Wednesday, March 25, 2015

GEAR REVIEW: Bob's Folding Bucksaw- Best bucksaw on the market?


Okay  folks, here is another "run, don't walk!" piece of outdoor gear to grab- Bob's Folding Bucksaw sold by the Four Dog Stove Company of Minnesota. Bob's Bucksaw is bar none the best folding bucksaw I have used.

I came across this excellent bucksaw while checking out Four Dog's vendor table at the 2014 Winter Camping Symposium last October. Four Dog is a small outdoor company that specializes in portable wood burning stoves for use inside canvas tents during winter camping.

Four Dog Stove's vendor table at the 2014 Winter Camping Symposium:


Four Dog's owner Don Kevilus is an experienced and knowledgeable outdoorsman with over 50 years of field experience under his belt. He has spent time in the bush with his friend Mors Kochanski, legendary author of the seminal book "Bushcraft." I think it's safe to say that Don knows a thing or two about what makes a good woods tool!

Don Kevilus (photo credit: Jason Schwartz/Rocky Mountain Bushcraft)

THE SAW

As Don explained to me, this ingenious folding bucksaw was invented by Bob Dustrude, a 92-year old WWII Fighter Pilot and veteran outdoorsman. Bob painstakingly handcrafts each saw at his Northern Minnesota home. The saw is constructed of lightweight aluminum held together by sturdy copper rivets, and is a marvel of simplicity and ruggedness.


Each bucksaw comes with its own handmade cordura sheath, and for an extra $6, Don will include a Raker Tooth saw blade, which is great for cutting green, frozen or pitchy wood (the bucksaw comes standard with a Pegtooth saw blade, which is better for cutting dry firewood). You can read a more detailed explanation of the two types of saw blades here (scroll down 3/4 of the way to see it).



The 24" model used in this review weighed in at a very reasonable 15.6 ounces (20.7 ounces with the sheath and extra blade). The bucksaw folds down  to a very compact size, making it easy to throw inside a backpack, preparedness kit, or saddlebag of a horse or motorcycle.


The lever action handle is made from Northern Minnesota Ash and hot soaked in paraffin wax to make it waterproof. An illustration printed on each handle gives instructions on how to put the saw together.


The saw comes in three sizes-- 21", 24" and 30" (a photo of the 30" model was unavailable at the time of this review)

(photo credit: Four Dog Stove Company)

When it comes time to deploy the bucksaw, it is simply a matter of unfolding it, attaching the saw blade to one of the aluminum saw arm ends, then attaching the wood lever-action handle onto the opposite end, and snapping the handle into place.




Here is a video of Don demonstrating how Bob's Bucksaw works:


FIELD TESTING

To field test Bob's Bucksaw, I took it into the northern Minnesota wilderness around Gunflint Lake after attending the 2014 Winter Camping Symposium last October. There was a ton of dead Lodgepole Pines there, making it an ideal test environment to see how the saw would perform. I found a healthy-sized Lodgepole Pine and proceeded to buck it in half.


Success! The saw made short work of this job.

Colorado Pitchwood Hunt

Although I was impressed with Bob's Bucksaw after my initial test up in northern Minnesota, I wanted to give it some more backcountry use before recommending it.

After returning to Colorado, I thought it would be a great test of the saw's strength to use it during one of my pitchwood hunts. I've twisted and bent the frames of cheaper bucksaws when trying to saw pitchwood. Pitchwood is a tough, dense, waxy\pitchy wood that's great for starting survival fires, but it is hard on edged tools. I figured if Bob's Bucksaw could make it through this kind of test, it would be one tough saw.

On this particular hunt, I was looking for elusive Pinyon Pine pitchwood tinder in the Southern Rockies.


Pinyon Pines produce less pitchwood than their Ponderosa Pine cousins, so finding it can take some searching. Once you've found it though, you know you've found something special. It smells like sweet incense and burns with an intense flame.

After a bit of hiking, I found what looked to be a good candidate. 


A quick check with my Leatherman's blade on one of the hard roots revealed that I had hit pitchwood paydirt!


I then grabbed Bob's Bucksaw to harvest some of this wonderful natural tinder.  


Bob's saw buzzed through the rock-hard pitchwood roots easily.



The sweet, incense like-smell that emanated from the sawed roots was heavenly!

Bob's saw didn't flinch while I was sawing through the dead Pinyon Pine pitchwood roots. One great advantage Bob's saw has over many of its competitors (such as the Sven Sawis that it has a lot more room between the blade and the frame, allowing it to cut  larger logs.

CONCLUSION

What else can I say? Bob's Bucksaw is ingeniously simple to use, lightweight, strong, yet saws like a demon. With a street price of just $50.00, this handcrafted tool is an absolute steal. Rumor has it that Bob is looking to retire soon, so if I were you, I would grab one of his awesome bucksaws while you can.

5 out of 5 Stars (Highly Recommended)


Bob's Bucksaw is available from Four Dog Stoves- http://fourdog.com/bobs-quick-buck-saw-24/

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