I often get asked about the equipment that we use at Wildly Curious; many of my young (and not-so-young) bushcrafters are keen to continue developing the skills that they’ve learnt with us.
The basic equipment that we use time and time again and have found to be both reliable and robust are the ones that we recommend.
The Hultafors Safety Knife – this is a round ended (helps prevent puncture injuries) carbon steel knife, handle length 110mm, blade length 88mm, width 2.5mm, finger guard on the handle, plastic sheath. Costs about £4.
The Mora Basic 511 – very similar to the Hultafors Safety Knife, but without the rounded end. Carbon steel, finger guard, plastic sheath. Costs about £7.
In general, carbon steel knives are easier to sharpen than stainless steel knives, but the latter may well hold its edge for longer. Carbon steel knives are also prone to corrosion, or rusting. A quick wipe with an oily cloth before storing goes a long way to preventing this.
The Mora Precision Knife - we use this in the Whittling and Woodcraft groups as the thinner blade allows greater precision of cuts. Costs about £10.
The Bahco Laplander - a folding saw which locks when the blade is open and when the blade is shut. Works well on both green and seasoned wood. And is just 23cm long when folded. About £18.
We also use the Bahco bow saws for sawing larger pieces of wood.
There are many fire steels/ferrocerium rods/sparkers to choose from. Some people find one type easier to use than another, but it seems to be quite a personal thing. Mostly children find one with a longer rod easier to use. When you first buy a fire steel, the rod will be coated with a layer of black paint. This will need to be scraped off before your fire steel will make sparks. Costs about £5.
Paracord Type 550 is great for the stuff that really matters. It has 7 strands of nylon encased in a strong sheath and has a breaking strain of 550lb. Available in many colours and patterns. Excellent weight to strength ratio. 100ft costs about £7.
We use our fire bellows a lot at Wildly Curious – they’re guaranteed to bring a dwindling fire back to life and amaze children with your dragon breath! They're basically a metal, telescopic straw. Google “fire bellows” and you’ll discover that they’re available to buy for between £10 & £15. However, pop into your local pound/bargain shop and you will probably find a telescopic back scratcher or similar for about £1. Snap or saw off the bit that you don’t need, and you’ll have your very own telescopic fire bellows.
First Aid Kit
When we teach our young people how to use sharp tools, we also teach them the importance of having a first aid kit to hand whenever they are using them. We recommend antiseptic wipes, plasters, steri-strips, tape and non-adherent dressings. Our kit is rarely used, but it's vital nonetheless. If you are considering buying your child a sharp tool, we suggest accompanying this with a first aid kit.
A final word.....
We teach our young people the safety guidelines for using these tools. If they also have their own tools for use at home, we would recommend talking to your child about the usage rules that they have learnt with us. It is much easier for parents to reinforce the safety message if you are fully up to speed with what that involves. We'll aim to produce another blog covering this. In the meantime, here is some good advice from Frontier Bushcraft: