| Custom Knives - Hand Forged
|| Mission Statement
ancient (time tested) bladesmithing skills with modern steels
and natural distal tapers to create an unforgiving edge
When I started making knives they were nothing more than
a piece of steel with an edge on it. I've always been fascinated
with fighting knives so that is where I started my study.
Large blades were first, heavy, bulky, and slow. Designed
to hack and slice they were effective.
As fighting skills developed so did the blades. More precise
cuts and techniques require smaller and faster blades. Different
techniques require different blade styles. Daggers for stabbing
and thrusting, curved blades for slicing, etc.
Even though the blades were smaller and lighter they still
had to be strong and keep their edge. A study of tapers and
grinding styles followed a study of steels and how to heat-treat
them to stay pliable enough not to break under stress with
edges hard to stay sharp. Our modern steels are somewhat superior
to the steels of ancient times. The modern metallurgists have
researched steel into an exact science. There are guidelines
with heat treat specifications for all commercially available
steels on the market today.
These steels, depending on temperatures, can be given harder
or softer properties.
Different applications require different steels. Heavy blows
to strong materials require stronger steel. A chisel grind
on thicker stock usually handled this. Thinner blades with
distal tapers were good for slicing. This is a naturally strong
taper that gets continuously smaller from the base to the
point. Ever look at a tree. Its thickest point is at the base
of the trunk where it enters the ground. It supports all the
weight of the tree. As you get further towards the tips of
the branches the thickness of the branches gets smaller until
it gets to nothing. The roots taper the same underground.
In high winds the tree usually bends and gives but usually
handles the stresses well. The same with a knife, the thickest
part should be at the finger guard, gradually getting smaller
towards the point. The same with the handle giving a balance
that makes the blade almost float in one‚s hand, an
extension of ones body. When these tapers are incorporated
into blades they are that much better. They cut their own
path through whatever they cut instead of forcing through.
They can be lighter and smaller to cut through what thicker
These tapers could be ground into steel with stock removal
methods. There are some blades with distal tapers that perform
well centuries after they were made. They were probably not
made with grinders but forged by blade smiths. A study of
the old ways to rediscover their technique was next. Manipulating
hot steel with a hammer to get it to move into desired shapes
took a long time. Trial and error along with guided instruction
from established blade smiths led to forging 95%+ . If you
forge that close, you spend less time on the grinder and money
Handle designs are important. Natural materials work well;
they fit into the hand without slipping. Some horns, antlers
and bones fit comfortably while others, even from the same
kind of animal don‚t. Some work on forward grips, others
reverse. A knife from the front leg bone of a deer felt good
in the right hand but awkward in the left. Luckily the guy
was right handed. Wood or manmade materials can be shaped
to handle most of these conditions. Custom contoured handles
that conform to one individual might not fit another. Some
hands are larger than others. With compromise some can work
for most applications. Japanese cord wraps come to mind. All
these factors must be considered.
When a blade is used it usually has a purpose. Many different
designs are used for many different purposes. In ancient times
blades that cut smoother, deeper and were lighter and stronger
gave their wielder a distinct advantage. The properties that
make a long sword preferable were also desirable in smaller
blades. Some skilled fighters with small blades could do more
damage than others with long blades. When all these qualities
are incorporated into each blade it can enhance its performance.
If you want to see if your blades work give it to a professional
to use for a while. For slicing let a butcher try one. If
it gets dull to fast or is tiring to use they just won‚t
use it. They make there living cutting meat and if they have
to keep sharpening or get tired or slowed down for any reason
they will let you know. Give a camp knife to a professional
guide to use and if they like it they will offer to buy it.
Combat blades better do what you say because someone‚s
life might depend on it. If they fail the word gets around
Embellishments make the blade more pleasing to the eye. File
work, exotic woods, inlays, scrimshaw, damascus, and precious
metals can enhance the value of the blade but first and foremost
it must perform.
Pretty rubber shovels just won't do.
This is a work in progress and I by no means have all the
answers but I am well on the way to making blades with an
Always a student.