Got another comission underway. Its for a custom feather pattern bird and trout knife. I figured that I might as well share the progress with everyone as I go along. Unfortunately no "action" shots of the actual forging or pattern welding as there was no one around to play camera man for me and I needed both my hands .
Here is a look at the conceptual rendering of what the blade will look like when finished.
Here is the initial billet stack, 19 layers of 1095 and 15N20.
I took the billet, forge welded it, drew it out, cut and folded it a total of 3 times, yielding a final layer count of 152 layers. This billet was then feathered (the billet is split nearly in two with a blunt cutter, which drags the outer layers into the middle of the billet. The "cut" in the middle of the billet is then re-welded back together. Feathering a billet and feather patterns are some of the more challenging things to do, as your forge welding has to be perfect so that welds do not split apart on you while you are cutting into the billet, and to be able to re-weld the split back together.)
Here is a preview of the pattern in the billet after a quick cleaning and etch.
After the billet was finished being drawn out, the blade was rough forged from the billet.
The rough profile was then ground in. Note that the profile is left a bit oversized initially, allowing for additional adjustment room throughout the grinding process, and a bit extra for edge testing after heat treatement.
Then the rough grind on the flats and beveling was started. The blade is only currently about half way through the rough grinding process, as thats all time would allow for that evening. I could see the pattern quite well as I was grinding, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to give it a rough etch just to see what the actuall pattern would look like in the blade. This is the result.
So far I think things are comming along nicely. The pattern should really pop once the blade has been heat treated and fully polished out.
Here the blade has been finished being rough ground and is now ready for heat treatment.
Here is the blade post heat treatment.
Here is the blade in the initial finish grinding, I'm also holding the mosaic pin stock that will be used for the handle.
Here is a big jump in the progress, the blade is pretty far along in the finish grinding, the guard and handle segments have been fitted and roughly profiled.
Here the guard and handle have been roughly shaped.
Here is the blade with the guard and handle a little more refined in their shape, and with the mosaic pin drilled and fitted.
The knife is getting close, just a lot of hand sanding and finishing and then the final assembly, sheath, and any necessary touch up. I hope to have it done in a week or so, I know the customer is anxious to get it.
Back with more progress, got the blade all hand rubbed and etched, the guard close to its final finish, and my name and date etched in the blade. Should have it done next weekend!
And here it is finished!
Feather Pattern Damascus Bird and Trout Knife Commission
152 layers of 1095 & 15N20, in a feather pattern damascus blade.
Blade length (tip to guard): 4"
Ricasso length : 0.5"
Stainless Steel guard and spacers. African blackwood accent, stabalized curly maple handle, with a mosaic pin.
Mexican Loop style sheath
Well, I got bitten by the integral bolster bug awhile ago and have been itching to try a few integrals for a couple years now. I've had a piece of 3/4" 52100 round stock laying in the steel pile for about as long. Not wanting to try to forge that down by hand I didn't touch it. But, now that I have the mini press, things have changed. As a result I went ahead and forged out 3 integral bolster blades sometime starting around May for first two, and June or July for the third. Here are some "in progress" pics of the blades some in rough forged state, rough ground state, and where they currently sit now. They are getting pretty close to completion, I just have to finish the hand rubbing on the blades (talk about time consuming), and sand up the handles, permenantly attach them, and sharpen. These will be availabe on the available blades page when they are done. If you really like the way one (or even all) of them look and want to reserve one for yourself now, please contact me.
Here is how the blades currently look. The top and bottom blades have madrone burl handles, and the center blade has a highly figured big leaf maple handle.
Finally finished up the bird and trout I forged out back in May.
The original grind I put on the blade before I got the KMG can be seen in this picture.
Once I got the new KMG, I needed something to practice on and decided this would be an acceptable blade to experiment with. I decided to go with a complete flat grind with pronounced plunge cut and a strong ricasso area with finger choil.
As you can see, the profile of the blade remained mostly unchanged, the choil area was reshaped, but that was really the only alteration to the profile made. The rest is all in the beveling. In this picture you can also see the initial conceptual sketch for the bolster and grip on the blade. I followed this design fairly closely, save the addition of the tulipwood spacer. I favor a seemless construction for my grips, and when it came time to fit the snakewood I didnt have a bit long enough to open a slot for the tang, and the snakewood didnt like the idea of a burn fitting, so I decided to throw in the spacer to facilitate seamless fitting, and am quite pleased with the resulting aesthetics.
