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Joshua States

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Posts posted by Joshua States

  1. Well, the finish on the blades looks very nice and I really like those holster-sheaths. (nice belt too!)

    If I can be perfectly honest here, I'm not a big fan of the handle on the first one. I'm sure it feels very friendly in the hand, but I would hesitate to make something like that on a serious working knife. It lacks any definition in design. To me it looks like you lost interest after the blade was finished and had the guard set.

    The blacksmith knife looks good. (except for that split in the spine) The guard may be a little too long because the tang area behind the ricasso is too wide.

    Take a look at Lin Rhea's work on these types of knives (he calls them the X-Rhea) to get an idea of the proportions and forging.  http://rheaknives.com/

    I like the choil notch. Very clean. I tend to locate these so the plunge cut comes down in the center of the arc, or intersects it. That just looks better to my eye than having it on one side.

    I think I have a picture of what I mean somewhere, Ill see if I can find it.

    Good work though. Your finish looks like you really took some time to get it right (or you learned how to make it look really good in the photo! :P)

    I'm gonna steal that holster sheath design.

  2. Have I ever mentioned how much I like using templates? :P


    So I have a variety of guard & spacer templates. Some are made from fiber/paper stock some are made from thin copper sheet.

    One of the two up front will be used to get the bottleneck shape. Maybe eve both of them.

    Various templates (2).jpg


    The first step is to isolate the perimeter of the spacer on the back of the guard. Blacken the back of the guard. 

    BTW-anytime I talk about "blackening" a piece of hardware, you can use Sharpie pens or dykem, or any of the conventional layout fluids.

    Put the guard onto the blade and get it seated in the finished position. Add the spacer and make sure everything is snug. Put the whole thing point down in a vise.

    Scribe (lightly! no sense in scratching an otherwise finished piece) around the outside. You need just enough to remove the black and leave a shiny line.


    8 Guard layout (1).jpg

     Take the spacer off and position the template to scribe around the part you want to keep. Do all 4 positions exactly the same. Remove the guard.

    9 Guard layout (2).jpg 


    Now this is not exactly what I want to end up with, so there's a little redrawing/fudging with various curve templates to get the final shape.


    10 Guard layout (3).jpg


    Cut off the excess and grind the profile down to the line.

    Set the guard back on the knife with the spacer. Check to make sure the profiles are even and symmetrical side to side.

    If you are having trouble seeing how much guard is sticking out from the spacer, I find it helps to put a layer of blue painter's tape on the guard.


    Blue Tape Trick 2.jpg


    Finish on the 2x72 to 220 or 320 and finish out by hand.

    11 Guard shaped (1).jpg

    • Like 3

  3. First, I put the handle in a Panavise and finish the profiles to 600 grit.


    600 grit profile (1) V2.jpg


    600 grit profile (2) V2.jpg


    On this handle it is absolutely critical that the two truncated corners are matched in size or the whole thing looks wrong. When I get done with the profile sanding, this is what I had.


    Uneven corners V2.jpg


    Now I mount the handle and spacers to each other and use the drywall screw to hold it all together. I shape the scales to match the spacer on the disc grinder.

    Because the shape is curved on the profile, the ends grind down faster than the center.

    Now the whole thing, all held together, goes back in the Panavise to even out the flats along the profile center.

    This is a lot of shoe-shining and hand rubbing to get it even and straight. Eventually going to 800 grit on all surfaces including the spacer package.

    This is now ready for file work on the frame and/or spacers. I will only file work the frame. The spacers will get a different treatment, ala Lin Rhea and his "intermediate forging" application.


    6 800 Grit (1).jpg


    7 800 Grit (2).jpg





    I'll post the guard shaping process tomorrow.

    • Like 1

  4. Thanks Chris. There's a few new uses coming for the 1/4" MDF I told you about.

    This handle is a classic coffin handle, but it will be a frame handle design. The process for making this basic shape is on page 2 of this thread.

    The process for making the blind alignment pins is on page 3 of this thread.

    The process for getting everything shaped is slightly different that it was with the hunter. For this knife, I will shape the spacer package first, and shape the handle to the spacer.

    I'm a big fan of making and using templates. I will make a template for the spacer package out of 1/4" MDF board. I buy this in 4x4 or 4x8 sheets and use it for all sorts of stuff.

    First I drill the holes in the MDF to match the holes in the spacers. I munt the spaces (still rough cut rectangles) onto the MDF and scribe the perimeter with a pencil.

    Then I pull a handy template out of my Gatorade can of fitting templates and using only one quadrant of the template, scribe the curves onto the MDF. I use only one quadrant so the new template is symmetrical in two dimensions.


