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I need some critique from you experienced bladesmiths


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Well, as promised, here is my first forged knife.  It was forged at David Moonyham’s shop.  He can correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think he physically hammered on the knife.  I did all the work……

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 asymme

It's finished!!!!!    Well, the rough prototype is finished!   I won't post any more pics until I'm actually working on the real thing.     

Posted Images

I didn't find any pics, so I went out to the shop and took a few...….

Even when the pattern is staggered, you want the staggering to be evenly spaced. When you are doing two pieces, like the liners on a folder, they have to be evenly spaced and identical mirror images. Layout on file work is everything. The spacing must be even along the length of the piece.

So let's say this piece of bronze is the liner for a folder, or a liner for a scale, or a thin spacer between two other spacers, and you need to file a design in it. (vine, rope, or something like the dagger handle here whatever)

Layout (1) V2.jpg

 

You first chuck it up in a vice with some soft jaws and blacken the edge with a sharpie pen.

Layout (2) V2.jpg

Now you clamp the jig on it snug, but not torqued down, and use another shim on top to keep the jig parallel.

Layout (3) V2.jpg

Now, using a small ruler (mine is calibrated in 1/32" increments), you measure from the end of the work piece to where your first cut will be. Use a scribe to make a mark in the black.

Layout (4) V2.jpg

 Now slide the jig along the work piece and make the same measurement from the jig face to the last mark. Make another mark. Lather, rinse, repeat.

If you are doing two identical pieces, you put both of them in the vice and mark one side of one and the other side of the other one at the same time.

Both pieces are evenly spaced and identical in layout.

Edited by Joshua States
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Well, as promised, here is my first forged knife.  It was forged at David Moonyham’s shop.  He can correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think he physically hammered on the knife.  I did all the work…………..with his verbal guidance, of course.  Thanks to him for that because I could never have done it without his help.  (and his forge, anvil, hammer and HT oven) It is made of 80 CRV2 and heat treated in his oven.  (I don’t have all the equipment I need to be doing this yet.)

First two pictures of the rough forged knife.  I didn’t find out until later I’d forged hollows on both sides of the blade, so it ended up being a narrower blade from top to bottom by the time I got the bevels ground in. 

p3798892666-4.jpg

p3798892860-4.jpg

 

 

 

Third picture is of the design I planned, based on the forged shape.

p3798892731-4.jpg

 

 

 

Fourth pictures is of the blade after I’d ground and skeletonized it. 

p3798898841-4.jpg

 

 

 

Fifth and Sixth are of the finished knife.

p3798892725-4.jpg

p3798892785-4.jpg

 

 

 

So there you go.  My first forged knife.  I had a ton of “firsts” with this knife…………so many I won’t bore you with them all.  Can’t begin to tell you how much I learned in the process.  There are things I’m not terribly happy about, but like I told David………….”Hey, it’s my first forged knife!”.

So now it’s time for me to pour a cup of coffee, sit down and ask all of you knife makers to honestly critique my work. 

I have a video of it but don't know how to post a vid on the forum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Chris Christenberry
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Very little to critique about that Chris.  You may be brand new to knifemaking, but you've proven that you're not a stranger to the principles of craftsmanship.  The only thing that jumps out at me on my phone screen is the pins on the bolster.  My eye wants the pattern to be centered on the bolster, but that's honestly more personal opinion than anything else.  Great job!

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you have ended up with a design very similar to one I cut out yesterday and have ready for HT and grinding. It is on the  left in this pic. It is a very comfortable shape and size to use and one I use for fruit work and seeing as our fruit season has just started and I have a lot of pears to do (pear date and ginger chutney) I thought I better do one for myself. 12C27 paring knife  beside a similar sized petty

IMG_20200124_110001 (2).jpg

 

Edited by Garry Keown
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What Alex said.  VERY good for a first, but you've been a craftsman long enough it's not really a "first," though.  ;)  I see a few small things, but so do you.  As the late Larry Harley used to tell people who asked him to critique a knife, "You know where the flies are."  A couple of minor cosmetic things is all.  The next one will be even better!  

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Thanks, guys. Appreciate the compliments.  But I really do want to hear critiques.  Not afraid to take a beatin'.  :D   I'm really trying to learn how to make a knife that is pleasing to others so I can sell them.  So point out the little things.  I may already know some of'em, but I want to hear about the others I don't see.

Edited by Chris Christenberry
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You got it, then:  The big one that slaps me in the face is that the brass spacers don't line up in the last pic.  The bolster pins I can deal with, but that lack of alignment is jarring.  You did a great job on the handle pins and overall finish.

 

The only other things I can say is merely personal opinion:  I don't like to see the heel of the ricasso extend down past the edge, it keeps you from using it on a cutting board.  I also don't care for large choils, they tend to catch on things you're trying to cut.  

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Thanks, Alan.  I honestly didn't catch the misalignment.  Had to go get the knife to see it.  Thanks for pointing that out.  I can only blame old eyes.

