I've been doing almost nothing BUT learning to make knives for about 6 weeks now - I started with a little tutorial hand-made one and then got a grinder. I've been making mostly tanto neck knives and 4" drop point hunters, probably because I watched videos on those and am trying to get better by making a bunch of each. Each is an improvement over the last, but this stuff ain't easy and they're no where near where I want to be. But I'll keep buying steel and grinding belts and hopefully they'll get good enough for me to sell. :)
I have a little forge made out of 2 firebricks and a MAPP gas torch. It's good enough for now but eventually I'll probably send them out for HT.
Hope you like 'em! :D
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March 28, 2005, 04:14 PM
You should sell them. I'd buy if they were priced right.
March 28, 2005, 05:37 PM
I appreciate that, but a friend suggested I hang them on a wall and watch the progression as they get better and I like that. They'll get better, and what I want is to make a very strong knife that's simple and affordable. It has to last! :)
March 28, 2005, 05:50 PM
I think I might call those spear points.
I like 'em. :)
March 28, 2005, 07:25 PM
Your off to a great start :)
I make knives part time. Mostly as a hobby but I am selling them now. I'm far from an expert on either the knifemaking itself or the business end of it, but my advice is to wait a little longer to sell them.
1. I don't see a makers mark. You put alot of work into a knife. You should take credit for the work. Custom knives generally last a long time, and have a strong secondary market. The knife should be marked so that whoever ends up with it knows who made it. They might just want another :D
2. Consistency and improvement.
You should always strive for improvement. You making big gains right now. Keeping those knives will help you judge where you were, where you are, and where your going.
Added experience will let you make a more consistent product. Your in the learning stages on everything. After another dozen knives your going to step up to the grinder with more confidence, you'll have a better eye for judging temperature by color on your heat treating, and you'll know more of the tricks to make it all easier. You'll also have these early knives to test performance with and make adjustments with.
Keep makin em and use em every chance you get. You'll find there are things you like and things you don't. You'll probably find that you want to tweak your heat treating, edge geometry,blade shape, or handle shape some too. The more knives you make the more control you have over the details, and no matter how much you like the knife you just made you'll find something you'd change on the next one. Thats just the nature of the beast :D
March 28, 2005, 09:29 PM
Thanks for the advice, redneck. Any advice from knifemakers helps! I agree they are not ready to sell and I need to test them. When the hunters get better I was thinking of giving a few to guys that really hunt and see how they work and what feedback I get and adjust from there.
I have to get a stamp. Better do that before much longer!
And you're right - consistency is everything and I don't have it yet. I figure in 6 months to a year I should be making pretty good stuff. I want to do exactly what you've done - keep it a hobby and sell some too. All this steel and belts cost money! :)
March 28, 2005, 09:44 PM
Good for you.
Be sure to try to use the same steel while you perfect your technique.
Lots of good advice at Bladeforums and Knifeforums in the makers sections.
March 28, 2005, 09:53 PM
Yep, everything is O1 for now, although I just got some 5160. Can't wait to try stainless, but that'll wait for now. :)
March 28, 2005, 10:05 PM
More power to your elbow Don - only knife I made was way back, from a car leaf spring! Gave it away.
Trouble is - I have always had way too many interests so not concentrated on knives but, admire the folks who do. Keep at it! :)
March 29, 2005, 01:45 AM
You're doing great, keep going!
March 29, 2005, 02:02 AM
Thanks guys! Leaf springs are kinda tough because they're so thick and it's a mystery what kind of steel they are. I've heard that they used to be good steel but that some aren't good quality. I have a guy that going to give me a whole set off of a '57 Chevy but now I'm not sure I want them - that's ALOT of grinding! :)
March 30, 2005, 02:57 AM
Here's a couple I made yesterday and today - a little tanto with a rounded grind and a "rib tickler". On both I wanted to get the metal finish much better than what I'd been getting and it worked. The tanto I sanded by hand from 100 to 600 grit and the other I machine ground to 400 then used the buffer. Both are O1 tool steel and were heat treated in my little 2-brick forge.
Next to start making nickel-silver bolsters! :uhoh:
April 1, 2005, 10:00 AM
I volunteer to test one, sometime. :D
April 1, 2005, 11:57 AM
Nice job Don - has a ''flow'' to it. You're on a roll dude! :)
April 1, 2005, 12:18 PM
Really nice work so far :D
I hope I didn't imply that I didn't think they were good enough. I just meant that your going to get better, every knife you post is showing a lot of improvement. You'll get more consistent as you go and it will be a lot easier to market your work. You won't have such a wide range of stuff out there with your name on it.
