A camp/utility knife I just finished.

The specs:

Steel:  W2 forged from round bar.

Hardness:  60 Rc

Blade length:  7.5″

Total length:  around 12.5″

Blade thickness:  around 3/16″ or a bit more

Handle material:  black canvas micarta





New tool

Well, I’ve actually been sick most of the last 10 days, so there hasn’t been much to blog about, unless counting the knots in our wood ceiling amuses you…

But, I did get a tool that I’ve been wanting for a long time, and will help me a lot in my knifemaking.  It is, a surface grinder.

Thing weighs about 1300 pounds, and was a pain to unload, but we made it, and only almost tipped it over once.  😉

I’m feeling pretty much back to normal, so I have several knives in the pipe line, and will post them as they get finished.

For now, here’s another chefs knife I sold a couple weeks ago.

The specs:

Steel: 154CM stainless steel

Hardness: 58-59 RC

Blade length: 7.5″

Total length: 12″

Blade thickness: a little over 3/32″, I think

Handle material: ivory micarta with red liners

It’s sort of a Westernized santoku.


Knife I just sold…

…and a few pictures of it’s making.

It’s a chefs knife (obviously, I hope), made from a laminate of stainless steel on the outside, and damascus steel on the inside.  The handle is african blackwood.

Finished pictures first:

Now the in-process pics.

The two outside layers of stainless are forged down from 1-1/4″ round stock.  Here it is heating up in the forge:

Here’s my power hammer, which does all the work.

The round stock is reduced to 1-1/4″ wide, by about 5/8″ thick.  I need 2 pieces 4″ long.

Cutting pieces off:

Next the damascus piece is forged and cut off.  The three pieces are then ground clean:

Then they are assembled into a “sandwich”, and the seams are all welded shut to keep out oxygen.  This is called a dry weld, as opposed to the normal forge weld, which uses flux.  Flux welding does not work well with stainless.  Also, a handle is welded on:

Back in the forge:

Now the billet is hammered, somewhat gently at first, to set the weld, then when it feels solid, it’s drawn out.  It’s difficult to forge things thinner than 1/8″ or so, because when you start getting thin, the piece loses heat quickly.  Here it is all drawn out, and cut into two pieces.  The long one became the chefs knife, the short will probably become hunting knives or something.

After thermal cycling the pieces, (thermal cycling is heat treatments which relieve stresses set up by forging, and also refine the grain of the steel) they are ground clean, and the outline of the knife is drawn on it:

Then the shape is cut out and all the pits are ground off:

Next the bevels are ground in, my mark is stamped on, and the holes for the handle bolts are drilled:

Now the knife is hardened, which means it’s brought up to 1475 degrees F, and plunged into quenching oil.  When it’s cool, then it’s tempered 3 times at 450 degrees for 2 hours.

The last picture is of handsanding.  I was in a hurry to get it finished, so that’s all I have.  Maybe I’ll cover the other steps some other time.



No, not human babies.  I think I might prefer that.  Actually, some friends of ours are going on a trip until Friday, so we had to go to their place and take care of their dozen or so chickens, 5 kids, 3 does, 3 cats, 1 dog, and 1 guinea pig.  Not to mention hundreds of garden plants.

The goats are the most interesting critters, so I’ll pretty much just talk about them.

These goats are descended from some that we ourselves had years ago.  We got tired of how much work they were, and the fact that they were NOT earning their keep, so we got rid of them.

Did you ever see Jurassic Park?  I’ve thought about making my own version of that movie, but with farm animals instead of dinosaurs.  The goats would be the velociraptors.  If you’ve seen the movie, and you’ve had goats, you should know what I’m talking about.

Anyway, the kids are being raised to sell.  One is a male, the others are all female.  They all have names, but I don’t remember them.  I would give them easy-to-remember names like Chuck (short for Charles) Roast, and Sir Loin, but that’s just me….

Now, the owners decided not to let the kids nurse, but instead are milking the adults, then bottle feeding the milk to the kids.  This is because the doelings are going to be sold as dairy goats, and they’ll be more tame if they’re bottle fed.  The male is being fattened up to be sold for meat.

Long story short (too late) it’s a lot of work.  It took us 45 minutes this evening, and we get to do it 8 more times before the owners come back.

But, I did get some good pictures.  I took 50, but I’ve whittled it down to 20 that I’m going to post.  Aren’t you glad.  😀

Here’s one of the momma goats in the milking stand, also known as “stanchion”.  We have to tie their feet down, or else they’ll “kick the bucket”.

Some shots of the young ones:

I love this one.  The perspective makes it look like a caricature.  BTW, it’s really hard to get good photos of kids.  They don’t hold still…

Some shots of their semi crippled chocolate Lab, Blossom.  A good natured dog, but not well trained at all.

Feeding the kids:

Where’s mine?!

