Monday, September 28, 2015

The "Bobcat" begins

I don't know about other knife makers, but as soon as I finish up one knife, I simply can't wait to get started on the next.  This knife was no exception.  I call this particular design "Bobcat".  If you haven't noticed, I like to give my knife designs names.  To me, a name sounds so much better than an arbitrary number or some other form of designation.

As I mentioned in my last post, this knife will be entered into a drawing with several other knife makers in a round robin format.  It's a fun way to trade ideas, get to know other makers, and have an opportunity to get a knife from possibly the next Bob Loveless or Ron Lake.  Here's the progress so far.

I got really into this build and I neglected to take very many photos along the way.  I used the same build process with this knife as I do with all of my pieces, so if you want to see how I build my knives, I refer you to my previous posts.  Here you can see the main parts of the knife all laid out.  The blade is 440c stainless steel, the liners are 6AL4V titanium, the bolsters and spacer are 416 stainless steel, and the handle scales will be from a beautiful dyed and stabilized maple burl.  This should make for a nice combination.

Obviously, many steps happened between the last photo and this one.  Here, the handles have been drilled, fitted, profiled ground, bolsters and scales have been dovetailed, and everything has been fasted together with stainless steel screws.

In this photo, the handle has been completely assembled with the back spacer fitted to the handle.  The blade has been placed loosely in the handle, as the pivot will be built later on, just to get a feel for the finished look.  After this picture, I was able to get the blade through the entire heat treating process before I quit for the weekend.  I like the way this design is turning out.  I think it will be a real keeper.  All in all, a very productive weekend in the shop.

Thanks for stopping by the Robinson Edge.

-  Brandant Robinson

Monday, September 21, 2015

Panther Knife Build Complete

I was able to get the "Panther" knife all completed over the weekend, and I must say, it turned out nice.  Really all it lacked from last week was a thumb stud and the edge sharpened.  I spent the majority of my time cleaning up the shop and doing some maintenance on my equipment.  My little shop-built horizontal disk grinder was in serious need an overhaul, so I got it all fixed up and running smoothly.

Here are a couple of low-res phone photos taken of the finished knife.

I really like the overall design of this knife.  It feels very comfortable in the hand and the classic drop point blade makes this knife a great choice for everyday use.  I like how the details all came together with the maroon Micarta scales complimenting the purple anodized liners.  I also really like how this file work pattern turned out.  It catches the light at different angles and looks really classy.  I'll take some better photos and post them here when I get a chance.

I made this knife as a gift for a good friend of mine, so it's not available for purchase.  He's been admiring my knives for some time and I thought it would be a nice gesture of friendship.  I hope he likes it.

The next knife that I will be making will be for a "Knife in the Hat" exchange over on the forum.  It's just a group of makers who each make a knife and then a drawing is held and knives exchanged.  I've never done anything like this before and thought it would be fun to get involved with.  I'll continue to post work-in-progress pics of that build here, just as I have been doing with my other knives.  I should be able to get started on the new build next week.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by the Robinson Edge.

-  Brandant Robinson

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Almost There

Well, this weekend was very productive and I was able to almost complete the "Panther" knife.  I'm really pleased with the way this knife has turned out.  This time, I remembered to take a bunch of photos, so get ready for some eye candy.  Here's a play-by-play of what I was able to accomplish.

This is what the blade looks like after coming out of heat treatment.  It's black and kind of cruddy looking, but it's hardened and tempered to the best specifications for the CPM 154 steel for use as a knife blade.

After a few strokes on my surface plate with some 220 grit paper, the blade looks bright and shiny again.

If you recall, I left the pivot hole through the tang slightly undersized.  Now, using a carbide reamer, I ream the hole to 3/16 inches so that the bushing will slip right in.

The above photo shows how the blade will stop against the stop pin when in the closed position.  It doesn't quite close far enough, so we'll make some adjustments.

Using a 1/4" sanding drum in my rotary tool, I deepen the point on the tang where it contacts the stop pin.

There, that's exactly what I'm looking for.

Next we'll focus our attention on the locking mechanism of the knife.  First, the back of the tang gets beveled at 8 degrees on the disk grinder.

You can see that I don't bevel the tang all the way to the spine.  I leave about 1/8" unbeveled so that it meets up squarely with the spacer in the open position.

With the blade held in the open position, I scratch the tang line into the liner with a razor blade.  The black is from a Sharpie marker so that I can see the lines better.

Here you can see the outline of where the lock will be cut out scratched into the liner.

In order to cut in the lock, I clamp the liner into my drill press vise and use a thin cutoff wheel in the drill press to make the cut.  I feed it through slowly and cut the lock face a little long so that I can zero it in later.

Once the lock is cut, I clamp the liner in my vice and use some cloth-backed sandpaper to clean up the cut.

Here's the liner after the lock has been completed.

Now I'll focus on tuning in the pivot hardware and surfacing the back spacer.  I bought this little pivot lap from USA Knifemakers.  It works great to zero in the length of the bushing and the pivot pin.

Here's a pic of the bottom of the pivot lap with the pivot pin in the bottom.  Using my surface plate with some 220 grit paper, I press down on the little plunger and grind down the length of the pivot until it's exactly the right length.  The process is then repeated for the bushing.

