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High-Performance Blades Sharing ideas for getting the most out of our steel.

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  #31  
Old 10-13-2011, 04:21 PM
dirtydancer dirtydancer is offline
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Thanksss Mr. Fowler. I haven't got the shop set up to get into forging at the moment as I'm only working out of my garage and I just don't have the time ...not to mention the last time I tried forging I knocked out my front tooth when the blade slipped out of the tongs (live and learn... thank god the military has good dental) so the question is: do I get the desired effect out of "stock Removal" of the shafts, or leaf springs, or is forging the only way to get the most out of this steel?
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  #32  
Old 10-13-2011, 05:27 PM
Ed Fowler Ed Fowler is offline
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You are most welcome! We will share what we have learned any time anyone asks.

Weld the billet to a bar and you will have great control and never need tongs, I learned the same lesson about 1980.

The rate of reduction by forging at the right temperature allows you to develop in a fine grain structure and uniformity that improves the quality of blades tremendously and provides the freedom to use steel you want to use.

I can say that if you can find a good source for high quality bar stock you can easily develop blades that will out perform most forged blades.

We have not experimented with blades developed via stock removal alone since 1979 and my testing was limited to "it did not crack when I hardened it".


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  #33  
Old 10-16-2011, 10:18 AM
dirtydancer dirtydancer is offline
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well, I've one up'd u on the testing of stock removal blades... I've hammered mine through signs, buried the blade in railroad ties and levered it out sideways to test the tip, and just yesterday I cut through a whitetail deer antler with no damage to name a few, so I do have a lot of faith in these blades, i just want to make sure I give a product I can put my name behind. especially when most of my buyers are military guys themselves and they will put a blade through hell just because it was the only tool available, and I want them to be able to have absolute faith that they can put these blades through almost anything and still carry it on patrol. I am going to start poking around for 5160 as my "go to" carbon steel (with the help of our friends at john deer) and start my testing.
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  #34  
Old 10-17-2011, 04:15 PM
dirtydancer dirtydancer is offline
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and don't take my last post to be me boasting. to the best of my knowledge, this is probably the only area I will have ever one upped you in any way shape or form regarding knives... and solely for the reasons you mentioned. you don't do stock removal.
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  #35  
Old 10-17-2011, 05:07 PM
Ed Fowler Ed Fowler is offline
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No offense taken, I only wish there were other makers interested in pushing their steel to the limit who are willing to test and share, we could all learn from each other. I have been over 20 years working with the same pour of steel with a metallurgist helping me and we are finally to the point where results are predictable when we begin a new experiment.

We all have a lot to learn.


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  #36  
Old 10-18-2011, 07:38 AM
dirtydancer dirtydancer is offline
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I couldn't agree more... that's one of the things I admired about you when I first started out (still do, mind you) is that you wanted to see just where the limits of your steel was and knew you had to destroy a few along the way to get those answers. I'm of the mind that if I test my blades well past where anyone would "normally" go then at least I can say with all confidence that I know my blades will stand and deliver. then it's up to the customer to appreciate the design and decide that my knife is the one he (or she) will chose to carry... which is another matter, i've refined my shape enough over the years that form has come second to function and they're not as pretty as I'd like, lol.
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  #37  
Old 10-18-2011, 11:40 AM
Ed Fowler Ed Fowler is offline
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The only way we as makers can know the absolute limits of our knives is to test a representative sample to destruction. When potential clients want to know the functional qualities of a knife, they can first of all examine the design of the entire knife as a package, be able to recognize stress raisers and all aspects of the requirements of the knife they seek, this includes the handle design, scabbard and naturally more. Ask the maker questions like why and what for. The next question is to ask the maker how he tests his knives and what the absolute upper limits are.

As most will not use their custom knife seriously many judge fit and finish as an index of quality, they judge by what they can see and what they hear other say. The two functions, first -that sought by the collector - and those sought by the man who is purchasing the knife as a last ditch survival tool are not necessarily positively correlated. The ultimate survival knife may not nor does it need to manifest perfection when it comes to fit and finish.


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  #38  
Old 10-19-2011, 07:38 AM
dirtydancer dirtydancer is offline
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I couldn't agree more. I primarily design my knives to be used and used hard and as such, there is very little "pretty" involved and my fit and finish are at 80% of what I would consider "good". I find they have a pleasing shape, but more from refinement of the knife over the years rather than for any asthetics, like a shark... beautiful, because it has gotten rid of everything useless in it's evolution. Again I agree, the thing I want is for any potential buyer to ask those very things, as every change I have made in every blade has some reason behind it.
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  #39  
Old 06-22-2012, 01:42 PM
Cthulhu Cthulhu is offline
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Hmm, interesting subject. I was a soldier before I was a knifemaker, so....

