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Fiiddleback Forge Kepart: A Non-Traditional Interpretation (photo heavy post)

Discussion in 'Knife Reviews & Testing' started by mistwalker, Jan 23, 2013.

  1. mistwalker

    mistwalker Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Ever since the first time I researched Horace Kephart I both admired and respected the man. I have enjoyed reading his tales of life in the Great Smokey Mountains, and have been at times jealous of the view of the Smokeys he got to live through. However I have just never been able to get my head around the blade geometry of the Kephart knives I have seen in the past. To each his/her own I know, and how well you like a specific blade geometry depends on what your primary uses for a knife are. My uses and experiences with knives have left me with a preference for a pointy tip. I do not recall ever having wished my knife blade was less pointy for anything important or not being able to find a way to overcome the obstacle. I do however recall a few times when I have wished my knife were more pointy for something important, and a few times when I modified a blade to make it more pointy to fill a need. It always seemed somewhat sad to me that I could admire and respect a man so much, yet never desire to have a knife called a Kephart knife by the maker because the tip just wasn't going to work for me. Yes some interpretations have been pointier than others, but none were pointy enough to suit me.

    Then when I came back from hanging out in the swamps in south Florida and actually had decent internet again I noticed that Andy Roy of Fiddleback Forge was producing a model he called his Kephart model. It was – from everything I had seen up till then – a very non-traditional interpretation, but that's what caught my eye. It has a very pointy, below-center, spear point blade shape. The first thoughts through my head were “finally, now we're talking”.

    Well, apparently I was a little too vocal about how much I liked, and equally too vocal about my chagrin at not having the funds to acquire one after my out of town stay. For just before Christmas I found an unexpected package from a friend in my PO Box. Inside was the below knife, one of Andy's Kepharts, and a note that said Merry Christmas I hope you enjoy the knife. The knife was stunning, and I was speechless, still am at times when I think about it. But enjoy it I definitely have, as it has turned out to be my favorite Fiddleback Forge knife to date.


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    Specs:

    Overall length.........................8-5/8 inches
    Blade length...........................4-1/8 inches
    Handle length.........................4-1/2 inches
    Steel.....................................5/32 / 4mm O-1 Tool Steel
    Handle material.......................Natural G-10, natural canvas micarta liner, white pin stripe, and natural micarta pins and bullseye filler.



    I have a few other knives made by Andy, and I have always been very happy with them. love the way the handle feels on this knife, the G10 just feel great in hand and the ergonomics and fantastic. The fit and finish is absolutely fantastic.

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    Using the knife to prepare a few dinners got the patina going, shallots really help make some darker spots.

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    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
    Bmurray and buckfynn like this.
  2. mistwalker

    mistwalker Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    I really like the handle contours, it feels natural in hand and really comfortable when whittling.

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    I contacted Rick Lowe about making a sheath to compliment the knife. The man does some really nice work with top notch craftsmanship, and he made a sheath that compliments the knife perfectly.

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    Starting to show a little more personality as the patina develops.

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    The pointy tip is awesome. It's great for doing detailed work and boring holes, plus worked great for digging a splinter out from under my fingernail.

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    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
    Bmurray and buckfynn like this.
  3. avoidspam

    avoidspam

    Jul 2, 2011
    Great review and what a fine gift!

    I have one of Andy's Bushfingers and love it.

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    The only thing I think I would change on mine would be the the position of the edge in relation to your hand. By that I mean that on the bushfinger the blade is quite deep, meaning the edge sits quite far below the line of the handle where your fingers grip. This means when working with wood for example the knife can lever against you a little. Ideally the edge would be in line with the handle (like a Puukko). It looks like your Kepart brings that line closer to the handle, increasing control. The trade off is grind angle. I still chose to blend the convex edge of my Bushfinger with the overall grind as I'm not going to hard use the knife. This has improved the slicing ability of the knife considerably.

    I really like the tip of yours too, much pointier than mine, I think Andy would do well to offer the Kepart in 1/8...... I think I'd be one of quite a few people after one of those:)
     
    buckfynn likes this.
  4. mistwalker

    mistwalker Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Thank you very much, and yes it was definitely an awesome Christmas present! I have the first Bushfinger and I agree with your analysis on edge handle relationship. I do think the Kephart is the better knife in the role of a dedicated bushcraft knife, especially as far as carving and whittling go. I like the narrower blade and pointier tip for wood working projects. But, if I remember right, the Bushfinger was designed as an all-arounder, having the deeper belly, taller blade, and being "guard-less" it does function better in tasks like food preparation, skinning, and meat processing.

    Well, he has made them in 1/8 with scandi grinds and tapered tangs. Since he has done it on other models such as the Bushfinger and Hiking Buddy, I suppose it's only a matter of time before he makes a Kephart of 1/8 with a high convex grind.
     
  5. avoidspam

    avoidspam

    Jul 2, 2011
    Ah, it makes a lot more sense when you look at the Bushfinger as an all rounder. Thanks again for a great review.
     
