Friday, October 8, 2010

That quench I mentioned

And I had such high hopes. ):

Last night was a disappointment.

The knife I'd been working on for a client... may not be any good.
I was polishing it (the videos I took of this will be uploaded by the way, regardless of the result of the blade,) and once I'd gotten one side up to about 600 grit, I thought I'd give it an etch in some vinegar for a few minutes. I was trying to bring out the hamon line (a video of the unexciting quench will also be put up later,) which DID in fact work. It wasn't particularly pretty, or active, but... it was there. I was happy about that.
But then, as I was sharing photos with some friends... I noticed a problem.

Here you can see the hamon line, in the middle of the blade. It spikes up, settles back down, evens out for a ways, and then spikes again. I'm happy I can see anything at all- a lot of beginners see nothing, even after an etch. Some people can see the hamon after polishing up to only 300 grit.

The hamon is faintly visible here, still. It's not very active, or attractive.

In this image, it's most apparent where the fracture is- approximately 1/3 of the blade length from the tip, there's what looks like (and what I inittially thought was) either a hair, or a steel wool fiber. No such luck, I'm afraid. It's a fracture.

I'm not sure how to handle this. Gut instinct says to scrap the whole blade, but part of me thinks that if I put it through some stress tests and it holds, it'll be fine. Do I really want to go through with that, though? This is my name I'm putting out there. Even if the blade is still balls-sharp, holds the edge well, and is durable... am I really fine with selling a fractured blade? I don't know. I really don't.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I'm just about to fall asleep

So I'm half-assing this post and I'll get to doing my 'rounds tomorrow, alright everyone?
In the mean time, here's a video documenting how I made the jig I'll use for handles. As suggested, I've removed the original audio and implemented a commentary track.

By the way, this was unscripted, so... forgive the stuttering and whatnot.
No, I won't read from a script in the future.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


In anticipation for more disappointment...

I'm making an early blog post this morning and simply embedding some music I've been enjoying today.

The internet is home to all sorts of things. Some of it beautiful, some of it terrifying. This is both.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Oh God I am so razy

Well, the Vado HD didn't come last week. It SHOULD BE HERE TODAY. It better be. And hopefully, belts will be arriving, too. Supposing the Vado HD arrives, I will at least use the angle grinder to do some work on the Sgian Dubh for my friend's friend's friend.
Also, I'm in the middle of uploading a video to youtube (althoughf or the life of me I cannot remember what it's of xfd)

Looks the video is me taking the rough cut of the Sgain Dubh to the belt grinder. Also, please note that in this video, you don't actually see the belt snap. That happened a while after I turned off the camera.

Friday, October 1, 2010

God dammit :|

I was grinding out the knife on my belt grinder yesterday, and you know what happens? The only belt I have left snaps while I'm grinding. Thing whipped all over the place and got me pretty good in a few places on my arm. It's a good thing I always wear my safety glasses, or this could've been a lot worse.

Anyway, point it, I'm completely out of belts now. :\
I can't do any work until I get my next order in... which will hopefully be on monday. Hopefully, tonight I'll have some youtube videos up. Which brings me to the next point:

Fuck usin' linkbucks. I made an AMAZING $0.0013 YESTERDAY! Shit's not worth the inconvenience to you guys, so I'm abandoning that. Next youtube videos will be embedded just like they used to be.
By the way? If you've got a very sharp tanto knife blade on the floor... where you sleep, you should probably move it before you go to bed.
I made the mistake of not noticing it there (or simply thinking it would be fine,) and uh. Not so good for me. I remember feeling it while I was dreaming and thinking, "Damn. My dreams are starting to feel more and more realistic, that really fuckin' hurt!"

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

So, in the mean time I'm doing this other thing.

I've got a friend, who has another friend that's interested in commissioning me for a knife. She wants a Scots Sgian Dubh, with nature themed engraving upon the handle. That last part's gonna be kind of hard- I've never done any carving or engraving.
This morning I drew the rough design for the knife, and traced it on to the steel (I really need to find a better way to do this, by the way.)
Also, I'm doing something a little new. I'm still going to embed pictures, but I'll be linking to my youtube videos from here on out. Sorry for the inconvenience.

