Mora : #749 : eight inch stainless blade


A shot of the #749 Mora (top knife) :

puukkos

Description

This Mora from Ragweed Forge (#749) has an eight inch stainless steel blade, 0.075" thick made from 12C27mod at 58 HRC. It weighs 140 g with the balance 7/16" in front of the guard. It has integral guard part of the rubber grip. The sheath is hard plastic with a drainage hole and weighs 40 g.

The blade finish is quite high, able to see a clean reflection and can be used as a signaling mirror readily. There is a slight warp in the main body of the blade, bent slightly to the side. The handle and sheath had some loose bits of plastic which needed to be trimmed off. The sheath holds the blade securely and very deep with no rattle however has no secondary retention system.

Stock work

This Mora was fairly blunt initially, about 90% of the the edge had little shaving ability and could not push cut or make a slice even on angle through newsprint. Cutting light thread cutting showed considerable variation with the very tip being more than five times as sharp as the base, and slicing 1/4" poly under 1000 grams of tension showed an almost total lack of aggression near the base of the blade however the an inch of the tip easily could cut through the rope readily. On 3/8" hemp, the variation in sharpness influenced the performance significantly.

With the edge in this condition the knife had little to no ability to cut meats or trim fats, tomatoes and plums were also near impossible to cut without squishing unless the tip was used to poke them apart. Hard synthetic ropes could also not be sliced effectively and various fabrics, paper, cardboard, and rubber tubing were also difficult to cut well. However on stiff and wedging materials like celery and woods, the knife still showed a high level of cutting ability due to the thin profile.

Based on experience sharpening the Mora 2000, the initial honing was performed with a 200 grit SIC waterstone. This very coarse hone was used to freshly cut the bevel quickly which left it able to catch a few hairs on the arm. The edge was then refined with 1000 grit and then 4000 grit stones and finished on chromium/aluminum loaded leather (six passes per side) and then on plain leather. Total honing time was fifteen minutes. Details :

Initial sharpness and cutting ability of the slim Mora and performance after a light honing
Condition Thread Poly Hemp
push slice
base tip
grams cm lbs
NIB 140 (50) 4.9 (1.2) 20.0 (5) 10.0 (5) 18.5 (5)
Honed  69 (15) 0.3 (1    ) 10.5 (5)  9.5 (5)  8.0 (5)

The freshly sharpened edge easily push shaves and cuts straight down into newsprint with no draw and scored much higher on the thread and especially poly which carried over into the 3/8" hemp rope performance. After sharpening the Mora easily handles trimming of meats and slices up tomatoes with no slippage and readily cuts into various fabrics, paper, cardboard and rubber tubing.

Pointing some ends on a hardwood dowel (basswood) the Mora needed just 2.00 +/- 0.07 slices. The performance was extreme due to the thin blade stock, acute bevel and excellent leverage due to the edge being fully sharpened right to the handle. This is identical to the performance of the Mora 2000 which is to be expected as they have the same profile.

With a 50 lbs push, the tip sank 244 +/- 11 pages into a phone book. The thin blade stock and narrow point profile due to the clip form a slender tip to give near optimal penetration on soft targets. The penetration could be improved further by sharpening the clip and increasing the distal taper. Hard stabs into the phone book were not performed as the slight warp in the blade would induce a strong lateral load on such a stab. The 2x4 digging was not attempted as some shallow digging in various soft woods showed an inability to pry out chunks due to a lack of cross section.

The wood chopping ability was 34 +/- 3% of the penetration of the Wildlife Hatchet from Gransfors Bruks. Fairly low for a blade of this length, but relatively high for its weight, more details are given below.

Food preparation

Even though the blade is quite long, because it is fairly light in hand due to the thin stock, it is fairly comfortable for extended use for precision cutting normally done with a much smaller knife. The very acute scandinavian edge readily slices into potatoes and glides through effortlessly, and the narrow blade also turns easily to cut out curves when necessary. The long blades does hinder point work though such as removing the eyes or coring apples :

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There were some issues with binding on thicker vegetables due to the flat stock. On a medium sized turnip, it would take 29-30 lbs for the Mora to make a slice whereas the Japanese Utility knife would only require 9.5-10.5 lbs. When the vegetables were small, such as on the end of a carrot, the blades would be very similar in force taking only 1.5-1.75 lbs. However towards the end of the carrot the Mora would be double the amount of force as the Japanese blade.

It tends to work best as a large utility or butcher knife rather than a chef's knife as it lacks the dropped blade for efficient chopping and dicing on a cutting board. the grip is comfortable and fairly secure though a little slippery when covered in oils/grease. The steel is very stainless and showed no signs of corrosion even when left wet and exposed to fruit acids for extended periods of time (up to 15 minutes).

