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Fleming’s Fabrications Bushcrafter Reviewed

Fleming's Fabrications Bushcrafter

 

The Review

Some time ago, Travis of Fleming’s Fabrications provided me with the opportunity to review one of his handmade Bushcrafter blades, and I have been using it ever since. Even though this review has been a long-time coming, it is one that I have been very excited to do. Simply put, life had just gotten in the way. The positive to that is that I’ve had plenty of time to really play around with it. So without further adieu, let’s dig in…

I also had the opportunity to interview Travis for an article series that I’ve been working on for LTS called Knifemakers From Around the World. You can checkout the interview and some of his work here… Fleming’s Fabrications – The Knifemakers Series

 

Initial Thoughts

Before Travis sent out the knife that I would be reviewing, he teased me with a few photos of it so I already knew that it was a beautiful knife. But it wasn’t until I actually opened up the package and saw it with my own eyes that I realized just how little the photos had done it justice. It truly is a beautiful knife.

Fleming's Fabrications BushcrafterI haven’t had the opportunity to review many custom hand-forged knives like this over the years so I am really excited to take this one for a spin… I hope to do many more in the future.

The Bushcrafter arrived set deep in a simple, yet rugged black leather sheath with only the last 1.5″ of the handle visible. The knife is approximately 7.75″ long and features an attractive drop-point blade profile with a high-flat grind and a secondary bevel that was relatively sharp out of the box.

The pronounced logo etched into the side of the blade and the rough-forged texture around the ricasso area are rather sharp looking to say the least. It goes well with the beautiful buckeye burl handle. The Bushcrafter is also extremely comfortable to wield, index and control. I can’t wait to get to some bushcrafting with this thing to see if it still feels this comfortable after a few hours of hard use.

 

Features

Now let’s take a closer look at the Flemming’s Fabrications Bushcrafter and it’s features in more detail…

The Blade
The Bushcrafter is hand-forged from a stout 0.3125″ slab of 1084 high-carbon steel hardened to 58-60 HRC for its rock-solid durability and impressive edge retention. It is also a relatively easy alloy to heat treat. The knife is approximately 7.75″ long from end to end including the tang, and just a little shy of an inch wide.

Fleming's Fabrications BushcrafterThe biggest drawback to 1084 high carbon steel is its susceptibility to rust and corrosion without proper care and maintenance. However, by keeping the blade dry and lightly oiled when not in use, it will likely last you a lifetime and then some.

The blade features an attractive drop-point profile which is a very common profile for bushcraft-style blades these days. This allows the spine of the blade to continue all the way to the tip of the blade so it is thicker, and therefore it is much stronger. The length of the blade itself is nearly 3.25″ long with a very sharp 90° spine and highly polished high-flat grind with a secondary bevel so there is plenty of usable cutting surface for completing most bushcraft tasks, and since it has no recurve or convexed edge, it should be rather easy to sharpen and maintain the edge.

The Fleming’s Fabrications logo is boldly etched into the side of the blade giving it a striking look. There is no missing the large ‘F’ from any angle. Their logo is etched into each blade by hand using nothing more than a stencil and a home-built electro-chemical etching machine. Basically, the etching machine sends an electric current through an electrolyte solution causing it to eat away at the area of the stencil where the metal is exposed. I also really like the dark forged texture that was left rough around the ricasso area. I think it adds a lot of character to a blade.

Fleming's Fabrications BushcrafterThe Handle
The handle is made from a beautiful piece of stabilized and polished buckeye burl with a ton of rich color and character. It was split down the center, securely attached to the blade with epoxy, two stainless pins and a stainless 0.375″ tube ready for attaching a lanyard. It is an average-sized handle with no sharp edges or hot spots. But it does have a well-pronounced belly and rear bolster that makes it very comfortable to wield, index and control. Even with my large paws.

Since the butt of the handle is wood and ground flush with the tang, there is no surface area to use as a pommel which I typically like to have on a survival-type blade for pounding on nails and stakes or for pulverizing firemaking materials.

