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Bushcraft Blades: Do they really matter?

Discussion in 'Wilderness & Survival Skills' started by jimh0220, Jun 28, 2010.

  1. Blue Sky

    Blue Sky Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 16, 2002
    Today it’s called Bushcraft, a hundred years ago Horace Kephart called it Woodcraft. Same thing, different name, nothing new. I think Woodcraft is more accurate, personally. To try and add some perspective to the knife debate, just look at the knives preferred by the two icons of the outdoors, Kephart and Nessmuk. They could hardly be more different, yet each of these two experienced gentlemen felt it was best for their needs. Conclusion? There is no best, just what works best for you. But the discussion is fun anyway.
    tidefan, Pomsbz and bikerector like this.
  2. Blue Sky

    Blue Sky Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 16, 2002
    Very optimistic, lol. I do believe it could be done (don’t know if I could...) but I’m pretty sure they would never forget their regular knife again!
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2019
  3. JJ_Colt45

    JJ_Colt45 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 11, 2014
    the biggest glaring issue here is ... "a guide without a knife or three on him?" ... not someone who would have a job very long ...
    Plainsman likes this.
  4. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    That actually is glaring and I can't imagine a guide not having at least one knife on them regardless on a hunt. The guide usually does the field dressing and I guess if the animal is quartered for transport, they would do that too as part of the service.
    Plainsman likes this.
  5. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    Nessmuk was an axe man as I understand it. Kephart carried a slippie (jack knife-two blade) as well as his medium sized fixed blade. I believe Nessmuks design was mostly for skinning animals too rather than a general use knife.
  6. bikerector

    bikerector KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Nov 16, 2016
    That is also my understanding, the Nessmuk being optimized for skinning and roughly being a small butcher knife. I think there was talk that he also had a slip-joint for all of the other tasks. I think the Nessmuk trio was the skinning knife, slippie, and an axe. Those too did a lot of work with the folding knives.
  7. not2sharp

    not2sharp Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 1999
    I hear you. Nor, could I imagine heading out on a hunt without a couple of knives and a sharpening tool. But, that is how the story was reported.

  8. tidefan


    Nov 23, 2004
    This is the first knife I bought with my own earned money. 1978, carried it with me everywhere. It has dressed hundreds of rabbits, squirrels, quail, dove, hogs, a couple of rattlesnakes, and at least 20 deer. It made traps, made tinder bundles, and tent stakes. It was used to make a connection on a corroded battery post to get me out of the woods when I fractured my arm. Never ever felt under knifed. Carried it until early 2003. It wasn't my bushcraft knife or my hunting knife, it was my knife. Still have it, still love it.

    FB_IMG_1578104875781.jpg FB_IMG_1578104881365.jpg FB_IMG_1578104888603.jpg
    AK4789, Eric J, Grateful and 10 others like this.
  9. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    That is pretty much the way things were for me. I also selected and bought my childhood knives with my own money. Mine was a Case Barlow.
    buckfynn and tidefan like this.
  10. heresthedeal


    Oct 3, 2010
    Mine was a boker tree brand medium stockman.
    Had no idea I needed anything else.
    buckfynn, jmh33 and tidefan like this.
  11. kgd


    Feb 28, 2007
    I have to say that I'm pretty particular about the knives I carry on our boreal forest canoe trips. The barrel always has one of five bushcrafty specimens that have been created by custom makers who frequented W&SS back in the day and many of them participated in the various W&SS knife contests that were really fun to watch and interact with during their judging.

    The trouble is, once you find that one knife that works perfectly for you; Has a great handle, great blade length and doesn't look like some punk-ass tactical wet dream....Well after that it is hard to go back. I haven't bought a new fixed blade for a long time since I found my perfect last one. I may get one of those new ESEE-3 in s35JN for a lifejacket knife to replace an old 1095 ESEE_3 that rode there before but that isn't a bushcrafter in my mind. I know exactly what the perfect bushcraft blade looks like. For me it is my trusty B. Andrews Terrasaur even after I had to re-profile it from snapping its tip. I just can't tear myself away from its sublimely perfect handles.

    Part of the trip is finding out what works for you and even if you just so happened to buy the perfect knife the first time around, chances are you will still pick up a few others to compare with before settling on your perfect woods knife.
  12. Phoynix

    Phoynix Basic Member Basic Member

    Dec 21, 2013
    Way it see it all.
    Bushcraft is is just a general normal knife thats often in the shape of blades used for hundreds if not thousands of years.
    Bushcraft Blades will do anything a knife should do.

