View Full Version : From Start to Finish, My Way. (V. Pic Heavy)

23-01-09, 12:47 AM
I plan on showing here the way I make a knife by stock removal, from start to finish, with pictures showing the various stages of progress along the way.
I'm not saying this is the way to do the job, just that it's my way.
I shall be adding updates to the thread as the knife progresses (and as I actually get time to complete it :rolleyes: )
I will often make a template for my knives so that I can reproduce at least the profile in future should I want to, but with this example I shall simply start with a rough outline sketched onto the 5mm piece of 01 toolsteel I'l be making the knife out of. The rest of it will be ground and fitted in whatever way I think looks right at the time. This will be the first stick tang blade I've made on my new grinder as I normally make only full tangs. At this stage I'm hoping to put a stacked leather handle on the knife when it's done.

If anyone would like to add comments, or suggestions for any improvement to the way I do things, I'd welcome their input.

Firstly, with a rough idea of the blade shape sketched onto the steel with a marker pen, I produce the profile with a 40 grit belt running on the contact wheel. Here I have only shaped the blade section, but working the tang to shape is just more of the same process.
http://img297.imageshack.us/img297/1507/10000191yq8.th.jpg (http://img297.imageshack.us/my.php?image=10000191yq8.jpg)

Then I fix on the filing jig and round off the edges of the tang with a B'stard file then a 2nd cut file so that each edge is roughly semi-circular.
I run the file along the flat of each side of the tang hard up against the guide to make the tang a couple of thou' thinner than the blade, then I taper the tangs thickness very sightly on the grinder. Thicker at the ricasso end, thinner at the butt. This helps make the job of fitting the guard a lot easier and can make the guard/ricasso junction look neater when it's done as I hope we'll see later.
http://img297.imageshack.us/img297/7820/1000021xw6.th.jpg (http://img297.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000021xw6.jpg)
http://img297.imageshack.us/img297/8739/1000022jr0.th.jpg (http://img297.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000022jr0.jpg)

Then I set the edge marker I made (out of a spare scriber point and a couple of bits of brass and a bolt) on one of the off-cuts of the steel I'm working with so that by running the marker along each side the scribed lines are about the right distance apart for me to leave the edge thickness at after initial grinding (about 1mm). Then I mark what will be the cutting edge of the blade with the edge marker.
http://img297.imageshack.us/img297/174/1000023jn6.th.jpg (http://img297.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000023jn6.jpg)

Then it's time to get out "Longstriders Incredibly High-Tech Grinding Jig", a big lump of wood with a suared off 'U' cut out of the middle of it, and a couple of screws.
http://img297.imageshack.us/img297/7002/1000024po0.th.jpg (http://img297.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000024po0.jpg)

I like to put a peice of masking tape around the ricasso at the point where I want the plunge to be. Doing this so that the tape meets itself evenly gives me a line in exactly opposing points on the flats to work to. I think of this as "The Gandalf Strip" ("You Shall Not Pass!" )
Using the pin holes in the tang the blade is screwed to the block. Lines drawn parallel to the base of the block make aligning the blade correctly a lot easier (It works best if the edge, not the spine, is parallel to the base I have found)
http://img297.imageshack.us/img297/2051/1000025ix1.th.jpg (http://img297.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000025ix1.jpg)

23-01-09, 12:48 AM
Having swapped the contact wheel for the flat platten and put on a nice clean 60 grit belt I tilt the work-rest of the grinder slightly and lock it in position. The block is then placed on the rest, holding the blade at that set angle to the platten. I usually set the rest at more of an angle than I think I'll want at first and adjust it a time or two as I work on the blade until the grind looks as if it will hit the scribed line along the edge at the same time as it reaches back across the flat of the blade as far as I want it to.
http://img297.imageshack.us/img297/6227/1000026bf1.th.jpg (http://img297.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000026bf1.jpg)

A couple of passes along the length of the blade from plunge to tip shows me that I have, as usual, got the work rest set at too much of an angle and I adjust it in a scientific manner (I loosen the locking handle a little and tap the rest with something heavy until it looks about right) By "too much of an angle" I mean that the grind will hit the scribed line on the edge long before it has worked back across the flat face far enough for what I want to do with the blade in question.
http://img398.imageshack.us/img398/4250/1000027kt5.th.jpg (http://img398.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000027kt5.jpg)
http://img398.imageshack.us/img398/3051/1000030ev7.th.jpg (http://img398.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000030ev7.jpg)

After a couple of adjustments to the angle of the work rest and a few more passes with the 60 grit belt I've got the first grind pretty much where I want it to be for now.
http://img398.imageshack.us/img398/2121/1000031ga2.th.jpg (http://img398.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000031ga2.jpg)
http://img398.imageshack.us/img398/7346/1000032kg5.th.jpg (http://img398.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000032kg5.jpg)

