A milestone and What's Next?

Discussion in 'Fiddleback Forge Knives' started by Steely_Gunz, Feb 21, 2021.

  1. Steely_Gunz

    Steely_Gunz Got the Khukuri fevah Moderator

    May 9, 2002
    I'll do my best to keep this brief, but as I am known to be long-winded with meandering posts I can make no promises. Feel free to skip 9/10 of this if you are just hoping to maybe help me with my question below ;)

    I am embarrassed to say, but I only own two Fiddleback knives. However, my reason is a good one: Andy and the crew make such a good damn knife that with just a small clutch you can conquer most any outdoor task. While I have kept searching for the perfect EDC folder/khukuri/axe/firearm, a knife that Andy spun up for me in the autumn of '09 has been such a perfect and steadfast companion for my far too few outdoor adventures that I have never felt the need to "upgrade" despite what various internet talking heads say is necessary to even hope to survive the hostile wilderness;)
    This OG Woodsman has been with me on numerous hikes, dozens of states, 3 countries, and 2 continents. Andy made this knife for me at my request after a fire broke out at my family business. The smoke damaged enough personal stuff in my office that the insurance company cut me a check. Back in those days, Andy was just starting down this path, and I just had to have a sample of the work I had watched him develop from way back on our Himalayan Imports forum days when he was bending leather ;)

    I needn't tell you regulars what I received; A knife built for hard use, balanced, honed, sporting an Osage/Walnut handle that felt like a warm handshake from a friend I had known for years but never actually met. The perfect knife for someone needing just enough blade to process but not so big that it becomes cumbersome.
    Some years later around 2012 or so, I'd ask Andy to work me up something a little smaller. My daughter was about 2 by then, and I was looking for a more subdued EDC to cut tags off of toys and trim down drinking straws at restaurants. He crafted me a Hiking Buddy that still gets a ride along when I am going for ultra chill walks in nature even though I now generally prefer a slightly bigger knife.

    Anyway, that's all ancient but happy history and plenty of exposition as to how far I go back with Fiddleback Forge. Speaking of ancient, my wife and I turn 40 this month (well, she already has of the 18th, and I finally roll the odometer over on the 24th...Yes I am rubbing that in as long as I can just like I have the last 25+ years;)). We just got back from a relaxing little family celebration weekend down at my step-dads cabin. While I knew I wouldn't be living off the land (the cabin is literally larger than the house I live in and sports two fully stocked kitchens), I knew I wanted pack something more than a folder for the morning walks around the property down by the lake. Getting all of my gear together in my backpack and belt, I stuffed in a few flashlights, a multitool, a couple of ways to make fire, and my trusty .357 revolver. I went to strap on a 4" ZT fixed blade since it was stainless and I would be out in the snow...nah that didn't feel right. Stainless never FEELS right. Slipped a full size khuk on my belt...ugh, I love it but it is overkill and heavy. Hatchet was no better. Then it hit me, that Woodsman sitting in the top drawer of my dresser housed in a sheath made by another forum friend with my exact same birthday would be perfect. I hadn't pulled it out since I took it with me to Florida last July.

    Riding in its hybrid dangler, the Woodsman was handy yet out of the way at my 1 o'clock and my S&W on my 4. It was a very practical and functional rig that actually remained comfortable all weekend.

    My daughter and I (she's now 10), went down to the frozen lake shore and scratched around in the driftwood left dry from the dropping of the man made Lake to winter pool. The Woodsman was perfect for poking into old logs and had enough mass to snap cut a couple of make shift walking sticks so that we didn't trip over the river rocks.

    It was an incredible weekend and really rekindled the love I have had for my Fiddleback knives. Such a practice knife that will outperform for its weight class. I have never had a more comfortable knife in 35 years of collecting, and (don't tell any of my khukris this, especially the M43 in the following shot) if I could only have ONE knife to take with me off to parts unknown that would have to do everything, if would be my Woodsman.

