I like knives and I have owned dozens of them. I still have more than I really need, but it is nice to have a selection. I've found that many simpler or 'cheaper' knives perform pretty well. In other words, a $200 knife isn't 10 times more useful than a $20 one.... nor are you 10 times less likely to lose it.
Here's a handy knife rig I made up when I was doing a lot of possum trapping. I needed something that was convenient to quickly pull out and put away. I found that a one-handed folder was really quick and convenient to use for trimming twigs, spreading lure and skinning possums.... but my pocket was inclined to get messy. And it wasn't so convenient to reach under my jacket to get to my trouser pocket in cold or wet weather. The 'sheath' is a bit of 20 mm low density polypipe. The blade was a bit of sawmill bandsaw blade, and the handle scales were cut from the plastic scraper blades of a batter making machine (I used to work in a factory that made fish fingers). The belt is just plaited cord with a loop at one end, and a hook at the other. The hook is a bit of bent nail, and it is attached with a prussik loop so that it can slide along the main cord for quick adjustment.
Here is another picture. The one-hand opener folder on the right is Maxam brand and I bought some of these for less than US$2 each plus shipping from the USA (CKB products). It has been really useful. One-hand opening is a feature I really like. At the top is a BRKT Gameskeeper. I won this knife. The blue-handled Mora lookalike was bought from
Trademe for about $8 plus shipping. It is surprisingly good. I keep one of these in the glovebox of my wife's car for apple peeling and general jobs. They make great bait knives and general knocking-about blades. The handle is hollow so you could use it to make a spear if you wanted. The sheath is easy to keep clean and hygienic compared to a leather sheath. A good knife for scout groups or if somebody wants to borrow one.
I see the guy who sold me the utility knife has more for sale on Trade Me. I'd get more, but I can't really justify why I need more than the two I have already. I gave a third one to my brother and his family because he takes me fishing. I'd like to have ten of these stashed away for gifts and just for the sake of knowing that they are there. Here's the link to the Trade Me auction:
The seller's name is mjr_01, and I think he is in Northland. He has other knives too, but I think these are the best value. I hope he keeps stocking this particular type.
Have a great day..... Coote.
I have a Brazilian machete made by Tramontina. This has proven to be a very useful blade. I think it may have already starred on the forum where I wrote about butchering (I use it to split a carcase down the backbone by batoning the blade with a bit of firewood).
Anyway.... this 10 inch machete only cost me around NZ$10, but it came without a sheath. I got a leatherworker to make me a really nice one, but I've found that it isn't that convenient to hang it from my belt. Also, with frequent use, I was concerned that I'd eventually cut into the top of the sheath.... because it is easy to put the blade in out of alignment.
I started thinking about alternatives a couple of days ago and decided it would be good to make one out of polythene pipe. I calculated that I needed some 32mm nominal diameter pipe for the job. Well the bushcraft God must have heard my desire, because in a vacant section next to me there is a redundant polythene water pipe that turned out to be 32 mm (which I would have thought was a fairly uncommon size).
I cut a bit a tad longer than the blade, cleaned it out, then put it in the oven at about 115 degrees C. I had tape over the cutting edge of the machete blade, and when the pipe seemed soft enough I put on some leather gloves and forced the machete into the pipe. The pipe went all the way on to the blade, and about 15mm over the beginning of the handle. I then quickly clamped the pipe between a couple of clamps, leaving the 'handle portion' of pipe outside of the plank sandwich.
After about 15 minutes, I unclamped the planks. The result was pleasing although I think I may have let the pipe get a bit hot because there were grooves in the pipe created by the oven rack. I had to trim a few millimetres off the handle end of the pipe to allow me to pull the blade out.
I've found that just a simple bit of cord is all I need to carry the new rig. If I am needing to use the machete frequently I can take it from my pack and put the cord around my neck and under one arm so that the machete lies across my chest. In this position it is very accessible, and it is easy to re-sheath the machete when I've finished with it. It also can be swung out of the way when pushing through scrub... unlike the big leather sheath on my belt which can catch on branches. Furthermore, I can hang it under my arm under my jacket and I am less likely to cause alarm if I bump into other people in the scrub.
Polythene water pipe is used all over rural New Zealand. You can get it from farm supply stores and possibly some plumbing supply stores. The stuff I used also seems to go by the names of alkathene, low density polyethylene, and polypipe. I have only ever seen black low density polypipe. Other types may work, but I haven't tried them. There is some info on the 'net about using pvc pipe, but I think polythene is a friendlier plastic than pvc.
