Monday, July 27, 2015

The "Pride" Knife Build Begins

Hey, folks.  I still haven't gotten around to taking some good photos of the two "Virtue" knives that I recently completed.  No, I take that back.  I failed miserably to take some good pics of those two knives and threw in the towel.  I really need to get around to building a decent light box so I can take some quality images of my work.  Anyway, until I get around to that, It's time to start another knife.  This design I am going to call "Pride".

This is a new design that I'm really excited about.  I'm going to try something a little new for me on this build too which should be interesting.  I'm going to make this knife with no visible hardware; just pins and a lot of peening.  I will use screws inside for the "guts" of the knife to make it easier to get the lock and workings fit properly, but, in the end, no screws will be visible.  Let's get started.

Here is the birthplace of all my knives; the raw materials that will be ground and shaped until everything that is not the knife is removed.  That's what we call the "stock removal" process.  I have the paper pattern cut out, a bar of CPM 154 for the blade, a chunk of 416 stainless that will become the scales and a sheet of 6al4v titanium for the liners.

After gluing the patterns onto the metal (I just use Elmer's Rubber Cement), I cut the parts out to rough shape on the band saw.  The two scales get glued together temporarily with a couple drops of superglue.  This way, when the are profile ground, they will be exactly the same shape.  The liners get the same treatment.  Since this is a prototype with a new pattern, a piece of titanium gets glued to the blade and an additional liner is added to the stack for use as patterns for the next time I make a knife of this same design.

All the parts shown above have been profile ground.  With the paper patterns still attached and the parts still superglued together, I drilled all the holes through the various parts.  After giving the stacked parts a couple of sharp taps on the anvil, the glue just pops off.  The leftover glue gets dissolved by a little acetone and each part gets a few strokes on the surface plate to flatten everything up nicely and to remove any burs.  The holes that will receive screws get threaded and countersunk as well.

After popping the blade into the heat treat oven for hardening, I made a quick trip to the store and picked up some dry ice and a small Styrofoam cooler.  The dry ice is used in a sub-zero treatment on the CPM 154 steel to convert as much leftover Austenite to Martensite as possible, producing the best possible conditions for the blade.  While the blade was still in the oven, I made this little box out of the Styrofoam cooler using the handyman's secret weapon, Duct Tape!  Some folks use a liquid such as acetone or glycol and add the dry ice to the liquid.  I've found that simply crushing up the dry ice and embedding the blade in the "snow" works just as well without all the hassle of dealing with a liquid.  This little box worked like a charm.

Here's a look inside the little "sub-zero" box.  Pretty simple construction.  Just two layers of Styrofoam taped together.

Once the blade was done with the sub-zero treatment, it went through two temper cycles to draw back the hardness to about a 59 HRC.  The above photo shows the spacer screwed to the right liner, the stop pin pushed through the liner, and the pivot pin, bushing, and washer in place.  The pivot pin is only temporary as it will be replaced with a 1/8" piece of 416 stainless that will be peened in place later on.  If you look closely, you will see the tip of the spacer has been colored black with a marker and a fine line scratched into it.  This scratched line shows where the spacer needs to be trimmed back to so that the blade opens to the proper "open" position.

The spacer has been ground back and the blade stops in the perfect open position.

With the open position dialed in, the closed position gets adjusted.  This is done by grinding away the blade tang with a 1/2" wheel until the point of the blade drops down far enough that it will not be protruding beyond the liner.  As seen in the photo above, the closed position is just right.

Next, the lock bar gets cut into the right liner.  In the photo above, the vertical scratch in the black ink is where the blade tang ends and where the lock face will begin.  This gets cut into the liner using a small, thin cutoff wheel mounted in my drill press.  I've shown this process before, so you can scan back through previous posts if you are curious.  I do want to mention that I leave the lock bar face a little long so that I can dial in the lock a little further on in the build.

After the lock gets cut into the liner, I use some cloth-backed sandpaper to remove any burrs and to polish up the inside of the cut.  I use a shoe-shine action on the paper to accomplish this task with the liner fastened into my vise.

Here is my surface plate with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper.  I use rubber cement to keep the paper attached to the plate while I lap all of the mating surfaces, making them absolutely flat.  This is essential so that there is no gap between parts.  The glue cleans easily off the granite slab with a little bit of acetone.

Here is the first trial fit of the knife.  The scales have been temporarily fastened together with pins.  This is the first look at what the knife will look like once it's finished.  I think this design is going to be a real keeper.

With the scales, liners, blade and spacer fastened together temporarily, I am able to grind the whole profile of the knife to its final dimensions and blend all the parts in seamlessly together.

This final photo is of the spine of the knife.  You can see how everything is blended in nicely.  No gaps here.  I am going for a really elegant and sleek look with this knife, so there will be no file work on this piece.  I do, however, plan on trying my hand at carving and texturing the scales to add some nice embellishments to the knife.  That should be a fun challenge.

