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Page Armory » Blades
Posted: 10/20/2003 6:26:50 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/20/2003 6:28:22 PM EDT by Fox]
. . .the "almost perfect knife".









This knife was forged from 52100 ball bearing steel and is the prototype of my version of a camp knife. Too many of the camp knives I see are on the large unwieldy side. I want one small enough to do camp chores, but large enough to do a little chopping when needed, something with lots of belly. The blade is edge-quenched and triple tempered. The cutting edge is 5.125" long and the OAL is 11.125". The choil and spine are well rounded for comfort when choking up for fine work or pressing on the spine for added pressure when needed. The guard is of brass with nickel-silver and red fiber spacers. The handle is a piece of Bolivian Rosewood with a very nice, iridescent grain. The handle shape is called the "Bird's Head" design and is one of my favorites. This handle shape make it easy to withdraw the knife from a tight sheath when wet or bloody and allows the knife to be worked right side up or upside down with total comfort. It is also comfortable when chopping.

This knife moved easily under the hammer and just seemed to want to be "made". Grinding went smoothly and I ended up with a nice, thin, convex edge. However, while grinding the tang, I got a little careless and got the tang just a bit off the center axis of the blade - this was mistake number one. At the time I figured I could just adjust the handle slightly and compensate for the mistake so I did not worry about it much.

When I fit my handles I fit them as a square block of wood because it is easier to clamp and drill for the pins. After everything is dry fit and drilled, I roughly shape the contours of the top and sides of the handle, but leave the butt square for clamping against the guard using a modified bar clamp. I grind the bird's eye shape after the handle has been bonded to the knife and cures for a few days. The important point here is that I must get my measurements very close so that when all is ground to a finished state the pins appear to be centered in the handle. This was mistake number two. During the dry fit everything looked good. When I started shaping the handle, after bonding, I realized that I had not centered the pins and tang between the top and bottom of the handle. When I sent the knife to the sheath maker the knife only had the bottom two pins. Note how close they are to the bottom of the handle.



Mistake number three was thinking that I could put in the third pin at the top, centering it between the other two, and equidistant from the top edge as compared to the bottom pins. I figured that I could even out the visual appearance and make the knife "okay". Wrong! Trying to drill a rounded object and get a perfect alignment is difficult at best. Worse, I could miss the tang. You guessed it - I missed the tang! Mistake number four was that I not only missed the tang, the edge of the tang deflected the drill bit caused it to go up and forward, which you can see in the next photo.



After the hours of thought and loving care that had gone into this creation, I was tempted by the thought: "Hey, that does not look bad. I can discount it for the imbalance in pin placement on the 'bad side'". (Trust me, it looks far worse in my hand than it does in the photo.) For someone this knife would be considered a steal. The blade is very high quality and will perform wonderfully. But, here is the bottom line: as my wife said when she looked at it, "Do you really want this out in the world with your name on it?" My answer was no. This is not arrogance or conceit, only a strongly held belief that reputation is slowly and painstakingly built, but destroyed in a moment with a faulty product. We all expect the best from the vendors on this site when we purchase rifle parts, supplies and consumables. I want to offer no less to my customers. This was not my best effort and will never leave the premises.

This post is meant to be a reminder to myself that there are no short cuts when it comes to offering a quality product to one's customers. Although I have been making knives for several years now, I still manage to find ways to screw one up now and again. In this particular case, I made a very nice knife, but it had some subtle imperfections that I thought I could overcome. I deluded myself into minimizing the shortcomings of the knife clear up to the point at which it was returned to me with a nice custom sheath. The imperfections in this knife were cumulative and in the end, cost me the knife. Customers deserve our very best work if they are going to invest in a custom blade. This knife was not a total loss. I was really pleased with the design and will make more. The balance point is right at the front of the brass guard, making it feel light and quick. The sheath is another from "Sandy" Morrissey and I will forge an identical knife to fit the sheath. The knife itself will become a test blade. I will work it hard this winter, chopping and cutting everything on my property and eventually break it to inspect the grain. However, it will never go to a customer.
Link Posted: 10/21/2003 3:39:14 AM EDT
Great post. It's true that Murphy still rules.
Link Posted: 10/21/2003 5:57:41 AM EDT
A better world this would be if more people shared your work ethic.
Link Posted: 10/30/2003 5:55:47 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/31/2003 9:30:27 AM EDT by cyanide]
Fox I sent you a IM I am not so perfect, so This would be a good knife for me depending on your asking price. It would be used hard a lot, so looking perfect is not a issue./edit/ spoke with fox on this issue, you can rest assured if you get a knife from this guy it is a good knife. Probably the best money can buy.
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