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Recurve Bolo -- Critique?


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Gents,

 

I haven't been doing a lot of work lately, but recently finished this one up. I'm only about 6 months into the craft and this is my favorite knife so far. The bolo design was per request (I'm not a fan of it, so you can leave that out of the critiques). Can I ask that you guys critique this? Design, fit/finish, colors, hamon, etc. If you don't mind adding some tips for how to improve on your critiques, that would be great too :D.

 

I've got natural canvas micarta, ivory paper micarta, and copper pins and guard. Steel is 1095.

 

Thanks fellas

 

 

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Hand-Bolo.jpg

Leaves-Bolo.jpg

Rocks-Bolo.jpg

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This knife really suits my tastes so I can offer no criticism . However I will share why it appeals to me . The clean pure profile of the blade is beautiful, even the recurve shape subtle and refined. Not a fan of sharpening them though. The materials and use of them in your handle also well excecuted. The hamon and its placement is fantastic . W2? The best feature is this knife looks like one a person can rely on , well done.

What is the bolster made of?

Regards

Jess

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This knife really suits my tastes so I can offer no criticism . However I will share why it appeals to me . The clean pure profile of the blade is beautiful, even the recurve shape subtle and refined. Not a fan of sharpening them though. The materials and use of them in your handle also well excecuted. The hamon and its placement is fantastic . W2? The best feature is this knife looks like one a person can rely on , well done.

What is the bolster made of?

Regards

Jess

 

Thanks for the accolades. It's good to hear someone else likes the work too.

 

The bolster and pins are Copper. Steel is 1095--I haven't delved into W2 yet, it kinda scares me as a home heat-treater...

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Well for being six months in I would certainly qualify this as a success, in general the fit and finish look to be pretty solid and clean. If I were to offer critique it would be one several aspects that would be of refinement, not general structure. Because you are trying to have plunge lines, it would look much cleaner to go in and clean them up. If you are not yet quite confident enough in your grinder skills a round or flat file is a quick and easy way to correct and sharpen up plunge lines. Also just for the sake of aesthetics it appears that the pins are slightly too large and also slightly too high on the handle (towards the spine of the knife), but this could be the photo angle. Again there seems to be no structural issue with the knife and overall I would say you did a very good job, but if you wanted things to look at to improve those are what I would say you should look at.

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Looks great for 6 months! A couple of thing that would make it look/preform better in my opinion is to drop the handle a little, and It might be a little short in the handle too. bith of these things would make it easier to control and hang on to when chopping. The end of the handle might become a hot spot after extended use.

 

Good job, and these things are just my opinion.

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Six months into the craft, huh...nice work! After six months I hadn't even figured out what quench hardening was yet, let alone hamon (but I was about 12, and there was no internets back then!)

 

Two little aspects I'd critique. One, the handle IMHO needs more swell at the butt than that, this design looks honestly a bit unsafe and prone to fly out of somebody's hand in use. Two, a bolo is a hard use knife; it seems funny to see such a highly-polished finish on one, but maybe that's just me. My own big choppers tend to be particularly rough, forge-finished things.

 

All around, very nice work, and kudos on the hamon.

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Anything I would have said, has already been said, including that's pretty fine work for "6 months into the craft" !!!

My rule of thumb on handle length is 3.75 - 4.25 inches from front of the index finger to inside of the bird's head with 1/2 inch to 1 inch sticking past the pinkie.

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Great feedback, thanks guys. A couple response questions (trying to generalize your feedback for future knives):

 

  1. Robert, what size pins would you use? I have been using only 1/4" pins. I haven't even thought about them being too big. I totally agree that they are too high.
  2. You talk about clean plunge lines. I'm not even sure I know what qualifies as "clean". I understand looking for symmetry on depth and positioning, but beyond that what would a round file accomplish?
  3. Cody, "drop the handle a bit"? Are you suggesting more of a stag tine shape where the butt of the knife is lower than the blade? If so, is this something you suggest for choppers in general?
  4. Orien, why swell the butt? Is this a grip suggestion or a general aesthetics suggestion? In the past, I've seen people taper the handle--just the opposite of your suggestion.

 

Thanks for the feedback gents; much appreciated!

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The pin size is a matter of taste. Some of the rivets and bolts used on handles would be that size. However the pin closest to the ricasso being higher than the other two makes it look out of place.

 

The handle is my big concern. Seeing the knife in your hand makes me realize that it's not a real chopper but more of a camp knife but I steel question if there is enough handle there to give good control to the knife. (Something that I found out the hard way that is easily overlooked.) I would have made the handle longer so that it extended past the heal of the hand and I would have made a bit of a palm swell to help control it. A little indentation at the butt of the handle that the little finger could snug into would help also.

 

Cleaning up the plunge lines would probably be your next goal. I use a file guide with my grinder to keep things even during my primary grind and then just line things up very carefully when doing the secondary grind after heat treating the blade.

 

just a question. Is the hamon intentional or is that just the way it came out? Anyway be aware that not all 1095 is created equal and that some of it can be difficult to heat treat with a forge. I think that something like 1080, 1084, or 5160 would match your equipment better.

 

Doug

 

P.S: Maybe this will illustrate what people are saying about the handle. The handle looks right but it is too small to control the cleaver. It needs to be a little longer wider and thicker to be used as a chopper. It may have worked for a dedicated slicer.

 

 

IMG_0133.JPG

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My suggestion about the swelled butt (lol :o ) is purely a function thing; sweaty hands can slip, and the swell helps keep the knife where it belongs. I have "pitched" a machete accidentally myself, and it's quite scary...luckily it flew off in a safe direction, and nobody else was around me at the time! I consider the swelled butt handle shape a safety feature, and try to include it on all big choppers I make.

 

It's a pretty common feature traditionally, too...google up some Filipino bolo pics to see a lot of interesting variations on the idea. Malay parangs and klewangs (my personal faves) also have nice butts... :rolleyes:

 

Anyhow, keep up the good work!

Edited by Orien M
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There are few straight lines in nature, and none of them on your hand. I think most knives look better, and probably preform better,if the butt is lower then the front of the handle. If you look, most will have this drop. I agree with the others that there should be a little more butt. I can't deny! Like Doug said,its not really a chopper, but a colts foot, fawns foot, birds head, what ever you call it helps a ton when you are chopping it using a knife for rough service.

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I like this knife, You should be quite proud of it, its a great looking knife.

 

Now, for the whole " swell " bit.

 

I recently made and torture tested a short bladed ( 4 inch ) american tanto blade.

 

The one thing I took away from that testing, was that for the use I had made the knife for, the handle was its weak point. granted I had only used a single layer of gutted paracord for a handle as I planned to destroy the knife, however the knife survived the beating I put it through quite easily, what it didnt do, is stay in my hand easily while chopping on various materials, as the handle was a uniform width the entire length of the handle, it was a bit of a task keeping a good grip on the knife while chopping it through some 2x4's and logs, a swell at the end of it would have made that task a LOT easier.

That is just my two cents on the matter, I am a newb to all of this as well, one thing I would suggest, is to make a knife or two that your whole intent on is to beat the crap out of it, use the crap out of it, use it how you think a customer might use it, You will probably find at least one thing you can use on the next one to make it work better by doing so.

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