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Chris Christenberry

I need some critique from you experienced bladesmiths

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I've been working for some time now trying to design an EDC that fits my hand.  Never designed any knife larger than my carving knives, so this is my first shot at a sheath knife.  Trying to keep it small enough to carry in a horizontal sheath, but large enough to be useful and large enough to fit my entire hand to hold it properly. (not ready for a 3-finger knife yet)

 

This is my 4th design.  With the first three, I was trying to design something that "looked" good.  Everything that fit that requirement simply didn't fit my hand.  (I was too tied up trying to copy one idea or another from knives I admired.)   So I started from the other end of the spectrum...........................it had to fit my hand based on what I've read here on the forum and on other sites in the Internet.  This seemed to work better for me.  Keep in mind, my goal was to have a usable blade for various chores normally taken care of with my lowly pocket knife.  This knife isn't going to be chopping wood or skinning any critters............though in an emergency, it might have to "stick" a critter! :lol:  I've enough artistic sense about me to want it to look good, not only to me, but to others.  But the way it turned out, I'm having trouble "accepting" it.  So I'm bringing it to all of you for an honest critique.    While I'm certainly no expert, I can honestly say it feels good in my hand every way I've tried to hold it.. 

 

So share you thoughts about how I might improve this little knife.

 

p3756416994-4.jpg

 

p3756417007-4.jpg

 

p3756416988-4.jpg

 

p3756417009-4.jpg

 

 

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Go for it! Worse that can happen is improving your design on the go. Have fun, try different things and learn what works and what doesn't. All in all, It's quite personal.

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  Conventional "wisdom" would lead me to say that it's a bit big for a 3 finger, but a bit small for a full sized handle.  It also looks a bit skinny up by the guard and the palm swell is a touch asymmetrical.

The thing about conventional wisdom is that it's based on what most people think a knife should look like, not what it should feel like.  The beautiful thing about making your own knife is that it doesn't have to catch someone's eye as they walk past and make them want to buy it. You only have to make yourself happy. I say if its comfortable, and feels right, then go for it.

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Yes, I realize it's my knife and doesn't have to please anyone but me.  But since I have the desire to eventually entice others to purchase from me, I need to be thinking about other peoples impressions also.

 

It's definitely not a 3-finger...........but I didn't really see it as too short to be full sized.  I mean, I can see it doesn't hang out the back of my hand, but it fits comfortably in my palm.  One of my goals was to keep the knife as diminutive as I could without going to a 3-finger.  (I just couldn't seem to feel comfortable with any of the 3-finger mock-ups I made) So it's too skinny at the guard?  Hmmmm.  I'll look more closely at that.  Typically how thick should the knife handle be at that location?  As far as the palm swell goes, I really meant for it to be symmetrical.  I'm right handed and guess my thoughts were just on the palm of the primary hand.  I just wasn't paying enough attention to both slabs being the same.  Thanks for pointing that out.

Edited by Chris Christenberry

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Looks pretty good to me.  Yes, the handle is a bit asymmetrical but you can work on than with the actual knife.  I don't know how you shaped the handle but if you used a grinder or a drum sander attached to a drill press you could try something like a cabinet makers rasp and bastard files.  They're slower but that's the point.  They keep you from removing too much material too fast.

 

Doug

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With handle shaping, I generally think less is more. Look at your favourite forging hammer or wood chisel - the handle will pretty much be a straight shaft, not covered in lumps and bumps which make you grip it a certain way. Your hand is an infinitely adaptable gripping tool, and a handle should not get in the way of that. As far as your design goes, it looks fine, but I think it lacks a certain elegance which could be improved with a few tweaks. From an aesthetic point of view, every line and transition should be intentional and well defined. I've played with your design in paint a little, and made what I consider to be a few improvements,:

 

mockup.jpg

 

1. I've balanced the curves on the underside of the handle so they more closely mirror each other

2 I've taken out the upsweep before the tip, which to me adds an unnecessary change in the line of the spine

3. I've taken down the 'hump' on the top of the handle for the same reason

4. I've sharpened the guard so there is a clear point of transition from the lines of the blade to those of the handle.

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Yeah.  What Jake said. :D

 

Seriously though, you've run up against something that I struggle with too.  That which looks right doesn't feel right, and vice versa.  Jake's illustration is a perfect example of how very slight changes can totally change the aesthetics of a knife, without really changing the form much at all.

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Thanks, Jake.  I appreciate you taking the time to do all of that.  And I appreciate your comments. 