I've got videos of almost the whole cutting process. Later tonight or tomorrow I'll get to drinking. Er, grinding. I don't know why I typed drinking. Or why I didn't just delete it.

And now, youtube vidoes!
This depicts the start of my grinding.

And yadda yadda yadda the rest is self explanatory. xd

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Oh God I am a dick

Okay, so... "I'm back in the game!"


Seriously now, though! I've got the steel the blah blah blah and an idea. I got the cement I needed, and I have an angle grinder (which will allow me to cut the steel oh-so-much faster than before.)
The angle grinder will also allow me to cut the steel closer to the blade shape, meaning less wasted steel, less wear on my belts, and over-all a better work experience. Later on, once I've an anvil, I'll be able to melt down the refuse into ingots and use them for forging.
In fact, this morning I may very well record myself doing some work. I'm juuuust a little hesitant though- my brother bought me a Vado HD to use. So... I don't know, I guess it's up to the five of you that actually read this.
Do I get to work now, using the current video quality and youtube? Or do I wait for the new camera and record in GRIORIOUS 720P?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Back in the game!

A couple days ago I placed an order at Jantz for four 18" long pieces of 1095 Hi-Carbon steel! It's due to arrive thursday afternoon. I'm so happy, and excited! I've also ordered some handle material, epoxy, and pins, as well.
I'll be back to making "knives" quite soon. Thanks for being patient and waiting, everyone!

I know a few of you had expressed interest in a knife from me, and if you're still around, I'd be more than happy to attempt to make something for you. I recall somebody wanted a 10" blade, and someone else hadn't specified what they wanted.
Remember, these knives would be sold to you at a discount. I'd just appreciate the business, and any word of mouth it may generate.
I'd also like to say that if anything happens with anything I make for someone, I'd be more than happy to cover shipping costs for sending it back to me.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hiatus ):

Sorry there haven't been any updates in a few days.
I'm all out of steel, and I don't really have an scrap around I can use either. I won't be able to even make any orders for more until Wednesday, and I'm not entirely sure how long it will take for the shipment to get here.
However, the next shipment should have two or more bars of steel to work with, as well as some stainless steel for fittings and pins.
Heh, I just remembered I'm running out of sanding belts, too. They can get worn out pretty quickly- it doesn't take all that long for an 80 grit to become as effective as 120 grit, then 300, and eventually it'll either just fall apart, or basically polish the steel.
Until I can get back to work, I'll be on a hiatus. Once I get materials again, I'll be sure to let you all know. In the mean time, I'll still be reading your blogs, and I may leave comments.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Getting a GRIP on things

Yup, it's a terrible pun and I make no apologies.
Last night my dad picked me up some more materials for finishing up Jim's knife. I'm really lucky to have a dad who's so supportive of this hobby/hopeful-profession. He's basically paid for all of my tools. Paid for the forge ($120+,) materials ($60+,) Belt Grinder ($120~,)bench vise ($30~,) and a bunch of other items.
So any way, he picked up two clamps and some epoxy, so I was able to put the wood scales on Jim's knife. I recorded the whole thing, and gave some narration, too. I'm nervous, so my voice is shaky and I have an awful speaking voice. Although, I'd still like to mention that the camera makes me sound a lot more nasal and lispy than I really am :x

Friday, September 10, 2010

Forging *withOUT an anvil.

Not a good idea, let me tell you. I was trying to get by using a 20lb dumbell. Shit. Don't. Work. Like, at all. There's a reason people suggest 150lb anvils, and it's not just because they're better quality. Having that weight there to ensure your surface doesn't jump under the hammer is a Godsend.
Earlier today I tried hammering the steel. I was hoping I could give it a bit of a downward tilt, to later grind it into a kukri or something like that. Well, it didn't work out. Like, at all. There's a reason they hammer it as a square bar first, and then shape it. All I managed to do was bend the steel a little bit the way I wanted, and too much in ways I didn't. I tried to straighten it out and salvage it, but... I don't know how well that's working.
Once I'd figured it wasn't getting any straighter, I decided I might as well start to grinding on it and make something of it anyway. Here's what I'd come up with so far:

Tomorrow or tonight I'll be able to quench it. I need more propane- I'm not sure the tank I have right now has enough left in it. But after that, she's ready for a handle and all that.

