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Hand-forged UK Legal Folding Knives - Willslock Forge


Chris Cadman

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Hi all,
        I've been a regular lurker here for years, but have only now gotten to the point where I'm happy enough with my knives to post some photos of my recent work on here. I'm a full-time bladesmith/knifemaker based in Staffordshire, England. I focus primarily on UK legal folding knives, although I also make a few historical  Viking age hidden tang knives and wood-carving knives. A lot of my work is inspired by Anglo-Saxon and Viking age archaeological finds from around the British Isles & Northern Europe, and I use a lot of reclaimed old wrought iron & steel and locally sourced wood wherever I can.  All of my knives are hand-forged and handmade by myself.

 

Here is one of my latest folding knives - a dual-detente folder, forged from O1 Tool Steel with steel liners & backspacer, hand-peined stainless steel pins and brushed English white oak scales. I started off making only friction folders, then I made a few slipjoints and now I'm playing around with using detente bearings as they combine the best aspects of both styles for a functional non-locking pocket knife. You have the mechanical resistance to closing & opening, but you can still flip the blade open & closed with one hand.

 

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Second, we've got a Viking style friction folder with a laminated wrought iron & 1095 steel blade (heavily etched) and a one-piece handle hand-carved from English Boxwood.

 

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 Next up, a slipjoint with a laminated wrought iron & 1095 blade with wrought iron bolsters and two-tone yew scales.

 

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Another dual-detente folder with an O1 blade - this time with a full-flat grind and slim Marblewood scales.

 

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Another UK legal slipjoint, this time with a laminated wrought iron blade, wrought iron bolsters and bog oak scales.

 

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One of my largest fixed blades that I made for a commission earlier this year; a reproduction of the Fulham seax. Laminated wrought iron & steel blade with Irish bog oak and Scottish Stag antler handle. The tang goes through the handle and is bent over at the butt to secure the brass ring.

 

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One more fixed blade; a Viking style sheath knife with a laminated bloom steel blade and a handle made from Scottish Stag antler, brass, leather and stacked birch bark.

 

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Lastly we have a different style; this is my take on the Viking age iron folding knives that have been found in Birka, Repton and Novgorod. Low-layer laminated 15N20 and 1095 blade with a hollow grind & a scrolled thumb-tab. The handle is forged from one bar of wrought iron. Both handle and blade have been heavily etched. From what I can tell, most of the surviving examples don't use a stop pin - the top of the handle is crimped slightly to stop the blade, but I decided a pin would make for a stronger mechanism. 

 

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Any constructive criticism is most welcome!

 

All my work can be found at www.willslockforge.com and I post regular updates and photos on Instagram under @willslockforge

Feel free to get in touch via willslockforge@gmail.com

 

Thanks for looking!

Chris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Chris Cadman
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Lurk no more! I really like that last one and the slip joint with the iron bolsters and yew handle. 

I'mcurious about the "UK legal" tag. What criteria do the knives have to follow?

“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

J.States Bladesmith | Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/dos.gatos.71

https://www.etsy.com/shop/JStatesBladesmith

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WELCOME!

I really like that reproduction of the Fulham seax and would love to see more photos of that if you have any.:lol:

 

18 minutes ago, Joshua States said:

I'm curious about the "UK legal" tag. What criteria do the knives have to follow?

I'm real curious too.  My wife and I took a trip to London, England and Cork, Ireland a few years back and I think I remember reading something about needing to have a legitimate reason for carrying a knife ("its my work knife","I'm on my way to go fishing"), and possibly that it could not easily be opened with one hand if it was a folder.  I didn't take anything sharp on that trip, but we did get approached to sign a petition to outlaw knives.  Took all my willpower to not explain just how bad a person I was to ask that, lol!

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I wondered how people were getting around the restrictive knife laws in the UK.  I too would be interested in reading more about it.  Great imaginative work there.  I'd hate to have to decide which I liked the most

HELP...I'm a twenty year old trapped in the body of an old man!!!

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7 hours ago, Joshua States said:

Lurk no more! I really like that last one and the slip joint with the iron bolsters and yew handle. 

I'mcurious about the "UK legal" tag. What criteria do the knives have to follow?

 

Thanks! Yew is one of my favourite woods for handles.

 

As for UK knife laws, it's a good question. I could write an essay about it, but will try to keep it concise. 

