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JamesK

Beginner-Made fixed “hunter/chopper” with guard

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So this is my first hidden tang knife I’ve made, or I should say finished, and I learned a lot from it. First of all I learned how to make 90 degree grinds with a cheap $80 4x36 grinder so that’s good, and I learned that without a drill press you can use the prying end of a slightly modified crowbar to forge-punch the slit for a guard in. There’s a lot of minor flaws and things I wish were better with this knife (like a tiny warp near the base on the edge, blade isn’t super sharp, hole in wood is way too thick so I had to shove it full of epoxy for the knife to stay, handle is a bit awkward, etc...) but as a beginner this, I can say, is my first pretty and functional knife. I still obviously have a ton to learn and this is no where near being a really good knife, but it works and it’s at least prettier than anything I’ve made so far!

 

please leave criticism! I love being told how I can make my next one better, I’ve only received helpful criticism on this forum thanks to an amazing community and everyone has been so helpful! Tell me how I can make my next knife better, and the major flaws with this one! Thanks!

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Good first effort! I am by no means an expert, but some suggestions:

  • As @Kreg said, the guard is too big. It extends too far down, and I think it's also too wide. 
  • From the picture, the handle seems to be round. This will cause the knife to turn in your hand. You want a more oval shape the fits the natural shape of your hand. 
  • The handle seems too thick. Think thin. When I was starting out, every time I thought I had my handles and guards the right size, an expert would tell me THINNER!. On a knife that size the guard should usually not be wider than about 1/2" or so, and typically the handle is the same width as the guard where they meet. If you can, look at and handle some knives made by experts. It really helps to understand the proportions.
  • Shape the guard more. It looks like you had a rectangular bar and just rounded off the corners. It would look better if the top of the guard followed the contour of the handle, and the bottom of the guard narrowed to more of a radius.
  • Go slow, pay attention to details. Take your time. Put the knife down for awhile then come back to it and look at closely and with a critical eye. Address the small details.

Keep at it!

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4 minutes ago, jheinen said:

Good first effort! I am by no means an expert, but some suggestions:

  • As @Kreg said, the guard is too big. It extends too far down, and I think it's also too wide. 
  • From the picture, the handle seems to be round. This will cause the knife to turn in your hand. You want a more oval shape the fits the natural shape of your hand. 
  • The handle seems too thick. Think thin. When I was starting out, every time I thought I had my handles and guards the right size, an expert would tell me THINNER!. On a knife that size the guard should usually not be wider than about 1/2" or so, and typically the handle is the same width as the guard where they meet. If you can, look at and handle some knives made by experts. It really helps to understand the proportions.
  • Shape the guard more. It looks like you had a rectangular bar and just rounded off the corners. It would look better if the top of the guard followed the contour of the handle, and the bottom of the guard narrowed to more of a radius.
  • Go slow, pay attention to details. Take your time. Put the knife down for awhile then come back to it and look at closely and with a critical eye. Address the small details.

Keep at it!

All I can add to this is to next time take the grind line all the way up the blade.  What is the handle wood?  Looks like pressure-treated pine?  If so, I'd recommend finding something else, that stuff is poisonous.  If it's not pressure treated with CCA (chromated copper arsenate), you're fine.  

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As they said. The two biggest mistakes seen regularly on a makers very early knives, IMO, are the sabre grind with the bevel low on the blade, and the guard being too big. Oddly in my experience the big guard is more common today than in the past. Pulling off the sabre grind successfully is more trouble than it is worth in the beginning. It is much easier to flat grind from the spine. Getting perfectly symetrical bevels midway down the blade is tedious and time better spent on the finish of a flat ground blade. 

I like the handle profile, it reminds me of an option Randal used to offer called the "Border Patrol" . It is oversized but I would encourage people to leave handles a bit oversize and use the knife, and remove wood where they find it needs it. 

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In profile, the handle shape is great, but like everyone else said, it is too thick. 

 

I too started with a 4x36 grinder, avoid aluminum oxide belts... they don't last compared to zirconium or other better abrasives.  Better belts can be found online.  They make a world of difference in getting everything smooth, flat, and even.  I know this helped me improve the finish on my blades...... and don't rush it, short cuts always seemed to take me longer to fix. 

 

As for cutting a better fitting tang hole, I first used a blade something like this..... https://www.homedepot.com/p/Bosch-4-1-2-in-Progressor-High-Carbon-Steel-T-Shank-Jig-Saw-Blade-Set-for-Cutting-Wood-3-Pack-T234X3/100119348    I ground the tip of the spine into a gentle curve towards the teeth and then glued the tang end into a wood handle.   After drilling one center hole on the knife handle blank, I would use this to slowly scrape a thin but wider slot.  Many smiths here have made their own rifflers to enlarge the tang holes, but for a newbee my quick solution worked pretty well.  

 

Keep at it, you learn something from every blade.  Great first knife.

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Or you could try this:

 

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Here's the thing, even if you only had files and sanding paper, you could've just taken longer to make it and gotten it close(r) to finished.

Assuming the blade is hardened it's maybe not worth the effort, but I'm sure you can still shape the handle and the guard.

We are the masters of these materials, steel, wood, bone etc etc, we need to take away what shouldn't be there and leave it as pretty as we have the patience to achieve.

 

I did a knife making course about two years ago, I still laugh about it because the most important lesson he could've told me over the phone: "keep sanding till it's perfect" :lol:

If there are imperfections on the blade, fix them. 

Use the knife, and if it gives you cramps or blisters, make the handle smaller and round the hot spots, you'll most likely experience the guard is in the way and learn from that as well.

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