Custom knife for a FW member: A thread documenting the experience.

  • So I was commissioned to do an Arkansas Toothpick for a FW member. This thread will document the process from start to finish.

    First, the initial design:


    Approximately 15" long, 10" blade. Not a straight point on it so that the point is a bit more sturdy. It'll be a quarter inch thick at the guard. The guard itself will be a bent and shaped piece of brass. The handle will be brazilian greenwood (probably), with a hidden tang. I'll rip the handle into two pieces, carve out the tang, and then glue it together AND pin it with brass. And there's talk about ivory inlays, so I'll need to practice how to do that as well.

    So the materials are ordered. They are on the way! The very first thing to do is to practice. So I decided to cut out some pieces from a giant leaf spring, and a coil spring, and forge out some stuff.


    The little knives went great! I went straight to the harden process because they were small. The giant leaf spring was a motherfucker, though. It was too thick and was chewing up my god damned cutting disks. So I got frustrated and decided to anneal it to soften it up.

    Then I got a diamond cutting disk and it went great! Welded on some handles so I could hold them while they were in the fire.


    BUT my brakedrum forge wasn't good enough to heat up these giant pieces of steel. So I decided to alter my forge to an inverted cone shape by carving out some firebricks. See, the brake drum loses a LOT of heat to the bottom corners of the cylinder shape. The inverted cone lifts the center of the heat upwards, allowing me to heat up the big steel.


    Here's one of the giant pieces, halfway forged out by hand.



    I was getting a LOT of clinkers, so I decided to call it for the day.

    I'm pooped. Imagine swinging a 5 pound hammer 50,000 times as hard as you can. More to come later as I get the materials in and practice further.

  • Ok.. this is some relief from the doom and gloom... I am the guy that wanted this knife and Lazer has stepped up and done all he can to do this sooooo... if you want a knife? well... Pm him.

    While a bit expensive... I bet he has more hours in this project than it is really worth and I appreciate that. My hope is that others here will follow this and place orders.

    I am glad he took up the challenge. I will send wood and some ivory to make this special


    "Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something."

    Pancho Villa, last words (1877 - 1923)

  • Quench it in waste oil.

    Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies, The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. — C.S. Lewis


  • I quench in Canola Oil. Next time I'm out there I'll get a picture of my two dunk tanks. Unless the metal specifically calls for it, quenching in water significantly increases the risks of cracks.

    Primitive, good for you.

    I've got a propane forge, but a $6 bag of coal can feed me for most of the day, and a $20 tank of propane is only good for 3 hours. (I want to build another propane forge, or at least different burners, but it's just on the list of stuff to do.)

    Still, I do harden the blades out of the propane forge. It takes longer to heat up, but it heats up a larger amount more evenly, and I can better control the heat in there.

  • anthracite is the way to go.

    Also as a bellows use a commercial heat gun you up your heat a few hunnert °

    Blow in from the side.

    Try quenching like el baboso suggested.

    You'll like the result

  • I use anthracite mostly because it's the cheapest stuff around here in Pennsylvania.

    I jokingly posted it in the other thread, but I'll do it serious here:

    As much as I don't think they should do the Grand / 2 Grand direct checks, I'll grudgingly take it. It was a slow year after my father's heart attack in June and me taking over his small business. Part of the reason I started making knives is so that I had something I could do myself with no outside help to make money. Even before I was doing most of the work in construction in this "2" man company, but going from 2 men down to 1 severely limited the jobs I could do, even if one of those men was only doing something as simple as holding the ladder.

    If you really don't like that money the government sends you, I will gladly make a knife and sell it to you.

    Kitchen knife, hunting knife, or something fancy. I'll do it.

  • I was dragging my feet on putting up the last 2 daggers, but they are up!

    If I sell 2 of them to you guys, I'll send one to Astro for free! (Because he sent me the steel in the first place.)

    In custom knife news, the brass is in, the dye for the leather is coming tomorrow. But the place I get my steel from (New Jersey Steel Baron) has a limp wristed governor that's panicking as badly as mine is in PA. Still no word back on shipping the steel. I'll email today to find out what's happening.

  • Not sure when I will get down to the post office to mail the wood and ivory with this virus thing. but not in that big a hurry to get the knife right now soo..


    "Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something."

    Pancho Villa, last words (1877 - 1923)

  • Still waiting on the good steel. But I got out and forged today:

    That's me just thermal cycling the knife. Relieving the stresses. If you do it right, and pray to certain gods, and sacrifice 3 goats, 2 sheep, and 1 liberal, the knife will not warp when you harden it. Probably.

    Clinkers! Clinkers all the way down!

    Giant piece of metal. Going for a Seax, but came up 6" short. On the one hand, it was very thick to me and maybe I could have stretched it. On the other hand, it was supposed to be 3/8" thick, and I went thinner because that felt WAY too thick as I was forging it.

    But it came out much better after the grind. And these things feel so much better once you get a handle on them. (Plus another knife I was working on previously.)

    I'm going to go for a rough forged look. After the heat treat I'm NOT going to grind the flats on these two. Then maybe I'll wire wheel the rough sections.

  • A bone yard is your best bet.

    ‘If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.’

    No amount of evidence will ever persuade an idiot - Mark Twain

    TWAT on 10/14/2019 :

    Lemme say that again... I don't care. If. The accusations against Trump. Are factual. Or not.

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