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James Helm

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Everything posted by James Helm

  1. I can't afford to give away too many knives, but I do the occasional donation piece. I *always* make sure to donate a blade to Knife Rights for their Ultimate Steel fundraiser (currently forged out), but these two are not for that. The first is for a fundraiser at my old high school, raising money for teachers whose projects for their students go beyond the allotted budget. I never have and never will have any school spirit, but I have a lot of respect for certain individual teachers because it was their efforts in conjunction with mine and not necessarily the institution itself that made a difference in my education. I was approached by an old classmate to make a knife for the fundraiser and agreed to help the teachers going above and beyond the requirements. I used a black and gold wrap because those are the school colors, of course. I demonstrated the wrap as a class I taught at Johnny Stout's Guadalupe Forge Hammer-in. donation01 by James Helm, on Flickr The second one is for WISH, a women's and children's shelter in Muskogee, Oklahoma. As there was no requirement for a particular color scheme, I went with a subdued black-over-olive drab wrap. I used this one to demonstrate making sheaths at the same Hammer-in, though I ran long with the wrap class and ended up having to finish out the sheath in a piecemeal fashion the rest of the day after molding. donation02 by James Helm, on Flickr The two together. No reason for the difference in length, that's just how they ended up. donation03 by James Helm, on Flickr And something well outside my usual wheelhouse, a couple of cooking knives ordered up for wedding gifts. This is the first pair of a series of wedding gift knives since apparently everyone the customer knows is getting married. The customer wanted a 3" paring knife and a 6" chef knife. Handles are red G10 with black G10 liners and black G10 with red G10 liners. chef01 by James Helm, on Flickr I have made a small handful of cooking knives in the past and never really been happy with them. I've had a lot of trouble with warping due to the thinness of the blades, so in this case I didn't forge the blades at all but cut them from 1/8" 80CrV2 and heat treated them at full thickness. That, of course, meant grinding the bevels carefully so as not to ruin the temper. The VFD controller on my new AmeriBrade grinder helped a lot in that department. The customer wanted a 3" paring knife and a 6" chef knife. chef01b by James Helm, on Flickr He picked them up in person. Good guy! Not the first knife nor the last he'll be getting from me. The finish on these is a machine finish with a Scothbrite belt, with the handles buffed on a fine Scotchbrite ball. They're coated in butcher's block mineral oil (contents: mineral oil). chef02 by James Helm, on Flickr
  2. I like making big knives, but of course make small ones too. It's actually more difficult for me to make a 4" blade than a 12" blade. Here are some littler ones that recently left the shop for new homes. All are 80CrV2 steel with marine epoxy-impregnated wraps. Two tantos. The long, slim one has an 8 7/8" long blade. The little kwaiken is a 4" blade, 4" handle, with hemp cord for the underlay on the wrap and paracord on top. tantos01 by James Helm, on Flickr And two rooster spurs. The top one has a 5 1/2" blade, the bottom a 4" like the original. Both have fully sharpened top edges. This was a his-and-hers set, hence the pink camo cord on the bottom one. clippoints by James Helm, on Flickr
  3. I like! An Otzi knife is on my list of things to do sometime....
  4. A guy who does bodyguard work for rock stars approached me about doing a short, cord wrapped knife for him. It seemed like an interesting project, so I took it. He wanted a 4" blade (about as short as I ever make) and 4" handle (shorter than I usually do), sharpened top edge, cord wrapped handle, but left the rest of it up to me. I took a few tips I've picked up from Ed Calderon and a bit of Spanish navaja influence, some pikal design, and came up with the Rooster Spur. roosterspur04 by James Helm, on Flickr It's forged from 80CrV2 steel, with a hemp cord wrap over the bare steel of the tang. roosterspur03 by James Helm, on Flickr It has a narrow little point for easy penetration. A two-strand Turk's head provides a mechanical lock for the hand to keep it in place when stabbing. roosterspur05 by James Helm, on Flickr As mentioned above, it was designed with pikal techniques in mind, and the handle works well with a thumb anchor grip. roosterspur06 by James Helm, on Flickr roosterspur07 by James Helm, on Flickr And, of course, a Kydex sheath for carry. roosterspur10 by James Helm, on Flickr It's garnered enough attention that I'm strongly considering a mid-tech version once I have the process all sorted out. The customer described it as "a tank with a razor edge". roosterspur09 by James Helm, on Flickr
