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  Larry Nowicki | Custom Knives - Hand Forged Mission Statement
   
Mission Statement
To combine 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 stock can.

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 on belts.

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 fast.

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 unforgiving edge.

Always a student.
 
 
 
 
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