 

Bolster pins are where they are because even though they were originally centered, the end of the Ebony would have ended up too thin a point near the heel of the ricasso.  Didn't see that one coming until getting ready to glue it up.  Ebony is so brittle I didn't want to risk a break.  Poor planning on my part.

 

Hadn't even considered using this on a cutting board as it's an EDC so that's something I'll have to put in my notebook of things to think about.

 

Appreciate the comment about the choil.  I'll try and keep'em smaller in the future.

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That is awesomely good for a first, better than mine was for sure; the only thing other than what Alan pointed out was that the alignment of the blade and tang seems bent....maybe it is an optical artifact?

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 The lens on a cell phone is wide angle and distorts.  The tang is straight.  At least I didn't screw that up! :D   Thanks for pointing that out, though.  (but just in case, I'll put a straight edge on it and make sure.) ;)

 

Keep'em comin'...............I'm taking notes.  I want my next one 10x better!

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7 hours ago, Chris Christenberry said:

Keep'em comin'

OK. Here you go.

Most of this is my opinion, and not to be misconstrued as objective fact. 

 

Proportion. Always think about proportion of elements to each other. The knife is quite thin to start off and the heavy taper on the tang is elegant, but then there are these fat scales. To my eye, the handle is way too thick for such a thin blade and tang. The scales on this knife should be slender, but still curved on the sides. This takes practice. It took me a long time to realize that 1/4" thick is plenty.

 

Lines and relationships to each other. The angled bolster and subsequent brass spacers do not relate well to the straight and square plunge cuts. The sudden juxtaposition of these lines looks awkward and out of place to me. I would have liked it more had the bolsters and brass spacers been parallel to the plunge lines. For angled bolsters, they typically tip the other direction (longer on top/spine edge) and the plunge cuts run the same way.

 

Speaking of those plunge cuts.....the ricasso is much too large for that configuration. Making the ebony bolster larger would have solved the pin issues by giving you ample room to arrange the pins and made the ricasso area smaller and more in proportion to the entire package. Moving the finger guard back and leaving a smaller ricasso in front of it would have solved the choil problem Alan is seeing. I don't think your choil is too large, it's just not in the right location compared to everything else going on around it, or everything else is in the wrong location. Take your pick.

 

Your original drawing was fine the way it was. If you hadn't chosen to do plunge cuts and ricasso, a lot of these things I'm seeing now would have never occurred had you stayed with your first idea. You could also have added those elements pretty easily just by making a very slender ricasso that started on the curve about 1/8" in front of the bolster. Clean, simple and practical.

 

Now for what I really like about this knife.

The profile shape is sweet. A very seriously good shape for an EDC and well executed. The curves are smooth and flow nicely through the form.

I really like the fact that you purposely decided to put some sort of guard/finger stop on this knife. The shape is good and looks very functional.

Pin placements in the main body are spot on. The distance from the rear pin to the heel matches the space from the front pin to the brass spacer, and the mosaic pin is almost dead nuts centered between the two and top to bottom. Could just be the angle of the camera or that wide angle lens, but it looks a tiny bit closer to the spine than it is to the belly.

The choice of materials and colors really makes this handle pop and the finish on the blade looks very clean.

 

All in all, I'd say this was an extremely ambitious project for a first go and most "noobs" would have flailed and failed. You did not.

I put your success down to two things. Your experience as a craftsman and having Dave's guidance.  

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Many, many, many thanks, Josh.  Just the kind of input I'm looking for.  I know a lot of this knife making stuff isn't chiseled in stone like the 10 Commandments.  But everything anyone of you experienced knife makers can tell me helps.  You're certainly not going to hurt my feelings.  The only reason I joined the forum is to learn...........and I'm trying to be just like a sponge.

 

I had meant to make the plunge line match the angle of the bolster, keeping the Ricasso more narrow, but the newbie in me was fearful I'd not be able to match that angle on both sides free-handed.  :wacko: The mosaic pin is centered on the handle......I've triple checked that. Must have been lens distortion.   I made prototype after prototype to find a comfortable handle thickness and even let several other people try the "feel fit" to come up with the thickness.  Actually, each handle slab is .300" thick, so only .050" thicker than the 1/4" you suggested.  One thing I failed to show was the size of this knife.  Overall length is 7 1/8".  Blade from Ricasso to tip is 2 7/8".  Plunge cut to butt of knife is 4 1/4".  Handle width at mosaic pin (widest part) is just a hair over 3/4".  For it's purpose, I don't think I'd want it much thinner............but I'll sure keep in mind your suggestion.

 

I have a question.  I really wanted a nicely filed "thumb section" on the top of the rib.  I've always liked that touch.  I'm far from skilled enough to make those cuts with a diamond disc on my Foredom grinder, so took my ribbing file from my rifle tool box and got to work.  After all, it would produce nice even spaces.  Only as hard as this blade is, the file didn't do a really good job.  I chased the cuts with a triangular diamond file.  I'm still not really happy with that touch.  So my question is..........would it be best to do that filing before heat treating?  Is that the way most knife makers make that ribbing or is there some better way to approach it?