I carried a KaBar through Bosina and Kuwait, that still serves me today. It's a good blade. Old style, not the half serrated nonsense they have today. (Sorry to serration fans, but if I only wanted 4" of smooth cutting edge, I'd carry a 4" knife.)

As far as I can tell, there never will be an "Ultimate knife" that does all things well. Thats an unattainable goal. I've found that as a untility knife that also doubles as an effective combat blade, the KaBar is VERY good at what it does. Theres a reason the KaBar and the Colt 1911 have served as long as they have. (And I raised holy hell when they took our 1911's away from us for those silly Berettas.)

And lets be honest. We don't need to over romanticize and Rambo up our blades.

Unless you're in a position thats being over run, the likelihood of todays soldier, sailor or airman, unless they are Spec Ops types, of being involved in HTH combat is very low. The higher liklihood is that the only action that most "Super fast, High Speed-Low Drag Anti Terrorist Osama Killin' combination Attack Knife and Espresso machine" is going to see is opening up a recaltriant box of MREs. Sentry removal via knife is a risky proposition and mostly Hollywood.

So, jingoism aside, what does the regular grunt dogface want in a blade? Something that doesn't corrode, chip, or get scratched all to heck in the invasive dust of the Big Suck (Since we seem determined to spend our lives and treasure in such places), a blade thats long enough to get 80-90% of knife related work done but doesn't count as a "Rambo" blade (And remember, it has to be sedate enough to go on the uniform and not attract special attention from enemies OR uniform regulation happy officers.)

Some sort of band strap/Wire cutter would be a plus as well. Include a sharpening stone/steel for touching up. A blackened blade is nice, but I've yet to see a coating that doesn't chip or scratch. Oh yeah, and skip the Kydex sheaths.
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  #40  
Old 11-07-2014, 03:06 AM
oaksbottomforge oaksbottomforge is offline
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Multitasking machine

The multitasking machine is very cost effective. The reductions in the error by combining operations helps to a great extent.
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  #41  
Old 11-07-2014, 10:09 AM
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Andrew Garrett Andrew Garrett is offline
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Good to see a 13 year old thread still getting attention.

When this discussion started, the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines now using these knives on the front were kindergartners or 1st graders.

I'm getting old.


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Last edited by Andrew Garrett; 11-07-2014 at 10:12 AM.
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  #42  
Old 11-07-2014, 10:18 AM
Ed Fowler Ed Fowler is offline
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I was very pleased to read this thread again, a lot of good information just waiting to be considered.
I truly miss Rob, a great man and friend.

We have learned a lot in the last 15 years, there is still more knowledge that awaits us.

The simple knife can do a lot, providing we keep it a knife using features such as heat treat and geometry to their greatest benefit. Anything we add to a knife only detracts from its functional quality.


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  #43  
Old 11-07-2014, 11:14 AM
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Andrew Garrett Andrew Garrett is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed Fowler View Post
As most will not use their custom knife seriously many judge fit and finish as an index of quality, they judge by what they can see and what they hear other say. The two functions, first -that sought by the collector - and those sought by the man who is purchasing the knife as a last ditch survival tool are not necessarily positively correlated. The ultimate survival knife may not nor does it need to manifest perfection when it comes to fit and finish.
Ed, I find this quote to be quite accurate. In my experience, nearly all of the knives I have sold over the years either on a table, a website, or through a custom commission, have been sold based on looks. I usually have to go out of my way to describe the function of the knife, the reason for the blade geometry, the virtues of the steel and HT procedures, etc. Sadly, most buyers are not interested, and I have never been asked about my testing procedures. Buyers seem to take for granted that a handmade knife is superior in quality to mass produced models. This must be true or they would not pay the price, because there are plenty of 'cool looking' knives at gun shows for $10. I have yet to meet the buyer looking for a serious 'last ditch' survival knife, and any conversation that started out like the client might be interested in such a project wound up being about a carbon fiber handled, serrated edged, Ceracoat finished 'tacticool' monstrocity with a kydex sheath that matches his battery opperated AR-15.

Now, I'm not a master of fit and finish, and I do not make show knives. Rather, I focus on logical and ergonomic development of the profile to address the desired performance function--the lines or profile of the knife. This is my artistic strength, and I have come to believe that this 'art' can play directly into the science of function. Having purchased your Knife Talk video years ago, I always apreciated the highly scientific approach you take over a decades-long time frame. I fear that I am not wired that way. I could not dedicate myself to the exploration of a steel the way you have. I would simply lose interest in the craft before I achieved anything close to what you have.

As an artist, I always consider aestetic form as being at least as important to me, the maker, as function. My clients, on the other hand, take function for granted (or just really trust my abilities) with a few exceptions.

I'm glad guys like you exist. I've learned much from your approach and you willingness to share your findings. I keep some 52100 on hand and think of you everytime I use it, even if it is just bar stock (the shoulder will not allow me to hammer steel).

Thanks for what you do Ed. You are one of the pillars.


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