March 5, 2013

Well, I ran into a bit of a problem with the Hayes Kukri prototype.  As I was hand-rubbing the bevels, a very attractive hamon became visible.  But, look closely at the edge just above the light reflection:

You can see the hamon dips precariously close to the edge.  For those who may not be aware, a hamon essentially demarcates the haredened steel of the edge from the softer (and more resilient) steel of the spine.  Being fairly unfamiliar with hamons, I simply don't have the eyes to read them.  So I contacted a few makers who do have the eyes to read hamons, including one of my favorite makers, Nick Wheeler.  The general consensus was that the kukri needs to be re-heat treated.  

I decided to send it to Peters this time around.  I also gathered some other things that will be going with it:

I still need to drill holes in the tang of both the tomahawk and the kiridashi (the 'dashi is .350" thick 1075!!).  I asked Brad at Peters to anneal the files/rasp so I can make knives out of them.  Oh, and not pictured is a sheet of super thin (.020") AEB-L that I will be laminating between synthetic materials (carbon fiber, G10 and/or micarta) for some very lightweight defensive knives.

Since I could no longer work on the kukri, I turned my attention to the three WKH's in this batch.  Two are CPMS35VN and one is CPM154.  All three are custom orders.

The perimeter and the flats are cleaned up.

Here's the rag that was underneath the WKH while I was hand sanding it.  I'm tempted to frame it and then hang it in one of the art-friendly restaurants here in Austin with a price tag of $350.  I would call it "Hybrid Love".

Since I've switched to cleaning up the flats by hand, I've been accumulating a large amount of small sandpaper cut offs.  I wasn't happy with them floating on top of the full sheets in my sandpaper box, so I bought a plastic organizer to hold the cut offs in separate drawers according to their grit.

One of the WKH's was ordered with hand-rubbed bevels.  This one was hollow ground with my 10" wheel and I've never hand-rubbed a hollow grind before.  I have a compound radius platen from Nathan the Machinist that is ideal for this application, but I haven't done any practice grinding with it and I'm also out of J-weight belts, which I think would be needed to use it successfully.

So I had to make a sanding block.  I started with a scrap piece of a 2x6, upon which I traced the radius of my 10" wheel.

After a bit of grinding and attaching two small clips, my radius sanding block is ready!

And it works!  It works so well that I'll be making one out of more durable materail for future use.

The future owner of this knife also requested a deep swedge, which I hand-rubbed along with the bevels.  I really like how this one is coming along.

This knife will have Blacksite 690 carbon fiber scales with toxic green G10 liners.

Drilling . . .

And then shaped.

I've been working on all three WKH's simultaneously, albeit in a staggered manner.  Here's a shot of the scales for the other two WKH's after being epoxied & clamped.  A knifemaker can never have too many clamps!

And here are the three WKH's as of today:

I also completed the Sevbok's sheath at some point since the last update . . .


March 13, 2013

The man who forged swords for the Minister of War was eighty years of age.  Yet he never made the slightest slip in his work.  The Minister of War said to him, "Is it your skill, Sir, or have you any method?"  "It is concentration," replied the man.  "When twenty years old, I took to forging swords.  I cared for nothing else.  If a thing was not a sword, I did not notice it.  I availed myself of whatever energy I did not use in other directions in order to secure greater efficiency in the direction required."

-Zhuangzi, translated by Herbert A. Giles

More work on the WKH batch . . .

Scales have been rough cut on the bandsaw and are dry pinned to the knives so they can be ground flush with the tang.

I use my 1" small wheel to bring the scale flush to the tang and my Dremel to bring the scales flush inside the ring.  Then everything is hand sanded to 400 grit.

Next I soften the edges of the knives using the Scotch Brite wheel and non-woven attachments on the Dremel.  Then I finish the steel to the future owners' requests.  One of the S35VN knives has etched and tumbed flats and hand rubbed bevels/top grind.  The other two are etched and tumbled.

Epoxy holes are drilled into the scales and they're roughed up with 60 grit paper before being thoroughly cleaned with acetone and alcohol.

Epoxied and clamped!

 I add a little heat for a stronger bond.

After drying overnight, I sculpt all three handles with the ever-popular Anso pattern.  Then they're sharpened and marked.  Done!  Click the photo to see more shots & specs.

Then it's sheath time.  Here you can see the progression.  On the left you see kydex that has been molded to a knife.  In the middle you see kydex that has been drilled and rough cut on the bandsaw.  On the right you see the kydex brought to its final shape.


I've been working on other things as well.

I ground the spike off of the tomahawk prototype to turn it into a hammer.

I've started laying out knives for my next batch.  Here you can see two Jayboks and two prototypes will be included in the next batch.  The two large sheets are O1 and the small bar is AEB-L.  I also have some M390 en route and will be ordering some CPM154 as well . . .

I've started cleaning the heat treat scale from the Bybee Bowie prototypes . . . this is the N690 version.

The perimeter and flats of all three Bybee Bowies are cleaned up.  They're now ready to have the bevels finish ground. I also reprofiled the handle of my daughter's SFB (at the top) and I may finish the O1 Nimrod with this group, too (at the bottom).

I just got this in today.  It's chechen burl and will be headed to East Texas for stabilizing by Faron Moore.

March 19, 2013

I finally ground the bevels on my daughter's SFB.  Being its designer, she's been patiently asking me when it would be ready.  I profiled it out of thin 440C several months ago and decided to flat grind it due to its thinness.  

I knew my daughter wanted a colorful knife, so we went online and she picked out a nice block of box elder burl that had been dyed blue & purple to be used for her scales.  She chose red liners and I even found some blue turcite acetal rod to use for pins!

Swedge ground and entire knife hand-rubbed.