I gotta ask though, why use 3/8" stock on such a small knife? I use 1/8" on most blades 4" or less, and if I want it beefy I might step up to 3/16". I don't go to 1/4" until I'm up there at 6" or longer.
I'm not trying to put you down, I'm just curious. Thats a whole heck of a lot more steel to grind (and those damn belts are expensive!) and its harder to make an efficient cutter with a blade that thick. Now if your wanting somethine indestructable though, I'd say you've probably done it :D
April 1, 2005, 03:23 PM
Hi redneck, and no I don't take what you say as bad criticism, but constructive! :)
Edit: I just caught that I said I used 3/8" when I used 3/16"! 3/8" - argh! :p
The steel thickness thing is something I just don't know about and when to use what so I'm trying different things. It's like steels - other than O1 and 5160 I have no clue so I'll have to try some and learn. I started with 1/8" but everyone seems to favor 3/16" so that's what I've been using mostly. I have 4 knives cut out in 1/8" now and 4 more almost cut out in 3/16". I did have to drill a bunch of holes in the 3/16" tang to lighten it up! :)
A knifemaker (Jerry Hossom) stated that people learning to grind should be doing a minimum of three knives at a time, one grit for each knife then move on to the next grit. I cut all these out to try his theory - he says grinding one at a time will never get us out of learning mode. But I am having a blast seeing each knife get much better. So I'll make these now and start adding silver bolsters.
I appreciate your comments!
April 4, 2005, 09:19 PM
The 3/16" makes a lot more sense!
Thats a good all around thickness. You can make a very efficient cutter with it if you take your grinds high enough, and you can also make a really tough knife. Leaves a little more room for error on grinding than the thin stuff too.
Keep up the good work :)
April 5, 2005, 11:49 AM
Looking very nice Valkman. I have a question for you or someone who knows. How do you pin/attach the handles on? I ask because I have always used screws and was currious about trying pins.
April 5, 2005, 08:18 PM
Thanks Razor 10 - I'm finishing up one today that's been a knife from Hell! :)
Epoxy is what holds the handles together, and the pin holes and extra holes in the tang help the epoxy get max "stickage".
It's easy to use pins - rough shape a handle by drawing an outline and cutting it out, then do the other side. Clamp one side to the blade and drill your holes off of the holes in the tang. Remove and repeat with the other side. Cut your pins (and lanyard tubing if you're using it), then mix epoxy and put it all together - you'll want the tang and handle "roughed up". Clamp tightly and let it sit, then grind the whole handle down to what you want. :)
April 6, 2005, 12:13 AM
Here's the latest one, which is the 9th one I've finished. I never thought fitting a bolster could be so hard, but it is without a mill. I wound up using the metal bandsaw to cut the groove in the nickel silver piece and then used a file to the final fit. Almost impossible to fit with no gaps that way but it's the best way I have! :)
Don - still following your progress!! That is a nice job - and love the maple, and the blade profile too.
Read your info on how you fit handles etc ... use of epoxy etc but - re the pins .... do you also peen the ends a bit too - to help keep them captive.? I am thinking I could oh so easily get ''the bug'' ... following your work - and looks too as tho you are gaining proficiency real quick. Nice.
April 6, 2005, 04:30 PM
Great to see your progress as this thread continues, I'm retiring in a couple of years and knifemaking seems like a great way to keep busy. Keep up the good work!
April 6, 2005, 11:00 PM
You can peen the ends of the pins but I haven't. I rough up the pin stock on the grinder (and the lanyard tubing too) and it should stay forever with the epoxy.
This is a fun hobby but it's hard to get it right. I don't ever expect to sell knives for $500 like some guys do but once I master some of the details I should be able to sell enough to keep me in supplies, anyway. That reminds me - have to order more stuff! :D
April 7, 2005, 07:26 PM
As epoxies and stuff improve, more and more makers are getting away from peening pins. 90% of the time I still peen them a little bit though. Its not too difficult, and that way its worry free. The epoxy is there to hold it. But should it fail, the pins hold it together just as tight, and the epoxy still serves as a seal.
Just be sure to chamfer/countersink the tops of the pin holes just a tiny bit before you glue it up. Then after epoxy has set, peen your pins down and grind them flush. Don't over do it, the end only has to be a couple thousandths bigger than the hole to hold. Go too far and you could crack the scale.