  6. machineage

    machineage

    687
    Nov 10, 2012
    That's beautiful. Love the natural micarta on that one. Great review....
     
  7. mistwalker

    mistwalker Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Yep, the Bushfinger is a great design for all around work in the bush and in the camp kitchen. Yours is beautiful, I really need to check out one of the newer ones.
     
  8. mistwalker

    mistwalker Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    It is a beautiful knife. Me too! The natural micarta and natural G10 really go together well and compliment each other nicely.
     
  9. HikingIsLife

    HikingIsLife Gold Member Gold Member

    579
    Apr 9, 2011
    Outstanding review, Mist. Very in depth, with truly spectacular photographs of that beautiful Kephart. I absolutely love mine!
     
  10. mistwalker

    mistwalker Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Thanks man, glad you liked the post. Yep, I'm loving mine too!
     
  11. jdk1

    jdk1

    Apr 21, 2010
    Nice review, as always;) I love that natural G10! It looks a bit like ivory to me. I've got a custom Ruger Redhawk which really needs grips made of that stuff! Thanks again for the great reviews.
     
  12. mistwalker

    mistwalker Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Thanks man, glad you enjoy them. Yep it reminds me of ivory too, but without the frailty and temperature sensitivity. This stuff would make awesome pistol grips.
     
  13. Shamr0ck

    Shamr0ck

    358
    Mar 30, 2012
    Gorgeous pictures and nice review. I don't yet own one of Andy's kepharts, but I imagine it is only a matter of time. The bushfinger has a mighty nice feel to it so it has set a high bar. -- sounds like the kephart is up to the challenge
     
  14. maw

    maw Gold Member Gold Member

    718
    Oct 15, 2000
    Hi Mistwalker,

    WOW! What can I say that has not already been said?

    The review and photos are outstanding! I really like how you captured the knife handle details and in doing so, spot lighted Andy's incredible convex saber grind. Just look at those contours on the handle and that fantastic grind! I'm just in awe.

    Let me express my heartfelt thank you for your time and effort invested in this review. Cheers Mist! You deserve it!

    Sincerely,
    Mark
     
  15. maw

    maw Gold Member Gold Member

    718
    Oct 15, 2000
    Hi Shamr0ck,

    Well said! Both are beautiful and very functional knives.

    Mark

    Mark
     
  16. mistwalker

    mistwalker Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Thanks man, I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Well yeah, the Bushfinger sets the bar pretty high because it is an awesome all-around-er that's a combination of small camp knife and bushcraft knife. The slightly taller blade and absence of guard gives it an advantage over the Kephart in food prep due to the ability to get the entire edge of the knife in contact with a cutting board. The deeper belly compared to the Kephart makes it better for skinning and processing wild game. But for a lot of woodworking and bushcrafting type tasks I just find I like the Kephart a great deal. It is extremely comfortable in use and just offers excellent control of the blade, plus I reeeeeally like the pointy tip. I really liked the pointy tip to start with, but after using it to remove a splinter that went past the cuticle and broke off just under the edge of my finger nail...after a slip in the leaves on the side of the mountain...I like it even more :)


    Thanks for the compliments Mark. Trying to capture the comfortable contours of this handle in photos was a challenge, and the photos still really don't do it justice. Andy's grinds are fantastic. I thought they were awesome when I got my first Fiddleback almost three years ago and they have only gotten better since. Andy makes it fun to photograph his knives. I started watching his work about four years ago and have enjoyed watching his line of knives grow, and watching him grow in his craft. He puts a lot of himself into his knives and it shows in his craftsmanship, the fit and finish, the contouring, the grind, and in all of the little details that tie the knives together as a whole. This one is my fifth and favorite so far...and I have enjoyed them all. As much as I like and have enjoyed using this knife, and enjoy just looking at it even, I felt Andy deserved to have his work shown as well as I could manage it with the time I had to spare.
     
  17. Fiddleback

    Fiddleback Knifemaker Moderator

    Oct 19, 2005
    Man, great review Mist. I love those handle closeups. Thanks to you and Maw.

    I think the Kephart rivals the BF. I have done a walking stick with each one, and the recluse. I still really like the Recluse.
     
    buckfynn likes this.
  18. pwet

    pwet

    Feb 13, 2009
    great review, outstanding pictures ! the knife looks great too.
     
  19. mistwalker

    mistwalker Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Thanks Andy, glad you liked the post. I tried to capture them as best as I could. This Kephart is awesome, and has become a favorite woods wandering knife. It retired my Bushfinger to the Kitchen...that's OK though, I've been wanting a custom paring knife in my kitchen anyway...now I need to see about a matching Santoku later, but that's another story :) It has also retired a couple of UK made custom bushcraft knives to the box of examples for photographs.

    I really like the looks of your Recluse as well, I've been eyeing it since you released the design. I love the look of that handle, and I want to check out the straight spine in the bush. But right now, for what I am going to be working on this spring and entire growing season, I'll be needing, no not wanting as usual...but actually needing, one of your smaller knives. So, the Recluse is going to have to wait a little bit longer.


    Thanks man, glad you liked the review. The knife feels and handles great too!
     
  20. Shaw Blades

    Shaw Blades

    May 18, 2009
    Man that was nice of Andy, good guy. Great pictures as well. Thanks for sharing.
     

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