Time to unscrew the blade from the block and flip it over to the other side of block. Mind your fingers, it's hot at this point (Hence the bucket of water on the workbench)
http://img398.imageshack.us/img398/1751/1000033ph3.th.jpg (http://img398.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000033ph3.jpg)

A few passes along the length of the blade sees the grind pretty well match the one on the first side I did.
http://img398.imageshack.us/img398/3402/1000034jx4.th.jpg (http://img398.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000034jx4.jpg)

At this point I switch to a 180 grit belt and give each side of the blade half a dozen passes, whilst screwed to the block, to take out the 60 grit scratches.
http://img398.imageshack.us/img398/2573/1000039rl4.th.jpg (http://img398.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000039rl4.jpg)
http://img398.imageshack.us/img398/3772/1000040gx5.th.jpg (http://img398.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000040gx5.jpg)

Into the heat treat oven it goes for normalising.
http://img398.imageshack.us/img398/2122/1000042fg2.th.jpg (http://img398.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000042fg2.jpg)

Stay tuned for next weeks/next months gripping installment! :lol:

Albert E
23-01-09, 01:06 AM
Nice and interesting thread!!Surely will be of interest to many!!

23-01-09, 01:12 AM
Thanks for sharing the info and your method

23-01-09, 01:55 AM
The thing is you lot dont know the worst of it...he makes it look even easier than it sounds :rolleyes: :P

Nice start chap, keep it up :biggthump


Will have to work a 'rum session' into the calendar for 2009 ;)

23-01-09, 02:32 AM
awesome thread! very neat tips.

30-01-09, 04:49 AM
After normalising (and a break of a few days due to having to earn a living) I get things ready for the full heat treatment of the blade. At this point it looks more like I left it out in the rain than did anything 'clever' with it, but it's just scaled up due to the multiple thermocycling (normalising) I gave it.

http://img301.imageshack.us/img301/2268/1000043vu7.th.jpg (http://img301.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000043vu7.jpg)

Firstly it goes into the H/T oven which is programmed to take the blade up to 815 C and then soak it at that temperature for 20 minutes. On the way up, I give it a 15 minute soak at 600 C to pre-heat the steel and reduce internal stressing to as little as possible.

http://img301.imageshack.us/img301/2502/1000051gw6.th.jpg (http://img301.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000051gw6.jpg)

As the oven nears the final temperature it's time to pre-heat the oil for the quench. My quench tank is a length of stainless pipe welded onto a square base for stability, filled with oil. I take it outside the 'shop and heat it by playing a gas burner flame on the lower section of the pipe whilst keeping a jam thermometer in the top of the oil.
I have found that heating it this way sets up a convection current in the oil and it circulates within the pipe nicely evening out the overall temperature. I like to time the heating so that the jam thermometer hits 75 C just as the oven begins it's 20 minute soak time at temp. This allows for the fact that the thermometer will continue to rise after the flame is removed. At the end of the soak time the temperature within the oil has had time to equalise throughout the quench tank and has usually steadied out and cooled a little from it's peak to a usable 75 C again.

http://img301.imageshack.us/img301/2976/1000048dx2.th.jpg (http://img301.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000048dx2.jpg)
http://img301.imageshack.us/img301/3200/1000046jw8.th.jpg (http://img301.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000046jw8.jpg)

Once quenched I let the blade and the H/T oven cool. Leaving the oven door open whilst it's turned off helps to heat the 'shop on a cold wintery evening too.
With the blade cooled enough to handle, I tested it all along the edge with my hardness testing files and was happy to note that I couldn't find any part of the edge that a 65 Rc testing file didn't skate over rather than bite.
Switching on the oven controller gives me a readout of the internal temperature and I've found that residual heat in the lining will mean that shutting the door means the temp rises again. Once it cools to the point where it will maintain 220 C with the door shut (it only cools really slowly with the door shut) I put the blade back in for it's initial temper. I leave it in the slowly cooling oven overnight.

Now I get out my fish kettle. Filled with kiln dried sand I find this helps to even out the temperature of the blade nicely at the comparitively low (compared to autenising temps) temperatures used for tempering. I bury the blade completely in the sand to ensure that it heats as evenly as possible. I set the oven to heat to 230 C and to soak at that for 2 hours. This time will allow the whole fish kettle full of sand and it's precious contents to heat evenly right through.

http://img301.imageshack.us/img301/7826/1000058ij5.th.jpg (http://img301.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000058ij5.jpg)