Also, nice job on that last one valkman. I haven't tried doing a gaurd yet. You should try and do some bolsters. It will give you some practice peening pins and looks real classy :D
You ought to read and post in the shoptalk section over at www.bladeforums.com some too if your not there already :D
April 7, 2005, 08:44 PM
Fitting that one guard just about killed me! Man I need a mill - a small one anyway. The one I finally fit was the fouth one overall so 3 went in the trash. It's tough to cut those slots straight and the perfect width! :)
April 7, 2005, 10:25 PM
I get enough frustration making framelocks without a mill, that I don't even bother with gaurds on fixed blades. If they all were that frustrating I might quit ;)
What might make life a little easier on your next try is to rough the slot out by drilling a line of holes. Especially if you've got a cross vice to walk the peice along in a straight line. A scribed line and center punch is enough though. Use a drill diameter just a little under the final width of your slot. Straighten the edges up, and then do that final fit.
As far as a small mill. I say that to myself all the time, but I've talked to a lot of people who have them, and what I really need is a BIG mill :D The small ones will notch a gaurd OK, but then you find yourself sayin "hey I got this mill....maybe I can do THIS..." and it chokes horribly. Then you just find yourself hating the little mill you wanted so bad.
I do a lot of fitting with a dremel and the thin cut off wheels also. Thats how I cut all the locks on my folders. Fix yourself up with a peice of 1X2 about 18" long. Clamp it horizontally in your bench vice. Then clamp your work to the end of it with a C-clamp or something. Lets you work on stuff while its flat, but gets it up off the bench top so you can get at it.
Also handy for filing stuff like that. You can hold the file vertically, which gives you a pretty good reference on being square. And you can look down on your line while your filing.
April 9, 2005, 03:57 AM
Now I see they sell pre-slotted guards - that's the way to go! Ha. Then I saw where one knifemaker uses JB Weld to put guards on so there's no nasty flux to mess things up. I like that idea!
One of these days we'll have to work a trade - fixed for a folder! :D
April 12, 2005, 08:31 PM
Redneck, last night I decided to do some testing - with a cheater bar! I took that last knife with the spalted maple handle and put it in the vise, then bent it over to see if it would go 90 degrees without breaking. It didn't - it broke off long before that and I know why. When I soldered the guard I got the knife too hot and ruined the temper, so I wasn't suprised. Then I took the last tanto blade I made and tried it - 90 degree bend with no problem. That was nice to see! It seems everything I learned about differential heat treating with refractory cement works! I have to get a better torch for soldering or go to JB Weld for installing guards. :)
April 12, 2005, 10:10 PM
Yep, thats the other trick with soldering, not screwin up what you got already :D Try to find low temp solder (I think they make some that will flow around 400 deg F now). You can wrap the blade in a wet towel, or have it submerged in water too. Just remember to watch the colors on the steel. If the color moves up onto the blade and gets darker than what you tempered too, you've gotten it too hot.
The funny thing is that when soldering you probably got the knife too hot and made it soft, which I would have thought would make the knife bend easier. Did it kink right at the gaurd and then break like it was overly soft?
You didn't quench it in anything right after soldering did you? Might have hardened it. Might have been ok if you tempered again after soldering.
I haven't gotten into the differential heat treat thing yet. I mostly make blades under 5" and don't really find it necessary for them. Nothing against it, just not something I've tried.
Bending to destruction is a great test though for several reasons. The best I think, is that you can look at the grain structure. The finer the better. With your differential heat treat you can probably see variation in size across the blade. You want to keep it from being too coarse because that affects the strength. A peice quenched from forging temp will have a very coarse grain structure compared to a peice that has been properly normalized and quenched for example. They should have about the same hardness, but the coarse peice will snap MUCH easier.
It also lets you test the flexibilty of your knives like you've done and see if you have them where you want them. Personally I like a stiff blade and would rather have one try to hold its shape, other folks want to be able to lay into one and bend it back when they're done. All personal preference and something to tweak to your liking.
April 13, 2005, 01:27 AM
It broke about 1/2" in front of the ricasso line, and that whole area was discolored. Last night I did it again - seems soldering with MAPP gas isn't a good idea! I heat treated the knife again and and used JB Weld to put the guard back on. We'll see how that works - I saw where a knifemaker actually does it that way. I'd like to just incorporate the guard into the blade but with my grinder I can't use small wheels so tight curves are tough and I wind up using the Dremel on them. I want to try fitting bolsters also. :)
April 13, 2005, 07:26 AM
Lots of folks use JB weld. Its good stuff. If I remember right it was one of the better performers in an epoxy/adhesive test a guy on BFC did also.
