Monday, August 29, 2016

Virtue #37

Here are some better photos of the last knife to come out of the shop.  It's a sweet little knife and it's available over on the "Available Knives" page if you want to add it to your collection.  Just click the tab above.

I just started a Youtube channel where I uploaded a video of this knife.  Let's see if this works.

I'm always anxious to know what everyone thinks about my knives, so feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.  Thanks for looking.

Raptor - Take 2

The Raptor knife build is coming along real nicely.  This design might easily turn into one of my favorites and I predict that it will also be a popular design among my collectors too.  I made some good progress on the build over the weekend.  In fact, it's very close to being complete.  Here are a few photos to show that progress.

The textured bolsters that I made for my last knife build of the Virtue knife were very appealing and I thought they would suit this knife build as well.  It's very meticulous work using a rotary tool with a diamond bit to stipple texture the bolsters, but the results are worth the effort.

Here is the blade after it has been ground and polished up to 2000 grit.  If you recall from the last post, the blade is made out of Damasteel which is a popular production Damascus that comes out of Sweden.  It's a stainless pattern welded steel made from RWL34 and PMC27.  It's some great stuff to work with, looks absolutely beautiful, and performs extremely well as a finished blade.  The pattern doesn't show up until the blade is etched, so stay tuned.

Here is the left liner after the lock bar has been cut out.  I cut this out using a thin cutting disk mounted in my drill press.  The liner is fastened in my drill press vise and hand fed into the cutter to relieve the lock bar.

I'm going all out on this knife, so I spare no detail.  Here is the spacer after the filework had been done and polished up.  I went with an alternating twisted ribbon pattern for this piece.  It's one of my favorites.

Here are the liners after getting some detail attention.  The filework along their edges is a climbing vine pattern.  I tell you, cutting in the very precise filework on this small scale really put some strain on the old eyes.  I went cross eyed on more than one occasion.  I think I may need to get my eyes checked.

Instead of the typical jeweling on the inside of the liners, I decided to try something different.  I used a diamond cutting wheel in my rotary tool and cut in some texture on the insides of the liners.  Once the liners are anodized and assembled, I'll determine if I like the effect or not.  Right now, I think it will be a neat and unique touch.

With the blade all polished up, it was time for a dip in some acid.  I "borrowed" a bottle of nail polish from my sweet wife and used it to mask off all of the areas of the blade that I don't want to be etched. Those areas are where the washers will contact the blade, the pivot hole, and the back side of the tang where the lock and spacer will contact the blade in the open and closed positions.  I used muriatic straight out of the bottle to etch the blade.  It took about a half an hour in the acid to get the etch deep enough to show off the Damasteel pattern.

Here is the blade after coming out of the acid.  It's a little hard to see the pattern in the low-res photo, but if you click on the pic, it will show a larger view where the pattern is more apparent.  I'm quite please with the outcome.

The only things left to do are anodize the liners, mark and sharpen the blade, carbidize the lock face and install the detent ball.  There is always a little tweaking to do at the end to get everything just right too.  I hope to finish up the build this week sometime.  Like I said before, I'm very pleased with how this knife is shaping up.  It should be a real winner once completed.  Thanks for following along with me on this knife-making adventure.

-  Brandant Robinson

Monday, August 22, 2016

Raptor Prototype

Well, I finished up the new Virtue knife last week, but didn't take the time to take any high-quality photos of it yet.  I'll get to that soon and post it here for your viewing pleasure as well as to the Available Knives page if you would like to add it to your collection.  It turned out really nice by the way and the action is as smooth as silk.

As always, as soon as I finish up one knife, I simply can't wait to get started on the next.  I chose to give a new design a try which I call Raptor.  It's really a study of simple curves which I think look quite elegant.  I even put a little bit of recurve into the blade for looks, but mostly for enhanced cutting due to edge geometry.  The design looks good on paper and I hope it works out well in reality. I don't plan to go into the whole build process with this knife, I'll just take some quick pics along the way.  Here are those photos.

