Kephart EDC – Multi Part Handle Scales

Buy this knife here

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

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


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 51 & 52 Friction Folders

  • 1/8” – 1095
  • Handle – bocote
  • Pins – Steel and brass
  • Pivot bolt is a brass bolt.

It was time to try my hand at making a Friction Folder. A friction folder is a folding knife that doesn’t use a lock or springs. It uses the handle’s friction against the tang to stay open. The design of a friction folder has an extended tang. This allows the user’s hand to keep the blade from folding shut.

When making a Friction Folder it’s best to make a prototype out of heavy paper or thin wood pieces. This allows you to get the pin locations close enough so it can be tuned in final fitting.

You’ll see my first attempt required an extra pin. I didn’t leave enough metal  to tune it to a single pin. It actually worked out pretty well.

I finished these knives by sandblasting before heat treatment. They were hand sanded to 600 grit then sandblasted. I plan to leave the blade as it comes off the tempering color.

Making a cardboard working template will help ensure your success. It also helps gauge the size of your finished knife.

Looking closely at the images you can see the first folder I made has an extra pin. This wasn’t really by design, at least not the original design. It did however, work out well and added a bit to the knife. In the end, it works well and looks good, so I’m happy with it.

There are an endless number of designs and styles for friction folders. I will be making some different sizes and styles. They are fun to make and are a very useful and functional every day carry.

Using a friction folder isn’t much different than using any knife with the exception of possibly being a little more cautious if your going to use it in such a way that your grip isn’t going to keep it open. I really don’t think it’s much different than any knife. There is some inherent danger in using any sharp instrument. Use good judgment and know your devices limitations.

Small Seax – EDC – Stone Washing

  • Steel –  3/16” 1095
  • Blade 3 1/2”
  • Overall – 8”
  • Scales – Desert Ironwood
  • Sanded to 320, used deburring wheel, polished
  • Etched in Ferric Chloride straight for about 40 minutes
  • Scales – Stabilized Spalted beech

Seax is an Old English word for “knife”. Traditionally the seax is a weapon consisting of a curved sword with a notched blade, appearing, for example, in the coats of arms of Essex and the former Middlesex. The Seax was a universally carried knife in Northern Europe. Also known as the Viking dagger, it was carried and used by the Saxons, Angles, Vikings and Germanic tribes. Viking Daggers, use probably dated before the fall of Rome and continues on into the early Middle Ages.

Small Seax – EDC – Stone Washing

It was about this time I decided to build a knife tumbler as a grinder attachment for stonewashing knives.

Stone Washing for Your Knives’ Finish is quite simple. You can actually do it by hand. Just put the knife in a container with media. I used stones I picked up from the side of the road.

The beginning tumbler is pretty simple. I mounted casters to a wood base. I had a cardboard shipping container some metal was shipped in that was about the right size, so I used it.

One end is capped and the other has a block of wood I cut to fit. It’s thick enough that the sides of the frame holds it in place. I used a course belt on the grinder to “drive” or turn the barrel. There is a wooden baffle to “flip” the media. The block of 2 x 4 in front was to keep it from possibly jumping off, but it didn’t seem to be a problem. The base is just clamped to grinder table.

You can also use a purchased tumbler. I’ve heard the vibrating type used for reloading or some that are used in polishing.

After just a few minutes in the tumbler this is the way the knife looks.

Design note for stone washing. In order to finish the scales, it’s nearly impossible to leave the etching on the spline. I should have added Jimping in front of the scales. This would have made a good border from etched to not etched.

A few notes on Stone Washing for Your Knives’ Finish:

You can put nail polish over parts of the knife you don’t want stonewashed. Remove the nail polish after you’re done stonewashing the blade with nail polish remover.

Try adding Spray a little WD-40 in the barrel with the rocks, or a little soap and water.

The longer you stone wash, the lighter the blade will be.

You can purchase tumbling media or use stones as I did. Different media gives a different texture, so you should experiment to see what you like. You can create anything, from a matte that’s finely-textures down to a rough or scratched-up look that looks tough and cool.

Steel is  1080            Scales are Mahogany

As with other stock removal knives of mine, the profile was marked out with a maker. The basic shape was uncomplicated and that of a typical hunting knife.

