Friday, 28 January 2011

JLT Knives - Woodsman

Thought it was about time i added a few notes on one of my main users, that being the JLT Woodsman, I'm a little biased towards this knife, in a good way of course, as i had a bit of input into it's development with Adam of JLT Knives, this little write up is not a review in the normal sense as i tend to do a full review on video as this allows me to show and describe things of note in better detail.

Many people who know me and know my ethics, also know that i do not review or appraise items on first inspection, i take the products out and use them, and use them hard for a period of time, before i will pass judgement on strengths and weaknesses of any particular product, the same applies to this knife, as you can see from the photograph, the blade is a bit grubby, but nowhere near as grubby as it has been in the past, i will admit to giving it a bit of a clean up for the photograph.

The specs of the knife are :
  • Overall Length  : 8 Inches
  • Blade Length    : 3 3/4 Inches
  • Blade Depth     : 1 inch at widest point
  • Grind                : Scandi, zero ground
  • Blade Material  : O1 Steel, Full Tang
  • Handle Scales   : Maple with Red Fibre Liners & Brass Pins & Lanyard Tube

So down to my thoughts and experiences of this knife, i will be honest here and reiterate that i had a bit of hand in the design of this knife, but i will keep my comments unbiased and truthful.

In use the handle style and shape is very comfortable to use for extended periods of time and in any orientation, initially i did suffer form some hand fatigue when using the knife, but this has decreased to non existent now and i put it down to using a different shaped handle to the one i was used to previously and my hand muscles needed to learn the new handle geometry, lots of use ensured this didn't take long, the handle shape itself is quite streamlined and not as chunky as say a Woodlore coke bottle shape, although this knife does retain a coke bottle shaped handle it is much slimmer and even with my canoe paddle sized hands, it is comfortable to use for extended periods of time, the weight of the knife is, for me, just right, not too heavy as some can be, but not to light either, basically you know you are holding it.

The blade itself, is a bit different to your "normal" bushcraft knife, but i do prefer this shape of knife for the tasks i use a knife for, the tip is very fine and initially i did suffer from some tip deformation, but upon closer inspection, all it was in reality was a very fine burr that had not been removed during the grinding/honing process, ten minutes on a strop and it was gone. 

I have had this knife for a few months now and have used it hard, I've made, traps, I've carved spoons and netting needles with it, I've battened it through seasoned Oak and placed the tip on wood and hammered the pommel to split fire wood, I've gutted rabbits and dressed game with it, I've dropped it on hard ground, I've dropped it on soft ground and to date not once have i had to take the knife back to my water stones to bring the cutting edge back, all i have ever need do is to run it over a strop and the edge comes back razor sharp, and despite all the hard works it's done, the edge has not chipped once.

The depth of the blade near the handle also allows you to choke up on the blade for enhanced control when performing fine carving tasks, the front edge of the scales are slightly bevelled to allow you place your thumb on the blade when using cuts such as the Chest Lever, the blade shape is also such that you can easily and safely hold the blade in an inverted fashion with your index finger over the tip of the knife  to save nicking the guts etc on game when gutting and dressing.

The handle retains a good grip on it, even when your hands are wet with either water, sweat or blood, and a quick wipe down with clean cloth brings the handle back nice and clean, needless to say, the scales being wood, do benefit from an oiling now and again, the knife has been used in sub zero temps and full on summer heat and the scales have remained stable throughout.

The spine of the knife is square, sharp and true and throws sparks from a ferro rod with gusto and it works wonders when scrapping bark from sticks and timber, the spine transitions beautifully to a rounded section where it meets the handle and is very comfortable with no high or low spots to be found.

So there you have it in a nutshell, the JLT Woodsman knife, a great little knife that punches way beyond it's weight and size, if would like to enquire about the Woodsman or any of Adams knives, he can be contacted via his website, he is one of the up and coming makers on the UK knife making scene and produces some wonderful work, yes I'm slightly biased because he is a friend, but even so, Adam knows and i hope you know, that if the product didn't stand up to the task it was designed for, i would say so.

I will be making a short video review of this knife and another spectacular knife i have from Adam in the near future, watch this space.

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