Once tempered it's time to start cleaning the blade up, but not before I've checked it for straightness (OK there) and hardness. Where the 65Rc test file had removed the scale from the edge I can see that the steel is now a pale straw colour. I test with the hardness files again and from what I can judge I've got the blade to just (and I mean just) under 60Rc. That'll do nicely, thank you.
Then I start by giving it a couple passes along it's length on the grinder with a 180 grit belt to remove the worst of the scale, then work my way up through 240 grit, 400 grit and then a 600 grit belt. On this knife I have opted to smooth out the transition between the flat of the blade spine and the flat of the grind. Not because I'm unhappy with the grind-line at all, but I like the way a blade can look if finished off this way. The 400 and 600 grit belts start this smoothing out process nicely.

http://img301.imageshack.us/img301/554/1000060po0.th.jpg (http://img301.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000060po0.jpg)
http://img301.imageshack.us/img301/42/1000062na4.th.jpg (http://img301.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000062na4.jpg)
http://img301.imageshack.us/img301/4796/1000068lt0.th.jpg (http://img301.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000068lt0.jpg)

30-01-09, 04:49 AM
With the blade, the ricasso and the guard area of the tang cleaned up, it's time to think about making the guard.

http://img84.imageshack.us/img84/3893/1000073ca7.th.jpg (http://img84.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000073ca7.jpg)

I have decided to not only make a brass guard for this knife but to copy the spacers from the first 'bowie' I ever owned. The spacers bewteen guard and stacked leather handle are guard/black liner/thin brass/red liner/thin brass/black liner/thin brass.
First though comes the guard itself. I cut a piece of suitable brass and set it in the machine vice of my micro-mill. Having measured the tang to be 24mm wide by a little over 4.5mm thick I use a 4mm milling bit to cut a nice parallel slot in the brass. I shift the bed across 0.5mm and make the slot very nearly wide enough (I hope).
Having the brass in the machine vice means that I cannot test-fit the brass to the tang so I have to rely on luck and a vernier caliper at this stage before removing the slotted brass from the vice and test fitting it.
As is usual, nothing fits anything else first time round, but a few wipes with a small diamond coated file through the slot gets things fitting pretty snugly.

http://img84.imageshack.us/img84/1123/1000071rg0.th.jpg (http://img84.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000071rg0.jpg)
http://img84.imageshack.us/img84/2465/1000072jg4.th.jpg (http://img84.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000072jg4.jpg)

I test fit and 'persuade' the brass onto the tang with a piece of dowel with a slot in it and a hammer with the blade held in the vice betwen two pieces of leather the prevent marking it.
If the blade starts to slide downwards in the vice before the guard fits nicely as I hit it, I figure I've got a little more filing to do. It doesn't take long for the guard to settle into place nicely up against the ricasso and that tiny 'ledge' I put on the flats when I made the tang. With the slot so close to a perfect fit, the brass will deform a little arond the tang under this sort of treatment, giving it a very close fit indeed. The reason for rounding off the edges of the tang should now be apparent too. With the tang rounded the way it is I have no need to square off the ends of the milled slot in the brass.
I've lost count of the number of guards I've messed up by accidently making the slot slightly wider at the ends whilst trying to square off the rounded end the mill gives, and this way I avoid that problem completely. The little ledge at the tang/ricasso junction means that the brass butts up against the ricasso all the way around the slot making for a very neat looking join between the two. Allowing for that tiny amount of deformation in the brass whilst I fitted it to the tang, I leave it until now before taking the front and rear faces of the guard down a nicely cleaned, flat finish on the grinder against the flat platten.

http://img84.imageshack.us/img84/21/1000076mw8.th.jpg (http://img84.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000076mw8.jpg)
http://img84.imageshack.us/img84/7476/1000078ww5.th.jpg (http://img84.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000078ww5.jpg)

I make a little template out of plastic that is the same as half of the shape I want I want the guard. This way I can push it against the slot and draw round it with a Sharpie. This ensures that I mark it out symetrically.
It doesn't take long with a 40 grit belt to get the brass looking more like the guard it will become. The brass conducts heat quicker than steel though, and it takes a few dips in the bucket to avoid melting my fingerprints off. The brass seems to go from 'comfortable' to "Ouch!" without passing through 'getting warmer' in between, so I still usually manage to get a burned thumb doing brass guards though.

http://img84.imageshack.us/img84/4615/1000079bo2.th.jpg (http://img84.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000079bo2.jpg)
http://img84.imageshack.us/img84/4958/1000080xv7.th.jpg (http://img84.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000080xv7.jpg)

With the guard roughly shaped I cut the spacer materials. A piece of red vulcanised fibre, two pieces of black vulnised fibre and three bits of thin brass. The thin brass won't clamp in the vice on the mill so I slot it quickly by chain drilling and filing. The vulcanised fibre I slot by cutting a series of holes with an adjustable leather punch then a few wipes with a file.

http://img84.imageshack.us/img84/6974/1000082si4.th.jpg (http://img84.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000082si4.jpg)
http://img84.imageshack.us/img84/4266/1000084ga1.th.jpg (http://img84.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000084ga1.jpg)

I slide everything on to the tang to make sure it's all properly aligned and them clamp all the bits together with Mole grips before sliding it all off the tang together. This allows me to drill a couple of small holes through the spacers and just into the back of the guard. These holes can then be used for indexing pins.

