Thursday, November 16, 2017

Collins engineer bolo revamp

I don't often work on blades that I didn't make myself.  However, I agreed to do a re-handle/re-sharpen job on a Collins engineer bolo mostly because I wanted to get to check it out first-hand.  I took waaaaay to long to do the job, though the work itself went fairly quickly.  I had thought that these were WWII-era, and have found since then that they started making them pre-WWI.

The bolo wasn't in terrible shape, but definitely wasn't pristine.  The owner picked it up for $25.  It had cracked handle slabs and was missing a chunk from one, and there were some pretty deep notches out of the ax-like edge.  It looked like re-sharpening had altered the profile a bit.

I started out by grinding the heads off of one side of the brass handle rivets and removing the slabs.  There was no glue/epoxy/cutler's resin.  The handle wood was untouched by rot, though cracked from impacts.  I think it is probably rosewood.


 I drilled out the rivet holes from 3/16" (I think, didn't actually measure) to fit the 1/4" stainless tubing I was using on the replacement.  The third hole was double-drilled, apparently at the factory, which made getting it sized a bit tricky as it kept catching the drill bit.  Then I built a jig from poplar wood, cut out slabs from TeroTuf, attached them to the jig, and shaped them with a series of router bits.


I then cut out the 1/4" stainless steel tube rivets.  Due to the tapered tang, I ended up needing to cut them different lengths.  The original slabs were the same thickness throughout, so I didn't try to taper the replacement slabs.


I cleaned up rust with a wire brush on a bench grinder on the blade and a ScotchBrite belt on the tang, then attached the new handle slabs with rivets and epoxy.


Then on to working the edge.  I had not intended to try to get all of the notches out, but by the time I had the bevel cleaned up, most of them were gone.


This thing is truly frightening now.  It's a massive blade, with a convex edge that will scare the hair off my arm.  The owner is going to have to make sure he hits what he's wanting to, because it will tear up Jake on anything it contacts.


Should be good for another century of work now.  :)

Friday, October 27, 2017

Forged camp chopper and older-style mid-tech Benghazi Warfighters

Some more recently completed work.

A forged camp chopper, 80CrV2 steel and TeroTuf handle slabs.  The blade is about 10 5/8" long.  The customer wanted a large finger choil for choked-up work.  It's not the biggest blade I've made by any stretch, but everyone who handled it agreed it was a beast.  :)


 Kydex sheath.


The customer requested an exposed skullcrusher tang and a dedicated lanyard hole.  This was a first for me, to build a slab handle with a notch to accommodate a lanyard hole.  I say "dedicated" because the flared tube rivets also afford lanyard attachment points.


I've been in the very long, slow process of trying to launch a mid-tech stock removal line based on my more popular forged designs.  I haven't posted too much about it because I wanted to have everything ready to roll first.  I'm finally approaching that point.  Along the way I have had small batches of blades waterjet cut and have tweaked my design a bit as I go, getting everything zeroed in to the final product.  I have a very small handful of the older style blade designs in various states of completion, most of which are already claimed, before doing a full launch of the line.

This set of three Benghazi Warfighters was bought by fellow for himself and some family members.  The blanks are waterjet cut from 3/16" 80CrV2 steel, ground and heat treated by me, and handle slabs shaped from TeroTuf using jigs and a series of router bits. 

The blades have a Caswell black oxide finish (the final version will have a coating) with the touchmark laser engraved.  The sheaths are standardized, one will fit any of the blades.


A couple of hours after picking these up, the customer called up and laid claim to one of the older-style Little Rok mid-techs in progress.  :)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Meat cleaver, bush dha, and Persian fighter

Some mid-sized blades finished up a while back.  All are 80CrV2 steel.

First up is a small meat cleaver commissioned by a customer.  He liked the looks of a cord-wrapped cleaver I had forged for the Blade Show and wanted one with a TeroTuf handle.  I liked the results well enough I traced it out to have a reference if I do future versions.  :)  It's about a 7" blade.



It was picked up at the Usual Suspects Network Gathering knife show, and I didn't get a chance to get good pics before traveling, but here are a couple of interesting shots of it.  The first is during thermal cycling, after forging and before stock removal.


And a picture from the customer himself, just prior to cutting up these ribs.  According to him, the cleaver "went through them like they weren't there".  :D



And speaking of cutting up critter parts, another customer had this pic of his drop point processing out rabbit along with an ESEE.


This bush dha was another casualty of having to get everything ready for the show.  These are the only pictures I managed to get.  It was originally intended to be a different blade shape, more of a bolo, but sometimes you have to work with the steel rather than boss it around.  It's about a 12" blade with a handle of hemp under paracord.



I did get an awesome shot of it with the infamous Ed Calderon, the Taco Ninja.  Got an interesting upcoming project with Ed.


And this 12"-bladed Persian fighter was originally planned to be on my table at the Blade Show, but ended up missing out because I was running out of time.  It went to the Gathering with me and came back where it was claimed once I posted it on Instagram.  The blade is about 12", and the top edge is unsharpened.  I'd consider this to be about as close to doing a fantasy piece as I do.



The customer requested a mild steel trainer to be predominantly used on his BOB training dummy.  That was a first to me, but I agreed.  I used 3/16" mild steel and trimmed out the shape on a bandsaw before cleaning up on my belt grinder.  The handles of both are hemp under paracord, and it took three tries to get the wrap to feel almost the same as the original.  Then I worked on getting the balance the same as the original.


The result was a trainer that's a bit lighter than the original, but due to having the same balance it feels very close to the same.


 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Mid-tech Benghazi Warfighters

Mid-tech Benghazi Warfighters

I currently have three unfinished older style mid-tech Benghazi Warfighters available to be claimed.  These are waterjet cut from 3/16" 80CrV2 steel, will be ground and heat treated by me, will have TeroTuf handle slabs, flared stainless steel tube rivets, Casewll black oxide finish, laser engraved touchmarks, and Kydex sheaths.

 
 
Below are some finished versions.  They are all spoken for.  The pictures are there to give you an idea of what the above blanks will end up looking like.
 

 
If interested, shoot me an e-mail at helmgrind@gmail.com.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Norwegian camping trip tanto pics

A customer from Finland sent me a couple of pictures of his tanto being used to baton firewood and clean fish on a recent camping and hunting trip in Norway.


 
 
These two tasks are kind of opposite ends of the spectrum.  Awesome to see the knife doing both well!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Mean Little Sucker tanto, bushcraft knife, plus carry pics

A couple of knives that went out into the world not too long back.  Forged 80CrV2, approximately 6 1/2" blades, marine epoxy-impregnated paracord handles, Kydex sheaths.  The usual from me.  :)

First up is a long drop point bushcraft knife that went to a bushcraft school owner.  Blackthorn USA



Then a Mean Little Sucker tanto to a LEO.



 




And some pics that past customers have sent me recently of their blades set up on their gear.

A Ranger sniper.


A Texas SWAT team member.


And a fellow who helped with dealing with Hurricane Harvey's aftermath took this prototype Fire Chief rescue 'hawk with him.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Thark bush swords

These are a couple of bush swords I forged at the same time that are kind of linked in my mind, though they went to different customers.  The top one was ordered up by a fellow on an archery forum who was directed my way by a guy who uses blades extensively, who wanted an 18" blade.  The bottom one was a first for me in that the customer had no e-mail or smart phone that I could send him pictures of it before shipping it.  He had based his decision to ask for a bush sword from me on an article by Joe Flowers in the final issue of the lamentably-out-of-print Tactical Knives magazine.  Since it had been several years since I had made the blades for that article, I let the customer know that what he got would, of course, be a bit different and hopefully better.




What links them in my mind is that when I had forged them out and had them laying side-by-side, I immediately saw them as Barsoomian short swords being wielded in the lower limbs of a Thark to ward off any blows that might slip through larger, longer-range weapons wielded by the top pair of arms.  Very different blade shapes, but kindred spirits, if you will.

These are also a jumping-off point for me as I have been making bush swords for years now with integral socket handles.  While I still feel that they make great handles if done correctly, I think that I have refined my multi-layer cord wrapping technique to the point that it is more comfortable than what I am able to do with the integral sockets.  I still built them with Turk's head knots fore and aft to provide a good mechanical lock in the hand.

The longer blade has a black-over-black wrap and a thin false edge that could have a secondary bevel added to sharpen it.  The customer initially wanted a 21" blade, but I felt that I could give him better balance at 18" and he let me go ahead.



We set up his Kydex sheath for baldric carry, with a double-adjustable, quick-detach shoulder sling like I use on my tomahawk sheaths.


I believe the blade may have picked up a bit of negative sori during the quench as the slight recurve seems more pronounced in the post-heat treatment photos.


The shorter bush sword has a 15 1/2" blade.  The top edge is fully sharpened.


The wrap is tan over black, with a tan Kydex sheath.


I have to say that I firmly believe that the customer got a better bush sword than the one in the article that caught his attention.  He was certainly happy with it.  Couldn't ask for more than that.  :)