by Ilkka Seikku
BushProwler is surely my best seller knife and I thought it might be nice to make a post about BushProwler. I will update this post every now and then, so check this out later too!
You can find BushProwler on sale from here;
Full-Tang Bushcraft knives of Ilkka Seikku
History of BushProwler
I made the very first Prowler just thinking my own needs. I´m a hunter, craftsman, butcher, fisher, wilderness guide etc. so there are some things I really need to be in my knife; While hunting there is a need for a knife that is capable in butchering and skinning. The truth is that if your hunting is something you do just a couple time of year, it´s really no matter what kind of knife you carry, when thinking the real use of knife. But if you hunt a lot and use your knife with butchering and skinning tens of animals larger than fox there became the real need for a "special" knife. And if you do meat cutting also by yourself, there are even more to need from a knife. When I mean "a lot", I do mean A LOT. If you cut the meat of let´s say 10 deers/year, it´s almost no matter what kind of a knife you have. But if you cut for example 50-100/year and sometimes 10/day, there is a real need for a optimal knife for that kind of use. Very often people, who don´t cut meat almost at all, talk "clever" about meat cutting knives.. There are all kind of special knives made for hunters. Every butcher can see that most of those knives are just made to be sold and not to use.. If You cut a lot of meat, I suggest a very special knives for that. And I really don´s suggest anyone to buy expensive hand made jewelry for that! Victorinox, Swibo and Dick are good knives and those mars are popular and maybe the most used among Finnish meat cutters. I use Victorinox when cutting a lot of meat.
But one truth is also that meat cutting knife is useless when you need to cut or whittle some wood! Meat cutting knife´s bevel is way too high, actually the bevel goes from spine to the cutting edge. Meat cutting knife is also too hard for cutting wood. Cutting soft material it needs hard blade and cutting hard material it a need for a softer blade. Meat cutting knife is very thin and too flexible while whittling wood.
If we need a knife which can handle both meat and wood, we need some kind of compromise. I made the compromise by makings the bevel very high, but not as high that it makes whittling to be difficult. Also I made the lenght of the blade to be long enough to be able to cut every piece in moose. But not too long because long blade is useless while whittling a lot.
I use knife a lot in my craftsman´s works. I carve wood and antler, whittle all kind of things etc. I wan´t that the knife I always carry can survive also from these tasks. It´s a hard job and sometimes it´s a real need for a really strong knife that can be used very hard, almost like abusing the knife. So I made BushProwler to be 6mm thick and the material is optimal for a really hard beating also.
Full-tang contruction has for some reason be always to me maybe "not Finnish enought". I´ve always trust on Finnish tradition and it has lead me in my works too. Of course I´ve make a lot of full-tang knives even before BushProwler, but just after the first BushProwler was born, I really started to like this construction. It did become more familiar and somehow "my own"-thing.
It´s obvious that this knife is not the best in all these tasks. I don´t even know what is the "best knife" and is it even possible to say that some knife is "the best"? I think everyone have their own best knife for each tasks. Every now and then there comes some "superknives", which are said to have everlasting sharp edges and some ultimate new blade materials etc. But always those superknives just fades away in short time..
BushProwler is not a "superknife" it does not have any amazing materials or strange and utopic shapes. It´s forged by hand from the very common material; spring steel. Yes, the same material which keeps car´s in balance while driving. I don´t have owens to make the heat treatments, I trust on my eyes and experience and make all the heat treatments in a living fire, just like smiths in old days.
The blade does not keep it´s sharp edge forever. It needs to sharp sometimes. That´s normal thing, even some people which have polluted their brains with this modern age "give me everything right now and I wan´t everything to be perfect"- idea, expects that if they buy a knife, there has to be a blade which keeps its blade forever. There is no knife like that! If someone claims there is, please send that knife to my good friend, who will happily "test" it. Here is one of Aki´s little test and here is another. Those tests are still quite tender and if there is a need for a REALLY HARD test, im sure Aki will make it happily! And I´ll quarantee that the blade needs some sharping after these tests. =D
So, I made the first one just for my own purposes. But very soon two good friends of mine (whose blogs You can find from here Old Path and Akiri´s blog ) were interested about this knife and so I made few more.. Suddenly I noticed that there were many people, with quite a similar needs for a knife! BushProwlers were fun to make, so I made few more and then again few more. Finally there were so much orders on line that I did notice that it´s becoming my number one item.
Since the very first BushProwler, I´ve send these knives all over the world.
25 countries have receive BushProwlers so far:
Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Netherlands, Austria, Greek, United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Romania, Ireland, Switzerland, Czech, Canada, Mexico, USA, Costa-Rica, Australia, Japan, Philippines. I´ll try to update this list always.
If You have BushProwler and Your country is not in my list, please let me know and I´ll add it there!
Here are the colors of the United Nations of BushProwler! =D
The form of BushProwler has change a little bit from the very first ones. Not much, but just some little changes. Those changes has been made because of my own experience and also there needs to give a large thanks for my clients from all over the world. I have got wonderful feedback and great ideas to make BushProwler better. Even I am quite stubborn and not good to listen directions, I surely give a lot of respect for every feedback I get and I always try to learn from these feedbacks too.
