Shop Update - September 3, 2012

I've been able to make some pretty good progress that last few days.

I finished the cleaver up.  Click on the photo below to see more photos and specs.

I prepped the Santoku for delivery to its new owner.  The finish needed a bit of tuning, so I went ahead and took it up to 800 grit.

I then resumed working on the next Sheepsfoot.  Here you can see I've dry-pinned the scales to the knife and brought them flush with the tang.

I then remove the scales and continue shaping and hand-sanding them.

And finish hand-rubbing the blade to 800 grit.

Everything's prepped for epoxy.

After drying, it's time for more hand sanding.  Here you can see the progression for the ironwood.  320-400-600-800-1000-1200.

Here's the final result.  Click the photo to see more shots and specs.


Shop Update - September 6, 2012

After finishing the latest sheepsfoot, I had 3 knives in need of sheaths, so I knocked them out together.

Here you can see the sheepsfoot has been prepped and the black kydex has been cut to the needed size for a fold-over sheath.  I'm figuring out where I want to put the knife on the kydex and where I want to put the kydex-wrapped knife in the press before I heat the kydex.  The kydex begins cooling immediately upon leaving the oven, so figuring these things out beforehand helps to reduce the likelihood of a poorly formed sheath.

If you look closely in the above photo, you may notice that I've lightly beveled the edges of the kydex.  I use a utility blade to cut the kydex to size, which sometimes leaves a small lip along the cut edges.  This lip can sometimes interfere with how well the kydex seals against itself as it cools in the press.  While not likely to affect the function of the sheath, it can affect the aesthetics of the sheath, so I knock down the lip with an old belt on the grinder.

Here's the CleaverFoot and the Cleaver prepped for their turn in the press.

Here's the CleaverFoot straight out of the press.  I love green and coyote together!

After a bit of drilling, shaping, and adjusting . . .

I also got the bevels roughed-in on a santoku.  Full flat grind on hardened 440C steel.  My buddy Will had warned me that working with hardened 440C is difficult, and he was absolutely right.  I burned through many belts to get to my desired edge thickness!

I then started the laborious task of hand-sanding the blade.  Here's a shot taken early in the process where you can see the slurry that forms when hand-sanding with WD40.

I've been working on a few new designs.  First up is a custom ordered kukri-inspired chopper with a ringed handle.

Next up is a tomahawk!  Or as my daugther used to call them, a "tontahonker".

Lastly is a spear-point variation of the CleaverFoot.  The CleaverFoot feels so good in the hand that I'm planning to make several variations of the pattern.


Shop Update - September 10, 2012

Wharncliffe Karambit Hybrids (WKH)!

Here are the 3 WKH's from my latest batch back from Peter's Heat Treat.  I've begun the work of cleaning up the heat treat scale and any remaining marks left by the carbide holesaw from the inside of the ring using the Dremel tool.  I start with a fine drum-sanding attachment and then use a fine non-woven wheel attachment.  I use a chainsaw-sharpening attachment to clean the epoxy and pin holes.

I then begin the process of removing the HT scale from the profile of the knives.  This requires 3 different sized wheels and 3 different grit belts.  Since I'll be doing all of this tooling and belt changing, I decide to clean up 3 additional knives with the WKH's.  2 of the additonal knives are my daughter's design.  One will be for her, the other for my mother.  The 3rd knife is my big chopper for the JD Halloween Build-Off (this one hasn't been heat treated, but the profile was still very rough).  Here is the batch with their profiles brought to 30 microns.

Next I knock most of the HT scale from the flats using a worn 120-grit belt on the KMG.  I'm not looking to get them perfect here because when I grind the bevels, I'll hit the flats with the same belt progression.

Next, I blacken the edges with a Sharpie.

Now I grind a relief in the corner of the edge where it meets the integral finger guard.  This will provide an index point for my plunges when I grind the bevels.  It's also the beginning of the curved guard-to-edge transition that my knives normally have (I learned this from Martin Olexey).