Later tonight I should also get about 4 videos up, showing some of the progress of the knife. What would be really cool is if I had something I could do a timelapse with. I don't have a camera capable of that, unfortunately.

Edit: Videos are up!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

These videos will do more damage than good

Yeah, it's uh... you know, my first knife. Go easy on it.
Also, it's a somewhat unusual style of grind, and it's actually ground for lefties- and I'm a righty. That affects some of the performance.
I don't actually have a lisp, by the way. It's something with the camera. D;
Also I look fat

Still looking fat, still sounding lispy.
I ran out of memory in the first

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Just got an email from Google AdSense. They canned my account.

Edit: This doesn't mean I'm going to stop blogging, though. The money was always just a bonus for me. Hopefully all of you still drop by now and then to take a look at how things are going, and those that do can count on my continued support.

Thank you David Davidson, BeKindPlease and Mantooth!

The former for the great idea of a demonstration video! Unfortunately, it's raining outside right now- not hard, but hard enough to make using a digital camera outside impossible. If it clears up, expect a video of some serious wood manhandling! I don't know exactly what's a good idea for 'stress' tests, but I'll come up with something.

BeKindPlease for even considering showing me any sort of patronage. I only hope that if you do choose to do so, I can meet your expectations for what a knife should be.

And Mantooth for being an all around great guy, who's been inquisitive and supportive!

Everyone else, thank you for taking the time to visit, to comment, and to make this the best blogging experience!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Hard at work on my first client's knife!

lol @ calling them a client.

Anyway, it's 9:49am here in Wisconsin, and I haven't been to sleep yet. I've finished grinding out the knife blank, and I've just sent a text to Jim asking if he'd like the edge beveled on both sides, as is done on a traditional knife, or on a single side like I did with mine. Once I have a response, I'll start grinding away at the blade.
In the mean time, I'm going to bevel the handle to reduce some of the weight- see if I can't get the balanced a little better.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Videos of the grind!

Nobody answered, so here's your choice of youtube or megaupload. Enjoy!

My brother-in-law (the one that gave me the great wood- his name's Jim) came by earlier today and took a look at the knife. He really liked it- was quite impressed. He wants me to make another almost just like, but with a half-inch longer blade. Told me he'd pay me $20 and that he'd recommend me to his friends! That's pretty sweet deal imo. Couldn't ask for more than that.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

First finished knife!

It's done! Huzzah!

I proceeded to apply epoxy to one side of one of the scales, and the knife tang. I applied pressure, and lined them both up. After waiting for approximately 30 seconds, I set it down and let it cure. It's a quick setting 5 minute epoxy. After 10 minutes I did the same with the other scale. After 20 minutes, it was ready to grind to its final shape:

Yes, I know I have girly hands :x
I'll upload a video or three later tonight showing some of the handle shaping. Just let me know, woudl you all prefer I upload them to youtube, or megaupload? They're much smaller in file size now (10-23mb instead of 100-230mb)

Hate wood so much

When my brother-in-law gave me some wood for handle material, he also gave me a draw knife to sharpen for him- and then requested that I also make him some handles. That's kept me busy for most of the day. I didn't make handles out of Ironwood, though. Too tough xfd

So, anyway. I finally have the profile of the knife handles aaalmost ready. I just need to grind off a little bit more, and they're good. I used double sided tape to secure both handle halves to each other to ensure an even grind on both handles. Here's some pictures from the knife handle:
I should note that I retraced an outline of the knife handle onto the wood in a place where it wouldn't have too much glue in tact. once it was cut out properly, I pried the two scales apart and taped them together with double sided tape. I took it to the belt grinder (which for some reason worked much better this time,) and ground it down some more.

This is very near the final result. Just a bit more grinding and then I'll epoxy it onto the knife. :O

Friday, September 3, 2010

My fingers are falling off.

Okay, so I've learned something today: There's a reason it's called desert Ironwood. That shit is HARD. Sawing for a good 15 minutes and I've sawed through all of 4" of it. Good golly, and it's not easy, either.

@Grimsy: Yes, I'll be posting a finished product on here, sooner or later!