I managed to make some good progress in the few, short hours I had in my shop over the weekend.  It's nice to be working on a single knife again instead of juggling multiple projects at once.  I hope to get some good progress made next weekend as well.  Until then, thanks for following along with me on my knife making adventures and for visiting the Robinson Edge.

-  Brandant Robinson

Monday, July 20, 2015

Finishing Up the Second "Virtue" Knife

In this post, I finish up the second "Virtue" knife, which is actually my knife #24.  This knife is from the exact same pattern as the last "Virtue" knife, but you will quickly see how much different this knife looks when compared to the last.  This illustrates how simply modifying the bolsters/scales and handle material, one can completely change the aesthetics of a knife.

For this knife, the liners and the scales get a treatment called jeweling.  I have shown this process in previous posts, but the above photo illustrates the procedure.  The liner/scale gets covered in an abrasive paste, which is actually valve grinding compound that I purchased from an auto parts store.  I then chuck a felt polishing fob in my drill press and flip on the switch.  I lower the drill press until the fob makes contact with the metal and, while applying a small amount of pressure, let the drill spin for about 30 seconds to get the circular pattern scratched into the surface.  I then move the piece over slightly and repeat the process.  Each circle overlaps the previous, achieving the classic jeweled pattern.

Above are pictured the liners and scales after they have been jeweled.  I think it makes a nice, striking pattern which gives the flat surfaces a three dimensional look as it reflects light at different angles.

Here are the liners and one of the scales after they have been anodized.  The colors really bring out the jeweled surfaces.  If you look closely at the scale, you can see a few lines that will be the boundaries of the texture that will be added.

The scales will get some texture on them to help break up the large, uniform surfaces. I tried several methods for doing the texturing and finally settled on using a diamond wheel to accomplish the task.  It seemed to give the best effect in this application.

Here is the liner with one section textured.  The reason for anodizing before texturing is to achieve a two-toned effect by anodizing the textured surface a different color.

Here is the scale after the texturing is complete.  Not much of the jeweling is left after the texture is added, but what is left will give a more dramatic affect than leaving the high spots polished.

Here are the scales after being anodized.  I chose to use a bronze color for the low spots which compliments the purple color really well.  When you are anodizing with multiple colors, you start with the higher voltage color and work down from there.  I think this looks pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.

I have assembled the knife to have a look at the over all aesthetics of the knife.  I think it looks pretty good, except that I don't like the way the blue liner looks with the scales.  Too much contrast.  You will see later on that I went ahead and modified this color.

Here is a view of the knife's spine.

It's time to focus on making the thumb stud for this knife.  I chuck a piece of 416 stainless steel dowel rod in my Jacob's chuck on my lathe.  I missed taking a few photos, but in the photo above I have already drilled and tapped the steel to accept a 0-80 screw which will hold the thumb stud to the blade.  I have also blacked the steel with a black marker and marked the overall length of the piece.

Using a small, three-corner file, I cut into the steel to show the actual length of the stud.

These close up pics are kind of blurry.  I couldn't get my phone camera to focus very well at this distance.  Anyway, I have used a hack saw to cut away the dowel at the appropriate length, leaving a small amount of steel holding things together until the stud is shaped.  The dowel's diameter is slightly larger than I want for this knife, so I decrease the diameter with a flat file.

This one is really blurry.  Curses!  If you look very closely and maybe cross your eyes, you can see that I have started shaping the stud with a round file.

In this pic, I have finished shaping the thumb stud, parted it off of the dowel, installed a screw into the threads and mounted it onto the lathe to clean up the top of the stud.  Next, I keep it on the lathe and polish up the part and buff it all nice and shiny.

Here is the knife with the thumb stud attached.  Looks pretty snazzy, don't you think?  Confession time.  After installing the thumb stud, I found that the knife would not close properly.  The stud hit into the liner before it was completely closed.  This necessitated enlarging the thumb notch slightly, which messed up the whole color scheme since I did not want to retexture the whole knife.  I decided to anodize the whole scales bronze and change the liner colors to purple.  The colors are not as striking as they were at first, but I'm still pleased with the whole package.  I also changed out the pivot screws for titanium screws which I anodized purple to compliment the liners.

Here is a shot of the spine of the knife.  All finished!  The only thing left to do is to add a lanyard and take some better-quality photos before I post this and the other "Virtue" knife for sale.  I'll get that done in the next day or two and send out an email to all subscribers.

Thanks a bunch for following along with this build.  I really enjoyed this one.  For the next build, I will go back to building a single knife at a time.  Two at a time just takes too long and I get impatient.  Now, which one of my many patterns shall I build next?  Time will soon tell.