Bolsters are a breeze compared to a gaurd. Pretty much just cut your bolster stock to length and width then drill your holes the same way you would scales. You'll want 2 pins through them probably. Once the holes are drilled, stick some pins through both bolsters and grind the front and back to shape with them stuck together. This will ensure they're even. Be sure to polish the front edge before you attach them so you don't scratch the blade up in the process. It helps to take a sanding block and some 400 or so grit sandpaper and flatten the back edge up where they meet the scales also, makes a cleaner fit.
Don't bother grinding the top or bottom edges till they're attached to the knife. Makes it a lot easier to match them up with the tang.
Make sure your pinstock is the exact same material as your bolster or they won't blend in after you peen them.
Really not as hard as it sounds. I like to dovetail them, which is a little more tricky to get them even, but not bad at all. Main thing is you need a disc sander or belt grinder with a good adjustable work table to grind the bevels.
April 13, 2005, 11:58 AM
For some reason, I didn't respond to this thread in good fashion.
I made knives professionally till about ten years ago and I am more than willing to share any knowledge that I have regarding knifemaking.
I made and sold about 200 knives and was very influnced by the designs of Bob Loveless.
I have developed some epoxy tecniques and have refined some hilt soldering chores.
I built a belt grinder with an 8 inch contact wheel and a 132 inch belt to give myself a hollow grinding capability.
Believe me, it's much easier to make a knife by hollow grinding.
I know that I will hear some flack about this but:
If you are going to make knives to sell, I highly recommend having your blanks professionally heat-treated.
A specified hardness/ toughness is guarenteed.
If you go this route however, use a tool steel of a known alloy as your heat-treater will need this info.
Once again, I realize that I don't have ALL the answers but I'm more than willing to share the info that I have.
April 13, 2005, 03:15 PM
Redneck, thanks for the bolster advice - can't wait to try it!
Zeke, welcome to this thread! Boy I need the help! :) I am also greatly influenced by Loveless and have been doing nothing BUT hollow grinding. Most of the knives I'm making are a variation of his 4" drop point hunter which I love. I'd much rather make those than tactical knives! I also love his philosophy that his knives will last forever and they will the way he builds 'em.
I haven't made a decision yet about heat treating but sending them to someone like Bos certainly helps with people knowing the quality. I am very happy with my own HT but as I move to different steels it might be nice to just send them out and just tell Paul what they are and let him do it. I hear it's not that expensive.
Well I spent a bunch of money at Tandy leather yesterday, so now I'm a sheathmaker too. Nothing like taking on about 20 new things at once! LOL
April 15, 2005, 10:25 AM
At one time, Tandy had a well-stocked store about 10 miles from my home it was easy to keep with sheath making material.
A 7-9oz. side was about 50 bucks and I got quite a few sheaths from a side.
I really like the Loveless pouch type sheath both for it's practicality and also it's ease of manufacture.
I made templates for these and it became very easy to duplicate a particular sheath.
A good dose of neetsfoot oil applied liberally to the finished sheath completes the job.
I used mostly brass bar stock for hilt material and stainless steel pins. Also the hilts were soldered in place with stainless solder.
If you go this route however, flush the still warm ( not hot) blade hilt assembly with a strong baking soda water solution to neutralize the flux residue.
A solder joint at the hilt- blade juncture is an important part of making a "last forever" knife.
April 15, 2005, 09:02 PM
The Loveless-type sheath is exactly what I want to make! I got his book yesterday and although it's pretty much the same as the video it spells things out in much more detail. I have my first sheath cut out and molded, and now have to cut the welt, glue it up and sew it. We'll see how it turns out! I did gets neatsfoot oil, barge cement, and everythning else I should need. The sewing of that thick of leather should be fun - Loveless even suggests taking it to a shoemaker for sewing. :uhoh:
I wish I'd of started with brass guards - I didn't know it was easier to work with. My latest knife is looking great, but I went back today and did about 2 hours of hand filing and sanding to make it even better. :)
April 16, 2005, 09:39 PM
If ya gots to solder (and I haven't actually, I make pukkas--no bolster or guard), use heat sink. Its this paste that goes on around the solder work area and it SUCKS up heat. Over time, it gets hard and then you just wipe it off. It wasn't cheap, but wasn't expensive either...8$? for a tube 2x the size of a toothpaste tube? I think Jantz had it.
Nice work, BTW
April 18, 2005, 11:40 PM
You're right - Jantz does have that stuff! Thanks for the tip!
