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New Bladesmith's first knives


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Hi everyone I am new to bladesmithing and I would like a little feedback on a few of my knives. These are not the only knives I've made but they are the 3 I'm proud enough to show. All 3 are made from old leaf springs which I believe is 5160. I've made a leather sheath for two of them and I would appreciate feedback on those as well. Thank you for any comments or criticisms you leave, they are greatly appreciated. The thistle maker's mark on the third knife is my grandfather's maker's mark. He is an outstanding bladesmith but his motor skills have greatly declined lately. He can no longer smith and I want his knowledge of the craft and his mark to live on in my work.

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5160 on a leaf spring is as good as guess as any. There's a few others that it could be. Main thing is how the heat treatment came out.

 

One the first one. I can't tell but is that a copper collar around the forward end of the handle? If it is it looks like you did a good job of it. The top of the handle could be a little more in line with the spine of the knife but not bad. Antler's not the most fun thing to work with. I can't tell if that's a primary bevel or the secondary bevel showing. If it's the primary bevel it needs to go closer to the spine of the blade if not all the way to the spine of the blade. If it's the secondary bevel it might be a little high but that depends on the final angle of the edge that you want.

 

The second one with the recurve looks nice. The handle looks well made and it lines up with the blade well but again I can't really tell about the bevels on it. I take it you tried to do a forced patina in it and the first one.

 

The most glaring thing that stands out with the one with the S curve guard is the handle is badly off center. Best guess is that you needed to move the stick tang down to where it centered on the blade more then bent it down more to allow the top of the handle to sit flatter against the guard. Not the easiest thing to do, that's probably why I've never tried a handle like that. I would love to see how the heal of the blade rests against the guard. You also might concentrate a bit more on the clean-up on the blades on your next ones.

 

As far as the sheathes go it looks like you made them out of suede leather. What you need is vegetable tanned leather. No oil or chrome tanned, they'll corrode your blades. If those don't have welts between the top and bottom of the sheaths the blade will eventually cut through the stitching or lacing. It would be better to throw them away and start over. I would recommend Chuck Burrows' DVDs on leather work but evidently they've gone out of print with his demise a couple of years ago and the one listing that I saw was a bit pricey. There are, however, several leather working books, more like pamphlets, that are pretty inexpensive that should give you the basic idea of making a sheath.

 

Doug

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5160 on a leaf spring is as good as guess as any. There's a few others that it could be. Main thing is how the heat treatment came out.

 

One the first one. I can't tell but is that a copper collar around the forward end of the handle? If it is it looks like you did a good job of it. The top of the handle could be a little more in line with the spine of the knife but not bad. Antler's not the most fun thing to work with. I can't tell if that's a primary bevel or the secondary bevel showing. If it's the primary bevel it needs to go closer to the spine of the blade if not all the way to the spine of the blade. If it's the secondary bevel it might be a little high but that depends on the final angle of the edge that you want.

 

The second one with the recurve looks nice. The handle looks well made and it lines up with the blade well but again I can't really tell about the bevels on it. I take it you tried to do a forced patina in it and the first one.

 

The most glaring thing that stands out with the one with the S curve guard is the handle is badly off center. Best guess is that you needed to move the stick tang down to where it centered on the blade more then bent it down more to allow the top of the handle to sit flatter against the guard. Not the easiest thing to do, that's probably why I've never tried a handle like that. I would love to see how the heal of the blade rests against the guard. You also might concentrate a bit more on the clean-up on the blades on your next ones.

 

As far as the sheathes go it looks like you made them out of suede leather. What you need is vegetable tanned leather. No oil or chrome tanned, they'll corrode your blades. If those don't have welts between the top and bottom of the sheaths the blade will eventually cut through the stitching or lacing. It would be better to throw them away and start over. I would recommend Chuck Burrows' DVDs on leather work but evidently they've gone out of print with his demise a couple of years ago and the one listing that I saw was a bit pricey. There are, however, several leather working books, more like pamphlets, that are pretty inexpensive that should give you the basic idea of making a sheath.