    1 Spacer Template.jpg


    I cut that out and cut a notch in it so that it fits onto the ricasso. Load the spacers onto the tang and push them up tight (no guard in place), blacken the face with a Sharpie. and mount the template onto the ricasso and sitting flush on the spacers. Scribe the profile.


    2 Template on spacers.jpg


    While I have the spacers mounted, I scribe a series of lines on the face of the spacers, parallel to the ricasso face. Do both sides exactly the same.


    3 Scribed spacer.jpg


    Now I remove the spacers and mount them to another piece of MDF and cut off the excess with the bandsaw.


    4 Bandsaw cutoff.jpg


    Cut off all the excess MDF, leaving the spacers attached to the rest of it and grind down to the line on the 2x72.

    This is the rough ground spacer package profiled to 320 grit.

    5 Rough shaped spacers.jpg

    • Like 1

  5. So next up is that big ol' Bowie. There's a lot to show and a lot of pics.

    I ended up remembering that I had left a divot in the plunge cut on one side (slipped with the disk grinder don't you know) and spent 4 hours sanding it out yesterday.

    So, while I edit the photos and resize them all, enjoy this short video of the finish that I finally ended up with.


    • Like 1

  6. 7 hours ago, Chris Christenberry said:

    Man what I'd give to come and spend a week in your shop just watchin' what and how you do what you do, Josh.  I like the way your mind works.  Wish mine worked that way.

    Ok. Time for confession.

    Most of what I know about this craft, I learned from my mentor, the late great Tim Hancock. I would spend hours in his shop talking about making blades, handles, hardware shapes, the whole gamut, and watching him work. Sometimes I would just call him up and ask about a project I had and what to do with it.

    He didn’t spend any time on forums or FB, he barely even used email. He taught probably hundreds of students. Some of them are still making knives and swords. Many of those who studied under him are now ABS journeymen and master smiths. 

    I will be forever grateful for his friendship, his generosity, and his integrity. I will forever live in his shadow. He was a giant among snails.

  7. The only thing I forgot to add is when the screen won’t fit through the slot you have to grind down the section of the threads that remain inside the spacer/guard all the way around. Otherwise, the threads bite into the hardware instead of the wood.

  8. I often mention using alignment pins and a drywall screw to hold the handle piece together while finishing the handle off the blade.

    I just did a search and realized I never posted the technique on this forum.

    So here it is.


    My alignment pins are laid out in relation to the tang, and I purposely offset them in relation to both center lines so that there is only one way to assemble the spacer to the handle once it is made. (pretend this spacer is not shaped yet)
    Attached Image

    Now, the drywall (DW) screw will not fit through that slot. So, you have to grind off the teeth on opposite sides of the screw to make it thin enough to pass through the slot.

    Attached Image
    Attached Image

    Hopefully, your slot in the handle is not much wider than the slot in the spacer, but if it is (like this one) you will need some wood shim material.
    Attached Image

    I use thin pieces of cedar shims from Home Depot.
    Attached Image

    Slide them down the handle slot (fat end first) and break them off. They should be loose in the hole, but wide enough to overlap center.
    Attached Image

    Now put your spacers or spacers & guard in place using the alignment pins.
    Slip a couple of washers over the screw, (put a leather one against the guard face so not to scratch it up), slip the screw through the slot and in between the wood shims. Tap it down until it is tight against the face and give it a 1/4 turn. It will hold everything together tightly.

    Attached Image

    • Like 5

  9. I did a bunch of work on these blades over the last few days. I'm going to post the progress shots in groups over the next few days......

    I kind of lost track of where I was and when I picked up a knife thinking it was ready to work on the handle, I realized I still had some work to do on the blade. 

    First up was that little hunter. After spending several hours refinishing the blade, it was ready to do the handle. I already showed you how I shape the guard and spacer profile and the prep work of drawing the lines around the profile. Now I'll show how I do the shaping. Well, I'll show some of the process anyway. This really kicked my butt yesterday and I didn't take too many pics. First I use my drywall screw and washers to hold everything in place. The blind alignment pins are set ever so slightly into the guard. Just enough to hold it steady.


    Handle shaping (2).jpg


    Initial shaping of the sides is done on the disk sander, using the lines on the profile to keep everything even. You can easily see in this pic how one side is ground down further than the other.


    Handle shaping (1).jpg


    Once both side are even, the whole thing goes in a Panavise for some rasp & file shaping. This is where the roughing in for the finger slot and pinky slot happens. It is also where you start to pull in the center of the belly. A good cabinet maker's rasp is an indispensable tool for this work.


    Handle shaping (3).jpg


    Then a small wheel (3/4") is used to carve out the recesses in both places and start finishing to 400 grit.

    You have to take extreme care not to get into the pin area. Eventually you end up doing a lot of hand sanding and get it to shape.

