Spent 5 hours making two pounds of 1095 blanks-

05/02/15 blanks

3 Big Blade blanks and 2 push daggers for next month's knife club meeting. Things started off good, ground two of BB blanks, turned out ok, had to trim one's edge back a little to even it out.
Then the shit hit the fan, the third went from bad to worse, got so bad I gave up and put it on the bench for some other day when I am less pissed, hopefully I can fix the grind when I am in a better
frame of mind.

Took the weeekend off to go on my annual wild boar hunt with a group of good friends, great time was had by all, we hunted, bbq'd and told tall tails.


1,2,3 down

Gunner's hog

Thanks to TomC, Mark, Hoot, Melodie, Dan and Ray for making it a great weekend.

Couple of "different" things for me, first is a commision knife I made a while back. A member of 1911 Forum saw my postings about knife making and contacted me about building
him a custom designed knife, something along a Loveless style but a little different, this is what I came up with-

commision Loveless

Second is a folding knife for my youngest sister, she asked me to make a folder with cocobolo handles for her husband. Luckily I had a folder kit on hand, been debating on what material
to use for handles and her request kinda solved my problem. Then it went down hill from there, there were several issues with the kit and I needed replacement parts before I could finally
start on it. With replacement parts on hand I started, modified a few parts to fit properly. made a set of handle scales from some thin Dymondwood Cocobolo and fitted everything together.
Turned out decent for my first folding kit, little bugger is sharp and he is thrilled about the surprised knife.

Cocobolo folder

Friday and Saturday was not the best of days with the grinder, ruined the holey tang and the big blade blanks, seemed like I lost my touch with the grinder, not that it was that great to
begin with but two weeks ago I thought I turned a corner with it, so to speak. Headed into the shop early this morning and spent all day drawing, cutting out and grinding blanks. With a
short interlude mid afternoon to installed a 8 inch electric fan and ran power supply to it for the 2 hp grinder motor. It was getting a little hot with the long run times grinding out the blanks,
hopefully it will help out especially with summer coming on.

Not sure if I found my touch again, or Sunday is a better grinding day or what but I managed to grind out three decent blanks. Still not 100% but I am getting the plunge lines to match up better,
the edge to be even all the way down the blade and the tip centered, at least much better than recently attempted blanks.

032215 Blanks

I drilled the tang holes after I took the picture, hence the center punch marks and they need heat treat, tempering and finishing still but the hard part is done. Much much happier tonight than I was
the last two nights. Learned a few things this weekend that should help with the next set of blanks. Even though at times knife building makes me want to throw things across the room, I do enjoy it
and really have a good time doing it, well most days.

60 percent reduction.
Equals one hellva lot of aggravation at the grinder. Started out grinding a blank like this.....


Then it went down the crapper, last weekend it seemed like I finally got a handle on grinding the plunge line and bevels, then today it felt like the first time I ever ground a blade.
I don't know why, but the angle went wrong, edge got too thin, couldn't get the shoulders right, nothing went correctly. This is what is left after working for over an hour trying to
get everything at the right angle and even....

Slim Blank

Still needs some finishing touches but the basic grinding is done. While not happy with 60 percent lose of metal, it didn't turn out too bad, my first thick slim blade knife. After some sleep
I will attack the grinder tomorrow and see if I can find my touch to grind some more blanks out. Have plenty of metal, Fed Ex truck dropped off 12 feet of 1.5" wide 1095 steel this afternoon.

Aldo 1095

HOT foot close call
I ground more knife blanks on Saturday to add to the two neckers I did last weekend..

3152015 grinds

So on Sunday I get out the forge and fired it up to do the heat treating on them.


