My first Commission – Part 1 – An Offer.

I am still in a prolonged battle with my garden and my workshop, but it seems I am ever so slowly reaching a level of order that allows an actual work to be performed again. The whole workshop, the garden shed and essentially the whole garden were a huge mess whose cleaning took me the better part of my free time for, by now, a whole month. And I need to clean it up because I need to get to making knives pronto. I got my first commission.

I have sent the potential customer pictures of my past work and they chose a design, with a few requests for changes. It is, in fact, the sixth knife I have ever made and one that I am using personally until today – you can see it in the article “Knifesharpenophobia”. I think it is a good design for an all-purpose camping knife but also exactly because of that long time of me using this knife personally, I thought that the blade geometry can be improved, so I did exactly that – the blade is a tiny bit slimmer and the point is more centered and pointy than in the original.

I have drawn a sketch in photoshop, with two different wood variants. Then I made a pretty pdf and sent it to the potential customer to look at and, of course, a price list for the variants portrayed.

They chose and ordered a knife with stainless steel handguard and pommel, peened, full tang and a simple leather sheath. The grip from cherry wood, leather colored accordingly.

©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I hope to do it justice. This blade has somewhat complex geometry and it was not exactly easy to make it back when hand tools were all I had. Making it on a belt-grinder should be faster, but it also allows for easy mess-up. So I will probably start making two blades and if two knives come out of it, good. I need at least one top-notch blade. And if I get two blades out of it, the second one will be fitted differently and sold in an auction for the Richard Carrier defense fund.

As a result, of course, I do not expect to meet the manufacturing time that I used for price calculation – I have used the expected time after I get some more experience under my belt, and the offer alone took several hours to draft because I had no templates for calculating the prices or drawing the designs. But right now it is not about making enough money to live by, right now it is about getting more experience, getting better acquainted with my tools, optimizing my manufacturing processes and getting some satisfied customers. We’ll see what comes out of it.

The Tactical Kitchen Auction

Have you always wanted a kick-ass knife that can handle any kitchen task with ease and also protect you from Ninjas? If so, then you should head over to Stderr where Marcus is auctioning off 2 of his handmade knives, here and here. The auction closes on May 5/19 at 10:00 so be sure to check it out soon.

All of the money raised will go towards paying off the legal bills from the Richard Carrier lawsuit. The ridiculous suit is finally done and gone, but the bills didn’t vanish with it so if you’re in the market for a tactical kitchen knife now is the time to buy. You’ll get a fabulous knife (seriously, both knives are wicked) and you’ll be supporting Freethought Blogs. That’s what I call win-win. Of course, if you just want to make a donation to the fund that’s easy too. Just click on this link to go to our Go Fund Me page.

Good luck to you and thanks.

Blade Braider

Earlier this summer Marcus Ranum and Kestrel gifted Caine with a very special knife. Marcus custom made the blade and then sent it on to Kestrel who hand wove a beautiful braided leather handle for it. It was a gift that Caine treasured. Today Kestrel is sharing with us the story of how the handle was created. I’ll let Kestrel take it from here:

Marcus made Caine a knife as a gift, but first he sent it to me so I could cover the handle. I chose to use black and red kangaroo leather. Kangaroo leather is incredibly strong and durable, and I knew that Caine would like that color combo.

©Kestrel, all rights reserved

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Absolute Perfection.

An amazing gift, from Marcus & Kestrel, who collaborated on this little slice of perfection. It wouldn’t be perfection to some one else, but it is to me – absolutely gorgeous, fantastically sharp, my favourite colours in that magnificent braiding, giving a wonderful grip, and the beauty of the blade. Fits my hand perfectly, and is properly sharp and lethal. Honestly, I was speechless when I opened this up, and I still just babble about it. I will cherish this, always. I couldn’t possibly come up with enough of a thank you to you both for your work, especially such finely done and thoughtful work. Thank you, thank you, thank you.  She definitely needs to be named, but I have to spend more time with her to find what’s right.

Clickety for full size.

© C. Ford, all rights reserved.

‘Bout the Whole Sharp, Pointy, Stabby Things Issue and Guns

I am not feeling particularly well these last few days. In addition to the usual depression that is  just an everlasting companion these last years, and the hay fever due to my neighbour not having harvested the hay yet, several joints have decided to act up so I cannot work properly. And I do not feel like discussing partisan politics this week except to say fuck all politicians and political ideologies across the spectrum left right and center – sideways.

However this is my hundredth post on Affinity and despite the number being completely arbitrary, I thought it should be about something more substantial than about strawberries misbehaving.

The whole issue of sharp and pointy objects has got me thinking more than one time throughout my life. When I was a kid I was being told that I will be allowed to handle sharp things from the age of ten years. I looked forward to it. For my tenth birthday I got a small pocket knife and my father has taught me how to sharpen it and how to properly care for it. In our household a sharp knife is really sharp and a blunted knife is what usually gets called sharp by many people I know. I had a knife somewhere around my person ever since.

I really like knives, daggers, machetes, axes and swords. I also like bows and crossbows. I am not collecting either, but I would like to make some of each and when I do make them, I will take care to make them not only functional, but beautiful too.

However there is no denying that all these objects are potential murder weapons. Some of them are indeed optimised for being a weapon, whilst others can have as a primary function being a tool.

I would like to know where this fascination with dangerous things comes from. My take on the issue is that it si far more common than people might realize at first thought. For example many of the most aesthetically appreciated animals are very finely tuned killing machines. Many people like cats and a person who does not appreciate the beauty of a tiger or a leopard would be a rare specimen indeed. Dragons and dinosaurs are very popular among kids and they are not known for being fluffy and cuddly.

