April 2, 2013
The first three Bybee Bowie prototypes are now complete! Click the photo to see more shots & specs.
And now it's finally time to finish the falchion. In keeping with my tradition of never leaving well enough alone, I reshape the spine, thumbramp, and integral guard.
Which brings us to our final shape.
After I remove the heat treat scale from the perimeter and flats, it's time to grind the bevels. I opted for a full flat grind to make it lively.
After a bit of hand sanding.
Sheaths for the Bybee Bowies and my daughter's SFB are molded, drilled, and shaped.
April 11, 2013
Bybee Bowie sheaths finished up:
Sage's sheath finished up:
I had to order handle material for the falchion, so I turn my attention to the last knife of this heat treat batch, which is a Nimrod in 7/32" O1. I use my 36" radius platen to finish the grind and she's ready for scales.
I've been wanting to try a forced-age finish and this knife was a good candidate. With that in mind I picked out some dark desert ironwood and copper for scales. Here they are rough shaped and dry-pinned to the knife for final shaping.
Using the 1" small wheel I bring the scales flush to the tang and grind the guard-to-edge transition.
At this point I deviate from my normal routine and etch my maker's mark. I knew this knife was about to be put through hell with the forced-aging and as such etched my mark very, very deep in the hopes that it would survive the process. Doing this resulted in a very unsightly cloud around my mark, but that cleaned up very easily with some 1200 grit paper.
Now it's time for the forced-aging. This is a rather lengthy and laborious process that involves doing things your high-school chemistry teacher would most definitely frown upon. Here's a shot of the knife midway through the process.
A bit more work and we have this.
The ironwood/copper scales are epoxied and shaped. Then the final edge is ground and sharpened. I've been experimenting with different ways of removing the wire burr and one of my favorites is using a wine cork loaded with white compound. I think I'm using a Rodney Strong cork here.
Done. Click the photo to see more shots/specs.
While working on the Nimrod, the Hayes Kukri returned from Peters where it was annealed and re-heat treated. So I thought I'd finish it and the falchion together. Here she is after cleaning off the heat treat scale.
Brad (the heat treat guru at Peters) did a great job with the clay pattern & heat treat. I'm going to do my best to develop the hamon . . . it's quite beautiful already - this shot is before any etching or polishing.
For scales, the kukri is getting dark desert ironwood, black canvas micarta bolsters, and black G10 liners/dividers.
The materials are fitted, roughed up, cleaned, epoxied, and clamped. I then park them in front of a halogen light for some heat.
April 17, 2013
The Falchion and Hayes Kukri are the last two knives of this batch. I have several knives profiled for the next batch, but I'm not where I need to be. I generally like to finish the last knives of a batch after I send the next batch out for heat treat. With that in mind I spent some time profiling out some knives.
The pattern of the two larger knives will be my first collab with a good friend and knifemaker from Australia, Dmitriy Popov. Dmitriy has a wonderful eye for design and was kind enough to draw some patterns for me at my request. I added my own flare to the pattern and what you'll see created is the result. Please visit Dmitriy's website and have a look at his hand-crafted knives: www.dpcustomknives.com.au
Some astute followers may also see the SFB with a wharncliffe blade in the above photo. This was a custom order request. The future owner also wanted the knife to made of M390, a very high-alloyed third-generation powder steel from Bohler known for outstanding edge holding and wear resistance.
I also needed to make a cleaver for a very patient gentleman. I've been wanting to make some small modifications to the original cleaver pattern, so I drew a new pattern to illustrate the mods to the customer. While doing so I also drew some variants that have been percolating in the back of my mind for some time now.
The customer decided he liked the bottom pattern the most, which suited me just fine.
After a bit of time at the bandsaw and bit more time at the grinder, 4 knives are born of 3 new patterns as well as two little kiridashi from the steel remnants.
The Cleaver Variant is .200" CPM154, the first collab knife is .315" O1, the second collab knife is .146" 14C28N*, the SFB Wharnie Variant is .175" M390. One kiridashi is the super thick O1 and the other is the M390.
*14C28N is a stainless steel that was created by Sandvik at Kershaw's request. I was turned onto it by (who else?) Chuck Bybee. This steel is similar to AEB-L with better corrosion resistance. I love AEB-L so I'm excited to see how this steel performs.