Brush and wood work

The Mora was used for a variety of wood cutting and other lighter vegetation.

light vegetation

The Mora is readily outperformed several times to one in terms of time and fatigue by the #23W machete from Martindale which can readily clear large patches of ground with minimal bending. However compared to similar sized knives such as the Ratweiler or Becker Combat Bowie , the Mora has less fatigue as it is far lighter. It handles light vegetation up to alders very well, easily cutting that soft wood of similar thickness to the blade width, about one inch in a single cut :

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carving

The Mora cuts wood very well as indicated by the performance on basswood, and the narrow blade also also it to turn easily to carve contours. As the edge is fully sharpened right to the guard the precision whittling ability is also enhanced. The only real drawback is that the very long blade makes point work awkward. The #1260 Mora in in general a much better choice for recision wood carving, though the #749 is more more efficient than something like the Busse Battle Mistress.

chopping and splitting

The knife is quite light (140 g) due to the thin stock and while it has a very efficient cutting profile the lack of power on the swing limits the chopping ability significantly. On stiff wood the Wildlife Hatchet out chops it by about three to one in regards to raw penetration on 2x2 lumber wood. As the Mora has little to no wedging ability it can't clear the wood and has to multiple notch even on wood this small and thus in regards to number of hits required falls behind even further, more than five times to one.

However as the wood becomes smaller and more lively, the power of the axe can not be brought to the cut because the wood just bends and absorbs the force of the axe and therefore greatly reduces the penetration. On Alders 1.5" thick, the relative performance of the Mora jumped to 50% of that of the hatchet as the wood would bend under the hatchet impacts. When smaller Alders were cut live, the relative ability increased further and on Alders one inch thick the performance of both tools were similar. As the wood got smaller still the Mora pulled ahead.

If a lot of chopping has to be performed the chopping ability of the Mora can be augmented by using a baton to basically allow the Mora to function as a chisel and cut the wood by striking the spine and driving the edge into the wood. The Mora have enough chopping ability to cut the baton initially and can then fairly efficiently cut through small sticks :

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It takes about three to five impacts to drive the Mora into the wood as a similar depth of a chopping blade so it is significantly slower than a quality small hatchet or chopping blade, but still it is only a few minutes to cut sticks of this size down. The large stick in the above picture needed multiple notches to open up the front as it was too wide to be cut in a single pass. The amount of force required to drive the blade through the wood increases about quadratically with the wood thickness, so driving a blade through a piece of wood twice as thick needs four times as much force with the baton, so it is much more efficient to make multiple notches and go through less wood per section.

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Three notches were used to open up the larger stick, only about a minute to open up the necessary face on the front, about the same length of time to clear away the scrub to allow the blade the necessary room to swing. In low light areas like this the trees generally have very hard branches and these were just broken off with the baton which is generally more effective than cutting them off and a lot less wearing on the edge of the knife. It only took a single cut on the back of the wood and the cutting was complete :

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The same process can be done on much larger wood if necessary, it just takes much more time because a lot more notches have to be used. On the six inch and larger sticks, notches are cut pretty much all the way around the tree with smaller blades, this is somewhat dangerous in regards to general felling practices because it is easy to lose control of the direction of felling. Here is a six inch stick cut about half way through :

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It takes about half an hour to cut this size of wood with the Mora, this is less than thirty seconds with a decent felling axe like an Iltis, less than a couple of minutes with a small hatchet like the Bruks Wildlife, and less than five minutes with a decent chopping blade like the Ratweiler. However if it has to be done with the Mora it can, the main thing is to not get frustrated and hit the blade sideways because it is really thin and easy to bend:

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A shot of the tree on its side :

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A piece of Alder was used here as a baton, this is a really soft wood and the thin spine of the Mora readily cuts it to pieces, but it easily lasts long enough to cut through the stick :

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splitting

The Mora has little inherent splitting ability again to lack of power on the swing and minimal wedging action, even small lumber can not be chop split. However it can be readily assisted with a baton to split woods, and the longer blade makes it easier than the Mora 2000. It also has enough chopping ability to cut a decent sized baton directly which makes it a lot more efficient than the #1260 Mora. The longer blade on the #749 easily splits the above felled wood into smaller sticks for ease of burning or various utility purposes :

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digging / prying

This Mora has a slender tip due to the blade stock and clip point profile. This combination of properties doesn't lend itself to digging in wood or any sort of heavy tip work or prying in general as the blade and tip flex far too readily.

fire

The knife works well for gathering tinder to start fires being long enough to cut light vegetation fairly efficiently, and the acute edge will readily whittle shavings or make scrapings. It also easily gathers bark, either light barks like birch to use as direct first stage tinder, or heavy bark covered in pitch which burns very well until heavier wood can be gathered :

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The chopping and splitting ability are fairly low for its size though due to the low weight so it is significantly slower than the Bruks hatchet on gathering and preparing larger woods.

