Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Getting My Grind On... Canadian Style

So it was a good day. I got the profiling all done up on the belt knife today and decided to put a real dent in the grind. It's coming along very well. Here's a pic with bevel in full swing and the original design. I am thinking the handle is still a bit on the heavy side. I'll thin it up some more.

This one is coming together well. For a prototype, I am very happy. Here's the blade tied into the jig. Just taking a brake from the filing. It's all good with this.

I've got a friend who is just knocking the door down to see what's up with heat treating steel and want to do this one on Friday night. I'm not going to make it but I will still try. Might be fun to get one done, first try and on time.... ;-) More as I get to it.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Belt Knife #2 WIP - The Son of Futility

With my 3 or 4 hours of play time today I decided to make the metal that didn't look like a belt knife go away on that bit of bar stock I had outlined. It turned out pretty much like this picture. Talk about you basic pile of metal shavings... man. My bench grinder was hot as fire when I was done. I used the belt sander to smooth the profile and trimmed a bit more here and there.

The result fits my hand very well. I have some Amboyna picked out and some brass pins. I think this will come out nicely. I've started the beveling with the file jig and the file. It's come along very well. More when I have it. Time to watch Entourage.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Let's Make Something with it but what to make.... I know! Belt Knife!

There's this thing I do that is not at all healthy where I tend to get things stuck in my head and never let them go until I have worked them out and then I never come back to them. Golf, for example, was like this for me. Now it seems a particular knife, made a particular way has happened into that zone... gonna be a long fall and winter I think.

Anyhow, if you'll recall from previous posts I built this jig because I was tired of loosing hours of profile work in seconds on the grinder beveling an edge that I could do other ways but wanted to do the grinder way. I destroyed the last belt knife I profiled in about 3 minutes. After that, no more grinders for beveling for me.

This week, post jig build, I decided to use a bit of bar stock and test my results with the new setup / practice with it a bit and see how it went. Thus far, the results are very nice indeed. Here's the mock up bush blade hanging out the vice with the guide and file engaged. Make not mistake, this is slow going but I have to tell you the speed with which things go wrong makes it worth it in my book. I was able to see the beginnings of and correct for each of the inconsistencies I found common in file beveling.... and the blade it still viable. Too cool....

So tonight, after I finished goofing about and trying things on the test blade, what did I do? I pulled another nine inches of 1 1/2" O-1 down and drew out the new pattern for the belt knife. I wonder what I will do tomorrow... ;-)

I am looking forward to this taking a while and being much more... soulful. I will definitely be in this one when it is done. I can't wait. There's a belt knife WIP- Redux thread coming tomorrow and I need some sleep. Cheers until we meet again.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Jig is Born

Based on the experiences listed in the previous post I have decided, at least for now, to abandon the power grinder for creating blade bevels. My success ratio with blades ground to blade that were ground the way I want is shockingly low and I have had enough. Time to do better.

For a while now I have been a regular reader of the knife forum http://www.britishblades.com/. It's a fantastic site and it was there that I discovered two concepts that have really taken hold in my head: Bushcraft and Bush Knives. As an extension of that then is the idea of the Scandi grind.

A while back I had the good fortune to have a couple of my favorite knife makes answer a few questions for me about this type of knife and how they make them. The key thing I gathered from the answers I got was that the grind could be achieved with only a file and it could be done with startling consistency and razor-sharp lines.

To that end I did some research and decided to begin the prototyping and development of a jig to allow me to use the file to bevel blades. Have a look at the pic above. It's my first go at it. The vice on the 2 * 6 holds the knife while the file and its guide have and angel set between the edge to be bevelled and the top bit of bar stock. The bar stock on the top is attached via two threaded rods to the bottom bar which is, in turn, attached with 3, 1/4 inch bolts. It's simple and, I hope, effective. I'll be getting my ideas for the file guide together shortly and giving this a go. I have a sort of generic knife together on paper and will cut it out over the next day or so. I am so stoked to try it.

Stay tuned. More to come.... and hopefully better knives.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Canadian Belt Knife WIP Post #2 - Grinding Disaster and the Process Retooling

So I blew it today... Big time. The grind on that belt knife wet right in the toilet. In less than 10 minutes I converted it from a great blank to the next member of my scrap pile. It's just so frustrating. Sometimes I can hit it right on, sometimes it's just crap. Today it was numero dos.

While I have this crazy respect for the guys who grind on the big power grinders and produce these broad, sweeping hollow grinds on blades, I am just not one of those guys. I am looking to make some really neatly done, scandi ground full tang knives. So today I made the call. I roughed out a really quick and dirty blade on the bench, dressed the edge up and bolted it into a vice. I took my double cut flat file and started beveling the edge. It just worked. I began to see why those guys who tell me they are looking for perfection (DWW you know who you are) use this method most of the time.