    Add a little Danish oil and let it dry. Check it again and do a little light sanding. Reapply the oil as needed (I like 2 or 3 coats before glue-up)

    Eventually, you are ready to glue it together.


    Ready to glue up (1).jpg


    Ready to glue up (2).jpg

  10. Bill,

    I have a couple more helpful tips for you.


    2 hours ago, Bill Schmalhofer said:

    Everything that I have read has said "drill the pin holes before HT"

    You can do it that way, and I used to. There is a way to do it which I will outline. I don't do it this way anymore because it requires a "best guess" at the pin location, and it never ended up where I really wanted it. If you do it before HT, you need a drawing of the finished knife to work from. Lay the rough ground blade (ready for HT) on the drawing. Approximate where the guard shoulders will end up and mark the spot for the pin hole. Drill it a little oversized as it will never line up perfectly.( Sometimes it never lines up at all and well that's another set of how-to-fix-this post.) After you have HT'd and finished the blade, get your hardware all fitted and tight. Slot for the tang and profile the handle shape, leaving the sides flat. Now Lay the tang on top of the wood block instead of inside the wood block, get the spacers pushed tight against the face and clamp the tang down. Now drill the hole in the block. Drill towards the front of the hole rather than in the center to account for the taper in the tang (unless you have made the tang hole size much larger than the pin). The trouble with this method is that all the work prepping the guard and spacers, prepping the shoulders, and the minor differences between the drawing and real life, all add up to the hole placement moving from your original position that you thought was aesthetically correct. Does it work? Yes, but I hate it when that pin is not where I originally wanted it. Yes, you have to draw the tang way back in order to drill it. I draw all my tangs back anyway. You will also need cobalt or carbide drill bits to drill through it, unless you can isolate the heat well enough to fully normalize the pin location 3X.


    2 hours ago, Bill Schmalhofer said:

    the guard actually flares out a bit when going from the handle toward the blade.

    I noticed that and I like the design element. I would just prefer that the top didn't do that. It just takes some hand sanding to blend that in so the spine is straight and the sides have the flare.


    2 hours ago, Bill Schmalhofer said:

    What I was shooting for was to have to choil "curve" into the arc of the finger groove.

    I figured as much. Really nice design idea. Hard to achieve, but worthy of repeated attempts.


    2 hours ago, Bill Schmalhofer said:

    BTW, there isn't a gap around the pin on the one side. It looks to be reaction between the wood and the nickel silver, the epoxy, or something making for "stains" in the wood. If you notice the dark ring around the pin in the last picture. It is actually just a big bit of staining. I like the wood but this is the second time I have had this issue with some kind of staining. :unsure:

    I did notice the ring around that pin. As for preventing the staining, I also have a trick for that. Seal the wood with whatever finishing oil you plan to use before glue-up. get a little bit inside that pin hole. This also helps with keeping the overflow epoxy from sticking to the handle material, and helps keep the Vaseline resist from staining the wood. I do 2-3 coats of Danish oil before glue-up.


    2 hours ago, Bill Schmalhofer said:

    Already started on the next. Piece of cable damascus with the same basic shape. Trying to make it better.

    Good plan and good luck to you sir.

  11. Ok Bill. I'll give it a go FWIW.

    First of all this is a well designed and executed piece. There are a few things I would not have done, because of personal preference, but they are minor.

    The fit and finish is great. It looks like you took your time with it. The Damascus looks very clean, no weld flaws visible and the random pattern came out well. It's difficult to tell from a photo, but it looks a little washed out on the left side. It may have benefitted from a more aggressive or longer etch. Hard to say. It could just be the pic or the lighting.


    What I see that needs some further technical attention (on the next one) is the pin hole. It looks like it's off from one side to the other like it was drilled crooked. There is also what looks like a gap between the pin and the wood on one side. I find that many people try to drill this hole after the shaping is done and it never comes out right. If it does, it's a stroke of pure luck or tremendous fiddling. I do not drill this hole until the guard and spacers are fitted to the tang and still in rough shape. The face of the guard is finished to about 320 grit. Then what I do is take a square block of wood and slot for the tang. Once I get the tang slotted, I insert the tang with the guard & spacer package attached and get the front edge of the block sanded flat to the spacers. Once everything is all nice and tight, I draw the profile on the block and cut it out. Sand the profile down to 220 or better. The handle is very chunky at this point with flat sides.

    Now mark the pin placement, take the block off the knife, and drill straight through the whole block in a single go. Mark one side of the tang with a black Sharpie pen. Stick the tang back into the block (black side up) and hold everything tight while you reinsert the drill bit just far enough to mark the tang. Remove the tang and drill the hole in it at the mark. Works easy-peasy.

    I'll admit that I sometimes have to over-size the tang hole a little to get a clean passthrough. 