My large chopper will eventually have a forward choil, and my intention is to have the plunge bisect the choil.  So I use the edge of the platen to grind a small relief for indexing the plunges.

Now it's time to scribe the center marks.  My approach to this is admittedly low-tech . . . just an appropriately sized drill bit and a piece of scrap granite.

But hey, it works . . .

Now I'm all ready to break the 90 of the edges with an old belt.  Here is my Mother's knife.

Repeat 6X.  I have to admit, dragging that big guy across the platen was somewhat comical.

There's an old expression in the knifemaking world (usually attributed to Engnath) - "Use belts like they're free".  It's good advice to follow.  The only problem is that belts most certainly aren't free.  And I've been going through belts like nobody's business.  There are a lot of variables, but it boils down to flat grinding hardened stainless steel with the grinder WFO in a 100 degree shop = very poor belt life.  I'm planning to make several changes to my workflow to reduce belt useage, including grinding stainless before hardening, relearning how to hollow grind (wheels are much, much easier on belts than a flat platen), and fabricating a "platen radiator" of sorts to help keep temps down.

In the meantime, I'm trying new belts to see what works best for my grinding style.  Today I'm using 3M's 967 60-grit belts.  These are more expensive than what I usually use (977's or 984's), but they're reputed to do very well on hardened stock.  Oh, and they're a pretty snazzy yellow . . . and it looks like it's time to change the water in my grinder bucket!

After an inordinately long time, I've got 2 WKH's knocked out.  These are hardened CPM154, and thin stock that doesn't care to be pushed too hard into the belt.  I'm actually considering hollow-grinding the third WKH, neverminding the fact that I haven't hollow-ground anything since my second knife!!


Shop Update - September 14, 2012

Lots of projects being tended to . . .

I reground the two WKH's from the last update.  Upon closer examination, I determined that my original grinds looked only slightly better than hammered dog shit.  Flat grinding thin steel (these are about .125" thick) is difficult because the bevels are only a very small degree off from being vertical.  So maintaining a nice, defined top grind line isn't easy, especially when grinding freehand.  The thin steel also lacks the rigidity of thicker steel, and is more sensitive to any imbalance of pressure against the belt.  This can also have a big impact on your top grind line, as well as how flat your bevels will be.

I've often wondered why some knifemakers only use 1 type of steel or only thick or only thin knives.  But I'm now learning that each steel, and each thickness can have its own unique traits that you have to adapt to when working it.

So after some experimentation, I struck upon a method of grinding these thin WKH's that seemed to work well.

I've also started roughing-in the bevels of the big chopper.  You can see my grinding magnet came in quite handy!

To help keep my grinds straight, I utilized the time-tested method of draw-filing.  Draw-filing isn't quite as fast as grinding, but it does give you forearms that drive women wild (I'm pretty sure this has been scientifically verified by a well-regarded and reputable organization).

I've begun fabricating scales for the WKH's.  One will have coyote G10 scales, F22 carbon fiber bolsters, and OD green G10 liners.

Deciding where I want the scale/bolster dividing line to be.

I get the materials cut to size and begin fitting them to one another.

Once fitted, they get epoxied and clamped to a piece of granite.  The broken knife handle on the right just happens to make the perfect tool for pushing down the piece of G10 liner that I put between the scale and bolster.

Here I'm laying out materials to use on the other 2 WKH's.  One will have red & black G10 scales with Blacksite carbon fiber bolsters and red GP03 liners.  I'm planning to use red GP03 pins with these as well!  The third WKH will be getting laminated black/green scales (similar to the CleaverFoot), but with carbon fiber bolsters.

Got the red/black/CF pair fitted, epoxied, and clamped.

I also had a small side-project for my wife.