@Dan: Hopefully I'll be able to get one done this weekend. Right now I'm cutting the wood (obviously,) and after that it's a matter of shaping, sanding, and epoxying. There won't be any pins, but with how strong epoxies are these days, they're more of an aesthetic than anything else.

Wellp, back to sawing and killing my fingers.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fricken awersome.

My brother in law dropped by earlier tonight and dropped off some wood for me! I have a few boards of Desert Ironwood (enough for probably a dozen knives, or more!) and some white oak wood, too. This is just fucking awesome. It's a little rough, and there's a few small nails in it here and there, but it's great condition.

I also gave him some DVDs for the first and third season of The Big Bang Theory. I love that show.


Alright, so last night I'm sitting here at the PC, and I decide to head over to my favourite knife maker's supplier, Jantz.
I'm picking out parts I want- grocery shopping, if you will. Handle parts, mostly. Some sanding belts, epoxy, etc. Nothing fancy.
Handle materials, though. Here's what I've been looking at:

Black Paper Micarta Scales
Banded Azurite/Malachite

The Black Paper Micarta Scales are dirt cheap, so I'll probably get two or three of those regardless, but I can't decide on what handle materials I want to use for my gift to Sonia. She liked the Variscite, but you know... I really think finding a way to put the Black Paper Micarta and the Banded Azurite/Malachite could be stunning, possibly with some brass or nickel silver bolsters.
(As of this moment, I purchased some pins, epoxy, two scales of the Black Paper Micarta, some sandpaper [for a proper finish job,] stainless steel for fittings, and a bar of 1095 hi-carbon steel!)
Unfortunately, until these items come, all I can do it grind out the last of my O1 tool steel, and quench it. I can't finish any knives, or even give them a proper polishing.
Oh yeah! I'll remember to convert any future videos so they're not so fuckhuge. I should be able to reduce the size to about 1/7th or 1/8th previous size.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I'm quite lucky, I guess.

It's so easy for the quench to go wrong (especially since I've been forgetting to normalize the steel, first [bringing the steel to the upper critical temperature, and then letting it air cool],) and this is the second success I've had.
Hot out of the forge and into the oven!
I broke off the cement (which didn't pop off during the quench this time) using my horse nail clippers, while holding it with the pliers. Here's how it looked immediately after washing it off with some dawn:

After these pictures, I pulled out some 80 grit sand paper and gave it a quick rubdown before throwing it in the toaster oven at 450ºF:

lol dirty fingers

Busy busy morning.

Haven't slept since the last post. I keep odd hours- wake up at 5pm, head to bed around 1pm. It varies.
Anyway, it's nice out this morning, seen here:
I figured I may as well get the quench of my second blade out of the way while I can. I don't know what the weather's supposed to be like today, and by golly I am too lazy to look it up. Yes yes, I'm at a computer already, SPARE ME YOUR LOGIC.
I've got the forge going right now, blade's already in. While I'm waiting for the steel to reach the critical temp (this is determined either by color [unrecommended, inaccurate, and unreliable,] or testing it with a magnet- steel demagnetizes at critical temp,) I'm drafting poorly drawn designs for my next two blades on graph paper. Depending on the size of the blades, there might only be one from this piece of steel.
Regardless, I'll draw up a few designs, try to get them scanned in, and I'll let you (and a few other sites) vote on which design to go with.
I'll take some short video here and there of the grinding process, more than likely. Remember that I'm still extremely new (this next knife will only be my third ever 'made,') and that I'm not used to talking on camera. As such, expect a shaky voice and stuttering.

I hate the rain.

It's been raining today, and late last night, too. I haven't had a chance to take the forge back outside and fire it up, to finish this second blade. Hopefully tomorrow's a better day, and I can take care of it then.

I'd also like to clarify something: The pictures in the previous post aren't mine. They're from a topic (which is linked underneath the last picture) on a knife maker's forum. I'm sorry if anyone thought it was my work- I'm a VERY long way from having the skill (and even the resources) to make a sword like that.
Creating a damascus blade is actually part of the test for becoming a master smith in the ABS, from what I understand (other criteria includes cutting through two pine 2x4s and then without sharpening, shaving underarm hair.)

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Chronicles of One Man's Journey to Create a Damascus Viking Sword

This is one of my favourite sword making topics. The man creates billets of layered damascus, forges and twists them into rods, to create his sword.