    So here's my question, which I am sure you have been wondering when I would finally get to it: What is the next FB I should get? I am obviously a fan of my Woodsman, but it is starting to show the same amount of dings as I have, and I would like maybe save it for special occasions. At the very least, having a functional OG Andy Roy knife will at least maybe get me a beer bought at Blade a few decades from now;) I've already decided that I'm going to buy a new one. I have no budget in mind (although I blew most of my fun money on my wife this past weekend...but that's what plastic is for;)), but I am thinking about something in-between the size of the Woodsman and the Hiking Buddy, so maybe 3-4" blade. I'm not too hung up on blade shape, but something different than the Woodsman and HB would probably be preferred if I am trying something new. This is going to be an EDC knife when I don't need a subtle knife like the HB but packing around 5+" blade is overkill. A backyard weekend warrior knife of sorts. While there are a lot of extremely gorgeous handle combos offered, I'm looking for something practical and durable for use. I will already tell you, the absolutely stunning finish WILL be worn off by me;) Although my Woodsman predates the finish, I have used that knife from everything from building a fire to literally carving my Thanksgiving Turkey. The chef knife like shape really lends itself to kitchen work, and all the nasty stuff I have exposed it to has given it an honest patina. My poor little HB that did come with the finish looks about the same after needing to scrub off all manner of funk over the years with a scotch pad and using it as a paring knife for lemons that go in my cocktails;). Anyway, what I am saying is that this is going to be a well used knife.

    So, what do you fine folks suggest? I'm certainly open to suggestions. I have no doubt whatever I end up getting will serve me well for generations.

    Thanks for your feedback and taking the time to read my wall o text ramblings:)
    Stanic, RayseM, Fiddleback and 8 others like this.
  2. Tristndad

    Tristndad Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 16, 2020
    The Aerete would be my choice for weekend yard warrior activities. Everytime I head out to play in the woods with a different model I always find myself comparing it to the Aerete and wishing I had just brought it to begin with. It just feels right in my hand.

  3. Hurrul

    Hurrul Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 26, 2017
    Thanks for sharing that Fiddleback story.
    I've really enjoyed both the Bushboot and Monarch:
    The Bushboot is a great hiking, weekend out and about blade. Plus, goes around town pretty easily, at least for me.
  4. Steely_Gunz

    Steely_Gunz Got the Khukuri fevah Moderator

    May 9, 2002
    Much appreciated:) I'll keep my eyes peeled. I've checked out the Fiddleback site and poked around on DLTs to see what was out there in the wild.

    I'm not in a huge hurry and can be patient, but I'm hoping to snag one before a trip to the Smokeys at the end of March:)
    varga49 and Bmurray like this.
  5. Comprehensivist

    Comprehensivist Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Aug 23, 2008
    Thanks for the great write-up @Steely_Gunz . I appreciate seeing the OG laminated wood Fiddlebacks still doing their thing. I much prefer a well written background story that adds significance and experience to why you like a certain knife. That adds credibility to the writer’s opinion when I read it. So many posts on the forum these days are just a photo and a one-liner comment when the knife is new.

    Like you, I am down to two Fiddlebacks. The “one” for me is the Bush Hermit. I think it is Andy’s best bushcraft design to date.


    I even let go of my old favorite Sneaky Pete because I like the Bush Hermit better. The deciding factor for me is that the tallest portion of the handle sits further back on the BH. I like the bump on the bottom of the handle to sit between the middle and ring finger rather than under the bone of the middle finger as is common on many models. The Terrasaur is another model with the bump further back toward the middle.


    Good luck with your decision. There are a lot of good models to choose from. Please post again when you make a decision.

  6. Tristndad

    Tristndad Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 16, 2020
    The Bush Hermit is the only Fiddleback handle I just can't get behind. I've tried to like it and have changed up my approach when using it with no success. It was my first Fiddleback model and least used. I just don't have it in my heart to let it go. I have heard alot of people give the handle praise and swear up and down it is the most comfortable handle they have ever used. It's just proof we are all a little different. I never really thought about why I don't find it comfortable, but after your post it's kind of starting to make sense. Anyhow I can't agree with your choice personally, but I can appreciate it and know there are alot of people out there that would and do.
  7. Kismet

    Kismet Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 30, 2002
    You've come a long way, friend. It seems to have been a wondrous journey. This pleases me.

    Your new EDC?

    In another galaxy, far far away, a very wise man suggested that the knife chooses you.
    Consider all the things that will happen in your future life, much like you considered all the things which have in
    your life-to-date, and then hope your insights into the vagaries of being you steer you as well as they have in the past.

    The knife is important, but it is the man who holds it that makes it useful.

