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A couple new knives

I haven’t posted in a while, so I figured I’d share a few commissions I’ve been working on. They are all laminated blades. The first is a walnut, antler, and copper handle. The next is a friction folder with a black oak handle, and the last is a Dogwood handle.

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Mini Cleaver

I’ve made a number of herb choppers in the past, you could classify them as mini cleavers if you really wanted to, but they were really made for dicing and mincing herbs and vegetables. The same is not true of this little guy, though it is still suited well for herb chopping with it’s 1/4″ spine you can really do some work with this thing. The weight of it really helps cut through bone or tough cuts of meat. The blade is made of 1075 with the same heat treatment as my larger cleavers, the handle is diver salvaged black oak with nickel silver pins. If you’re interested you can purchase it here.

 

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I’ve been really busy with custom orders lately, but I thought I’d make time to make a knife that doesn’t already have a buyer. This one is diver salvaged red oak from lake superior, copper, and 1084 high carbon steel. The sheath is vegetable tanned leather with a beeswax coating. Go to my etsy from more info.

 

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Boatmen’s Knife.

I was approached by a customer to make something for his friends 60th birthday. He works on boats, and he wanted me to incorporate that in the theme.  The only spec he gave me was that he wanted a 6″ blade.  The handle is diver salvaged flame birch from Superior, antler with a very modest bit of scrimshaw, and anchor chain for the bolster. I really like being able to give people something special that will most likely be passed down generation to generation.

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Here is a little knife I just finished up. It’s got a 1095 blade with a nice distal taper, and it’s pretty much zero ground, which means the edge is nearly sharp before you even hone it.

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The handle is some Black Oak that has been sitting on the bottom of Lake Superior for over 100 years. When all the old growth virgin timber was being logged in the upper peninsula of Michigan and Canada  there were a lot of logs that were lost to the bottom of that frigid water. Recently there have been people diving down and salvaging those long lost timbers.

In addition to the Oak the handle has a piece of moose antler, with a classic ring and dot motif and a copper bolster.

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The sheath is hand stitched vegetable tanned leather, stamped with the ring and dot motif as well. It has a copper reinforcement, leather hanger, and antler button.

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This knife is for sale. Please visit my etsy store for more information.

A while back I was contacted by some professional butchers to make them some cleavers. I make and sell quite a few of these, so there was nothing out of the ordinary with this order. Once they got the cleavers they were very impressed, they said they were able to work more efficiently, and easily. Where previously they would reach for the saw they now could simply keep using the cleaver.

Here is a picture of the cleavers just before I sent them out.

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After a long silence, I got this email…

“So, I bring a bit of messed up news. The two cleavers I ordered from you were destroyed when a thief broke into the restaurant and, after his tools didn’t work, used the cleavers to gain entry to the safe. So on one note, our knives are ruined. However, you know that your knives are strong enough to open an industrial safe. At any rate, we’d like to order two more. You can see the csi fingerprint dust on the blades”

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I guess the thief used the cleavers to chop at the door for a while, then used them as a pry bar… using a hammer to lodge them between the safe wall and door then using the hammer to hit the handles and wrench it open… he was successful.

My first thought was “Oh crap, the edges failed” Then I made peace with the fact that they weren’t made to open an industrial safe… I like to really test my knives, making sure my heat treat is good by putting them through rough use, even using them to cut mild steel sometimes. But I’ve never taken a fully finished blade and destroyed it, and to be honest I’m very happy with the outcome.  These blades could actually be re-ground, and re-handled and still be used. Unfortunately they are property of to police now.

Here are the remade cleavers. They wanted to go with salvaged wood this time, so birds-eye maple,  and walnut.

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Here is my most recent knife. It’s an Anglo-Saxon broken back Seax. The blade is 1084, the handle is Oak that I’ve darkened with my home made stain. It has copper fittings, and the sheath has traditional stamping, and copper reinforcements. This knife is for sale here.

I’m really starting to love making historically inspired blades, those old smiths were quite clever. When you hold a blade based on old designs they just feel different. There is something intuitive about these knives, I can’t quite put my finger on it….

 

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The bladesmithing community is one of the best, most sharing, and humble groups of people found anywhere on the planet. I’ve just returned from a weekend of information sharing, and steel making at the house and workshop of Scott Roush. I’ll just give you a small picture tour of the event.

We started by mixing local clay, local sand, and peat moss into something called “cob” .This will be used to make a smelter, and a hearth melter.

 

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The cob is formed into balls and allowed to set over night.

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Here is the ore to be smelted. It’s U.P. tiger ore from the beach of lake Superior.

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The Smelter is constructed…

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…as is the hearth melter.

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The ore is weighed.

 

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Here they are in progress. The slag tap.

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Bloom extraction.

 

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Melting iron to make steel.

 

 

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A few refining pictures.

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Inspecting the product.

 

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The semi-finished steel. There is still a lot of refining work to be done.

 

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It’s so important for craftsmen to learn from one another, stuff like this is a great encouragement.

 

 

Several seasons ago I was asked by a customer to make an everyday knife for him. He’d be traveling all over the world, and needed something useful and reliable.  On his latest visit home he told me that, without realizing it he dropped his knife at the edge of a camp fire over night. When he found it in the morning the handle was burned, but other than that the knife was in fine shape. However, since the handle was smaller it didn’t really fit in the sheath anymore.  I made a new sheath for it, and sharpened it up. He wanted to keep the burned handle, and I’m glad he did.

The wood used on this knife was Osage Orange, I chose it because it’s natural oils help it remain stable in changing climates. I never would have guessed that it would hold up so well to being in a campfire!

Notice how the middle pin acted as a heat sink, the area right around it isn’t burned.

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This end, with the exposed tang can be used as a bottle opener now!

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Here are the new and old sheaths next to each other.

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I’m a big fan of simple, well made things, and knives are no exception. I have the utmost respect for bladesmiths who spend so much time with carvings, scrimshaw, and inlays in their work, but for me at this point in time, that’s just not how I express my idea of a knife to the world.

I’m also a huge fan of small knives, which I think at this point is rather obvious to anyone looking at my work. The old timers say that the better you are with a knife, the smaller your knife generally is.  The knife I carry around on a daily basis has a 2 1/2″ blade and a very simple lilac handle. I’m not saying I’m good with a knife, just that my preference is for smaller blades.  Now there are plenty of folks who use larger knives and are excellent with them, my point isn’t to say one knife is better than the next… that’s stupid.

So here are some knives I’ve been working on, simple little guys for the most part.

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1084, Walnut, and Italian Briar for the bolster.

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1084, Peach wood,and copper

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1095, Walnut

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1095, Lignum Vitae

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1084, Lignum Vitae, and brass

Some of these knives are for sale at my etsy shop.  Other are already sold.