Shop Update - June 3, 2012

Full day of grinding!

Today I continued work on the sheepsfoot batch.  There's also 2 kitchen knives and the "Wicked Cricket" in this batch.

First I had to use a 1/4" carbide drill bit to drill handle holes in the Wicked Cricket.

Then it was time for grinding.  Lots and lots of grinding.  Here's a shot of the batch after the initial 40/60 grit scale-removal/flattening/paralleling phase.

Here's the batch between the A300 Trizact belt and 120-grit 977 belt.

Here's the batch as it sits now.  4 are ready for the next belt in the progression (A100 Trizact), and 4 still need the 120-grit 977.  




Shop Update - June 5, 2012

I had to take a break from working on my latest batch to attend to some much needed shop/tool maintenance. 

The most time consuming project was adding a pyroceramic glass liner to the platen of my KMG Grinder.  The KMG came with a steel platen.  This is sufficient for a good while.  But if you grind a lot (like I do!), then over time the platen will wear and will eventually no longer be flat.  Trying to grind a flat surface on a knife with a wavy platen is a good way to elevate your blood pressure, so the platen needs to be resurfaced on occasion.  This isn't much of a big deal if you have a surface grinder.  But I only have a piece of granite, some sandpaper, and elbow grease.  The pryroceramic glass is much harder than steel, and should stay flat for much longer.

Tracy Mickley has very helpful instructions on installing this liner over at USAKnifemaker.

Here's a shot of my steel platen.  You can clearly see the grooves that have been worn into it since the last resurfacing.

One day I will have a surface grinder.  And that will be a good day.

After getting the platen mostly flat again, I drill and tap two holes for 6-32 screws.  These screws will create a shelf for the liner to rest upon.

After grinding off the head of the screws, JB Weld is used to affix the pyroceramic glass liner to the steel platen.  Here's a shot of it all finished up and ready to sit and dry overnight.

After drying overnight, I had to resurface the new platen liner as it did not dry perfectly flat.  I also used the carbide cutter in the Dremel to radius the top and bottom edges.

At that point, it was time to continue working on my latest batch.

Here's a shot of the chef's knife before taking it to 120 grit.  I'm looking forward to grinding the bevels on this one!

Here's the batch as it sits right now.  They've all been taken to 360 grit (Trizact CF A45) and are ready for bevels!!

The big guy of the batch continues to be my favorite. 

Lots more grinding ahead of me!


June 6, 2012

I started the day off with grinding the bevels on one of the little sheepsfoot blades.

First I scribe two lines to mark the center of the blade.

I begin grinding the bevels with a used 60 grit ceramic belt (3M 977).  

I begin working my grind line towards the spine.  While I make an effort to keep my lines nice and straight, I don't fret too much if they get wonky or wavy, especially when working with thicker stock knives (this one is about .23" thick).

Here you see I've reached my desired grind height and just have a bit more cleaning up to do with the 60 before moving up to a Trizact A300, then a 120 grit ceramic belt (3M 977).

Here's the knife after the 120 grit belt.  At this point, my lines and edge thickness are where I want them.  Next up is a 307 Trizact A100, which is a flexible belt rated at about 180 grit.  The flexibility of this belt allows me to clean up my plunges.

After that, I hit it with a Trizact A65, A45, then an A30 (the A30 is 30 microns, which is about 600 grit).

I also started learning how to etch my makers mark using my new etching machine today.  Having had no experience doing this, it took a couple of hours of experimenting before I began getting acceptable results.  Once I figured out how to achieve the look I was after, I went on an etching frenzy!



Shop Update - June 8, 2012

More progress on the sheepsfoot batch!

Scribed lines to mark the center of the edge on one of the bigger guys.

Starting the bevel with a 60-grit 977 belt.

Pushing the grind higher.

Bevel completed.

Scales for this guy will be green canvas phenolic with carbon fiber bolsters and earth brown liners.

Fitting the bolsters to the scales.

Scales/bolsters/liners are fitted, cleaned, epoxied, and clamped.

Then I ground the bevels on one of the smaller guys.


Shop Update - June 10, 2012

Lots of grinding the last couple of days . . .

The green canvas/carbon fiber scales dried nice and flat.  Here you can see I'm grinding them flat.  I'll need both scales to be flat and parallel in order to be properly fitted to the knife.

Both are flat and ready to be drilled.

I drill through one scale with the knife as a template.  I then drill through the second scale using the first scale as a template.

Tracing around the tang so I can cut off the excess scale material.

The bulk of the excess is removed using the bandsaw.  Checking the fit.

The front of the scales are finished and pretty.

I get the epoxy and pin holes cleaned up for the last time.

Everything's ready for epoxy and clamps.

Epoxied and clamped.

I then move on to grinding the bevels on another sheepsfoot.  This one being much thinner (about .140"), I decided to attempt my first full flat grind and distal taper in preparation for the two kitchen knives that are in this batch, which are approximately the same thickness.