Last, but not least, the spacer gets lapped down until it is exactly the right width.  Man, what I wouldn't give for a surface grinder about now.

Time for a test fit.  Everything is working well and it really looks like a knife now.

Here's a quick shot of the spine.  The file work still needs to be sanded and polished, but that will come a little later.

I still need to tweak the lock face so that it meets the tang correctly.  To do this, I remove the bolsters and scales and camp the knife in my vise.  I put some tape around the knife so I don't scratch things accidentally.  Using a flat file, I slowly grind down the face of the lock until it engages the tang at just the right way.

Once the lock is dialed in, It's time to get the detent set.  Using a #60 carbide bit, I drill through the top corner of the lock and, with the blade closed tightly, into the tang of the blade.

Using a 1/16 inch carbide blade, I lightly touch the detent hole in the tang to give a slight chamfer to the hole.  Here's what it looks like.

After enlarging the hole in the lock with a #54 bit, I set a 1/6 inch detent ball into the lock.

I clamp the liner into my vise and bend the lock over.  The titanium is thin, so the bend goes easily by hand.

Now it's time to work on grinding the blade.  I run a piece of masking tape where I want my plunge lines to be.  I then clamp onto the blade tang with a small vise grips with a small piece of leather between the jaws and the blade.  Since the blades I grind are small folder blades, the vise grips give me a handle to hold onto while grinding.

I get really focused when I'm grinding blade bevels, so I didn't take any pictures of the grinding process.  I like to add a choil to my blades.  It makes sharpening easier by giving a point of reference.  Since I forgot to add this detail before heat treating, I had to use some diamond files to cut the choil in.  The next step was to sand off the edge of the tang and put a 600 grit satin finish on the curved surfaces.  I simply wrap sandpaper around a small dowel and sand away.

I then flip the blade over and polish up the spine of the blade.  Since the spine has been file worked, I use sandpaper wrapped around a file to polish up the file work details.  Everything then gets a 600 grit satin finish.

I've shown this little hand sanding jig before, but the sanding stick is new.  I made it specifically to sand the curved surfaces of hollow grinds on my blades.  I simple wrap sandpaper around the stick and sand away.  I really don't know why I waited so long to make me one of these.  It reduced the hand sanding time significantly and my fingers don't even hurt.

I chose a nice purple color for the liners.  I think the purple will really compliment the dark maroon color of the Micarta scales.  Anodizing titanium is really an amazing process, but I didn't get any pics.  You can scroll back through previous posts where I have shown this step before.

The finished blade gets branded with my maker's mark.  To do this I use my trusty, shop-made electro etcher.  Looks awesome.

I'm so close to the end that I can almost taste it.  The only thing that she lacks is a suitable thumb stud and her edge sharpened.  I'm really pleased with how this design came together.  It's very comfortable and looks pretty sweet too.

Here's a view of the spine.  You can see how the purple liners look against the maroon scales.  I'm quite please with that.

Well, it won't be long now until I have another finished piece.  I love it when a plan comes together!  Thanks for stopping by the Robinson Edge and following along with me on this knife-making adventure.  Check back soon for the finishing touches.

-  Brandant Robinson

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

File-Worked Liners

Being Labor Day weekend, I spent most of my time with my family and very little out in the shop.  I don't regret that one bit.  Time spent with family is one of the best uses of that precious resource.  I hope you all enjoyed the weekend as much as I.  I did, however, manage to sneak out there for a couple of hours and made slow, but steady, progress on the "Panther" knife.  Little by little, I'll get to the end.  What is it they say, "slow and steady wins the race?"

I apologize again for the quality of this photo.  The camera on my phone really isn't very good and doesn't do closeups.  I almost didn't even show this pic, but it's the only one of took of this weekend's progress.  So, if you squint really hard, you will see both liners stacked together with the completed file work.  It's a simple serpentine pattern that is just semi-circular cuts offset on each side with the edges rounded off to give nice, flowing lines.  I've found that this pattern looks really good with the alternating twist pattern on the blade and spacer.

Well, folks, I'm afraid that's it.  I know it's a little disappointing and anticlimactic, but it's what I did with the spare time I had.  This week, I should be able to get very close to a completed knife if everything goes according to plan.

In the mean time, take a look at my "Available Knives" page.  I've marked down the few knives that I have posted up there so that all knives are priced below $200.  So, if you've had your eyes on one of these pieces, now's the time to act.  Some day soon, my prices will be going up as my work and my name become more recognizable.  With these prices I clear the cost of materials and make about $3.00 per hour for my labor.  Not very profitable, but I don't make them to get rich, I make them because I love to make knives!

Thanks for dropping by the Robinson Edge.

-  Brandant Robinson

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Knife Sale

I don't do this very often, but I have marked down the prices on all of my knives listed on the "Available Knives" page.  I guess I could call this a Labor Day sale, but really, I just need to sell some knives so I can afford to by more materials to make more knives (wink wink nudge nudge)!  That sounds kind of like a viscous cycle, doesn't it?  Oh well, it's nice to have a hobby that can help pay for itself.  Thanks for stopping by the Robinson Edge.

-  Brandant Robinson