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2 minutes ago, Chris Christenberry said:

would it be best to do that filing before heat treating? 

 

It's always best to do all filework and hole-drilling before heat treating.  If you're worried about the filemarks being a stress riser (generally speaking, not a real problem), fill them with clay before HT.  I try to have everything done and sanded to 400 before HT.  Use a muffle pipe with some wood or charcoal in it, zero scale.  Or use antiscale powder in an oven.  If using stainless, use foil.  That way the only real cleanup after hardening is removing the cooked-on oil for carbon steels, and nothing for stainless.  Hit it with 400 again and it's ready for the edge.  

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Thanks, Alan.  I'm still a little awkward with the sequence of all this stuff..............but I'm learning.  Would really, honestly like to make a name for myself as a quality knife-maker...............even if it's just locally.  Doesn't bother me being a "big fish in a little pond".  (been there many times in my life) That's pretty much the niche my Uncle Bob cut out for himself with his wood carving knives.  Seemed as if everyone in central Oklahoma knew who he was and the quality of his knives.  Heck, any time a local wood carver dies, the first thing all the "vultures" go hunting for is a RWG wood carving knife in the tool rolls.  :lol:

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On 1/25/2020 at 12:34 PM, Chris Christenberry said:

After all, it would produce nice even spaces.

Another way to do that, and to do any sort of "coining" on the knife spine or a spacer, is to make yourself a little jig and do it on the band saw. Here is the one I made.

Coining jig.JPG

 

It's a scrap piece of angle iron that I cut off a section of. I took a piece of old band saw blade and heated the end so I could bend it. That blade is pretty springy, but it doesn't like to bend 90 degrees without snapping. The short leg of the spring is the same as the blade width. So the depth of travel for the spring is the wall thickness of the angle (.125" max). This is pretty deep for coining, but you can control that when you mount it to the saw table.

Coining jig 2.JPG

 

The depth of cut is equal to 1/8" minus the space between the back of the saw blade and the front edge of the jig bottom. The spacing of the cuts is equal to the distance between the saw blade and the spring. The first cut is made freehand. This is very shallow. Just enough to make a little notch to get the spring to set in. You can set the depth after making the first cut with the jig in place. Just flip the work piece over and set the depth of the shallow cut. Move the cut to the spring, make another cut. Lather, rinse, repeat.

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On 1/25/2020 at 12:34 PM, Chris Christenberry said:

I made prototype after prototype to find a comfortable handle thickness and even let several other people try the "feel fit" to come up with the thickness.  Actually, each handle slab is .300" thick, so only .050" thicker than the 1/4" you suggested.  One thing I failed to show was the size of this knife.  Overall length is 7 1/8".  Blade from Ricasso to tip is 2 7/8".  Plunge cut to butt of knife is 4 1/4".  Handle width at mosaic pin (widest part) is just a hair over 3/4".  For it's purpose, I don't think I'd want it much thinner.

Good idea on the prototype and testing. That blade must be really thin. It was difficult to get an idea of size in the photos. This knife, is a little over 1/2" thick at the handle. Smaller knives get thinner handles. It's that proportion thing again.

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I like that jig, Josh.  Reminds me of a box-joint jig for wood working.  I hadn't thought of using the band saw on a heat treated blade.  Will that work?  All I've got is one of those silly little portable band saws I built a table for.

 

"1/2" inch thick?  Boy, that IS thin.  But I understand what you are saying.  I don't think I want to go back and reshape the handle at this point, but I'll sure keep that in mind in the future. I shot a video of the knife in my hand, but I couldn't figure out how to get it on the forum.  (I'm tech "challenged", so if anyone is up to the challenge of guiding me through the process, holler!)   I've got a prototype of a little 3-finger knife I want to make.  I don't know the thickness of the handle but it's pretty darned thin.  

 

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19 minutes ago, Chris Christenberry said:

I hadn't thought of using the band saw on a heat treated blade.  Will that work?

No, but it works on annealed or normalized steel and it works on the non-ferrous stuff used for fittings.

 

20 minutes ago, Chris Christenberry said:

All I've got is one of those silly little portable band saws I built a table for.

Same as I have. Check the second pic.

 

21 minutes ago, Chris Christenberry said:

I don't think I want to go back and reshape the handle at this point, but I'll sure keep that in mind in the future.

That knife is fine as-is. Move on to the next one. Enjoy the journey.

 

22 minutes ago, Chris Christenberry said:

I've got a prototype of a little 3-finger knife I want to make. 

I remember seeing some of Hancock's 3-finger knives. The only ones I ever saw him use micarta on for handle scales.

Less than 1/8" thick blades with equally thin scales. Little sheaths that sat horizontal on your belt. Almost invisible.

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