Done.  I didn't give it quite a full flat grind, and it distally tapers only about the last 40% of the blade, but it was a great learning experience and I think I'm ready to tackle the kitchen knives!!

It looks big, but it's actually very thin.  About .135" at the ricasso and .110" at the top of the "hump" towards the tip.  Should make for a great slicer.  Albeit a big one. Smile

I then began shaping the green canvas/carbon fiber scales.  This is as far as I got before calling it a day.



Shop Update - June 12, 2012

Here's some random shots from the last couple of days.  

Choosing the scale material for one of the smaller guys from this batch.  This one will have red G10 liners and black & red G10 scales.  I plan on sculpting these scales to bring out the black/red pattern.

I get the liner material cut to size, rough everything up with sandpaper, clean with acetone, then clamp the liners and scales together against a piece of granite for flatness.

Here I'm shaping the green canvas phenolic/carbon fiber scales with the Dremel.  I usually use a carbide cutter for this task, but the phenolic is much softer than G10 or ironwood and the carbide cutter wasn't working very well.  After some experimenting, I found that the sanding drums worked much better on the canvas phenolic.

Once the scales were shaped with the Dremel, I use 120 and then 220 grit sandpaper to bring them to their final shape.  After that, I grind the finger guard-to-edge transition using the 1" small wheel, then it goes into the tumbler for 1 hour.

While the sheepfoot is tumbling, I prep the Ironwood Tanto for its kydex sheath.  I'm using .093" black kydex for this one.

Once I get the tanto wrapped with kydex and into the kydex press, I check the tumbler to see how the sheepsfoot is progressing.  It needed a bit more tumbling, so I took that time to drill holes in the red/black scales of the little guy.

Once the sheepsfoot is finished tumbling, I grind the final edge, sharpen, and then etch my maker's mark.



Shop Update - June 14, 2012

Sheath work!!

My recently completed sheepsfoot needed a kydex sheath.  Because of it's curvy spine, I had to take some extra steps when forming the kydex.  To facilitate proper insertion and withdrawal of the knife, I shaped some 1/4" carbon fiber rod to form a channel in the sheath.  This will allow clearance of the "hump" of the spine.

Here you can see the spacer is taped in place and I'm ready to heat-form the kydex.

After forming the kydex, I drill holes and press 1/4" eyelets into place.

Using the bandsaw, I rough cut to shape.

I use the 1" small wheel to do all of my kydex shaping.

Here you can see I'm using the heat gun and some length of 1/4" rod to reshape the mouth of the sheath for proper clearance and retention.


I then repeat the process for my ironwood tanto.

Speaking of ironwood, new shipment.

Drawer of steel.

I have this little guy etching as I write this.


Shop Update - June 17, 2012

I've been working on several different projects simultaneously.

Here you can see I'm rough cutting the red/black G10 scales for the smaller sheepsfoot knife.

I get the front of the scales finished.

Checking the scale's relationship to the plunge.

I mark the epoxy holes using the tang as a template.  I'll drill small holes where the dots are to provide a bit more bite to the epoxy.  This will essentially create epoxy pins, and greatly enhance the epoxy bond.

Here she is all expoxied and clamped up for the night.

I then began working on the scales for the thin sheepsfoot.  I decided to use forest green G10 liners with black G10 scales and desert ironwood bolsters.

I get the raw materials cut to shape.

I start working on fitting the ironwood bolsters to the G10 scales.  Hopefully I'll get them fully fitted and epoxied in the next day or two.

I also recently finished the sheath for one of my Wharncliffe/Karambit Hybrids.  This knife and sheath are headed to Afghanistan and will utilize Ben Bawidamann's excellent PUP mounting system.

I used more eyelets on this sheath to provide more mounting options for the new owner.

I get it rough cut using the bandsaw.

After shaping the sheath with the KMG and adjusting the mouth for clearance and retention, I begin hand sanding the edges.

I then rub the edges of the sheath with acetone.

Sheath completed.

Now it was time to finish the smaller EDC (Every Day Carry) sheepsfoot.  Here she is after taking the clamps off and cutting the carbon fiber rod flush with the scales.

I get my scales shaped using the KMG, Dremel, & elbow grease.  Then, into the tumbler she goes.

After tumbling, she's ready for her final edge.  I adjust my platen to 15 degrees.

Here's a shot taken while grinding the edge.  The bright line on the edge is the wire prior to being removed.


 Here's a quick video I shot of testing the edge on some newspaper. 

Shop Update - June 18, 2012

Made some good progress today, despite feeling a bit under the weather.

First order of business today was to make a sheath for the EDC sheepsfoot that I finished yesterday.  This knife is being donated as a door prize for the USN Meet-n-Greet here in Austin this Saturday, so I wanted to get it finished up and ready to go.

There's a knife in there somewhere!

Went with .080" black kydex for this one.

