Steel Dust (and knives)

I've been exploring the question of "what looks like a knife?".

Kiridashi's fascinate me, but I have some definite ideas of what makes an EDC knife, and they are generally too small. This serves as a handy jumping-off point to explore the question. By scaling up a kiridashi to "conventional knife" size, it better suits my ideas of what's suitable for everyday.

I like this design... Something i wouldn't mind cutting a steak with...
Thanks! I find myself using the belly of the blade more than the straight edge that follows it. I never thought about it that way before, but you're right: this kind of blade shape would let the rest of the blade get some more cutting time.

The shape of the blade does affect which parts get used the most, but it's not something I've started investigating. Yet.
First batch is back from Peter's. Actually they showed up a while ago, but it's a long story, which I won't waste your time with. Instead, here's some pictures:

I've been heavily influence by James Helm (Stormcrow), and so I want to be sure to give him credit. I really liked the Turks' Head knot as a starter, and when I tried tying one on an existing knife, I realized that it made a really handy replacement for a more formal hilt.

Silver Gray paracord, about 6 feet of it. I held it up next to me, and went a ways above my head. Close enough.

The prybar was acting as a fid to pull the knot, so it gets picture time.

The prybar shows how they came back to me. Some 150 grit paper and a wire brush later, I had this amazing patina that makes the knife look like it's been around the world and back. I was going to let the vinegar have it's way with these, but I liked what I saw so much that I stopped after the wire brush.
There is no such thing as "finished". But there is "I'm stopping, because if I try to fix it, I'll screw it up worse".

If other people can't tell the difference, then I've succeeded at what I set out to do.

I wanted the patina to be more even, but it kind of goes with the "chop wood, get dirty" look that I wanted for this knife. I should probably wind some of that lanyard up into more handle wraps.

I used it to start breaking down a watermelon, and it pulls left. I figured the bevels would be a little uneven. Again, not a deal-breaker, since this is a camp knife, not a sushi knife.

Now that would be an interesting test of bevel geometry.......
I haven't posted in a while, so I thought a couple pictures would help explain why.

I haven't been idle, because truly doing nothing is impossible for me: if I'm not designing or grinding, then I'm researching something, even if it's obscure, or just plain strange.

I changed jobs back in June. Same company, but instead of being responsible for daily machinery operations, I took a job training as an electrician. The only one they had for a couple years is well past retirement age (even these days!), and he's planning his exit from the work world, some time next year.

Part of the deal was that I had to work toward an Associate's in Industrial Electrical, through an online college that my employer coordinates with.

So, I proudly present my latest achievement:

This is not even close to all of them. It's a four-year course! But I did the math, and to stay on track, I would need to do three of these books in a month. This stack is my progress since the middle of June, and with a 91% average, I'm reasonably happy with it.

Here with a box of Kleenex, as a somewhat handy height-comparison method. Also, subliminal knife content, for relevance.

Alongside my tape measure, as another way to compare.

Needless to say, this has superseded knife-making as the priority. But on the up side, it also means a pay raise, which means more raw materials. And maybe a mill. And a heat treat oven.......
Hurh. I knew I had a "show and tell" thread around here....

As I said a while back, this hobby has been on the back burner for a while, because I felt it was more important to keep up with my schoolin'.

But there's always time for a little drawing, because paper is cheap!

I've been tweaking this design for quite a while, and I'm still not sure if it's done. This is a completely stream of consciousness process for me, so I can never tell when I'm going to wind up grounded on a rock, or get tossed right over the edge of a waterfall!
Something I started a long time ago, and pulled out recently to do some work on. The resemblance to the Benchmade Fixed Griptilian is intentional. I dropped the blade a little, so the thumb ramp is less of an interference when you choke up on the blade.

I couldn't get the bevel right on one side. Sometimes, you can just tell that nothing you do is going to get you what you wanted. So instead, I grabbed a pile of 80 grit sandpaper, and washed the bevels right out!

It will probably cut better this way.

(The black marks are one of the places where I need to do some more sanding. Still lots of nasty file scratches.)
I keep having to re-find this thread!

I guess I should post in it a little more often. :oops:

I had a chunk of O1 that was 8" long, 1/4" thick, but only 1 & 1/4 wide. I had no idea what to do with it for a while, but that's okay, because these pieces eventually tell me what to do with them.

This one told me it was time to try a tapered tang.

Savor it, gents. It's never gonna happen again.
More work on the tapered tang knife. I do some rough work on my bevels with the grinder, but most of it is done with files. So there I was, smugly filing away, thinking that I had this part of it dialed in, and I didn't need to double check, or be careful.

Then, this happened.

Well, this was the result. I'm not sure what actually happened for it to turn out this way. I'm normally very careful about setting up my scribe lines, and I've never had a problem before.

When life gives me lemons, I use them to force a patina. I have an idea for fixing this, so it's back to the dungeon, for more fun. :D

Well, about 90 minutes of applied friction, and it's fixed, in a way.

I'm as much a victim of "knife culture" as anybody else, and much more so than somebody who buys a folding box cutter and calls it good. I've been conditioned to see crisp, even, symmetrical bevels as hallmarks of a professional Craftsman.

