Thursday, January 28, 2010

I've been a little lax - new knives

The orignial plan was that each time I finished a new knife I would post a picture and the stats here. I've been lax.

I managed to post the stats for the LS1 kitchen knife in December, but didn't post good pictures of the two custom letter openers that I made for BDoodles. And didn't write down the dimensions so I can't post them.

Materials for letter opener BDoodles 1: Deer antler blade, Ebony and Copper Bolster, Deer antler handle (provided by the customer) engraved L.T. on crown of handle.

Materials for letter opener BDoodles 2: hammered Sterling silver blade, ebony and nickle silver bolster, deer antler handle (provided by customer), engraved S.G.

After those, I finished up my first knife from an old file and posted some pictures, but again forgot to get the dimensions but at least I mentioned the materials, but again:

F1: Given to my dad for Christmas, Blade: File steel, Guard: Copper, Handle: Kingwood, with mosaic pin.

Then, I finished up three more:
AR33: Scapel: 1 3/4" O1 steel blade, 6 3/8" overall, Ebony handle, mosaic pin, brass lined thong hole.

AR34: Drop point hunter: 4 3/8" 1095 high carbon steel blade, 9 3/4" overall, wrought iron (1800's grain silo) guard and pommel, olivewood handle, brass pins, and an onyx bead to cap off the pommel. I did make a sheath for this one too.

And finally (for now) I forgot to post the stats for the kitchen chopper, which I've talked about a lot...

AR35: Custom Kitchen Chopper: Blade: 7 5/8" 1084fg High carbon plus vanadium blade. Coccobolo handle with brass tubing accents. And just in case you didn't see it before, here it is again.

That should have me caught up until I finish the next set....

Friday, January 22, 2010

A new world order…er OK a new order…not the music group either

Yesterday it snowed in the morning at work in Laguna. And due to that weather we got the day off. Of course, by the time I was 30 miles from work there was no snow and the road was dry. I felt kind of guilty, but free time off is free time off. So I went home.

Here’s a pic of the old shop that is across the street from my office.

With a whole afternoon in front of me, I picked up some tools from Lowes (I just burned out my old Rotozip, and needed a few other odds and ends), and went home to play in the shop.

But first a little lunch, and part of a Movie. A few years back I was an extra in the movie Gamer which came out late last year and made it to DVD pretty quickly. So I started watching that. I can’t recommend it, especially because you can’t identify me in the scene that I am in J But I felt that I needed to find out if I had actually managed face time. Nope.

I wasn't filmed as a guard like in this picture - but as a prisoner, I was a little speck in white trotting along in a line of others specks in white.

Then I found out that I have a new custom order for a good kitchen meat knife, we’ll call it a carver/slicer for now. Always exciting to have a new project! So I took a break from the movie to play in the shop.

I cut a strip of my CruV steel in half lengthwise – the customer doesn’t want the blade to be too wide – with my new rotozip, and fired up the forge. After an hour or two of hammering away I have two rough knives, that still need a lot of work, but now I have a vision at least. They were still cooling or I’d have put up a picture. Pretty ugly right now, so you aren’t missing much. They’ll get better.

Then, because I was a little tired from pretty much constant hammering, I moved to the belt sander and worked on my other kitchen knives (a chef’s and a Japanese style chopper) for a little while. Then headed back into the house to finish my movie, and do some hand sanding of those pieces as well.

Two daggers (a little one and a big one) are still languishing away unfinished. Someday…I promise.

That reminds me, I worked on another partially finished blade made of a file, got it to quenching stage, and then quenched it too fast. CRACK! Ooops. I thought I might be able to salvage part of it, but there was another crack. Oh well.

So the exciting thing is the new order! And that the kitchen chopper should go out in the mail to its new owner with its vegetable but not skin sharp blade tomorrow. Yay custom orders!


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Reading material

I just finished reading the “Manual of the Baratero: The Art of Handling the Navaja, the Knife, and the Scissors of the Gypsies”, translated by James Loriega and thought that it was relevant enough to write about and post to this blog.

A few months ago while looking through Blade magazine I saw a Navaja style knife, I’d seen them before, but couldn’t remember what was special about them. So I looked them up and found that they are Spanish folding knives that have a peculiar locking mechanism that has teeth that make a ratcheting noise when it opens. In searching for pictures of this mechanism I found Loriega’s book on handling the Navaja, and thought I would give it a try.

I was not too surprised, based on reviews, that there wasn’t a whole lot of technical information about how to fight with a knife, and found the socio-political commentary very interesting. I can’t say that I really gained a lot of insight into the fighting style either, or the knife itself, although there are some basic dimensions that I would probably throw out immediately if I made one. I still need to figure out the locking mechanism, although admittedly I think I have a pretty good idea of how it works at this point.

Mostly this appears to be a book simultaneously trying to remain politically correct while sharing the virtues and flaws of the gambling enforcer, in an era where death from duels and knife fights appear to have happened with much greater regularity than they do today.

I do wish that they had talked a little more about fighting with the Gypsy scissors, but mostly there was a little commentary on gypsies and then - use the same techniques as for the Navaja.

The translator clearly has a much better grasp of martial arts of all sorts, and blade fighting in particular than I ever will. And I'm pretty sure that you can learn more about spanish bladework in some of his other books. Just not this translation.

Finally, the book is actually very brief, as the second half is the original Spanish version.

Monday, January 11, 2010

An excellent weekend for knives

It was a good knife weekend, I have three that I am almost ready to show and I’ve got one poor quality phone pic to post a little further down in this blog.

The hunting knife with olivewood handle that I managed to get rusty on the trip to Michigan is back in shape, and almost ready for pictures. I’ll probably finish its sheath first though – it is together, just needs to be oiled to be done. Maybe one more coat of finish on the handle too, and a few final passes with some 1500 and 2000 grit sandpaper on the blade. And final sharpening.

The Scalpel is almost done too. Again it needs one more coat of finish, and final sharpening. It is ebony with a mosaic pin. Looks pretty.

I hope to be able to take pictures on Thursday for both of them, and then post either Thursday night or Friday.

The kitchen chopper needs an edge, and I need to stamp it, but otherwise is finished! It doesn’t look quite like the original, but that’s ok I think, it was made in the spirit of the original. Hopefully the future owner will like it as much or better.

Heres the original:

And here is my rendition:

Another interesting aspect of this one is the requested edge, “Sharp enough to cut vegetables, but not skin”. In my opinion as a cook, the sharper the knife the better, it means less force needed to cut anything in particular, and the less force you use, the less likely to lose control of the knife. I’ll do my best to comply though, and will try to make it easy to put a real edge on if that is ever desired.

I’ve also got a couple more kitchen knives that are getting closer to completion. One stainless, and one with my new Cru-forge V steel, they are still a little ways off though.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010


A new decade.

After a brief trip to Michigan, we are back home in Albuquerque, and back to work.

Michigan was unexpectedly sunny, with two days of sun. In Michigan that means COLD, I'm not sure it made 15 degrees either day. We had a little snow, but nothing difficult to handle.

I finished and gave my dad the paring knife that I had been working on. It was my first effort using an old file to turn into a knife, and I think it turned out pretty well. I made the handle out of kingwood, and pinned it with a mosaic pin that I got from Jantz Knifemakers supply.

The olive handled hunting knife that I was working on is done except for the sheath, and a few rust pits that I need to work out. Never wrap a knife in a cloth with something that is damp. Its amazing how fast things rust under those conditions.

The custom kitchen chopper is almost done too. Here is a bad cell phone picture. It obviously still needs a handle.

Happy New Year everyone!