I also resumed work on the ironwood/G10 scales for my next knife.  I've been working on these scales here and there over the last several days, so I was anxious to get them finished.  Here's a shot of them right before being epoxied.  They've been fitted, roughed up for more epoxy surface area, and cleaned with acetone.

Epoxied and clamped to a piece of granite.  I think these are gonna be really nice.

At this point, I debated with myself about what to do next.  I have another knife that's ready for scales to be fabricated, 4 more knives that need bevels ground, and pretty soon I'll need to start working on getting my next batch ready for heat treat so I don't have any down time between the current batch and the next.

It didn't take long for me to decide on grinding bevels.  Grinding the bevels is the heart and soul of knife making.  It's by far the most satisfying aspect of the process.  Completing the bevels turns the hunk of steel that you've spent hours working on into a true knife.  I find that moment to be intoxicating.  

Here's a shot of the knife taken while walking the grind up to the spine with a 60-grit Cubitron.


She's thin!  About .13" at the ricasso.

Despite her thinness, it was a big grind.  Took me about 3 hours.  Here's a shot comparing her to one of my EDC sheepsfoots.

Here's a quick video I shot while grinding the bevels of the knife above.  I usually have the garage door open when grinding, but the sunlight was washing out the video.


Shop Update - June 19, 2012

The ironwood/G10 scales dried overnight and are ready to be shaped and fitted.

The ironwood is a bit thicker than the G10, so I grind them flat before fitting and drilling.

I clamp one scale to the tang of the knife and drill the 3 rod holes.

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.


Shop Update - June 20, 2012

Today I continued to work on the ironwood/G10 scales of my next sheepsfoot.  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.  While the knife is etching, I start work on fabricating bolstered scales for my next knife.  I decide to go with OD green G10 scales with carbon fiber boslters and coyote brown liners.

I get the materials rough cut to shape.

I fit the bolsters to the scales and get them epoxied and clamped.

About this time I receive a package.  

Some poeple have problems with addiction.  For some, its alcohol.  For others, it's tobacco.

Mine?  Desert Ironwood.

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.

Clamped up for the night!



Shop Update - June 21, 2012

Today I finished the sheepsfoot.


Shop Update - June 22, 2012

Today I worked mostly on sheaths.

One of the sheaths was for a customer/buddy, who happens to be the owner of Awesome Edges.  If you find sharpening difficult (and many people do!), then send your knives to Awesome Edges and they'll come back sharper than they've ever been.

This particular sheath was for an ESEE Izula and the owner had sent me a drawing to give me a general idea of what he wanted.  The wings, or tabs, are for the owner to clip his neck lanyard to.  I'm using .08" coyote kydex.

I press the kydex, install the rivets, and rough cut to shape using the bandsaw.

I end up deviating a bit from the owner's drawing in order to minimize the footprint of the sheath.  I like the way it came out.  Very low profile and very lightweight knife/sheath combo.  

I then begin working on a sheath for the large sheepsfoot I finished yesterday.  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 sheepsfoot.

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!



Shop Update - June 24, 2012

The bolstered scales for my next knife dried nicely.  Here they are after grinding them flat.

Drilling the 1/4" pin holes through one of the scales.

After drilling through the second scale, I trace around the tang of the knife, decide where I want the front of the scales, and move to the bandsaw.

I cut off the excess scale material.

I finish the front of the scales and drill shallow epoxy holes inline with the holes in the tang.

Here's the knife epoxied and clamped.

After drying overnight, I remove the clamps and assess that amount of material that needs to be removed.

I grind the scales flush with the tang and take the profile of the knife and scales to 600 grit.  I then clamp the knife to my finishing jig and prepare to radius the edges of the scales using the flex shaft Dremel.

Here's the knife after roughing the radius with the Dremel and before hand sanding.

After hand sanding the scales to 220-grit, I transfer the knife to the tumbler, where it tumbles for 1 hour, 15 minutes.  I used more borax powder than normal in an effort to achieve a brighter stonewashed look.  We'll see how it turns out!

While the knife tumbles, I start working on the scales of my next knife.  I decide on black G10 for the scales with OD green G10 bolsters with earth brown G10 liners.

I was hoping to finish the little guy today, but it was 102 degrees, and after 5 hours my body said it had had enough!!  More to come tomorrow!



Shop Update - June 29, 2012

Had a nice long day in the shop.  

I began with grinding the bevels of another knife. First, I break the 90 of the edge.

I then start walking the grind up.

Here you can see I have the grind height where I want it.  Now I just need to make nice, clean passes until I have my desired edge thickness.

Bevels are ground!

Most of you know that I like "working" finishes on my knives.  But this knife just wanted something nicer, so I decided to give it a hand-rubbed finish, something I rarely do!

About this time I took delivery of some steel for my next batch!  

After about 8.5 hours, I called it a day.  Here is the knife as it sits, with a 220-grit finish.  I'll likely take it up to 400 or 600 grit before starting on the scales.  I'm pretty sure desert ironwood is in order.


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