Here's the latest, a 4" drop point hunter with ironwood handles and a leather sheath. Still not happy with the blade finish, so when I get done putting coats of finish on the handle and seal it I'll do some hand sanding on it. Hopefully I'll get an etcher this month so I can put my name on these and start selling 'em - I need money for supplies! :)
Wow that is a nice handle. I don't much care for the shape of the blade but thats probably just me. What dose some thing like cost to make?
April 19, 2005, 12:39 AM
It depends how cheap you get the steel - and how many you ruin trying to make knives. :) I've got a bin with 10 or more crap knives and that's probably over $100 in steel alone. This knife probably cost $30 in materials and way more hours than I'll ever get paid back for.
That's strange that you don't like the style - the drop point hunter is probably the biggest seller of all time. I like it alot, but I also watched a video of Loveless making his version of it and that had alot to do with me making that style for now. :)
April 19, 2005, 01:15 AM
Yea I'v seen that style nife alot. That may be why I dont like them. I'm more into strange styles.
This is probably my favorit knife of all time.
April 19, 2005, 01:32 AM
Now that's stabby! :D
April 19, 2005, 02:27 AM
Yea I would love to be able to get one but of corse I'm married and only get payed 7.75 an hour :(
I do some mettle working. Mostly chain maille stuff right now.
April 19, 2005, 06:00 AM
Won't call myself a bladesmith, but I have pounded on enough hot steel that a few knives come out every now and again. My best is a drop point made of 52100 ball bearing steel, (a real big ball bearing roller) heat treated it myself in a coal forge in a mixed oil quench. The hard part was just getting the steel just hot enough to go nonmagnetic for me,(eyes not so good with colors) so that magnet on the side of my anvil isn’t just to take the ping out my hammer. Lot of fun metal working, part art, part science, all smiles.
If any one wants to learn the ins and out of forging a blade and can afford it the American Bladesmith Society has a school down in Texarkana and will teach you everything you need to know to make a good blade. Plus getting started doesn’t take much money. Books like the Wayne Goddards $50 knife shop will show you how.
I might try making a front stuffer someday, but gotta learn all that lock work and making small parts stuff first.
April 19, 2005, 07:35 AM
That last one looks real good :)
As far as hand rubbing blades, its a PITA. But you really need to have that done before you attach the handle. Your going to have a heck of a time getting a clean finish around the front of the handle/gaurd now.
Hand rub it and then wrap it in masking tape before attaching the handle. Might leave you a little clean up work on the spine to do when your finishing the handle, but its a lot easier overall.
April 19, 2005, 10:51 AM
I have this real bad habit of getting in a hurry, and I never should have sharpened it when I did. Last night I carefully went over the blade with sandpaper and in the process dulled it quite a bit so it's not so dangerous now. I thought I might have trouble getting $75 for this but a guy already agreed to buy it so that was easy. That's what I'm really hoping to do - make 'em and then sell 'em. I don't really want to take orders and get stacked up to where can't keep up but we'll see. I know they won't be at $75 for long! :)
April 19, 2005, 12:24 PM
I'd say that last knife looks about perfect for a knife this size. :)
April 19, 2005, 01:15 PM
Don - love the looks of that drop point - the last one. I am thoroughly enjoying following your development of the blades ........ being an engineer I still love metal work - always have.
I still have a part leaf spring somewhere ... hmmmm ... who knows!
April 19, 2005, 02:00 PM
Before I made this one I read that everyone grinds blades a certain way, and I had been grinding the opposite way (edge down instead of up). This made me go back and watch my knife-making videos and go through my books and really get my stuff together. This knife was totally different in that I used better techniques to make it and it's a better execution of the design than before. I'm going to make a few more of these and try and really get it down. :)
April 21, 2005, 05:43 PM
I love metalworking also as I've spent 45plus years in the toolmaking trade.
Given an offer that I could not refuse, I retired in July 2004.
I do miss the trade and mostly the folks that I dealt with on a daily basis like engineers etc.
I tried to find part time work in the field but truthfully, the shops don't want us old bastards around.
April 21, 2005, 06:09 PM
us old bastards Sadly Zeke that is so often the case and yet - not necessarily including self egotistically - folks of our years do have experience - and no one teaches that! Might be just ''lil tricks'' - things others often find out for themselves.
Oh well - let's enjoy our twilight years anyways. I have enough gun stuff to keep me occupied, let alone find time to fly R/C planes and ride the bike! :)
April 21, 2005, 10:39 PM
You are so right about enjoying our twilight years.
My oldest grandson has taken an interest in shooting,black powder stuff and knifemaking.
I hope that I have what it takes to really develop his interests especially in the knife making vein.
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