It’s good to be back after two months working on another writing project. More on that later but during this hiatus I found time to make some knives and leather sheaths and I plan to spend the next few posts focusing on various mods and knife styles. There are other things to talk about and those are in the queue as well.
As always I’d check the various knife and bushcraft forums and YouTube videos to see what others are doing and it’s interesting to see how people approach both subjects. Take knives for example. About every two or three months someone will come along and say that the Mora knife is “a good beginner’s knife.” Now that statement has always seemed odd to me. Facts are that there’s no such thing as a beginner’s knife or a master’s knife or professional’s knife or anything like that. A man or woman adept at using a knife won’t make distinctions about knives as long as the knife used fits the occasion; and even then people will make do. In other words, some knives are probably more suitable for gutting and skinning a deer as opposed to carving a spoon or a kuksa but an experienced knife person will make it work regardless. But here’s the important point: If a knife is intended for woodcarving and costs ten bucks and it’s well made regarding heat treatment, steel type, tempering, and if the bevel is properly designed then what more does anyone need? You can spend hundreds of dollars on a beautifully made knife but you won’t have anything better than a good old Mora when it comes to woodcarving. A carbon steel Mora knife comes as close to the perfect woodcarving blade as one can get especially when using one of their woodcarving-specific blades. One of my favorite pastimes is sitting out on the front porch or under a tree out in the woods carving a spoon or small bowl with a Mora and one of my crooked knives. There is, however, one small complaint I have about Mora knives and that’s the handles. With the exception of the model 711 and its stainless steel cousin and a few longer bladed models, I find Mora knife handles either too short or simply uncomfortable. Of course, the answer is to remove the handle and make a new one from a branch or block of wood. Attaching handles to stick tang knives is as easy or hard as you want to make it. But if you’re not fussy then simply grab a suitable branch, drill a hole into it, fill the hole with epoxy, insert the tang and wait a few hours. Make sure the hole is in line with the branch and the tang was inserted straight. Otherwise you’ll have to use a rasp or heavy sandpaper to true up the lines. But aside from that it’s an easy process. Admittedly, I prefer puukko blades that are a bit fancier with different woods on the handles and brass bolsters, things like that. But I didn’t go that far on two Mora 511s I own. One is the older model with the extended handguard and the other is the newer model that came out about a year ago. Brother Ragnar sells both models at his Ragweed Forge. As much as I’ve tried to adjust to the Mora 510 and 511 handle design I find it awkward and a bit small for my large hands. And the newer model 511 is just too short of grip area for my hands to fit. So the solution was to modify them and that’s what I did.
Note the older 511 above. Aside from taking the handguard down considerably I reshaped the back of the handle into a gentle curve. The knife is now comfortable to use and as mentioned above, you can’t beat the Mora for woodcarving.
Now the new model “Basic 511” presented a few more problems because the space between the rear of the handle and the front of the handle is just too small for anyone with large hands. One night I decided to wrapped the blade and put the handle to a 2x48 belt sander and in about a minute I had an entirely different knife in my hands. I really like the way I modified this knife. It feels natural now and fits my hand perfectly. I’m going woods roaming in a few minutes. It’s a cloudy day and the breeze is blowing out of the north: A perfect late afternoon for moseying through the woods, contemplating things and being renewed. We’ll get together in just a few days. No more long respites because I’ve got a lot of things to say and talk about. So please stick around.