This is a complete work-in-progress review of a sheepsfoot from design to finished knife/sheath.

When I have an idea in my head, I sit down with graph paper, some french curves, a ruler, and start trying to put my ideas on paper.  Sometime the end result looks exactly like the original drawing.  Other times they look completely different.  We'll be following the progress of the top knife from the below sheet of graph paper.

I make copies of the original designs and cut them out.  I have an assistant who helps me with this process.

Here are all the patterns for this batch.  The knife we're following is second from the left.

I use 3M spray glue to affix the paper templates to sheets of O1 steel.  Our knife is on the lower left.

I use the bandsaw to separate the knives.

I then use the bandsaw and the 10" wheel on the KMG to begin profiling the knives.  The 10" wheel leave a slight radius to the profile, so I haven't gone all the way to my line yet.

Here you can see I've used the platen to bring the knives to their final profile.  I'll have to use the small wheel attachment to get into the finger guard area.

Using the small wheel attachment, I finishing the finger guard area and then clean up the entire profile of each knife.  Our knife is 4th from the left.

1/4" pin holes are drilled.

5/16" holes are drilled for both better balance and better epoxy adhesion.

All holes are chamfered.  This helps reduce the likelihood of stress risers.

It's now time to clean up the flats.  This is a very time consuming process!

Knives are back from heat treat.  Our knife is the 2nd from the bottom.

Grinding off the heat treat scale.  Again, a very time-intensive process.  

Continuing to finish the flats.  I use a Sharpie or Dykem to help me indentify the scratches from the previous belt.

Flats are clean and ready for bevels!

Here's a short video of flat grinding the bevels on our knife.  I usually have the garage door adjacent to me open, but the light was washing out the video, so I closed it while filming.

Here's the knife as I'm bringing the grind line higher.  The blue stuff is Dykem.  I find using a layout fluid is especially helpful when I'm grinding tall grinds on thin stock.

Bevels are done.

It was a big grind (for me, anyway)!  Here's the knife next to one of my EDC sheepsfoot knives.

For scales, I decide to use black G10 scales with desert ironwood bolsters and forest greeen G10 liners.  Here's a shot taken while I'm checking the fit of the ironwood to the G10.

After getting the bolsters fitted to the scales, I rough up all surfaces with sand paper, and then clean with acetone and alcohol.

I clamp the bolstered scales onto the liners against a short piece of granite to maintain flatness.  I let these dry overnight.

Here are the scales the next morning.

The ironwood was a bit thicker than the G10, so I have to grind them flat so I can precisely drill the pin holes.  Doing this reveals if I did a good job fitting the bolsters to the scales.

Using the tang of the knife as a template, I drill 1/4" holes into one scale.

I then use the first scale as a template and drill through the second scale.  It's now time to rough cut the scales using the bandsaw.

 After rough cutting, I bring the front of the scales to their final shape using the KMG.

After shaping, I hand sand and buff the front of the scales to the desired finish.

I then check the fit on the knife.  I think this one's going to turn out nicely.

Here's a quick video showing how I shape the scales to the tang of the knife using the small wheel attachment on the KMG.  I'm also using a vertical rest of my own design.

In the above video, I'm using a 60-grit belt.  The ironwood burns easily, so it's important to use coarse belts with slow speed when removing large amounts of stock.  When the 60-grit starts making contact with the tang, I switch to a 220-grit belt and bring the scales completely flush with the tang.  I then use Trizact CF belts in A45, and then A30.  Here's a quick video of finishing with the A30.

A quick touch with the buffer, and the scales are fitted!

At this point, I remove the scales from the knife, clean it with Simple Green, and place it in my etching tube for 2.5 hours. After 2.5 hours in the etchant, I pull the big sheepsfoot for inspection.

The sheepsfoot goes straight from the etching tube to the tumbler.  I added some borax powder to the media to give it a lighter finish.  I also had to keep a watchful eye on the knife as it tumbled because it was almost too large for my tumbler.  Large knives tend to get stuck in one spot, which makes for a less than desirable finish.  Here's the knife after about 40 minutes in the tumbler.

I get the epoxy holes drilled into the scales, rough them up, and clean with acetone and alcohol.

Clamped up for the night!

After drying overnight, I cut the pins and sand them flush with the scales.  I then use the flex attachment on the Dremel with a sanding drum to radius the edges of the scales.

Once that's done, I finish sanding the scales to 600 grit and then buff with white compound.

It's now time to grind and sharpen the final edge.  I adjust the platen on the KMG to 15 degrees.

I start grinding with a 120 grit ceramic belt until I get a wire or burr along the entire length of the edge.  I then switch to 3M's excellent Trizact CF belts in this progression: A100, A64, A45, and then an A30.  After that, I buff with a sewn buffing wheel and white compound to remove any remaining burr.


Ah, but we're not done!  We still have to make a sheath!

This knife has a very pronounced relief in the spine, so I cut some 3/16" phenolic rod as a spacer to provide clearance in the kydex for the high points.

 The kydex is heat molded to the knife.


I press the eyelets and draw a rough outline of the shape I want before cutting on the bandsaw.

I shape the sheath using the KMG, adjust the mouth for clearance/retention, finish the edges, and we're done!


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