Holy Brian! What a report! YOUR HIRED!
I am really pleased to hear the results of yout outtings. It warms my heart to know that I am carrying on the Simonich tradition of custom quality knives at a midtech price. That are damn tough!
First mission accomplished!
Now for the long awaited Kootenia.......soon, sooooon......(I hope!)
Another week of blade work with the Salish. The new edge is holding up well. The knife and sheath are really developing some interesting character marks. Interestingly the character marks on a knife used to be the only window into the tool's past but with the advent of the Internet, discussion forums, hosting sites, etc. we can now document a tool's history for all to read and the accompanying text and pictures augment the character marks leaving a much more thorough documentation. Ain't technology grand?!
This thread will be invaluable to me a year or more from now to be able to look back and see just where this knife has been and how it has changed with extensive use. I can't wait.
It looks like the hottest hikes of summer are behind us now. Yesterday's weather was supposed to be cooler (78F) and there was a chance of rain. This trip marks my fifth or sixth time to the Swale and, having now seen it in three seasons, I can tell you that later winter is the best time to be there.
The area is essentially unmanaged except for a few horse trails and the property was once farmland so there are tracts of wide-open land interspersed with thick groves of trees and briars. During the spring and summer months that means the grassy areas are chest deep and have now gone to seed. This provides excellent cover for the deer and coyotes on the property but it isn't so great for the kids who are unable to see where they're going. It also makes any fallen logs, ruts, roots, and holes difficult to spot. High-stepping in and high-stepping out sure can make a walk a bit more difficult. By the time we'd arrived at the Swale I was wiped out.
All week I've been toying with the idea of working on skill building and came up with a list of projects to accomplish while in the woods. For these tasks I chose my Bark River mini axe, the Simonich mid-tech Salish, and a Victorinox Huntsman. The three tools would be all I had to make a fishing gig, a rabbit stick, and a fish hook. I had grand plans to make a bola also but preparing the weights never happened and trying to throw a homemade bola with rocks tied to the string around a group of people seemed a bit irresponsible to me so the project was back-burnered.
The other projects proceeded as planned and after a bit of self-discussion I decided to finish them rough as the "perfect" rabbit stick or other tool would be a waste of valuable time in a survival situation. The SAK was used to saw branches, the mini axe was used to rough shape the tools, and the Salish was used in conjunction with the mini axe for final shaping. I was pretty pleased not only with the tools' performance but also with the final result. Considering my fatigue and lack of experience in making these tools I think all would have worked well enough to improve my odds of eating in a survival situation.
The roughed out rabbit stick:
After a bit of work with the Salish:
Fish hook carved from a y-branch:
Fishing gig (note how the "hooks" come to the inside to keep the fish on the gig once caught):
The knife work took me about 3 hours total but included not only the projects listed above but also some time clearing a path through the grasses from one site to another. The Salish remained comfortable and stayed sharp. Reprofiling the edge did nothing to hamper the performance of this blade. One day I hope to report on how well the blade did dressing out game.
I tested the tip strength of the Salish yesterday by stabbing it into a downed tree and prying to one side or the other. The depth of the stab was pretty consistent at 1" and the size of the wood pried out varied from stab to stab.
I had little doubt that the knife would handle this kind of abuse because of the way the spine abruptly tapers to the point as illustrated in this blurry picture:
You can see that the blade is full thickness up to about 1" behind the point. That makes for a VERY tough tip.
I didn't count the number of stabs but it must have been between 30 and 50 and the final size of the hole I pried out was enough to allow airflow under a small fire. I could have probably set the radio up in the hole if that gives you a bit better idea of the breadth and width.
First, use the Salish to scrape a nice pile of "dust" from a piece of dried wood. This will be used to catch the spark from a firesteel and tests the lateral strength of the S30V at the edge. Scraping puts stresses on an edge perpendicular to the normal stresses a knife encounters.
Result: No damage--not even a slightly dulled edge.
Second, carve some fuzz sticks to put on the "dust" to help establish the flames. Fuzz sticks increase the surface area of the wood to be burned and the thin "feathers" more easily combust. Long, tight curls demonstrate a nice sharp edge and the Salish is more than capable of making long, tight curls. As a matter of fact, I often had trouble keeping the curls on the stick as the Salish was more than happy to just carve them right off.
Result: A large pile of curls and a few nice fuzz sticks. No damage.
Third, use the Salish and a baton to split some dry seasoned wood to feed the fire once it is established. This technique is really more a test of my technique than it is a challenge to the Salish. I split large and small pieces of wood and created several sizes of fuel wood for the various stages of the fire.
Result: No damage.
One of the modifications I made to the knife was to square up the spine. Sure, it doesn't look so great now but the Salish is great at throwing a shower of sparks from a firesteel. One strike and I had a flame. Feed the flame with the fuzz sticks and curls, let the fire get stronger, add some small pieces of fuel wood, let them burn, then add the larger pieces.
Result: One nice small fire that burned plenty long to create a bed of coals for cooking. No damage to the Salish.
A quick strop on my pant leg and the knife went back into the sheath until the next time I needed it.