She needed 3 large soap boxes for her soap-making adventure (her website is  I'm not all that accurate with a circular saw, so I cut them out a bit larger than I needed and used the grinder to grind them down to their proper size.  Happy Wife = Happy Life.


Shop Update - September 17, 2012

Here are the WKH scales after a bit more work.  After drying overnight, I grind off the excess material.  The great thing about working with synthetics vs. wood is that I can dunk the synthetic scales in my cooling bucket to keep them cool while grinding.  

Because these scales are angled, I have a hard time getting them perfectly flat using the KMG platen, so I work them on the poor mans surface grinder (sandpaper wrapped around granite).  Here they are ready for holes to be drilled.

I'll be using GP03 rod for pins in the black/red scales.  This material is a high-strength glass laminate that just so happens to be RED.  The only problem is that it came a bit undersized (it was listed as .250").  It was an easy fix though, just had to use a size D (.246") drill bit instead of my usual 1/4" bit.

After drilling the scales, I pin them together and trace the outline of the tang & ring using a silver Sharpie.

The scales then get taken to the bandsaw to remove excess stock.

After cutting the black/red/CF scales, I do it all over again with the coyote/green/CF scales.

I also fabricated another etching tube.  My vinegar/lemon juice etchant won't touch stainless, so something stronger was in order (muriatic acid, in this case).  Because the muriatic fumes can corrode the tools in my shop, I wanted something that could easily be taken outside to do any needed etching.  On a recent USN thread, Mick Strider shared his method of cementing his etching tube in a bucket so it's stable, yet easily moved.  Thinking that to be a wonderful idea, I shamelessly copied it!

I also took delivery of more wood.  The bottom two sets are amboyna (Southeast Asia), the block on the right is koa (Hawaii) and the large block is afzelia (Southeast Asia).  I'll be sending these off to be stabilized soon.


September 20, 2012

The WKH's are almost finished.

I used the Dremel to bring the scales flush inside the ring.

I did the bulk of the stock removal with a coarse sanding barrel.  Once I start making contact with the metal, I switch to a fine sanding barrel, and then clean it all up with a fine non-woven abrasive attachment.  Here's what that leaves me with.

The guard-to-edge transition is ground and the scales brought flush with the tang.

The scales are removed and the knives are put into the muriatic etching tube.  While the knives are etching, I begin shaping the scales.  I use the Dremel to get the edge chamfers roughed in.

A whole lot of hand-sanding and a bit of WD40 later . . .

After a few cycles of etch/tumble, I have the finish where I want it.  The muriatic took much longer than expected to etch the CPM154.

Epoxied and clamped for the night.

After getting those clamped up, I began working on the wharncliffe EDC from the last heat treat batch.  I had ground the bevels on this one prior to heat treat.  After cleaning up the HT scale, I was feeling ambitious, and decided the knife needed a swedge.  This one pushed my grinding ability to its limits!

I also got a pair of desert ironwood scales prepped for a soon-to-be-finished santoku.  These have black/white G10 liners.  This will be another full ironwood handle, per the future owner's request.


Shop Update - September 24, 2012

WKH's are done!  Click on either photo below to see additional photos/specs.

It was now time to make sheaths so I could get these two shipped over to Howes Knife Shop.  Here are a few random shots taken during the sheath making process.


Here are two more knives I'm finishing up.  The santoku is for a very patient USN'er.  It's made of very thin 440C and will get full desert ironwood scales.  The EDC Wharncliffe is .25" O1 and will get 3-layer scales that I laminated using OD green G10, black canvas micarta, and copper liners.

Holes are drilled and the scales are rough shaped using the bandsaw.

They aren't pretty yet, but they will be!


September 25, 2012

Some random shots of working on the santoku and EDC wharny . . .

Sanding the front of the ironwood scales.

Grinding the scales flush with the tang.


While I continue hand sanding the santoku and its ironwood scales, I begin the process of etching & tumbling the O1 wharny. After a few cycles, I get what I'm after.



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