I carefully invert the arrangement of guard and spacers with the index pins in, onto a small piece of MDF. I then drive the exposed section of the pins into the wood by hitting the guard (with a hammer, but with a piece of wood on top of the guard so as not to mark it) This wedges the lot into a single unit that I can take back to the grinder. I grind through the MDF and spacers together. The fact that the MDF surrounds the underside keeps everything flat and parallel to the work rest as well as supporting the thin brass and vulcanised fibre while I grind it down to the same size as the guard. The guard is on top so I can see when to stop.

http://img84.imageshack.us/img84/4266/1000084ga1.th.jpg (http://img84.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000084ga1.jpg)
http://img84.imageshack.us/img84/8345/1000085ye4.th.jpg (http://img84.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000085ye4.jpg)

30-01-09, 08:21 PM
Very nice Ian! Arevyou sure it's big enough?;)

30-01-09, 10:38 PM
Very nice Ian! Arevyou sure it's big enough?;)

It's not a competition knife Erik ;) It only has a blade of 8 1/2" (215mm) so it will be a general use blade for when I'm hunting or camping :)

06-02-09, 02:11 AM
I only take the spacers down to 'very close' to the guard at this stage as I don't want to risk grinding off any more of the brass guard right now.

The spacers will eventually be an exact fit to the rear (spine side) of the guard, which will be flush with the spine of the blade, but will be smaller than the guard (same size as the first bit of leather in the handle) on the edge side of the handle. Taking the guard off the stack allows me to grind the spacers to shape for that part.

By making another small plastic template I am able to ensure that I mark the spacers symetrically, and having done this I grind them to shape whilst still attached to the piece of MDF by the indexing pins.

http://img19.imageshack.us/img19/2406/1000086md5.th.jpg (http://img19.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000086md5.jpg)
http://img19.imageshack.us/img19/3923/1000087yz3.th.jpg (http://img19.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000087yz3.jpg)

I test fit the spacers to the guard, then having seperated them again I work on the guard with files and wet-n-dry to shape the area which will be against the forefinger when the knife is in the hand.

http://img19.imageshack.us/img19/9093/1000088kc4.th.jpg (http://img19.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000088kc4.jpg)
http://img19.imageshack.us/img19/4641/1000092ke0.th.jpg (http://img19.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000092ke0.jpg)

Then I test fit the spacers and guard together onto the tang of the blade.

http://img19.imageshack.us/img19/9862/1000094cj2.th.jpg (http://img19.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000094cj2.jpg)

I use a strap cutter to make a strip of leather a little wider than I shall want the handle to be thick, and cut rectangles from this ready to form the handle from.
Measuring the width of the tang allows me to make each piece fit the tang closely. I do this by making two holes with an adjustable leather punch, then taking out the centre piece with a nicely sharpened chisel and a push-cut through between the two holes.
As I make them, I slip the leather pieces onto the tang and measure the next piece of tang to be covered.

http://img19.imageshack.us/img19/2703/1000097qo8.th.jpg (http://img19.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000097qo8.jpg)

Once I have enough leather pieces made to cover the tang, with a little extra left over to allow for the leather to compress, I roughly shape the stacked leather with a few push-cuts with my 'shop knife (Funnily enough, it's the only scandi grind knife I ever seem to use for anything)

http://img19.imageshack.us/img19/2358/1000100lx1.th.jpg (http://img19.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000100lx1.jpg)
http://img19.imageshack.us/img19/609/1000103dr7.th.jpg (http://img19.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000103dr7.jpg)

At this stage my mind turned to making and attaching the butt cap, and I realised that I had made a mistake earlier on if I was going to do things the way I wanted to. I planned on making the brass butt cap a tight fit by rivet-fitting it onto a brass extension on the end of the tang. The holes in the tang are 6mm diameter, the brass extension is to be made from some 3/8" brass rod I have with a slot milled in it. Milling the slot would not leave enough brass on each side to allow for a 6mm hole to be drilled through them for a 6mm rivet. I would need to use no more than about 4mm brass as the rivets and drilling the tang in it's present state to accept a couple of 4mm rivets was out of the question. I therefore needed to re-anneal the bottom of the tang to allow me to drill it for these rivets, but I needed to do so without ruining the heat treat of the blade.
I did this by trapping the blade between two old guillotine blades wired together and using them to suspend the blade in a bucket of water with the tang sticking up. I then heated the end of the tang to cherry red with a blowtorch and cooled it slowly by removing the flame very gradually until all the redness had gone from the steel. I then left it to cool on it's own for a while.