Read about the whole thread HERE!
It's a really exciting journey. Be sure to read the whole topic- the smith posts all the way to end! He even links to some videos of his process of sword making.

A couple things I'd like to mention:
  1. I am a knife maker. I am not a blacksmith. I use a forge, but I do not hammer steel into shape. That's something I'll eventually do, but at this time I don't even have an anvil to do this on. What I do is buy the steel in 18" long segments, and I grind away stock using a belt grinder. I may heat part of the steel and hammer it a bit to give it a curve, if it's needed, but this is the extend of my "smithing."
  2. I am checking up on all my followers, at least every other day! I may not always leave a comment, but I assure you I am here, and I am paying attention! Some of you have really interesting things to tell the world, and I am all ears.
  3. If you want to know more about knife making, feel free to sign up for that forums I posted. They're all very friendly people, and more than happy to help out beginners! And you can always email me at, too. This is the kind of hobby that benefits from as many practitioners as possible, so have at it!
Edit: >A couple things I'd liek to mention
        >Three things
        >Your faces

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Knife making is for the patient.

It's not a quick process. I can't churn out a knife in a day, or two, or three. It takes time.
Right now I've got a blade coated with some refractory cement, seen here:

I'd love to toss this in the forge and quench it right now, but doing so would not be to my advantage. There's likely plenty of moisture still in that cement, and that means steam. Steam creates bubbles, pulling the cement away from the steel.
I'll need to wait at least another day for this to be ready to be fired and quenched. How sad. ):

In the mean time, I'll probably link to posts and topics on other forums, where more accomplished knife makers show off their talents and works. I find things like that are great for motivation.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hi there visitors!

Don't be shy! Feel free to leave a comment here, and I'll do my best to get back at you. It's always nice to hear from people. :3

First Knife

A few days ago, I finished tempering my first blade after my quench (A video of the quench can be downloaded here.) Unfortunately, there are some very deep scratches in the steel from being careless with a file.
Some of the refractory cement was being very stubborn in coming off the steel, and the file was all I had to do it. Unfortunately, it bit too deeply since it's still a fairly fresh file. It's not a big deal, though. This knife was something of a throw-away.

After the tempering, I went at it with 80 grit sandpaper for a while. As you can see, the bevel on the edge isn't particularly good. This was something I was struggling with during the initial grind. I have no real intention of fixing now, either.

Here I've been using the same piece of 80 grit sandpaper for too long. The result is that it's become something of a higher grit, resulting in more of a polishing action than scratch and scale removal. It still looks like a regular piece of steel, at this point.

I bathed the steel in a mixutre of vinegar, lemon juice, and salt that I'd microwaved for approximately two minutes. This etched the steel, and let the pattern from the refractory cement appear. After the bath, I gave it a quick rubdown with a used piece of 80 grit. The result is evident, but not particularly striking.


I returned it to the bath for about 15 minutes, this time. Once I pulled it, I gave it a good rub with 1,200 grit sandpaper. Now, usually the etch comes last, after moving through 80, 120, 220, 400, 600, 800, and then 1,000 grit sandpaper. However I'm a lazy ass and this knife is more of an experiment.

Anyway, the etch is quite visible now. In the right light and angle, it's a very striking image. It's spackled, not at all what I'd originally imagined. However, I'm fairly confident I know why this happened, and I should be able to counteract this next time.

Now, there's a reason the pattern on the blade looks speckled. I didn't wait nearly long enough for the refractory cement to dry out. This meant there was still moisture in it, and during the firing of the blade, that moisture turned into steam and bubbled up. This pulled the cement away from the steel, creating the look seen here.

My forge itself.

It's faily plain. About six days ago I got the materials I needed to make a forge for my hobby knife making (a body, refractory cement, and some ceramic insulating foam.) Tonight I fired it up in earnest for the first time, and tried to treat one of my knife blanks I've got (I've got one more I can fire. I ground them from O-1 tool steel using a belt grinder long before I even had a forge to finish them with.)

It's uh... made from the corner piece of some ventilation duct, and ceramic fiber insulation coated with some refractory cement.

My new home!

Here's to hoping I make good use of this. I probably won't.