Mora Knives with Synthetic Handles




I just have experience with the Eriksson knives. There are some different ones out there sold by Kellam. I got my first with a whole bundle of Moras brought in by my local hardware store for me. It's the same old story as with the first time you see a wooden handled Mora, you'll think "How ugly and stupid can a knife get." We're too used to knives intended to impress us with their looks instead of how well they are designed for an intended purpose - cutting.


The Red Plastic Handled Knife

The blade on mine is the standard carbon steel 3 1/2" Eriksson. This is the first carbon blade by this manufacturer that I've had problems with. I had to hone the bevels back quite a bit to get into good steel. The edge had been ruined at the curve of the blade by fast factory grinding/polishing and wouldn't hold a fine edge without chipping out finely. Once honed back it was fine - standard R61+ steel. The handle is actually very secure and comfortable once you stop forcing your finger into that guard. We used it to clean a lot of salmon and there were no concerns with the handle being slippery. The strange side moldings really work for finger grip with either hand. The plastic hilt serves well as a spoon in cleaning fish. The handle is also comfortable when carving very hard wood with a tight grip.

The tang extends far enough into the handle (3/4 of length) to make the knife durable when used with a baton.

I got to like this knife a lot when using it. After using a lot of guardless knives, I find that I hold the knife in such a way that my finger doesn't even touch the guard. If you have large hands and especially if you have a thick forefinger, you'll find the guard uncomfortable. Unfortunately filing off the guard will probably make the knife less secure in the sheath, since the guard together with the handle flare is what locks the knife into an oversized sheath. The oversized sheath is very practical in that you can remove and replace the knife without looking. I was unable to get the knife to come out of the sheath by holding the knife and sheath in my hand and flicking: despite the sheath security it is remarkably easy to remove and replace the knife in the sheath by hand. You feel a positive click as the knife locks into the sheath so you know when it's solidly in place. If you put a dirty blade into the sheath, just wash out the sheath - no harm done.

This would make an ideal starter knife for kids, in that it's very serious steel in a high visibility safe handled and sheathed configuration. I don't follow this philosophy myself and got more expensive knives for the kids than I carry. I don't want a knife for kids that looks toy-like while actually being a deadly sharp instrument. With carbon steel you have to look after the blade and that goes for this knife too. For adults and especially for wilderness use, a high visibility durable knife is excellent.

Looking back over this page after close to a couple of years.. I just got four more from Campers' Village - $9.00 Canadian each - $5 US. From taking one to camp - kids really do prefer this model of knife and chose it above others. My grand-daughters too like it better than their expensive ones. Frosts makes a similar knife, and sargey broke one to see what the tang looked like

It cannot be overstated enough that a survival knife is the one that is available at the time. You can get these knives for $7.00 US so it's worth getting a few, putting good edges on them, and having them handy in vehicles etc.



The Rubber Handled Variety

Mine is marked "Normark" but is obviously an Eriksson 4" stainless. This is not the famous Sandvik stainless but some European "mystery steel" - basically whatever they got a good price on a the time of manufacture. I'm afraid that I've still got a lot of work to do with the knife before I'll really know what the steel is like in comparison to the carbon. It's much easier to sharpen than the carbon when honing the bevels initially, yet seems to hold a good edge. The edge does NOT hold when I do my testing by whittling fuzzy sticks from hard spruce. I cut in a concave path to stress the edge - and so far the edge on this knife hasn't held up. Perhaps I'll hone back the edge still more and see if this improves things. It will strike a ferrocerium rod - but not well.

The handle shape is great, even for large hands. Dry, this handle is as comfortable as they get - other than for a strange sticky feel. It has a slight give, but isn't that soft and spongy. If you have soft hands though, you might find the handle causes "hot spots" due to the high friction of the rubber in hard extended use. I haven't had chance to soak it in DEET and other solvents yet to see how it makes out. I hate the handle when wet! It doesn't actually get very slippery, but has a horrible greasy feel to it. It's quite safe with the finger groove guard but for me at least just doesn't feel right when wet. I tried cleaning off any handle coatings with kitchen cleanser without improvement. The good news is that I now know what handle shape to make out of wood.

