Knifemaking: Chainsaws, Being Gentle of Spirit, and the Lionheart

‘Only the weak are cruel. Gentleness can only be expected from the strong.’

Leo Buscaglia

A couple of years ago I was out in the country with a good friend of mine, giving him a hand in clearing some trees on his property.  There was a ramshackle house on that piece of property that hadn’t been lived in for years.  We were clearing the trees to make a path for the demolition equipment to come in and tear what was left of this house down so a new one could be built.

We hauled logs and trees that had already fallen.  This area had not been visited by anyone in quite some time and was quite overgrown.  We didn’t bother with any of the larger trees but anything under forty feet was fair game.  We were in the middle of the woods and it was just us.  My friend had two Stihl chainsaws and was cutting the trees down.  I was hauling the logs out out of the way and stacking them to be cut into firewood later.

We took a break- there were a lot of trees left to take down.  My friend had two chainsaws, one for each of us, so we decided to divide and conquer.   When we got started again I grabbed a saw and found that I could not get it running.  I yanked the pullcord.  Nothing.  To be safe I topped off the fuel and the chain oil.  I adjusted the choke.  I gave the pullcord another tug.  When it still wouldn’t start I assumed that I wasn’t pulling hard enough.  So I pulled harder.

My friend stopped me and told me to be gentle, otherwise I would rip the cord out.  I kindly let him know that I was an extremely gentle person.

He laughed.  ‘Maybe gentle of spirit,’ he said and gave the cord an easy tug.  The saw started right up.

That man, always with the truth.  I thought I was being gentle….

The truth of the matter, and what became clear that day, is that behind any kind of power is gentleness.  Not everything in this world can be beaten or bullied into submission, though there have been times in my life where I liked to think so.  As with the chainsaw, gentleness sometimes IS the power.  Out in the woods that day, the one who was gentle was the one who was cutting the trees down and that person was not me.

Gentleness is often seen as a sign of being weak.  This is not true, despite what has been demonstrated to us throughout our lives.  While brute and strength and force have their place, without something gentle behind them they serve only to divide and intimidate.  Gentleness serves as a means to connect.  It acts as a vessel for strength, holding it and giving it purpose.  Behind every great leader, parent, speaker, or creator of things there is something gentle.  Without that everything dissolves into fear and chaos.

This is the lesson of the Lionheart.  To find gentle is to find power.  The road to finding those is courage and bravery manifested, which are traits of someone who is Lionhearted.  It’s not an easy road for certain but the best ones never are.

This blade is a 6in filet/boning knife, built from 1/8″ O1 tool steel stock.  It was commissioned by a man who has quite a bit of Lionheart in him, and was the inspiration for the namesake of this knife:

Rough cut:

Filework on the blade choil.  This makes it easier to sharpen and provides a visual aid in creating symmetrical plunge lines:

Profiled:

Initial work on the bevels.  Removing too much steel will cause it to warp in the forge.  Ready for heat treat:

Hardened:

Removing more material after heat treat:

Hand sanding:

Satin finish:

I should have drilled these earlier, but here we are:

Rivet holes in the scales.  The wood is Redheart:

Ready for assembly:

Profiled:

Shaped:

The Lionheart:

Be gentle with that chainsaw….

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