http://img19.imageshack.us/img19/9698/1000104mi4.th.jpg (http://img19.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000104mi4.jpg)

I was then able to drill a couple of 4mm holes through the tang ready to accept rivets.

http://img19.imageshack.us/img19/8292/1000105os2.th.jpg (http://img19.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000105os2.jpg)

06-02-09, 02:12 AM
I found that a slight sanding would bring the 3/8" rod down to fit a 9.5mm hole nicely. I drilled a piece of brass which will become the butt cap with a 9.5mm hole, which I then drilled to 10.5mm for half the thickness of the brass. This 10.5mm section will allow for the brass extension to swell as I rivet it to form a tight and permanent fit between the two pieces.
I set a piece of the 3/8" rod in the vice on my micro-mill and milled a 4mm slot along a little over half it's length. (I had to put the rest of the brass rod in the other side of the vice so the jaws would stay parralel and grip the small piece I was working on)

http://img19.imageshack.us/img19/6792/1000106mw1.th.jpg (http://img19.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000106mw1.jpg)

I could then grip the tang in the vice on my drill press bewteen two pieces of wood (to deform and grip the tapering tang) I aligned the 4mm drill with the hole and slid the brass extension over the tang so I could drill through it, keeping the holes aligned.

http://img19.imageshack.us/img19/8807/1000107ai9.th.jpg (http://img19.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000107ai9.jpg)

I could then test fit the extension to the tang by securing it with a couple of small sections of 4mm diameter brass.

http://img19.imageshack.us/img19/8366/1000108nz5.th.jpg (http://img19.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000108nz5.jpg)

After removing the extension piece for minute I slid as many of the leather sections onto the tang as would fit before the stack reached the point where the end of the extension would come to, then re-fitted the extension and quickly ground off the ends of the temporary 4mm pins. Next, I enlarged the slot in the remaining pieces of leather with my adjustable punch to allow them to fit over both the tang and the brass extension.

http://img19.imageshack.us/img19/6575/1000109xa9.th.jpg (http://img19.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000109xa9.jpg)
http://img19.imageshack.us/img19/3672/1000110mk3.th.jpg (http://img19.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000110mk3.jpg)

Next I cut some pieces of the thin brass and vulcanised fibre like I used for the spacers at the guard, and clamped them to the butt cap before drilling them to 9.5mm to match the hole in the butt cap, and to 3mm for a couple of indexing pins. The 3mm holes run through the spacers and into the brass of the butt cap by only 3 or 4mm. A quick run on the grinder had the spacers and butt cap all the same size and shape.

http://img19.imageshack.us/img19/3379/1000111de7.th.jpg (http://img19.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000111de7.jpg)

I was then able to test fit the butt cap and spacers on to the tang extension. A couple of taps had it fitting tightly down against the end of the tang, marking the brass to show me exactly where I needed to file a slot in the spacers to allow them to slide over the end of the tang.

http://img19.imageshack.us/img19/4347/1000112mr8.th.jpg (http://img19.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000112mr8.jpg)

06-02-09, 02:16 AM
Well guys, that's another afternoon's playing in th workshop catalogued :D . I think it's going pretty well apart from the messing around with having to anneal the tang to drill it.

I really would value any further comments, good or bad.....

06-02-09, 03:52 AM
That's an excellent tutorial. Alot of great tips , tricks, and techniques.

Thank you.

Arno GŁnther
06-02-09, 02:08 PM
Great tutorial!

Thanks for the tips & pics



06-02-09, 02:16 PM
Excellent..Congratulations for shearing..

Mike Blue
06-02-09, 04:44 PM
Good job Ian.

I have a question that goes almost all the way back to the beginning. The various teachers of grinding discuss a slight angle change so that the grit scratches avoid paralleling each other. Your idea of a stable jig is a good one. Do you shim a little on the bottom between grits to get that angle change?

06-02-09, 08:17 PM
Good job Ian.

I have a question that goes almost all the way back to the beginning. The various teachers of grinding discuss a slight angle change so that the grit scratches avoid paralleling each other. Your idea of a stable jig is a good one. Do you shim a little on the bottom between grits to get that angle change?

