Friday, 27 February 2009

The Return Of The F1

My fallkniven F1 dropped onto the door mat a couple of days ago, back from its trip to its birth place in Sweden. Now that it's back I though I do a review after a year or more of use.

I bought the F1 as I'd seen them mentioned on numerous Bushcraft and knife forums and seen a few well thought of instructors using them. While the F1 isn't my idea of the perfect bushcraft knife - blades too thick for fine woodcarving- I do really rate the design. Alone in the woods this puppy would be a wellspring of confidence. For fire and shelter it's absolutely perfect, if you wanted to whittle a violin to play while your waiting to be rescued you may find something a little thinner more to your taste.

Regular readers will remember that I chipped the tip (1mm-1.5mm) a while back splitting a piece of Leylandii for a backyard fire. I wasnt that impressed, but in fairness to fallkniven I had already subjected the knife to some heavy use during which it had acquitted itself admirably. 
One of the key feature of a 'survival knife's is that it needs to be a 'pry bar with an edge' and buoyed with the confidence of other peoples user reports I took them at their word and treated it without mercy. After the testing I did in the first few days I had cause to take up all the carpet in the bottom part of the house; cut it into pieces small enough to sneak into the domestic rubbish collection, take up what seemed like miles of carpet tracking (the nail studded wooden strips that holds your carpet against the wall) and then pry up a few floor boards. No problem. Scratches? Yes loads, but it kept an edge and showed no signs of bending.

Then I set out to teach myself convex sharpening, using the mouse mat method, and although it pains me to tell you this - I suck at it. The idea is that you glue a range of different abrasives papers to the undersides of old mouse mats and by pulling the blade over the abrasive service you'll sharpen the edge, while maintaining the 'apple seed' shape of the blade. Many, many people have achieved spectacular results with this method. One day I may even join their ranks.

If you fancy a go yourself here's the top tip I SHOULD have followed.

The only pressure you need is the weight of the blade, ANY pressing down on the blade will round the edge not sharpen it. Opps!

I put the F1 in the post to Peter Hjortberger, owner of fallkniven, and this is what he emailed back to me.

......Your knife has arrived. What I find is a well used knife, very blunt edge and a loss of the tip of around 1.5 mm. Regular wear and tear is NOT covered by our warranty. Our offer is to regrind your blade into a good shape for free but charge you for the return cost......

I thought this was a fair assessment of the situation and gratefully coughed up for the postage.

Team Fallkniven have refinished the blade to a wicked edge, sharper than when it came out of the box, and put a shine on the blade that would let you signal to a rescue plane. The blade seems a little thinner than I remember it, but I didn't/don't have a micrometer handy.
The person who re worked the blade took a bit of metal off the ricasso (where the handle ends and where the shaping of the edge begins) I'm sure many Britishblades or knifeforums members would be livid, but as I keep having to explain to my nearest and dearest I'm not a knife collector, I'm an enthusiast. They're tools to me.  

So, having been thoroughly tested,  I can give what I expect to be my final assessment of the F1. 
  • Worth the money? YES 
(I told a well known knife vendor what I paid for mine and the look on his face made me think they aint that cheap wholesale, but even during our current exchange-rate-meltdown they're still a lot of tool for the cash - if you are after one: I keep seeing bargains on british blades in the Portobello Rd forum)
  • Holds an edge? YES (It'll withstand anything. Except incompetence)
  • Strongly made? YES  (very, beating it this deep destroyed the Oak mallet I used)

  • Fit for purpose? YES (they were designed as survival knives, not scalpels, not bushcraft knives. They also make excellent carpet removal tools)
  • Would I buy another? What do you think? ;-)
Wait 'till you see the bayonet I got for my birthday!!
your pal
The Bushwacker

A Tale of Two Rounds

I've managed to include all three still life knife/gun blog conventions in this picture. 
Camo, Steel and Brass! 

Note to self - Get A Life