Its nice to have a fixed blade knife when backpacking, which unlike folding knives can be easily cleaned, won’t fold over fingers unexpectedly, and provides a sturdy but not overly large blade with a comfortable handle. A knife like that is handy for cleaning fish, making tent stakes, cutting sticks for roasting marshmallows, etc. However, fixed blade knives can be heavy, and a large blade is a little overkill for the small tasks that come up when backpacking. I thought I’d like to have a very lightweight fixed blade knife, with a substantial handle for comfortable grip. I made a nice little knife that fits that bill, and which weighs 2 oz, and actually floats. This knife also has a fire steel in the handle for emergency fire starting capability.
This project starting by finding a smallish blade, of quality steel. I settled on a blade blank by Helle of Norway, the Nying blade, in laminated stainless steel, and a 2.75″ blade for $17. That size of blade is sufficient for most tasks in the backpacking and bushcraft world. After finding the blade, and buying it from Ragnar’s Forge knife supplies, I found 2″ cork rounds. These have a hole in the center, and are made for building fly fishing rods. Then I drew the sketch below of a handle shape that I liked.
Below shows a stack of 10 cork rounds, epoxied together with a dowel filling the center hole.
With the cylinder of cork, I cut it into a slab of cork with flat sides, then shaped the top and bottom surfaces into the rough shape of the handle (below).
Below, with the rough handle shape, I cut it down the middle, and carved out a slot for the blade, and holes for several brass tubes. I thought the tubes would help secure the two sides to each other, but they didn’t seem to be needed, and they were pretty ugly.
Below; I put the two halves back together with epoxy and clamps. This version also has a slot in the handle with a razor blade in the slot.
I didn’t like the look of the brass tubes, so I cut off that handle with a chisel, and made another one just like it, but with only one brass tube for a lanyard hole. I also made a cavity in the handle for a small fire steel, for emergency use.
Now I just have to figure out a super light weight sheath, and I’ll have a cool little backpacking knife like no other. My friend says now when I drop my knife into a river, I can watch it float away.