2-14-05 Time for a new project. This is a commissioned knife out of Singapore. The client has designed his own knife using Auto cad. This is a very symmetrical dagger type knife. Very difficult to get right the first time so I’m going to make some extras. You can see the Auto cad drawing at the top. I cut out one of the drawings, glued it onto some 22 gauge metal and cut out the pattern for tracing. Then the pattern is used to trace onto the metal, in this case precision ground S30V taken to .155 of 5/32”. Every knife starts on paper, is transferred to a metal pattern and then traced onto the metal. I buy knife steel in 4”x24” plates.
2-14-05 Happy Valentines day. You can see that I have cut out three knife blanks in rough form. Usually I can just grind these down to the original trace lines but this knife is symmetrical and I have to work to close tolerances or the eye will pick up any flaws instantly. So now I have the it roughed out, I use blue layout fluid and scribe around the pattern and I will grind to the scribe line for an exact copy of the original drawing.
2-14-05 I’m grinding to the scribe lines here. My grinder is a KMG1 and I am using the flat platen attachment with the tool rest to get a right to the line.
2-14-05 The client has to select which wood we are going with on this one. I sent him a hi-res picture but this is a low res shot. His choices are, from left to right, red wood burl, black ash burl and spalted maple burl. He can’t go wrong picking any one of these. The red wood burl never looks good in the rough scale but as you sculpt the handle really comes alive. This particular piece of black ash burl is a gift from a fellow knife maker and I am excited about getting it on a knife. The birds eyes are very tight and will make a very detailed handle. The spalted maple burl comes out fairly dark with some amazing colors of blues, greens and purples. It finishes up to a near camouflage look that is very handsome and subtle.
2-19-05 This project is a tough one. Symmetrical blades are a nightmare to grind, especially to a pattern. I knew that going into this project but it’s gotten a bit more complicated still. Basically, this knife blank is done except for drilling some holes. The blade flats have been taken to 600 grit, the hollow grinds have been taken to X5 microns (something close to 1800 grit). Now here is where we run into some problems that may be a deal breaker for this client. I don’t know yet. The client wants an 8” hollow grind, a strong tip and the grind lines shown above in his Autocad drawing. The problem is I can’t give him exactly what he wants as he has specified. The 8” wheel - or my grinding ability - just won’t allow it. Look at point “A”, it’s hard to see in the blade but the upward curve is there, it’s just not as aggressive as the drawing shows. Not a huge difference. Point “B” is where it really gets away from me. See how long the flat area is between the grinds in the drawing and in the blade? I could only manage to get half the length of that flat area. The client will have to decide to take the grind as it is or call it off. I’ll let you know what he decides. I don’t think it’s a deal breaker but I’m not the client either. The reason for this is the top swedge has to be some what thin or the it takes away from the balance of the knife as you look down on it from the top. Also the swedge wouldn’t be very deep from the sides of the knife if that much flat area was left between the top and bottom grind. Note the pictures below show the curved grind line much better than the picture above.
Now lets look at point “C”. Right now it looks a bit sharp as compared to the drawing. This will round out after the bolsters are attached and ground to shape. No problem. Now look at point “D”, the handle has just a slight detail there that isn’t in the blade yet. I left it that way on purpose and will do that after the scales are attached.
Just above the drawing is the practice piece. It didn’t start out as a practice piece, but it sure ended up that way. I normally cut and grind two blanks for every commission order. That way, if I screw one up, I have the other I can fall back on and the client isn’t made to wait. In this case I knew it was going to be tough so I cut out three blanks and sure enough, I messed up the first one trying to learn how to do this curved grind line. I’ll go ahead and grind out the third blank and hold it in reserve -- just in case. If all goes as planned, I’l finish off the third one differently from the custom job and sell it on spec.
Holding this knife is interesting. It fits in the palm of your hand right along your life line. It will have a very snug fit in your hand when it gets some scales on it. To get to this level of finish took 9 different grit belts and 3 different disk sander sheets.
2-19-05 I have a grinding tip for new knife makers. When you get to 220 grit or smaller, it some times is hard to see if you got all of the last grit scratches out or not. When you dip your knife in water to cool between grinding passes, take a look at how the water beads up on the blade. Looking at this blade you can see the water has beaded off the edge. That is where you need a little more grinding. The water clings to the newest grit scratches and beads off the old, larger grit scratches. You will eventually have some one tell you to put soap in your water to keep metal dust from floating on the top. Use just a little soap in the water. Too much and this grinding tip doesn’t work as the surface tension is reduced from the soap. It’s much easier to see how the water beads up on your blade than it is to look for the odd place you need just a little more grinding.
2-19-05 Same blade as above. This picture shows how the water beads up entirely across the grind evenly. The water you see here has simply ponded in the hollow grind. Look at the picture above again. Take a little more off the spots where the water has beaded up. When you do that, the water will cover the entire blade evenly and won’t pull back from any area that needs more attention. I couldn’t get a picture of how that looks because it is transient and only lasts a couple of seconds. When you have water clinging evenly across the blade, give it a couple more swipes. The water should then bead up and not ‘stick’ to any part of the grind at all like the picture to the left. You are now ready to move to the next grit.
2-19-05 Some more engraving practice. This is really cutting into my knife making but it is absolutely a blast to do.
I can not draw at all and I am not being modest. Drawing these simple pictures takes nearly twice as long as doing the actual engraving. You would think it would be the other way around. I’ve seen several others mention they couldn’t draw very well at all but turn out amazing engravings.
Each of these engravings is just slightly larger than a quarter.
Mickley Custom Knives