Recently, my friend Nick gave me a knife blade that he forged. Here’s what he said about that process:
“the knife is rather experimental. the steel is from a Timken bearing race. one side is ground hollow. quenched from an orange heat in motor oil. tempered over a hot block to a straw color.”
Seems like the best way to test the blade is to make a handle for it so I can put it to use.
Similar to my last homemade knife, I wanted to have a brass ‘hilt plate’ since I like the clean transition it provides between the handle and the blade. In order to have the brass piece fit snuggly around the tang, I needed to sand the tang down to a taper so that the largest cross section of the tang is right under the blade. I guess I could have gone with a two piece handle that sandwiches the blade, but for such a small tang, I think its nice to have it hidden in the handle.
Just like before, I sand down an arcade coin to have a small piece of brass plate. Its just a matter of taping a coin to my fingers, holding it against a belt sander, and dipping in water periodically so that my fingers don’t over heat.
In the spirit of Nick’s experimental knife-making, I decided to embark on some experimental handle making. I’ve been reading online that making micarta (a composite material commonly used for knife handles) is just a matter of mixing epoxy with your fabric of choice. From my limited forays into homemade micarta, I would say this is true.
I found the easiest way to make the layup was to crumple up each layer of cloth in the epoxy and massage the resin into the cloth. Then I stacked each layer of resin-soaked cloth on top of each other. The stack is clamped directly between two pieces of wood (and ends up being glued to the wood. This gave me some flat surfaces that were later useful for trimming the micarta.
I decided it would be nice for the brass coin to be at an angle, instead of perpendicular to the length of the knife.
Drilling out the hole for the tang is by far the most tedious step. Maybe one day I’ll get something like a really skinny, long end mill. Until then, I’ll just waste a lot of time and abuse drill bits by trying to use them like long skinny end mills. I started by drilling two holes that make up the two ends of the slot. Then I just work the drill bit back and forth until I’ve removed all the material between the two initial holes. It takes a lot of patience not to break the bit, and the slot definitely ends up wider than the original drill bit diameter… Oh well, its all going to get filled with epoxy anyway.
You may have noticed that the knife blade shape has changed slightly since I received the blade. The blade started out as a pure flat grind, which made for very low force cutting, but made it too easy to damage the blade edge. Instead, I reground it on a diamond sharpening stone to have more of a sabre grind at the edge.
Can’t wait to put it to use!