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WIP - Sami influenced gift knives

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I am going to attempt a WIP type post. I am making a pair of knives as gifts for friends who recently lost their job due to wonders of the corporate Jenga game. 

As you can see from my prior post I have been significantly influenced by the Scandinavian/Sami culture:

Might have something to do with the 3 feet of snow in my yard at the moment, or might have had something to do with my walkabout to the northernmost parts of Norway, Sweden, and Finland way back when I was in highschool.  

Not to much else to say. I will just start in with the pictures. 

Here is my initial sketch. I live in a tiny (population 3kish) town, high in the mountains, set on the edge of pristine lake with multiple ski resorts nearby, seemingly endless wilderness, and many cabins out in the middle of nowhere (some of these "cabins" are multi-million dollar mansions, others are the more traditional, cozy cabin in the woods). I wanted to convey this kind of place in the knives.


I am hoping to pull off a hand forged 80crv2 blade (even though I have little forging experience).

Handle is reindeer antler, some stabilized koa I bought quite a while ago, and bolster/butt from an old wagon wheel I found hiking in the woods. 

Sheath is the same wood, possibly inlayed antler, and half-tan leather.

I have worked on the blades some, but I don't have all the pictures put together yet, so I'm going to just start with this. My hope is I will learn a lot through this process, so please critique as I go along. I am also using this as a personal motivator, usually my knives take months and I want to get these done quickly so I figured the forum may keep me accountable. 


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Some quick iPhone pics to prove it so I can finally say this project is DONE! Summer gets crazy busy with almost no shop time but I eked out enough time to put on the finishing touches. I think I

Back from spring break. The kids had fun and no bones were broken... I guess I prefer going the opposite direction, downhill... Really fast   Definitely a beautiful place! Bac

Engraved the re-sheath. I like it much better. and just for kicks, a glamour shot of the triplets (not identical) I guess I better get out the leather box.    

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I started working on the blades. I thought this out pretty thoroughly but I still usually make multiple to learn the process and then I can pick the ones I like. I like forging the blade for this reason as I am using minimal steel.

I started with 1 x 3/16" 80crv2 bar stock, each blade takes about 2-3 inches. I tried to take a picture after each heat. This was my second try, the first I didn't take any pictures because I was just trying to make sure my method worked. 

I used about an inch for the tang:IMG_5504.JPG

Draw it out and taper the tang, the thickest part of the blank is the middle where the tang meets the blade.


I threw the first blade in there because I am trying to work on consistency, but also because I wanted to use a little less steel this time around so I wanted to compare. I still used a little to much, but that's okay.


Next I hot cut the blade side. I used a little over an inch of the bar for the blade.


At this point I'm using a pair of vise grips to hold on to the tang. I start to taper the blade and wedge it down. The short side (blade up) will get the bevel, which will straighten the blade out.


Next I bevel the blade side


And there is that - 2 inches of steel turned into a blade shaped object. Next will be a visit to the 2x72. I want to leave the forge finish and only grind the bevel. 

Again, critique away. I will probably make more and try to improve the process. I struggle with keeping the shoulders crisp, I eventually smack it with an errant blow and round it off. 


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Looks pretty good don't feel bad lol I'm still fighting the learning curve of making blades.  None of my stuff has been that straight yet.  Nor perfect.

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Looking very good indeed!

I have found I do that with the corners as well.  Get a little tired, hammer control slips a bit, and bam! rounded corner.  A friend of mine uses a nearly-sharp cornered flat-faced hammer to do that kind of work.  Needless to say he has excellent hammer control...

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Very cool design. Will the handle detail be scrimshaw? Looking forward to seeing how this progresses.

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2 hours ago, MichaelP said:

Very cool design. Will the handle detail be scrimshaw? Looking forward to seeing how this progresses.

It is kinda like scrimshaw but quite a bit different at the same time. They call it engraving as you are actually cutting a groove into the antler. Then, like scrim, you rub a pigment into the groove. 

They traditionally made by Sami reindeer herders and they made much more geometric designs. You can google Sami knives and find some amazing knives. 

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Got some grinding done. 

Let the blades soak overnight to get the scale off.


I'll throw a spine view in so you can see the taper, the thickest part should be right at the transition between the blade and the tang.


Then hit it with the grinder, this is just preliminary as the blade is not heat treated yet. The plunge lines traveled a little further up then I planned due to the thickness of the blade. I left the edge right at the magic "thickness of a dime" everyone talks about.


Thanks for watching.


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The only piece I'm familiar with that attributes its design to the Sami people is a production knife made by Helle called the "Lapland" I'm sure as a production piece there is a certain amount of marketing hype but I always liked the design of that particular knife. Now I'm interested in exploring some of the more authentic Sami tools. I know they are a distinctly separate ethnic group of nomadic reindeer herders that routinely cross several national borders in the course of their migrations but I haven't tackled the subject in anything approaching an academic way. If the design you are working on is indeed patterned on Sami design I am intrigued. I like your little knife!

