Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Throwing more "tech" at the mid-tech tomahawks

I've been making full-tang tactical tomahawks since 2013, with the prototype process beginning with nylon-handled punched-eye 'hawks extending several years before that.  The 'hawks were my first foray into making mid-techs, which I define as using modern manufacturing processes to build small batches of blades.  Within my usage of the term, this can range everywhere from full-on CNC machined everything to hand-ground blades that start as waterjet-cut blanks.  The goal is greater levels of production than hand-making every aspect of a knife, allowing higher quality than an average factory-made knife but a lower price than a full-on custom.

For the last little bit I've been pooling resources with JB Knife and Tool to help both companies move toward getting more work out into the hands of customers.  Brian and John of JB Knife and Tool are good guys with a great deal of practical experience on the knife making and using sides of things. 

For Blade Show this year, we threw some tech at the tomahawks and the result was me building the largest batch of tomahawks I've done so far.  The blanks are waterjet cut and hand ground with an angled workrest, as it has been since I started.  The grinder has been upgraded to an AmeriBrade and the work rest is the far more adjustable D-D Work Rest, but the basic process is the same.

When it came time to make handles and sheaths, we made use of a tabletop CNC router.  The handle slabs were shaped in three stages, with three different tool changes.  This meant someone tending the machine and manually changing out the bit and collet, then re-zeroing the router before starting the next stage.  It was still quicker and more consistent than the old way, using jigs with table routers.  We're looking at a larger CNC router with an automatic tool changer for a future upgrade.

You can see some of the stainless steel tube rivets cut out in the little container at the top of this picture.

 Sheaths were molded on forming molds I made a while back using steel layers waterjet cut and assembled to create a three dimensional form, pressed with my big hydraulic forging press.  We are working on a design to be machined from one chunk of polymer to be used for vacuum forming the sheath halves.  We rigged a temporary fixture for drilling holes and trimming the outside of the sheath halves using the tabletop CNC router.  A more permanent holding fixture for trimming the molded sheaths is next up after the vacuum mold.

Even with the older molds and temporary fixture, the results on trimming sheaths was quicker and more consistent than the old method. 

In addition to inventory for my own tables at the Blade Show, I made deliveries to a couple of dealers at the show.  Here I am loaded down with two different deliveries.

A video showing some of the process of laser engraving the touchmark, shaping handle slabs, and trimming sheaths.

The 'hawks are made from 1/4" 80CrV2 steel, coated with Cerakote, handles are TeroTuf, sheaths are Boltaron.

The techniques used on the tomahawks are in the process of being implemented on my line of mid-tech knives as well.  The first batch of knives that will be getting CNC routed handles is being Cerakoted at the moment.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Forge-finished finery, bush swords, etc.

Been busy banging out bodadacious blades.  Here are some recents.  80CrV2 steel, cord wraps, and Boltaron sheaths all around.

A biohazard outbreak reaction bush sword and smaller utility knife that went to a repeat customer in Canada.  The bush sword has scorched hemp for the main wrap and black paracord Turk's head knots.  The smaller knife has tan paracord over hemp, with a black paracord Turk's head.

A similarly-sized (6"~ blade) knife as the above utility, with hemp.

Variations on Benghazi Warfighters, two with sharpened upper edges.

A Benghazi Warfighter with black oxide finish, headed to an Army Ranger.  He had commissioned a bigger chopper/fighter from me a few years ago, a variation of my Aggression design (I need to make some more of those).  We decided this was a "micro-Aggression" and the sheath is a "safe space" from it.  :D  He can't tell me yet where he's deploying, but this is going with him.

A couple of donation blades, the first for Knife Rights in their continued fight to remove restrictions on the ability of law-abiding citizens to carry arms in the United States.  This year, a falcata-ish bush sword with retina-searing neon orange underlay.

I don't realize how big my hands look until I take a picture of me holding a blade.

And a much smaller donation knife for my old high school, raising funds for teacher projects that run outside the school budget.

One of the most useful comments I've had on my work came years ago when a knife dealer told me my blades were good but my sheaths sucked.  I have worked to make that better, and think I have achieved a decent level of workmanlike sheaths.

And finally, the first oxtail dao I've done in a long time.  The customer had as reference a picture of one I built many years ago.

 Here's what I came up with for him.  He was quite taken with the results.

The top edge is fully sharpened.  The design called for an open-backed sheath.

Ok, headed to the shop to work on some carcass splitters.  :)

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Massive picture post: whole lotta forged blades

It's been a very busy last several months, and while I have produced a good number of blades, I haven't been as active online to post them.  So here's most of them from recent months.  :D

Everything is 80CrV2 steel, with various combinations of paracord and hemp wrapped handles, and Boltaron sheaths except for the two retina-searing colors, which are Kydex.

In vague order from November to February:

This chopper was forged very close to the final shape.  Minimal stock removal on the bevels.

A rare foldover sheath:

My eyes!

Not the same tan tanto as above.

A very rare kiridashi.

O tanto with a 13 1/2" blade and wakizashi with a 15 3/4" blade.  The waki was a commission from a Green Beret.

This 9" recurve was finished just in time to be a Christmas gift.


Did a number of ginuntings, have more in the future.

My eyes!

Hey, look, a midtech Little Rok with CNC machined bevels! Slowly making progress.  :D

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Lamb splitter and carcass splitter

A couple of new big blades that got shipped out earlier this month.  Two firsts on these: the cord-wrapped one is the heaviest I've made, and the slab handle on the lamb splitter is the longest slab I've ever made.

Both of them are forged from 80CrV2 steel with Boltaron sheaths.

The wrapped one has an 18" blade and weighs 5.14 pounds, the first of mine to weigh more than 5 pounds.  The handle is 22" long, scorched hemp on top of a neoprene foundation, with West System marine epoxy. 


It was a Christmas gift from a wife to her husband, and she had me laser engrave this on the blade.

The lamb splitter is an over-sized version of what is usually a large one-handed butcher knife-looking blade.  The blade is 17 1/4", the handle is 17", and the weight is 4.125 pounds.  It has the longest slab handle I've ever made, from tan TeroTuf with flared stainless steel tube rivets.

The customer has assured me that the lamb splitter will be used for butchering.

More details in the video: