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A simple review: Fiddleback Forge Handyman, a beautiful, compact bushcraft knife

Discussion in 'Knife Reviews & Testing' started by schmittie, Feb 4, 2017.

  1. schmittie

    schmittie Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 28, 2009
    Maybe you are like me. As time passes, my preferences in knives seem to change. For the past few years, I have found I am most likely to carry and use a more compact knife, about 7-7.5" overall. I like a full sized handle (4") and short blade best. All my larger knives with a blade over 4.5" have been sold off because I just don't reach for them anymore nor do I want to carry that much steel around. It's just overkill and I don't have anything to prove. For me, thin is in. I'd like to introduce you to my favorite, compact, lightweight bushcraft knife.


    Fiddleback Forge Handyman in 3/32" A2 scandi grind, skeletonized full tang, green canvas over natural liners and orange pinstripes.

    Weight- 3.8 ounces
    Blade length- 3 1/4"
    Handle length- 4 1/4"

    I've owned this knife about a year or more. So there has been plenty of time to do a variety of tasks:

    Skinning out a doe I got this season

    Whittling on the patio in the summer months

    Carving indoors during a long winter

    What would a bushcraft knife review be without a try stick? This ash sapling was cut in the spring and was pulled out of the brush pile in early fall. It's plenty dry.

    The knife had enough mass to knock off all the little branches and slice off the remaining knots with ease.

    The remaining notches were a joy to carve, even in this old, hard stick.

    Of course, she holds her own feathersticking with the big boys.

    I could cut curls with this knife all day long.

    Through all of these tasks, the edge remained sharp, only needing a light strop afterwards. The only damage sustained was a tiny chip near the tip that happened while skinning the deer. I think I raked bone a little to hard when cutting the lower legs off. But no worries. Fiddleback's in house heat treating is just plain great, whether it's O1 or A2. Although I really enjoy the O1 knives I have from them, I think I'll keep trying to get 3/32" A2 whenever possible. I just like it that much.

    Besides the overall size of this knife, my favorite detail is the handle shape. When first introduced to Fiddleback Forge, I was very impressed with Andy's use of a forward palm swell, like on the popular Bushfinger, Hiking Buddy, Kephart models. With a forward Palm swell, the hand grips closer to the ricasso and provides greater cutting power. This feature is on many, but not all Fiddlebacks. But over the past 8 years I have been purchasing and using Fiddlebacks, I find that I don't prefer that handle style. That is no problem. Andy has such an amazing variety of bushcraft knives, there IS something for everyone. :) The Handyman still has a palm swell, but it is centered and more neutral and similar to what is on the Terrassuar and Skookum Bush Tool. For whatever reason I like this style better. I can't say how exited I was to see this model released in mid 2015.

    This knife isn't exotic, doesn't have the newest "super steel" on the market and certainly didn't break the bank. But it does what I want every time and is a joy to carry and use. She may not be fancy, but she sure is pretty to me and my favorite Fiddleback so far.


    I'd like to thank Andy and the Fiddleback crew for consistently producing wonderful tools. They make something for everyone out there, to the daily workhorses that I prefer and the beautiful show pieces that many collect. If you haven't already, step on over to the Fiddleback Subforum. It's a fun place to hang out. And you just might find your next favorite knife. :)
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2017
    Bmurray, dalefuller and viking313 like this.
  2. Odaon

    Odaon Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 13, 2009
    That's a sweet scandi-man! I wouldn't be upset to own one just like it with a convex grind. Awesome review! :thumbup:
    schmittie likes this.
  3. Comprehensivist

    Comprehensivist Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Aug 23, 2008
    That's a heck of a nice nice write-up schmittie. It carries a lot more weight with me to read a review writtten by someone who has owned and used the knife for a while. You demonstrate that the Handyman hits the sweet spot for you in many applications. That is cool to see and read about.

    Thanks again for all the work you put into this review. I truly appreciate you sharing your experienced observations.

    Last edited: Feb 8, 2017
    schmittie likes this.
  4. Jamesh Bond

    Jamesh Bond

    Jan 14, 2007

    Its a nice break from the typical parroting of manufacturing specs.

    Nice pics, too.
    schmittie likes this.
  5. dalefuller

    dalefuller Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 2, 2005
    A great, useful review by a user. Nice. I have a Hiking Buddy that's my fav FbF. Same basic shape and materials, just slightly smaller dimensions. Since I discovered FbF and WAS, all my other fixed blades except my Guardian 3 have move to other homes. They're just so handy riding in a clipped pocket sheath, and so dependable and easy to use.

    I really like the A2 and O1 that Andy and Allen use. The knives are easy to maintain and the handle ergos are as good as any knife I've ever used.
    schmittie likes this.
  6. adequacy


    Mar 19, 2014
    Awesome review schmittie. I have that same knife in a brown micarta. It's like the fraternal twin. Excellent stuff.
    schmittie likes this.
  7. Scotcha


    Oct 25, 2013
    Awesome review. The Handyman is probably my favourite in the fiddleback lineup.
    schmittie likes this.
  8. edK69


    Feb 27, 2005
    I like it! Congrats on a fine blade and thanks for the review!
    schmittie likes this.
  9. jonnieb27


    Sep 13, 2008
    Beautiful knife. Thanks for taking the time to post such great pictures of its uses!
    schmittie likes this.
  10. Bmurray

    Bmurray Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 9, 2012
    Ive come to the conclusion after this weekend that the handyman is the best custom knife design in the FB lineup. Its has the small blade of the hiking buddy but with a fuller grip with a similar shape to the KEB. I think schmitte has it nailed on his review.
    dalefuller and schmittie like this.
  11. schmittie

    schmittie Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 28, 2009

    Thanks for the kind words. I've really got to save up for a thin convex model. It's such a great knife!
    Bmurray likes this.
  12. Bmurray

    Bmurray Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 9, 2012
    yea I have one for sale;)
    schmittie likes this.

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