Bushcrafting duties playoff trial

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  • Talking to Chris Grant some time ago I told him I was going to do a longer term tryout of a few knives strictly wood and food processing (because I break bricks with my hands, obviously :) ) to see if the different steels had any measurable effect for me. Obviously blade profile, edge retention, handle leverage and comfort will have big effects and are usually what are being noticed in short comfort trials but this one is for the longer haul.
    I decided to use knives I don't use often with the idea that none of them are go to users that I'm already experienced with so the skill factor bias is reduced.
    The big problem is which knives?
    I can play among the steels and styles but for the tests to mean anything to anyone else they have to be able to acquire the tools themselves or have one sitting neglected on a shelf.
    I thought of using a Spyderco Serrata and Bushcrafter, a Fallknive S1, a BRKT Slither.... then I thought that would bore me and I'd stop the test after about 5 minutes.

    Sorry about this then but I'll be using customs, some of which you can still persuade makers to provide, others that will be strictly second hand maker only. I'll use the S1 as a benchmark because A/ it's a good knife and B/ it's VG10 so another steel from what will be otherwise tested

  • Tools and Tasks:

    iPhone 6 for the pictures because I'm lazy and no-one is paying me for this :) 
    Stag handled Mick Spain clipped point bushcrafter because it's the one of his that I just don't use and can never bring myself to sell ...01
    Fallkniven S1 as production baseline model and because it's a very good knife whenever I test it, I just don't like it enough to use it... VG10
    Stuart Ackerman utility, the bigger version of this: Making do with what you have... never used it............................................ D2
    Farid bushcrafter with the coke bottle handle. I've used this a fair bit in the past so there is skill bias there but it's my only ............ D6
    Mr Doyle general purpose. Not tried it yet because the ones I have I like a lot so this is new. Patterned RWL34............................. Damasteel
    Stuart Ackerman Serrata - well you have to don't you - A one off with stag and tapered tang I've never had the guts to use.............. Cast 440C
    Chris Grant - with any luck he'll finish a Cairngorm for the trial (before it ends anyway) in a steel he's already decided not to use :D .. S30V

  • Should have named this "The Magnificent Seven" but of course we don't know yet do we?
    Pictures delayed until iPhone has done whatever they do when you connect them.

    There's a lot of ivy coming through from the garden next door so a bit of a trim is in order. SWMBO has cut some large boughs from a few trees to allow more light into the garden so they are new to the logpile and offer a bit of green wood to work on of various sizes. Everything from tentpegs to toothpicks will be fashioned using each of the knives with ratings for comfort , ease of use and long term ability to cut. All knives will start the trial able to easily slice copier paper but none will be sharpened in any way over the coming months. Not even stropped. If I still had a knife in 3V I'd expect it to beat everything in terms of edge retention and the great advantage of cast 440C in that it can be sharpened so easily in the field is somewhat negated by this but no-one wants to spend their weekend away sharpening a chipped or a rolled edge.

    Pointing sticks, stripping bark, drilling holes, cutting notches, forming tethers are all fine. No spoon carving though, no skill.

  • Sounds like an interesting trial Fluffy. What sort of timeframe you thinking or will you put each through all the tasks and do the paper test at the end?

    Paper test at the start. Use weekly for a few months. Paper test at finish.

    1st test: Paper. All passed easily. Special mention to Serrata which apparently eats paper :love:

  • This should give some very interesting results 8)

    Is it worth testing with a newspaper slice before and after too? I more stretching test might highlight what I'm expecting to be narrow differences at the end.

    Also as someone with a low tolerance for lengthy sharpening, I'd be interested how long it would take to get them back to fine fettle at the end of the test.

    My prediction for edge retention in descending order:
    Cast 440c/s30v/damasteel
    but only because I have some crackpot theories :lol:

  • I've found cast 440C to be an absolute breeze to sharpen in the past.