Here’s another of the adults:

The kids saying goodbye:

A shot of their front garden:

The guinea pig is kind of cute.  They told me that the cats like to play with it.  I told them guinea pigs are just big mice.  They disagreed.  Whatever.  😉

“Til next time,

My most recent finished guitar

As opposed to re-finished, which was in my last post.  😉

This one was my first commissioned guitar.  I finished it a few weeks ago, I just haven’t gotten around to taking some decent pictures until now.

This one has a Sitka spruce top, Indian rosewood back and sides, desert ironwood binding, rosette, fingerboard, peghead veneer, bridge, and tail wedge.  Mahogany neck.  Gold fretwire.  (not real gold, obviously)  Gold tuners.  Ebony bridge pins.  Abalone purfling on the top and around the rosette.  Fleur de lis soundport.

It’s an OM shape, but with 12 frets to the body instead of 14.  Which I guess makes it a OOO?

This is my 11th guitar.  Probably my best sounding 6 string.

This one has less glare.  You can see part of my workshop and our RV reflected in the above picture.

For anyone who’s interested, the building of this guitar was documented in this thread:

Guitar WIP.

Someday I might do a similar build here on the blog, but for now it’s easier and quicker to post a link.  😉


Dial-up users beware; there’s almost 400 pictures in that thread…

Thanks for looking,

This mornings work

I’ve been re-building one of the first guitars I ever made.  I had made the top from the soundboard from an old piano that I got for free.  I was trying to keep costs down for my first few builds, which was a nice concept, but the top started to develop a crack in it.  Also, I had made a mistake locating the bridge, and the result of that is that it wouldn’t play in tune all the way up the neck.  So, I decided to replace the top.  While I was at it, I replaced the back, which had lost all it’s curvature.  I did all that several weeks ago, and the lacquer has been curing since then.

Yesterday I received an order of abrasives for my orbital sander, so I finished the finish.  😉  I leveled the lacquer with 400 grit, then went to 1000 grit, then 2000, then buffed.  It turned out pretty good, but I may go back and work on some areas some more.

The back and sides are osage orange which grew in my back yard.  The top is Lutz spruce.  The rosette is desert ironwood with abalone Zipflex.  The neck is mahogany.  The headstock veneer is desert ironwood.  The fingerboard, binding, and bridge are ebony.

Here the neck is bolted on:

Now the strings are put on, though the saddle will have to be shortened later to dial in the action:

I managed to get the string spacing right first try.  Such a pain on 12 string guitars…

The back:

Any comments or questions (on this or any other post) are welcome.



More knife work

The guards have surfaces that will be more difficult to polish after they are attached, so I’m doing it now.  Some of it will have to be re-done, but I’ll still be ahead some.

Here the main guard is at 1000 grit.

Here it is buffed:

The subhilt:

Now it’s time to finish polishing the blade.  Needless to say, polishing hardened steel is much more difficult than the soft bronze guard.   I finish up on the belt grinder at 600 grit, then I go to 1000 by hand.

Here it is at 600 grit:

Here you can see I’m just starting to remove the 600 grit scratches:

Here one half of this side is finished:

Both sides:

Now the same thing is repeated, with 1200 grit, then again with 1500 grit.

After 1500 grit, it’s time to buff.  The buffer is one of the most dangerous tools I have.  I’ve heard stories of knives being stuck in concrete walls, and guys getting their hands impaled, and I believe them.  I’ve never had an accident, thank the Lord…

To be continued…

What I’m doing today

I’m working on a custom knife order.  It’s kind of a special project, in that it’s the first time I’m deliberately copying another makers design for a knife.  (I’ve copied Jimmy Fikes Jungle Honey, which is a sword.)

The knife is a Loveless Big Bear subhilt fighter.  The steel is O1, the guards are bronze, and the scales will be desert ironwood with red liners.

Today it’s mostly guard work.  I’ve already got them fitted to the blade, but they need to be shaped and certain surfaces polished before soldering them on.

The double guard slides on over the blade:

The subhilt slides over the tang, and into a notch:

and the shape is drawn on:

Showing the double guard pressed on:

Here the subhilt has been shaped:

The front surface of the double guard needs to be mirror polished before being permanently attached.  Here it’s at about 400 grit:

Once that’s done, then I need to finish polishing the blade.  Fun fun!


Now that the lacquer is all done being applied:

I can finish assembling the instrument.   First, the tuners:

Before I string it up, I need to apply a coat of fingerboard oil:

While that’s soaking in, I work on the nut and saddle:

Also need to install the hitch pins:

I made a trip to Woodburn Indiana today to buy the tuners and strings from a company called Folkcraft.  Great folks (bad pun intended) and it’s nice to have them close enough to pick up stuff.

I use a razor saw to cut the slots for the strings:

Sounds pretty good!  I probably need to tweak the string heights, so when I do, I’ll try to post a video or sound clip.

The nut and saddle also need their sharp corners rounded over.