Spent 5 hours making two pounds of 1095 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
Thanks to TomC, Mark, Hoot, Melodie, Dan and Ray for making it a great
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-
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.
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.
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....
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.
HOT foot close call
I ground more knife blanks on Saturday to add to the two neckers I did
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
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
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
Neckers 4 &
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
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 : )
Thinking a block of Desert Ironwood will work nicely for a handle.
Back to the grind.....
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
A little excited…found a new source for Desert 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
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
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….
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.
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.
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.
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,
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...
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.
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
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
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
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
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.