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Old 04-28-2016, 08:39 AM
foreveryoung001's Avatar
foreveryoung001 foreveryoung001 is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: Traverse City, MI
Posts: 29
Damascus Hunter with Integrated Bolsters

Been working on another knife project, and I see some wins, and some things I'm not so happy with. I've been doing a lot of "Jeep" knives lately, since its spring and all of my Jeeping friends have come out of the woodwork, so did this one with one of them in mind, but who knows if he'll buy it.

Anyways, I started with pieces off of a Jeep Leaf spring, mixed with 15n20. Took that to 160 layers, then stretched it out, cut it in half, and put it around a second 28 layer billet of 1080 and 15n20. So its a total of 348 layers, and that's one of the things I'm least happy about. My pictures aren't great, but from looking at it, it doesn't look anywhere near that. It looks more like the 40 layer knives I was making when started last fall. I think I know where I failed in that regard. I I stacked the billets for the sides, one flat, one on its side, and then another flat. I intended to do a ladder pattern, so you'd get all of that movement in the flat ones, but still have the lines running down the middle. I got so caught up in the forging, that by the time I remembered to cut the grooves, I decided it was already to thin. SO lesson learned on that one.

As for the things I'm happy with... My whole goal for this one was to try making some integrated bolsters, and where as they are not perfect, for my first effort, I couldn't be happier... well, I could be happier, but I'm very pleased. I couldn't find much info on the web, or even from other smiths, who had ever done integrated bolsters, so I had to make it up as I went along. I forged most of the shape, then a spring swage in the final shape I was hoping for, and just kept smacking it with the 4 pound hammer, and it eventually got to the right shape, with the blade "mostly" centered. I had to leave it all a bit thick so I could grind a 16th of one side of the blade and maybe a tad more than that on the opposite side of the tang, but the end result was a blade and tang that were centered with each other. The bolster took an ungodly amount of file work, but it did wind up looking like I was picturing it would look.

I'm also really happy with a lot of my finishing work. I think it is my best bevel grind to date, and I really focused on getting a cool transition in the ricasso, and then the sanding... I lost count of the hours I spent sanding this thing, but its got to be close to 10 hours... now a lot of that was because I would sand a section of it down, and only then would I notice something I didn't like... the one that really got me was the top of the bolster. It was uneven... it had been uneven since my initial grind. It wasn't until I had it all sanded that I actually took a second to look at that aspect of it, and noticed how one side was higher. So, back to the files to level it out, and the sanding started all over again... another lesson learned.

The handle is birds eye maple with some walnut stripes, and as far as the wood working goes, it is by far my best finish. I've been reading a ton on final sanding and finishing, and although it probably doesn't show in the pictures, it is absolutely the best finished handle I've done. The walnut stripes were just for fun and to see if I could make them work. They came out close, but might be 1/16 or so off on being perfectly lined up.

All in all, I'm counting this one as a big learning experience. I'm very proud of it, and can honestly say, it will be a while before I decide to try the integrated bolster thing again. Now I see why they sell for so much money. Maybe some day when I have a milling machine, it won't seem like such a big deal.

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back, bee, bevel, billet, blade, bolsters, damascus, file, file work, files, flat, forged, forging, hammer, handle, hunter, knife, knife project, knives, make, making, maple, pattern, project, tang


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