I've also been making good progress on the three Bybee Bowie protos.  Here are two of them after I finished grinding the bevels and clips.  The N690 version (on the left) has been hand-sanded and is ready for scales.  The O1 version (on the right) still needs its clip hand-sanded.  I grind the clips using the 2" wheel on my KMG and only take it up to 120 grit, then finish them by hand.

Here's a random shot of my bench as I'm trying to decide what materials to use for scales!  The proto on the left is going to a buddy who asked for "aggressive" scales, but otherwise gave me creative latitude.  

I ended up going with some beautiful high-contrast afzelia for scales, black canvas micarta for bolsters, and black G10 liners/dividers.  Here is one of the scales clamped up after fitting all of the components.  Yes, I used SIX clamps per scale.  I wanted the two materials to meet at an angle on the handle and the afzelia block was too small for me to use my usual clamping method to achieve this.  So I had to get creative and hope for the best.

After drying overnight I grind the scales flat and am relieved to find all of the components mated perfectly.

One of the protos has been claimed by my wife.  She choose a block of maple burl that I had stabilized and dyed by Faron Moore.  Here's a shot of one of the scales being epoxied to the copper liner that my wife also requested.

For the last proto I decide to try a combo that I've been wanting to use for some time now.  Green canvas micarta scales, orange G10 bolsters, and orange G10 liners/dividers.  By the way, this knife doesn't have a home yet. Wink

Here's a shot of the 3 protos as of today.  I'm really excited about these! Tongue Out



March 21, 2013

I recently bought a new work rest for the KMG from Brett Mathews.  This is a very versatile rest that can be adjusted to almost any angle.  Brett makes these for his own grinders, but when asked if he would make one for my KMG he was happy to oblige.  Craftsmanship is top notch.  I'll be replacing the bolts with adjustable handles in the near future for quicker adjustments.

I've started working on knives for my next batch.  Here are the first three.  Two prototypes and a custom ordered Jaybok.

The top proto has the Bybee Bowie handle shape with a modified wharncliffe/spear point blade set at a very slight forward angle from the handle.  The middle proto basically has a CleaverFoot handle & blade, a Cerabok spine, and a Jaybok tip.  Should make for a good mid-sized camp chopper.  The Jaybok has about 1" of added blade length over the original pattern.

As I was profiling them I decided the Jaybok needed to be modified even more.  Some of you may remember that I kept the original Jaybok and after using it a bit I've been mulling over improvements.  The largest modification is a completely redesigned thumbramp.  Here you can see I've taken a Sharpie and blacked out the area I intend to grind away.

And the first Jaybok Variant is born.  .280" O1 steel.

The smaller proto, also in .280" O1 steel.


And the mid-sized chopper proto.

Even more beefy - .31" O1 steel.

Ready for drilling.

SFB scales have been drilled and brought flush with the tang.  Bybee Bowie scales have been fabricated and are ready for drilling.  I enjoy working with such an eclectic array of materials.


March 26, 2013

Continued work on my daughter's SFB.  This is what I have after tumbling and a 40-minute etch in muriatic acid.

I was not expecting a hardeing line!  This is 440C and while I have heard of differentially hardened stainless steel, it does not seem to be very common.  I'll be contacting Lee Oates about this to see what he has to say.  He offers classes, including one-on-one training, so I may inquire about this when I speak to him since I have my 27" Evenheat oven ordered. Wink 

The dyed box elder burl scales have been epoxied and allowed to dry overnight.  I cut them pretty thick, so I have lots of material to remove!

I use my 10" wheel and a 36-grit AO belt to hog off the bulk of material.  If you follow my updates, you'll know that I usually do most of the final shaping of handles by hand.  I very much enjoy this process, but it's quite time consuming.  A big reason why I've avoided contouring handles with the grinder is that the 2" wide belts can be very unforgiving and the edge of the belt can cut into the handle material and muck things up very quickly.

After some research I was pointed towards Klingspor's 1" wide belts with scalloped edges (LS 312).  I ordered a couple of these in 120-grit from Pop's to give them a shot.


And sure enough, these belts are perfect for contouring handles!!  I think I'll also try them for grinding the final edge on my recurve knives.

And here she is all finished up.  Click the photo to see more shots & specs.

I'm now having to order sandpaper in packs of 50 sheets.  From here on out I'll be using Rhynowet paper from Supergrit exclusively.  My second favorite is Norton Black Ice.  Surprisingly I haven't found 3M's paper to work very well for my needs.

More progress on the Bybee Bowies.  The maple burl scales for my wife's knife have been drilled and are ready to be shaped.

As are the scales for the other two Bybee Bowies.  

First the front of the scales are brought to their final shape.  Here are the dyed maple burl scales brought to 1500-grit.  I think these are going to be very nice.

Next I bring the scales close to the tang with a 60-grit belt on the flat platen.

I then switch to the 1" small wheel and bring the scales flush with the tangs.  I take them all to 65 microns in preparation for hand-sanding.

The scales are removed so I can begin bringing the knives to their final finish in preparation for epoxy.  That's titanium rod above the middle pair of scales and black canvas rod will be used with the green/orange scales.

I find some small ripples in the clips left by the 2" wheel, so I work them out with a 320-grit EDM stone followed by 400 & finally 600-grit paper.

Pretty soon I'm ready to tumble my wife's knife and encounter a problem.  My vibratory tumbler was dead!  I figured the wires were corroded due to all of the water, soap, etc., but upon close inspection they looked fine.  I was beginning to think I was SOL when it occured to me that the switch may have died.  I just happened to have a switch in one of my shop junk drawers and blammo, problem solved!

N690 Bybee Bowie, etched & tumbled.


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