A couple weeks back I mentioned to a friend of mine that I made knives as a hobby. Of course his question was "Can you make me one?" to which I answered "Yup". This is the result:
The first thing to know is what type of knife he wanted. Turns out he had a picture of one he liked:
Now, I'm limited by the tools and materials I have. I don't have a forge - which limits me to stock removal techniques. So the first order of business was to find a suitable piece of steel. I went for a cruise around the hardware store and looked at things ranging from machette's to lawnmower blades to garden loppers and woodworking saws. Eventually I settled on a nail-puller flat pry-bar. It was a thick piece of steel (5-6mm), and I reasoned that because it was used in a application where strength was required, the steel would probably be of an OK quality. When I put the steel on the bench grinder there were some fairly bushy sparks, so I knew I was good to go.
I cut out the shape with an angle grinder, and cleaned up the profile with the bench grinder. Then I had to figure out how to make the super-wide bevels. I started off on the bench grinder to get it roughly to shape, and then started to flatten it by hand with a piece of 80 grit sandpaper (a bench grinder, being a round thing, does not easily make flat surfaces). After a couple minutes I re-evaluated - it would take all week by hand. So I had to find another solution. That solution ended up being building a linisher on my bench grinder:
Some interesting things about this tool:
- I didn't have a drill press (that'll be one of my next purchases), so instead of holes, every bolt is in a slot cut with my angle grinder
- The tracking is adjusted by bending the m3 bar
- The tension is adjusted by sliding the M8 bolt holding the front skateboard wheel in it's slot
- The skateboard wheel's inner diameter was a bit too large for the shaft of the bench grinder, so I 3D printed an adapter. The actual torque is transferred in the same way as a normal grind stone: the clamping force of the bolt
- The whole thing cost about $60NZ including the skateboard and the sanding belts!
The metalworking was finished by sanding the grind/bevel with progressively
finer grits until I was at 1200. For some reason I can't buy sandpaper
with finer grits anywhere locally! But for this steel which isn't the
hardest, going to a mirror polish would probably only serve to
highlight scratches picked up during use.
I left the spine of the blade at it's 60 grit, with just a quick polish at 1200. This means there's a bit of texture variation towards the spine. It isn't so visible in the photos, but I expect it to become more clear as the blade develops a patina.
The handle is made from three woods: Kwila, Mahogany, and Oak. The Kwila comes from an offcut of decking from the hardware store. The oak was scrap from a local woodworking shed I went to a couple times, and the Mahogany is from a 1/8" sheet I purchased in 2009 while I was in highschool (I've just about run out now).
These woods were cut to approximate size and then laminated together. They were then painstakingly cut into two scales by hand. A bandsaw would have made this a really quick job, but it ended up taking ages as I couldn't figure out how to clamp the thing for the final centimeter of the cut. After cutting I ended up dropping one of the scales and it broke along one of the laminations. So when I epoxied the scales into place on the blade, I put some glue there and made sure to apply some clamping force to squish it back together. By the time it was sanded smooth I couldn't even tell which one it was that broke!
Final shaping was done on the linisher - being careful not to allow the belt
to touch the blade, and it was time to pick a finish for the handle.
A couple years ago I discovered cyanoacrylate as a finish, so a quick trip to the local dollar store gave it to me in the form of small bottle of super-thin super-glue. I did probably 5 or 6 layers in half an hour, followed by sanding it smooth and polishing it up to the same 1200 grit.
Yes, I did get my fingers glued to the cloth I was applying the glue with.
So I gave it to him this week. Did he like it? Yup!