Free USA Shipping On Orders Over $150

History of the KE Bushie

by Kevin Estela March 09, 2018

History of the KE Bushie

There’s no secret, I love the KE Bushie. I should, it bears my initials and back in the mid to late 2000’s, Andy Roy made me the prototype of the knife that would eventually become one of his best sellers. The KE Bushie was originally designed for performance and Andy Roy was able to make it both functional and attractive for Fiddleback Forge collectors and users. The KE Bushie is not the first knife to share a name with a designer. Plenty of knives came before it and there seems to be a new knife “designed” daily. When I had the opportunity to submit a design to Andy for his consideration, I wanted it to be right. KE Bushie sales and the continued interest in the pattern are proof it is. Rather than exploiting what people think looks cool, I fell back on the design attributes of proven knives I used in my outdoors experience. The history of the KE Bushie is the culmination of the history of knives I carried over a decade of professional outdoors instruction and it was made with a  vision of what I felt a working knife should be.

 

How It Came To Be

Sometime in my mid teens, I started professionally teaching and guiding canoeing and kayaking with Mainstream Canoe in New Hartford, CT. I worked at this summer job until I was 26 and during that time, I carried many smaller belt knives while canoe camping. The most common was the Falkniven F1. Eventually, I picked up another summer position at the Wilderness Learning Center in Chateaugay, NY as a Journeyman Survival Instructor and eventually Lead Survival Instructor under Marty Simon. I worked there from 2007 until 2012 and carried the Bark River Knives Fox River that was the official school knife and sometimes I carried the Gossman Tusker Companion or Polaris. One other knife I drew inspiration from was my Steven Wade Cox Woodlore of Ray Mears fame.  I looked at all the characteristics of the knives I carried and wrote out a spreadsheet tracking their handle lengths, blade lengths, thicknesses, steels and so on. From this data, I determined average measurements. I determined most were of a given size and shape and this explains the 3.9” blade length. The process of averaging out what worked made sense to me. There was no need to reinvent the wheel or work outside of the successful knife designs of the past.  I took pen to paper within these parameters and drew up a basic sketch. This was eventually sent to Andy and what he came back with was pure beauty. It can be seen in this blog post with the white paper micarta handle. Andy sent me that Scandinavian grind prototype as well as a full-convex version. Years later, the KE Bushie is still one of Fiddleback Forge’s best sellers. 

 

What It’s Not

The KE Bushie is not a sharpened piece of steel resembling a crowbar and it is not a gimmick. There are no distinct features meant to attract attention like saw teeth, unnecessary holes drilled in the blade, or bizzare edge geometry. It is boring in how well it works and it doesn’t have any controversial design attributes. Far too often, knives are designed for the purpose of selling or they are made as a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. The KE Bushie is not a blade sold as something revolutionary but rather something that draws inspiration from many other successful patterns. 

The KE Bushie is not a fighting knife although with a little skill, it easily could be pressed into this role. It does share some similarities in blade shape with the knives I carry as a Filipino martial artist but when I came up with the design of the KE Bushie, I wasn’t aware the way I am now of what makes a knife ideal for combatives and self-defense. The Scandi grind KE Bushie is my preferred wood-working knife and the full-convex version is my general purpose belt knife for working with multiple mediums.

 

Why it is popular

As with all of Andy Roy’s knives, the minute you handle one, you realize the handle was given particular attention to make it comfortable in the hand. The blade length is ideal for a knife that is carried daily and not left behind. It won’t weigh you down like a large, thick-tang, fixed-blade knife and it cuts extremely well. The design has really caught on with the bushcraft community as a functional work of art. It is a knife people have commented about being able to use during a full day’s worth of carving and whittling with little hand fatigue. It’s also really comfortable in many different grip positions.  It is a knife collectors have mentioned they appreciate for all the wild and beautiful handle combinations the Fiddleback crew comes up with. 

The popularity of the KE Bushie has extended to an international level with knife sales to many foreign countries. I enjoy reading the reviews that come in from different knife forums and online sites. Even when there is a language barrier, so much can be learned from the photos taken and the satisfaction worn on each user’s face. I don’t need to know their language to know what they’re feeling. It blows my mind to think how a simple design made years ago has reached so many. I attribute it to pure performance and no fluff.

