on bushcraft blades and sharpening

Greve d’Escargot @fluturesomn

For the most useful blades in the woods. It depends a little on your local vegetation. If you are in the tropics, a long machete type tool can be more useful than a hatchet.

Regular old carbon steel, like 1080-1095, or tool steel, is just fine.

For carving, puukko grind is popular. Double bevel (flat grind + edge bevel), such as on Nessmuk knives, can have a sturdy spine while being nimbler. Hollow grinds are used for barber knives. Convex edges are strongest, and easiest to sharpen.

The blades usually have fair curves. They are easier to sharpen than recurves, karambits or ‘tanto tips’ such as these:

The Sámi people – nomadic reindeer herders in northern Scandinavia – developed the following kit: A small and a large knife – both rather straight and with puukko grind.
Puukko and Leuko.

The Inuit, living even further north, have their ulu – especially good for skinning. They also have a snow knife.

Being in a temperate zone, I’ve three blades that I bring: a knife, a longer knife, and a light hatchet.

Bahco Wrecking knife 2449 is nice and burly.
Mora too have cheap knives with good carbon steel.

Valiant Horn Golok SX
Made in Indonesia out of a truck leaf spring – 38cm overall length.
Goloks are curved for slash (draw) cuts. The edge is convex.

Reprofiled Norlund Voyageur hatchet.
Some of the old forges knew how to make really good carbon steel. Usually, they need regrinding to become the best they can be. The blade was thinned, and a bit of the poll removed.
Neolyth went pretty far:

A long (45-50cm), thin shaft gives it power and transmits less shock to the hand.
Hickory, ash or juniperus communis, like this:


Sharpen with wet sandpaper on a mouse pad or cardboard.
The flex in the pad helps make the convex edge consistent and true.
Choose the coarsest grit for max metal removal: I use 120-400-1200-15µ and then the polish.

Don’t get coarse grits onto the finer papers (rinse it off).
Polish with a thick, stiff leather (or cardboard) piece, smeared with green buffing compound (0.5µ chromium oxide).

When the edge has improved with many resharpenings, only polish is often needed.

Adapt the edge geometry for your use: If you constantly ding the edge, it can be made more obtuse.

  • Sharpening and Reprofiling Traditional Convex Blades – OldJimbo pdf
  • Convex Profiling and Sharpening by Hand – OldJimbo pdf

If one wants to keep the V shape in the puukko grind, stones and such are used:

  • Sharpening Experiences – OldJimbo pdf


  • Using a baton with a knife – OldJimbo pdf

—small knives—

  • Mora Knives with Synthetic Handles – OldJimbo pdf
  • Scandinavian blades – James pdf
  • Skookum Bush Tool by Rod Garcia – Schwert pdf
  • Mountain Man / Nessmuk Bush Knife Review – Aki pdf
  • The Ulu Knife – Schwert pdf

—long knives—

  • User and (big) knives performances – James pdf
  • Valiant Survival Golok – OldJimbo pdf
  • Goloks – V Shrake pdf
  • Valiant Horn Golok SX – OldJimbo text
  • ColdSteel LTC Kukri – OldJimbo pdf
  • Khukuries from Khukuri Palace – James pdf
  • A look at Tora’s kukri – James pdf

—axes and hatchets—

  • FIXED LINK – The Ax Book – Dudley Cook pdf
  • Axes and hatchets pdf
  • Advanced axe selection pdf
  • How to assess and fix an axe pdf
  • Hatchets 1 pdf 2 pdf 3 pdf 4 pdf
  • The Tiny Pocket Hatchet pdf
  • Gransfors hatchet pdf
  • Light Weight Hatchet pdf
  • Portable Pulaski axe pdf
  • Pulaski Hatchet pdf
  • Make your own hatchet edge guards pdf
—some more axes—
  • An Iltis Axe – OldJimbo pdf
  • Bahco Kochanski bush axe – kolekojot pdf
  • Gränsfors Bruks Small Forest Axe VS Roselli Long Axe – James pdf
  • Wetterling long hunting axe VS Gränsfors Bruks small forest axe – James pdf


  • Nessmuk and his Tools – Schwert pdf
  • Horace Kephart Drafts and Drawings – jables pdf

—knife making—

  • Dangling Knife Sheath – Steve pdf
  • How to build a Knife Sheath – Steve pdf
  • Hotwaxing leather sheaths – kolekojot pdf
  • Knife making tutorial – James – p 1, the knife handle pdf p 2, the sheath pdf

—wood working—

  • Draw knife – OldJimbo pdf
  • Crooked knives – OldJimbo pdf
  • Scandinavian Bowl Carving pdf
  • Spoon carving knives – Del Stubbs pdf
  • Spoon Carving Tutorial pdf
  • Making a Strong Hook Knife – Aki pdf
  • Sharpening a Crooked, Hook or Bent Knife – Aki pdf

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