Next I take this little batch along with some other knives that I had previously profiled and start the process of deciding where I want to drill pin, epoxy, and balance holes.
In my sword research I've learned that where mass is distributed along a knife/sword is every bit as important as where the center of balance is. Think about taking two equal length bars of steel. In one bar you drill several holes in the center of the steel. The center of balance would still be in the middle, but the majority of the mass would at either end of the bar. In the other bar you drill the same number of holes, but at either end of the steel instead of the middle. The center of balance would still be in the middle, but the majority of the mass would be in the center of the bar. The result would be two bars with the same mass and the same balance point, but they would have vastly different handling characteristics.
The same exercise holds true for knives and swords. And when you actually start using your edged tool, you become aware of a whole other dimension: harmonics. I still have much to learn, but I'm thoroughly enjoying the process!
And here is the next batch with holes freshly drilled and countersunk. Eight different steels in this batch!!
OK, back to the Falchion and Hayes Kukri. Scales are fabricated and ground flat. The kukri is getting desert ironwood with black canvas micarta bolsters. The falchion is getting red G10 with Blacksite 690 boslters.
Drilling holes through the falchion scales.
Getting prepped for the bandsaw. There's a scale hiding in there somewhere!
Then I'm interrupted by a package deliverd all the way from Istanbul. What could it possibly be?
Turkish Walnut!! Seven blocks, no less.
More wood. Walnut, maple burl, and dyed box elder burl.
Also got in a granite surface plate this week! WooHoo!
April 21, 2013
I got the flats cleaned up on a couple of blades from the next batch.
Here's the SFB wharnie prototype cleaned up to 400 grit. This is my first time working with M390, a very wear-resistant steel. Working with it hasn't been too bad, and I really like the way it finishes.
And the new Cleaver Variant in CPM154. This is the first time I've made a Cleaver using stainless steel. But CPM154 is actually a very tough steel. I think it's much tougher than many folks give it credit for. Jake Hoback has made several large choppers with it and they've been to hell and back again!
I'm getting closer to finishing both the falchion and the Hayes Kukri. Both of these builds have been tremendously time-consuming. I'm pretty sure the kukri has more hours into it than any knife I've made previously. Hopefully the end result will be worth it!
Here I'm rough shaping the falchion's scales on the grinder with a 36-grit belt. Both the G10 dust and carbon fiber dust are bad juju for your lungs, so I turn on the .5 micron dust collector, don the respirator, and keep it wet while grinding.
I then bolt the scales to the tang and grind them flush before finishing them by hand. Here a shot at 400 grit.
Then I do the same with the kukri's ironwood/black canvas scales.
After fitting the scales I etch my maker's mark.
After etching my mark I clean up the flats.
And now it's time to develp the hamon. This is my first time etching and polishing a hamon. First I hand sand the bevels to 1500 grit. I then heated up some red wine vinegar with a few drops of dish soap. I heat up the blade a bit with the heat gun and then use a soft cotton cloth to rub the entire blade with the hot vinegar. I rub continuously for several minutes until the oxides form. This isn't the best shot, but it gives you an idea of what it looks like.
I then neutralized the blade with ammonia and polished the oxides off using a felt pad with Flitz metal polish. I repeated that process about 10-12 times per side. This is an extraordinarily time consuming process! But my time and effort paid off:
April 25, 2013
The Falchion's scales are roughed shaped on the grinder. I use the 10" wheel to create the palm swell, a slack belt to knock of some of the high spots, and the 2" wheel to grind some finger relief along the bottom of the handle.
The rest of the handle shaping is done by hand. Here she is after blending it all together with 60-grit paper.
And up to 400-grit.
The scales are removed and the Falchion is etched and tumbled.
The back of the scales are engraved with my initials and date.
Done. Click the photo for more shots/specs.
I still have a bit more work to do on the Hayes Kukri. Here you can see I've ground some deep fullers in the handle to help balance the radical distal taper.
I had a very large and heavy box delivered to the shop. After pulling the lid, I was greeted with this:
Unpacked. Evenheat KF27 heat treat oven. 2,200 degrees!
27" deep. Why? Because I have big plans!
I've also been working on my free-hand sharpening skills. I've gotten spoiled by the speed of sharpening with Trizact belts on the grinder, but if felt good working with the stones again.