Sunday, April 10, 2016

Ironworker's Knife Build Part 1

Occasionally here on my blog I document the works of other amateur gunsmiths. It helps fill the gaps between my own projects, in addition it acts as inspiration for myself and others.
Followers may have notices my love of custom knives. You can go back and review my post on Bob Loveless and my own attempt at making knife handles here, here, here and here.

This forum member has built a couple of knives in the past and was kind enough to let me document his current project.

He made this one late last year

His Brother wanted a knife so Ironworker purchased some tool steel online and began the process. The rest of the post are his words:
My first time using new steel. O-1, who knew you could order steel on amazon prime. Comes with the heat treating instructions right on the package.

Step one: draw something. Top pattern is the new knife, bottom pattern is the one I just finished. I made a few blade shape changes to make it a better skinner. This will be a gift for my brother for Christmas. He will hopefully be cutting the skin off something with it.
Then just transfer to steel
Next step I clamped the portaband in the vise and did the rough cut out.

Next step is to smooth out the rough edges and get the blank down to size. I used my dad's belt sander for this since I have not returned it to him yet.
 Then I used the dremel to get the inside radius. Since this is a gun forum I hid a browning in the photo.

 Next step is to drill the holes. Center punch and drill 1/4" holes for three pins front two pins will be solid brass and rearmost tube will be hollow to allow for addition of a lanyard if desired.

Next step is to find center line. I do this by covering the edge of the knife with black marker and then with a caliper measure the thickness of the steel, reduce the opening of the calipers to half that number and drag them along the edge making a center line on the edge. I do this from both sides of the steel to assure I have not dicked up my math.

Next step is to set up the filing jig. I copied this design from one that I saw on youtube by a user named gough customs. He makes knives and is now a fulltime knife maker. He has many how to videos that are very informative if you are inclined he is good resource.

First the jig is clamped into the vise.

Next step is to adjust the angle guide to its highest level.
After that I add a knotted rag to the eyebolt, for two reasons. It reduces the god awful sound of the steel rod sliding through the bolt and it absorbs the spray lube that I apply to the rod.

Next step is to set the location of the blade onto the jig to produce the results you want. Place the blade where the file stop bolt will make the plunge line in the location you want and set the blade stop in the location that will prevent the blade from moving around while you are wailing away making the bevel.

Once the blade is clamped down you can commence with the sweating an cursing that comes with cutting a bevel by hand.

The angle guide is set to the highest level, and then moved down gradually until the desired bevel angle is achieved. The first angle is used until the bevel nearest the edge is cut down to the point you want. Then the angle guide is moved down to reduce the angle and increase the width of the cut until you get the look or shape you want.

When cutting the bevel you use the center line that you made earlier for your guide. Stop short of the line to give you something to cut into for your final sharpening, also if you make it too thin you can overheat it during the hardening process.
about here you will be wondering why you didn't draw a nice scandi grind.
And here it is the finished bevel, a little wobbly at the top line. hopefully it will smooth out with sanding.

Only one thing left to do now and that is flip it over and attempt to make an identical bevel on the other side.

Bevel started on the other side of the knife.
Bevel completed on the other side.

There was too much stuff going on at the same time to get some good photos while the work is in progress. As it was I had to get my wife to step in as the magnet holder and fire watch. So I don't have any good photos of the hardening of the steel as it happened. I will describe it as best I can. I held the knife with a pair of vice grips while I had a small propane torch on one side and a weed burner on the other side to get the knife hot enough to harden(non magnetic). My loving wife was upstairs at the time heating canola oil on the stove up to 200 degrees. I had left her with an empty .30 cal ammo can to pour the hot oil into once it got to temp and instructions to bring it down to me when it was ready. 10 minutes later and she was bringing me an ammo can full of hot oil, I had the knife at the proper temp for about 5 minutes. I had her check the blade with a magnet and man the fire extinguisher. By this time the oil had cooled down to a more appropriate 160 degrees. I dunked the blade and waited patiently for it to cool. Here it is after coming out of the oil.
 Here is the oil. You can see some of the carbon that escaped the blade down in the bottom of the oil.
 Once the knife has been hardened it is time to temper it. I bought a toaster oven from the goodwill for $8.00 and it does this task perfectly.
Here is the knife in the oven according to the instructions on the package I selected to temper for one hour at 400 degrees.

 Here is the knife immediately after tempering, which completes the heat treating process. Next step is to clean up the blade and do the finish metal work prior to installing the handle.

  Stayed tuned for part two where the knife handle will be applied and a custom sheath made to fit.