In addition to the hardwood and burl handle options that are available, Fleming’s Fabrications also offers handmade denim and linen Micarta scale options in many colors.

Fleming's Fabrications BushcrafterThe Sheath
The rugged black leather sheath that arrived with the Bushcrafter has an extremely simplistic welted fold-over design pattern with a fixed 1.75″ belt loop attached to the back with three rivets. When the Bushcrafter is inserted all the way, only the last 1.5″ of the handle is visible. I do not believe it was wet-formed because the Bushcrafter fits rather loosely, but not quite loose enough to fall out easily. However, it could always be wet-formed for a better fit at any time in the future.

Fleming’s Fabrications offers many more sheath options including Kydex and more intricate leather patterns. Just don’t forget to ask them when you talk with them about your custom knife.

Functional Testing

So now let’s see what the Fleming’s Fabrications Bushcrafter can do… In order to provide a some sort of apples-to-apples comparison between blades, I will be performing three durability and functional tests; Fine Blade Control, Tip Strength and Edge Retention. On a small bushcraft blade like this, batoning and the like just doesn’t make any sense.

Fine Blade Control
In past reviews I often tried my hand at fine bushcraft tasks like making spear points, tent pegs, and even different kinds of trap triggers. With everyone on YouTube making forks and spoons, I expect to see some sporks any day now. At some point, I might even try to make one myself. But when I am testing products, I always try my best to test using as consistent processes as I can without spending an inordinate amount of time on each test. As a result, I’ve decided to make a Try Stick with each knife in the spirit of those originally made by Mors Kochanski.

There are no rules for creating a “Try Stick”. They can include many different kinds of notches. Over time I will likely explore more of these as I learn them. But for now, I’ve standardized on the variation close to the one that Mors Kochanski originally made consisting of ten common bushcraft notches; Blunt End, Reduction, Pot Hook Notch, Saddle Notch, Dovetail Notch, Latch Notch, 90° Planes, Bow Notch, V Notch and a Root Stripper.

Fleming's Fabrications BushcrafterThis was the fourth review that I’ve attempted a Try Stick. While I keep getting better at whittling each of the notches, it does take some time to get a feel for each blade. With the straightest piece of red oak that I could find that was at least 16″ long and 1/2″ or larger in diameter, I had to strip and round it as best as I could to get it ready for the test. Often the most difficult part of the process in my opinion.

So how well did the Bushcrafter do? Well, the combination of the sharp 90° spine and high-flat grind made easy work of striping and rounding the oak stick as I prepared it for the notching. But from past experience at fine work with such a sharp spine, I went ahead and wrapped my thumb with a piece of Gorilla Tape beforehand just to keep the raspberries to a minimum. I could tell right away that it surely would have bitten me before I was done with the stick.

Once I had rounded the stick and it was cleaned-up enough to to proceed, I started forming the Blunt End followed by the Reduction. I always like to start with them because they seem to get me into the zone. I really enjoy making the next few notches, though they do require a varying degree of patience and effort to get them right. But I feel it is the Dovetail Notch and 90° Planes that always test my patience and skill. The last few notches are also rather enjoyable. The Pot Hook Notch, Saddle Notch, Latch Notch and Bow Notch are probably my favorite of the bunch. Sometimes it is hard to get started… But once I do, I actually find whitling quite therapeutic.

Fleming's Fabrications BushcrafterFrom the first notch to the last, it typically takes me 20-30 minutes to complete a Try Stick, and the Bushcrafter performed very well throughout the entire process. The geometry of the blade is phenomenal at making notches, and the shape of the handle is very comfortable. Though, a larger diameter handle might have been a little less fatiguing for my large paws.

The second part of this test was to feather a stick… Which is also one of the most common bushcraft tasks for testing fine blade control and edge retention. I started off with a 2′ piece of Poplar that I found lying around and began to round the end to get it ready. I started about foot up, taking long strokes down each of the corners, rounding the stick as I went. I was careful not to dig in too much, which the blade geometry and highly polished edge made very easy to control. The high-flat grind and secondary bevel made quick work of the of the stick creating the finely shaved curls that we are always looking for. After a few short minutes, there was a decent pile of dry tinder ready to go.

Tip Strength
The ability to stab or pierce without bending or breaking the tip of your blade is imperative… So testing the strength of the materials it is made from is extremely important. To do so, I drove the tip of the blade deep into the side of a log and began to pry on the knife using a side-to-side motion forcing the wood to pop-out in large chunks. I repeated the process a half-dozen or so more times revealing a 1.5″ hole in the side of the log without any sign of bending, breaking, or chipping.

Fleming's Fabrications BushcrafterNext, I tried to bore some holes into the side of the same log by twisting and rotating the blade back and forth as it removed material. Within a few short minutes, I had two holes approximately 1″ in diameter and nearly 1.25″ deep. Again, no sign of any bending, breaking, or chipping.

Edge Retention
When it is all said and done, the last test of the lot was to slice through a single sheet of copy paper with the Bushcrafter. When I started testing, I was able to slice cleanly through the copy paper without much effort, though it was not hair-popping sharp. It certainly could have used a tune-up on my Edge Pro. But after all the testing, it seemed to cut through the paper with the exact same level of effort. The tests left no visible sign of cracks or chips of any kind. Just a quick wipe with a lightly oiled rag I could hardly tell it had ever been used short of a few minor scratches on the side of the polished blade. A little fine polish and they’ll likely come right out.

 

Final Thoughts

It is no secret that I am a huge fan of smaller bushcraft blades, and the Bushcrafter is no exception. It is truly a joy to wield. Not only is the handle a natural work of art, it is contoured perfectly to fit my hand making it very easy to control and maneuver around whatever it is that I happen to be working on. Even after a few hours of working the blade, I found no rough edges or hot spots in and around the handle area. However, the spine is a bit sharp, and it will bite if you are not careful. But it can scrape sticks and a ferro rod with the best of them.

While this knife is one that I’d happily hand down to my children or grandchildren, it is also a knife that I’m not afraid to use and carry everyday. But it is also important to realize that with a beautiful burl handle like this one, it is not a knife that you would leave outside baking in the sun or laying in a puddle after a rainstorm, much less sitting in the bottom of a tackle box. Wood handles of any kind are not indestructible and should be treated as such. If you want a handle material that can get beat up without worry, go with Micarta or some other rugged composite material that is both resistant to water and ultraviolet rays.

The beauty of working with a custom bladesmith like Travis, you can get exactly what you want. So if you want a Bushcrafter of your own, you can contact Travis on Facebook or at his website to commission one of your very own. You definitely can’t have this one… This one is mine!

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: We received the product(s) mentioned above for free in consideration for a complete, honest and impartial product review for publication on LetsTalkSurvival.com with no gurantee of the outcome whatsoever. Any opinion provided herein is based entirely on our personal experience with the product(s).

 

 

About Fleming’s Fabrications

Fleming’s Fabrications is owned and operated by Travis Fleming, a custom knife maker located in Northern Texas. First and foremost, Travis is husband to a loving wife and a father to three great kids. He has been working with his hands since he was a youngster which led him to become an aircraft sheet metal mechanic, and later handcrafting custom knives. So when he is not spending time with his family or making a custom knife for one of his customers, he is a Quality Control Engineer for a local Aircraft Maintenance Facility.

Travis’s work can be found on the Fleming’s Fabrications Facebook page and their website, flemingsfabrications.net. Be sure to check them out.
 


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  • Jeff Troublefield

    This was a wonderful review. I love the handle, the blade are both works of art. Could be a little bias he already made a blade for me. Of course it was a little bigger. lol about 12 or 13 inches bigger, but the same quality lies within that blade also.


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