Friday, December 21, 2012

Navy SEAL's bush sword

This was an interesting project. I was contacted by a Navy SEAL who wanted a blade. He had come across my website and liked a bush sword I had made that was inspired by a Thailand machete I had seen in an article in Tactical Knives magazine. I still had that bush sword, with a neon orange paracord wrap. As we discussed things, we considered re-wrapping the handle in colors more appropriate to covert operations, but ultimately I recommended that he let me build a new one from scratch since I make my military blades a bit stouter than general-use blades. Also, he wanted the top edge of the clip fully sharpened and the original only had a false edge. I suggested the possibility of a Micarta handle on a full tang, but he liked the integral socket handle idea.

So going from my first take on the blade here:

I forged out this 16" blade from 1/4" 5160 and triple normalized it:

After eating the scale off with an overnight soak in vinegar, I ground and filed in the bevels.

After that came a triple hardening cycle in canola oil and a triple tempering cycle in my kiln.

Since this may be going into some pretty hairy situations, I took an extra step after the third tempering cycle and differentially tempered using a pair of tempering tongs to heat the spine and make it tougher. I alse drew the tip back a bit extra, with the thought that a slightly bent tip is more useful than one that's broken off in a dire situation.

Given that he wasn't sure whether he'd be carrying it into a desert place or one with more vegetation, we decided on a color scheme that could work in either place. The main wrap is olive drab and the two-strand Turk's head knots are in coyote brown. After the wrap, it was impregnated with Minwax Wood Hardener. Somehow or other, I didn't do my wrap correctly and had some small gaps between coils that I didn't see until it was already sealed. I don't think I've seen that before. So I cut off this wrap and redid it.

After that, I built the Kydex sheath for it. We decided on a digital woodland camo pattern that had enough mix of green and brown to blend well with a variety of environments. A pair of MOLLE locks and a whole lot of grommets gives plenty of options on carrying it.

After that it went to fellow knifemaker and leatherworker Luke Swenson, who's an all right fellow for a grinder guy. :D He made a leather rig with a detachable shoulder strap and carrying frog. After I got it back, I sharpened things up and got the final pictures before mailing it out.

This was like making the machete/Bowie from Predator, but a thousand times cooler because it's going to a real special forces hero instead of actors. :D

The SEAL e-mailed me, "Tested it out last night, safe to say that one section of the Christmas tree is decidedly much barer now. Haha"

I don't think I've had a bad or rude customer, but he's been the most polite. I asked him if that was his SEAL training or his raisings, and he says it's his raising.

1 comment:

  1. Can only imagine where this sword & sheath combo will travel in the next few years. Luke Swenson did an awesome job including the trident on the sheath......