Monday, August 26, 2019

The Knife I Got in Trade

If you scroll back a bit in my blog posts, you will see the friction folder I made for a knife exchange.  It was well received.

Today, I got my knife from the trade.  Frankly, I think I got the coolest knife in the whole swap.  This is beautiful.  Here's a picture:

The picture doesn't really do it justice.  The edge is wonderfully straight and very sharp.  The stone has a slight translucence that just makes it almost other-worldly.  The fit of blade to handle is very tight.  I'm delighted.

Now that the summer is just about over, I think I'll have a little more time to work on some personal projects, so this blog will be updated slightly more often.  I hope.  

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Bumble beads

I don't only make historical beads.  I learned this bead at least a decade ago, but hadn't made any for ages.  Knocked out two last night just for fun.



I have made them in the past with an acid yellow and the bottoms pulled into points.  They look like hornets instead of bumblebees when I do that.  I really prefer the gentle fuzzy bumblers over the nasty stingers. These will probably just be given away, so I wanted to get a picture up while I still have them.

Finished Friction Folder

So, that was almost anticlimactic.  Setting four little brass pins took me only half an hour.  I had to trim them to the same length, tap them with my smallest ball peen until they spread into the countersunk holes, and then do a little touch-up sanding on the wood where the hammer scuffed it.  After that, sharpening.

A couple of pictures:



Closed.  The scroll end invites you to open the knife and see what else the smith hath wrought.


Open.  About 3.5" of sharp and pointy.

The scrolly bit does dig into the hand just a little, but it isn't bad at all.  I think future efforts at friction folder will take this into account a bit better.  The handle is a little thicker than I had meant to make it, but this is my first, so I'll change that on the next one.

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with it.

Friction Folder Update

I normally make two of anything I make.  The blade for the friction folder is no exception.  However, the scroll on the tang is different on blade #2.  Which is why the blade you see below doesn't match the one from my last post.

This is as far as I've come with it.  Right now, the finish is curing on the handle, so I can't do any more.  Kind of frustrating, as I'd love to just have it done.  Perhaps I'll find time tomorrow, though.


A trial fit-up in the open position.  I chose a good piece of maple to make the handle scales.  I know that antler is the most common for these knives, but I don't really trust a material that is so porous on the inside and potentially rather brittle.  Maybe on a future folder.


And in the closed position.  The blade won't contact the steel spacer, so the edge is preserved inside the handle.  The scrolled tang does hang out rather far, but I think it is pretty, so I'm not going to be too worried about it.

This is part of what I meant when I mentioned the blade telling its story (see previous post).  The scroll shapes can only be made with blacksmith techniques.  I mean, sure, you could hypothetically laser-cut the shape from flat stock, but on a practical level, this is a detail that announces the hand forged nature of the blade.  I personally love seeing that.

Up close, here's a shot of my maker's mark.  It is hot stamped into the steel during the rough forging stage.  You can also see some of the surface pitting that tells the story.

My mark is the rune Wynn (that's the Anglo Saxon name - the Norse name is Wunjo).  It is kind of fun because it looks like an angular P, but the sound it makes is the same as the English W.  In this way, I get both my initials with one mark.  

Once the oil finish cures on the maple scales, I will carefully peen over the brass pins to permanently assemble this knife.  The tricky bit is to spread the pin heads at the blade end enough to hold everything solidly together without locking the handle scales against the blade so firmly that it won't open and close.  This next step is the step where either I get a cool knife done or I get to start over on the handle.  Since I like the handle right now, I hope to get it done right.  Maybe as soon as tomorrow!

Saturday, July 6, 2019

A New Project

This is going to be a more involved knife than usual, mostly because I haven't made one of these before.  It is commonly called a "friction folder," meaning a folding knife that doesn't have a spring or lock mechanism to keep it open, only a friction fit.  This may not sound super safe, but most folding knives for the last thousand years or more have been made this way and it seems to work just fine.


 Here the blade is forged to shape, but the tang isn't even started.  The hot section behind the blade will be the area where I cut the blade loose from the parent bar.


 I've just started shaping the tang in this picture.  It may not look hot, but that steel will burn you.  Blacksmiths will often tell you it isn't the red steel that burns you, it is the black steel.  It looks cold and you just pick it up...


 For what I want to do, I need the tang drawn out to about four inches long.  It is just about right, at this point.


And here's the blade ready for heat treating.  Sketched on the anvil, you can see some of my thoughts about the shape of the tang.  I'm actually very happy with the shape I ended up with.  I think it is quite graceful.

This knife will be my entry into a knife exchange I'm participating in over at the Primitive Archer forums.  It is referred to as a "kith," which stands for Knife In The Hat, I believe.

The finished knife will not have as much surface ugly as it has in the above picture, but I will leave some of the forged surface intact.  For me, part of the joy of bladesmithing is creating a knife that tells you its story.  A forged knife that has been ground down to clean steel may as well not have been hand forged at all, as far as aesthetics are concerned.  This knife will not be super rustic, but it will certainly tell a bit of its story to those who are interested in it.

In a future entry, I will show the next steps in creating what I hope will be a really cool knife.  Or I might ruin it and have to instead show you how a knife can go wrong.  I'll try to get it done soon and share it here!

Saturday, June 15, 2019

More by Tylor

I've been really busy with my summer internship, so haven't been updating this blog as often as I intend to.  I'm still doing things, but don't take the time to post about them.

My friend Tylor came over again last week and made a couple of knives.  Here are the parts for knife number one:



He sent me a picture of this knife when he had filled the 50 brass with epoxy and set the tang in.

 It looks really good!  I understand this is to be a gift.

And one made from a railroad spike.  They don't make truly superior blades, but a railroad spike (if it says HC on the head - not all spikes are created equal) can harden and make a decent blade.  And the "dragon scale" twist on the handle just looks really cool.

I will try to get some more stuff of my own done to share here before long.  But it is neat to share some of Tylor's work in the mean time.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Great Horned Owls

A friend of ours has a family of owls living on her property.  She let us know this morning that there was a good viewing opportunity and we hurried over.

Sadly, all I had was my phone, and trying to take decent pictures of a bird in a tree with a phone camera is not easy.  I may get some better photos from our friend, but for now here are blurry, mediocre shots of all three owls we saw today.

 Baby owl number 1.

 Baby owl number 2.

Watchful father owl.

All three seemed to be in sort of torpor, it being mid day.  But what fun to see these large predatory birds just sitting in the trees.