I gotta say it impresses me every time I use it, the amount heat and flame it puts out, even set down to 5 psi on the propane tank valve is scary. You know what is scarier??????
Squatting down in front of the forge and dropping a 1500 degree knife blank between your feet!!!!!! That will get the blood pumping mighty fast. After jumping up and away from the
bouncing blank I realized metal, when very hot, bends very easy . Yep, you guessed it, I look down to see the last 1/2 inch of the blank bent at the tip, that keep the blood pressure up.
Now I go into over drive trying to get the hot blank off the floor, grab a sledge hammer and whack the tip trying to straighten it out. That didn't work well at all so I run over and grab the small anvil,
drag it over to the forge, reheat the blank a little and pound on it. Not perfect but real close, which leads to another problem, while beating on the end of the blank I am ruining the ground bevel line
on that side of the blank. Hopefully I can fix it with a little touch up on belt grinder this weekend, it is a shame, it was probably the best ground blank I have done so far. The plunge lines from both sides
matched up almost 100% at the bottom. Here is a pic before all the excitement happened....

Holey Tang

Neck knife experiment......
Recent discussion about neck knives got me thinking.....What would make a good neck knife.....light weight, sharp, small overall size would be the top 3 items on a wish list for sure.
The three knives I have been trying to finish the past month have become a pain in the a$$, no matter what I tried I can not get the edge even or the grind lines lined up or the polish even, so
I put them away for now and started thinking about the neck knife discussion as a challenge, I needed something different to work on. I had some 0.093" 1095 on hand so I figured that would
meet the 3 requirements I mentioned above. Come Saturday morning I setup the equipment and start making sparks, 1095 puts on a good show with a screaming 36 grit belt : )
Then all hell breaks loose....maybe I was to excited to make one or was pushing too hard or who knows what but experiment 1, 2 and 3 were total bust...

Neckers 1,2,3

The top and middle ones had good shape but in the process of grinding the bevels I ruined them, got too thin at the edge, so I started a third and it ended almost as badly. When dealing with
0.093" thick steel one wrong move and it is toast, edge got too thin as well, no turning back after that : (        Decided to call it a day after drawing, cutting and grinding for 5 hours and spent the
rest of the afternoon washing all the family cars. But the crash and burn on the experiment ate at me all Saturday night so first thing Sunday I was back in the shop trying to get a decent one made.
While not perfect, I think the overall design and looks are pretty good......

Neckers 4 & 5

They still need heat treating, tempering, final sanding and sharpening but I learned a few things and was in a much better state of mind Sunday afternoon than Saturday.

Back to work, started working the ground blanks from the 11/27/14 post below, finished the zombie knife, well mostly, still needs a touch up on the edge and bevel.. Zombie
Then added handles to three of the four normal blades  3 sneak peak,  the fourth's blade is a little bit of a mess so I put it back on the bench for later. The three need final polishing
and sharpening  before being added to the site for sale but they turned out pretty nicely, including one that has a hamon line   First Hamon

The holiday season, end of year just kicked my butt, WAY too much stuff going on to even think about working in the shop but I am back in the swing now. First off a few upgrades to the shop.....
Built a metal holding rack on a section of wall in the shop to organize all the different metals and get them all in one spot.   Metal Rack   Added another tool chest, old one was full.  Tool Chest
And bought a set of R8 collets for the new mill along with a 20 pc end mill set  End Mill set   And then re-organized the second bench, adding a small shelf for more storage room   2nd Bench

Finally got my old drill press replaced......thought why just get a nice drill press but add some extra money and get a mini mill, so thats what I did......


It will open the door to new options in the shop and make future projects much easier to deal with. I wanted a more accurate way to drill tangs holes for handles, a milling machine does that and more. Now that leads to another problem....I need more money for tooling for the new mill, never ends does it : )

Dam Bowie

Thinking a block of Desert Ironwood will work nicely for a handle.

Back to the grind.....

4 normal, 1 not so normal

Spent the day leaned over the grinder, 4 of the big blade style, really like this pattern but I varied one to include a thumb rest on the spine and a slightly curved tang. One surprise, maybe, once I get them finish sanded I might get a hamon line on one of the blades, got a very evident quench line along the blade, will dip that blade in ferric chloride after sanding to see if it will show up. Then I went a little crazy and ground out a zombie type knife, 15 inches overall length with a 8 inch blade and a diamond shape skull splitter on the end of the tang. Will be a huge challenge for me to grind the loooonnngg bevel on this blank.

