1. Welcome to the New & Improved BladeForums. New software info here. Please report problems in Tech Support, and read existing threads before posting! - Spark
  2. I've changed the default forum style to Flat Awesome based on feedback. Don't like it? Click here to change how the forums look Feedback on this is welcome here.

Classic old school Mora

Discussion in 'Wilderness & Survival Skills' started by attej, Jul 13, 2008.

  1. attej


    Jan 9, 2006
    The classic wood handle Mora is a true living legend here in Finland (and in most parts of Scandinavia, I suppose). I doubt there are many men over 30 years old here, that hasn't at some point owned one of these. Being a knife enthusiast, I always found them to be a little too bulky for my liking, and had almost forgot that these things even exist. However, a while ago I noticed that two of my favourite outdoors / wilderness book authors, Cody Lundin and Mors Kochanski both chose the classic wood handled carbon steel Mora as their bushcraft knife. There had to be something to it... so, here we go:

    While in the local hardware store I found out that the classic mora comes in different sizes nowadays. There was a smallish knife with a 85mm blade ("3.35), and a few bigger ones. I chose the middle sized, featuring ~10cm ("4) blade and a handle of same lenght. I've seen these sold for just a couple of euros, but this store was a bit more expensive. I ended up paying a hefty 5.95 EUR from this knife.


    First impressions; the sheat has a pretty cheap feeling to it. It's plastic, doesn't really hold the knife that securily, and the belt loop would be pretty useless if your belt is any wider than an average one. Also, the knife goes to the sheat either way, and since the handle is also symmetrical, you can't be really sure if the cutting edge is pointing back or front. A careless person might end up cutting himself due to this.

    About the knife. The factory edge didn't seem that sharp. I tried shaving some hair off my arm with no success, and the knife hardly cut through paper. I tried cutting through some hemp cord, and the performance was less than satisfactory. I've heard so much about how excellent the steel of these Mora knives is, that I couldn't just leave it there. A few passes with a Dianova diamond sharpener improved the performance dramatically. I still wasn't able to get the knife shaving sharp (though I suppose with more effort I could have), but it went through paper like nothing, and sliced the hemp rope to pieces with minimal effort.

    Performance before and after sharpening

    The mora knife is really light weight, and is dextrous to handle. The downside of this is, that it also feels a bit frail. Because of the low price of this knife, I wasn't afraid to try some heavy battoning with it. The first task the knife was used for was making the baton. I got a dried up branch, and whittled away. It took about a minute or two to cut the branch and to trim it in size. The knife performed really exceptionaly.



    I then took a piece of dry birch, and placed the knife in the worst kind of way (straight trough the cut off branch, as you can see from the picture), and battoned it through the log.


    The birch was tougher than I anticipated, but since the knife cost nearly nothing, I gave it no mercy. Surprisingly, the mora performed nicely. It wasn't bent at all, and the blade was in tip top shape. At the image below, look what shape the batton is in after this test... I wasn't exactly gentle.


    I also tried whittling fuzz sticks. Like I anticipated, at this job the mora was right at home. To the other side of the same piece of wood (the upper side in the picture below) I carved with a little more power. With a couple more hard pushes I propably could have cut this piece of wood in two.


    I tried a few different kinds of grips. The handle's design is really simple, which gives the knife versatility. The picture below shows the "thumb on the side of the blade" or whatever it's called grip;


    The tip of the blade is aligned with the centre of the handle. This makes drilling with the knife easy.


    After playing around with the knife for an hour or so, I checked the blade; flawless, no signs of wear, and the blade sliced through paper easily. It's true what they say about the quality of Mora steel. Excellent!



    The classic mora is a cheap, but a no-nonsense knife. For the most parts, it performs exceptionally, and the seemingly simple design is actually ingenious; the knife fits the hand, is extremely versatile, and a great utility knife. If you are used to sturdier custom knives, it might have a frail and bulky feel to it, but the performance of the knife proves that it can handle what it's supposed to. The used materials are obviously high quality, but on the other hand the fittings and overall finish of the knife are tolerable at best. The sheath is crappy, and honestly I wouldn't trust it to keep the knife in place.

