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Old 10-04-2008, 09:11 PM   #1
Manuel Garcia O'Kely OP
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Knife Making

http://s166.photobucket.com/albums/u...ericus/Knives/

Here's some pics of knives I'm working on, my collection of knives and the furnace I built today out of a weed-burning 500,000 BTU propane burner.

I'm starting a new thread over here in Inmates so that people know what they are going to get.

I hope everyone on the list who makes knives will feel free to kick in with their hints and tips - I'm brand new to this myself.
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Old 10-04-2008, 09:12 PM   #2
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Old 10-04-2008, 09:25 PM   #3
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Can I have one? Thanks.
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Old 10-04-2008, 09:34 PM   #4
Manuel Garcia O'Kely OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pirahna
Can I have one? Thanks.
Snort....

Dunno, I remember what happened to the last guy who made knives and sold 'em here. Poor Pally probably still regrets that idea.

You know, I'm making mine with a file, abrasive paper and a few simple pieces of equipment. I don't even have a grinder yet. If I can do it, you can do it.

I will say that knife No. 1 is not a very good one - the blade length is not quite right for the handle's orientation for kitchen use. Maybe after I make a sheath for it? It's also a bad heat treatment job so it's not going to hold it's edge all that well - but I love the handle, it came out well, I think.

the next three are all modeled after the knife I bought in Alaska - two of them are 3/16" and one is 1/8" thick. The thinner one is going to be a ladies purse knife for my wife, I'm going to put thin ivory micarta handles and mill out much of the tang to make it a bit lighter for her.

The 3/16" I think of as oil-can openers, if we still used oil cans - stout.

I'm making these alike so that I can practice the heat treatment and not have quite as much file work in each blade. HT is the real trick of making a knife - filing away the extra metal is reasonably easy once you understand how to do it. Heat treatment seems more like a black-art to me.
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Old 10-04-2008, 09:35 PM   #5
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Old 10-04-2008, 09:43 PM   #6
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No cutting remarks here, just a little sharp humor to keep ya on edge.

I've made a few knives for paring leather but I started with mfg. blades and worked them into the tools I needed.

I've had a desire to do what you're doing - if I get a place where I can set up a kiln, I'll do it.

Your knives look good for first attempts.
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Old 10-04-2008, 09:55 PM   #7
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nice. thats a fine utility shape.


what did you shape it with? strictly grinding? or did you cut it out with a band saw?
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Old 10-04-2008, 10:39 PM   #8
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I like it. Excellent first work.

Now here's some honest critique.

It looks, from the picture, like you couldn't decide whether to do a plunge cut or not, to transition from the handle thickness to the bevels. Either/or is fine, but indecision makes you look sloppy, when everything else is just so nice about it.

The handle looks awfully square, which will fatigue the hand faster than a more rounded shape. If you're stuck using hand tools (no belt sander), then it's very well done. Consider adding some horsepower to the shop, though, and what is fundmentally good can turn into really awesome work.

When filing, pay attention to "draw filing", that is... using the file more like a scraer, a sen, rather than carving into the steel. You'll end up with a much finer finish, and it will be flatter and more consistant. Lock the blade in a vise, and with the tip pointing at you, hold the file in both hands like a handlebar, and scrape, towards or away, depending on how you hold the file. I like to switch it up as I fatigue. Don't discout hot filling, either. With a very coarse rasp, you can remove a lot of metal fast, which is good for establishing plunges, and the finger area. Have your vise set to be ready to clamp on the hot work, heat the blade, then lock it up and start ripping off metal. Be sure the fall area is not flammable. A heavy wooden workbench may char, but won't burn. One covered in wood shavings just might. doG help you if you have plastic or lucite all over the place. DAMHIK.


Hopefully these hints will help a bit. You're on an excellent start, and that's a fine knife. Can't wait until the next three come out. Consider other tang arrangements, half tang, stick tang, and integrals. I think you've got the eye.
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Old 10-04-2008, 10:50 PM   #9
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Here's one I did a little while back.

I was on a persian recurve kick for a bit, and this was kind of the pinnacle of that run. 5160, forged to shape, with pakkawood handles and leather sheath. Let me say right now, I suck at sheaths. I was such an idiot with this one, that the tip of the knife blew through, and I had to take it back to repair and reinforce. Dunno how it's holding up to the test of time.

Here's the as-forged and lightly ground blade:


Sometimes I'll photoshop some different handle materials to get an idea of what it'll look like...


So I used the Pakkawood, which is usually made of birch, thin laminate built up and sometimes dyed... I have a chunk of the green stuff. Almost candy apple green, but it worked for this knife, I think.


Instead of through-pins, I epoxied the handle and had hidden pins under there (secured to the tang, holes drilled in the wood, but not all the way through) so the wood had the whole knife to itself. Fingerprints and all.


I love this stuff.



Finished package. That's the Bismallah on the leather, which is a calfskin from Yemen. Like I said, sheaths are my weak spot still. There's a belt loop on the backside, and now a brass reinforcement piece under the leather from the tip up the first couple inches. The tip of that knife is very dangerous.
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Old 10-04-2008, 11:24 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithy
Beautiful lines. Very elegant.
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Old 10-05-2008, 01:14 PM   #11
Manuel Garcia O'Kely OP
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Smithy: Sweet knife - I like the hidden pins idea - very cool.

