Thursday, November 12, 2015

80CrV2 camp knife testing

I put together this camp knife with the intention of testing several things: heat treatment, using neoprene beneath the wrap, and the durability of the black oxide finish.  If it survived the tests, I decided to make it my personal camp knife.

The knife is forged from 80CrV2 steel with a shallow recurve to the blade.  The clip is a false edge with a very slight bevel, purely for aesthetics.  The blade is 13" from the tip to the Turk's head knot, with an overall length of just under 19".  The spine is 3/16" at its thickest point, right in front of the Turk's head.  The wrap is stripped black paracord over intact olive drab paracord (though you really can't tell the color of the underlay unless you look closely in person) over neoprene, all impregnated with West System marine epoxy. 

The edge was sharpened as I normally do, by eye and feel with an Arkansas stone and leather strop, and was hair shaving sharp before starting the test.

I was confident enough that I went ahead and built a Kydex sheath for it, though I haven't yet rigged a shoulder sling.

The big thing I wanted to test was toughness, particularly if it would survive being batoned through a difficult piece of wood.  I wasn't interested in testing to destruction on this one, just a real-world toughness test.  The mesquite I started with was splitting too easily to be a challenge, so I moved on to a piece of solid, seasoned oak about 4" in diameter on the smaller end.  You can't see it in this shot, but there's a pretty good elbow in the wood opposite of the sawed-off branch.

I got the blade down below the level of the wood a couple of times, batonning both on the handle side and the tip side.  Both times it hit a point at which it was not wanting to split further in spite of repeated blows with the baton and lifting the whole chunk of wood with the blade and slamming it down on the cement slab underneath.  It's a piece of wood that would have been challenging for a splitting maul, and actually splitting the wood was not the point.  Flexing the blade in the wood and impacting the edge were, and as you can see, it flexed the blade pretty good.

And after knocking it free from the wood, it straightened back true.

I then turned it over and batonned the blade into the longer, straighter section of the chunk of firewood.  It flexed the blade even further in the opposite direction by the time I reached the limits of how far I could drive the blade.

This time the blade took a slight set.  No damage to the edge. 

Satisfied with the batonning portion of the test, I moved on to chopping.  This is extremely hard, seasoned oak wood, and I didn't try to avoid any knots or use a section with straight grain. 

After cutting through, I found no nicks, rolls, or flat spots on the edge, which I was expecting.  What surprised me a bit was that the edge still was roughly cutting hair (as opposed to shaving it) right in the area where I had done all the chopping.  With a lazy flick, it would still slice the tops off of the long grasses growing around.

Conclusions -

1.  The heat treatment is right where I want it.  This was not a stout knife, in fact it's pretty light.  The spine is not particularly thick, and the edge is a general usage edge that was a nice, working sharp when starting.  The blade was flexed quite a bit in a very tough piece of wood and did not break, remained a very useful straightness, and the edge took no damage while retaining a good working sharpness.   I'm not a big advocate of batoning; it has its place, but I think it gets overused.  However, it is one of the toughest things a customer will typically subject a custom knife to.  For someone who is wanting that as a primary usage, I'd go with a stouter spine.

2.  The handle could probably stand to be a little wider, but all other aspects were great.  The paracord has a bit of an aggressive grip, but did not raise any hot spots.  It was very comfortable.  I could tell no difference in usage between the neoprene foundation and the leather I've been using, but in construction, the neoprene was easier to work with and didn't clog the belts like leather does.

3.  The black oxide wore away in usage, but acceptably.  Any blade coating wears, and it shouldn't be too hard to clean up and re-apply the coating if need be.

4.  I gots a new camp knife!  :D

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