Tuesday, November 25, 2014

MP Knives Drifter

If you have read through the posts on this site you will note that I'm a bit of a bushcraft knife collector.  A knife is a practical tool for anyone that spends time in the bush.  You can use it for fire prep, carving, food prep and general cutting tasks.  Truth be told a $20 Mora will do all of the above (some tasks better than others) and for carving in particular they are hard to beat. However, if you want to spend more money there are some truly amazing bushcraft knives available.

Over the years I became aware of the world of quality cutlery, from production blades from the likes of Spyderco and Fallkniven through to the world of custom blades.  A custom is basically crafted by hand, some use stock removal methods on a blank of steel others use blacksmithing techniques, i.e. a forge a lump of hot steel and a big hammer.

Unwittingly I have ended up a collector.  I love the artistry and craftmanship of customs and I like supporting those people who make a living from knife making.

Whilst I like collecting bushcraft knives, I will only buy a blade that is a functional tool.

On my voyage of discovery I have encountered many a fine knife maker.  This week I took delivery of one of the most exquisite blades I have ever laid my eyes on.  The maker is Matthew M Paul a bladesmith from New York State in  the US.  I asked Matt if he would make me a variant of his Drifter model only a little smaller (based on an older model of his called a woodsman).  Matt used 300 year old Oak sink wood (timber that had sunk to the bottom of the river many centuries ago).  He combined the oak with a carbon liner & a white liner.  The quality of the build is of the highest standard that I have encountered thus far. It has a convex grind that was sharp enough to shave with and the balance of the knife in the hand is perfect.

On the weekend I had the opportunity to use the knife for basic fire prep tasks and it preformed beyond expectation.  It's a hefty guage steel around 5mm, but combined with the convex grind proved to be an all rounder from battoning through to slicing up food for lunch.

Another thing, Matt is such a nice bloke to deal with.  Integrity with a capital I sums up the man.

If you ever contemplate a custom I highly recommend MP Knives Matt also has a vendor forum on the BushcraftUSA site.

I'll post updates as I get more opportunities to give the Drifter/woodsman a workout.

Sheath made by BadgerClaw

Update: more use time with the MP

Really enjoying this knife.  The handle has a perfect contour for my hand and  after processing a lot of wood there was no discomfort.   On this trip into the bush it was raining heavily so in order to start a fire I had to find dry wood.  The only option was to obtain the inner dry wood core of fallen branches. The thick blade excelled at batoning through the wood to create dry kindling. The convex edge also retains a keen edge.  In thinking about this knife and its practicalities the one thing that comes to mind is durability.  I can see myself using this for many years with confidence that it will not let me down.  In other words, I like it, it lives up to and even exceeds my expectations and therefore I'll use it, and in the end isn't that what we hope from the equipment we buy?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Quick weekend escape

Ahh life can get pretty hectic at times.  A mate called a few days back to see if I was keen for a motorcycle trip with some camping thrown in and to be honest I didn't really have to give it much thought before replying in the affirmative.

He was keen to ride the iconic Putty road and I wanted to go to a place called Dunn's Swamp in the Wollemi National Park near Ryalstone.  Years back a local at Mudgee had mentioned Dunn's Swamp, said terrible name but beautiful spot, now was my opportunity to visit it.

Had a question about the Tarp and Bug net.  Tarp is from TerraRosaGear, hand made in Australia and brilliant quality.   Bug net is an Integral Designs Silshelter Bug Liner purchased from Kellys Basecamp 

Amazing place highly recommend a visit.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


Headed off bush for a few hours today.  Practiced creating some feather sticks, certainly an art to it particularly with Australian hardwoods.  So why is this a good skill to have, well a feather stick is a handy way to start a fire, especially if the wood is wet.  By removing the bark you expose the inner core which will generally be a lot drier than the out side layers.  The aim of a feather stick is to get the shavings to roll and to do this you need to shave super thin slices.  The thin curls provide the best surface area to weight ratio and by extension have the best chance of catching fire when compared to thicker shavings.

The secret to success is having a sharp knife (I find scandi grinds the most suited to this task) and a steady hand.  Another important consideration when practicing feathersticks is safety.  Use a knife technique that should you slip the knife will move away from the body.  I take a seated position, or kneel, place the spine of the knife in the fleshy section under the kneecap and pull the stick back towards me.  This offers great control and eliminates the risk of hurting yourself.  It's a great skill to practice and will certainly come in handy particularly when its wet.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Autine Axes

Just taken delivery of an Autine camping hatchet.  This axe was hand forged and this video shows you the steps involved.  A review of the hatchet to follow soon....still haven't had an opportunity to use it.

How to forge an axe: Step by step. AUTINE and bladesmith John Neeman from Autine by John Neeman on Vimeo.

The below photographs were taken by Autine prior to dispatch.  Very impressed by their customer service as well as their craftmanship.  Looking forward to trying out the hatchet next weekend.

I had the opportunity to use the Autine today and here is my initial impression.  First off, it's shipped with a keen edge, which was still nice and sharp at the end of the day, as you would expect.  It's not the lightest hatchet however the extra weight helps make it a great chopper.  The axe head is more wedge shaped when compared with a comparable Gransfor Bruks and as a result it's works well splitting wood.  As I indicated earlier the handle is rather substantial in thickness terms.  I must confess that I had reservations about this however after using it I'm now a convert.  The handles long enough that you can use both hands and combined with the thickness of the handle it affords superb control to the woodsman.  You can also choke up on the head for finer work such as creating shavings.  

My 8 year old son joined me today for a little bushcraft tuition.  A while back I bought him a custom ML Kephart mini which he only gets to use on such trips.  Showed him a few techniques to safely use the Kephart. Reward at the end of the day was toasted marshmallows.  We sat around the fire an hour past sunset.  It was a great day.

More impressions to follow.