It's not become a problem to be honest Mike. I've found that even with a jig set-up as stable as mine is it's still possible to influence the angle a tiny bit by altering the pressure applied to it slightly. (Not anywhere near enough to tilt the block, but enough to change the scratch pattern a tad) I think that I might be doing this without realising it a lot of the time. I check the grind after every pass across the belt and perhaps subconciously alter the way I'm applying pressure if I see that the scratches are deeper at the top or bottom of the bevel (?)
I've found that I can now grind freehand and do away with the jig sometimes, but my own results are never quite as even as when I use the jig block. When I want it to be right first time I fix the blank to the block and KNOW the angles will match. I'm sort of working with a "If it ain't broke, Don't fix it" way of thinking here.
When it comes to tidying the blade up after H/T I work freehand as the bevels are so pronounced by then that even a numpty like me can 'feel' them in to the belt evenly.

One point I didn't mention in that section of the 'make' is that I swing the block slightly as I grind the tip, pulling the handle end of the block away from the platen (away from the grinder and towards myself) to get an even grind down to the point of the blade.

06-02-09, 08:40 PM
Numpty that I am, I've just realised that perhaps you don't mean the angle between the blade and the platen, but rather the angle between the blade and the horizontal ?? That would avoid parallelling the grinding scratches, but again, I've not found it to be a problem in all honesty. I tend to slow the belt and lighten my touch towards the last couple of passes with any particular grit size anyway, so perhaps this is helping to avoid any deeper scratches that might show up as problems on the next, finer grit ?

Mike Blue
07-02-09, 12:12 AM
The horizontal angle is what I was wondering about. Only because of the heartbreak of finding a 60 grit scratch that got buried in a blade I thought was nearly finished. :C :yuck:

It's a wonderful "how I do it." What's next in the series?

07-02-09, 12:49 AM
The horizontal angle is what I was wondering about. Only because of the heartbreak of finding a 60 grit scratch that got buried in a blade I thought was nearly finished. :C :yuck:

Thats got to be a real PITA Mike. I guess I'm lucky that I haven't had it happen.... yet ;)

It's a wonderful "how I do it." What's next in the series?

Cripes :O :surrender: You don't expect a series of these do you ? I'm having to make half of this one up as I go along as it is :lol:
Anyway, I've got to find a bit of 'shop time' to get this one finished and a sheath made for it before I can think about any other cutty-choppy-slicy makings.

I actually feel far better qualified to make a "You don't want to do it like this" tutorial than I do for a "This is the second in the series" thread :lol:

Mike Blue
07-02-09, 01:45 AM
I'd vote for exactly that sort of series. What I need to know is how to fix mistakes when they're made, not how to do it right. Okay, well maybe avoid mistakes first, but once committed I'll need to know how to fix mistakes. Getting it right first time is a happy accident.

Are you going to peen over the brass tang extension or lock it down somehow other?

07-02-09, 02:03 AM
Are you going to peen over the brass tang extension or lock it down somehow other?

Thats the plan ;) ...

" I found that a slight sanding would bring the 3/8" rod down to fit a 9.5mm hole nicely. I drilled a piece of brass which will become the butt cap with a 9.5mm hole, which I then drilled to 10.5mm for half the thickness of the brass. This 10.5mm section will allow for the brass extension to swell as I rivet it to form a tight and permanent fit between the two pieces. "

Should have used the correct word, "peen" intead of "rivet" I guess, especially as I'm attaching it to the tang with brass rivets, iy would have saved any confusion.

Mike Blue
07-02-09, 03:00 AM
Should be good'n tight with a little squeeze on the leather stack. Will you glue between those or go for just a tight fit?

Have you ever had a chance to work up a handle with birch bark in the same fashion?

07-02-09, 04:50 AM
I've never tried the birch bark thing, but I've heard tell that the birches don't grow big enough in the UK to produce suitably thick bark. I have no idea if thats right though.

As for the build on this one... can you bear to wait for next weeks thrilling episode of Herge's Adventures of Tin-Ti... (Sorry got carried away there.)

I'll tell you in the next bit ;)

07-02-09, 06:21 AM
Interesting thread.

Kind regards,


Mike Blue
07-02-09, 03:23 PM
All the birch I can get in my neck of the woods is thick stuff, nearly 4 mm. All the stuff I've seen in a Finnish shop was thin, maybe 1mm. I think the thinner stuff is easier to compress and have it look flat/parallel in the handle. All the thick stuff, to get it to look right, I've tried steam, sanding, heavy weights etc. For just being bark the stuff is mighty durable when it comes to resisting efforts to make it go somewhere.

13-02-09, 03:06 AM
More work done on my few days off work this week...:)

Having put slots in the spacers so they would fit over the end of the tang, I could drive the butt cap assembly that little bit further down to the point where it wedged tightly on the section of the tang extension that I thinned slightly earlier on. The brass butt cap wedged onto the extension where it became slightly thicker, allowing me to leave it in this state for a few days with the leather sections under compression. This makes the leather less springy and more solid as a handle when I compress it even more later.

