Saturday, October 19, 2013


I had such good feedback on the style of DH1, that I decided to make another, slightly smaller version. I am calling it DH1-2, probably obvious hey? This is from 5/32" piece of 154CM. I had made a few sizes of templates for DH1, so I got to work.

Cut out from a larger piece with hacksaw. I used a small drill bit and the drill press to cut the tighter curve. The more material is removed here the less time I spend at the grinder.
 Shape is close. A little larger than the template. The template is 7.875" and this knife will be a hair over 8".
 Working the bevel with the beveling jig.

Marked, punched and drilled the holes for the pins, plus three glue holes to help bind the scales.

File work

This knife I wanted to try my hand at some file work. The classic vine on the spine seemed easiest to do and fairly low risk. I marked off where the slabs will go, then marked the spine at 10mm intervals. 

Alternate with semi circles. That is, every 20mm down one side and offset them down the other side. No reason for starting one side first. It just kind of happened.

I did these semi circles with the small 1/2" drum sander on the drill press.

Then added the "leafs" with a needle file. Looks okay for a first attempt. I'll have a go tomorrow at cleaning up the curves a little.

This now needs a clean up and I'll send it off for heat treating.

Friday, October 18, 2013


As the DH1-2 is a 154CM stainless steel, the electric heat treatment oven is used to accurately maintain the temperature for Austenitie-Martensite conversion.

I prepared the blade by placing it in a stainless foil envelope which is type 304 0.002" I bought from McMaster Carr. I cut it to 6" x 11" or so.

To consume any oxygen inside the envelope, I placed some tissue paper. Each seam is folded and pressed with a roller and then in the carpenter's vise.

This is the first time I have tried this technique, but from what advice I  have been given by several noted knifemakers I think this is the way to go.

Envelope as it looked when ready to go in the oven

 I preheated the heat treatment oven to 1050°C (1922°F) as prescribed in the Crucible Industries datasheet for 154CM. The temperature dropped to 1016°C from opening the door but soon recovered. A 50 minute soak at 1050°C and it was ready to quench.
 I have two 1/2" thick copper plates (4" x 13") that I used to quench the blade. This brings to a safe handling temperature in a few minutes. I did notice the envelope was inflated, so a good seal must have been maintained.
 Once I opened the envelope by cutting the end with tin snips. This is the results.

Interesting discolouration of the steel from heat treatment.

The tempering oven was pre-heated to 200°C (400°F) and waiting for the blade to go in. Two hours for the initial tempering cycle, followed by cool down and another two hour cycle.

The blade is now ready for polishing.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


After heat treatment, the blade received a generous wet sanding at 150, then 220 then 340 grit. At this stage one can make some slight tweaks to the bevel.

I am going with some book-matched flame maple for these scales. I wetted the left side of the slabs to show off the beautiful grain patterns.

Trace the outline with the tang placed on top of the wood.
Cut the scales (individually) with the bandsaw. This is a rough cut and will be about 1/8" over sized, EXCEPT THE FRONTS. Before drilling, I shape as best I can the fronts of the scales on the belt sander. I want the front area to have the closest shape to complete as possible as I will use it for alignment of the two scales.
Clamp one scale to the tang and drill the pin holes out to 1/8" with the drill press.
Once drilled, work the shank of a 1/8" drill bit through the scale and into the tang hole. Anyone will do. This is only a temporary hold until all three pieces can be clamped together.
Align the front edges as perfectly as possible and clamp with a ratchet clamp. Now drill through the existing holes all the way through the second scale.
This is the roughed handle scales. The blade needs a little more polish before going ahead with a permanent attachment.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


For this scale glue up and pinning I am using some 1/8" mosaic pin stock from Canadian Knifemaker Supply. I did find that the holes I had drilled were a teeny bit small. My solution was a 1/8" diamond coated die grinder bit. With this I was able to work the holes a few thou and the brass pins went through without excessive force.

Getting ready for the big squeeze!

I prepin one scale and let the pins extend a little more than the thickness of the tang. This helps in aligning the two scales when the epoxy is on. I keep a mallet and piece of hardwood handy for getting the pins through. I also wipe eerything down with acetone before expoxy touches anything.

 A few clamps usually does the trick. I have some vise-grip type with leather inserts in the jaws so they aren't so hard on the wood. Ratchet clamps work great too.

 This is the "ooze" I am looking for. I will wipe the excess off before it cures. Otherwise, it's hard to sand and gums up the belts.

Basic shaping with the belt sander.
The mosaic pins are going to look good.


Once the epoxy cured I began shaping the scales. I used the belt sander with 120 grit to bring the shape very close to what I wanted. Running over that with 220 grit paper "free style" gives it some comfort.
 I burned the customer's initials into the butt of the knife with letter stamps gently heated with a propane torch.
First application of Tru-Oil. Tru-Oil is made by Birchwood Casey, a long trusted name in the gunsmith's world. Use the best possible brush you can find. I use a 1/2" fine artist's brush.

After the Tru-Oil dries. Sand with some 600 grit and re-apply. All the high spots should be gone after sanding and the finish is feeling silky.
Detail of how the epoxy fills the gaps in the vine pattern filework.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


For this sheath I started with a piece of 10 oz vegetable tanned leather and a template I made from heavier construction paper. I traced the basic shape and cut it out with snips.

From the same stock I cut the welt. Not the hole for the welt slit at the tip.
Softened with water lightly before stamping.
The basic pattern is a walk around with my "tire track" stamp.
The bordering is embellished with a camo pattern.
Customer name on the backside.

Initial dyeing -- medium brown.
Clamp in approximate shape while the dye dries.
This is where the belt loop is going to go. Enough for a 2" belt.

Run around the edge with a compass and then impression every 3/16" for drilling.
Belt loop gets glued with contact adhesive and drilled with a 1/16" bit.
Inside stitching. Melt and press the knot down with a lighter.

Edge glued and drilled. Ready to start stitching.

Double stitched. This requires a piece of sinew about 16 times the length of the sheath itself.
After a walk around with the belt sander, I rubbed some touch up dye an some Tandy "Antique Leather Finish."
After a fitting and a generous application of dubbin the shaping is done. The fit is good and the knife stays put.