 

In the UK we've been blasted with propaganda about knives being evil weapons for so long that a lot of people here are hesitant about carrying any knife and think all knives are illegal. 

 

However, that is not the case. The law is actually pretty clear. You can carry a non-locking folding knife that has a blade under 3" without needing a good reason. Any locking blade, larger blade or fixed blade and you need a reasonable explanation for having it on you if you get stopped by the police. 

 

Unfortunately this is where it gets vague. The definition of 'reasonable excuse' is often left to the interpretation of the police officer. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. For example, if I'm carrying a fixed blade whilst camping in a forest, that's usually fine. Or if I'm carrying a leatherman with a locking blade whilst riding my motorbike, most officers would accept that it's a necessary and useful tool for emergency repairs. 

 

BUT in those same two situations, with a different officer who has had a bad day, or who has an issue with you for whatever reason, or simply has a power complex, you could potentially be done for carrying a weapon in public. Sure, you could challenge it in court, but it's still a lot of trouble & hassle. So, even if you have a good reason, it's not always guaranteed to be a good enough reason. 

 

A big factor that isn't often taken into account is that all UK knife laws are written in London, with city knife crime being the main target. In rural areas, you'll find that most old farmers walk around with a locking pocketknife and they will likely never get stopped & searched. 

 

Personally, I prefer to carry a non-locking legal folder mainly because it still works for most of my daily cutting tasks and I can just leave it in my pocket and not need to think about any legal issues, no matter where I go. 

 

The reason I started making these folders is because I was looking to buy a traditional, high-quality UK legal folding knife that was still tough enough to handle proper use. However the vast majority of UK legal folders are either Swiss Army knives or poor quality Chinese knives. So, figured I'd have to make one myself, and here we are! 

 

7 hours ago, Jaron Martindale said:

WELCOME!

I really like that reproduction of the Fulham seax and would love to see more photos of that if you have any.:lol:

 

Thanks! It took a ridiculously long time to make as it was done as historically accurately as possible - forged to finish, no power tools and handle carved by hand.  The brass fittings & sheath took almost as long! Quite happy with the final result though.

 

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Thanks for the explanation. Sounds like you have created a nice niche for yourself. 

 

“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

J.States Bladesmith | Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/dos.gatos.71

https://www.etsy.com/shop/JStatesBladesmith

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Thank you Chris , I was wondering about the “legal” part also…. Now you are beyond lurking ….. I like the all iron folder….. does the tang sink into the back ? I notice some of your folders have the tang  standing proud of the back….. especially the second one with the box wood handle  one… it looks like it would be hard on the palm…..

ridiculously long ? Good for you …..It takes time to work by hand …..  you ended up with something nice …..good lesson to us all…..

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On 12/16/2022 at 3:49 PM, Dick Sexstone said:

Thank you Chris , I was wondering about the “legal” part also…. Now you are beyond lurking ….. I like the all iron folder….. does the tang sink into the back ? I notice some of your folders have the tang  standing proud of the back….. especially the second one with the box wood handle  one… it looks like it would be hard on the palm…..

ridiculously long ? Good for you …..It takes time to work by hand …..  you ended up with something nice …..good lesson to us all…..

 

Good question - the tang on the iron folder doesn't sink into the back, it rests against the spine. With that one & the boxwood folder,  the reason I went for that design is that those two are based on the original Viking finds with similar tangs.

 

I wasn't sure how comfortable they would be, but it turns out that both were surprisingly ergonomic. The spiral scroll on the iron folder sits nicely under your thumb and provides a strong lock when in use. The scroll on the boxwood folder sits just at the base of your thumb where it meets your palm and you don't notice it as much as you would think. I wouldn't like to use it for power cuts when wood carving, but that's not generally how most people use/hold friction folders anyway. 

 

By the looks of it, the original Viking method was to fit a brass or iron ring through the scroll that would that act as a stop instead of a pin, and enable the user to hang the closed knife from a leather lanyard threaded through the ring. 

 

However, as you can see from the oak dual-detent folder, when I'm making folders that don't aim to be as historically accurate, I prefer to cut a hollow into the spine of the handle so that the scroll lies flush and out the way. Or, I often forge a scroll that lies parallel to the blade so that it fits between the liners and flush with the spine that way - I've made a few of the iron Viking folders in that style & it works well. 

 

Hope that answers your question! 

 

 

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