Tuesday, August 25, 2015

USN - Knives and Pens galore

My friend Pat has invited me to share his table at the Usual Suspects Network annual show in Las Vegas for Labor Day weekend.

This is intimidating because:  
1. I have never done a real knife show;
2. They are a tactical crowd and I don’t really do tactical;
3. I don’t really like people all that much and have a hard time pushing my own work;
4. I don’t really know how to price this stuff, and general just wing it.

That said, I am interested and very curious if I can sell any of my work – be it classic or tactical.  I’ve also decided I should do some tactical style knives to increase my chances.  I’ve got some designs in mind already – just need to have the time to put them all together.

Then there are the sheaths.  People like to have places to keep their knives, and I can make leather sheaths of various styles.  BUT…tactical people like kydex, which I find to be noisy.  So I need to figure out if I can felt-line kydex to make it quiet.  And figure out if I can make kydex sheaths at all.
Experimentation is expensive and takes time.  So I need to buy a kydex kit.  I want to try wrapping handles, so I need some cord – but not just plain Para cord.  I should probably buy some taps and dies and get some other screws for handles.  I need more leather to build sheaths for the knives I already have.  It may seem like September is a long way away – but it feels like next week. (Update 5 - Now it IS next week).

Update 1: I haven’t made it that far yet, but making some knives has been fun – I think I want to do a couple machetes as well – which are a pain in the butt since they are so big.   I’ve started a kerambit of sorts, and a tanto, and a short bladed stabby knife, and a unicorn shank, ok so the unicorn shank isn’t very tactical – tacky maybe.

Unicorn Shank - Twisted CruForge V with Cocobolo and Ebony Handle.

I’ve looked for better cord than para, but haven’t been very successful, the options seem to be dyneema, spectra, and Kevlar, but they all have some problems, so I may just go with para after all. Boring, but what people are used to. And available in a rainbow of colors…like black…or drab…or rescue orange, because really, who needs any other colors?

Update 2: I want to make the knives black or grey.  Seems like the style for these things.  I was going to use GunKote – which I have used in the past, but my can of it seems to be dead, and although it isn’t hugely expensive, shipping is ridiculous and I haven’t found it locally yet.  I may check a couple gunsmith shops this weekend.  There are a couple of other options.  Bluing the knives, dipping them in acid, mixed mustards, and probably some others as well.

I did pick up some paracord – went with Digital camo.  Should look good with black.
I still don’t want to do sheaths.

I also have an idea for a knife that may take precedence over the machetes – especially since I don’t have the metal for machetes at the moment. Hmm…don’t have enough for that either. Guess I need to buy some steel.

Update 3:
I blued the tanto and the kerambit.  I paracord wrapped the tanto – which I think turned out pretty well, but I may have my friend rewrap it since I am new at this.  The kerambit got M3 Lava macromolecular material, which I think turned out beautifully.  It was my first use, and is kinda pricy, but so far I’m pretty impressed.  I’d definitely use it again. I think it would be pretty sweet on the kind of tactical folder that I don’t make. :/

The stabby knife got an acid-wash, and a coyote tan canvas micarta handle.  I wrapped it with paracord too, for good measure.  I think they all turned out well, but the kerambit is definitely the most elegant.

I started a couple more kerambits since I liked the first one so much.  I may even try to make an inside curve to the blade. I don’t currently have anything particularly good to grind that curve, but I bet I can manage.

I also have ideas for friction folders, which I haven’t done yet.  I keep trying to decide if I want to buy some titanium to use as a liner.  Decisions, decisions.

Update 4:
No friction folders in the short term at least, no time before the USN Show.

The 4 loophole knives are coming along nicely – 2 kerambits and two scimitar bladed.  Cutting ¾-1” holes is a pain in the butt. I’ve got them shaped and quenched and tempered, now I need to spend the time finishing them and putting on the edges.  I have 2 weekends left!