Thanks for the honest critique.

Plunge: Not to put to fine a point on it, but I had no idea what I was doing or how. I know better now. Yea, that ones a bit ugly. Now I have a steel rail that let's me do the most of the work against a fence.

Draw filing: I've done some of it - tell me how to avoid problems with galling - I've had that happen and leave deep scratches in the blade and it seems easier to do standard filing that way. I use machinist's layout fluid [Dykem] sometimes to let me have better control of where exactly I'm filing.

I'm using pretty much all hand tools - I have big hands so the relative shape of that handle is not quite as bad, but yes, I'm looking for a belt grinder as my first heavy equipment purchase - I've decided to defer buying anything else at this point - it seems to be the one tool EVERY knife maker agrees on.

I did borrow a band saw to cut the blanks out as the photos show, but most of the work is hand filing.

Never heard of hot-filing - heck the knives get hot enough to burn just using the file!

As to styles: I'm partial to full-tang knives, but once I have a bit more material and experience, I plan to learn the other styles as well. I figured first heat treatment, then I can get fancier with handles and tang styles.

I don't care much for antler [owning two of them anyway] or leather washer handles so full and partial tang knives with wood and Micarta will probably be a good part of my work at least at first.

I have ordered more steel, and thinner stock so I'm hoping to make a kitchen knife or two in the next round, although I need to learn sheath-making next I think.

So much to learn.
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Old 10-05-2008, 05:01 PM   #12
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Thank you for starting this thread - it's very enjoyable!

I think Smithy would agree that one can adapt a common art/hobby slogan to knife making: "The good thing about knife making and the bad thing about knife making is that you are NEVER done learning."

Keep up the great work everyone!
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Old 10-05-2008, 05:12 PM   #13
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The one on the left is forged 420 stainless, the one on the right is forged automobile coil spring.

I worked as a professional blacksmith and knifemaker for a couple years (first real job out of high school) before I realized there are easier ways to make a living.

A couple things to toss out there:

Smithy, your knives and sheathwork look very nice. What you need to do on your sheaths is lay out the stitching line with a pencil and use a thonging chisel. I'd also glue the sheath together first if the leather was difficult to keep in alignment while sewing.

Manuel, when doing filework get a bottle of powdered chalk (for construction chalklines) and rub a bit into the file. It will keep the teeth from loading up and scarring the work as you are noticing. You can also use lime (the white stuff used to lay out baseball and football fields, in case you have a friend who is a coach he can score you a cupfull. put it in an old salt shaker and sprinkle on the file).

Your forge/furnace looks like it can heat up quite a hefty piece of iron! The simplest way to heat treat carbon steel is to get it hot to where a magnet won't stick to it (about 1850F) then quench in old oil. Now polish it roughly with some sandpaper, and then heat to a straw color and quench again. This should be done within the hour of the initial hardening. If you feel like doing a really good job, heat the back of the blade first, so that the straw color will migrate to the edge of the blade and the back of the knife is a blue color. That gives you a very hard edge and a softer and tougher spine.

I have a shop about an hour away from St Louis, I'd be more than happy to do a weekend bladesmithing workshop if there were a half dozen or so interested people wanting to attend.
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Old 10-05-2008, 05:46 PM   #14
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Yes, chalking the file will help, as will carding it often. I found that an old piece of copper flashing (like 22 gauge or thinner, I think) makes a great "card", it cleans a file quickly without dulling it. Checking your file for buildup every 3rd or 4th pass helps, you can clean it before it gets too far. Light pressure works too, as you have less chance to build up heavy debris too fast.

Grinders are cheap... a Craftsman 2x42 is what I have, and trugrit.com has excellent belts for it. Cheap machine, $150 vs. $2000 for a KMG or something fancy. Good control is learned, and the better tool won't replace technique. Belts around $1.25-$3.50, depending on what you're getting. Don't be too cheap with them, working longer on a worn belt makes mistakes happen quickly.

Here's mine...


I took off the guards and tables, preferring a naked belt to work with. That's a 400 grit gator belt from 3M I think, does a really good job.
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Smithy screwed with this post 10-05-2008 at 05:52 PM
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Old 10-05-2008, 05:53 PM   #15
Manuel Garcia O'Kely OP
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Greasemonkey:

Nice Finnish style on those knives.

Ya, I think the heater is a bit overkill but the hand torch was just so weak.

I have the theory of heat-treating down, it's the practice of it that I need to work on. I have quench oil already - which is what I did knife no. 1 with.

So there is a definate link between hardening and tempering time - my reading seemed to indicate that. With O-1 it seems like the appropriate temper is at 350 to 400 - I'm thinking about using the toaster oven to do that step - what say you? It won't get the back of the blade spring like is the only downside I see. One book I read showed dipping the edge in water while flaming the spine and the tang to keep the temper at the desired level.

Chalk - I knew that there was something I was forgetting - I've got some blue line around here somewhere - I'll dig it out and try it - thanks!

Probably would not hurt to buy a new file - my main 12" Mill Bastard has taken a beating.

I have to admit, I'm always amazed at the amount of information available in this small universe. Thanks for kicking in with your knowledge.
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