I started making knives because I didn't want to spend $300 on a Russell Essler hunting blade. At the time I had no idea about the bush knife concept. I had no idea I would find myself watching Ray Mears or some of the other really good folks out there on the Internet when I felt down... That what I would find most enjoyable was not anything more than being out in the trees, remembering things long forgotten by my friends.
Once I found myself moving down this road towards knowing what my preferences were for what I used, I discovered I had some real gaps in basic maker skills and that I, like many others, shared a few common misconceptions. Chief among these for me was the idea that knives were better if they were sharper. In truth, it was the makers who were better at sharpening because they have sharpened so many. So I learned to sharpen. I stopped using belt sanders to make the edges on my blades. I file in the bevel before heat treat and sand it by hand to sharpness afterwards. This is a long and boring process compared to other ways to solve the problem.
|My very basic distillation of what I want my knife to be...|
In the end though, I am finally to the place where I like my work and sharp is no longer a concern. In a world of $500 bush knives made of $8 worth of steel and $492 of people's mania for positional value I find the great prize in the skills I have picked up by avoiding the accepted way for handling the need for a good bush knife.
In the same vein, I acquired an old Singer sewing machine today and will pick it up a week or so down in Cinci. You can bet that the days of me spending hundred of dollars on packs and stuff sacks are almost over.
Seriously, if you find things are starting to feel a bit hollow, get as close to the whole thing as you can. Don't just stop at a master of where to order your next knife and the really smart post on some forum full of guys who talk a lot. There's so much more to it than sleeping overnight in the bugs with just some stuff that fits in your pockets or having the same pack as all of your buddies. There's an individual voice in the making of tools and other gear, and it sings in harmony with the making of skills and learning things. Find it. Worth every minute spent...