After a few days I strip the butt cap off and can see where the end of the tang has hit it, leaving a couple of marks.

http://img23.imageshack.us/img23/8561/1000115bx9.th.jpg (http://img23.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000115bx9.jpg)

To make the brass butt cap fit over the end of the tang (thereby preventing any chance of it rotating later) I quickly mill out a couple of sections where the marks were.

http://img23.imageshack.us/img23/4117/1000116cd1.th.jpg (http://img23.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000116cd1.jpg)

I then reassembled the butt cap and spacers with the indexing pins and started to grind it all roughly to shape.

http://img23.imageshack.us/img23/3010/1000117qw4.th.jpg (http://img23.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000117qw4.jpg)

I lay all the parts of the handle out, in order, so they will all come easily to hand once the job of putting them all back together again starts.

http://img23.imageshack.us/img23/6157/1000118wi9.th.jpg (http://img23.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000118wi9.jpg)

I cut a couple of new brass pins for the tang extension as I ground the original ones flush to make dry fitting the handle possible. The new pins are long enough to extend either side of the extension so I can peen them over like rivets to permanently attach the extension to the tang.
Then, with the blade protected by tape over tissue paper I clamp it, tang up, in the vice and fit the guard and spacers. I use a a little smear of J-B Weld on the tang when I do this to ensure that the guard -to-tang fit is as watertight as I can make it. A few solid taps with a hammer and my slotted piece of wood ensure that the guard is seated fully down into position before I continue with the rest of the handle. I made sure that my tape did not go all the way up to the guard so that I can wipe away any of the J-B Weld that was pushed down the tang in front of the guard as I fitted it. I find a tissue and Q-tips wetted with methalated spirits does this well.

http://img16.imageshack.us/img16/6278/1000119lc4.th.jpg (http://img16.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000119lc4.jpg)

Applying epoxy resin to both faces of the first piece, then just the the top face of each other piece of leather as I go, I slide them onto the tang until I reach the point where the next piece will be one of those which has a larger central hole to fit around the tang extension.

http://img16.imageshack.us/img16/1343/1000120el0.th.jpg (http://img16.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000120el0.jpg)

Now, working as quickly as I can so the resin doesn't cure before I'm done, I slide on the tang extension and slide the new pins through it and the tang. I then peen over the ends of the pins to rivet the extension to the tang.

http://img16.imageshack.us/img16/6079/1000121lf5.th.jpg (http://img16.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000121lf5.jpg)

Then it's more gluing with epoxy and stacking as I add the final pieces of leather to the handle before fitting the butt cap and spacers.

http://img16.imageshack.us/img16/6819/1000122cq1.th.jpg (http://img16.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000122cq1.jpg)

I slip the butt cap and spacers onto the tang extension and drive it down with a piece of wood with a hole in it (to fit over the extension) and a good few solid taps with a hammer. This wedges the butt cap assembly down onto the section of the extension where it thickens, locking it in place solidly enough for me to begin peening over the exposed end of the extension.

http://img16.imageshack.us/img16/8933/1000123pn2.th.jpg (http://img16.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000123pn2.jpg)

Which I do as quicly as I can so that it compresses everthing before the epoxy resin starts to stiffen as it sets. Peening the end of the extension this way makes it swell to fill the 10.5mm section of the hole through the butt cap, locking it in place. As both the butt cap and the extension are brass the join between the two should be almost invisible when I finish grinding it all smooth.

http://img16.imageshack.us/img16/3430/1000124vb8.th.jpg (http://img16.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000124vb8.jpg)

13-02-09, 03:06 AM
The next day, having left the knife overnight for the epoxy resin to harden fully I can begin to grind the handle to shape. I use the grinder for this, initially with a fairly well worn 60 grit belt, and I keep the work on the small area of 'slack' belt between the wheel on the platen arm and the platen itself.

http://img16.imageshack.us/img16/544/1000128bk8.th.jpg (http://img16.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000128bk8.jpg)

Then, using the edge of the belt I carefully start to work on the spacers and the inner edge of the butt cap, rounding and smoothing them to match the contours of the leather.

http://img16.imageshack.us/img16/337/1000129zv6.th.jpg (http://img16.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000129zv6.jpg)

Then I can start to shape the brass butt cap. I have to work slowly, grinding gently and cooling often to avoid heating the brass enough for it to scorch the spacers and first section of the leather.

http://img16.imageshack.us/img16/9379/1000130vs0.th.jpg (http://img16.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000130vs0.jpg)

Working slowly I then shape the butt cap and leather handle with progressively finer belts until I finish with the grinder by taking the entire handle down to a 600 grit finish.

http://img16.imageshack.us/img16/7814/1000133ds9.th.jpg (http://img16.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000133ds9.jpg)
http://img16.imageshack.us/img16/8553/1000135bl0.th.jpg (http://img16.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000135bl0.jpg)

