View Full Version : Hometown Hero build ~WIP~

Josh Dabney
01-29-2012, 10:51 AM
I guess I'll start with a little update since I've seemingly dropped off the knifemaking map for awhile now. :biggrin:

I'm still here in sunny Fl and me and mine are all happy and healthy. My beautiful children are growing like weeds and of course running the show around here. Finding time for making knives is always a struggle for me and over the course of the last 6 to 8 months I've been spending my "free" time on a house project for my inlaws. I won't bore y'all with all the details but the inlaws now have a house a mile from us in a 55+ community fully furnished and fixed up. They're quite comfortable and not missing the Pittsburgh winter a bit. While I'm sure there'll be more projects to come it's for the most part done now.

I've hardly even stepped out into the shop recently but have manage to eek out a couple paring knives for birthday gifts and a small sambar stag hunter with damascus fittings as a christmas gift for my nephew.

Also finally joined the black rifle club by building an AR15. Just got the lower parts and assembled them last week and haven't even shot it yet but thats on my to do list :3: Still need to ditch the A2 flash hider in favor of a YHM5C2 flash hider/comp get a BUIS and a permanent optic but it's a work in progress also. Almost forgot I FINALLY finished my 10/22 stock and checkered the frontstrap on my 1911.

I've also finally begun working on an important project involving a bit of ivory and some scrimshaw.

All things considered I'm well and have not a thing to complain about. Although I am looking forward to spending some quality time with my long neglected knifemaking tools.

I think that pretty much catches us all up on my end.

Having all this stuff to do kept me from signing up for this build way back when Bill posted the maker sign-up thread originally as I knew I wouldn't have the time to devote to it. Now that some of my other obligations have slowed down and I saw this build was about to start I dropped our buddy BillT a PM to see if I could still get in, better late than never :3:

Stay tuned for some more knifemaker WIP content !


Josh Dabney
01-29-2012, 11:31 AM
The first step in the process for me is always with pencil and paper and since we're working with a blank I'll just trace my blank and start tweaking the profile and drawing different grind lines etc until I get something I'm happy with.

This a really cool and pretty "aggressive" design Randy has provided us with. I sorta have a love/hate relationship with thumb ramps. I love them in theory but must have long thumbs or something because I've yet to meet a ramp thats far enough forward for my taste and for my hand this one is no different so I'll be adressing that in one way or another.

Drawing to me is like brainstorming. Just get some ideas on paper and see where it goes-


Josh Dabney
01-29-2012, 03:48 PM
Not knowing EXACTLY what the condition of this steel is I'm starting with Normalizing 3 times-
1. 1625 degrees with a 30 minute soak
2. 1575 degrees with a 30 minute soak
3. 1500 degrees with a 30 minute soak

While the soak probably isn't necessary for the normalizing procedure I figure it doesn't hurt a thing. I'm not concerned about decarb at this stage and like to be certain of a nice even heat.

Here's a peek into the Evenheat. The fire brick on bottom with the slots cut in it is just there to get the blades up near the thermocouple for accurate temps. I didn't care for the slotted brick because it acted as an insulator and kept a cool spot on the spine. This set-up works far better IMHO-

Now we're cookin ! This is my hi-tech heat treat timing device aka- egg timer :)

Here we are after our 3 normalizing cycles with a thin even coating of scale over the entire blade. I like to clean up the scale as good as possible while the blade is still warm to the touch. I go at it with a wire brush scraper then the brush part. Then I'll scrape any stubborn spots off with a utility knife

And here's where we stand with our blades normalized, scraped, and brushed-

The next step is to anneal which I'll do tonight. After that I'll clean'em up and rough grind. then sub-critical anneal to remove any stress from grinding, then clean up and harden

Josh Dabney
01-29-2012, 07:03 PM
Blades are simmerin away overnight in the annealing cycle.

I took me a little bit to get a good grasp on programming an annealing cycle into the oven so I thought I'd run through the program. The oven is an Evenheat with a Rampmaster controller.

I'm following Kevin Cashen's annealing cycle for 52100 which is - heat to 1460 then cool rapidly to 1380 and drop 10 degrees per hour to 1250

~ If you haven't checked out Kevin's website your MISSING OUT ! check out his Bladesmith info page here-

Back to the program.

SEGS- 3 (this is a 3 segment program)
RA 1 - 9999 (Rate in degrees per hour for segment 1, 9999 = ramp up as fast as possible)
DegreeF 1- 1460 (Target temperature for segment 1)
HD 1- .10 (Hold time at target temp for segment 1, I gave it a 10 minute soak just as insurance)
RA 2- 9999 (Cool rapidly to 1380)
DegreeF 2- 1380 (target temp for segment 2)
HD 2- .10 (hold time for segment 2, again gave it 10 minutes just cuz)
RA 3- 10 (Rate of temerature change = 10 degrees per hour)
DegreeF 3- 1250 (target temp for segment 3)
HD 3- 0 (hold time at temp is zero. when 1250 is reached the program is complete)

This is roughly a 14 hour program. Once the program ends and the oven shuts off I'll leave the blades cool inside the oven all the way back to room temp and tomorrow we'll have annealed blades ready for drilling and grinding.