    In this sheath, I would not carry this knife as the only cutting tool in the woods. For the folks in this forum, I suppose this is not a problem (which one of us actually goes anywhere with just one blade?). The knife itself is a great general purpose knife for the woods. Building a fire, making wooden tools, or making a shelter, all could be done with this 6 EUR miracle easily. For hunting or fishing I would not recommend this knife however; there's a nasty gap between the blade and the ferrule, and that would be hard to keep clean.

    In it's price range, I think the classic Mora has very little competition. If you need a lightweight backup knife, or a cheap knife to use for the tasks that might scratch up you 300$ custom blade, or simply want a decent knife that you aren't afraid to lend to your friends, buy one! With this price, you can't go wrong!
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2008
  2. siguy


    Aug 26, 2006
    nice review, well done.

    it is good to have someone pretty unbiased review a knife like this so that they aren't too predjudiced about what to expect.

    i love my mora#1, its my favorite knife and constant woods companion
  3. chickenplucker


    Nov 22, 2007
    Has anyone ever tested or tried one of these Mora's? The blade is 7 inches and also comes in a version with an 8.75 inch blade. Excellent review BTW
  4. siguy


    Aug 26, 2006
    chickenplucker, i have seen those at ragnar's and they have piqued my interest. haven't tried one yet, but would like to at some point...
  5. dipbait


    Feb 9, 2008
    I havent purchased a Mora yet and am concerned about the sheath. Id like a leather friction sheath. Im afraid a plastic sheath will fail and either lose the knife or injure myself.
  6. nodh


    Mar 16, 2007
    The earliest sheaths were made of pressed paper "Unica" and had a leather belt strap with a slit that ended in a hole.

    As long as I can remember carpenters, at least in Sweden carried their Mora knife hanging from a button on the right breat pocket on their overalls or carpenter pants with huge suspenders. That is what the slit was for. It was always hanging straight.
    You can barely see the button and the loop next to the right strap fastener. The left breat pocket are made for pens and such.

    The classic mora is a great backup knife. Keep in your pack, then you dont have to worry about the sheath.
  7. dulledge2


    Feb 2, 2006
    thank you for a no nonsense review of this workman knife.
  8. tonym


    Mar 18, 2008
    That was a great review. I have a 510 which I would probably take out more often if it wasn't for the sheath.
  9. misanthropist


    Jan 28, 2007
    Those are the ones I am used to using...I have never owned one with a plastic handle even though I know they are popular on here.

    I haven't found a lot of knife tasks they aren't up to! For what you pay you really can't get a better knife IMO.
  10. kgd


    Feb 28, 2007
    Excellent review. That comment about the use of a mora for fish cleaning was great. Never saw anybody bring that up before!
  11. SpookyPistolero


    Dec 13, 2005
    Hey man-

    Was it you who got an Aurora a while back and liked it so much? If it was and I'm not crazy, are you still liking it?
  12. attej


    Jan 9, 2006
    Thanks for all the kind comments! I actually ended up liking this knife so much, that I'm planning to make a better sheath for it myself. The plastic sheath get's to donate a part of itself as a liner for a leather sheath :D If I don't get around doing that, this mora will be seeing a lot of use anyway, because I'll be keeping it as a backup knife in my backpack. In addition of being really cheap, the lightness and versatility of the knife makes it a perfect backup knife for me.

    It's unpleasent enough that the knife would smell like fish, but also if the knife is used for cleaning game or fish, and the knife itself has a base for bacteria to grow in, one can end up ruining the meat, or at least reduce the preservation time.
  13. ZombaiO


    Sep 30, 2007
    Excellent review,bro!I have a Mora Classic 2 - it has a 11 cm blade.It's great for any wood work.It's my favourite fixed blade knife.Man,I love carbon steel... :D
  14. misanthropist


    Jan 28, 2007
    Yes, I really love it. It's probably thicker than I really need it to be but in general it just reminds me of the knife in this review, only nicer and on steroids!