So, the rest of the day was about setting up a file beveling jig to use for making the knives I want. I am about half way done. I'll show pics when it's completed. I have a shopping list for Lowe's tomorrow. We'll see where we get. It's nice to be getting some time back to myself even if only for a day. We'll see where we get to. Hopefully I'll even get to grind another blank to test the jig... :o)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Canadian Belt Knife WIP Post #1 - My Take on a classic

Writing is therapeutic sometimes. Just yesterday I was writing about my itch to do a double knife set around a Nessmuk and Canadian Belt Knife style thing. Last night I decided to go at it a bit differently. Check out the sketch...
That, my friends is a knife large enough to be a bushcrafter made in the pattern of the Canadian Belt Knife... only bigger. It took me the better part of the night last night to get the bits down on paper the way I wanted and then, the transition to the steel was less fun than say... dental work. This thing has more curves than a 40's era Cadillac. I finally had to cut it out and trace around it. (NOTE: Just in case it is not painfully obvious I will state it for the record. I am straight up, no questions asked, using someone else's concept for this. I translated it to a 9 1/2" knife with finger grooves. Not really mine so much as my take on it. )

I spent most of the day looking after the daughter while the wife slept off the last of whatever cold is eating away at her right now but once we got through dinner, it was game on. I grabbed the bit of 3/32 O-1 I had the pattern scrawled on and headed for the bench. After about an hour and a half of grinding, checking, shaping, grinding, cooling, grinding, cursing, grinding some more, and finally running the edge with the belt sander I had what I was after more or less.

The picture is crappy. The tray on the belt sander hides the contours of the handle... bad idea. Anyhow I've decided to use the amboyna there and it's matching sibling for scales. 6 or 8, 1/16th " pins and a thong hole and I think we'll be there. Maybe mosaic pin, maybe not... the jury is out. Now I need a smaller knife to go with it and I may (just may) try to get a hamon on this one. Lots of work yet. We'll see where we get to.

Next up: The Grind. What kind and how to do it....

Friday, September 18, 2009

Opening Day

Welcome to my knife blog. I know some of you are looking at this and saying, "Hmmm? Uh, where's the other stuff?" but the truth is I was going at it all wrong. I've decided what I want to do with this instead is document, more for me than for anyone else, the progression through my learning about this process.

Along the way we can also discuss the folks I have encountered, in person or otherwise, that I find interesting for one reason or another and the work that they do. To date there are a bunch.

So it seems like the place to start here is at the beginning. To see this all from the start you probably need to go here. That's a link to my other site where I talk about guns and hunting a lot and more recently, the knife making I have done / am doing. I've decided to split those topics up. With any luck maybe it will be more interesting.

So currently, on the bench, I have three projects. Have a look here... (It's a poorly lighted picture I know but hey... It shows them )

The one out in front is my current, favorite project. It's a Christmas present for a friend. The profile is a combination of things I have seen / made and liked a lot. The handle is a bit thicker than anything I have made but as a whole, she's a beaut. I am thinking I will add some file work to it and finish the sanding soon. I have all of the parts for it (for a change) and should be able to knock it out. Sheath making for it will be fun because it will be easy to hold in the leather. The big holes are 3/8" to accommodate the mosaic pin I bought for it. I'll show close ups when I am done. The scale color is called copper. It's a patina green and really nice looking I think.

The one leaning on the belt is ready to go to heat treat with just a bit more sanding. I have the remaining parts on order and the scales are black ash burl. It will be very fun to make. It's for a difficult customer who had a problem with the steel in his blade I made for him and would not return the knife so I could remake it. I had to rough it out free hand from a pattern and I will send it when I am done. You know who you are.... ;-)

The last one there, and the hard one to see, is an itty bitty wharnclife I just started today. It needs a lot of work and I am not sure I like it anyway. We'll see as it progresses. It's a back burner thing for me.

As far as upcoming projects go I really only have one in mind. I want to make a two knife set with a double holster. I will pattern the small one around the style of the Canadian Belt Knife. The other will be something of a full sized Nessmuk bushcrafter. I am working on sketches now, but they are all ugly. Malformed ideas and so on. I'll have more on this down the line. Anyhow, here's to a new start. Let's see where we end up.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hobby Conflict and the 36 Hour Day

I think that it is not right that hobbies should overlap and require you to make choices. Just isn't. Days should be lengthened. I'm not saying I wouldn't work my 8 or 10 each day to do my part. Things should just be easier some times.

Last week on Wednesday I got out to hunt. I shot. Some fell. Some ran. Woods, bugs, guns... now that that's all covered, let's talk about something more fun this week.

Here's the new forge setup.