Here are the chosen materials for this build.  Even though it's a prototype, I'm going to use some high quality components since I'm pretty confident that this will be a keeper.  The blade will be made from some "Dense Twist Damasteel", the bolsters and spacer from 416 stainless, and the liners from 6AL4V titanium.  The dyed maple burl shown above wasn't quite the size I needed for the scales, so I ended up using some really nice buckeye burl.  This photo shows all the parts ready to be cut out.

Lots of progress made before I snapped this quick pic.  The blade is in heat treat, the handles have all been profiled and assembled, and the back spacer has been rough ground.  Lots of drilling, tapping, and fitting screws going on to get to this point.

Here is the first full assembly of the Raptor.  You can start to see the elegant curves of the piece and it feels really nice in the hand.  It's a little bigger than my usual gentlemen's knives with about a 3" blade. What you don't see in the pic is all the work that went into building the pivot system and setting the open and closed positions of the blade.

Here's a pic after the knife handle has been contoured and ground up to about 320 grit.  It's hand sanding from here on out.  I'll put a nice polish on the scales and start the finishing process.  I've heard great things about Tru-Oil, so I'm going to give it a try on these scales.  The bolsters will get either a satin finish, or I must might texture them like I did with the Virtue knife which I just finished up.

This is turning out to be a really nice build and I'm quite pleased with the design.  So far so good. Let's hope my luck holds out.  I'm getting really busy at work right now, so I might not get much done on this one for a while.  I'll squeeze in a few hours if I can and keep you posted on the progress. Thanks for following along with me on this build.

-  Brandant Robinson

Monday, August 15, 2016

Almost There

After a long week at work, it was nice to spend a few quality hours out in the knife shop.  There is something very therapeutic about working with one's hands which does a heart good after spending so much time in an office all week.  Here is what I was able to accomplish over the weekend.

I started off working on the pivot system, but didn't get any photos of that process.  I've shown it many times before, so scan back through previous posts and you'll see how it's done.  Here's the knife after being assembled for the first time.  I used my new shop-built surface grinder attachment to grind down the thickness of the spacer.  I have to say, I was very impressed with it's accuracy.  I was able to keep it within 0.001" from one end to the other.  That's much better than I have been able to do in the past by hand.  I have a couple of tweaks in mind that should tighten up the tolerances of the attachment, but for now, I'm happy with it.

I had to call an audible on the scales before contouring the sides of the handle.  After adding the black liners to the scales, the handle ended up being a little to thick and chunky in the hand for my liking.  I decided to grind off the bark of the mammoth and contour it smooth with the bolsters.  The interior ivory of the mammoth was nice and creamy in color and looks kind of classy.  Frankly, I wasn't too upset since the color of the mammoth looked a little dingy and dirty to me (definitely looked better in the photos of the website where I purchased it than it did in person).  Now, it looks bright and shiny. I think I made the right call.

This photo shows the inside of the liners after spending some time at the drill press with a Cratex rod to give the jeweling detail.  It think this little detail is certainly worth the effort.

Here is the spacer laid out with 1/8" marks in preparation for some filework detail.  With a jewelers saw I have started making the "V" cuts for my "V's and O's" pattern.

This pic shows the completed filework on the spacer.  I fileworked the liners as well, but my phone doesn't take very clear closeup photos, so I didn't bother taking any pics of that process.  The background shows some of my filework patterns.

In this photo the blade has been etched with my maker's mark and the liners have been anodized a nice bronze color which looks really good with the creamy colored scales.  You can also see that I have cut the lock into the left liner which has also been fitted to the blade to keep it open with an early lockup.  The face of the blade will also get carbidized to keep the lock smooth and free from sticking.

It's a little hard to see in the photo, but the front and rear bolsters have been given a stipple texture. I do this with my rotary tool and a diamond flame-shaped bit. The scales have also been given a finish coat of Renwax to protect them.

Here is where I finished up for the weekend.  Everything is assembled and I even took the time to put an edge on the blade.  All that is left to do is a little bit of tweaking on the detent ball depth (it's a little too high and is binding against the blade during opening and closing), and turn a suitable thumb stud.