HHH Knives
01-29-2012, 07:30 PM
Nice Josh, Looks like you have a good plan and have executed it to the tie so far! Thanks for posting the program for annealing the blades!! I just wrote it down, and will give it a try myself on these blades B4 I start on them.

Josh Dabney
01-29-2012, 09:37 PM
No problem Randy, glad it could be of some use to you. I almost didn't bother posting it but glad I did now.

I've got my HT plan together and I'm anticipating a couple fine cutting tough knives.

Take care- Josh

Josh Dabney
01-30-2012, 08:49 PM
Got my blades out of the oven tonight and gave one a light chck with a file... yup it's soft alright-

One of the dang handiest tools in the shop ? Surface grinder. I'm using an old 80grit belt here to get rid of all the scale and get down to clean steel. This is as far as I went on the first side. Just enough to get it flat so it won't bow under the pull of the magnet.

Then flip the blades and grind side 2 clean, then flip back to side 1 and grind it clean

Now all the scale is gone I changed to a 100x norax belt and took a .002 pass on each side of the blade to refine the finish and reduce any possibilty of a stress riser. I like to sketch my plan on the blade with a sharpie just to get a better feel for what I'm after. I'll think about it tomorrow and make sure this is what I want before I do any profile changes. I'm also planning on jimping the spine in front of the scales with a 40 lpi checkering file.

Here's where we stand for tonight-

Please feel free to comment, critique, question, or just plain poke fun fellas.


Josh Dabney
01-31-2012, 08:15 PM
Today I started by drilling all the holes out to 1/4" for the corbys and lanyard tube and followed that with taking the edge off the holes with a countersink bit.

Followed that up at the grinder adjusting the profile a little with an 80 grit then cleaned it up with a 220

I ground off all the notches but one on the thumb ramp so I needed to true that notch up and make it deeper using a chainsaw file

Now I started checkering the spine. I keep my file at a high angle to move down the spine to keep the checkering in-line then cut a little deeper each time until I'm all the way across the spine

And there we are at 40 lines per inch

I've settled on using this Feathering disk adhesive to hold my paper on sanding blocks which works great. Peel off the used stuff and stick the block to the sandpaper then trim it off with scissors.

Here you can see on the blade on the left that I hand sanded the edge with the scratches running the length of the blade instead of across it. It only takes a few minutes on annealed steel and reducing any chance of a stress riser that could lead to a crack during the quench is time well spent

I also sanded all the crisp edges around the blade again just to reduce the risk of cracking during the quench

And here we are with two blades normalized, annealed, suface ground, drilled, profiled, checkered, prepped and ready for the oven and the oil

52100 being a deep hardening steel I'm going to do something maybe a little unconventional with oil quenching steels and harden these blades just like this and grind the bevels after heat treat.


HHH Knives
01-31-2012, 08:30 PM
Josh, The adjustments you have made look very cool. I like it! Good luck with the HT and quench, Im looking forward to the next installment of this WIP! :)

01-31-2012, 10:59 PM
The first step in the process for me is always with pencil and paper and since we're working with a blank I'll just trace my blank and start tweaking the profile and drawing different grind lines etc until I get something I'm happy with.

This a really cool and pretty "aggressive" design Randy has provided us with. I sorta have a love/hate relationship with thumb ramps. I love them in theory but must have long thumbs or something because I've yet to meet a ramp thats far enough forward for my taste and for my hand this one is no different so I'll be adressing that in one way or another.

Drawing to me is like brainstorming. Just get some ideas on paper and see where it goes-


Hi There!
Sounds like life is GOOD! He He!
I have a love relationship with thumb ramps, And long thumbs! :biggrin:
The problem with putting them forward enough is that you end up with your thumb in the middle of what you're cutting!:biggrin: and a bit to far out there!

I've had to explain this to a few customers, Once said they understand that it may not be perfect comfort!
But your not putting your thumb in the middle of what you are cutting or too far forward for protection.
. My Rhino Chop is a great example of the thumb ramp dilemma, That's one of the reasons it's so tall!

I don't have this issue all worked out by any means.
But it sure is fun and a challenge making, learning, Adjusting, Making and hopefully improving my knives!