A little excited…found a new source for Desert Ironwood……

Arizone Ironwood

Ordered some handle scales to try out, only took four days for processing and shipping of the order. I like that they post pictures of the actual sets of scales on their site, allows me to pick and chose the grain pattern I want. I am a little heavy on inventory at the moment of Ironwood, 10+ sets, I couldn’t resist trying them out and ordering more, I do love Desert Ironwood. I guess that I means I need to make some knives : )

More effort to solve/help me with bevel grinding issues….while my little wood bevel jigs help, they leave way too much to desire. So with that thought I searched for a better option, nothing out there that I came across seemed workable to me, until I watched a new youtube video posted by Aaron of Gough Custom. In his latest video he was using a home made bevel grinding jig, when reading thru the comments on the video, Aaron made reference to a photo hosting site where he posted photos of his new jig. While a little over engineered for my taste, the basic setup was what I was looking for. The two main aspects of his jig that I liked were the repeatability of the blank alignment in the jig, when shifting the blank from one side to the other and the grinding angle adjustment. After studying Aaron’s pictures I started designing my own version of it. At first everything seemed to work out but for one issue, the attachment of screw end of the angle adjuster. I needed a tight fit on the part but it also had to pivot as the front plate moved, can’t afford to have the holding plate move when I make contact against the grinding belt, not good for a straight bevel line.

Last weekend part of the issue was solved, when at a get together of friends, I hunted down Jeremy Watts, a really good machinist and showed him pictures of Aaron’s jig and the design drawings I made. After a few minutes of discussing the issues he offered a suggestion of using a modified, cut down C-clamp as the angle adjuster assembly. The next day I hunted down the small parts I needed and placed a online order for some metal.

Steel for jig

Couldn’t decide if I wanted to make the jig out of steel or aluminum so I bought both. Steel offers long term usage while aluminum offers easier handling of the jig on the tool rest with a screaming 36 grit belt. Not to mention all the drilling and taping of holes in the jig. It was fun building the jig but a royal pain in the butt, or should I say hand, drilling and taping all those holes, but all the work paid off…….

Grinding Jig

Pretty happy how it turned but think the base may need to be longer, will tweak it after using it some and see what mods I need to make.

Lately I have been spending more effort and time making my own steel blanks instead of buying pre-made blanks. Not only refining my heat treating process, quenching and tempering, but getting some grinding time in with the KMG belt grinder. Interesting aspect is the designing of a new blank, usually I start with a basic shape and re-fine while grinding out the blank with some finalizing when doing the finish grinding. I have done a few with the .093” 1095 carbon steel but decided I would up the ante and work with a bigger piece of 1095, a 3/16” x 1 ½” bar to be precise……..


The handles ended up a little to thick so I trimmed them down a little….

Large Blade

A little too much for my taste but another learning experience, not only with metal but wood as well, you take the material down to just over sized of what you want then final hand sand/grind with higher grit to the size needed. Patience is something that eludes me at times but usually ends up teaching me a lesson.

Been busy the last few weeks........less with the knife making, more with life in general, did manage to attend my first gun/knife show, did great selling items I cleared out from the gunroom, not so much with the knives. Only sold one, had a few people stop and talk knives, several comment "nice knives" but overall very slow and little business on the knife side. This past week ordered some steel so I could get back to learning blade grinding, may want to go back to life issues instead of knife grinding : (
Worked on free hand grinding and jig grinding using the platen attachment, results were not good. Seems no matter what I tried it got worse, this was not the first time I ground my own blades but seemed like I lost all touch with it, a little disheartening to say the least. Made up a new longer bevel jig with a thinner strip of aluminum on the underside, helped a little but by that point the blade had gotten too thin and was bent with ease (see top blank in pic below). Got out the big beasty I started last weekend to see if I could straighten out the bevel ground, did somewhat though the edge got too thin so I had to do a reshape on the edge line. Bevel grind is better but the edge line is a little bit of a mess. At this point I decided to cut my loses and start a new blank and try something new....hollow grind, which most people say is the hardest to do of the different grinds on a knife, also gave me a chance to use thte 10" wheel on the KMG grinder. Cut off a peice of the .093"x 1.5" 1095, drew a outline of a basic EDC knife and attacked the belt, I can not say enough about the KMG grinder, what a great peice of equipment, makes basic shaping so easy and quick. With the shaping done I grabbed the new bevel jig and tried my hand at hollow grinding, the results were surprising, was fairly easy to get a decent grind on the blank, not perfect for sure but much better than I managed with the other types of grinds the past week (middle blank in pic below). To get good bevel grinds it takes practice, lots of practice but everything I do and tried I learn something from, plenty of steel on hand to practice with.

