Fiddleback Forge WoodsMan
Unfortunately, I do not consider this a full “review.” It is lacking in a lot of stuff I would really like to do. However, I was able to handle this knife for 3 days as a participant in a passaround sponsored by Blade Forums. Here is the write up, as I did for the forum.
What a weekend for a review!!! It’s freakin’ COLD!!!
I was pretty pumped. I picked the knife up from the PO on Friday. I have Monday off of work, and knew that USPS was not running that day either. So, I was pretty pumped to have a long weekend with the Woodsman.
Friday had temps in the single digits with a good wind. Saturday dumped about a foot of snow on us and had cold temps to boot. Between shoveling and other stuff, I did not get any time with it. Sunday, was supposed to be our “warm” day, reaching the teens. So, I dedicated that day to taking the kiddies ice fishing.
So, here we are Monday. It is cold again, but not too bad. There will be no barehanded pictures in this review.
I am very much a 4” knife kind of guy. In fact, it is a bit sickening to know the amount of steel that has went through my hands, and I no longer have. I have had several battle mistresses, Dog Fathers, Camp Tramps, Ratweilers, and more, only to come to the conclusion that bigger knives are not for me!
So, I was quite interested in trying out something that I would not “normally” buy. And that is a slightly larger knife.
First off is the blade shape. I am a big fan of having the tip pretty much centerline in the handle. I don’t do enough dedicating skinning to have the tip otherwise, and I find that having it in the center works best for the things I do most. One big bonus right there!
The blade shape reminds me a big of a “chef’s knife” but on steroids because of the thickness : ) Another positive thing because I love to cook! Whether it is in the kitchen, or in the woods, cooking is one thing that I am really into. Therefore, I spend a lot of time with a chef’s knife in my hand : ) I was looking forward to the familiar feel. Plus, I tend to use my belt knife a whole lot in food prep, as I tend to not want to take extra stuff along with me in the woods.
Here are the specs on the knife:
8.4 oz. without the sheath, 13.1 oz., “with.”
5 1/2” Blade, 10 3/16” overall
Just over 1 5/16” tall at the tallest point
3/16” (actually, .1877” at the thickest part I could get a micrometer on.)
The handle’s widest point, in the middle, is about 15/16” wide and 1 1/16” tall.
O1 Tool Steel.
Osage Orange/Quarter Sawn Goncalo Alves with red liners, aluminum pin/lanyard ferrule.
The knife arrived very sharp! However, I did still pass it over some leather and compound before starting to use it.
Here are some non-use pictures of the knife.
Is this handle hot sex or what! This is really it for me. I have a smaller Fiddlback, and the handle size is proportionally smaller. But, this one is larger, and really, really suits me. Personally, I think this is the way the handle should feel regardless of blade length. This handle on a 4” blade would be heaven for me!
Let’s get to the action.
When it gets colder, like Jeff H, I like my knife on a baldric as well. In fact, it was Jeff H who helped me figured out how to make my baldric. You may not be able to see it here, but the sheath is very well suited for baldric carry. I really like open top sheaths for this.
I figured I wanted to do something “bushcrafty” to start. However, my postage stamp lot is pretty picked clean of materials. However, I was able to make a simple peg, which at least gives me a feel of how this knife handles the more typical tasks I would do.
Sharpening the point.
This barely classifies as batoning. But on a lot of notches, I like a slightly slanted face. It is very easy to achieve this by resting the knife and giving it a couple love taps with a baton.
The carving portion.
The final notch.
Cutting off the peg from the rest of the stick.
Finishing off the end.
I want to pause here to comment on the handle shape. I love the way the forward portion of the scales are on this knife, but I am a bit torn as well. I have recently become very fond of holding the knife is the reverse chest grip (or whatever you call it). It can be hard to tell with my huge glove on. However, I find that this grip can offer a lot of power for short cutting strokes, but can also be used to really do some finesse cuts. If there was one thing I would consider changing on this knife, it would be to perhaps taper the forward portion of the scales.
On to fire.
I am not a huge batoning person. However, it seems to be a “must do” when trying out any new knife. So today, I have some frozen oak, and some frozen elm. Neither are the easiest to play with.
First up is the oak.
Now the elm.
You can tell it is not the cleanest grain stuff.
Enough kinding for my fire.
As I started the fire, I quickly realized I was going to need a lot more smaller pieces. So, I did quite a bit more batoning of very fine pieces, as I needed them to get the fire going. But, I did not take pictures of that.
Batoning summary: The knife did extremely well, as I would expect. I have to admit, that the little extra blade length (which I am not normally accustomed to) came in very handy. Because of the thickness, and the geometry of the grind, I never did bother to check the edge as I went. I knew it would be fine, even with the knots I was coming across. As I cleaned it up for the next reviewer, I noted that the edge was indeed perfect.
Oak and elm are not good woods for doing fuzz sticks, IMO. And my crappy work shows it here. But, I wanted to do some to get a feel for cutting with the knife.
I used an age old method for starting my fire. It involved a mechanical striker (steel wheel and flint) and some lighter fluid. It has been called by some a “zippo.” Hey…..give me a break…..its cold!!!!
As it the fire burned, I figured it was time for some hot chocolate. Not coffee, not tea, hot chocolate : )
I also noted that the woodsman had no issue opening my package of foo-foo hot chocolate!
Water is almost done now.
My use of this knife was by no means extensive. But, I did get to play enough with it to get a good feel for it. Here is the knife after my use, before cleaning it up for the next person.
I really enjoyed using this knife, and the comfort of the handle really means a lot for me. While I generally like the 4” size knife, I can really appreciate the extra length of this one, and would have no problem putting it near the very top of my list for most often used knives.
Please feel free to ask any questions. There was a ton of comments that I really wanted to make, but it seems my review was already getting long winded, so I cut it short. I just would like to say, thank you for giving me the chance to play with this knife.