 

The material in my prototype is MDF board.  Once the veneer is ground away, it's pretty soft.  I shaped it on my 1x30 sander................and yes, a lot of material can be removed more quickly than one would prefer.  When I'd goof and let the edge of the belt cut a slot or divot, I'd just sand it out.  Probably why the curvature of the belly was off.  I lost the tip of the blade when it slipped out of my powder-dusty hands and hit the table.  Didn't try and repair that.  The blade was originally a hunter blade with a nice skinning type curve at the tip...........but since I'm not going to be skinning anything with it, decided to change the shape.  Wasn't really happy with the shape or length of the blade, but my primary concern has been the feel of the handle so I didn't pursue it.  You guys are so in tune to detail so picked at that.  That's okay, that's exactly why I asked for critique.

 

 I can honestly say it looks a lot better with your modifications, Jake.    I'll make another one and see how they feel in comparison to each other.

 

I have another question:  Is the blade too short in comparison to the handle?  As mentioned, I'm trying to keep the knife as small as I can because I want to carry it on my belt in a horizontal position on my side and not have it sticking out in every which direction.

 

 

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I think the more plain the handle is the better, here is one I really like. The handle is slightly thinner where the thumb and index finger would hold it in a pinch grip.

 

 

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Looks good, but I agree with Jake, from the butt of the handle, to the tip of the blade always looks cleaner as a gentle shallow curve (flattened rainbow) 

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Thanks, John.  What is funny is that if I do the modifications to the prototype knife Jake suggested, it will look surprisingly like my first prototype.  The main difference is my original prototype didn't have a birds beak butt and my blade was more like a modified skinner.  Think I will extend the handle enough to make it clearly a 4 finger handle with a birds beak and post it on this thread when that's done.

 

I really appreciate all the input, guys.  Thanks.

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Well, I got it (my original prototype) modified.  Reasonably pleased.  I say "reasonably" because I think I made the birds beak too small in the waist.  (I'll wait for the experts opinions when they see it)  I'll try and get a picture posted tomorrow.  All I changed from my original prototype was the lower curve of the blade and the butt of the knife. (which shortened the blade a little bit)   Feels good, looks good...........well, to me, at least.  I'll post a picture and hope I get a lot of constructive criticism so I can get some "larnin", as the American frontiersman Davy Crockett would always tell his son.

Edited by Chris Christenberry

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Okay, here's the pic of the latest prototype.

 

p3758890177-4.jpg

 

As I mentioned, I'm not tickled with the birds beak.  In the first place, the neck is too small.  In the second place, it turned out to be about a 4 1/2 finger handle!!!!!  So I started looking at all the drawings I've made of knives I liked and pictures I saved.  I've drawn in the changes I'm going to make.  I think a guard.........either Brass or Nickle Silver, installed in a forward slant and the birds beak  positioned so it makes it a 4 finger knife ought to be my last changes.  The profile might end up Just a hair different in the belly, but I think overall it should look pretty much the same.  What say you?  Educated/experienced pro's and con's?????

Edited by Chris Christenberry

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It looks light years ahead of others I have seen from beginning smiths.

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Thanks for that reassurance.  Any suggestions?

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:D  Thanks.

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6 minutes ago, SteveShimanek said:

Just do it!

 

YUP  !!!...................B)

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Well-l-l-l-l-l, let's see, that's two "for". :lol:

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WOW!  3 for 3!

 

Okay,  I've another question.  I am going to forge this knife.  It will be my first forged blade.  So does this design lend itself to a full tang, tapered tang, or a hidden tang?  The reason I ask is I'd really like to do a some simple file work on the top strap.  If it's tapered, there won't be much room for file work.........and, obviously, if it's hidden I won't get to do any file work.  If it's a full width tang, I'll be able to do the file work, but since the handle is already more mass than the blade, it's going to be hard to lighten it, isn't it?

 

I've noticed the "poorest shoes are on the cobbler's son".  Likewise, I seldom see a blade smith with a knife on his hip..........even one of his own.  This is going to be an EDC for my own person.  What better place to advertise one's creativity?????????????  So I really want to go "all out" on this knife without trading tastefulness for gaudiness.  When it comes down to actually lighting the fire, I'll have a ton of questions about "class vs trash".  Not worried about getting that input because there are a lot of really fine blade smiths here on the forum to learn from.

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When you worry about tang weight, that's when you drill it full of holes!  Just leave about 1/8" of solid around the edges, everything else can be removed.  Well, you'll want to leave a solid bridge for each pin hole, but you really can remove almost all the steel that won't be seen.  

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Okay, Alan, thanks.  Any critique about the design of the knife?

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It's your knife. As long as you're happy,  I'm happy. 

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:D

 

I'm asking for honest critique.  Durned sure if I just posted a picture of my finished knife, there'd be a ton of critiques coming out of the wood work.   Or at least that's the way it works for me.  Better to ask and know I can take the punches and learn from them. ;)

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