A month or three ago I picked up a product called Gunkote by Brownells, as a result of conversations with a couple of clients, and some research. The product is supposed to protect metal (from rust, scratches, general yuck, etc…), and make it look, well, that depends on the color you buy, but in this case, Matte Black. And it is supposed to stick to stainless, which ordinary bluing chemicals will not. Not paying attention when I purchased it, it calls for sand blasting the parts with 120grit al-ox prior to a matte gray before coating. I don’t have a sand blaster.
I’ve also recently picked up some fancy schmancy CPM S35-VN stainless steel from Crucible (through www.usaknifemaker.com) which is supposed to be the sh**, as they used to say back when I swore more. It is a lot thinner stock than I usually work with, but that should play to the strengths of the steel (ie toughness).
Thirdly, once upon a time I bought some Black Canvas Micarta. Generally I use exotic hardwoods, but I thought it might be interesting at some point.
And lastly, I decided that I should be carrying one of my own knives a little more often. I had been carrying Folder 3, but got sick of stabbing myself on its poorly closed blade when I went for my keys. Right now, I am carrying Folder 2, which is a nice little (blade is under 2”) knife that turned out ok, but not really nice enough to sell. I’m not really in the mood to do Folder 4 yet, so a fixed blade it is.
And a fine time to try out all of the above.
The forging, shaping, grinding, or the 35VN went pretty well and I like the shape it turned out. The quenching and tempering seemed to go well, so I decided to move on…
I brought the blade to about 120 grit, then went back and scoured it with 80 in circles, then soaked it in some acid for a little while to etch the groves a little deeper and get rid of any polished bits that might make the Gunkote flake off. Coated liberally with baking powder and scrubbed with that for a bit to make sure all the acid was gone. Washed with soap and water, washed again with degreaser, and more soap and water. Then put it down and sprayed it. With a little too much vigor apparently, since it started dripping. So I scrubbed it off again, cleaned it again, grabbed it with the vice-grip, and gently sprayed both sides, and set it to dry with any dripping headed for the handle, which will be a hidden tang.
After waiting the indicated 30+ minutes for the blade to dry, I stuck it in the pre-heated kitchen oven, and baked at 310F for 60 minutes-ish. Then took it out and let it cool in the shop. Looks pretty (if you like matte black), and all of those 80/120 grit scratches are gone too!
Can’t tell yet how it holds up, but so far so good for the first two experiments.
Experiment three… Micarta. It grinds very easily, smells bad, is very dusty, seems to glue very well. The canvas pattern is interesting, and it feels pretty good in the hand.
I put it all together with a copper guard, a couple of copper acorn nuts and some black epoxy.
It looks very military to me. Not my usual style at all. If I worked in Kydex, I might be tempted to
make that sort of sheath, but I don’t and don’t like it either. So leather it will be, probably with copper fixin’s. I haven’t quite decided yet if I want to do a horizontal or vertical carry sheath. We’ll see.