I did use old leafsprings from cars to forge the blades of Prowlers. There were a lot of work even before it was possible even to hammer these leaf springs. I did not use anything but hammer while shaping the whole blade. Just when finishing the edges I use beltsander. So those blades were all totally hand forged.
In some point I was very lucky when I heard that there is quantity of new spring steel available. Very soon there were half of an ton of spring steel in my yard..
So, even BushProwler is not the worlds best and most beautiful knife, I can surely say, that BushProwler is quite good all around knife for a user who uses knife VERY MUCH.
BushProwler is quite large knife with 6mm thickness in the spine. Blade lenght is about 11cm and it´s 3cm wide. The handle is about 11,5cm long.
To make this kind of thick bladed knife also useful while whittling, there is this width(3cm) which makes it possible to make a wide bevel so it´s very nice for whittling etc. Edge is not like axe at all or not even "axe-knife". Blade material is spring steel, which is very though and viscous. Partial quenching makes the bevel to be like a spring, but the cutting edge is very hard. Result from this kind of heat treatment, when the material, spine thickness and bevels measurements are optimal, gives the blade almost unbreakable quality.
BushProwler has full-tang construction through the handle. So it´s really not even abusing, if you use this knife in a way, that breaks "normal" slender knife or puukko immediately.
I´ve been using BushProwler many years as my number one knife. I use knife every day and in a various tasks. It hangs always on my belt and here where I live, it is possible to carry a knife always.
Making the blade
Today I still forge these blades by hand, using hammer. I don´t have power hammer, because I trust more on the power in my hands =D
Steel I use, is in a form of flat bar in 6mm and 8mm thickness. First I cut 40mm x 230mm piece out of the bar. Then I forge this piece to shape the handle and profile of the blade. First the blade goes downwards and when hammering the bevel, it goes in the right position. Finally I finish the edges and bevels with beltsander.
Then I drill the holes in the handle. And when the blade is all done, I make the heat treatments. That´s very important chapter and this is the time when blacksmith uses his magic to conjure piece of steel to be a knife. ;)
After heat treatments it´s time to make the handle. I use mostly curly birch, rowan, antler and zebrano. All but zebrano, I collect straight from the woods by myself. I really want to use materials which I can find as close to me as possible. That´s one little thing I have found important when thinking about a thing that everybody talks, but only few really do something about it; its ecological way to live!
This zebrano I have has came to me almost by an accident. There were few large plate of zebrano, which were almost dumped away. Happily I saw that and instead those plate were dumped away, they are now living a new life in the handles of BushProwlers.
I have made every now and then handles from some other materials too, but I have decided for now on to keep it just with the materials I can get straight from the woods. There are still quite a lot of zebrano, so don´t worry, if You like zebrano, You´ll have it!
Couple of videos about BushProwler.
In the first video there You can see how I test every BushProwlers blade after the heat treatments
-I can´t put this video here at the moment, but I´ll put it here as soon as possible. Now You can watch it from here:
Sharp or not?
In this second video BushProwler is just in regular use.
Here are some pics about BushProwlers and I´ll update more!
Just whittling some feathersticks while making a fire in the owen..
This is one of the tasks I make every day and many times in each day..
This is one of the tasks I make every day and many times in each day..
BushProwler with zebrano handle.
Forging the blade. Handle is forged in to it´s shape and the blade is hanging downwards.
After hammering the bevel, the spine goes to it´s right position.
Hitting the "IS" mark on the blade.
Some BushProwlers blades forged.
Here are couple of BushProwlers blade ready.
Preparing the handle scales.
Handle scales and pieces of leather are glued and waiting for rivets.
Every sheath is made purely by hand.
Here is how I made the sheaths. The wooden insert is always carved with the Prowler which sheath it will be, so that is the first real task for each BushProwler.
Ready to go!
Traditional hand forged firesteels with BushProwlers
Traditional hand forged firesteel, modern firesteel and eternal BushProwler =D
Curly birch handle
Zebrano handle and sheath with firesteel loop.
Power of the BushProwler; it´s not hard to hit Prowlers blade through the tree, but it really is hard to get it out..
Old fart and newbie! On the left there is my own Prowler, which have been in hard use for years and on the right there is a brand new BushProwler. Both are with antler handle.
Couple BushProwlers with zebrano handle
Micarta handle (for healthy reasons I do not make micarta handles anymore)
Custom BushProwler with extra lenght in the blade.
In the kitchen.
Cutting traditional Finnish kalakukko. Bread where is fish and pork inside.
Moose´s ears skinned
Collecting herbs from woods
Here are some pics about how I make leatherworks.
I usually always draw straight to the leather without any sketch. That´s how I think it´s most authentic way to do art. Not perfect, but surely straight from my own mind.
Making a little wooden bird with BushProwler
And now a bit larger bird.. remember that the thickness is 6mm. I´ve heard that it´s impossible to whittle so thin pieces from wood with such a thick knife. So here you can see how the impossible becomes possible =D
My supervisor at the blackiron workshop.
Thank You for Your interest!