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44 minutes ago, MichaelP said:

If the design you are working on is indeed patterned on Sami design I am intrigued. I like your little knife!

I wouldn’t say it’s a traditional shape, as they are typically more puukko shaped. And my engraving is much less geometric, but I think my construction methods are close to those I’ve seen.  As with any other branch of knifemaking I think the modern versions are quite different than the older versions, but I still like the style and I like the challenge of the antler engraving. I also enjoy the sheath construction more than just the typical western leather sheath. 

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Worked on the second blade (so far I've made four).... Deviated from the plan a bit and went with a scandi grind on it. I have never made a scandi grind blade before so I figured I'd give it a shot. 


The other side:


This blade had a tiny cold shut (I think that's what it was)at the tip, so you can see it got a touch shorter.

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Okay, on to heat treat.

there was a recent topic on heat treating 80crv2 that I bookmarked


I went back to last night to fine tune what I wanted to do during the heat treat. This will be my first time working with this type of steel. Yet another reason I love this forum, you can always search for a certain topic and if it pertains to knife making, it's here.

Here is what I came up with (cut and paste with some modification from the referenced thread):


1) Slow climb to >1600F

2) Slow climb to 1550F

3) Slow climb to sub critical (1420F)


1) 1550-1575F to Quench (I'm using warm oil)

Temper:  1-2 hours of each of the following. (This was kinda a guess, but I will try to keep it under 350 to get a pretty hard >60 hrc blade)

1) 320

2) 335

3) 350

As required for a WIP - Pictures!

Here is my propane forge with it set up for heat treat. Blowed burner in from the left, thermocoupler sensor in from the right. Baffle tube inside.


Quick shot at temp.


Close up, looking into the gates of hades :ph34r:

Thermocoupler tip is centered directly above the blade. I also welded some legs on the baffle tube so it is close to centered in the forge, allowing the heat to continue to swirl around the tube in the forge. 


Following my heat treat schedule outline on one of my least favorite blades gave my a thick layer of scale after normalization:


I wire brushed that off and went to 1550F held it for a a minute or two, messing with the blower and needle valve to keep the temp steady and then quenched. Sorry, no picture, I couldn't figure out how to plunge a glowing hot piece of steel in hot oil while taking a picture with my phone...

After the quench the file bit pretty readily. I was expecting this because it was noted in that other thread that you get a pretty thick layer of decarb. 


I took it to the grinder and took off a bit from each side until the file skated


I also put it in the vise and smacked the tang with a hammer. It cracked like glass (not tempered yet) I think the grain is pretty fine? This was in the tang so the temps might have ran a little hotter in than the blade. I'll post these results on that other thread because I would love the opinion of someone with a more experienced eye. Sorry for the picture, it was with my phone through a magnifying glass... 


I figure I'll break the blade itself after temper.

Speaking of tempering, here is my setup. Same thermocoupler I poke through a hole I drilled in the back of my oven. The blade sits in a pan full of genuine Lake Michigan sand I've been carrying around in a Gatorade bottle since I used to live there. 


Tempering is still in progress, after I finish, I will see what it takes to break the blade and maybe adjust accordingly.

Here's a little non-knife content to break things up a bit.

My creative inspiration, and a view of my backyard:


This week is Winter carnival here in town so snow sculptures appear all over town and way to many people show up to look at them (and go skiing/snowmobiling/snowshoing/bad driving/etc.) Most of the locals stay home and only go out the day before everyone shows up, or for emergency/work.

This one is my favorite this year, Osprey in front of the local grocery store. I didn't get a shot of the whole thing, it stands about 10-12 feet high.


That's it for now. As always, tell me what I'm doing wrong!

Thanks for watching.



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Aha!  I replied in the other thread, but the extra pics here answered a few questions.  The grain is a little on the large side.  That would be from the soak.  On the normalizations, are you letting it cool to black in between heats?

Does your muffle tube have one end closed?  If so (and it really should to work right) push a bit of wood or charcoal to the far end when you start heating the blade.  This will eat all the oxygen in the tube and eliminate scale and decarb.

Finally, nice view!

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I'm kinda double posting given I have been trying to figure out the heat treat on the 80crv2 thread, but to maintain continuity here goes. 

Second test done, changed a few things with the process. 

1) Welded the end of the baffle tube completely closed

2) Turned the forge around so I wasn't going through the "hot zone" in the baffle tube. 

3) Added charcoal to the end of the baffle tube during normalization and quench heat which virtually eliminated any scale and decarb.

The grain is much finer to my untrained eye. Input welcome.


And another cool snow sculpture in front of one of the local hotels


Back to work tomorrow, so progress will probably slow down.


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I'm a little late to this party, but wow! What a great WIP this is. Second grain shot looks much better. I'm digging the Scandi grind for this project (seems more Sami-like to me anyway).  So much to like in this one.

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1 hour ago, Joshua States said:

I'm a little late to this party, but wow! 

