I decided to make a Wooden Lined Knife Sheath for my Kephart EDC. This is how I did it:

I marked out the blade on a piece of 1/4″ beach
I used a utility knife to cut the border. There are definitely other ways to do this, but the knife was handy.
Then, using the knife and a hook knife i hollowed out for the blade.
Next I used the belt grinder to profile the lining.
I fitted the knife. I wanted just enough room
I then cut a new piece of 7-9 oz leather
I wet it. I just dunked it in the bucket to make it wet.
I then formed it around the liner
I made these blocks that i keep in my leather kit. They’re just small blocks with the corners eased so they don’t make tracks in the leather when I clamp them down to stretch and form the leather.
Then, starting from the bottom o used an awl to push through and sew the liner in.
I kept using my thumb to form and stretch the leather around the liner.
I got tired of the “one at a time awl” and switched to the stitching punches.
I’ve found the easiest way to get these back out is hold something solid beside them and wiggle the back out. Using a piece of soft wood as a backer helps as well.
Once it was sewn, I cut the outside profile as you see. I ground the edge and smoothed the edge on the belt grinder, sanding up to 600 grit. The I edged the edges using a leather edger.. A coat of light brown stain tops it off.
Now a coat of neatsfoot oil and let it dry over night.

Completed the Wooden Lined Knife Sheath by adding a belt loop with a chicago screw. This will allow it to be removed or changed if needed.


Kephart EDC – Multi Part Handle Scales

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Horace Kephart (1862-1931) is a familiar name to bushcrafters along with George Washington Sears (See Knife 59) and was one of the leading outdoor writers of his time. Kephart designed the knife. This is how he described it in the first edition of Camping and Woodcraft:

“Its blade and handle are each 4¼ inches long, the blade being 1 inch wide, 1/8-inch thick on the back, broad pointed, and continued through the handle as a hasp and riveted to it.

“The handle of this knife is of oval cross-section, long enough to give a good grip for the whole hand, with no sharp edges to blister one’s hand. It has a ¼-inch knob behind the cutting edge as a guard, but there is no guard on the back, for it would be useless and in the way.

“This knife weighs only 4 ounces. It was made by a country blacksmith, and is one of the homeliest things I ever saw; but it has outlived in my affections the score of other knives that I have use”.

An excerpt from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horace_Kephart:

He wrote of his experiences in a series of articles in the magazine Field and Stream. These articles were collected into his first book, Camping and Woodcraft, which was first published in 1906. While mostly a manual of living outdoors, Kephart interspersed his philosophy:

Your thoroughbred camper likes not the attentions of a landlord, nor will he suffer himself to be rooted to the soil by cares of ownership or lease. It is not possession of the land, but of the landscape, that enjoys; and as for that, all the wild parts of the earth are his, by a title that carries with it no obligation but that he shall not desecrate nor lay them waste.

Houses, to such a one, in summer are little better than cages; fences and walls are his abomination; plowed fields are only so many patches of torn and tormented earth. The sleek comeliness of pasture it too prim and artificial, domestic cattle have a meek and ignoble bearing, fields of grain are monotonous to his eyes, which turn for relief to abandoned old-field, overgrown with thicket, that still harbors some the shy children of the wild. It is not the clearing but the unfenced wilderness that is the camper’s real home. He is brother to that good old friend of mine who in gentle satire of our formal gardens and close- cropped lawns, was wont to say, ‘I love the unimproved works of God.’

He also published some more books of the same theme such as Camp Cookery (1910) and Sporting Firearms (1912). In addition, he wrote The Hunting Rifle section of Guns, Ammunition and Tackle (New York: Macmillan, 1904), a volume of Caspar Whitney’s prestigious American Sportsman’s Library.

Combining his own experience and observations with other written studies, Kephart wrote a study of Appalachian lifestyles and culture called Our Southern Highlanders, published in 1913 and expanded in 1922.

He wrote a short history of the Cherokee and other books which became standards in the field.

Kephart completed a typescript for a novel in 1929. However, the book was not edited and published until 2009. It is published under the title Smoky Mountain Magic.

Kephart never left the Great Smokies, having been instantaneously killed in a mountain-road automobile accident on April 2, 1931.