Now, the KE Bushie has an available optional sheath designed by Diomedes Industries with my input and feedback and it has an embossed Burning Star logo of Estela Wilderness Education. That is how I carry my KE Bushies into the field and I think Jason really made this sheath the finest on the market for this knife. I don’t put my name or logo on anything I don’t support and trust unconditionally and this sheath is no exception. 

 

Another design??

A common question I receive is, “Do you think you’ll design another Fiddleback Forge knife?” My response is always the same, “If Andy will let me.” A more complicated question is, “what design will compliment the KE Bushie best.” I never carry a single blade in the field and I always have neck knife or companion blade with me. I also carry a larger chopping knife for heavier-duty work. I could follow the same process of collecting design data from previous knives carried and submit a sketch of what would work best for me. Then again, if you have ever had the pleasure to handle a large cross section of Andy’s knives at BLADE show or in a private collection, you know there are many that already fit this companion role. Personally, I think the Hiking Buddy may be the best neck knife in his line and his spear-point machete is one of the best I’ve ever used in green vegetation and jungle environments. Until I’m offered a chance to give my input on another design, you have plenty of options to choose from.

What I’d like to know is what you would like to see me. I’d also like to see more of those KE Bushies out in the field. Let me know in the comments on this article and post your pictures to social media outlets with the hashtag #KEBushie. Thanks for all the great feedback over the years and please know it is an honor to be a part of this Fiddleback family. 




Kevin Estela
Kevin Estela

Author

Kevin Estela is a Survival Instructor at Estela Wilderness Education. Kevin is a frequent contributing writer for publications such as RECOIL, Athlon Outdoors, and Beckett Media. He is a Sayoc Kali Associate Instructor Level 5, as well as a BJJ Purple Belt.



Leave a comment


Also in Articles

Hypoglycemic Hypothermia
Hypoglycemic Hypothermia

by Brian Griffin January 15, 2019 2 Comments

Hypothermia, being a malady that involves the lowering of the body's core temperature, is usually thought of as being a danger only during cold weather or due immersion in cold water. For the most part this is true, and it's one of the reasons I chose to write this piece this season, when hypothermia can be a real danger to anyone in any cold environment. It's a little known fact that hypoglycemia can lead to deadly hypothermia when ambient air temp is in the 60s, and well above freezing, so it can be a very serious danger in the cold season for those who are at risk. To put that into perspective, hypothermia sets in when the body's core temperature drops below 95F/35C. At 91F/33C the person can experience amnesia. At 82F/28C the person will likely lose consciousness. At 70F/21C it is considered profound hypothermia and is deadly.

Read More

Know Your Rifle
Know Your Rifle

by Kevin Estela January 08, 2019

As a young boy with an insatiable appetite for plinking with my Crossman Air Rifle, I built a pellet trap with my father and shot in my parents’ home basement unknownst to my mother. My dad and I had a code and I would listen for his knock on the basement door or for the unmistakable sound of footsteps to signal when I would need to stow my rifle and avoid getting discovered by mom who would have surely confiscated the pellet gun from me and given my father a serious verbal beat down. My father wanted me to become proficient with a rifle and those early lessons from him, my daily plinking practice in the basement, eventual “graduation” to my first .22 rifle, and ongoing carbine and precision scoped rifle training/practice has brought me to a point in my life where I am extremely comfortable with my rifles today. I’ve been fortunate to travel with my rifles for both training and hunting. I’ve spent many hours on the range, in formal shooting classes, and in the field applying rifleman skills.  Over the years and through trial and error, I have learned there are certain universal skills and understandings one should have and apply to any rifle they own. I believe you should not just own and use your rifles, you should know them.

Read More

Fishing the Oak
Fishing the Oak

by Kevin Estela November 21, 2018

“FISH ON!” The words excite those standing next to you on the frigid riverbanks while the caramel brown water is disturbed by one of the monsters it conceals. You better call out, “fish on”, when you hook into a steelhead, brown trout, or salmon as any of those game fish could be a monster under the surface and capable of tangling the lines of the anglers to your left and right as it runs and fights for its life. When a fish gets hooked, it seems like everyone in the general proximity pauses for a brief second, feels a shot of adrenaline that temporarily numbs the effects of the cold wind, and anticipates what will come to the surface when it is time to land the fish. After all, even the average fish caught on this river this time of year is likely trophy-size elsewhere. Fall fishing Oak Orchard in Western, NY between Niagara Falls and Rochester is a ...

Read More

Knives & News

Sign up with your favorite email.