It took me a while to work up the nervier to put it together and test it. The major components are:

  • 2 coffee cans (big uns)
  • 2 square feet of Koa Wool cut 1 by 2 on order
  • 7 or 8 leftover pavers from my patio project last summer to lift it up.
  • 5 firebrick ( 1 * 4 * 8 as best I can tell)
  • 2 of those bernzomatic instant on, swirl tip torches.

It gets hot. Darned hot. I've got two blades ready to normalize and I can't wait to try it out for real. The blade in this shot is a full weight scrap with a grind that would always cut in a circle counter clockwise. Good and crooked. Anyhow, it got hot fast and held it. Darned good stuff that Koa wool. Anyhow, nothing much else to post this week. I am off to the woods in the afternoon tomorrow... if I can stop working blades. :o)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Turned Around and Greatful - Big up to Bear and his show.

A few days ago it was time to go hunting again. My level of psyched could be compared to mania or some other unhealthy obsession... time to get back to the woods. Vacation was set up, lodging arrangements made, rifles cleaned and tested, clothes check, car fueled.... Ah yeah. Time to roll. I packed. I went. Tree rats beware...

One of my favorite shows in all of television is Man - VS - Wild. I get a charge out of watching Bear Grylls. Can't help it. It's a double-edged thing for me. There's this combination of listening and distilling out the stuff that really will help me if I need it... and then there's the 'jackass factor'. (For those of you who don't know what the TV show jackass is, look it up. It's basically four guys abusing themselves for your entertainment for no reason...) Anyhow, seeing Bear eat raw yak eyes or three day dead sheep meat, boiled in volcanic springs is just fun to see. You never can tell. Someday I may be in Iceland and wandering for days on the open terrain.

Anyhow, I digress. About 18 months ago I was watching an episode and I heard Bear say, "You have to be able to improvise. Most people get lost with nothing at all and you have to make due." and I thought it made sense to a small set of things together in my hunting pack that would aid things greatly if they ever went south on my. I have a 12 by 9 Cabellas water proof bag in my pack now. In it I have headband flashlight, extra batteries, a compass, a firesteel with striker, and a space blanket. I've also taken to packing an MRE snack and one entree.

Last October, I hunted around a ridge I normally just climb and had a heck of a day in some great, older growth timber. (See this post.) I set out on the first day out to get back there with the leaves on and see how the squirrels were. Two things I did not count on:
  1. In October most of the undergrowth is thinned out and not so much on Sept 1...
  2. There was a pile of rain this year and some things greened up and grew like crazy.

Anyhow, to make a longer than I expected story shorter, I managed to get turned around and got myself lost. Now, one of the things I know about Tranquility is that it's tough to walk more than 5 miles without hitting a road. What I hadn't considered is that that distance gets significantly longer if you don't know you are sort of walking in circles. ;0)

It took me the better part of an hour to realize I was not sure where I was. Even in a place you know is relatively surrounded by civilization, this is not a pleasant feeling. And then I remembered... 'Keep your head, get your bearings, and make a plan.' I dragged out my compass, got a heading and struck out for the big road I knew was the the east.

After slogging it through a field or two full of grass as tall as my head and briars that added 10 or 15 lbs to my pack weight just by clinging to it, I found the road. It only took about 2 1/2 extra hours and I was no worse for wear.

It's an experience like nothing I have ever had. I feel like I owe Bear a thanks if nothing else for getting the idea in my head and maybe, just maybe, making it seem like fun enough to watch. Big up to Bear for a good idea and sharing it.

As always, the welcoming committee was glad to see me....

Back out this week. We'll try to remember where we are...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

(NOTE: I have been out of it for a while it seems. Things have been too much and too fast and reading has really taken a back seat for a while. Nothing to be proud of... just the way it is. Anyhow, we return...)

If you've been reading along up to this point you may have noticed that I have this thing for guns and knives and all stories related to them if they are well written. Recent events in the world I call life have left me looking for a book with a far less serious take on things. Something kind of dark, seriously smart, and very funny... That's what I need. In this book you get all of that.

Holidays on Ice is one of the better reads I have ever had. Perhaps the single largest problem I have with it as that, in places, I have stopped and laughed so hard as to wake up the Mrs and to loose my place and have to look it up again. As yet another collection of short stories, I have found this to be one of the more worth while reads I have come across. So, to the ratings then:

Readability - 5 of 5 - I would hate to think I would knock off points here just because milk squirted out of my nose while reading it. Seriously well written.
Editing - 5 of 5 - Not really an issue with this book or something I even paid that much attention to. No obvious missteps that I could see.
Subject Matter - 5 of 5 - Though I really do feel for some the folks involved in the stories recounted here, I have to tell you that the humor wins out.
Did I like the story - You know, this should just be listed as an automatic 5 if I am typing it here. I loved this one. Well worth the price at HPB.

Bottom line here is if you need a good cackle and have a slightly dark streak in your sense of humor, this one is for you. Read it and enjoy and be sure you drink milk with care while reading....