-  Brandant Robinson

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Grinding the Blade

This last weekend, I was able to make some good progress on the second "Virtue" knife.  Most of the work accomplished was grinding and finishing the blade.  I'm really starting to get the hang of using my new grinder and I'm very pleased with the grinds I have been able to achieve.  Grinding goes a little faster and looks a little better each time I grind a blade.  I guess that can be chalked up to experience.  Here are a few progress photos of the weekend's work.

In the above photo, I have ground the blade up through 120 grit and established the plunge lines and the top of my grind.  From here on out, I use the time-honored Sharpey technique to keep a close eye on the grind progress.  It's an extremely complicated technique - I'm being sarcastic here - where one scribbles on the blade with black ink and grinds it off again.  The light in the above pic is reflecting off the blade grind, but it has been painted with black Sharpey ink.

Here is what the blade looks like after a single pass at 220 grit.  You can see that there is some black ink left on the blade.  This shows me that the entire surface of the grind is not in contact with the grinding belt.  As the belt grits go up, and the abrasive particles go down in size, the circumference of the grinding surface actually decreases, accounting for what you see above.  This is solved simply by grinding a few more passes until the black ink is gone and the scratches from the previous grits are sanded away.

Here is the blade after it has been mirror polished up through 3000 grit, followed by a cork belt charged with pink scratchless compound.  Next, I polish the spine and tang edges up to a mirror polish too so that they are bright and shiny.  I know it's a little overkill to take a blade that will receive a hand-rubbed satin finish up to a mirror polish, but I really hate to sand by hand and I can go from here, directly to a few strokes by hand to get that soft, satin look.

Here is the completed blade with a 600 grit hand finish and my maker's mark etched into the side.  I really took my time on this blade and was able to achieve a great finish.  I can't wait to see what this knife will look like when I get it completed.

This is the last photo I took of the weekend progress made on this knife.  Honestly, I got caught up in the process, zoned out of everything else in life, and completely forgot to take more pics.  I seem to do that a lot, don't I?  Anyway, the above pic shows one of the liners getting it's embellishments through hand filing.  The pattern that I chose for the liners on this knife is as simple as they come.  I use a small round file and make semi-circular cuts every 1/8", giving a scolloped look to the inside edge of the liner.  I wanted to keep it simple since the spacer is fairly ornate in design.  I think they will compliment each other quite well.

What you don't see above, what I missed taking pictures of, was the processes of cutting and fitting the lock, and setting the closed and detent ball positions.  I have shown these processes before in previous posts, so if you are curious as to how I accomplish these tasks, just scroll back through earlier posts and you'll find the information you're looking for.

The next step will be to finish off the scales for this knife.  If you recall, this knife gets fitted with titanium scales.  My plan is to add some artful texturing to the surface and maybe play a little bit with colors through anodizing.  I'll be sure to do a better job of documenting that process.

I hope you are enjoying following along with me on this build.  I'm sure having a great time with it.  It won't be long now before the knife will be finished.  As soon as I do, I'll get some good photos taken of it and the other "Virtue" knife and post them to my "Available Knives" page on the blog for some lucky person to add to his/her collection.  Thanks for stopping by the Robinson Edge.

-  Brandant Robinson

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

File and Sandpaper Racks

With all of the fun and frivolity with family over the 4th of July weekend, I didn't get any knife work done out in the shop and, honestly, I don't regret it for a second.  It was a joy watching the little ones scurry about, picking up the candy from the hot asphalt during the parade and the smell of BBQ in the afternoon.  It was a fun weekend.  I hope you enjoyed yours as much as I did mine.

I did slip out to the shop for a few minutes between activities and did a little organizing.  Here is what I accomplished.

I hung some bins on the wall to hold all of the different grits of sandpaper that I use regularly for my knife-making chores.  Before now I have had all my sandpaper all jumbled up in the same drawer.  I had to sort through a big pile grits and sizes in order to find the right paper I needed to do some sanding.  Now, all I have to do is go to the right bin and grab a piece without having to sort through the mess.  I think I'm going to like this.  I also picked up a couple "project boxes" to keep my builds separate and organized as well as a place to store knife patterns.  They are the two little, clear boxes below the sandpaper bins.

The other thing I managed to do was to get my files organized.  I've had these files rolling around in a single bin, banging into each other.  It's nice to have them all out and visible now.  It's a simple block of 2x2 scrap wood that I had laying under my workbench for some time.  I drilled a series of holes in the block to hold the files upright where I can see what I need.  I have regular needle files on the left, diamond files in the center, and larger files to the right.  I also put the files that I use most toward the front and those that don't see much use are in the back.  I think this will work pretty well to keep my tools organized and accessible without the frustration of sorting through the bin to find the right file.

I hope someone finds this information useful.  Thanks for stopping by the Robinson Edge.

-  Brandant Robinson