Knives Illustrated

SPECIAL SECTION BUSHCRAFT

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I wanted to make some very simple spatulas for cooking fish, bacon, beans, and rice in camp. Various sizes were made from poplar and maple. Essentiall­y, they had the same design intent, but all had their own handle length and width, depending on the pan I was using, and the food being cooked. Even when making small craft pieces, many grips of the carving axe are needed to get everything right, or at least close enough. I selected the timber I would need and wasted no time rough shaping a piece of maple for a necessary camp tool, a mallet. Pounding long stakes in frozen ground is no joke. A large, robust mallet is needed. Usually, this is made with a saw cutting around a piece of dry, hardwood, and then an axe or fixed blade is used to chip out the wood to form the handle. I’ve made several over the years, however, this time I wanted to use only the Gibson Carving Axe. I made a small “V” notch around the wood, slowly beaver chewing it until a defined groove was establishe­d. Then, I started chopping the sides out until I had the rough shape and thickness I wanted. It was just a repetitive process until it was done and ready to use. I think I used about every bit of the handle and multiple grips to get the right amount of control for short, precise chops, and also long hard blows to remove large amounts of wood. The smoothing of the handle was done by sticking the heel (bottom of the bit) of the axe in a stump and holding it with one hand while the other hand controls the wood by drawing it back against the axe blade. This technique was controlled, safe, and accurate. This is how the handle was carved to a smooth finish. The shavings left over were used as kindling for the fire, utilizing as much natural material as possible—that’s bushcraft. EVALUATION After using the ESEE Camp-lore series knives in a variety of situations, I can safely say Rowen did their usual stellar heat treat, along with its fit and finish. ESEE Knives, Patrick Rollins, along with James Gibson have proved their collaborat­ion is a good fit. When it comes to designs and training, I can’t think of a better group of people.

 ??  ?? Above: Gibson Work—a mallet and spatula in the works by the hands of the author and the Gibson Carving Axe.
Left: The completed tools the author made with the Gibson Carving Axe overnight on his winter camp trip. Many are still in use today.
Above: Gibson Work—a mallet and spatula in the works by the hands of the author and the Gibson Carving Axe. Left: The completed tools the author made with the Gibson Carving Axe overnight on his winter camp trip. Many are still in use today.
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