Not Tacticool, But Hopefully Cool

A friend tasked me with making a knife for their spouse. The spouse does not cook, so a kitchen knife was not an option. But they do occasionally go on a camping trip or a forest walk with the kids, so we eventually established that some sort of camping/bushcraft knife would be best.

The ideal material for a knife of this kind would be spring steel, but since it is unlikely that their life will depend on it, N690 should suffice and rust won’t be a problem. So I set to work and I have made this.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

The blade is 160 mm long and 5 mm thick at the handle and tapers toward the tip. N690 steel, sand tumbled satin finish. The handle is made from rotten willow wood stabilized with green-dyed resin. It is a big boi – it weighs 300 g (and that is with the fullered blade and handle is lightened too by holes in the tang). A sharpening angle of 25° should guarantee that with occasional use, the blade will not need sharpening any time soon. Despite being thick, it is reasonably sharp and cuts well, because it has a flat grind all the way to the spine. It is balanced at the bolster, and it packs quite a punch, as a knife of this type should. And because the spine is so thick, it should withstand even some serious abuse should the owner decide to inflict it on the blade. Which I suspect they won’t.

The accessories are a ferrocerium rod and carbon steel striker as a fire starter (more for fun than real purpose, matches are better) and a sheath with a pouch for these. Theoretically the carbon steel striker is not necessary, but when testing it out, I got the subjective impression that carbon steel strikes better sparks from the ferrocerium rod. I might be wrong, I could not think up an objective test for that.

Making fullers by hand is very difficult, it will probably take several more blades before I get it right. I am currently wracking my head about how to make an accessory for my grinder that would make this difficult task just a tad easier. So far no success, just a few semi-functional, semi-failed attempts.


  1. lochaber says

    I think the effectiveness of the striker has to do with the shape of it -- I’ve found that the back of a saw from a leatherman multitool is one of the best things I have ever used to get sparks from a ferrocerium rod. Probably other multitool saws or swiss army knife saws are similar, I think it’s because they grind them so the spine is slightly thinner to prevent the saw binding in the cut, and that leaves sharp, almost 90degree angels on the spine, which scrape off a decent amount of material.

    It takes a bit of practice to get used to it, but I think a ferrocerium rod is better in some cases than matches -- it will certainly light more fires than a whole crate of matches, and it isn’t really damaged by getting wet.

    The knife looks quite nice, and does look to be a fairly practical design for woodland outings, nice job!

  2. Ice Swimmer says

    Great work again. It looks like and outdoors knife, the old-looking colours invite one to take it along when doing outdoorsy things. I like the oak-leaves and acorns and they and the green borders feel so Central European. Here, pine or spruce branches and cones would probably be the way to go (and a lot more work, as more details are needed), though birch leaves and catkins or the winged birch nut could also be nice. Also, juniper branches with berries would probably look nice as would rowan leaves and berries.

    Do the Auermetall and steel inhibit the the knife from falling off the sheath (not that it seems to be a big problem as there is a lot of sheath inner surface area touching the knife) as do the smaller puukko (junki) in an kaksneuvoonen two puukko sheath?

  3. kestrel says

    This is very cool, very beautiful and really clever with the way the striker and rod fit in the sheath. Your tooling is lovely! I’m sure the new owner will be really proud of it.

  4. says

    In a true survival situation, the ferrocerium probably would be better than matches, but for lighting BBQ, matches are much easier to use. But I expect the owner will have some fun with (failing to) starting fires with it :)

    @Crip Dyke, avalus, kestrel
    I am glad you like it.

    @Ice Swimmer
    The sheath is from 4 mm leather and it holds the knife on its own. If shaken vigorously the knife would fall out, because it is so heavy, but under normal circumstances, it does not fall out of the sheat with its own weight. In fact it is the knife that prevents the accessories from being pulled out of the pouch easily.

    @Marcus Ranum
    Thank you for reminding me about that video. I will have to build myself something along those lines for the manual cleanup of the fullers.
    I have actually ground the fullers prior to quenching in all of my blades and it has worked out OK so far except for the first one. In the first blade, the fullers were so asymmetrical, that the blade warped something awful in the quench. The jig that I have build for my belt sander, whilst not ideal at least helps me getting the fullers equal depth the whole length so the blades do not bend.

  5. says

    I have actually ground the fullers prior to quenching in all of my blades and it has worked out OK so far except for the first one.

    Did you enjoy polishing it? Hardened fullers are hell. (Use polycrystalline diamond)

  6. says

    Nope. Just making the grooves in the first place and removing the scale after quench gave me a severe case of donoteventrytis. Manually I can get the grooves up to 320 grit which is sufficient for sand tumbling, and unless/until I manage to make something that involves electricity doing a lot of the hard work, I will not make fully polished fullered blades. I would not be able to if I wanted to, hardened or not.

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