The sheath is the standard hi-tech looking design with a molded belt loop that is nowhere near as useful or comfortable as the hanging loop design - in my opinion. It has a unique molding to allow quick fitting to a button on the belt, but unfortunately I haven't got to fitting my belt with buttons to try this feature out. It would allow a lot more swivelling of the sheath for comfort - but I'd think you'd be likely to release the sheath while trying to take out the knife. The sheath holds the knife VERY securely, and is safe: The rubber handle has a lot of resistance inside the sheath and there is an audible thunk as the knife finally fits into place. The downside is that the rubber handle drags on the sheath side and the knife is slow to unsheath for a knife in constant use. If you sheath a dirty knife, you can just wash out the sheath.



Conclusions:

  1. If you wait and shop around you can get these knives for $7-10 US. At this price you can afford to have lots for emergency use. You have to remind yourself that you are not getting junk - even at this price.
  2. These really are knives with serious steel, and a useable design - in the straight carbon steel (as opposed to stainless or laminated). Lots of people like the stainless - I just don't know enough about it yet.
  3. Like the wooden handled they will take a lot of work sharpening before you see the benefits of the steel. For a fine edge and woodwork get carbon, but if you want a coarse edge for skinning definitely go with the stainless as the carbon doesn't hold such a coarse edge too well - I'm still wondering about this as a fine edge holds VERY well. You'd think that a razor sharp edge would be great for skinning but the fat tends to act as a lubricant and reduces the effectiveness of a fine edge.
  4. For people who just don't like knives without guards and want to try a Mora, these offer two choices.
  5. Sharpen by honing the bevels! You need no devices to get a scary sharp edge. You will NOT get a good durable edge until you've honed the bevels and the edge back quite a bit. Welcome to cheap knives and an hour of sharpening fun.
  6. If you get to hate plastic and rubber you still have a super blade to practise knifemaking with. These do make good kitchen knives since the handles don't trap crud and germs.

The bottom line with these knives is that the carbon steel is good. I haven't yet found any better on more expensive Scandinavian knives. You can get good knife blanks handforged with some better steels if you order from Finland - I haven't yet. There is no comparison with other cheaper factory knives except for the discontinued Cold Steel Red River etc. No-one will ever convince you of how good these knives can be until you learn to put on a scary sharp edge, use them with a baton to drop a few trees, whittle some hardwood, then see how the edge has lasted. We're too used to inexpensive meaning junk.

The handles and sheaths are ugly. I have found them very practical though. The handle shapes will show a definite improvement in comfort over rectangular cross section handles found on a lot of full tang designs if you cut a lot of hard materials. This goes for both the plastic and the rubber varieties. If the sheaths are ugly, they are certainly utilitarian: typically a sheath knife is in constant use - and these sheaths allow the knife to be unsheathed and replaced without snaps etc. The wide mouths of the sheaths are great.



You may eventually want your great knives to have good looks too. Ragnar gives lots of help on his site in selecting good wood and rehandling knives, so does the Brisa site. Bo Bergman's book, "Knifemaking" has good information, though not enough more than the above sites to be worth the money.

I have to say that I have a prejudice in liking wooden handles on knives. I never knew this until I burned off the paint on a wooden handled Mora and finished it with thinned linseed oil. It felt comfortable during a lot of heavy cutting, and didn't feel slippery when wet. Later I made a fast job of using some broken axe handle pieces to make temporary handles to test out blades. I shaped them for comfort with a propane torch and files. They're so comfortable I'm getting new blades to handle in better wood: I'm not breaking off those handles until I have some more knives as comfortable! I made some good deals on puukkos with curly birch handles which looked great but felt terrible due to having varnished handles. The varnish was soon replaced with an oil finish and now they feel as well as look great. I now have lots of blocks of wood drying to make handles for a winter project. As I said above, if you get one of these knives and find you just hate the plastic or rubber handle - just rehandle it.




If you have questions, criticisms, or things to add - email me please.


Jimbo

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