I think I now might get some smaller polypipe and make some 'dangly' sheaths for other knives. These sheaths don't look like collectors items, but they are practical.
My current fave is a Svord Peasant Knife, nicely primative to look at, functional blade takes a good edge and a heavy brass and stainless fishing snap loop fits the tang hole and can be clipped onto a bunch of things, zip toggle, belt loop etc. They do have a sheath but I've never bothered getting one. No cork screw, magnifying glass or tool for picking boy scouts out of horse hoofs, it just cuts stuff. I own a bunch of SAKs, fine tools all and I do carry & use them, but I like the Svord.
However. I also have what I think is a roof tilers hatchet, 12" handle, hammer poll (great for bush carpentry, tent pegs and the odd possum skull) and a nearly straight blade about 3 1/2 inches or so with a nail notch. Not sure of the weight, but it's much lighter than a Red Shed Tomahawk. It takes a good edge too and I keep it sharp enough to slice n dice with. Will slice garlic or onions easily and by holding the head with the handle up your forearm is no problem to use for kitchen duty. Between that and, say, a SAK with clippers, small saw blade, file and other useful tools etc, I feel well covered. Which brings me to my question:
Could it be time for the return of the belt axe?
Cold Steel make a couple of interesting ones at acceptable prices and no doubt a competant cutler or black smith could build a beaut. No heavier than a good sized belt knife and far more flexible in application. Batoning your knife is a useful technique, but is it any better than a small tomahawk which is made to swing away with anyhow? The only thing I can think of it wont readily do is sticking, but not everybody needs that.
Just a thought.
I think that tiler's hatchet is a great bushcraft tool. A lot of folks seem to like having big knives as a 'one tool does all' option, but in reality a smaller knife is generally more suited to most cutting/carving jobs... and an axe is much better for chopping.
I think that 'sticking' is something that some big knife owners have in mind. But when it comes to sticking a pig, a remarkably short blade can do the job. A decent pocketknife has sufficed. And if people are fantasizing about sticking people, then they should focus on more healthy thoughts.
I've re-handled a few hatchet heads with longer handles. And I like that combination. I think that a longer handle can be a bit safer than a shorter one... plus you can get a decent swing going. A heavy axe is the best for chopping of course, but I don't fancy carrying a four-pound axe head when a one--pound hatchet will do most things well enough.
If I had to live away from civilization for any length of time, I'd definitely want an axe... and the belt variety would be a good choice if I was constantly on the move.
Man if you were building a hut or bivvy out of bush materials that tilers hatchet would be awesome!
It looks to me like an updated version of the old time carpenters axe:
And Stephen, a lightweight axe is a must in my opinion.
I also have re-hafted a few hatchets now with a handle just as slim but about half as long again as can be found in my blog.
Ray Mears prefers a longer handle, he talks in one of his videos about how you can use it to fell a tree and then by choking it (holding closer to the head) you can use it as a hatchet.
As to sticking things with a knife, the guy who taught me how to stick pigs used a Solingen Mercator so old it had been sharpened down to not much more than a razor sharp spike, he just knew exactly where to use it.
I have a cold steel trail hawk, and it lives in my cuboard. I have personally found that a machete seems to do all the chopping I have done just as fast, if not faster than a hatchet. I do find that most machetes I have seen and used are a little to thin for my taste, and do not have enough weight in them for my me. Some of the new Condor knives are some what appealing.
There is a case to be made for a decent machete. I quite like the look of the Bear Grylls Gerber machete. The BG part I don't give a rats about, but Gerber don't build junk and these look like they might be heavy enough to get a good swing in. Not too long, either, I wouldnt feel like an extra from a Pirates of the Caribbean movie just carrying the thing. Years past I've had stamped cheapos with plastic handles, better than nothing but only just. Jarred fingers from a less than perfect swing or unexpectedly hard wood, ouch! No good for hitting things either, tho that isn't what they are meant for. Sometimes hitting stuff is useful.
How do you test out a new knife? It is dakota elk knife.
Generally I see how easy it is to get it to a shaving edge, use it normally and see how long it stays sharp while performing the tasks it's designed for.
My ol'man uses a Dakota Elk knife, had it a few years.
I wasn't impressed with the blade to start with but once he got me to sharpen it at a 20 degree angle the whole length and get it to a razor edge, it has held up fine as a hunting knife.