  5. Beautiful work as you always do, sir!
  6. Thanks, guys! Wesley - Not too hard, but it did take as much epoxy as four normal bush sword handles.
  7. I just mailed off an interesting project: The biggest carcass splitter I've built to date. It was the widest and heaviest blade I've made (though not the longest), and I really want to make more. Probably will have one on my table at the Blade Show in June. carcassplitterfinal by James Helm, on Flickr The blade is 18" long by 3 1/2" wide, with an overall length of 40 1/2". Its size made it difficult to take a picture that really showed the size and proportions correctly, but I got a few, and shot a video comparing it with an antique carcass splitter I was given by a customer. Here's the starting blank, cut from 1/4" x 3" 5160. carcasssplitter02 by James Helm, on Flickr After forging out, the blade was about 4" at its widest, though after trimming the end to be aesthetically pleasing, it was 3 1/2". carcasssplitter04 by James Helm, on Flickr Comparison with the antique carcass splitter. carcasssplitter08 by James Helm, on Flickr Ready to heat treat. To give an idea of size, my anvil is 148 lbs, and the face is about 4" x 15". carcasssplitter08c by James Helm, on Flickr It was so large, I couldn't fit the whole thing into my kiln that I use to draw temper. I ended up holding the kiln lid open with firebricks, then filling in the gap with various bits of broken fire brick. If you look closely, the end of the tang is poking out between two bricks just under the little angled tab on the lid. carcasssplitter09 by James Helm, on Flickr Ready for mischief! carcasssplitter13 by James Helm, on Flickr There is a better look at both carcass splitters, more details, more construction pics, wildly irresponsible swinging about of an 18" long razor-like blade, and general silliness in this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nasLRvEhrRU&feature=youtu.be
  8. Thank y'all! Rob - I really got a taste for Johnny Cash from an episode of "Space: Above and Beyond".
  9. I had an interesting opportunity pop up recently when I was contacted about making a couple of knives to be used as diplomatic gifts between the US Army and a couple of generals in the Mexican Army. I didn't have a whole lot of time to work with, but I happened to have some prototype mid-tech Benghazi Warfighter and Little Rok blades already ground, heat treated, and powdercoated, so I agreed. 3/16" 80CrV2 steel, TeroTuf handles, and flared stainless steel tube handle rivets. diplomacy01 by James Helm, on Flickr diplomacy02 by James Helm, on Flickr When I was given the names and ranks to be laser engraved in the blades, I was surprised to find that the knives were gifts for the Mexican Secretary of Defense and his Chief of Staff! :o diplomacy03 by James Helm, on Flickr diplomacy04 by James Helm, on Flickr It was an honor to be chosen for the task. And, on an entirely different tack, a couple of choppers finished up recently. Forged 80Crv2, paracord over neoprene, marine epoxy, the usual. 13 1/2" blade, black and gold. Customer commented, "Love my knife." chopper01 by James Helm, on Flickr chopper02 by James Helm, on Flickr 14 1/4" blade, tan and black. This customer, a fellow knife maker, commented, "Dude! This thing is perfect. I love it!" zw01 by James Helm, on Flickr zw02 by James Helm, on Flickr Always glad to have happy customers.