Here's a spine view of the knife, showing off the filework.  Looks pretty good, if I do say so myself. It should make someone a really nice EDC knife.  The size is perfect for a small pocket knife, and I may even make a pocket sheath to accompany this little gem, to keep it protected from keys, change, and other pocket stuff.  Thanks for following along with me on my latest knife-making adventure. Have a great week!

-  Brandant Robinson

Monday, August 8, 2016

New Knife - Virtue

I enjoyed making my daughter a set of kitchen knives, but I have to say, it was nice to start working on a folder again.  I decided to make a knife from my Virtue design.  It has been a popular one, and I really like the simplicity of the design.  Here are a few photos from this last weekends work out in the shop.

Here's where it all starts; the gathering of the raw materials.  The blade will be from CPM 154, the bolsters and spacer from 416, the liners from 6AL4V titanium, and the scales will be made from mammoth ivory.

Here are the major parts after roughing out on the band saw.

I gave my new surface grinder a go when grinding the blade and bolsters flat.  It worked pretty well, but I can tell I need to make a few modifications.  The surface grinding was followed up on the disk grinder for a super flat surface.

Here's the blade wrapped in stainless foil and ready to go into heat treat.

The liners are clamped together and all of the holes are drilled.

The front bolsters have been fit to the liners.  You can see the dovetail detail of the bolsters.

I really liked how the black liners looked on my daughter's kitchen knife set, so I thought I would give them a try on this knife.  I like how the black looks against the light-colored liners.

Scales attached to the liners.

All handle parts are attached and profile ground.  I'm liking those black liners here.

Here the blade has been ground and hand finished with a nice satin finish, ready to be fit to the knife.

That about does it for the shop work this weekend.  I got caught up in enjoying the olympics and spent much more time inside than in the shop.  I hope everyone has a great week.

-  Brandant Robinson

Monday, August 1, 2016

Surface Grinder Attachment

This last weekend in the shop was spent tooling up my setup.  I've been making folders for several years now and have always struggled with grinding parts flat at a consistent thickness.  Until now, I have used the flat platen on my belt grinder to get things close, then finish off on the disk grinder or by hand on my surface plate.  As you can imagine, it takes a lot of work to get a part to thickness and the pain of burnt fingers has ever been part of the process.  Plus, my tolerances have room for improvement.

For some time now I've researched and watched Ebay for available surface grinders with longing. Unfortunately, I've never been able to justify the cost of adding a surface grinder to my equipment arsenal.  Not to mention that I really don't have anywhere to put a surface grinder, even if I could come up with the cash to purchase one.  A couple months ago I ran across an interesting video on Youtube of a shop-made surface grinder that the guy built and attached to his belt grinder.  I've been intrigued with the idea ever since, and this last weekend I decided to give it a try.  Here is what I came up with.

The attachment simply bolts onto my 6" contact wheel tool bar.  The concept is fairly simple.  A rectangular frame pivots forward and back perpendicular to the wheel surface.  The depth or thickness adjustment is made by a piece of threaded rod located near the bottom of the frame. Everything is bolted together since I don't have a welder, but it's built quite solid.

In the center of the frame is mounted a heavy duty drawer glide with a section of a welding magnet attached to the glide with JB Weld.

The grinder attachment is operated by extending the glide upward, moving the magnetic sled across the surface of the contact wheel.

By moving the sled back and forth across the wheel and advancing the threaded rod, which moves the whole assembly forward, the surface of the piece is ground down a tiny bit at a time until the desired thickness is attained.

In spite of the small amount of play in the drawer glide setup, I was able to grind a piece of 1-1/2" x 5" piece of steel down to thickness within a 0.0025" tolerance.  That's so much better than what I can get by hand, and the time required was reduced by at least ten fold.  Another benefit was no burnt fingers!

I was quite pleased with how this little gadget performed.  I have several ideas to improve the setup which I will likely implement in the near future.  Chief among those improvements will be to replace the draw glide with a sled on bearings.  Eliminating the slop in the draw glide should greatly improve the accuracy of the tool.  A handle is a definite requirement for the sled, and a knob will be attached to the threaded rod for more comfortable control.  I think that this prototype proved the concept is sound.  Now to make a few tweaks to make it better.  I love it when a plan comes together.

-  Brandant Robinson