With the blade protected again with tape over tissue, I can hold the knife in the vice or clamp it with the blade flat to a block of wood held in the vice whilst I sand the handle with 400 grit wet-n-dry strips, working in a 'shoe-shine' fashion. Once I have a fresh 400 grit finish all over the handle and butt cap, I move up to 800 grit. It's at this stage that I think the true beauty of the stacked leather handle starts to become really evident.

http://img16.imageshack.us/img16/8972/1000136mj5.th.jpg (http://img16.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000136mj5.jpg)

Then I go all over the whole handle with 1200 grit wet-n-dry until I have an even finish over it all. The leather is starting to take on a nice shine by now.

http://img16.imageshack.us/img16/7096/1000137rc3.th.jpg (http://img16.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000137rc3.jpg)

A quick wipe with a little leather balm and a hard 'shoe-shine' style buffing with a cloth brings the leather up to a lovely finish and helps protect it from staining.

http://img16.imageshack.us/img16/3069/1000140ls3.th.jpg (http://img16.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000140ls3.jpg)

13-02-09, 03:40 AM
that looks awesome! :biggthump

13-02-09, 10:38 PM
Thanks Jared. Hopefully we'll see each other at the BLADE show and I'll be able to show you my competition knife which I ground the same way. :)

13-02-09, 10:56 PM
Excellent work Ian, very impressive and a beautiful knife too.

14-02-09, 07:19 PM
hi m8 i would like to thank you for posting the step by step insite into the project as a beginer this sort of tutorial is worth it weight in gold great job and super knife :banana:

15-02-09, 12:58 AM
Thanks fellas :) The brasswork on the knife still needs a bit of a polish up,as it's only at a 1200 grit finish at the moment, and of course, I'm still yet to put an edge on it. It needs a "house" to live in too ;) , so I'll have to get my leatherwork box out as well.
Hopefully I can get the whole project finished on my next set of days off work.

16-02-09, 11:05 PM
I've been playing in my 'shop again :D No pictures yet I'm afraid (need to be at a different PC to load those in a few days time) but the brasswork has buffed up a treat, and the knife now has a rather scary convexed edge on it ;) . It now has a sheath to live in too :D

16-02-09, 11:14 PM
Top tutorial! Very interesting and a very nice knife to boot!

21-02-09, 12:39 AM
Now, as promised, to finish the job off. I made a stacked leather sheath for the knife from the same leather as the handle was made from and hand-stitched it.

http://img8.imageshack.us/img8/8614/1000142xi0.th.jpg (http://img8.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000142xi0.jpg)

A quick buffing saw the brasswork transformed from the matt finish of the 1200 grit wet-n-dry to a nice shine.

http://img8.imageshack.us/img8/8471/1000143ap6.th.jpg (http://img8.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000143ap6.jpg)

I gave the knife a few passes over a slow speed, fine belt to start the edge, then finished off with my DMT hones and a loaded leather strop to put a neat convexed secondary bevel on it. This, of course had to be 'tested' ;)

http://img8.imageshack.us/img8/1874/1000145gh0.th.jpg (http://img8.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000145gh0.jpg)

Happy that the knife was now finished, I got out my "Personaliser" electronic etcher and a photo-resist stencil of my name, and etched the blade with my mark.
Despite several previous test runs with the etcher I am still yet to get the process completely right. As the majority of mistakes are due to me over-doing it, I erred on the side of caution on this blade and as a result the etch is not as uniform or as bold as I would have liked. Still, it's near enough for government work, as they say.

http://img8.imageshack.us/img8/7126/1000151go1.th.jpg (http://img8.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000151go1.jpg)

All done and dusted it was time to put my new toy 'to bed' in it's nice new home. :)

http://img8.imageshack.us/img8/5140/1000148dh7.th.jpg (http://img8.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000148dh7.jpg)

So there we are. From a piece of Ground Flat Stock to the finished article. perhaps not the simplest of builds, and probably not the best or most efficient way of going about it, but I hope you'll agree that the end result made the effort worthwhile, and I hope you can either use an idea or two from this little "How to" or make a suggestion or two as to how I could make things better next time.


21-02-09, 09:21 AM
Lovely knife and a very impressive tutorial. Truly a great instructon from start to finish with every step covered in both word and picture.
This should be made a sticky thread or copied into the tutorial section, please.
Super job!

21-02-09, 10:26 PM
Lovely knife and a very impressive tutorial. Truly a great instructon from start to finish with every step covered in both word and picture.
This should be made a sticky thread or copied into the tutorial section, please.
Super job!

Thank you for the kind words Torsten. Looks like your words have been heeded as this thread now resides in the Tutorials section and not in Members Projects where it started out. Thank you guys ! :D