The U shaped brass finger guard was fitted buy cutting the slot, then slowly filing it until it fit. The blade was also filed slightly to create a very shallow shoulder for the brass to slide up to. It was then drilled for 2 brass 1/8” rods which were peened on (after heat treating).

The cap was fitted in the same manner, but it was held in place by peening the tang.

Knife 45 - U shaped Brass Finger Guard

Both the cap and finger guard were fitted prior to the bevel being ground.

I made a small mistake on the scales when I put it together. I didn’t make the scales flush with the top of the cut out for the cap. My thought was peeing would tighten the whole thing. What I didn’t anticipate was the small gap. It’s not a terrible gap, but I know it’s there.

So, the lesson learned is dry fit your design and inspect it very carefully. I should have caught the mistake, but I did not.

Knife 45 - U shaped Brass Finger Guard
Knife 45 - U shaped Brass Finger Guard
Knife 45 - U shaped Brass Finger Guard
Knife 45 - U shaped Brass Finger Guard
Knife 45 - U shaped Brass Finger Guard

Although not completely necessary, i slightly taper the holes from each side to help the peening action hold the guard in place.

Knife 45 - U shaped Brass Finger Guard

Hidden Tang Puukko – Apple Cider Vinegar Patina

A Puukko is a Finnish utility knife

  • 1/8” 1080 steel
  • Blade 4 3/8”
  • Overall Length 8 5/8”
  • Sapele handle
  • Hand rubbed oil finish

I force a patina using Apple Cider Vinegar on “Hidden Tang Puukko – Apple Cider Vinegar Patina

Apple Cider Vinegar Forced Patina

A patina is a protective layer on your blade. It prevents further oxidation of your Carbon Steel and can make your knife more resistant to other forms of corrosion……… If you intend on forcing a patina onto your blade, just remember one thing. Appearance. A properly-done patina can look great, and you can actually customize it into special design and colors.

I have tried several different types of forced patina at this point. Using apple cider vinegar seems to work fairly well

I first did it before adding the handle.   I cleaned the knife with denature alcohol

I put the apple cider vinegar in a plastic container and heated it to boil in the microwave.

I let the knife sit in the vinegar for several hours. Every once in a while, I took it out for inspection. After a few hours I took the knife out, buffed it with a clean shop rag, wiped it clean with denatured alcohol.

I put the vinegar back in the microwave and ran through the cycle again.

When it was dark enough, I wiped it clean. I cleaned it well to neutralize the acid.  (I didn’t wash it with baking soda, but I would recommend it to be safe)

I then finished the knife.

From the work on the handle there were some scuff marks, so I taped the bolster and handle and ran the knife through one cycle with the vinegar. As I put the knife in the vinegar, I tried to get the vinegar to a level that it hit all the blade but not on the bolster. Error ever so slightly on the side of the blade. It’s already etched, and you shouldn’t need to leave it in to long for this touchup.

I then dried the knife, neutralized the blade, and buffed with some polish being careful not to buff the patina off. I then buffed the blade with oil.

The Knife that has been remade

The Knife that has been remade – Lots of Mistakes and really could have been earlier in the lineup, but it has actually been in and out of the lineup, so to speak. I’m trying to keep this line up to pieces that came out successfully or at least close with a strong learning experience. This knife definitely qualifies in the “strong learning” category.

This Knife “The Knife that has been remade” certainly helped with my knife making education. I made a lot of mistakes and most of this Knife is a transition of those mistakes from trial and error and fix this and try that.

The first mistake has to do with the thickness. When I started making this knife, it was meant as a throwing knife. Kind of a remake of the knives I made when I was young. I obviously knew nothing about throwing knives then or at this time.

I didn’t do any research on how thick the knife should be. Now, when I start to design a knife, I research what the traditional thickness is for the style of knife I’m going to make. You’ll obviously find a lot of variations, but you’ll want to define a reason for yourself if you’re hitting the outer edge of the extreme or beyond. With your parameters.

My next mistake was not stopping to redesign. I just kept grinding. I was grinding with an angle grinder (I hadn’t built the belt grinder or the stand for my belt sander yet) and I was designing on the fly.