    Survival blades are a heavy/thick slabs of steel that is a rather new invention.
    Survival blades will do anything you see movie stars do in tv shows or movies like Rambo.

  13. stabman

    stabman Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 17, 2007
    Hudson Bay knives and Kukris aren't new, nor ore they limited to what Rambo does.

    Knives of all sizes have existed for centuries.
    Large knives have been used for utilitarian tasks all over the world...so have smaller ones.

    Most important thing about a "Bushcraft" "Woodcraft" or "Survival" knife is really the handle, in many ways.
    If the handle sucks, you aren't going to be able to use it very well for much at all.
  14. Phoynix

    Phoynix Basic Member Basic Member

    Dec 21, 2013
    Kukri historically had a second small blade carried with it to actually do normal work, it wasn't a one for everything knife so I don't feel it counts at all as a Survival blade because it was not seen capable of doing everything. Hudson bay knives were for buffalo and we know they were also used to split wood instead of an axe ETC so they do fall into the "survival" blades section in that they did more jobs and it was called a camp knife. I don't believe they were seen as a capable fighting knife.

    Survival knives seem expected to do anything, the perfect knife of any use.
  15. kgd


    Feb 28, 2007
    Does not exist - a perfect knife in any use. But alas, it really isn't the knife that needs the perfecting now is it?
    LG&M likes this.
  16. bore


    May 20, 2015
    There probably is a blade that can fillet a fish, gut and quarter an animal, make a hot dog stick. Thinking a fillet knife will. But not much good for batoning. Good for feather sticks tho
  17. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    Just about any 3" fixed blade or slip joint will do that. It is mostly just getting used to the knife you have and using it (and not abusing it). As @stabman said, the handle is an important attribute as to whether you will like to use a particular knife.

    Big knives will continue to be used worldwide. You technically can do almost any task with a big knife that you can with a small knife. You may not prefer to, but you can do it. But you have to be willing to carry one and THAT is the biggest problem as far as I'm concerned. I don't routinely baton wood with a knife, but I see no particular problem with just about any fixed blade as long as you pay attention if you care about the knife.
    LG&M and Pomsbz like this.
  18. daizee

    daizee KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 30, 2009
    Hey y'all, been awhile since I checked in here.

    I'm with 22-rimfire on the 3" knife-you-have-with-you. I happen to live in a 3" concealed-carry-limit state, and it turns out to be an excellent EDC size, if a bit awkward in folders (where enough handle means 3.2-3.6" blade). Spyderco has some good options there.

    But yeah, the multi-level cutting tool thing always feels like a good idea. While I've recently come to appreciate the Kephart style a lot, it's a bit big for EDC in my "country-lite" area, both socially and legally. And definitely not toting that when I'm at my (current) federal worksite. A razor blade is tiny, but hard to carry safely, and not very strong. Here's my solution to the tin-knife. Also works with an urban lifestyle, as long as you remember to clean your keys before you fly... My hunting/hiking pack has one of these little guys tethered to the firesteel. The square sides of the grinds work great for scraping, and conserve your edge. I'd rather have the backup tool with my fire kit instead of expecting to have separate knife AND steel. Little guys like this are great for tiny incisions and detail work in a pinch:


    LG&M and jmh33 like this.
  19. milesofalaska

    milesofalaska Dealer / Materials Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Dealer / Materials Provider

    Dec 4, 2010
    When young I carried one knife to do everything! Skin moose, cut bailing wire, clean out my ears. I got mad at the custom knife maker once when his knife did not seem to do so well cutting the heads off nails! He had guaranteed the knife etc. He kindly explained types of steel, blade shapes. I now carry a leather-man, 5 inch skinner, and machete or hatchet. As far as price... I am told the steel that still wins the most all around knife tests still starts with a $5 piece of plain as you can get, 1085. As a custom knife maker I sell some $50 blank blades a person cold put duct tape around and it will perform as well as 95% of the blades on the market for similar shape and style. You do not absolutely have to spend over $500 for something functional. It is not just brands and styles of knives we discuss and debate and pay a lot for or brag about the deal. Cloths, china, furniture, cars, guns, and on and on. The debate never ends! One reason there are so many choices and knife makers in the world!
  20. MolokaiRider

    MolokaiRider Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 13, 2017
    Interesting thread that has spanned some time.

    I would just add that something like a Mora Companion is a great starter knife. As your time learning progresses, you may or may not decide to buy a new knife that has “upgraded” features.

    Full tang, different steel or handle material, sheath style, etc.

    Or you may just stick with the Mora.

    But one thing that is certain, is that after you spend some time working with the tool, features that you like or don’t like will flesh out.
    jmh33 likes this.

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