  10. I finished up the bush swords I showed forged out in my last post. bushswords01 by James Helm, on Flickr All are 80CrV2 steel, between 14" and 16" blades. This longest one had a hemp cord wrap with black paracord Turk's head knots, and a raised false edge. eosword01 by James Helm, on Flickr eosword02 by James Helm, on Flickr This one with tan and black paracord had a short, fully sharpened top edge per the customer's request. kusword01 by James Helm, on Flickr kusword02 by James Helm, on Flickr And finally, the shortest one. I liked the way the butt end of the handle had forged out, so I left it exposed instead of rounding it out and wrapping all the way around. cvsword01 by James Helm, on Flickr cvsword02 by James Helm, on Flickr After having it for a few days, the customer commented, "I can't believe how light and responsive this is for such a large blade. Awesome work my friend! I just can't get over how freakin' awesome this bush sword is. I am sore from swinging it so much. Destroying everything in its path so far. Thank you." Always glad to have happy customers.
  11. Very cool! Congrats on the new gig.
  12. These are good for big blades too: https://www.sportsmansguide.com/product/getproductcartdata?ID=662798&PromoCode=WX2
  13. While I've been working on a variety of blade sizes and types, what I've actually finished up lately have been on the small side for me. All are 80CrV2 steel with marine epoxy-impregnated paracord wraps. This first is the smallest of the bunch at about a 5" long blade. A fellow contacted me about making a knife for a friend of his who is going on a big hiking adventure in New Zealand. He liked the looks of a smaller knife I had done several years back that appeared in an article by Joe Flowers in the final issue of "Tactical Knives" magazine, which featured retina-searing neon lemon cord for the underlay. I happened to have some of the cord still on hand, and built an updated version of the one from several years back. nz01 by James Helm, on Flickr nz02 by James Helm, on Flickr I was able to get finished up and in the mail in time to get there the day before the friend was to leave, thankfully! The rest of the bunch were forged to demonstrate for various shop visitors at different times, then claimed on Instagram. They are all a bit longer than 7" blades, two long drop points and two tantos. A couple of them went to repeat customers, which is nice, and the others to new customers, which is also nice. smallblades01 by James Helm, on Flickr smallblades02 by James Helm, on Flickr smallblades03 by James Helm, on Flickr smallblades04 by James Helm, on Flickr smallblades05 by James Helm, on Flickr And now I'm working on finishing up bush swords. bushswords01 by James Helm, on Flickr
  14. Thanks, guys! I ground and heat treated the last batch of old-style Benghazi Warfighters tonight. Zeb - That's a perfect description. Doug - I just use the bottom wheel on my platen and lightly knock off the sharp edge at about a 45 degree angle.
  15. Some more recently completed work. A forged camp chopper, 80CrV2 steel and TeroTuf handle slabs. The blade is about 10 5/8" long. The customer wanted a large finger choil for choked-up work. It's not the biggest blade I've made by any stretch, but everyone who handled it agreed it was a beast. tw04 by James Helm, on Flickr Kydex sheath. tw05 by James Helm, on Flickr The customer requested an exposed skullcrusher tang and a dedicated lanyard hole. This was a first for me, to build a slab handle with a notch to accommodate a lanyard hole. I say "dedicated" because the flared tube rivets also afford lanyard attachment points. tw06 by James Helm, on Flickr I've been in the very long, slow process of trying to launch a mid-tech stock removal line based on my more popular forged designs. I haven't posted too much about it because I wanted to have everything ready to roll first. I'm finally approaching that point. Along the way I have had small batches of blades waterjet cut and have tweaked my design a bit as I go, getting everything zeroed in to the final product. I have a very small handful of the older style blade designs in various states of completion, most of which are already claimed, before doing a full launch of the line. This set of three Benghazi Warfighters was bought by fellow for himself and some family members. The blanks are waterjet cut from 3/16" 80CrV2 steel, ground and heat treated by me, and handle slabs shaped from TeroTuf using jigs and a series of router bits. bw04 by James Helm, on Flickr The blades have a Caswell black oxide finish (the final version will have a coating) with the touchmark laser engraved. The sheaths are standardized, one will fit any of the blades. bw05 by James Helm, on Flickr A couple of hours after picking these up, the customer called up and laid claim to one of the older-style Little Rok mid-techs in progress.