I soon determined it was starting to look like a hunting knife. Yes, I thought, a Bushcraft style hunting knife.

After getting the holes drilled and the knife heat treated, I made some hophornbeam scales and got them attached. What transformed was one of the ugliest example of knife work I’ve seen. So, into a pile of scrap it went.

Every once in a while, it would come out of the scrap pile for a test of a process. I tried doing some forced patina with coffee. I would save left over coffee in the morning and soaked the knife in it. That didn’t work. I guess my coffee wasn’t strong enough. It did stain the handle though. Lesson learned.  Be careful of the handle when forcing patina.

I also soaked it in vinegar. I didn’t like the outcome. It was not very dark but very blotchy. It also stained the end of the handle. Lessons learned.

Sooner or later it dawned on me that I could turn the handle into one with a hidden tang. I dug up an old wood chisel and commence to removing the handle. This is where I discovered how hard it would be for a handle to separate. It came off in little pieces. After cutting the brass pins flush, I still had to beat them out with a punch.

Rather than risk ruining the temper buy trying to burn the tang into the handle, I decided on a two piece. This worked out fairly well buy simply marking out the two scales and using a chisel to carve out the tang on both sides. As an afterthought, I could have gone with a framed tang as well. The framed tang would probably have looked better.

And yet, it still did not look very good. I just didn’t like it so it again, sat on the bench until motivation struck again. This time I decided to build up a handle. I went to the leather scrap box, cut some squares, punched the center holes for the tang. I dug up some mahogany and drilled for the tang for a front and bit piece. I epoxied them together and clamped them right.

I’m not sure the story has ended for this knife.

Knife 34 – Hidden Tang Aluminum Framed Knife

  • 1084 Steel
  • Framed hidden tang
  • Drop point.
  • Blade length 6”
  • Handle length 4 ¾”
  • Overall length 11”

Knife 34 – Hidden Tang Aluminum Framed knife – Here it the process for this knife.

Layout and design. Basically, this was marking the basic outline on the steel.

On this knife I did another Jimping sample and decided to use 9/32″ spacing

The jimping was first laid out and cut with the band saw. A hacksaw would work well here if you didn’t have access to a bandsaw. I then started the filing with a triangle edge of a file. I then used a chainsaw file ADD FILE SIZE> to cut the Jimping. I cut 10 Stokes on each hole until the cut marks disappeared. That way I had even depth all the way across.  (See Adding Jimping to your knife)

  • I the ground the blade profile only
  • I marked the blade center
  • I marked the blade start line
  • Using a grind stop I ground the blade bevel.
  • I marked out the aluminum frame and cut it out on the band saw and used the belt grinder to finalize the rough shape.

I cut grooves in frame with bandsaw. These were just cut free handed.

I found a piece of Walnut and cut the scales fr this Knife 34 – Hidden Tang Aluminum Framed Knife.

I test fitted the scales and frame to tang. I marked the outside outline where tang is going to be after installation.

I epoxied the scales and frame together. I used epoxy colored black to accentuate the aluminum frame pattern.

I decided to try grinding this knife free hand. I’ve discovered a couple tricks over the last few knives. Since they are working and improving, I’ll share them here. First, being able to slow down the grinder helps with control a lot.

Also, you need to make sure you move up the grit sooner than I thought to get the aggressive grit marks. I also discover I can move to hand sanding quicker, and back to the belt if needed. Hand sanding shows the problem areas that the grinder hides.

Moving back and forth between hand sanding and belt grinder seems to be my training wheels.

Slowing down the grinder also allows to keep going on a full grind from one end to the other without the blade getting to hot to hold.

One thing it took me a while to figure out is during grinding is you want to keep the knife perfectly level through the stroke, just like it was in a jig. Think of your hands as the jig. I have a desire to want to follow the curve at the end of the blade. Don’t do that!

The other thing I decided to try on this knife is a ball peen hammer pattern. I tried on the anvil buy it left scratches on the back side, so off to the bench with a piece of leather under it.

I’ll try this process while forging on a future knife, but this time it was a cold steal hammered pattern.

The knife came out of the quench warped. I used the Temper straightening technique in Temper Straightening a Custom Made Knife

Next step was to hand sand again from 220 grit to 3000.