    Be gentle with yourself.
  8. Steely_Gunz

    Steely_Gunz Got the Khukuri fevah Moderator

    May 9, 2002
    I am truly doing my utmost to enjoy every sandwich;)

    It's kinda funny how that somewhat silly turn of phase resonates, the truth it holds. I was driving back this morning from the cabin, my Woodman sheath still strapped to my belt. My daughter, all 5'1", still manages to fold herself in half and rest her face on her knees when she sleeps in the truck. The back of my wife's unconscious head resting against the cold glass window of the passenger door, mouth agape in what would surely both be considered unflattering as well as quite effective at capturing wayward flies. A picture would be worth 1000 words, but the divorce settlement for posting said picture would be worth half my assets.

    The sun had come out, the fallen snow was retreating from the roofs of barns and homes along our drive due to a balmy shift in the weather 30+ degrees warmer than the day before, and full yet completely docile white high definition clouds creeping across the late morning sky promised spring is right around the corner in Southern Indiana. Little things are the greatest of blessings. A quiet weekend away with my family completely cut off from all cell signal, several games of cards, my wife calling me an expletive for screwing up her strategy, our daughter turning red from laughing at the blue language, a 300 piece puzzle having to do with cats making a mess in a kitchen, and about 8 miles of walking, climbing, and inhaling the last regal breath-snatching bites of Old Man Winter throwing his one last massive tantrum before shuffling off to make way for the season of life. My daughter is still hanging on every word her old man says, the sass it there. I can see it creeping in. Close are the days where I am just a doddering boat anchor holding her back with my caution. Close but not here yet. We still look for animal tracks: raccoons have been by, the tiny pattering prints of a mouse, the deep divots of a heavy body and scrape of feathers on the snow at the end of the mouse tracks that show some raptor of some size won the day. I point all of this out with the tip of my Woodsman. She listens while cutting the bark off her walking stick with the engraved Swiss Army Knife she got for Christmas. Simple things. A day that will melt forgotten into 100,000 beautiful experiences she will have. One that her old man will hang onto when his relevance is fleeting at best.

    To paraphrase: What's this have to do with Fiddleback Forge? Everything.
  9. Bmurray

    Bmurray Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 9, 2012
    As @Comprehensivist said, the Bush Hermit or it’s smaller brother the Loaner.
    varga49 likes this.
  10. Fiddleback

    Fiddleback Knifemaker Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Dealer / Materials Provider

    Oct 19, 2005
    Great post, and well met Jake. I love your ocassional posts. Glad to see that ole Woodsman still kicking around. Great pic w the khuk as well.

    You need to check out the Kephart, Bushhermit, Bushfinger, etc. Those are the ones I think you'd like the most in that size range.
    Tristndad likes this.
  11. Steely_Gunz

    Steely_Gunz Got the Khukuri fevah Moderator

    May 9, 2002
    Much appreciated, Andy:)
    I was gravitating toward a couple of those anyway:) I'll see if I can narrow it down and make up my mind.
    Fiddleback and Tristndad like this.
  12. Kismet

    Kismet Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 30, 2002
    The origins (for me) of the statement, "Enjoy every sandwich."

    This article is more than 9 years old.
    (I can't find the attribution, but I will continue to search. Found it! :
    Jim Blasingame
    Former Contributor
    FORBES magazine
    Creator and host of The Small Business Advocate Radio Show)

    In a former life, I sometimes counseled small business owners who were going through a difficult time in their business. The circumstances would be so desperate and the prognosis so dire that the person on whom this business’s buck stopped would be close to being unable to function.

    Having been there myself and calling upon what I had learned about what really matters, I would begin a visit with, “How are your children?”

    To which they would ask, incredulously, “What?!”

    When I asked the same question again, they would invariably respond, “They’re fine. I’m about to lose my business. Why are you asking me about my family?”

    To which I would respond, “Does anything else REALLY matter?”

    The late 20th century rock star and malcontent, Warren Zevon, succumbed to lung cancer at 52. If poets were punctuation, Zevon was a great, big, bold, in-your-face exclamation point in a world with too many pedestrian periods.

    He was also a small business owner.

    Having penned songs like my favorite, “Werewolves of London,” and the now ironic, “Life’ll Kill Ya,” Zevon was an independent artist working without a net, passionately creating products in hopes of finding customers who would appreciate and pay for his wares. And we did.

    In preparing for death, Zevon had one very important thing to say, especially to small business owners. In an interview with David Letterman, both knowing Zevon’s days were numbered, Letterman asked what he had learned about life: Looking straight through the camera lens into every soul watching, Zevon said, “Enjoy every sandwich!”

