Woods Knife – Michigan Made Blade 14

Michigan made blade number 14 is a woods knife.  It was made for a woodsman in Louisiana.  Some explanation of how I arrived at this design is in order.

What is a Woods Knife?

Well, the gentleman who wanted this knife desired to use it for a woods activity which goes by a very common name.  The name, however is trademarked so I won’t use it here or to describe this knife.  I can however, show you a photo of this gentleman.

Mors Kochanski, woods knife user.
Mors Kochanski, author of the book Bushcraft.

I took that photo of Mors when I was studying with him in Canada.  You may have heard of a book he wrote in 1988 (well preceding the trademark of the term by another company) called Northern Bushcraft.  The book title has since been shortened to the term Bushcraft.  Since the gentleman I made this knife for wishes to do activities described in the book, I figured there was no better source to draw inspiration from than the writings of Mors Kochanski.  In chapter 3 of the book, he summarizes what he likes in a knife.

  1.  Knife should be 10-15cm (4-6 inches) in length for fine work.  20cm (8inches) is good for heavy work but can be awkward in the hand.
  2. Blade tip should be close to the centerline of the handle.
  3. Back of the blade should not be thinned or sharpened to allow for baton use.
  4. Blade should be of carbon steel, not so hard as to disallow sharpening.
  5. Blade should be 2-3mm (1/8th inch) thick.
  6. Blade should be about an inch tall.
  7. Handle should be full tang.
  8. Handle should be made of water resistant material that can be shaped to fit the user’s hand.
  9. Handle should have a pommel to allow it to be driven point first into wood.
  10. The curvature of the blade should extend the full length of the blade.
  11. The handle should be at least as long as the width of your palm and should be oval shaped.
  12. The handle should not be too thin or too thick and should not cause hot spots with heavy use.
  13. There should be no guard.

Notice that the type of grind is not mentioned, although I only saw Mors use knives with a Scandi grind.  Indeed, the knife he showed us which he said he based these criteria on was a convex grind.  It also missed a few of the criteria above.

The only knife I know of that was designed with direct input from Mors is the Skookum Bush Tool.  I have handled several of these, including Mors’ personal model.  They all seemed a bit heavy in the handle to me, but they are excellent knives.  If you want one, there is a multi-year wait.

Skookum Bush Tool - a woods knife
The Skookum Bush Tool

If you want something a little sooner than several years, check out the knives made by The American Knife Company.  They are very similar to the Skookum but seem to have solved the problem of being too handle heavy.

Compact Forest Knife - a woods knife.
American Knife Company’s Compact Forest Knife.

My Take on a Woods Knife

Ver Steeg Blades Woods Knife
Michigan made blade #14 – a woods knife.

I made this out of O1 tool steel, 1/8th inch thick, hardened to 58 on the RC scale.  The blade length is 4.5″.  As you can see, the tip of the blade is towards the center of the handle, moreso than you see in the Skookum Bush Tool or the Compact Forest Knife.  That is from personal preference and does not lessen the performance of the other two knives.

Michigan made blade #14
Ver Steeg Blades Woods Knife

As usual, I put my own spin on the handle, based on the anatomy and function of the hand.  The gentleman I made this knife for has large hands, so the handle is longer, at about 5 inches.  I used 2 Corby bolts to mechanically secure the handle scales to the tang of the knife.  It features a mosaic pin and a lanyard hole as well.

The edge is a 12 degree Scandi grind and it is ridiculously sharp.

Ver Steeg Blades Woods Knife
Very ergonomic handle.

Although it isn’t showing up as well, the handle has a red G10 liner.  The scales are ironwood, salvaged from a sausage factory in my home town.

As stated before, this knife is not for sale.  I might make more some day, provided there is demand.