On our last Carving course Miles, one of the participants, asked me if I could send a list of the various carving and bushcraft tools that we’d been using over the weekend. Instead I thought I’d write a post covering some of the bushcraft tools we use on a regular basis.
This first photo below shows the bushcraft tools that I carry with me whenever I’m out in the woods. I take a Gransfor Bruks Small Hunters Axe, a Bahco Laplander and a Mora Robust knife. I don’t think it’s particularly contentious to say that the GB Small Forest Axe is the axe of choice for many bushcrafters. However, when I was first thinking about which axe to get, I was able to try out a few different ones, and for me the small hunter felt right (I still think it’s a better balanced axe). This thing of ‘feeling right’ is an important point, I wouldn’t buy an axe or knife without having had it in my hand first. We’re all different, with different bodies and a tool has to be right for you.
I sanded the etching off the handle of my axe as I didn’t find it comfortable and I’ve also taken the convex grind to a scandi grind. I don’t put a cord through the hole at the bottom of the handle as it’s too tempting to wrap it around your wrist. If the axe slips out of you hand, you don’t want 2lb of sharpness swinging from your wrist. Take a look at this post on splitting with an axe.
My choice of the Bahco Laplander folding saw is pretty common, it’s a great saw.
For most of my time bushcrafting I used a standard Mora knife; last year I changed to a Robust and like it a lot. The shoulder sits a little higher and I find it better for carving because of that.
Speaking of carving, I try to do as much of my carving as possible with my standard bushcraft tools to make myself as comfortable and competent as possible with them. However, I do also use some carving tools and have an Erik Frost carving knife and spoon knife, both of which are inexpensive and do a decent job. And yes, the tip is missing form my carving knife; as they say, don’t lend your tools!
More recently I’ve moved away from the Frost crook knife and have started using a scorp instead. These come in both left and right handed and I find are easier to use. Because the cutting edge is only 8mm it gives a scalloped effect so I generally remove the bulk of wood with the scorp and then finish off with my crook knife made by Ross (see below) to get a better finish.
Those of you that have been on one of our courses will know that Nicola is a carving addict! Whilst she has the standard bushcraft tools (slightly different from mine in that she uses a Gransfor Bruks Wildlife Hatchet and a Silky Zubat), she also has a few custom carving tools – a carving knife and spoon knife from Ben Orford and a carving knife from Ray Isles. I’m allowed to use them from time to time and they’re great, more expensive than the Erik Frost knives but worth the money.
A recent addition to my carving tools is this beautiful crook knife made for me by Ross Berry on our 5 day Blacksmithing, Bodging & Bushcraft course. I’ve handled it with a piece of yew from Barfreston Church.
We have a selection of axes around the camp – the Gransfor Bruks Large Forest Axe (not shown), the Small Forest Axe, and the Wildlife Hatchet. We also have a hatchet from Husqvarna that I find too heavy to use as a hatchet and too short a handle to use as an axe, but it was cheap, came sharp and is great for clefting. I might get around to re-handling it at some point. We have several of the Wildlife Hatchets and find them to be ideal for carving.
More recently I’ve bought a Robin Wood carving axe, which is a fantastic tool, really well balanced and one I would highly recommend.
We also have a Hans Karlsson gutter adze which we use for making bowls, expensive but a great tool.
Hopefully there’s enough here to help you out when deciding on your bushcraft tools. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.
To see photos from our Carving Course, and all of our other courses, look on our Facebook page.