American Bushman

"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing." —Benjamin Franklin

Friday, August 15, 2008

Carving Feather Sticks

I found an excellent thread on Outdoors Magazine on carving feather sticks.

Pay special attention to Jimbo's posts. The guy flat-out knows what he writes.

Here's an excerpt of one of his posts:

I'd got some knives in the mail which I'd won on ebay. Despite getting super deals, these were really expensive knives for a $10 Mora person like me. One was a very heavy duty survival knife and the other a folder - and of course both sliced paper perfectly right from the box! Life's worst nightmares always start with some good stuff, and then a person is on the slippery slope! The weather had been terrible for some time, but off I went into the bush to be impressed with what these knives would do...
I was about to learn a lot about knives in a very short time! I was also about to learn a lot about pride going before a fall, because you don't walk far into the bush to test stuff for the first time. You only walk far into the bush with stuff that's been tested thoroughly!
The slope got more slippery and steep because I didn't take a hatchet. Nope - I was going to use the heavy duty knife...
After a nice long walk I decided to build a fire and dry off. That's when I first realized that knives with steep bevels don't chop well. It's not the manufacturer's fault that people expect knives to be tough and maltreat them to make sure that they are. The manufacturers just put on steep bevels to protect themselves. In the end, I got enough wood hacked up to make a fire. The trouble was that due to long term rain no small stuff was dry enough to use to get everything started. That's when I learned that steep bevelled knives don't whittle fuzzies from poor wood. Neither the survival knife or the folder would work. They could slice paper because they were sharp and because paper is thin. No way would they whittle fine fuzzies though. I tried and tried until I remembered that I must have a Mora tucked away somewhere in my pack. I did, and I soon had fine fuzzies and a fire. Maybe that could be considered some sort of success, but whenever a person relies on luck rather than good management in the bush, bad things happen...
I tried on lots of occasions to get fires started with those knives. I'd grind on them and try things out again. Eventually I was very happy with the knives and was getting fires lit with them. Naturally I then took them out in terrible conditions - and failed again. This time in front of a lot of people - and I didn't have a Mora around..... Being humiliated in front of people is maybe not the best feeling - but it beats being alone and dead in the bush! I did lots more grinding after that...

I've always enjoyed my conversations with Jimbo and he's always provided some insight to whatever is the topic at hand.

If you're interested in reading more of his thoughts on axes, knives, sharpening, and survival in the Great North check out his website here.

Thanks for reading,



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