The inter webs have been buzzing over Schrade’s new bushcraft series knives, and I myself was seduced when I saw the price of the knives–any time I can get a hunk of 1095 steel for under $40, I am likely to be at least interested. So I took the plunge, received a knife, and discovered it was bent. An unsolicited message from Schrade (a representative of whom had seen my tweet about the bent knife) resulted in a new knife arriving and the bent one being returned on Schrade’s dime for destruction–it seems a batch had issues with heat treat.
I will write a full review eventually and post to Trailspace.com, but for now I want to share what I have done to the knife after completing testing for that review. I was not a fan of the jimping on this knife: both the top and bottom of the blade have sharply cut jimping that made the handle–otherwise fine–uncomfortable to hold. Well, I bought this to chop and baton wood, so that was a problem.
Once my tests were complete, I set about a modest series of mods. First, I added a lanyard to extend the functionality of the handle. A curve in the tail fits the hand nicely, but with the lanyard, I have something more to hold when chopping, adding leverage to each stroke.
But note the scuffing on the thick black blade coating–this was causing friction when carving or battoning, friction I didn’t want. The jimping still bit into my hand, so I wanted to round it off some, and I found the generous finger choil also suffered from a sharp, potentially hotspot-producing edge.
This, too, I wanted to round off. And, finally, the coating had to go. I wanted a smooth, slippery blade to go through wood.
I began the process by smoothing out the jimping and the choil with my Dremel tool. When these felt good to the touch, I worked on the spine of the blade with a file to achieve a sharp 90˚ angle for throwing sparks off a ferrocerium rod (the SCHF37 comes with a ferro rod and striker, but I’d love to get rid of the striker’s weight). Then I donned protective eyewear and chemical-resistant gloves and sprayed Jasco paint remover on the blade in an old paint pan. After fifteen minutes, I could scrape the coating off a suddenly slippery knife.
This process revealed some of the imperfections in the fit and finish of the knife that had been concealed by the coating, but this remains a killer blade for the money. Then came steel wool and sandpaper, gradually moving through 100, 400, 600, 1000, and 2000 grit papers as the metal smoothed out. Trouble areas I polished with pads on my Dremel until I was satisfied with the results. Then I reapplied the scales to see how it looked.
I confess that I was quite pleased! But 1095 needs protection, so my last mod was to remove the scales again to add a mustard patina to the blade. For this I used an old eyedropper bottle filled with mustard (I favor a yellow-Dijon blend . . . just kidding; that’s all I had on hand). About a half-hour later I had a pretty cool pattern to show for it.
That’s all for now. I am basically pleased with the mods so far, but I will test the blade again to see how it fares. I also skipped a step in the mustard patina–next time I’ll do a vinegar bath to provide a base patina for the blade before adding the mustard design.
One future project is a set of hickory handle scales–the existing ones are fine, but I would like a little more thickness, and I’ve never made scales before. These I cut from a slab of hickory that a neighbor generously gave me. Beautiful wood! I have these scales in wood hardener at present, but they should be ready at the week’s end.
Oh, and I am researching a custom kydex sheath for the knife. It will cost more that the knife itself, but–while I have made smaller sheaths for other bushcraft knives from kydex–I would prefer a professionally made sheath for this one. Any kydex sheath makers in need of contributing a sheath for review? Hint, hint . . . 😉
I’ll keep you posted. I welcome your feedback, suggestions, or ideas. Cheers!