On Discovering Self

"Walk in Peace... Learn from Nature... Find Yourself...

Friday, September 9, 2011

Kitchen Knife To Bushcraft Knife Mod

The $1.50 Thrift Shop Bargain Knife
 In my last article I talked about the importance of cutting tools and how they are the single most important piece of the bushcraft kit. Cutting tools were a large part of aboriginal and bushcraft life. And they were made from any material at hand, that would lend itself to holding an edge. Our paleo ancestors adapted and improvised and so it is with us as bushcrafters today. A knife gives us power, it can grant us energy, it can be used as a weapon, serve to help heal us, to build a shelter, ensure we have sustenance, reduce our fears, allow us to make and build other tools. It is an extension of our imaginations. The more we can relate to our knives, the more we can learn to relate to ourselves because it becomes part of us and links us to our past.

Thrift Knife with Full Tang
   The knife I found had a good full tang, which means that the blade material itself ran the full length of the handle. It is made from D-400 stainless steel. This I found on an engraved label near the hilt. As near as I can figure, it is a stainless steel in the "400 series" and would be close to the standard 440C stainless that is used for a lot of bushcraft knives. I am hoping to get the same kind of edge retention that I get with my other stainless steel knives, which is not as good as any of my carbon steel knives. I can not complain about this though, considering the price overall. The name brand on the knife is "Lifetime Cutlery - Jet Cut" with a jet like "swoosh" thru the lettering. I would have shown a picture, but I was trying to not make this article to picture heavy.
Thrift Knife with Good Blade Thickness
 The knife also had a good blade thickness, nearly a full 1/8" and measured actually thicker then the blade on my Mora 840MG Clipper. This was a happy discovery over all the other knives I had looked at. Most kitchen knives are very thin and are almost "flexible" when you put any lateral pressure on them. I think just knowing that there are kitchen knives out there that have a good thick blade gives me hope to find a few more at other thrift shops. One of the knives quite commonly mod'ed on the bushcraft forum sites is the "Old Hickory" cutlery knife. This knife can be found on sale at some hardware stores for $5 and it even has a nice design on the blade that lends itself to an artistic design. Many bushcraft modders will even re-handle the "Old Hick" to fit their hands a little better. Often opting for the "coke bottle" grip.

Final Knife Geometry Drawn on with Permanent Marker

I started by first drawing the final knife geometry I wanted on the blade, which measured close to 14" in total length originally and would have a blade length of close to 5" when finished and about 10" in overall. I used my bench grinder and also a Dremel Tool with a cut-off disk and a belt sander for finishing to a rough shape and edge.

Final Bushcraft Knife Geometry
Knife Notches for Thumb Purchase and Firesteel Scraper

Here you can see the final finished grind, ready for putting the diamond sharpener to it. I will then have to finish with a medium and then fine sharpening stone and then possibly some 1000 or 1200 grit sandpaper. Finally finishing the edge with a good stropping. So far the edge I have attained with the diamond sharpener is pretty good, but not the razor sharpness I would like. Stainless is pretty hard and takes some time to get a good edge on it. When it is all done, I will have to try it on some "fuzz" sticks.

   I added a series of six notches on the spine near the hilt to give my thumb some frictional purchase when using it for carving and also for scraping my firesteel.

The "New" Bushcraft Knife and Sheath
    Finally I made up a leather sheath with about 25 cents worth of leather that I got out of a 3 pound bag of leather I bought at Hobby Lobby for $6. I drilled the holes in the leather with a small drill bit chucked up in my Dremel Tool. I used about 25 cents worth of artificial sinew, which is really a "waxed" nylon thread. It is multi-stranded and very strong.

The Back of the Sheath and Belt Loop


Here is a look of the back of the sheath where I added the belt loop. This was actually the first part of the sheath that I stitched before going down the sides of the sheath. I used a modified saddle stitch for extra strength. It is doubly reinforced and should last thru years of service.

Finished Bushcraft Knife in Sheath. Fits Good :-)
Here is the finished knife mod, with the knife in the sheath. It is held in quite firmly and I could not shake it out with several tries. I think I will next try to put a hole thru the handle to allow a paracord lanyard. This has been a fun mod and I would encourage any of you to give it a try if you have the means.
   In the very near future I hope to finish a small axe re-furbishing and share that with you. The small axe or hatchet is another good piece to add to your kit. With it and a good knife there is little that can not be accomplished in the wild. Many survival stories of individuals in the wild, credit the possession of a knife and ax as the very things that kept them alive. Consider learning all you can about your cutting tools and how to keep them sharp and how to make them apart of you kit and a part of yourself. Live to learn. Happy exploring.


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