My version of the Kephart EDC – Multi Part Handle Scales

  • Blade 1/8” 1080 4 1/32”
  • Overall length 9”

For these scales I used a piece of rosewood and a piece of spalted beech to make a two piece scale. First I made sure I had a good fit. Then I glued the pieces together while they sat on a piece of wax paper. The center piece in the picture is a single piece which then got cut down the center to form the two scales.

The I epoxied g10 spacers on each scale. I used the wax paper to separate them so I could clamp them together and get a good bond.

The handle of this Kephart EDC was finished with the help of 2″x72″scalloped belts. I have then in 220, 320 and 600 grit.

Then I finished with 1000 and 2000 grit felt backed belt.

Knife 63 – Kephart EDC - Multi Part Handle Scales
Knife 63 – Kephart EDC - Multi Part Handle Scales
Knife 63 – Kephart EDC - Multi Part Handle Scales
Knife 63 – Kephart EDC - Multi Part Handle Scales
Knife 63 – Kephart EDC - Multi Part Handle Scales
Knife 63 – Kephart EDC - Multi Part Handle Scales
Knife 63 – Kephart EDC - Multi Part Handle Scales
Knife 63 – Kephart EDC - Multi Part Handle Scales

Shown with the Wooden Lined Knife Sheath


Brut de Forge Bowie

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According to the Texas Stat Historical Society:

“In 1838, Rezin P. Bowie, brother of Alamo hero James Bowie claimed that he made the first Bowie knife while the Bowies lived in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana. He designed it as a hunting knife and gave it to James for protection after his brother had been shot in a fight. Herzehian Dunham, Notary Public in Avoyelles Parish certified that blacksmith Jesse Clifft, who lived on Bayou Boeuf and was a close friend and neighbor of the Bowies in the 1820s, forged the knife according to Rezin Bowie’s design. The original Bowie knife was like a butcher knife in profile, with a thin blade but no silver mounts. Bowie wore it in a silver-mounted black-leather sheath.”

There were several iterations of the Bowie knife since then, and there are countless books written with the Bowie knife as the primary subject matter. Today, almost any large heavy knife is likely to be called a bowie knife.

This Brut de Forge Bowie was forged from a similar tine as Knife – 42 Hunter Forged from an Implement Tine. To the right it is being normalized. Notice the groove (or fuller) in the tang. I cut that with the belt grinder. It serves a couple of purposes. It lightens the knife. It makes less surface area of the tang that must be flattened and gives the epoxy some space.

  • Blade – 8 ¾”
  • Overall 13 ½”

I also used the cross peen to hammer a slight fuller across the top of the knife. This gives the knife a little more width from the piece of metal without weakening the blade.

In the photo below I tried the Brut de Forge Bowie out before I put the scales on. This is chopping a stick of hophornbeam to make sure it is performing as expected. It wasn’t even fully sharpened yet when I did this test.

I also found this to be a little harder than I wanted after two tempering cycles, so I wound up tempering it for one more 2-hour cycle.

The handle was finished with the help of the  scalloped belts. I have then in 220, 320 and 600 grit.

Then I finished with 1000 and 2000 grit felt backed belt

Notice the groove (or fuller) in the tang. I cut that with the belt grinder. It serves a couple of purposes. It lightens the knife. It makes less surface area of the tang that must be flattened and gives the epoxy some space.
I tried the knife out before I put the scales on. This is chopping a stick of hophornbeam to make sure it is performing as expected. It wasn’t even fully sharpened yet when I did this test.

Antler Handled Carving Knife

  • Blade was a recycled file 4 1/2”
  • I used the conditioning belts on this knife.

Because this Antler Handled Carving Knife’s antler was put on with the base end first, it required a little different technique. It seems the base is bone and is harder. It did not soften like a cut end that exposes the softer insides. To get around this I drilled a hole then slightly widen it to be about the width of the tang. I drilled with a drill bit the approximate width and used a Dremel with a cutter to widen it.

I then boiled it again. This time for about 15 minutes.

I also had this antler soaking in water for several days before I was going to install it.

Knife 61 - Antler Handled Carving Knife
Knife 61 - Antler Handled Carving Knife

I added a sheath made with hair-on deer hide. I tanned this hide last year. It was my first tanning experience. I thought it was a good fit for this knife.

Here is an insert I include with all of the knives I make.

This custom hand-crafted knife (might say hand forged) is made from 1080 high carbon steel. It has scales made from stabilized  beech which is pinned with brass pins. It has a Hand rubbed oil finish.