Failed Grinds

Wasn't real happy with how the 1x30 suction system turned out, the right side angle attachment didn't draw enough dust in so I re-did the system with flexible hose and a 2 1/4" end nozzle. Then pulled around and angling in from the back right side allowing me full pull to the right when shaping a handle without bumping into the nozzle. With the new nozzle and location the suction system works much better.

1x30sucker Version 2

I now have a complete KMG grinder setup with the addition of another tool arm and a KMG small wheel attachment, along with 1/2" and 3/4" wheels.

KMG Small Wheel Attachment

Spent part of the day roughing out three sets of Desert Ironwood handle scales along with nickle silver pins and epoxing up three blade blanks. One is a new style of blank called the Dakota, looking forward to seeing the finished knife. Re-worked the bevels on two knives from last weekend, wasn't happy with how they turned out. Got a little rushed last Sunday, then lost power and tried to finish the blade sanding with a flashlite, not the best idea! Still have a lot of learning to do when it comes to blade grinding, especially hand position and pressure against the blade on the belt.

Did a little experimenting with free hand blade sharpening on the KMG and a 3M Gatorbelt, usually do my sharpening with a Edge Pro sharpening system but wanted to see how consistent I could be on the edge. Used a .090" 1095 heat treated blank I had on the bench, the result were surprising, the edge looks very consistent across the entire blade. A little finish touch up with a 400 grit belt and the blank was slicing thru a sheet of paper with ease.

More projects today, but I actually got to work on some knifes, FINALLY......
Started the day by doing a little bit of redneck engineering on my 1x30 belt grinder, while the side vacuum attachment port works well, just not enough when I sand knife handles, the main chore for the little 1x30. Dust flys off the belt and covers everything in the shop, especially with the antique ivory, WOW, looks like an explosion of baby powder. So I came up with this...

1x30 sucker

Received a large (for me) 2x72 belt order in this week, an assortment of different types/brands and grits to test out to see what works best for me. Seperated them and loaded up the belt cart for testing.

Belt Cart

Side note...thanks to Pop at Pop's Knives and Supplies for the great prices and friendly service, I highly recommend him and his company.

Side Side note.......one of the most used items in the shop is Kent Automotive's Acrysol solvent. Just amazing stuff, cleans everything I have ever tried it on. Does great on everything, cleans up epoxy drips off the bench, quickly I might add, is my go too solvent for epoxy prep clean up, name it I use acrysol for it. First introduced to it in the mid 80's by a friend as a reloading die cleaner. If you reload lead bullet ammunition you need acrysol, it is the best thing in the world to remove lead bullet lube out of seating and crimp dies.


Testing on the KMG.......

Cut out and ground some .090" 1095 steel...

After heat treating......

Once heat treatment was done I started the triple tempering cycle so I had some free time on my hands and tried something new.....Took a piece of 1.5"x10" black G10, worked it over on the 1x30 and made a spike knife.....

I took some time to work on the latest addition to the shop-


Massive upgrade for the business, my wallet hasn’t stopped crying since. But it will save me a huge amount of time grinding blades, where before it took an hour and 3-4 different tools/machines to cut out a simple blank, it took less than five minutes on the KMG grinder. Big leap in horsepower, going from a 1/3 hp belt grinder to the 2 HP motor on the KMG plus the bigger/better belts helps out a ton.