This has brought me in a roundabout way to thinking how is liking knives different from liking guns and how is that in turn different from liking squids? And my take on the thing is, that not too much, if at all.

The important thing is not what one does like, but what one does about it. A gun collector or skeet shooter is just as normal as a sword collector or a fencer, and they all are just as normal as a stamp collector. The difference is in how people are conditioned by culture about dealing with the specific issue – both from the point of the enthusiast, and from the point of of the general populace. Some hobbies are frowned on, some are viewed as harmless oddities, some are reviled, some admired. And accordingly some people are reclusive about their hobbies, whilst others engage in them publicly and proudly.

And this is what makes the american gun nuts such a big problem. The difference between a gun nut and me is not that they are someone “other”.

It is not that they like guns and like to collect them and/or tinker with them. Gun/weapons collectors and enthusiasts are in every country around the world and nowhere, regardless of how strict/lax the laws are, are they a problem of the magnitude one sees in the US.

It is not that they think about their weapons in terms of how dangerous they are and how optimised for doing harm they are. I do that too and I do not believe that anyone who has ever held a sharp knife in their hand has never thought about it.

It is not that they think about how they could use their weapons in self-defense should the need arise. Whoever has ever been on the receiving end of violence will think about what they will do next to minimise the harm to themselves and their loved ones.

It is the culture that has elevated owning murder instruments onto a right in itself, sanctifying it and worshiping it, that pushes otherwise normal people over the border of normality into the land of the dangerous. It is the culture that makes people actually wishing to use the weapons against other people, instead of dreading that it might come to that.

In a culture where carrying a sword  was similarly held in high esteem, and where dueling for the slightest offence would be considered not only normal, but positively desired a different problem might arise – instead of an epidemic of mass shootings an epidemic of dueling, where the young and hopeful would waste their lives pointlessly at the end of a sharp piece of steel.

And you know what? That scenario ain’t fictional. And it took both legislative change and a shift in culture to deal with the problem.

Making a Rondel Dagger – Part 1

When the weather is not suitable for work outside, I will make use of my belt grinder, now  Mark 2. So today I took another old file and I decided to make a dagger out of it. The inspiration is dagger used by Vesemir and Ciri in the game Witcher 3, but there will be some design changes even for the blade (less daggery, more knifey). I will post my progress, but beware that I am no expert, just a self-taught hobbyist goofing around. Risk of concussions from facepalming for any expert. You have been warned.

I started with an old file that I threw in the stove fire last year to soften the steel. I cleaned some of the rust on the belt grinder when I was testing the new design. But before proceeding I needed to make the tang slightly longer. So today I just made the tang more pointy and chamfered the edges. Then I took an old piece of round stock of structural steel, cut it lengthwise for a few cm and fitted it onto the file tang.

 

Old rusty file

Old rusty file

Chamfered file tang

Chamfered file tang

Fitted tang extension

Fitted tang extension

After that there came the trial by fire, or more precisely, electric arc. My first real welding. I admit I should have tried to simply weld scraps together a few more times before I try for something real. I should have. But learning skill on something that is subsequently thrown away simply is not me. I always try to learn on the real thing. Not smart, I know, but that is just me. I have already forced my self to try it once on scraps.

I must admit, I could not have done a better job. That is to say, the job is crap, but I lack the skill to do better. But it holds together even after grinding off the slag and rust from the whole thing. There are some visible slag inclusions in the weld, but it is definitively welded together and since it will all be hidden in the handle, I will not lose sleep over it. Hopefully no rampaging rhino will stamp on it and ruin it all.

Welded tang extension

Welded tang extension with slag.

File cleaned.

Cleaned and the tang ground to rough shape.

With that done I finally could do some work on the belt grinder. Since I do not have machinist’s blue, I used 1 cm thick blue marker to cover one side of the file. Then I have drawn the center line  and quarter marks using a steel ruler and a self-made steel marking needle. After that I ground the file into a symmetrical leaf shape. With that I was done for the evening and I will resume the work at some other random date.

ground basic blade outline

©Charly, all rights reserved.

Sharp and Shiny.

From Charly: This is the knife I have given to my Mom for Christmas. Scary sharp – I could slice that tomato paper thin. Seems to hold edge well, it was already used since I made it and the edge was not touched up prior to photographing.

Measurements: Overall length ~26 cm, blade ~14 cm lenght, ~2 mm thick, blade grind convex with no secondary bevel.

Materials: handle scales chemically treated Elder wood (Sambucus nigra) coated with PU, blade N690 steel hardened at home in impromptu settings.

I hope to improve the design based on my mothers feedback and make more knives like this one in the future, it was fun. Beautiful! Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved.

Pointy!

From Charly, who I think is being much too modest:

This is the first knife I have made with the help of my out-of-scraps built belt sander and my drill powered lathe. Because this was a learning exercise for me, I took a bunch of old worthless stuff – a rusty file, rusty pipe, some old hinges, broken furniture legs and a piece of cow bone dug out of the ground in the garden. I have also deliberately used only the machines to do most of the work, including polishing – I wanted to see what kind of fit and finish I will be able to get this way.

Because it was learning exercise and because the materials were of bad quality (the pipes were a bit too rusty, I sanded through them at a few places) the result is not something too great, but it is sharp, pointy and dangerous. The design is a sort of hybrid between the Fairbarn-Sykes and a medieval rondel dagger and I freehanded most of it, with almost no measurements.

Stats: overall lenght 33,5 cm, blade length 22 cm, work time approx 12 hours (not including curing of the paint)

I am not intending to stab anyone, but it is extremely good letter opener. Click for full size!

© Charly, all rights reserved.