My Second Commission with Cariboo Blades
Scott Richardson & Aki Yamamoto
June 1, 2007
I will assume that the reader has not been privy to a previous review written as a result of my having done business with Cariboo Blades. In that review, I described a thoroughly delightful experience once I had decided to commission Scott Richardson and Aki Yamamoto to produce a very difficult project which required them to produce a blade to meet challenging demands. This highly difficult commission I had given to Scott and Aki was for a one of a kind knife that I had attempted to have made by 2 other knife makers. Neither of them even came close to capturing my vision of an all around “bush” knife. The most impressive thing about their successful completion of this first commission was not only had they met my vision for the perfect “bush” knife, but they had been able to manage an additional complication resulting of my request that Aki carve the scales as well as utilizing her artistry to create specialized leatherwork consisting of both a designed sheath and a braided lanyard meant to assure the knife would never be lost in the bush. This said I would like to describe my second commission with Scott and Aki. To view the first review please click here.
After seeing the quality of the work I could expect from Scott and Aki, I explored the available designs on their catalog page. I decided this would be the time to invest in an additional commission for any knife available from Cariboo Blades that I might now or for that matter might ever have use. I subsequently chose 3 additional designs from those listed in their catalog.
The first chosen design was the so called “tomato knife”, which is a thin
bladed knife which appeared to be perfect for use in either the kitchen or
camp and would be quite useful for everything from slicing vegetables or
making jerky. One of the reasons for choosing this design was due to the
fact the first commission resulted in a knife that combined a “Nessmuk”
style knife with a “Mountain Man” design. The former leaned to a lighter
thinner blade and the later a much heftier blade that would withstand the
brutal task of wood splitting and camp building. That is camp building in
the “old way” where you literally build some furnishings for the camp from
local material to make your stay in the mountains more comfortable and
convenient. The first commission was a trade off, allowing some of the
“Nessmuk” style to be retained but giving up the thinner blade thought by
Nessmuk to be most desirable for camp cookery, for the heftier blade
needed for camp building. The so named “tomato” knife allowed me to
bring back into my bushcraft arsenal a thinner blade for camp cookery.
Now I had it all. The workmanship on the knife was absolutely incredible.
The brass finger guard with its inlay was flawlessly executed and
highlighted the lightly polished perfectly shaped blade. The scales were of cherry wood when combined with the brass finger guard made this blade a work of art.
The second choice I decided to commission was the catalog knife identified only as KK#13. This blade has now been re-named the “Odd Job” in the Cariboo Blade catalog. This knife has a shorter blade with generous cherry wood scales. By generous I mean it fits a
hand well and feels very well balanced when being used. Frankly, after
using the knife for many day to day tasks I suggested it be re-named
the “Odd Job” as KK#13 failed in every way to define the true qualities
of this highly useful knife. The knife is so handy that I find I carry it with
me all the time and have used it fishing, cutting notches in a furniture
project and for slicing heavier vegetables for the soup pot. The blade
is thin enough to be almost razor like in its cutting ability, yet stout
enough so it does not yield under the pressure of heavier tasks. Again
the inlay work and the finger guard were flawlessly executed and made
the knife another work of art. The ability of Scott to hold the consistency throughout each commission lends a high level of credibility to him as a true craftsman & artist in the vast world of knife makers.
As part of both my first and second choices outlined above, I made
a special request of Aki. I asked her to use her leather making skills
to create a full sheath for each blade that would both protect the knife
from incidental damage while being transported in a pack in the
mountains and would prevent loss of the blade should I decide to wear
the knife on a belt. One further requirement was that the knife could be
secured with a leather thong for additional security. When the
commission arrived and I opened the carefully secured package, I
found she had crafted two engineered sheaths one for each blade.
Each had a thin strip of leather which would act to secure the knife
should additional security be required for any reason. Actually, the artful
construction of the sheaths was not unexpected considering the
complex leatherwork she had accomplished on the first commission.
What was unexpected were the unique designs she presented on
the face of each sheath. Each sheath was totally different yet each
bore a graceful abstract design giving each sheath a personality
of its own. The leatherwork was the exclamation point of the
commissions putting a finishing yet distinctive touch to each,
which by the way has drawn considerable comment each viewing
audience I have chosen to show.
My last choice was a small hunting Ulu. The Ulu shown in the catalog had an antlered handle. I am much more partial to wood so Scott and Aki took the time to design a wooden handle from fruitwood. The wood gave the blade a much warmer feel and was precisely fit to the forged metal blade. But as usual Scott took one further step. Most Ulu’s have a precise point on each tip. Scott decided to drop one of the points creating one flattened and one pointed tip. The not so
obvious advantage to this design adaptation is that you have a place
to position a forefinger creating a sense of control not found in Ulu’s
featuring two sharpened points. The enhancement also created a
natural balance when using the blade. I have to date only used the
blade to trim some meat, but I do look forward to using it to its full
advantage for both fileting fish and skinning game. The enhanced
control created from the drop point will significantly decrease any
chance of putting a hole in a hide as it is being removed from an
animal. This feature makes the Cariboo Blade’s Ulu a standout from
traditional Ulu design. Of course, the Ulu arrived with another sheath fit perfectly and bearing one of Aki’s welcomed abstract designs.
At this point, I had commissioned and received four blades, each distinct, each uniquely crafted and each bearing the artistic hand of both Scott and Aki. I was delighted with my choices and my appreciation had grown for their work as a result of the consistent quality of both the craftsmanship and artistry contained in each of the blades and accompanying sheaths. It seemed that despite any challenge presented, both Scott and Aki unflinchingly completed each task and the commissions arrived on time as promised. The question might me – what else could you ask for?