Heavy metal is what it is, the main frame alone weighs over 95 lbs. I built a heavy duty bench to handle all of it, added a switch stand, flip up shelf for the water can to cool the blank down during grinding and a slide out drawer under the top. Also made a grinding dust suction system out of four inch dryer vent pipe and a reducing connector for the 5 gal Shop Vac to hook too, though in the near future I will upgrade to a 12 gal 6 hp Shop Vac with 1 ½ inch hose. Those two inch belts eat metal fast and spit fine particles all over the bench even with the Shop Vac going. After getting the bench built, everything assembled and tested I tore it back down, lightly scotch brited all the exposed metal, then clear spray paint coated all the exposed steel to keep surface rust from developing, or at least slow it down. Then made a attachment system for the bench to hook to the wall to keep everything anchored and stable while grinding, sucks not having a permanent location for the grinder bench but the wife refuses to give up her side of the garage, so a moveable bench was the only option since I had taken over the rest of the garage already.

Several other projects were completed as well…..

Rolling rack to hold the 2x72” belts, simple design using 1x3” boards, ¼” oak dowel rods for hangers and a old bed frame caster set. A home made knife vise to do final finish sanding on knives and handles…………


Used it today for the first time, worked great, nice to be able to rotate the knife and keep the surface I need to work on upright. Also made a grinding bevel jig…


This is the second version, first one was like a lot of jigs I have seen on the net and you tube, most use a single bolt head or nut on the bottom to set the angle for grinding. Problem with that design is that it isn’t very stable sliding across the tool rest, one small pivot point is not good for a consistent bevel on the blank. I attached a strip of aluminum across the back bottom of the jig to give a long contact point for sliding when doing the bevel. Will test version 2 on Sunday with some 1095.

Lastly, updated the website, adding new pictures to the Shop Pic section, sheath info on several available knives, did a little horse trading with Rob at Simply Rugged for some leather sheaths for the nicer knives. A kydex sheath doesn’t like right with a knife with exhibition grade Ironwood or Antique Ivory handles.


Future projects include a new adjustable tool rest, have the metal already just need to fabricate it. Grinder tool arm holders for the KMG bench, have 16 feet of two inch square tubing awaiting design and setup. As for knives????? Got a delivery of thick/wide 1095 steel yesterday, I am envisioning a big zombie type chopper in the near future, shouldn’t be a problem with the KMG : )

Too old to play with fireworks, so I decided to play with something more adult……
My dragon’s breath forge : )


As a extension of my knife making, blacksmithing is taking on a bigger role in the shop. Not only interesting but opens up a whole new area of sharp things like tomahawks. And what is the best metal to use???? Who knows, you ask five people you are most likely to get five answers, but most will tell you to start off with rail road spikes, they are cheap, if you get off your butt and walk the tracks looking for them or open the wallet to buy some, usually run six for $10. Since I work around rail road terminals I went the cheap route.


Before I could start I needed to modify my old set of blacksmith tongs and build a couple more while I was at it. OK I cheated a little and bought a couple sets of Ken’s Custom Iron “Quick Tongs” sets to make this task easier, along with a set of his new Bolt Tongs....http://kensiron.com/quick_tongs.html


The ugly ones at the top are my home made tongs that have been reworked several times but they worked pretty good handling the spikes. Which is important when the spike is glowing orange and you are beating on it with a three pound pein hammer.

Tongs done I shifted my attention to making a tomahawk head, selected a spike, cleaned it up on the belt grinder and jammed it into the forge. Proceeded to heat then pound the spike on the anvil, lost count how many times I reheated the spike. At first I wasn’t heating the spike enough making the hammering tougher, finally heated it longer and that made hammering easier, actually to easy, over pounded the blade part, thinning it out too much. Then focused on forming the handle eyelet, at first I thought I might have bitten off more than I could chew but finally got the eyelet slit cut with a chisel, then everything went to hell, quickly I might add…….

The chisel became stuck in the tomahawk head, I then spent the next half hour pounding on it to remove it from the head, in the process this happened…..


Ruined a chisel, broke the vise and screwed up the eyelet hole, off center and not nice at all………


But all things considered not bad at all, only my second ever blacksmithing project, and it at least looks like a tomahawk head, more importantly it was a good learning experience for me. Called it a day, cleaned up the shop, then threw a couple of strip steaks on the grill for me and the dogs, they were more happy about the steaks then the tomahawk head, but that’s ok with me.