In the past few years the bushcrafting movement has taken a lot away from the idea that a wilderness working knife needs to be a big one, and many dedicated ‘crafters say that almost any chore a large blade does can be accomplished just as well with 4 inches of cutting edge. I do not agree that a smaller blade can do the same job as a larger one “just as well.” True, you can get most of the same work done in going smaller, but it often takes more time and effort to do that work.
A small knife does excel in lower weight and less space, which is important in many environments, but when it comes to getting down and dirty like processing wood for fire or camp fixtures, trail clearing, digging, tent peg hammering, and batoning, a 2.5-ounce puukko with an 0.080-inch thick 4-inch blade just can’t power through like a 1.5-pounder with a 0.25-thick 9-inch blade. Neither can entirely replace the other for all uses, both have their places, and each has its advantages. The trick is to decide what your own needs consist of, and what you’re willing to carry.
I always have at least one good folder on me for light duty, but when distant dirt beckons I like to have heavier steel along. Ideally, I want it on-body because I may get separated from my vehicle, pack, or partner, but I never get separated from myself. Since most of my off-asphalt expedition mileage now days is vehicular in the two-seat ATV, a big blade on the belt is no more practical than a long-barreled handgun. Both dig into the bucket seats, so I typically go with a short-barreled belt-gun and the heavy chopper rides in the breakdown bag in the cargo bed. There is, however, a very useful compromise from the guys at Blind Horse Knives that shows some promise.
Blind Horse Knives has been producing heavy-duty outdoor cutlery since 2005, and a solid rep for no-frills working steel. Most have been of the smaller Nessmuk, bushcrafter, and hunting/utility variety, this year they’ve responded to consumer demand in introducing a larger blade, the Lumberjack Toothpick.
The Toothpick is interesting from a performance standpoint in that it offers big-blade heft and utility in a blade that actually isn’t all that large. Markedly absent are high-polish steel surfaces, slippery handle slabs, screws that can work loose, delicate tips, thin edge grinds, add-on crossguards that can loosen, wood that can shrink, exotic steel that’s hard to sharpen and 90-degree angles creating built-in stress risers that can bust a blade clean off at the tang reduction under hard lateral forces. What’s left? A beefy 0.185-inch thick blade of dependable O1 steel with an integral fingerguard that’ll never come loose, a deeply-angled clip point you’d have to work hard at to break the tip on, canvas Micarta-like layered phenolic resin slabs glued and screwed with stainless screws and brass nuts ground off flush on both sides, and a sizable brass-lined lanyard hole at the rear. All this adds up to 17 ounces of pure unadulterated “Get ‘Er Done,” and if you’re looking for something fancy to show off, look somewhere else.