I then epoxied the handle on the Knife 34 – Hidden Tang Aluminum Framed Knife and pinned both the handle to the knife and pinned the back part of the handle together with the frame.

This was then sanded using the grinder to 600 grit.

I then hand sanded from 500 grit to 3000.

Knife 33 – Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter

The Knife 33 – Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter knife was made from a file using the stock removal technique.

I typically anneal the files buy heating them to nonmagnetic then just shutting down the forge and sitting some firebrick to close of the doors. I leave them over night. Another process I have used with success is heating the files to nonmagnetic then putting them in a container with wood ashes. Again, just leave them overnight.

Day 1 started at 12pm, done at 4pm

  • Layout. I designed based on the file size and what I was trying to achieve.
  • I cut the jimping. I marked grooves 5/16″ apart (see Adding Jimping to your knife )
  • I cut a rough profile with the bandsaw
Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter - jimping
Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter - jimping
Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter - jimping
Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter - jimping

Then I went to the grinder and ground and finished up to 320 grit

Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter
Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter

The bevel was ground with the bevel jig

Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter
Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter
  • Added touch mark
  • Hand sanded the knife. I started with 100 grit and went to 600 grit I found a piece of brass to make the finger guard. I used the milling machine to cut out the finger guard but drilling a couple holes and filing with a round or needle nose file works as well.
  • I fitted the finger guard. Final fitting was completed by hand filing.
  • Last thing of the day was Heat treating the knife
Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter
Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter
Using the mill to cut the slot
Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter

Day 2

  • Temper
  • Hand sanded again (I eventually learned not to do this twice)
  • Sharpened
  • Fitted the finger guard
  • Drilled and fitted the antler epoxy the antler on

A little research showed that there are several ways to mount antler on a hidden tang knife.

You can burn the antler in. Like burning in a wood handle. You drill a hole smaller than the tang. Heat the tang and push the handle down on the tang so it burns in. You repeat the process until the handle is in place. You’d want to do this before heat treating or wrap the blade with a wet cloth. I tried this process, but it didn’t work very well on this antler so I decided to file it out.

You can also boil the antler then push the antler on the tang. You repeat this process until the antler is all the way on. Try to push straight with no side to side movement. Once in place hold it until the antler cools. The material will cool and bond like glue and hold the handle in place like it was epoxied on.

I filed the hole until I was able to get the antler in place. I then filled the void with epoxy and clamped it to dry. I wiped any excess epoxy with a rag and denatured alcohol.

Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter
Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter
Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter
Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter
Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter
Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter

Knife 32 – Mini Cleaver is a small chopper or mini cleaver.

  • Made from 3/32” 1095 steel
  • Laminated Rosewood and maple scales with G10 spacers
  • Blade is 4”
  • Overall length is 8 ¾”

This mini cleaver or herb chopper was a trial and error kind of learning exercise.

The tang was a little too narrow, but I figured that would be acceptable for a herb chopper. As it turned out I was right

This was made from a left-over piece of 1095. The shape of the piece of steel inspired the knife. I also wanted to try grinding after heat treating before I did it on a full-size cleaver like Knife 30 – Cleaver and Knife 35 – Serbian Cleaver

I discovered with a good ceramic belt, and submerging in the water bucket every stroke, it didn’t take long at all. I keep the belt running about half speed. This worked out well and grinding after helps eliminate a potential for warping during heat treatment.

Knife 32 – Mini Cleaver

The other lesson learned on this knife has to do with carefully choosing the scales. There are some blemishes in the scales I didn’t notice before I put them on. It won’t hurt the performance of the knife, but if I wanted to sell the knife, it would be a harder sell and would definitely warrant a price reduction.

I now inspect the scales much more closely. Other than the minor imperfect in the scales, it came out well. The knife turned out to be an exceptional kitchen knife.

Because of the small blemish on the bottom of the handle, I thought about removing the handle and starting over, but it’s unnoticeable enough that I decided to offer it as it. I obviously had to point it out clearly in the description and priced it accordingly so someone got a great knife at a great price.

See more on this style of grinding on Knife 30 – Cleaver