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Project - Knifecraft

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Never Alone In The Bush
Staff member
Jun 16, 2011
Reaction score
Melbourne, Victoria
Project: Knifecraft

Author: Aussie123

This project illustrates some techniques for the safe use of a bushcraft knife, some knife grips and some simple cuts.

Tools Required:
- A sharp bushcraft knife
- Tools to sharpen your knife
- A small first aid kit (think safety)
- A camera to record your results

TIP: It is always good to have a first aid kit on hand when dealing with sharps, and to have a basic knowledge of first aid.

- Three sticks, each about 30cm – 45 cm long
Any type of stick, about finger thickness. Green sticks will probably be easiest to work with.
Try and select sticks which are straight and as free of shoots and knots as possible.
(You can cut one long stick into several smaller sticks of suitable length if you wish).

Reference Materials:
- An internet search will reveal a wealth of information about grips, cuts and techniques

Skills required:
- Ability to handle a knife safely
- Fine and gross motor skills to control a blade
- Ability to select suitable sticks
- Basic first aid (but lets hope no one needs it)

Time needed: About 5 minutes, once suitable sticks have been gathered.

Learning Outcomes:
- Basic, safe knife handling techniques
- Become familiar with three basic knife grips namely:
-- Forehand Grip
-- Side Grip with Chest Lever
-- Reinforced Grip
- Know how to use the knife grips to perform three useful types of cuts

Assessment Criteria:
To successfully complete this project you must present :
- A picture demonstrating three shaved stick, using a Forehand Grip
(Try and keep the shavings as long as possible)
- A picture showing three sticks sharpened using a Chest Lever Grip
- A picture of three sticks cut through using a Reinforced Grip.
- You must include the date on which the task took place


Safety Tip 1
It should go without saying that knives are sharp and they can easily cause an injury, so always “think” about what you are about to do with a knife.
Conside what the result would be if the knife continued in the direction you are cutting and what lies in its path ? Will it cause an injury or damage ?
P1290896 (Small).jpg

Safety Tip 2:
Before using your bushcraft knife you should select a suitable work area.
Look for a well lit area which is clear from obstacles and distractions. Check what is around you and that you have room to safely make cuts and manipulate the sticks you will be cutting.

While you are working be aware that people (or pets) may come into your work area, or distractions may arise; stop what you’re doing, put the knife in its sheath and wait until its safe to continue.

Start by taking the knife out its sheath. Beware of where your hands are as you take the knife out:

Wrong – hand may be cut by the blade:
P1290897 (Small).jpg

Correct - hand is away from the blade, on the sheath:
P1290898 (Small).jpg

Whenever you are not using your knife, put it back in its sheath - this helps prevent accidents, and helps keep track of where it is. The blade is protected from accidental drops or inadvertent cuts.

Be careful when you re-sheath your knife too, especially if you wear the sheath on a belt, or around your neck.

Hold your knife securely, with clean, dry hands. A knife with a comfortable handle and a sharp blade is essential. If your knife is not sharp, you must sharpen it first. Blunt knives require more force to cut, and will not cut cleanly.
Using excessive force increases the chances of a sip or injury.

Safety Tip 3:
When making any cut, you must keep your hands (and body parts) behind the "Cutting Edge" and away from the follow through of any cut. Always think about where the knife will go if you slip, or the wood gives way un-expectedly.

Wrong – the hand supporting the work is in front of the cutting edge of the knife. A slip may result in a serious injury:
P1290899 (Small).jpg

Correct - The supporting hand is behind the cutting edge:
P1290900 (Small).jpg

Safety TIP 4:
To conduct this project you can stand or sit. If you choose to sit, make sure you have a stable chair.

Be sure to sit safely. If you lean back and work between your legs, you risk an injury to your thigh, especially a stab from the knife point. Always lean forward with your elbows on knees, this way, the blade is clear of your leg :

Wrong a slip will result in a stab or slash to the thigh - very dangerous:
P1290901 (Small).jpg

Correct - leaning forward takes the blade and stick outside your danger area:
P1290902 (Small).jpg

Safety TIP 5:
Don't try and cut too much wood with one cut. With even the best knife, it is just not possible to cut too much wood with one stroke. You may need to make several smaller cuts to achieve your aim.

