Ah, the “knife-maker’s girlfriend’s knife.” It’s got to be the best that you can make, at that given time and place.
Unfortunately, it turned out to be more or less impossible to get a good photograph of the detail in the metal of the blade. That’s because it has an insane mirror polish on top of about 200 layers of wrought iron/1095 damascus. If you hold it at the right angle to the light, it looks like jeweling in the metal. Otherwise, it just looks shiny.
Because just using high layer damascus was not enough, I put a thin layer of pure nickel on either side of the core, which is 1095 high carbon steel. So, the whole blade is 100 layers on each side, plus some nickel, plus a core – total is around 203 layers but I’m sure I ground a few off while shaping the edges.
I made the handle small and D-shaped, and got busy with ebony and silver at each end.
The ebony end-cap ought to have been adequately held in place with just the epoxy I used, but I got a 3/4″ long piece of 1/4″ silver rod and sunk that into the end-cap to keep it in place.
So, one thing about doing an end-cap like that is that it fixes the handle in space. Your handle shape must now line up with the silver post, or it’s going to look terrible. That means that shaping the handle has to be done very carefully and precisely; there is no room for nudging the axis of the handle around even a tiny bit.
Also, even though it’s all pinned together with steel and silver, you need to grind this sort of handle very slowly with lots of time for it to cool down. Silver heats up really fast on a sander – much faster than bog oak – so you have to keep letting it cool down or the silver will melt the epoxy and then everything turns to gunk and you have to hammer the handle off and start over.
Here’s what the steel looks like under a low power microscope. You can see the lines in it at this enlargement; those are alternating layers of wrought iron and 1095. One thing that’s really cool about laminating high carbon steel and wrought iron is that there’s carbon migration at the transition zone, so the wrought iron gets hard(er) – and it’s already plenty tough. Of course, the 1095 gets a bit less high carbon but it’s still high carbon enough. The core, being a big solid chunk of 1095, doesn’t experience significant carbon migration (and to tell the truth I have no idea what happens at the transition boundary with the nickel) All I know is that it looks really pretty and it’s sharp as hell and mighty strong.
One of the sad things about today’s world is that you can’t take your fancy new damascus slicy-thing in to work and show your co-workers. Mostly, this knife will help make sandwiches and cut bacon, sausage, cheese, and vegetables – which is a good mission for a knife.