Deval Bushcrafter

The quest for my perfect knife

The one thing I found with Woodlore design knives, and most other outdoor knives that I'd used over the years for that matter, was that my hands got tired and ached after prolonged use. This I found was down to the handle shape being too slim for me, so I was therefore compensating by gripping the knife harder. I always thought this was normal during knife use and that I was just using it for too long without resting. It wasn't until around 2004 when I used an Instructors Woodlore with a wider antler handle that I realised that things could get better. I also liked the weight of the antler which really helped hold the knife more securely in the hand.


I started off by noting down exactly how, and what I used a knife for and which features and angles I could include that would make things easier in use. The grind was easy. It had to be a scandi grind, as this is what I had become used to over the years. The blade was to be similar to the Woodlore design, but wider and with the edge dropping slightly before it swept up at the tip. I wanted this to make it easier for carving indents. It was at this point when I decided a thumb ramp would be useful for close control and two handed push cuts. These ramps are on my Spyderco folders and I liked that feature in use. If shaped and positioned correctly this would also lock the heel of my palm into it when choking up on the tip, and when used in conjunction with a short lanyard for extra security and control, it would a very solid hold. The thumb ramp was to be rounded off for comfort, but the rest of the spine kept sharp for scraping and Firesteel sparking.

The handle I bulked out considerably, with a palm swell at the top of the spine for comfort. Not overly shaped, but enough to provide some difference. The butt I made blunt but very flared. This was to provide ease in removing the knife from the high sheath I wanted. But most importantly, to allow me to knock the knife tip into wood with my palm as you do when tapping birch. A large flared butt was much less painful for doing this, and would also be useful for crushing nutshells and other items like crayfish shells etc. The front of the slabs had to be angled for comfort using chest lever and similar grips too. Because of the added weight to the whole of the knife, a tapered tang was essential to reduce weight. And although not strictly essential on a bush knife, I decided to add a small guard for safety.

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