  16. That is one of the cool things about a custom knife: you can integrate elements from family history. Well done, Noah!
  17. Some mid-sized blades finished up a while back. All are 80CrV2 steel. First up is a small meat cleaver commissioned by a customer. He liked the looks of a cord-wrapped cleaver I had forged for the Blade Show and wanted one with a TeroTuf handle. I liked the results well enough I traced it out to have a reference if I do future versions. It's about a 7" blade. cleaver01 by James Helm, on Flickr cleaver02 by James Helm, on Flickr It was picked up at the Usual Suspects Network Gathering knife show, and I didn't get a chance to get good pics before traveling, but here are a couple of interesting shots of it. The first is during thermal cycling, after forging and before stock removal. cleaver03 by James Helm, on Flickr And a picture from the customer himself, just prior to cutting up these ribs. According to him, the cleaver "went through them like they weren't there". ribs by James Helm, on Flickr And speaking of cutting up critter parts, another customer had this pic of his drop point processing out rabbit along with an ESEE. rabbit by James Helm, on Flickr This bush dha was another casualty of having to get everything ready for the show. These are the only pictures I managed to get. It was originally intended to be a different blade shape, more of a bolo, but sometimes you have to work with the steel rather than boss it around. It's about a 12" blade with a handle of hemp under paracord. dha02 by James Helm, on Flickr I did get an awesome shot of it with the infamous Ed Calderon, the Taco Ninja. Got an interesting upcoming project with Ed. dha01 by James Helm, on Flickr And this 12"-bladed Persian fighter was originally planned to be on my table at the Blade Show, but ended up missing out because I was running out of time. It went to the Gathering with me and came back where it was claimed once I posted it on Instagram. The blade is about 12", and the top edge is unsharpened. I'd consider this to be about as close to doing a fantasy piece as I do. persian01 by James Helm, on Flickr persian02 by James Helm, on Flickr The customer requested a mild steel trainer to be predominantly used on his BOB training dummy. That was a first to me, but I agreed. I used 3/16" mild steel and trimmed out the shape on a bandsaw before cleaning up on my belt grinder. The handles of both are hemp under paracord, and it took three tries to get the wrap to feel almost the same as the original. Then I worked on getting the balance the same as the original. persian02 by James Helm, on Flickr The result was a trainer that's a bit lighter than the original, but due to having the same balance it feels very close to the same. persian01 by James Helm, on Flickr persian03 by James Helm, on Flickr
  18. Wicked! Something I've wondered about but haven't taken the time to experiment: Have you ever tried forging in the fuller and then bending the curve to the blade? How practical would it be?
  19. A couple of knives that went out into the world not too long back. Forged 80CrV2, approximately 6 1/2" blades, marine epoxy-impregnated paracord handles, Kydex sheaths. The usual from me. First up is a long drop point bushcraft knife that went to a bushcraft school owner. busa02 by James Helm, on Flickr Then a Mean Little Sucker tanto to a LEO. mls02 by James Helm, on Flickr mls03 by James Helm, on Flickr mls05 by James Helm, on Flickr And some pics that past customers have sent me recently of their blades set up on their gear. A Ranger sniper. sniper01 by James Helm, on Flickr A Texas SWAT team member. swat01 by James Helm, on Flickr And a fellow who helped with dealing with Hurricane Harvey's aftermath took this prototype Fire Chief rescue 'hawk with him. Untitled by James Helm, on Flickr
  20. That looks like one heck of a chopper!
  21. Thanks! I dig 'em both, they both will chop well but have a different feel in the hand.
  22. From my days of educating young minds: "Mr. Helm, what do you call thus and such?" "I call it a 'woobideewoobideezingzingzingsnergledefloogen', but people look at me weird when I do." "Mr. Heeeee-eeeeeelm!!!!" I've seen similarly-shaped blades get called a seax. Gorgeous work, whatever you call it!
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