Shop Update - August 8, 2012

Today was my first day back in the shop after our Colorado road trip.  Had a great vacation and got some knife ideas out of my head and onto some paper.

I've entered the 2012 JerzeeDevil Halloween Build-Off and I thought it would be a great time to make my first large knife.  I have some 4x18" sheets of .23" thick O1, so I designed some knives with those dimensions in mind.  I'm planning to build two just in case I turn one of them into a big piece of scrap!

Here's the first.  The paper it's drawn on is the same dimension as the steel (4x18), to give you a sense of size.

Here's the second.  The Hatcher Cutlass!

While away, I took delivery of some scale material.  Desert Ironwood and brown canvas phenolic laminate.

I also took delivery of a small batch of knives after being heat treated by Lee Oates of Bearclaw Knives in LaPorte, TX.   The knife on the left is for, and designed by, my daughter.  The knife on the right is a santoku for a fellow USN'er.

I worked on the batch a bit today.  First, I gave the cleavers some serrations.

I then ground the heat treat scale from the profiles of the 4 knives.  More work tomorrow!


Shop Update - August 9, 2012

Today I continued working on the CleaverFoot.  Because this was the first time I've ground bevels before HT, I left the edges quite thick to discourage warping.  This left me with quite a bit of grinding to do post-HT.  I started with an 80-grit 977 belt to finish the bevels.

Despite my two-week hiatus, I felt very comfortable right from the get-go.  Once I got to my desired edge thickness, I cleaned up the rest of the HT scale and brought both the flats and the bevels to 30 microns.

I still have to grind the guard-to-edge transition, but otherwise, I think this one is ready for scales. 

Today I also received my 12-knife batch from Peters Heat Treat.

I have lots of work to do!


Shop Update - August 10, 2012

Today was a productive day.  More productive regarding learning than output, but productive nonetheless.

I started with working on the scales for the CleaverFoot.  My lovely wife suggested something green when I showed her the knife yesterday, so with that in mind, I decided to fabricate a 3-layer scale.  Coyote G10/black canvas phenolic/OD G10.

I got them cut out, roughed up, epoxied, and clamped.  I haven't decided how I'm going to finish them.  I think they will look really cool scuplted, and I need more practice at sculpting . . .

Next, I started working on the scales I fabricated before leaving for Colorado.  These are for the santoku-esque knife that is ready to be finished.  First I had to get them nice and flat.

I recently picked up the tools and supplies to use screws to attach scales instead of epoxy/pins.  A big thanks to Martin Olexey for sharing his vast experience and helping me get set-up for this.  I was somewhat hesitant to learn a new process using expensive ironwood/carbon fiber scales, but I figured it would help motivate me to NOT screw up!

I was able to get one scale drilled and attached without issue.  There is very little margin of error with this process, so this was encouraging.

My task was complicated by the fact that I'm using bolstered scales.  When using pins, I can clamp the scales together and drill the holes, ensuring that the bolsters line up perfectly when attached to the knife.  Can't do that with this process, and after some head scratching, I came up with an idea.

I attached the drilled scale to the knife and then clamped the undrilled scale to the knife with the bolsters lined up.  I then removed one screw at a time and marked the undrilled scale with a transfer punch through the stand-off.  This is a variation on the method Olexey uses.

I was expecting a high failure rate, but I managed to get both scales attached!

I then ground the scales flush with the tang.  At this point the heat pretty much did me in and I called it a day.


Shop Update - August 13, 2012

Today I got a bit more work done on the CleaverFoot.

My scales dried flat and parallel, so it was time to drill some 1/4" holes and trace around the tang of the knife in preparation for the bandsaw.

My bandsaw blade is DULL.  Seems everytime I cut carbon fiber (which I used on the Santoku), my blade is shot.  I usually break the bandsaw blade right about the time it starts to dull, but now that I'm making mostly straight cuts instead of following the curves, the blades aren't breaking!  Dull bandsaw blades are dangerous, because you have to feed the material with much more force than usual. 

This knife will be my first with a lanyard hole!  I'm using .315" (8mm) carbon fiber tube.

The front of the scales finished to 400 grit.  I'm really liking how these are turning out!

Here's the CleaverFoot after about 1.75 hours in the etching tube.  Everyime I hold this thing I get an insatiable urge to chop my workbench in half!


Shop Update - August 16, 2012

Despite struggling through a particularly nasty GVHD flare-up (compounded by my lovely wife getting me sick!), I've managed to make some progress in the shop.

I got the CleaverFoot scales epoxied and clamped.

After drying overnight.

I've also been working hard on finishing another Sheepsfoot.  This one is in CPM154 and will be getting full ironwood scales as requested by its future owner.  Here's a shot taken early in the bevel-grinding process.  

This is the first time I've ground CPM154 post heat treat.  It took me quite a while, but then again, these tall flat grinds always take me awhile!  Here she is with the bevels about 80% done.

These tall flat grinds always ask me to be hand-rubbed . . . here's a shot taken between 120 and 220-grit.

Here she is at 400-grit.  I'll take her higher after I fit the ironwood.  I really like how this one is coming along!




Shop Update - August 25, 2012

Being sick has taken a heavy toll on me, and I've missed a bunch of shop time.  I have made some progress, however . . .

I finished the CleaverFoot and I'm really happy with how it came out.  

You can see more photos and specs of it here.  It will be listed for sale once I make the sheath.  If you're interested, send an email to

I also got started on the Jerzee Devil Halloween Build Off project.

Here are the two templates glued to O1 steel.

A bit of time on the bandsaw and a lot more time on the KMG, and one of them is rough profiled.

In researching for this short sword, I've begun reading Oakeshott's Archeaology of Weapons.  It's a very good book and I highly recommend it to those interested in the history of weaponcraft.


Shop Update - August 27, 2012

Got another cleaver ready for scales.  This one is basically the same design as the CleaverFoot, but with a taller blade for finger clearance to allow some serious chopping!  This was a big grind, but it was fun.  I'm planning to give this one dark ironwood scales and my etched/stonewashed finish.  

I finally finished the hand-rubbed finish of the CPM154 Sheepsfoot, so I began working on scales.  The lighter ironwood scales are for the Sheepsfoot, and the darker ironwood scales are for the Cleaver above.  Both will have black G10 liners.


Shop Update - August 29, 2012

My ironwood scales dried nicely.  I was worried because as I was setting them up my wife came out to the shop to tell me our A/C stopped working.  With highs right around 100 degrees, it isn't a good time to lose the A/C, so I had to quickly finish the scales to deal with the minor emergency.

After flattening the scales, I began drilling the 1/4" holes for the cleaver.

The scales are rough cut with the bandsaw.

The front of the scales are sanded to 800 grit and buffed.

The scales are dry-pinned to the cleaver and brought flush with the tang.  The tang and scales are then hand sanded to 800 grit and buffed.

As you can see, the scales are way too thick, so I remove them and grind them down to a more useable width.  

The cleaver takes a 3 hour bath in the etching tube and then spends another hour in the tumbler.  During this time, I chamfer the edges of the scales, begin hand-sanding them, and drill epoxy channels into the liners.

Here's everything prepped for epoxy.

Epoxied and clamped.  You can also see the quench line in this photo.  This is from the differential heat treat by Lee Oates.  The line demarcates the harder edge with the softer spine.

After getting the cleaver clamped, I began working on the sheepsfoot's ironwood scales.

Checking the front . . . need to take a bit more off.

The front of the scales are hand-sanded to 1000 grit and buffed.



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