Sometimes you may want to support the wood while making a cut. This can provide additional support and stability. Always be aware what you rest the work on. The follow through may damage the surface you’re resting on, or you may damage your knife.
A hard surface, like a rock, will damage your blade and a soft surface, like a knee, would be dangerous:

Wrong - The knife blade, or tip, may be damaged by the rock:
P1290903 (Small).jpg

Correct - the wood will protect the blade and tip from damage:
P1290904 (Small).jpg

P1290920 (Small).jpg

Instructions :
Lets have a look at the grips and cuts:
- 1. The Forehand Grip
- 2. Side Grip with Chest Lever
- 3. Reinforced Grip

1. The Forehand Grip

The Forehand Grip is one of the most commonly used grips and is a fairly natural grip used by many people. A correct Forehand Grip is performed by gripping the knife handle in your fist with the blade away from your body, and the point facing up (that is away from your thumb).
An important point to note is that your thumb should be wrapped around the knife too; not placed along the back of the blade.
P1290906 (Small).jpg

1a. Cuts using the Forehand Grip
Using a forehand grip allows you to use the arm and shoulder to drive the cut. It is important to allow room so that you can follow through with the knife after the cut.
This is perfect for jobs like shaving wood and trimming small branches:
P1290912 (Small).jpg P1290929 (Small).jpg

2. Side Grip with Chest-lever
The Side Grip is usually teamed with a Chest Lever Grip to perform powerful cuts. Lets look at each part separately:

2a. The Side Grip
The Side Grip is made by placing the knife flat, with the handle along your knuckles and the blade facing towards your palm.
P1290907 (Small).jpg

Close your hand around the knife, and bring your thumb down onto the flat of the blade.
P1290908 (Small).jpg

2b. The Chest-lever
A Chest-Lever cut is a powerful cut. When performed correctly much of the power of the cut comes from the inhalation of air into your chest which expands to push the knife forward. Your arm is used to control the angle of the cut through the wood.

To perform a Chest-Lever with the Side Grip, you will need to work with the material and knife close to your chest. The knife should be horizontal and facing away from your body, and across your chest.

Be sure to hold the material being cut close to the handle of the knife to effect maximum power.
It takes quite a lot of practice before this will seem like a “natural” cutting technique, but it is well worth persisting with.
P1290909 (Small).jpg P1290913 (Small).jpg

A short follow through:
P1290915 (Small).jpg

A clean cut:
P1290928 (Small).jpg

A series of clean cuts makes a pointed stake:
P1290916 (Small).jpg

3. Reinforced Grip
The Reinforced Grip is useful for small, precise cuts, although it can also be used to effect some big cutting tasks.

The Reinforced Grip is performed by gripping the knife with your thumb placed on the back of the blade. The thumb of your second hand is also placed on the black of the blade, and a cut is made by pushing with your thumbs, your wrist controls the direction of cut.

3a. Using the Reinforced Grip
A series of small cuts around the circumference of a stick can be used can be used to cut it in half. This technique can be used to cut some quite thick diameter sticks, sometimes you may choose you snap the centre section rather than cut all the way through (especially if you use this technique on thick wood).
P1290918 (Small).jpg P1290919 (Small).jpg P1290930 (Small).jpg
You can use a Reinforced Grip to make a stop cut (in this case, vertically through the grain of a stick)
P1290911 (Small).jpg

then use an angled Reinforced cut to carefully remove material up to that stop cut. The end result is a clean notch (which could be used on a stick to suspend a billy, or as the top of a tent peg etc)
P1290921 (Small).jpg
P1290923 (Small).jpg
P1290922 (Small).jpg

P1290924 (Small).jpg

Cleanup :
- Be sure and dispose of all your sticks in your green waste, or the appropriate place in your garden.
- Remember to sweep up any wood chips and shavings.
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Never Alone In The Bush
Staff member
Jun 16, 2011
Reaction score
Melbourne, Victoria
Sample Assessment for - Knifecraft

Sample Assessment for : Knifecraft

Student : Aussie123

Date this project was completed on: 29/06/2013

Picture 1: A picture demonstrating three shaved stick, using a Forehand Grip
(Try and get the shavings as long as possible)
P1300097 (Small).jpg

Picture 2: A picture showing three sticks sharpened using a Chest Lever Grip
(This was a thin stick, so a single cut was sufficient to cut it. A thicker stick will require 2 or three cuts)
P1300098 (Small).jpg

Picture 3: A picture of three sticks cut through using a Reinforced Grip
P1300099 (Small).jpg
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