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Hunter's bush sword


James Helm

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This one was commissioned by a fellow who goes bow hunting in Colorado. He tells me that it seems every deer or elk that he shoots ends up in the thickest patch of brush they can find. He needed a relatively short, capable blade to aid in extracting them from the tangle, split some firewood, and possibly quarter out a game carcass. He liked what he saw in the Youtube video I shot of this blade:

 

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Taking that as a general starting point, I decided on a blade between 13 and 14 inches in length, with a slight drop for chopping power while still being able to handle the whippy, thorny vines and branches. This is what I forged out:

 

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I checked with him to make sure that he like what he saw, and to see whether he wnted me to take a bit of the drop out or round the top of the clip rather than have it angular. He approved, so today I finished cleaning up the profile, filing the bevels and false edge, and am in the process of heat treating it.

 

Ready to heat treat after grinding, filing, tweaking, and filing some more:

 

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After triple quenching in veggie oil:

 

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It's currently in its second tempering cycle out of three. The steel is 5160.

 

I've seen pictures of historical hunting swords built along these lines, though with longer blades. It always seemed to me that it would be easier to dispatch game with a stab than chopping, which is what this design seems aimed at. It occurred to me while I was working on that that perhaps those types of hunting swords were designed for the same purposes as this, namely extracting game from tangled branches and brush, as well as camp chores and quartering the carcass. Anyone know for sure about this?

James Helm - Helm Enterprises, Forging Division

 

Come see me at the Blade Show! Table 26R.

 

Proud to be a Neo-Tribal Metalsmith scavenging the wreckage of civilization.

 

My blog dedicated to the metalwork I make and sell: http://helmforge.blogspot.com/

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  • 6 months later...

Well, this took a ridiculously long time to finish, and it was largely due to the scabbard. But it's in the hands of its owner now and he's happy with it.

 

The scabbard is padouk wood. The basic work was done some time ago, then it sat around the shop as I worked on it off and on and worked on other projects.

 

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Finally, I finished it up and got the blade appropriately shaving sharp.

 

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I made the scabbard follow the curve of the blade's choil, making it obvious which side is which on an otherwise very rectangular scabbard.

 

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By way of apologizing for the amount of time and thanking him for his patience, I sent the customer this little knife I forged from 1084 and wrapped in hemp and sealed.

 

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Both of the blades have been used. I'll put up the pictures that the customer sent me.

James Helm - Helm Enterprises, Forging Division

 

Come see me at the Blade Show! Table 26R.

 

Proud to be a Neo-Tribal Metalsmith scavenging the wreckage of civilization.

 

My blog dedicated to the metalwork I make and sell: http://helmforge.blogspot.com/

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You got really something going with those bush swords.

 

I like how you seem to find the eye for the contours. They flow really well by now.

And Padouk for the sheath - thats a mighty fine wood.

I hope to get some this weekend at the Solingen Show... It´s hard as should be, resilient and light, and the colour is just WHOOW.

 

I like this one!

www.mareschmesser.de

 

Knifemaker, Germany

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Thank you! I think if nothing else, I do have a good eye for flow of lines. :)

James Helm - Helm Enterprises, Forging Division

 

Come see me at the Blade Show! Table 26R.

 

Proud to be a Neo-Tribal Metalsmith scavenging the wreckage of civilization.

 

My blog dedicated to the metalwork I make and sell: http://helmforge.blogspot.com/

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The customer has sent me some pictures and description of the blades in use. He commented on how "alive" both blades felt in the hand when he first got them out of the box.

 

The first major task he put the bush sword to was clearing away oak saplings along the bank of a creek to be able to access it for catching trout for breakfast.

 

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He then put the smaller knife to work helping to process out a steer that they were butchering. He said it worked great, and after touching up the edge, he put it to work in the kitchen chopping onions and beef tongue for some lengua tacos.

 

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A few days later, he sent me this story about making use of the bush sword again. He has quite the talent at storytelling, so I'll use his own words:

 

"Figured I'd give you an update on the chronicles of the Bush Sword. Walked in the house last night after work and noticed a box of wine and the Titanic dvd. Not a good sign... Talking with the SheBoss, I confirmed my worst fears - her friends were coming over to drink wine and watch that movie. The trifecta of Team Estrogen, boxed wine, and the Titanic is a sure sign that I should not be anywhere near there - it is also a signal that my dog will likely end up getting dressed up like some city dog that rides around in a purse in New York City. Can't have that - he's a hunting dog!

 

Anyway, I remembered that I still have a turkey tag, so I strapped the bush sword to my pack, grabbed the shotgun and headed out to the woods for the night with the dog. It wasn't all that cold (only about 40 or so), but it was raining so I figured I'd do the dog a favor (he's a hunting dog, but he's kind of soft) and set up the poncho. A couple of whacks with the sword and we had tent pegs. Not only did it make short work of cutting them to length and cutting the point, but it is balanced enough that making the notch for the twine was no problem whatsoever. Excellent!

 

Woke up a little colder than I thought I should be and couldn't understand why until I noticed that the dog had basically stolen my blanket. Selfish mutt. Worked out OK though since I was able to sneak off and get a bird while the lazy hound was still sleeping in my covers. Just in case you ever run into an invasion of turkeys, let me assure you that the sword quite slickly decapitates turkeys. Never know when that knowledge might come in handy!

 

Here's a photo of the sword strapped onto my pack. Really slick with all the attachment points on the sheath - carried great. Again, really enjoying the sword and am astounded at how handy it is."

 

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I'm really enjoying seeing my blades being put to work like that. :)

James Helm - Helm Enterprises, Forging Division

 

Come see me at the Blade Show! Table 26R.

 

Proud to be a Neo-Tribal Metalsmith scavenging the wreckage of civilization.

 

My blog dedicated to the metalwork I make and sell: http://helmforge.blogspot.com/

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