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Zach Greig

New knife, finally finished

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Finally finished the knife I've been working on. Not too thrilled with the sheath but the handle came out almost perfect. First time doing a scale handle or working with antler. S7 steel, antler handle, bottle opener pommel. :D This makes my tenth knife so far. and they are definitely getting better.

 

So, what would y'all consider a fair price on this one? I figure I need to average about $180 per knife to really be able to do this full-time but idk if that would be considered too high a price for this. Time taken was at least 30 hrs.

 

IMG_3091.jpg

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Zach, it bums me out when no one comments on a newer smith's stuff. Feedback's necessary, and you ask some really important questions that need answering. I am in no way qualified to give you the advice you need--I'm a pretty new smith myself, but if you'll bear that in mind, I'd like to point out a few things that may help you.

 

The shape of your knife is good and I like the bottle opener idea. It's a solid, no-nonsense knife that will get the job done. It's definitely not going to break. (What's the heat treat like for S7 anyway?)

 

That being said, your rivets aren't in line, it looks like. I recommend you get some vegetable tanned, tooling leather for your sheathes and some proper tooling for a more satisfactory result next time. What's missing in particular is proper edge treatment--there are trimmers and burnishers to help you get a clean, rounded, and polished edge. I don't work with leather, btw.

 

As far as your questions about price--if you walked into a knife store and saw that knife how much would you pay for it? It's probably not worth $180, but the bummer is that even at $180, you're making like $6 an hour gross, and probably less than $4.95 an hour when you take into consideration material costs. Less than half minimum wage where I am. :( The ugly truth is that you're not going to make much money until you have a bit of a reputation or you invest in a production-style shop so your overhead's way low. Very few go full time. Some of the best smiths on here don't even sell their stuff!

 

I hope none of this is discouraging. I only wrote what I think I'd want to hear to improve,'cause only compliments teaches nothing, and silence is stifling. Keep making knives!! Seriously, keep making knives.

Edited by Tyler Miller

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Yeah, I've become very aware of how extremely difficult it is to get to a point of full-time bladesmithing. That just makes it all the more rewarding when you do hit that point. :D And I'm going to try my damnedest to get there. Lucky for me I don't need to make a lot to be happy as long as I can keep a roof and food, especially if I'm doing something as great as bladesmithing to make that happen.

 

Really I thought that the buffing was going to help clean everything up more than it did. Lesson learned. And this is definitely not the best leather for sheaths, but it's just what I have for now (hopefully not the case for long). With the rivets: I know. Was too late to fix by the time I figured it out. :( Will still do its job at least and next time will be better.

 

That was another question I've been struggling with regarding the edge. Everyone sharpens slightly differently, and if someone is going to pay for a hand-forged knife there is almost no doubt they know how to sharpen a knife pretty well. So do you get it to shaving sharp, and have them have to re-train the blade the first time they sharpen it, taking off more material, or just leave it with a starter edge? Also, I'm not great at sharpening yet. Getting better, but still not great.

 

As far as heat treating I usually just try to use the magnet test. It's already stuck on the anvil (to cut ringing) so I don't have to waste too much heat seeing if the metal is pulled at all. Then look up what temp and how long for temper each time to make sure I get it right.

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Sometimes when the silence is deafening it's because you already know what's wrong with it and nobody wants to risk hurting your feelings. ;)

 

My advise is to take more time finishing. That's an unfinished rough-ground blade. As you learned, buffing only polishes the scratches. You have to take them out yourself. A belt grinder is a great way to take some of the time out of that, but since those are expensive you need to get used to drawfiling and hand sanding. I still end up drawfiling most blades at some point in the process, and I always hand sand. Getting those scratches out is a requirement if you want to sell things. Mirror finishing is not needed, most working blades are perfectly good to go with a 400-grit satin finish. But it must be a uniform satin finish with no deep scratches.

 

This brings me to my second thing: Why S7? And are you sure it's S7? And have you read the HT specs for it to see if simple nonmagnetic and oil quench is what it needs? This is connected to bit about finishing because some alloys are remarkably abrasion-resistant. D2, for instance, had better be nearly polished before HT or you'll eat ten times more sandpaper than with something like 1075.

 

About the edge: In my experience people who buy a handmade knife expect it to be razor sharp and to hold that edge longer than any factory blade they've owned. Don't expect them to know how to properly sharpen it, either. Some do, some don't, some will bring it back to you to resharpen if and when it dulls.

 

I can't really tell, but it looks like your edge has no real bevel, just a short sudden sharpened bit. That makes a tough edge for an axe, but not great for a knife. Edge geometry is a funny thing, because it will vary depending on the intended purpose of the knife. That said, look at various knives you already have. Look at the bevels, look at the thickness, look at the way the edge is angled. Compare that with your own work and see what you think.

 

Finally, my first sheaths were crap. Heck, they still aren't that great. :lol: Get yourself some harness needles, an awl, some linen thread, a stitch wheel, and a grooving tool along with the 7-8 ounce veg-tan leather. Cut your pattern, glue your welt, use the grooving tool to cut a line where the stitching will be, use the stitch wheel to lay out the hole spacing, use the awl to cut your stitch holes, and do a double-needle saddle stitch to hold it all together. It gets easier. ;)

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Lots of good info. Thanks Alan.

 

It did have a nice convex bevel, then the bevel disappeared. :( Went away more and more when I was working on the upper portion. Not having a flat on my belt sander hasn't helped anything either. Need to rig up something.

 

And as far as using S7, everything has worked out pretty well so far. Doesn't really want to move much on the anvil, or be filed, but it works.

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Zach are you hot forging S7? S7 is an air hardening steel so as soon as it comes out of the fire it starts to harden so not a good choice for hot forging. Good for stock removal and some cold forging but really should not be heated up until you heat treat. This has been my experience with S7. It can make a pretty good blade so long as it gets a good heat treat.

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I have been. Like I said it doesn't like to move much and I've only been forging at a fairly high heat. Around bright red to dark orange and above. No cracks yet.

 

Wouldn't cold forging completely destroy any tool steel? And it has indeed made some very good blades from what I've seen. Also, it's just what I have for right now along with a wee bit of 52100.

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