Heck it’s just getting started B)

Being from the west, the Scandi grind is hard to get used too, but definitely fits the part better!

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Work all day keeps the shop away.

Got some time in tonight after the kids went to bed. 

Made another adjustment to the baffle tube and added some prongs inside to hold the blanks blade up, I figured the heat would be a little more even this way and I feel I can do more than one at a time saving both time and propane. I will still do the quench individually as I want to be pretty careful watching for the shadows of decalescense/recalescence and I don't really have a method to quench multiple blades at a time. Here is my latest set up:


I made it through Normalization with the following schedule:

Normalization: (Each heat with a 10-20 minute ramp up to Temp, Then I shut off the forge and pull the blades out, letting them cool until I could touch then metal.)

1) 1600F.

2) 1550 

3) 1420

And, here we go, three normalized blades. I'm going to try to quench and temper tomorrow night, then I might just celebrate by abusing and breaking one of them to see how the steel holds up.


Hope you all had a good evening. 


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Quench: Slow climb to 1550F then I quench in hot oil. Sorry, again no pics as I like to pay close attention to the process.

Tempering: Finished up tempering, which is why I’m still up in the middle of the night. Three phases 1 to 1 1/2 hours each.

1) 320F

2) 335F

3) 350F

I’m keeping them on the harder side as they are small knives, not going to be used for prying, batoning, etc.

Posted above, but will post again: here is my tempering setup. Classic toaster oven with a pan of sand. I can get a consistent temp by fiddling with the controls while watching the temp I get from my thermocoupler that I poke through a hole I drilled in the back.


They turned a nice straw color after tempering.


That’s it for tonight.


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The next step is the grinder to clean them up.

I grind them free hand with no gloves so I know they don't get to hot. A nearby bucket of water and frequent dunks helps as well.


I wanted more of the forge finish to show; however, blade geometry needed a higher grind because I left the blades pretty thick.


Makers Mark

Next step is marking the blade. I'm going to show my method, but there are many caveats and many better ways to do this. I think a better option is either hot stamp the blade during forging versus have a stencil made for etch. I do plan on having a stencil made at some time and having my name on the blade, but at this point I've used this makers mark for a long time, and it works.

Step one: Cover the blade in clear tape. The tape I use is thicker than box tape, I think it's a vinyl tape? 


Step two: I cut the outline of my maker's mark free hand into the tape. I use an exacto knife and tweezers. Considering these are small blades a pair of optivisors, and a bright headlamp helps. 



Step three: I etch using an old car battery charger I borrowed from my dad so often he finally just went out and got another one ^_^ I raid my wife's scrap felt box and cut a bunch of small rectangles of felt and I mix up a solution of hot water and alot of salt. 

The positive lead clamps on the exposed tang.

The negative lead I clamp onto a piece of bar stock and I grind the end flat. I wrap it in tape just to make it solid and somewhat insulated. 


I dip the felt in the salt water and place it on the blade where I made the cutout. It bubbles and gets hot so I usually only hold it there for 5 seconds at a time. it turns the felt black, so i move it around until the entire felt is black, then I switch it out for a new one. I usually use 2-3 pieces of felt per mark. 


The mark turns black, I make sure its deep enough then I pull off the tape and scrub it with hot water and brush. I then hit it with a wire wheel and it shines up pretty nice. 


That's it for the night, I'm going to try to go to bed at a decent hour.

Thanks for hanging in there.


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Quick one tonight. Not sure how much longer I can keep this pace. Starting to get "The Look" if I head out to the shop before the kids are completely in bed.

Got a chance to do some preliminary handle material preparation. I'm using a block of stabilized Koa (some mild curly to it), a chunk of reindeer antler, and a chunk of wagon wheel I found out in the middle of nowhere on a hike. 


By the time I had to head back in: 


There will be some black liner in there at the transitions as well. 

That's all folks. If you see anything I am doing that's ridiculously dumb, or even a little dumb, please say so. The whole point here is so I can learn something (I've only made one knife in this style before, so I've got a lot to learn) and maybe teach something.


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Looking good!

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Adam, This is a very interesting WIP. The design elements, thought process along with your craftsmanship are making gifts that will be used and admired for a lifetime.  80crv2 is a good steel choice and your other materials both traditional and non traditional  will combine to create a beautiful knife.  Throughout the fabrication process let your hands tell you what feels right.  A knife, no matter how beautiful, must be useable. The T.L.A.F.A.R. That looks and feels about right principle be your guide.  Thanks for taking the time to show us your methods.

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On 2/1/2019 at 6:27 AM, MichaelP said:

Looking good!


12 hours ago, John Myshkoff said:

80crv2 is a good steel choice and your other materials both traditional and non traditional  will combine to create a beautiful knife. 

Thanks John, I enjoy the WIP post the most, so I figured I would contribute, even if I don't know what I am doing most of the time. 

"Non-Traditional" - Haha, you mean you haven't seen a herd of reindeer bed down under a Koa tree before? :D

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