    First results for today with the new tough green wood:
    Best wood pointing Mick Spain 01
    Best bark removal Mr Doyle RWL34/Damasteel
    Best feathersticks Mick Spain 01, Farid D6

    Best toothpick cutout was a disaster! The Serrata fell through the cutting bench and landed point down in the hard dirt. I had to clean it! It still outcut everything by a long way, even with a dirty blade. You get a toothpick twice as long as all the others.
    In contrast the S1 was a complete fail at this test.

    This too shall change, probably

  • If I've to predict edge retention it would be
    01 (because of the edge profile on that knife)
    Cast 440C (but it will still cut like a buzzsaw)

  • Sorry this reply has taken so long, I've been offline for a while.

    I thought I should explain those crackpot theories.

    I think that because you will not be stropping you'll lose the fine edge on the 01 first because of slight oxidisation with the D2 & D6 being more resistant to oxidisation and VG10 unlikely to show much at all.
    An finally I think the cast 440c/s30v & Damasteel will last longest because they are made by custom makers who will grind them nice and thin so they will have more cutting ability to start with, so they will have a head-start on the Falkie.

  • Got to the second phase of this at the (cold) weekend - the rugby was on record so I could get out of my chair every 1 1/2 hours :)

    A fat green branch was sawn into sections 1' long by 4" in diameter. The sections were then used for baton duties, one section per knife - yes even the "mere ingot", which survived the ordeal without a problem despite the maker's suggestion this should not be a task for such a tool.
    The sections were then used to provide the material for starting fires and shaping tent pegs and cord holders.
    Pretty tiring on the forearms TBH and the wind was enough to drive me indoors often enough that each knife had its own session, tiredness did not affect the way each tool was tested as the sawing had been enough to pre exhaust :)

    In performance order then:
    When I find the piece of paper I wrote ever boring detail down on (they all still sliced paper at the end of the test)

  • Time passes... I got back to this task _ I lost the chart I'd made doing the last set of tests so they will have to be repeated at some stage.
    I've used all these at the woodpile over the last few months with various results as far as comfort is concerned.
    In terms of cutting ability relating to the tasks chosen I'm definitely getting up to speed with the different knives, using each about as well as the other.
    The shape of the blade certainly affects what I can get out of any one cut, along with the edge profile, degree of sharpness, confidence and energy of the cutter.
    One thing this prolonged trial has convinced me of is that a folding saw is the way to go when processing wood on a casual basis :) 
    The cutting and slicing of lumps of wood is great fun with a knife but if you want lumps in the first place these are not your tools.


    Utility knives? Survival knives? Knives to take down trees?
    I'd want a 10" blade by Colin KC in L6 or a 12" blade chopper from Farid in S90V :)

    or, better still, someone else with a chainsaw to do the work for me.

    Why do I have 50 plus knives of this sort, most of which I don't want to part with?
    Character flaw obviously :)

  • As the gall bladder op has made me a bit physically useless the last two weeks I thought it time to retest these on copier paper and card (effortless stuff).
    Clear winner for applied slice: Mick Spain in 01

    every other blade snagged at some point, the RWL34 damasteel by Mr Doyle even ripping rather than slicing quite quickly.

    I admit to being surprised (yes I'm a fan of Mick's knives) as I didn't expect mere 01 to still be in there with a smooth edge after all this time.
    I'm in two minds whether to put them all on the Tormek clone leather wheel and see if we get back to the previous standard of cut or to continue this.

  • Will be interesting but I admit my guru for food processing is virtuovice on the tube lol. It would seem that to get the best you have to spend all weekend reprofiling the whole blade into a certain angle of convex edge and look at it under a microscope hahaha.

  • Yeah, not a fan. I buy maker's knives because I want what they are making, not to remake. All the above are approachable ( in the sense that they will happily tell me why their configuration is a better bet than my ideas :D ) and if I wanted different profiles they would, up to a point, oblige.

    I was playing with a 60 grit convexed Farid bushcrafter today - my request as i want to see how it works compared to a large carbide blade like the serrata when cutting wood. Don't like it with paper as the 60 grit finish leaves too many potential snags - precisely what I want to test on wood when I can physically do so :D Not something a maker wants to base their reputation on.