Keith Willis
02-01-2012, 04:32 AM
Nice build Josh,thanks for posting

God bless,Keith

Josh Dabney
02-01-2012, 08:55 AM
Randy- Glad you approve of my mods to your design :biggrin:

These builds are alot of fun in a similar fashion to doing an outright collaboration with another maker. Whenever you get multiple makers working on a knife together really cool stuff seems to happen and it's great to see a bunch of different makers put their personal spin on a design.

Laurence- The thumb ramp is a dilema, LOL. I tend to OVER think things alot but I'll share my thoughts on the purpose and use of the thumb ramp. Of course this is my opinion only and others mileage may vary.

For 99% of cutting I don't see where a ramp offers any real benefit over a plain old spine. Cutting, chopping, slicing, wittling, scraping, etc can all be performed just fine with the thumb putting as much pressure on the spine as needed. Where the ramp comes into play is two-fold 1. It allows greater leverage or thrust in a stabbing or punturing type cut. 2. It adds traction to prevent the thumb from sliding forward on the spine.

I think about the placement of the ramp kinda like the height of a bicycle seat. I can ride a bike with the seat too low and my knees hittin me in the chin or with it so high I have to tiptoe to reach the petals but there's just no one size fits all solution. This coupled with my wierd thumbs and the blade length we're working with here is why I chose to grind the ramp down. I think I'd personally be more apt to go with a thumb ramp on a larger blade like 6" + blade length.

Keith- Glad your enjoying the WIP and thanks for following along. Unfortunately for me I have ALOT more time to sit at my computer than to be out in the shop. Such is life though and the kids will grow up and go to school and I just might get down to some serious knifemaking then.

Glad to have y'all following along - Josh

Josh Dabney
02-01-2012, 11:12 AM
Since it seems we've got a few folks following along I thought maybe I should talk a little about my heat treat and why I'm doing things the way I am.

Having never worked this steel before I have to assume that the grain structure and element distribution is either not ideal or not as good as it could be so I'm basically treating my blades as if they are course pearlite which is what we'ld have if this is hot rolled steel.

Perhaps this was Cold Rolled Annealed steel and set-up for hardening already but I didn't want to assume that. Even if it was CRA that doesn't necessarily mean things are as good as they can be either. If a fella has a large supply of steel all from the same batch he could determine through testing just what condition the steel is in from the factory and treat it accordingly but thats not my case here so I just assumed the worst and treated it just like I would a forged blade.

The first thing we have to do is know what condition we need our steel in to have it ready for hardening which is fine grained pearlite with evenly distributed carbon and chrome.

Our first normilizing cycle is going to get us an even grain size and equal distribtion of elements with a high enough temp to get everything into solution.

The second and third normalizing cycles at reducing temps are going to reduce grain size and get us the fine grained structure we're after.

Following normalizing I annealed my blades which makes them soft as possible for ease of machining, grinding, drilling, etc. To me the most important aspect of the anneal is that it takes all the stress out of the steel. This goes a long way to reduce warping during the quench as stressed up steel = warped blades.

Like everyone I've had to deal warping and straightening with varied levels of success. I've tried multiple ways of staightening warped blades and really don't like any of them. The best way to deal with warp is not to have it in the first place so in a perfect world we'll just pick this option, LOL.

I've used this method to prevent warp only a few times so I wouldn't call it a time tested and proven method but it seems to work really well.

This method gets its origin from plate quenching. One thing I couldn't help but notice with plate quenched ATS-34 is that they come out of the plates straight as an arrow every time. Why ????

Steel has memory. Meaning if it's in it's relaxed state and you bend it it'll want to return back to where it was before being bent. The way to change the steels memory is by heating it above austinizing temp and letting it cool or quenching it. Manipulating the steels shape WHILE above austinizing temp is what we call forging - This ability to change or re-set the steels memory is the basis of this method

Now back to the plate quench and what happens during this operation. In a nutshell, the blades are clamped up straight and kept there during the transformation from austinite to martinsite. As my theory goes we just trained that steel to be straight in it's relaxed state.

Now lets consider what happens during an oil quench- In a nutshell- we austinize then quench in oil to get under the nose and reach martinsite start temp then let them cool on the bench until they reach martinsite finish temp.

An important point here is that the martisite conversion takes time. Not alot but just maybe enough.

The question I was asking myself was this- What happens if quench in oil until I'm under martinsite start temp then clamp the blade straight and leave it there during the martinsite conversion ? Can I "train" my blades to be straight.

This is where we leave the big words and exact temps behind. This is certainly NOT exact science but it is my method using Parks 50.

