Thursday, May 5, 2016


For the Canadian Knifemaker Forum KITH we are making paring or bird & trout knives. These are generally small blades around 3-1/2" and used for light duties.

I have started with a template printed on paper. The ruler is printed on the page as well for length reference.
Once the template has been glued to some thin plywood I cut these out.
Shaping the finger choil on the spindle sander.
Here's the two patterns. One has a smooth handle taper and the other (bottom one) has a finger choil.
I am able to get both knives from a piece of 2" AEB-L. The stock is 0.130" thick.
I used the porta-band to sever the twins.
To remove the bulk of the finger choil I make some slits and cut them out.
The round is made with a 1" drum on the spindle sander. Also the 1" small wheel on the belt grinder would work here.
I used a chunky 36 grit to get the profile very close to the line.

With a magnet holding the blank on the flat platen I clean it up.

This is the one blank with the choil. This is DH55.

This is the one without a choil. This is DH55a.

Both are the same length.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


I laid out the pin holes and kind of figured where the bolster lines will go. For the pins I use numbered bits which are slightly larger than the pin stock.
The pin holes are drilled.
After the pin holes, I will blap (technical word for careless random  drilling) holes to reduce the weight of the tang end.

Before going into the oven, I coat the entire knife with stop off paint.

And hang them to dry. As you can see I have several knives going into the oven today.
Once the oven is around 860°C (1580°F) I open the door and set the blade in spine down. Then allow them to sit for about 10 minute before starting the ramp up to 1060°C (1940°F).
Once at soak temperature, I let the knives sit in there for about 15 minutes and take them out one at a time and quench in oil. Sorry no pictures of these quenches. Auto timer was off somehow.
They are hard, but very stressed. I wipe them off and turn on the start up the tempering oven.
I then clamped them all together with some steel (not painted) c-clamps.
Into the tempering oven at 185° (365°F) for two hours, cool to room temperature and repeat.
This is my handy oven count-down timer. It runs for 2 hours then shuts off. It can be set to go for 1, 2, 4 or 8 hours. Of course, this is just for convenience. I never leave the shop when the ovens are on. Things can catcha-fire.

P.S. this timer is a Woods model 50030 and it's sold on for cheap.


Once out of heat treatment, I clean up the blade and start marking my bevels for grinding. I do all the grinding after heat treatment. I flatten the faces with the flat platen while holding the blade with a magnet. I've also taking a liking to "cut proof" gloves for this.
Next I work the bevels back from the edge to the spine. Trying of course to keep the plunge lines the same on both sides.
I worked the flat grind all the way to near kissing the spine. That's at 120 grit.
Now some hand sanding with water.
This is after some hand sanding and some work with the conditioning belt.

Here I am using a 400 grit aluminum oxide to put the cutting edge on. In slack belt mode I find the edge is nice and even.

The stencil goes down for etching.I am using the Poor Man's Etcher for this. With proper stainless steel electrolyte solution.

And the etch is complete.


After the blade is pretty and taped up, I cut two pieces of 1/4" thick 416 stainless steel. These are curved to be the bolster pieces.
I clamped and drilled some 1/8" holes to match the two foremost holes in the tang. Once drilled I put temporary 1/8" steel pins in so I can finish shaping them as a single unit.
Here I am checking the lines on the knife. The goal here is to do our best to make the fronts and backs line up as perfectly as possible. Not an easy task and even after a dozen bolsters things can go wrong.
The faces need to be polished. I clamp them in the vise-grips and buff with a 6" cotton wheel charged with black compound, followed by green compound.

The pieces are buffed. The reflection looks wavier than it really is.

I cut two sections of 1/8" 416 stainless steel round stock and chamfer the ends. These are polished with 220 grit sand paper so that no scale is on the surface. This is key as the scale on the outside of the pin will show itself as a black ring in the bolster.

The bolster pieces and pins are cleaned and fitted together, then taken to the press for squashing. I have made some flat bar stock with slots. These allow the pins to just squeeze when a large pressure is compressing the bolster. This process sets the bolster, but the pins are not fully compressed yet. I then remove the slotted spacers and finish the pressing.
Pins are squashed and the bolster is set for grinding.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


For the handle I have some nice maple burl from my friend Rene at A Plus Hardwoods in New Brunswick, Canada.  I trace the tang out and leave room for shaping the arc at the bolster end.

I shape the arc mostly with a disc sander and the by hand with 180 grit sandpaper and a block.
Once the scales are fitted I place a strip of 0.02" brass shim stock and black vulcanized spacer between the bolster and the scale and then clamp and drill on the drill press.
I cut the pin stock about 1/8" over size and chamfer the ends. Then I clean everything with acetone and mix up a tablespoon of West System g/flex. Put on the rubber gloves and smear every surface. This epoxy is forgiving as it takes time to set.
Once everything is in place and epoxy is everywhere, gently squeeze the scales. Even, firm pressure about 5 to 10 pounds is all that's needed. Do not squeeze all the epoxy out with excessive pressure.

Now the wait. It takes almost a whole day for the epoxy to set hard enough to grind. Be patient here. Set the knife in a warm place for at least 12 hours.