Working Prototypes

UTK0107 Classic Spear Point Blade Wilderness Knife Working Prototype

Horace Kephart (author of Camping and Woodcraft) was an accomplished woodsman and well-known author from the early 20th century. His basic sheath knife design (“Kephart Knife”), as made by the Colclesser Brothers (see advertisement below and museum picture of the knife to the right), is well documented as having a blade length of between 4” and 5” with the handle being the same length, a blade approximately 1.0” deep with a full tang and slight 0.250” bottom guard.

Kephart Capture 1

The pictures here show a prototype UTK0107 4.2” blade Utility Tool Classic Wilderness Knife. Working off the timeless lines of the Kephart knife, the UTK0107 has a spear point blade which combines the Kephart blade point symmetry with the standard Utility Tool Wilderness Knife features. These features include Crucible A2 Tool Steel, KS Edge along the spine, a blade depth of 1.125” and 0.210” thick tang, which extends to the pommel. The UTK0107 is a more substantial knife then the 0.125” thick Kephart knife and uses the Handle 3 profile to approximate the classic design.

Kephart Capture 2

Pictured is a working prototype made in early 2015 to test out the concept of making a classic Kephart inspired design and to introduce the Utility Tool Classic sheath for the Wilderness Knife line made by AE Nelson Leather Company. The Classic sheath is designed to fit any knife in the Wilderness line with a blade length of 4.5” or less. The sheath is ambidextrous and, and as shown in the pictures, and will accept the knife for right and left hand carry.

Kephart Capture 3

Having used the knife and sheath for almost five months (it is May 2015 as this is written) I have came to understand, and appreciate, Horace Kepharts’ inclination for the design and have found it have great utility as an outdoor and wilderness oriented tool. I have no way to know if Horace would have approved, but am in his debt for the inspired design. No decision has been made as of yet so far as making a batch of these Classic Wilderness Knives; I would be glad to hear from anyone who has some input on if these ought to be made. Thanks for reading – Jim.

UTK0151 6.0 Wilderness Knife 2015 prototype

These are pictures of the recently completed (April 2015) UTK0151 6” blade Wilderness Knife prototypes. There were four (one stonewashed, three black oxide) of this new model made in this initial batch – all hand ground by Alan Warren in Portland, Oregon. They were created out of the same ‘Made in the USA’ Crucible A2 Tool Steel as the rest of the Wilderness Knife line and were heat treated to Rc 57-58. The six inch blade (0.210” thick at the tang) is a drop point with the KS Edge on the spine starting 1” forward of the handle. These four prototypes had number 1 and number 3 profile handles fitted in natural micarta. The prototype sheaths were made by AE Nelson Leather Company in Scio, Oregon. The sheaths are right handed and made to be worn on the left side with a cross draw to get the blade. The longer and deeper blade of this model is evident when compared to the well worn prototype UTK0100 in the pictures.

The inspiration for the design came from a customer who already had a UTK0200-AB in A2 Tool Steel and one of the very first Wilderness Knife prototypes (one of the five UTK0095’s – a 3.8” drop point that didn’t make it into production). He suggested that I make a bigger Wilderness Knife with a 5.5 to 6.0” blade to bridge the gap between the 4.5” UTK0110 Wilderness and the UTK0200 8” Field knives. As it turned out the finished tool weight is 10 ounces, with a nice balance just forward of the guard. On paper, this design did not really do much for me, I was unsure how it would feel after being used to the Wilderness Knives with shorter blades. Fortunately, the design turned out to be very well balanced and a handy size for many outdoor tasks, I also found it to be very easy to carry in the field.

These prototypes were taken to the Oregon Knife Collectors Show in Eugene (April 10-12, 2015) to gather feedback on the design before building a production batch, I came back with two of them – they proved to be popular!

In field trials to Central Oregon’s high desert (a great benefit to being in this business…) the knife was used extensively alongside a UTK0200-SB (S30V stainless steel) to see how it compared. I used it for general camp cutting chores; splitting and shaving wood for fire making (works great with a Handi-Fire Tool (HFT)) along with some chopping and batoning. Keeping the 6” blade length in mind I can report that it performed well, especially when it came to splitting – for some reason this task did not require much effort. The extra 1.5” came in handy at times and did not get in the way when carrying it on the belt. The prototype sheath was fine, for now; in the future are plans to change the design to either protect the retaining strap or eliminate it, since when removing and replacing the tool in the sheath I could see how over time the cutting edge is going to slice through the strap.

Overall, I am excited about this addition to the Wilderness Knife line and look forward to comments, suggestions and ideas in regards to the design before the first batch is made this Fall.

Thanks for reading – Jim.

Working UTK0110 Wilderness Knife Prototype

Working UTK0110 Small Field Knife Prototype

Working UTK0110 Small Field Knife Prototype

The UTK0110 A2 Tool Steel 4.5” blade Small Field Knife with Natural Canvas Micarta Handle in the #3 profile.   This knife is the latest of the Utility Tool Knife Working Prototypes. It has been in use for about three months now and is surpassing expectations.  Included are pictures of the entire knife as well as top/bottom views and detail shots of the pommel and ricasso.

The blade has a stone washed finish and measures 4.5” long, 0.200” thick and 1.130” deep.  The handle is designed to allow use either with or without gloves and has a clean profile with just enough swell at the pommel to allow your ring and little finger to maintain control.  The top transition from handle to spine is smooth and unencumbered, like all Utility Tool knife designs. The guard is substantial enough to prevent the index finger from sliding onto the blade edge and to retain the knife in the pocket sheath but not so large and to get in the way when doing fine work.

The knife balance point is about 1” back from the guard giving it a substantial, yet controlled, feel in the hand.  The A2 Tool Steel is a marvelous blade material; I have not been able to get it to tarnish or rust yet and at Rc 58-59 have found it easy to sharpen with great edge retention.  The knife, with paracord lanyard and clip, weighs in at approximately 8 ounces, which is right at the design specifications.

The plan is to make the first production run of these Spring 2014 and having them ready by the end of summer.  The blade material will be A2 Tool Steel (and maybe CPM 3V if there is enough interest) with the standard mil-spec black oxide finish.  There are three handle designs being tested right now, the #3 shown here as well as a conventional handle (the #1) and a handle that is of Scandinavian origin (the #5).  What happened to #2 and #4?  Well, they are designed but we have not made them as of yet.  As we get more volume with the small field knife, we will expand the handle options.

Please take a look at these pictures and let us know what you think.  Thanks.

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