Here you can see the initial rough shaped and fitted bolster. The bolster was made from a solid piece of brass that I slotted using the drill press and then adjusted the fit with needle files. The top notch on the bolster where it overlaps the ricasso area was cut in using a file.
Once the bolster was roughly done, I started fitting the grip wood. The first step is to get the wood to match the curve of the bolster. The bolster curve was traced onto the wood and the curve was rough cut and adjusted on the belt sander and then by hand until a good fit was achieved. After this was fit to the bolster, the tang is layed over the top of the wood and its outline is traced which provides guidelines for drilling the slot. After the tang is traced, the wood is placed in the drill press vice and the outline for the tang is lined up against the drill bit. Drilling the two profile holes first, then drilling a series of holes and opening them up, a slot is formed.
After the initial slot is opened, it is checked on the tang. The goal is to make the slot smaller than the tang to prevent it from being loose, then slowly and carefully, using needle files expand the slot until it snugly slides up the tang and fits tightly against the bolster. This fitting process is very tedious and time consuming, but is key for proper hidden tang construction. A properly fitted grip will never shift or move, will be very strong, and doesn't need any type of adhesive if a mechanical method such as a pin or pommel with peined tang is used (though I use epoxy as a double precaution and insurance of maximum strength).
Once the first section of the grip is fitted, the spacer section is done using the same method, as is the end section of the grip.
I neglected to photograph the process, but after the blocky sections of the grip are fitted in place, they are rough shaped into the grip on the belt grinder and by hand. I don't secure them in place until this rough shaping in case something goes wrong. I don't want to have to pull apart the grip due to flawed material or a slip on the sander. Once the grip is roughly to shape, then I drilled the hole for the brass pin, pulled the whole grip assembly apart, applied epoxy, re-assembled the grip and set the pin. As I said, the epoxy was not even needed, after I set the pin, the grip was rock solid from the start, before the epoxy had even started to cure. I let the blade sit until the epoxy had cured, then took the blade back to the sander and got the grip very close to shape. Then the rest was done by hand with a rasp, and sandpaper. Once the grip was sanded to shape, and sanded to about 1000 grit, the same with the bolster, the whole handle was buffed on the buffer. The blade finish was touched up on the grinder, I etched my name in the blade, and put an edge on it.
And the finial results
I will be working on a sheath for it here pretty soon and will update with pics of that.
Hope you like it. One down, and who knows how many left to go .
Here are two more swords I currently have in the works and am working hard to finish up soon. One is a 48" longsword very similar to the one I started earlier. The first blade failed in heat treat so this is the replacement for it. It has a 36" blade with 12" hilt. The other is a 36" viking styled sword with a 30" blade and 6" hilt. Both blades are forged from 5160. Currently both blades have been rough forged, the profiles adjusted on the grinder and I have most of the rough grind done on the 36". I will be starting the rough grind on the 48" very soon and finalizing the grind on the 36". Then its another go at the heat treatment and on to the finishing process.
New as of 8/5/08, both blades are rough ground and ready for HT, which I plan on doing tonight.
The viking sword didnt make it through HT, which is a shame since I really liked that thing. Unfortunately I ground the fuller a bit thin prior to the HT and as a result of multiple attempts at the HT and the resulting oxidization a hole developed. I finished the HT on it however and used it as a destruction test and it performed very well. I ran the blade through all manner of abuses, hacking tests into a log, and into mild steel, hanging from the blade and doing pull-ups (I weigh about 200lb) and finally an extreme flex test by clamping the tip of the blade in the vice and flexing it to the point where it breaks. I had the blade flexed well past 90 deg before it failed and the point of failure occured along the weakspot at the hole. Overall I am pleased with its performance, and since the longsword was done at the same time, in the same manner, I am confident in its performance as well.
This dagger is made from pattern welded steel, hand forged by me.
This blade has 240 layers of 1095 steel mixed with pure nickel, with a serpentine ladder pattern.
This blade has been heat treated and in the process of finish sanding. I will start working on the guard, grip, and other hilt components soon.
Here is a 48" longsword forged from 5160 spring steel.
The blade is 36" and the hilt will be 12". This sword has been rough forged, and is part-way through the rough grinding. After the rough grind, I will have to heat treat the blade, do the finish grind and sanding, then start work on the hilt.