    Another technical suggestion is the buffed Nickel-silver. Just don't do it. That stuff never buffs out right and remains scratch free unless you are prepared to sand it to like 2000 grit. I just take it to a nice 600 grit satin finish and call it good. It just scratches too easily for a buffed shine IMO.

    It also looks like there's a hiccup at the very top of the wood to spacer junction. The line of the top of the wood does not flow straight through to the blade spine.


    Now for the minor stylistic points.

    I think the finger slot is too high. I like the crest of the finger groove to be tangent to the line of the bottom of the ricasso. 

    The backmost fiber spacer is too thick. I would have left it out or matched the thickness of the front fiber spacer. It looks unbalanced to my eye.

    The guard is too short. I like the guard to come down as far as the blade edge or a little more.

    The point behind the finger slot, and the belly in the handle and the upcurve for the pinky doesn't work for my eye. The line is just wandering around along the bottom of the handle. Too many elements to cram into one line. I think it would have looked better with less. Maybe forget the point and make the belly a little more pronounced, coming right off the finger slot. Maybe leave the point and loose the belly making the bottom of the handle curve upward and then down to the bird head. That would have continued the theme of the curves you started with that choil and the finger slot. Three curves. Each one bigger than the last one.

    Speaking of the curves, there's something in the curved choil and finger slot that bugs me and I cannot truly say what it is. Maybe it's the finger slot being too high. If it was lower, they might seem more like brothers than cousins, if that makes any sense.


    Well, there you have it. I think this is a great first partial tang creation. Now go make another one!


  12. Why use the whole tusk on just one knife?

    I have seen these tusks used for an ivory spacer between a guard and other natural handle material.

    Jean-Louis Regel did a great Damascus Bowie that way.

    I have three of these tusks in a box waiting for me to decide what to do with them.

    Anxious to see what you come up with. I think the ivory spacer would look great at the front of a seax.

    • Thanks 1

  13. I think this is a good plan to enter the style with a blade of this size.

    If that is as-forged, that's pretty impressive. I have a bunch of questions about the drawings/plan for this one.

    The guard is going to be a bear to slot at that thickness, what's your plan for that? What's the material? What does that half-moon at the front of the guard represent?

    The sculpting of the handle is a nice touch and very ambitious, but may be gratuitous. The knife would be no less attractive with a simple belly curve or just the center point.

    I know Kyle does a lot of those sculpted handles, and it's terribly tempting to go for it, but if this is your first attempt at the whole style, it may be a lot to achieve.

    Make a few drawings without the pimping and frills and see what you think. I often do multiple handle designs before deciding on a finalist.

    Lots of things to consider.

    Draw the guard and handle heel in cross section to get a full idea of what this looks like in 3 dimensions.

    What's the handle material going to be? A simple handle material may need the extra stuff, a really nice burl or a figured/colorful wood may not.

    Are you planning to shape this handle after final glue-up or before? 

    What about a single pin? Sometimes they add that right amount of grace to an otherwise plain-Jane knife and make it pop.

    All said, I think you have a great beginning. And for the record, I think the second drawing is sexier. (although the thinness of the handle material above and below the tang may cause you problems)

  14. I have two questions for you before I comment. Both of them only require a single word answer.

    1. Have you made a list of things that you think you could/should have done differently or better? (this is a simple Y/N question)

    2. How detailed a critique would you like? 


    A few more pics would also help. Maybe a shot from the top and bottom, if you can manage.

  15. On 3/25/2020 at 11:27 PM, Alex Middleton said:

    Hopefully over the next week or two I can get this blade wrapped up.

    Do not rush this. You have made an awesome effort thus far. Sometimes slower is better. 

  16. 13 minutes ago, Dave Stephens said:

    Getting out of this thing is not guaranteed, but I think we've got a solid shot at it. Have faith. The US and the World have endured worse. We will get through this. 

    It's good to have you back, sir.



    On 3/28/2020 at 9:07 AM, J.Arthur Loose said:

    Diversify; and as the inestimable Don Fogg has said... maintain multiple income streams. Be safe, everyone.


    Always sound advice from the Saxon sage. It's good to have you back too Jul. 

  17. 9 hours ago, Joël Mercier said:

    But the risk with a straight edge is that it becomes concave after a few sharpening. It doesn't take much to prevent it from working well.

    Also true.

    If a customer asks for something because he thinks that will suit him best, who am I to argue with him? It's not my job to tell someone how to spend their money.

    I have another customer who wants me to make a "Japanese vegetable cleaver". (As he described it)

    He also wants a straight edge. I have not made it yet. I am waiting for him to pester me for it.

    • Haha 2

  18. 1 hour ago, Gerald Boggs said:

    So unless civilization collapses, life for me will go on as normal.

    If civilization collapses, people like you are going to be in high demand.


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