Miscellaneous utility usage

This Mora has a slim cross section and the long blade necessary to make short work of most utility cutting. It sets a fairly high standard for efficiency in cutting of light materials due to the slim and narrow blade and acute edge profile. On 1/8" cardboard it was similar to an extra heavy duty Olfa knife in regards to force required on the cuts. On thicker and more dense material, two blades were however significantly different in feel. Some measurements were taken on a few knives to determine the difference in performance on 1.5" SM insulation :

Force required to press cut through 1.5" thick SM insulation with an Olfa knife, Mora 2000, #749 Mora and Battle Mistress
Model Force Rank
lbs (+/- 1)
Olfa 24 10
Mora 32 8
Mora 2000 37 6
Battle Mistress 58 4

On rougher work the Mora doesn't compare well to knives like the Ratweiler. It lacks the blade stock to be able to handle heavier prying tasks and will bend readily under even light force as the stiffness is low especially through the point.

Edge retention

Much work has been done with the Mora 2000 in regards to the edge retention of this steel 12C27mod. In general for many knives the initial edge retention can often be low for several reasons and performance generally improves with a full sharpening, not a simple touchup on a rod but a full honing to reset the edge. This is especially a problem with many of the more insxpensive scandinavian ground blades as the initial bevel is often hollow ground which leaves the edge vey weak. Jim Aston has noted in detail the difference a fully sharpen can make to these knives in his commentary on the Frosts Mora Clipper.

If the edge is used in the initial condition the performance can be more than a little disappointing. After just some light wrist cuts into hardwoods, the edge on the Mora turned visibly every time it hit a branch stub and in just a few minutes most of the edge was significantly distorted, it does turn though and not fracture. The damage is heavy enough to effect the fine cutting ability and continuing to work with the knife in such condition is generally to be avoided as the damaged edge is easier to keep getting damaged :

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Checking the edge with a few passes on a hone it was significantly hollowed so the very edge which dented was far more acute than the actual primary edge grind.

Ease of sharpening

Removing the initial hollow grind on one side of the edge took 15 minutes on the x-coarse side of a cheap x-coarse/coarse benchstone and only a few minutes to do the same on the other side with a 200 grit silicon carbide japanese water stone. Subsequent sharpening does not take the extensive time as the initial honing unless the edge is heavily damaged. The steel works easily and responds well to even simple abrasives and tends to have minimal burr issues and it praised in geeral for the ease of obtaining a high push cutting sharpness.

Sharpening efficiency in general is lower than knives with primary grinds as the edge bevel is very wide though it does make maintaining a constant angle easier as because feedback is so much greater than on smaller bevels. The drawback of the single wide bevel in regards to time can be reduced with a micro-bevel approach which is common for planes as described in detail by Steve Elliott on his page on sharpening.

Handle ergonomics and security

The grip fills the hand well and has solid security due to the "grippy" nature of the rubber. The shape while somewhat grip specific is not so limiting that versatility is effected as the functionality is very broad and comfort high in multiple grip orientations. With vegetable oil on the handle the knife still able to be used for powerful cutting and chopping and even hard stabs with minimal slippage. However when greased with liquid soap, while cutting was still functional, chopping was severely impaired and the grip had to be adjusted after every impact. Hard stabs were not functional with the soap covered grip and to prevent the hand from ramping onto the blade the thumb had to be anchored over the pommell.

Sheath

The sheath is simple plastic with a drainage hole. The knife seats very deeply in the sheath and thus retention is high, this is also enhanced by high friction against the rubber grip. There is no secondary retention however, but due to the very deep fit and friction around the rubber handle, there isn't a problem with retention in general.

Summary

The initial sharpness of the #749 Mora was low for majority of the blade and the initial edge retention was poor, common for blades of this class. Once properly honed it made a nice knife to serve as a small machete for grasses and other light vegetation as it is much lighter than most knives of its length. The acute edge lends itself to efficient wood carving and it has the necessary length to enable decent speed with a baton on larger wood.

The thin stock however does set the chopping ability fairly low and the lack of stiffness can be an issue trying to baton through difficult woods and wedges are usually a better option. It also serves well as a utility or carving knife in the kitchen and also as a bread knife if left more a more aggressive edge finish. The corrosion resistance is high, able to withstand extended exposure to water and even acidic fruit juices without showing signs of rusting.

In general use of a primary grind tends to make more efficient cutting tools, however the single bevel scandinavian grind is traditional. There are similar styled knives which have much thicker blades to enable them to be more powerful for chopping and much more robust in general such as the Lapp Leuko which is 0.137" thick, almost twice as thick as the #749 Mora. A shot of the Lapp Leuko from the Ragweed Forge website :

lapp
	leuko

Comments and references

Comments can be sent to : cliffstamp[REMOVE]@cutleryscience.com or posted to the following thread :

More information on this style of knife can be seen at Ragweed Forge. Jim Aston has much commentary on scandinavian blade on his Survival Page


Last updated : 02 : 15 : 2006
Originally written : Fri Oct 10 15:34:42 NDT 2003
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