In the meantime I did build 15 bullet pens…

I was also thinking about rehandling AR86.  I don’t like the way the handle turned out.  That is what I get for using man-made materials.  But I have some others – so IF there is time, I will strip it this weekend and shape the replacement.  While finishing the other 4.

I still need to carve in all of the numbers and logo’s also.

Update 5: In taking the handle off AR86, I snapped it in half.  I was in a bad mood and did some stupid things - like cutting myself with a hacksaw. Never work in your shop when you are in a bad mood.  I've turned it into something new now, but that wasn't the plan.

 I did finish AR94 - A Maple handled knife - specs to come later...


Pretty sure I'm not going to have many sheaths for the show...

Another Archery Project

So, since my red oak and fiberglass tape bow broke.  And my salt cedar bow broke. And my at home laminations failed and broke, I decided to try something closer to a kit bow, and as I mentioned in a June post, I ordered a lamination kit from Bingham Projects.  The kit I ordered was: 50#, clear glass, maple outside laminations, Action-boo core laminations, and a strip of core-tuff.  I didn’t order any riser material since I have wood, but I did buy a couple strips of tip overlay.

The lamination kit arrived superfast (USPS Priority) with the instructions and blue prints a few days later.  I started by laminating my riser material together.  I had just purchased a lovely piece of curly maple from Albuquerque Exotic Woods locally, so I cut that down the middle and layered in a strip of Cocobolo that was about the right size.  After glue-up and rough sanding that seems to have gone pretty well. 

Next step was gluing the parallel laminations.  This took a little more work and a little more glue than I expected (I’m using Smooth-On epoxy).  It was a really windy afternoon.  I lay down some non-stick paper, then the fiberglass, added glue, then glued one side of the maple strip, lay down the maple, glued the other side, glued the 1st bamboo…core-tuff…bamboo…paper…then put it in my flat form and clamped it down.  Got back to it two days later and took off the paper and sanded off the excess glue.  Looks pretty good so far.

Step three – Rough shape the riser – So I cut out the curves with my bandsaw then smoothed the curves on my belt sander.  Still looking pretty good.

Glued on the riser, and the last maple lamination and fiberglass back – and put back in the press.  I used the negative riser curves to try to get a good press for the laminations up the sides of the riser.  It worked pretty well, but not perfectly.

After a little cleanup, I put the blueprint over the bow, traced out the design, and rough cut it with my band saw.  I decided that I would make it the maximum length that I could, so it’s currently about 72”.  I hope it works.  More cleanup with the belt sander and its starting to look like a bow.
Did some work on the riser to add a grip and arrow rest. 

Almost the last step – I added a couple layers of phenolic material to the tips to reinforce it for modern strings. Now I just need to shape the tips, carve in the string notches, and then try to string it. I’m afraid it will break.  It stressed me out badly enough the other night that I couldn’t sleep well.  Your hobbies shouldn’t stress you out should they?

SUCCESS! – It’s all put together and finished. Pretty! It’s a little lighter than I had targeted. The kit that I bought (at 68”) was supposed to be #50, but this one (at 72” overall) is #37.5@28 according to my scale.  Nice weight for a target bow.  I’ve got a 68” Flemish twist dacron string that works pretty well, with a brace height around 7.5” to avoid smacking my wrist.  I’ve tried it with the Nice! Archery arrows that Robert put together for me and it shoots them pretty well and consistently.  It doesn’t do quite so well with the aluminum shafts – too stiff I guess.  

I bought a set of test wood arrows to figure out the right spine - but haven't tuned it in yet.  I also had a custom FastFlight flemish twist string put together by one of the local shops.

I’d hoped that finishing one successfully would cure the bug, but apparently not.  I’d like to try something similar with a little reflex and at a little higher weight, but same length.  Maybe a little darker color- or with some fancier veneer, or maybe with some carbon. But it will have to wait a little while, there are higher priority projects.