THIS BURLS & STEEL CUSTOM IS A GREAT CHOICE WHEREVER YOU MAKE YOUR MEALS
Last year in Knives Illustrated, we ran a special section in the March/April issue that we called Camp to Kitchen. It focused on food prep knives with a special emphasis on those that could be used by you adventurers out there who don’t want to be limited to preparing meals within the confines of your homes.
“The Camp-to-Kitchen Knife is…a one-of-a-kind knife that received personal attention and is configured to handle food prep exceptionally well.”
What I learned a short time later was that there was a knife company—Burls & Steel—that made what its owners Ben and Sydney Spurrier called the Camp-to-Kitchen Knife. Recently, I finally got ahold of one just in time to make this year’s special section on food prep.
I’m excited about this knife for a couple of reasons. First, when it comes to custom knives, I love the idea of the personal attention and craftsmanship involved and the personal relationship you often establish with the maker.
“It’s large enough to use as I would a chef’s knife yet is smaller and handy enough to replace the utility knife in my camping kit.”
The second reason is that I’m not really interested in custom knives as an investment or for something pretty to display or to have something solely to keep my guns company in my safe. I use my knives. If a custom knife is well made, a bit special in some way, and configured to handle or perform a task the way I like, then I’m interested if it’s reasonably priced.
Another reason is that I want a knife that stirs in my imagination some sense of adventure, either memories from past exploits or the anticipation of journeys to come.
The Camp-to-Kitchen Knife is a winner on all counts. It’s a one-of-a-kind knife that received personal attention and is configured to handle food prep exceptionally well. It looks good, but it’s not a display piece. It was made to be used wherever you need to prepare a meal. Most important for me is that even if it’s a routine day in my kitchen at home, this knife conjures images of cool nights and starry skies, of smoky campfires, sizzling meat, and gravy over potatoes. It can be a trusty companion that helps you to make great meals on memorable occasions.
SIZING IT UP
The knife is 10.5 inches long with a 6.5-inch blade. It measures a bit more than 1.75 inches wide near the heel of the blade and tapers to a good point. The steel is AEB-L, a fine-grain stainless steel that makes sense for a knife that might be exposed to the elements in addition to my unusual camp recipes. It’s polished to a mirror finish. That’s not super important to me, although I suppose that’s a plus if I need to signal a rescue chopper should I burn my steak in the fire.
The handle is a nicely contoured desert ironwood with red G10 pins and liners. How a knife feels in your hand is a subjective thing, but I like the feel of this knife a lot. The handle is long enough for me to achieve a full grip and it’s thick enough at about a full inch at the widest point to be comfortable and easy to control.
Burls & Steel has offered the knife made with other materials, including 1095 high carbon steel, Damascus steel, and with a handle of stabilized and dyed box elder burl with brass bolster and pins.
STORE IT SAFELY
Because this isn’t the type of knife you’d carry on a belt typically, instead of a conventional sheath with belt loop, Burls & Steel includes a custom handmade leather saya or scabbard that’s very robust.
The knife is held in the saya with a keeper pin that matches the handle and red pins of the knife. It’s a nice touch. You don’t want the knife slipping out of the scabbard in your pack or camp kit. I’d recommend replacing the keeper pin in the scabbard as soon as you remove or replace the knife. Otherwise, you might end up searching your campsite on your hands and knees looking for it.
ON THE CUTTING BOARD
This knife arrived scary sharp. I was anxious to get the feel of the knife in use, so I put it to work the same day on some assorted vegetables. I knew it would cut well and it did, no surprise there. Feeling confident and comfortable when using a particular knife is important; you’re not apt to pick up a knife often if doesn’t feel right. The Burls & Steel Camp-to-Kitchen Knife felt like an old familiar tool I’d been using all my life.
The size and configuration of this knife are what make it especially appealing to me. It’s large enough to use as I would a chef’s knife yet is smaller and handy enough to replace the utility knife in my camping kit. If I’m taking my kitchen on the road, I am going to select maybe a couple of knives to prepare meals while keeping the weight and bulk to a minimum. Yes, even when camping out of my car, there’s a limit to how much I want to bring.
READY TO GO
Just handling this knife makes me eager to pack up my camping gear for a cross-country road trip. For camp cookery, I don’t see needing a larger knife than the Burls & Steel Camp-to-Kitchen Knife. I could add a second, smaller knife, such as a paring knife, to cover all my food prep needs, but I have a better idea.
My first introduction to Burls & Steel was with the company’s Osprey model, a small, handy fixed blade that immediately became a great companion on day hikes and weekend campouts. Paired with the Camp-to-Kitchen Knife, I’m ready to make outstanding meals for anyone who wants to tag along on my next adventure. Because the Osprey will be on my belt anyway, that accessibility will negate any reason to bring a third knife for food prep duty.
Burls & Steel Camp-to-Kitchen
Overall Length: 10.5 inches
Blade Length: 6.5 inches
Blade Steel: AEB-L stainless steel, mirror finish
Handle: Desert ironwood with red G10 pins and liners
Sheath: Custom handmade leather saya with keeper pin
MAKE THAT KITCHEN KNIFE LAST FOR GENERATIONS
Here are some tips for taking care of your Burls & Steel Camp-to-Kitchen Knife taken directly from the company’s website with their permission. While it was written with carbon steel knives in mind, it’s still good advice all the way around.
All of our knives are handmade, and we hope that you care for them so that they last forever.
DO NOT DISHWASH!
Most of the knives made at Burls & Steel are out of high carbon steel, which has been said to hold its sharpness better than other steels. However, high carbon steel can rust if not properly cared for. After each use of your knife, hand wash with soap and water and dry immediately—do not leave wet!
Every now and then, add a little of your favorite food-safe oil to your handle and blade. This will help make your knife last longer. We use high-quality camellia oil.
You may notice the color of your blade changing. Don’t panic. This is normal! It’s actually better to get a patina on your blade because it helps prevent rust. We like to think of the patina as the story of your knife, where it has been, and what meals you have made.
Certain foods can cause more of a patina than others. If you truly don’t like/want the patina, it can be removed, but it will inevitably come back due to the nature of high carbon steel.
High carbon steel reacts with acidic foods. You can still cut tomatoes, pineapple, grapefruit, etc. We just recommend you wipe your blade in between cuts.
Use your favorite sharpening system at home to keep your blade lookin’ sharp! You don’t need to have a top-of-the-line sharpener. You can use a ceramic hone.
Burls & Steel