    Zevon didn’t mean life is short; go get more sales. The man whose life’s work was the definition of sardonic was saying, “This just in: You’re not going to get out of this alive!!”

    We sometimes get so wrapped up in our business that we risk losing our grip on the things that really matter: health, happiness and those who love us. “Enjoy every sandwich” was Zevonese for “Slow down to the speed of life! Listen to a bird! Smell a rose! Hug your kids!”

    Surviving these tough economic times is important, but not at the expense of love. Financial security is a good thing, but it’s not more important than health. And all the credentials in the world can’t begin to move the scales when weighed against having joy in your life.

    Warren was lucky; he knew how much time he had left. You don’t.

    Seems like you are on the path Mr. Zevon suggested, Jake.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2021
  13. swonut

    swonut KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 1, 2007
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    This little lady has really impressed me over the last few days. It's a kitchen workhorse! It's way thinner than usual and it changes the dynamic in a good way.

    It's a big, little knife- which is what I think most of us are after.

    P.S. the Toboggan is also a very under-rated workhorse. Kind of the goat of the fiddleback farm.
  14. VANCE

    VANCE Gold Member Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Gold Member

    Mar 13, 2006
    The Lil'Lady is a great knife. One of the ones imma get again. Just waitin on those jack wagons at Fiddleback to make the combo im looking for:D
  15. Fishcharmer

    Fishcharmer Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 1, 2020
    It is. So comfortable, and super slicey. Have you dropped on yet in the 1/16th 8670? That'd be a winner..
    VANCE likes this.
  16. Steely_Gunz

    Steely_Gunz Got the Khukuri fevah Moderator

    May 9, 2002
    I want to thank everyone for their incredibly valuable input and putting up with my long rambling posts that have very little to do with these awesome knives;)

    I decided to go with the zebra Monarch that was available on the Fiddleback site. The lines and the over all size of the knife really speak to me. It looks to be a steady and reliable EDC blade that can handle more robust work if called upon. It hits the sweet spot I like in my folders of being bigger than 3.25" and under 4". This makes sense for EDC fixed blades as well, I think. The OAL being under 8" will mean one of my quick and dirty leather belt sheaths will keep it riding high and tight but it won't be so long as to require me to bend my arm up and under nor will the handle poke me in the arm pit;)

    Once again, I want to thank you all again for your warm replies. I'll be sure to give it a quick (no, seriously, I promise it will be quick;)) review when I play with it a bit.

    Haven't been this excited for a knife in a long while, if I may be honest:D
  17. Fiddleback

    Fiddleback Knifemaker Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Dealer / Materials Provider

    Oct 19, 2005
    You chose well. The Monarch is one I carried for a while. Its a neato blade because it is comfortable with outdoor tasks, and also comfortable in threatening situations. I designed it when I was experimenting with the 'bushcraft tactical' idea. The knife is wide bladed with a good tip for drilling. It is super comfortable in the fist with the point down and the thumb wrapped over the pommell also.

    I had a feeling you wouldn't go below a 4" blade.

    @swonut The Lil'Lady is a frustrating knife for me to make. Its one I loose almost as much as I get one done right. Lots of the smaller knives are that way. I'm glad you like it though. I'll persevere and make more. Thanks for the vote of confidence!
  18. Hurrul

    Hurrul Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 26, 2017
    Nice score. The red/black Monarch was my 2nd Fiddleback, too. For me, that Monarch really propelled me down the Fiddle-hole, but has also remained a preferred user over time in the mountains, camping, car travel.

    I hope it works for you, too. If it does, you can get an Esquire as it is a smaller carry option of the Monarch.

    Thanks to Andy and Fiddleback, for making the Esquire and all the small Fiddlebacks.
  19. Rufus Magnus

    Rufus Magnus Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 8, 2019
    The Monarch is the latest addition to my collection i was attracted to its duel functionality as Andy said ! Very comfi in my hand very Solid !!
  20. Steely_Gunz

    Steely_Gunz Got the Khukuri fevah Moderator

    May 9, 2002
    I was bouncing around between a couple different models. Ultimately I wanted a wide bladed knife that wasn't just designed for bushcraft. The Monarch looks like a robust and capable knife. Im stoked. I already have some leather spread out for a set of pants for it. Granted, it won't be as gorgeous as most, but I really think this may be a homerun for my edc needs.

    Review to follow once it shows up :)
    Tristndad, Hurrul and VANCE like this.

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