A blade that performs well across all the tasks you ask of it is something of a holy grail to most bushcrafters with thousands of us searching for the elusive perfect blade.
The Lofty Wiseman Survival Tool, while not 100% perfect is something that is truly to behold and something that may fulfill your needs.
We bought this knife in April 2014 partly due to curiosity on how a knife designed by such legend as Lofty Wiseman would perform and partly due to us requiring a knife that would meet our diverse needs.
Like most bushcrafters, we have a restricted budget when it comes to buying kit and as such we are very cautious prior to making a purchase and consult reviews and other people before we click the go button. In this case there was very little to go on apart from the fact that Lofty Wiseman himself has happily put his name behind this blade. So it was a bit of a gamble when we purchased it from Heinnie Haynes.
The tool is available both in 20cm and 28cm versions and both are made entirely within the UK which is refreshing in these days of outsourcing to unproven manufacturers abroad. The tool we bought is the 20cm version.
The Beech Handle
The beech handle arrives unfinished which, as i have mentioned in our video update, was a disappointment given that the price range this knife sits in is £150 – 200. Upon investigation, it turns out that the handle is supplied this way to allow owners to shape the handle to their liking.
Over the course of a few months I shaped the handle to my requirements with fine grit sandpaper and finished it with a treatment of wax balsam. The wax preserves and nourishes the beech wood and prevents it from splitting. you can use oil but I find it often leaves a slippy residue on the surface in hot weather which I don’t like.
The wax has the additional benefit of offering a more tactile feel to the handle which is a great benefit for a tool of this type. I used Lord Sheraton Caretaker Wood Balsam on the handle but there are many different brands which do the same thing. If in doubt consult your local french polisher or joinery shop on the best wax to use for your handle.
The Carbon Steel Blade
The blade has been manufactured from 6mm thick 1056 carbon steel which is a substrate most commonly used in agricultural and industrial cutting edges. 1056 allows the blade to hold an excellent edge for a long period of time and also allows the blade to absorb sudden shock loading easily without damaging the blade.
The blade is hardened to 54 Rockwell with the upper edge being softer than the cutting edge to help reduce blade stress from impact when batoning especially.
The blade, despite it’s size, sharpens more like a knife than a parang or kukri which is great news for the bushcrafter as it can easily be sharpened in the field with the minimal amount of equipment.
The tip of the blade features a short sharpened edge on the upper edge of the blade. This has been designed to help the process of removing plantlife at root level. This a handy feature for most people but I have sharpened up to edge to a almost razor sharp level to give me an additional edge that can be used when performing delicate tasks such as skinning etc.
This smaller version of the tool does lack slightly in weight towards the tip of the blade which makes chopping slightly more laborious than it’s bigger brother which benefits from the weight of the extra steel behind it.
The Blade Coating
Those of you who follow our podcasts will know that I have a bugbear when it comes to the coating of the Lofty Wiseman Survival Tool and it is down to it being very easy to stain.
Despite cleaning the blade prior to it being stowed away, the coating stains incredibly easily and, despite many attempts, I have not been able to find a cleaning substance of method that will remove the staining without risk of removing the coating itself.
This is incredibly frustrating especially since we had no response from Samuel Staniforth when we asked them for advice. I like to say thank you to everyone who offered advice on possible solutions it was greatly appreciated and if I find a solution, I will update you all.
The Cordura Sheath
The knives are supplied in a specially designed cordura sheath which is both hard wearing and easy to clean/maintain. Normally I look for leather sheaths but I honestly can’t fault this choice of material and method of construction. It really does do the job.
The Lofty Wiseman Survival Tool in Summary
Despite the issues of the unfinished handle and the staining of the blade surface, this is a remarkable blade. It performs well across the board, is incredibly tough and resilient and I can see it lasting a lifetime without issue.
The tool does cost more than other offerings more widely available but it is well worth the price tag. I happy to say that the Lofty Wiseman Survival Tool is Sumo Approved.