Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Old Hickory Paring Knife Review

The Old Hickory Paring Knife is another one of those knives that made the transition from the kitchen or butcher’s shop to the hands of the woodsmen. Here I want to take a closer look and see what it has to offer.

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Specifications:
Knife Length:
7 5/8 inches (195 mm)
Blade Length: 4 1/8 inches (105 mm)
Blade Thickness: 1/32 inches (1 mm)
Blade Width: 3/4 inches (19 mm)
Blade Material: 1095 carbon steel
Blade Hardness: Unknown
Type of Tang: Partial
Blade Grind: Flat grind with a secondary bevel
Handle Material: Wood
Sheath Material: No sheath
Cost: $5.00

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This is a very low cost knife. It comes in at half the cost of a basic Mora. It is currently produced by Ontario Knife Co. For that type of money it would be a bargain if it offered any kind of decent performance.

When compared to a Mora #1, the blades look very similar in size. In terms of width, they are about the same, and the Old hickory is just slightly longer. In terms of thickness however, the Old Hickory is thinner than the Mora, giving the blade a lot more flex. Of course the grinds are very different, the Mora having a scandinavian grind while the Old Hickory a flat grind with a secondary bevel. The handle of the Old Hickory is significantly smaller than that of the Mora, both in terms of length as well as thickness. The knife came dull, and had to be sharpened before testing.

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Batoning the knife was interesting. It is a very thin blade, and it cut into the wood easily. However, because it was so thin, it didn’t separate the fibers much, so it had to be driven almost all the way through the wood.

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The thin blade also showed a lot of flex when batoning. This is clearly not an activity at which the knife excels, even though no damage was caused to the blade.

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Truncating with the knife was fine. The thin blade penetrated easily, and since it was across the grain, there was no warping or twisting of the blade.

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The knife cuts well once sharpened, and can easily make feather sticks. The biggest problem is that it is hard to get good control of the blade because of the small handle.

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The knife does not come with a sheath.

Overall, I was not particularly happy with the knife. I certainly like the price, but this knife is certainly much better in the kitchen than in the woods. I find the blade to be a little too flexible, although that is not too much of an issue if you just use the knife for slicing. The biggest problem for me is the handle. To begin with, it is very small. It is hard to get any grip on the knife, and it would certainly be uncomfortable to use for extended periods of time. Additionally, I am not sure how long the connection between the blade and handle will last. The tang goes in about half way into the handle. This usually wouldn’t be a problem, but since the handle is so thin, I don’t know how well it will handle the pressure. I didn’t have any issues with that during testing. I guess for $5 it is hard to complain, but I would certainly spend the extra $5 and get a Mora #1 or #2. 

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