The Hand Stitched Leather Sheath was crafted from approximate 8 oz veggie tanned leather.

How to Care for a High Carbon Knife / Maintenance of a High Carbon Knife

A high carbon knife is preferred if you want a knife with the sharpened edge and a knife that’s easy to get back to sharp.

But high carbon steel can be prone to rust, especially when new, so her are the recommendations for maintenance of a high carbon knife.

DO NOT RUN THESE KNIVES THROUGH THE DISHWASHER.

First, keep it clean and dry. When you’re using it, wipe it down with a dry cloth or paper towel from time to time.

When you’ve finished, wash it with soap and warm water. Dry it well and store it as you normally do.

Every so often oil it.

If it’s a kitchen knife, start once a week, but as it builds a greyish color, that timeframe can be reduced. After a year or so once every months or 6 weeks should be fine. You can use almost any kind of cooking oil. Vegetable oil, or purchase some of the specialty oils sold for just this purpose.

If it’s a hunting knife, oil it with 3 in one oil or gun oil. Your knife can be maintained exactly like your firearms.

For camp and utility knives you can also oil like the hunting knives, but possibly a bit more frequently.

If you have a wood handled knife from me, it will be finished with an oil finish. I like the easier maintenance of an oil finish and I like the patina built from the oils in your hands (the same oils that will rust the blade by the way).

You can simply wipe on a new coat of oil. Wipe it on and wipe it off, let it dry, and repeat if you’d like. Tru-oil, Tung oil, walnut oil or anything similar will work equally well. I do not recommend Boiled Linseed Oil for kitchen knives but can be used for knives not directly in contact with food.

Wax, (like Johnson’s wax, Renaissance wax, or similar) works well for both the handle and blade as well. Wipe it on and buff it.


Bunka Chef’s Knife – Making The Makers Mark

  • Made from 3/32” 1095
  • Handle is wenge and zebra wood

Bunka knives are general purpose knives tackling a wide range of common kitchen tasks. Their reverse tanto profile gives the knives a dexterous and delicate tip and a unique and eye-catching aesthetic. It is a general-purpose kitchen knife like a Santoku and it used to be just as popular as the Santoku. With its wider blade, the Bunka knife is suitable for cutting vegetables, while the triangle-shaped tip area is particularly useful when cutting fish and meats.


Bunka Chef’s Knife – Making The Makers Mark

I had a mishap while making my touch mark in this knife. I made a dent by missing steel stamp. Because of this mishap, I’m changing the way I make the mark. I cut a 3″ hole in a block of oak. I use this to protect the blade should a miss again.

I also always hold the stamp with vise grips (read about the window mishap)

I also went to a slightly larger hammer. This meant I didn’t need to swing as hard and helped with control. The extra weight had enough momentum to still make the mark as needed.


I sanded this knife to 600 grit, then sandblasted it. I then etched it with ferric chloride for 20 minutes.

I asked the new owner for his thoughts:

I used it almost exclusively for Thanksgiving. The pros:

  1. It held its sharpness for almost all the prep. Ran it though my sharpener and it was razor sharp again
  2. Beautiful handle
  3. Good balance

The cons:

  1. When I would cut something that required more “rocking back and forth” instead of actual chopping, the edge closest to the handle digs into the cutting board. Rounding off that corner just a bit would help there.
  2. Got to remember to keep it oiled. Not having a knife like this before, it’s just a learning curve”


A

A knife Forged from a Railroad Spike Knife

A railroad spike knife is made (….wait for it….) from a railroad spike and it’s a project that seems to be a right to passage for a lot of blacksmiths and bladesmiths. It takes a little knowledge and experience to get it right, but honestly, I find them more of a novelty item.

There are two basic ways to make a knife like this. First by adding some high carbon steel or just drawing out what’s there.

The railroad spike is not high carbon so it’s not going to make a great knife by itself. There are railroad spikes marked “HC” which stands for “Higher Carbon”, but it’s still not high enough to make a great knife.

Most you see will have the handle twisted, which is done by heating the spike in the forge to working temperature, locking it in a vise and twisting it with a wrench. I just used an adjustable wrench, but if you plan to twist square stock often, adding a handle extension helps quite a bit.

I then forged welded a file into this knife. I drew out the end of the spike a bit, split it with a cut off wheel in the grinder (although a hacksaw or bandsaw would work as well) drove the file in, added flux and forge welded it in. After that it’s grinding and heat treating as you would any other knife.