But I've also read articles which describe the "saber grind" as the best ratio of strength to cutting performance that you can get out of any knife.

Guess what? The saber grind is a convex bevel that travels all the way up to the spine. No transition lines.

So, from the point of view of cutting performance, this may be better. Now whether it's symmetrical or not, I'm afraid to try and figure out. :oops:

As for the bevel shoulders, I sanded them down to a convex transition that washes down past the ricasso. This is going to make fitting handle scales a cast-iron one, but that's still down the road.
More stuff.

This fast-looking beauty started out as a design exercise, that was never intended to leave the paper. To do it justice would require symmetrical bevels, and they would have to be just about perfect. I had no intention of torturing myself that hard.

Sometimes, it's out of my hands. I had the steel, a suggestion from somebody that I couldn't get out of me head, and the rough grind went very well. I'm taking a break for food and coffee, then I suppose I'll go back to it.

There's a blacksmith class/shop that does knife grinding near me. I did their railroad spike knife forging class at some point, and I keep thinking about going back for grinding and lost wax casting classes. But, I also have a friend who grinds knives professionally. So, that's where my fixed blades actually come from.

It seems like a really fun hobby...I just don't have the money to sink in to my own grinders at the moment.

There's a blacksmith class/shop that does knife grinding near me. I did their railroad spike knife forging class at some point, and I keep thinking about going back for grinding and lost wax casting classes. But, I also have a friend who grinds knives professionally. So, that's where my fixed blades actually come from.

It seems like a really fun hobby...I just don't have the money to sink in to my own grinders at the moment.

Forged in Fire doubled or tripled the price of anvils, but there are ways to make your own. There is a book called "Wayne Goddard's $50 Knife Shop", which I've never read, but it comes highly recommended. There is a "market" for scrap steel and old power tools now, so the prices in the book aren't accurate.

The most expensive part of stock removal knifemaking, is the steel itself.

If it seems like something you'd like to try, I would go down to your local big box home improvement store (the blue one and the orange one both have it), and get a strip of mild steel. It's too low in carbon to retain a good edge, but it's wondrous cheap, and will give you a chance to see if it's really something you're going to want to stick with. Knifemaking is a slow, frustrating hobby, even with the proper tools, and I recommend a wide streak of masochism in your personality, as a pre-requisite. If doing things the hard way, and always feeling like you need to improve your skills, are things you like, then this is your hobby! But really, that's any time you're building anything.

From personal experience, the two most important things to have are a sturdy work table, and good lighting. You don't have enough light, until the glare from the metal is blinding you.

My own setup is incredibly... simple.... There are other words for it, but this isn't the place to say them. I started with a heavy table, and a wooden clamp, like this:

The wood provides enough friction to hold your work in place.

I did most of the work with an angle grinder, some 1/4" thick metal cutting wheels (don't get the 1/8" thick ones: they explode if you're not careful!), and good ear and eye protection. Angle grinders are incredibly versatile. I did all my rough shaping with the cutting wheels, then switched to 80 grit sanding disks. I used 80 grit for further shaping, and about 95% of the bevel grinding. Then, it was down to 120 grit, and a very light touch, to buff out the scratches. After that, it was hand sanding at 220 grit, which makes for a nice satin finish. You can keep going, but I didn't see the point: knives are for cutting things, and they're going to get scratches on the blade.

People watch Instagram knifemakers with their Pheer 1 X 42 variable speed belt grinders, or their Tormach CNC mill, doing all this fancy stuff, and think that the buy-in to make knives is huge. But it doesn't have to be.

Edit: Wow, that picture is huge.
Heh. The place where I did the railroad spike class was on Forged in Fire. They won their episode or season or however that works. Found out about it at Blade. They also run "open anvil" nights that aren't too expensive, so if I get into forging, there's at least a way to start it fairly cheaply.

One of my friends does Red Meat Steel, and one of their sterile Jim Dandies is my edc fixed blade. Actually, about half of my IRL friends are carrying one or another of their knives. We're all really happy with them. He's going to do a grinding "class" for some friends at some point, so that's how I'll try it out. It seems like a good skill to have in the toolbox regardless of whether it becomes a hobby. I'll probably take that opportunity to sharpen the swedge (or have him do it) just because it seems like it'd be even better for a purely defensive blade.

A couple years ago, other than some brand associations (microtech/spyderco good, benchmade bad) and basic technique, I knew very little about knives. Since then, I've some how made friends with a handful of knife makers, blacksmiths, and Kali experts. And the first time I successfully re-did an edge with a belt sander was a revelation. It's been an interesting learning experience.

This was a pain in the ass. I've still got a lot of work to do on it, but this is strictly a weekend hobby.

I'm also about ready to see how well it flies.

I'll get it finished eventually, but I may take a long break from it, now. I started looking for alternatives to the conventional dagger grind, and found one that Bo Randall came up with.

I've been working on some sketches using this swedge. By managing the blade and swedge curvatures, I can keep equal volume of steel on each side of the center line, which will keep the knife traveling straight if it's used for it's.... intended purpose.
Both sides are beveled.

Center line looks about like the usual Mtech knife. This is a 150 grit finish. I'm going to go up to 220, and try to "harden up" (and straighten up!) the center line.