 

Doug

Thank you for your comments Doug. On the first two I didn't grind or sand the top half of the blade after hear treat and left it blackened like that because in my opinion it gave the knife a more hand forged look. As for the S-guard on last one when it was centered up the bottom curve would hit your hand so I looked at some S-guards knives online and saw some off centered to where the bottom part was longer so I thought maybe that wasn't an uncommon thing and I tried it. I know the bevels on the first 2 are rough and not pretty but all I have at my disposal is a very old and slow bench grinder and that's what I use to grind my knives. The sheaths are made from cheap split leather I bought off amazon to use while I'm learning. It is veg tanned which is why I chose it.

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A bench grinder is going to be rough to work with. There are some who work with an angle grinder in place of a belt grinder. You could also get the largest bastard file you can find and learn to draw file. After you have the primary bevel set you can refine it with finer toothed files. Remember to use the file card often. Then you can go onto sandpaper for the finish that you want.

 

Doug

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As for the S-guard on last one when it was centered up the bottom curve would hit your hand so I looked at some S-guards knives online and saw some off centered to where the bottom part was longer so I thought maybe that wasn't an uncommon thing and I tried it.

 

I may be wrong here, but I think Doug was referring to the antler of the handle not lining up with spine of the knife. Asymmetric guards aren't necessarily bad. Doug, please do correct me if you were in fact referring to the guard.

 

The first knife that I finished ended up being my go-to carry knife. I had a sheath a bit more secure than your last one there (it had a smooth bolster/spacer, not really a guard) which meant about an inch of the handle went into the sheath. It still fell out while hunting. I would therefore recommend adding something to help retain the knife in the sheath. Something like a strap with a snap or toggle. I still miss my lost knife, nearly 10 years later.

 

As a separate note, I would recommend adding something to your grandfather's mark. It could be something small near it, like a line or dot under of next to it. The thought here is that HE didn't make the knife, YOU did, thus it shouldn't bear his mark. Your mark can certainly incorporate his though, and I think that is a great thing to do.

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As a separate note, I would recommend adding something to your grandfather's mark. It could be something small near it, like a line or dot under of next to it. The thought here is that HE didn't make the knife, YOU did, thus it shouldn't bear his mark. Your mark can certainly incorporate his though, and I think that is a great thing to do.

 

Yes after I finished the knife I found some alphabet dies in my attic so I'm thinking in the future I will put my initials directly under his mark.

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A bench grinder is going to be rough to work with. There are some who work with an angle grinder in place of a belt grinder. You could also get the largest bastard file you can find and learn to draw file. After you have the primary bevel set you can refine it with finer toothed files. Remember to use the file card often. Then you can go onto sandpaper for the finish that you want.

 

Doug

Thanks for the advice Doug, I have a large bastard file and I will try some draw filing on my next work.

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I mostly want to jump in here and say that while I agree that you should augment your grandfather's mark to make it specific to your work, I think that your desire to carry his mark forward in some way into your work is fantastic.

 

One of the things that is causing you trouble is something that I also struggle with. Namely that there really aren't very many ways to transition from the spine of the blade to the top of the handle that look right. It just isn't an area where you can deviate from the "normal" straight line very often and come up with something that people generally say looks pleasing. The two handles hump up right after the spine transitions to the handle, and it draws your eye in an unfortunate way.

 

The transition from the belly of the blade to the ricasso/guard area is another where getting too artistic can lead to something that just looks awkward. That large curve in front of the guard of the larger knife will always look wrong no matter how well to do it.

 

I guess what I am trying to say is that while a knife design always starts with a blank slate, there are some things that you don't have as much freedom with if you want avoid something that looks "Odd". I struggle with this as I am not very well versed in knife styles.

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Antler is always tricky. You are bound to the natural shape. Either you have to select really straight pieces or account for the curve.

 

This one doesn't have a guard, but you can see how the spine flows into the handle with no hump:

 

antler_pewter2.jpg

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