Making a railroad spike knife is more about learning a few blacksmith techniques and having some fun with the forge than anything else. Although it doesn’t come out as an extremely high quality knife, it does come out as a cool blacksmithing and knife making project that you can add a few of your own twist (pun intended).

And these knives to seem to sell, although that could be a perception. You can find them all the time on etsy, knife makers websites, Instagram and at knife shows.


Knife 56 – A Fully Forged Hunting Knife that I broke cold forging

  • Blade – 4 3/4″
  • Overall – 9 1/4″
  • Scales – Stabilized Spalted Beech
  • Handle Finish – Hand rubbed Tru-oil

I forged Fully Forged Hunting Knife that I broke from another tine as shown in knife 36. I sound up breaking it. I knew I was not finished forging it but I ran out of time, so I just left it sitting on the anvil. The next day I only had a few minutes in the shop. I picked up the knife and noticed a slight warp. Sure, I should have known better but my experience working with mild steel sort of kicked in and I gave it a couple good whacks with the hammer. Boom! A duh moment.

You will often hear this kind of finish described as “Brut de Forge” or  “Brute de Forge” – meaning “rough and unfinished”. Part of the blade is left in an “as forged” or partial “as forged” state.

I asked if this would have happened if it was already normalized. Thermocycling will help with the coarseness of the grain.

Tempering will give it bend without the break and leave an edge that will hold its sharpness.

And Lesson learned, do not forge below forging temps.

Fortunately, there was enough left of this Fully Forged Hunting Knife that I broke to turn it into a hidden tang.

Thermal cycling is a process in which material is cooled and heated in cycles.

Normalizing is to bring or return a substance to a standard or normal condition or state.

As knife makers we thermal cycle our steel to return it to a normalized state, so we call it normalizing or normalization.

I needed to make sure this metal would normalize correctly. After straightening the tines, I found just a light hammer blow would cause the metal to break as shown in the photo to the right. So, I ran a test.

To normalize it, I brought it to nonmagnetic three times, and let it cool in the vise. After normalizing a tried several times to break it and it did not break after several hammer blows.

It was then heat treated as described earlier. The normal test all passed after tempering as well.

Stabilized beech handle

Hand crafted, hand stitched 7-9 oz veggie tanned leather sheath



Knife 55 Seax – Vine Filing-laminated scales

Stabilized Spalted Beech and Wenge laminated strips

  • Steel – 1/8”” 1095
  • Blade – 4 1/4″
  • Overall – 8 3/4′
  • Scales – Laminated stabilized beech/wenge
  • Handle Finish – hand rubbed tru-oil

The vine pattern is probably the most common type of file work done on a knife spine. I’ve outlined the steps below so that most everyone can complete this and move on to more exciting filework.

Vine Spline Filing

1). Mark the spine with layout blue or marker. Alternate left and right. I used 3/8″ spacing.

2). Cut semi-circles on the left side every other mark. I used a 5/32” chainsaw file.

3). Cut semi-circles on the right side, every other mark. These are cut the same depth as the left side. (option: make these cuts shifted ahead by 3/16″).

4). With the narrowest edge of a triangular or half round needle file, cut the ‘leaves’ about 3/32″ above each big half round. Do this on both sides.

5). Carefully shape the lower portions of the big half rounds to smooth the vine. I used the flat side of the triangle file to knock the corner off and finished with the chainsaw file.

Mark the spine with layout blue or marker. Alternate left and right. I used 3/8″ spacing. Then Cut semi-circles on the left side every other mark. I used a 5/32” chainsaw file.
Cut semi-circles on the right side, every other mark. These are cut the same depth as the left side. (option: make these cuts shifted ahead by 3/16″)
With the narrowest edge of a triangular or half round needle file, cut the ‘leaves’ about 3/32″ above each big half round. Do this on both sides.
Carefully shape the lower portions of the big half rounds to smooth the vine. I used the flat side of the triangle file to knock the corner off and finished with the chainsaw file.

Laminated Handle

I made this laminated handle on this “Knife 55 Seax – Vine Filing-laminated scales” by stabilized strips of beech and wenge and compressing them together during the process of cooking the cactus juice.

Another good article, http://dcknives.blogspot.com/p/basic-filework-vine.html