Review:

I got talking to Bernie a while back and he asked me about doing a review on one of his knives. I'd seen his knives up on the Bay before and was quite impressed with the fit and finish, even though some of the pictures I'd seen were taken by people selling their knives on and weren't very good. Take a look around Bernies' site though and you'll see some very nicely crafted tools. Anyway, Bernie said he had a new pattern Bushcraft knife in the works that he wanted me to take out and use and post my findings here. I happily agreed, I was quite surprised to be asked but happy about it!


Well, Bernie set to making it, and he had it done in no time. He kept me up to date with progress and pictures and the only thing that held him up was the engraving guy was away so couldn't engrave the knife. Well, when he got back and did the job, he gave me a call and I went down with my brother to pick the knife up and to meet and have a proper face to face chat with Bernie. I pulled up in a quiet street with fields on one side. It looks a great place to live and also to shoot, which is probably why it suits Bernie so well! A quick knock on the door and Bernie let us both in and had the kettle on in no time.


Well, to make a long story a bit shorter, Bernie showed us both around and both my brother and I had a quick nose in his humble but well equipped workshop and his back yard which has been nicely done out by Bernie. Everything had been done neatly and I knew this would show in his workmanship of his knives. Bernie took us back indoors and handed the knife to me. Straight away, I knew this was something entirely different to any Woodlore clone or bushcraft knife. The blade has a little more belly on it than the Woodlore types, and I could see what it was gonna do when I used it, but couldn't wait to see if my suspicions were right! After drinking a few more brews and a quick pheasant dressing lesson, we were ready to make tracks. Bernie gifted a traditional flint and steel set in a tin for making charcloth to my younger brother, a very generous gift as he had never even heard of Bernie until the night before. Bernie gave me a brace of pheasant to take with me and with a wave to bernie and his wife Maxine, we both set off back up the M1 to home and traffic jams!


So that's the background story, so how does the knife perform? Well, first off, fit and finish is spot on. There was a slight void in the scale material but this is no fault of Bernies. He only found it, obviously, after he had put the scales on and shaped them. It has been repaired professionally though, and does not impact on the looks or function of the knife at all. The grinds are spot on, and it was very sharp when I got it! The sheaths (yes, there were two!) were very well made, robust and not gonna fail anytime soon. I particularly liked the stamping of Bernie's maker mark on the leather. A nice touch.


I've used the knife a fair bit by now, no chipping of the blade; edge retention is good as long as you don't hit bone, same as with any scandi ground knife. Even then, it doesn't make that much of a difference to the edge; it just takes that bite off a bit. Carving tight radii may be difficult due to the width of the blade, but the point can be put to good use and could do the job so long as you are a bit careful. As Bernie said though, this is a knife for dressing animals out and cutting wood for camp duties, not making spoons. And for cutting wood it excels!


The belly on the knife makes wood come down to the ricasso end of the blade. This is where the knife wants to cut on a normal power cut. The wood just naturally goes there, so you just cut and get on with the job. I like this because also the blade sits at an angle to the handle so that you don't have to cock your wrist to make it all straight. Nature didn't make our grip at right angles to our wrists. Grab something and look, hold it naturally in a power cut position and it will be slightly angled from your wrist, your grip and wrist is not a true 90 degree bend. The knife caters for this, whether by design or accident, and does it well.


For truncating wood with a baton, the belly gives a raised portion in the middle which is ideal for doing this job. It goes straight through sizeable pieces of wood no problems. The point is pointy! Great for making depressions in wood, starting the bow drill off for instance, or piercing cuts into an animal for dressing ready for cooking. I prepped the two pheasants Bernie gave to me with the knife and had them done in no time, which was nice 'cos it was bloody cold out when I did them!


So, so far, I've covered cutting duties, what else is there? Scraping? Does a good job on birch bark ready for casting some sparks on to start the fire! The spine isn't quite as square as I'd like it for casting huge sparks off of a ferro rod but it could be touched up easily enough if I wanted to. As it is, I quite like to not use a ferro rod on it as it leaves that brown residue and spoils its' looks. I know it won't stay pristine forever, but I want it to look nice and not gummed up with crud. It's a working tool, but I want to look after it due to the care taken on making it look right during the construction, I think that is only fair.


How about sharpening? Well, I've used some wet and dry on a flat surface, I've also touched up with a DC4 and they are going on my water stones next. The wet and dry and DC4 both left it back at razor, which didn't take long to achieve. I'll bet the stones do the same. Sharpening knives is something I love to do, it sends me off and lets me chill out as I go into the Spam Zone! Makes me sound a bit like a mad axe murderer but it's true! A shame I won't get to sharpen this knife that often as a quick stroke on a strop or on the DC4 brings it right back again.


So far I have carved green and seasoned wood. The seasoned hawthorn is probably the toughest wood it has carved. Nothing fancy, just reducing a stave to a walking staff, but it did the job well and didn't lose its' edge. That wood is tough. I also carved the bow drill sets for taking to Ant's Bushcraft weekend a few weeks back and it didn't have any problems carving any of the parts. So far, everything I have asked of this knife, it has done with ease. The scales fit my hand perfectly, I mentioned that my hands were on the small side and Bernie made the handle to fit a smaller hand. He got it spot on first time. What I have is a very comfortable knife that can be maintained easily and kept razor sharp for jobs in the field and at home. The certificate and care instructions that it comes with are also a nice touch.


So, I've used it a bit, but the real test will come as time goes by and it gets even more use. It will hopefully get more use as the warmer months go by, it gets a bit cold out there during the winter! I intend to update in six months or so to show how it is getting on. I have no doubts that it will still be "cutting the mustard", so to speak!