    I don't really see myself buying any more fancy knives for a long time.
  15. stingray4540


    Mar 26, 2007
    Great review, you outlined just about everything that I love about the Mora, and what I don't like.

    I do however use mine for fishing and hunting, in fact fishing is it's primary use. But I don't have the wood handled one, so I don't know anything about a gap in the ferrel, I never did like ferrells anyway.

    My first was a 510 that I loved so much that I made a leather sheath for it, I also cord wrapped the handle to tone down the bright red:

    I liked the 510 so much that I decided to try and rehandle a couple so I didn't have to walk around with what looked like a toy, so I came up with these two. The first is now my primary use knife, with aluminum guard, whitetail antler spacer, and some scrap fir for a handle. The bottom one is simply aluminum guard, and the base of a whitetail antler, it doesn't have a sheath so it really hasn't gotten used yet.



    Like you said, they are so cheap, why not abuse them. Of course you don't want to have to worry about them failing in a survival situation, but for every day tasks they are perfect. And for $10 you get a knife that has outperformed some of the $50-$60 knives I've had.

    Again, great review, and thanks for shareing.

    P.S. Hope you didn't mind the little knife porn there.
  16. DutchV


    Mar 4, 2007
    attej - Is this the plain carbon steel blade, or laminated carbon steel?
  17. attej


    Jan 9, 2006
    Dunno if I got the terms right, but this is what I mean:


    If that gap is soaked in blood or fish guts, in a few days there might be a small ecosystem in there :D I've had several plastic handle moras, and with those this is not an issue.

    The bright red colour can be usefull in the woods (great visibility), but I agree; they do look a bit like toys, so I understand why you've decided to re-handle a couple of them :) Nice work by the way! :thumbup:
  18. attej


    Jan 9, 2006
    I don't know... previously these were all laminated carbon steel I think, but nowadays... Im not sure. It only says "Carbon steel" on the blade.
  19. Dannyboy Leather

    Dannyboy Leather

    Nov 7, 2004
    A before-and-after pic below.

    With the red wood handled Mora's, I remove the ferrule off the end of the tang and slide the handle off. You will find that there is one huge void in there between the handle and the tang that can accumulate all sorts of crud. I burn the red paint off the handle and reinstall it filling the void completely with epoxy. Problem solved - nothing can get in there now.

    The red wood handled Mora knife (as it comes from the factory) can be easily broken if it is not held level while you are driving it through a piece of wood with a splitting cudgel (been there, done that - so have my students). The epoxy installation now makes this less likely to happen so easily.

    The Mora knives are ground so quickly at the factory (keeps them inexpensive) that the edges are brittle from excessive heat. If you want the best from your Mora, give it a GOOD sharpening (get back into the good steel) and level out those flats completely. Once this is done, you can expect reasonably decent service from your Mora knife.

    I use the factory sheath as a liner and overlay it with scrap leather. I cut the old plastic loop off the sheath and install a lined leather one (30-minute job).

    Removing the knife handle, burning off the red paint, reinstalling the handle with epoxy, modifying the sheath, usually takes me slightly over an hour. Time well-spent? Well, on those cold winter days, it can be something to do. :)

    Good stuff, attej!
  20. stingray4540


    Mar 26, 2007
    Nice mods dannyboy!

    Like I said, I've never had a wood handled Mora, but I definitely see what you are talking about with that pic, attej. It sounds like dannyboy has come up with a great mod to address that problem, that should take away any worries about nasties.

    That's also one reason I prefer a bolster to a ferrule. That problem doesn't usually exist with bolsters.

    P.S. Thanks attej!

Share This Page