Latest knife

Just finished (and sold) this one today.

Here’s the specs:
Steel: 1084/15n20 About 150 layers, twisted. Flat ground.

Hardness: 59-60 RC

Blade length: 3-3/4″

Total length: 8″

Blade thickness: 5/32″

Handle material: presentation grade desert ironwood

Stainless hardware.

Thanks for reading, and have a good Memorial Day (what’s left of it).


My first straight razor

Made this yesterday.  I haven’t decided yet whether to keep it or sell it.

The blade is 1084/15n20 twist damascus.  The handle is ivory paper micarta.





And, here’s a knife I finished today.  It’s been in the oven for a long time.  The blade is CPM D2 (it’s one of the one’s featured in the heat treating post I did not long ago).  It’s hollow ground and hand rubbed to 400 grit.  The polishing alone took about 6 or 7 hours.  So I’m burned out.  It’s got a full tang, and ironwood scales.







Have a good holiday weekend,


Guitar number 13

This one was finished out of order.  I had it almost done about 18 months ago, but while I was doing the final polish, I sanded through the finish in one spot.  That took the wind out of my sails a bit, so I painted more lacquer over the offending area and set it aside.

Then last week decided it was time to finish it.  I very carefully sanded the lacquer level again in that spot, and almost sanded through again.  But it’s not too noticeable, and anyway, I’m done.  😀  I buffed it up, glued on the bridge and neck, and strung it up.

This is the third 12 string acoustic I’ve made, and I tried a few new things.  I used the shared-pin method, where the bridge only has 6 pins, with two strings per pin.  And I compensated the saddle, which should always be done anyway, but I just didn’t bother with the other two.  I also put two carbon fiber bars in the neck for added stability.

I used Arizona desert ironwood for the bridge, fretboard, and head stock veneer.  The bindings are curly maple.  The rosette is osage orange and abalone.  The top purflings are abalone also.  The top is lutz spruce, and the back and sides are osage orange.  The action needs some more work, but it sounds great!  I also need to make a cover for the truss rod access slot, and I need to level the frets.

That’s enough words, here’s some pictures:

Heat treating high alloy blades.

I had to heat treat a couple blades yesterday, and since I haven’t talked much on this blog about heat treating, I thought I’d make a post of it.

One blade is made of D2 tool steel, the other one (the small one) is D5.  They’re heat treat schedule is similar, so I can do them at the same time.

Here they are mostly ground and finished to 240 grit.  It’s always a good idea to finish blades to at least 240 grit before hardening.  If left rough, you might get some cracks….


Since these require a higher temperature than the simple carbon steels, the blades are put in stainless steel foil envelopes which protect them from oxygen.


The oven is set to 1850 degrees F:

and the blades are put in to “soak” for about 40 minutes.

While that’s happening, it’s time to work on the quenchant.  For carbon steels, I use different types of oil.  For air hardening steels like D2 and D5, I first quench them in a plate quenching setup, and then they go into a mixture of dry ice and acetone, for what’s called a “cryogenic quench”.  They reason for the cryo, is that many high alloy steels don’t fully convert to martensite (the hard stuff) at room temperature. They need to be taken much lower.


So, here’s some dry ice crushed up (I think I used 2 or 3 pounds total):


And here’s a tank made of PVC with almost a gallon of acetone, with dry ice added.



So, when the 40 minutes is up, the blades are taken out (one at a time) and squeezed in my plate quencher (which is a carpentry vise with a couple of heavy aluminum plates attached):



When the blade is well below 1000 degrees, the envelope is removed and cut open:


Then the blade is checked for straightness (the steel is still soft until it gets below 200 or so), and left to cool to room temperature.

The D5 blade needs to be tempered a little bit at 350 F before going into the cryo, so it goes in the oven (otherwise it might crack), and the D2 blade goes into the acetone:


The D2 is left in the cryo for a half an hour, then it switches places with the D5 blade.  Here’s how it looks at about -109 F:



After both have been cryo quenched, then they are tempered at successively higher temps until they reach the hardness I want. (actually the softness I want, since tempering reduces hardness).  Looks like the D2 is going to finish up at 450 F, but I think the D5 is gonna have to go higher.