I like making concept knives, sometimes you have to check on your progress and on the sense in what you do. This knife will be a companion you can rely on. Everytime, everywhere. And isn´t this what a knife should do in the first place?

Making art knives is a kind of fetish thing. You tell stories, and that is okay in a world that is devoid of stories, and if storytelling is your fetish... yap, there you go. But you always have to keep in mind that your knives still have to work. They have to be a companion and a tool, and they have to be reliable. Nothing more, nothing less.

I hope I can manage the crossover between both worlds.

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