1. Quench for 10 seconds and bring the blade out of the oil
A. If it bursts into flames back into the oil for 2 more seconds
B. If it's got some nice steady smoke rolling off the blade it's just right head for the vise
c. If there's no smoke at all cross fingers it's straight on it's own and skip clamping it up

Something to note- The purpose of the plate quench is to cool the steel and keeping it straight is an added bonus. Clamping an oil quenched blade we don't need or want to cool the blade extra fast so I'm not using thick aluminum plates to clamp in. I'm just using a couple pieces of angle iron from an old bed frame.

This method for straightening blades out of the quench is something I started working on based on my theory of whats happening during the quench so please feel free to correct me, tell me I'm crazy etc.

I will be using this method on these blades though and report the results.

More to follow later on the triple quench and triple temper that I'm going to use....


02-01-2012, 02:51 PM
Josh you are not crazy, i do the same thing since i started i dont remember a warped blade since. why dont now but works.
Both knives look great, i keep checking on this and not getting any done on my own lol.

Josh Dabney
02-01-2012, 08:48 PM
I'm going with a triple quench on these blades. While equally good results may be had with cycled normalizing and a single quench there are questions that I don't have the answers too such as- How many normalizations and at what temps ? I will caution you guys that making blades for testing and breaking them is seriously addictive :biggrin: Some of the single quenched blades had grain I felt could've been smaller but all the triple quenched blades had fantastic grain. So this leaves me thinking... does triple quenching do anything that harms the steel or in some way reduces performance ? After seriously abusing 4 or 5 choppers I can't imagine any harm having come from triple quenching so I'm going for it.

I thought I'd show a pic of my HT set-up for quenching. You can see I've got my 5 gallon pail of Parks 50 on the floor right in front of the oven. My HT tongs are homemade jobbies that are an old pair of linesmans pliers with 3' handles made from electrical conduit. Nothing fancy but they work good and are long enough I can reach into the oven get the blade and get it into the without moving my feet at all. Probably takes all of half a second from oven to oil without being in a hurry.

I'm quenching at 1550 degrees into room temp Parks 50. Some of the data I read on 52100 said 1475 to 1550 and use the low side for a water quench and the high side for oil so I went 1550

I came out of the oven and went into the oil for a 10 count then pulled the blade and snapped this pic to show what I was talking about the blade doesn't burst into flames yet has a good amount of smoke rolling off of it still. This lets me know that I'm still hot enough to go ahead and clamp it up without worrying about snapping the blade in two.

After this pic I walked right over to the vise and clamped it up between the angle iron

I don't know that this is necessary but I like to clean all the crud off the blade between quenches.

I'm still a little amazed by how easy it is to clamp a blade like this and keep it straight. These are two blades each quenched 3 times and they're still as flat as the chuck on the surface grinder. Can defeating warped blades really be this easy ???? LOL.

These guys are hardened, cleaned up a bit, and currently residing here-

Now the triple temper. I switched to using 3 tempers awhile ago when I realized... why fool with tempering in an unreliable, unprecise, kitchen oven when you've got a perfectly good Evenheat sitting out in the garage. So my current method for tempering is to put them in the kitchen oven with the temp set at 250 (actually about 285 and it gets worse the higher it's set) and let'em cook for two or three hours then in the morning when the Evenheat is cooled down I'll run 2 two hour tempering cycles at my desired temp.

I'd say the night was a success :biggrin:

Take care fellas, Josh

Josh Dabney
02-02-2012, 05:40 AM
The Evenheat is back down to 112 degrees this morning so I fired it back up set at 375 and will run 2 two hour cycles.

I'll tell ya I cant wait to get an edge on these blades and cut some stuff up !


Justin King
02-02-2012, 07:06 AM
Good progress, I haven't managed to touch mine yet. I will be interested to hear how this stuff grinds post-HT.

02-02-2012, 08:09 AM
Absolutely riveted to my seat going over this build! If I can manage to pry myself away for a while I will start on mine.
This is great!

Josh Dabney
02-02-2012, 08:10 PM
Not too much excitement tonight but I did give both blades a soft back draw which is an interesting process if your not familiar with it. What I'm actually shooting for here is more of a spring back draw so I want to keep my color in the blue range as much as I can and not get the blade hot enough to get into dark grey or black.

I fully quenched both blades tang and all so at this point I've got a fully martinsite structure thats a consistant hardness throughout. Basically the soft back draw lets us end up with diferential hardess while having no pearlite like we'ld have if we either edge quenched or torch hardened the edge only.

Here we are after the temper. The blade has just a slight staw colored tint which is expected at 375.

Before we do our draw we need to git rid of the color on the blade so it nice and shiny and we can get an accurate read of the color while we heat the blade.

Before we start here's a shot of the set-up. Nothing fancy, just an old cookie sheet with some water in it, a spring clip to hold the blade and a MAPP gas torch. Since my blades aren't all that thick and I want to keep my temp relatively low I'm using the MAPP. If this was 10" 1/4" thick bowie I'd get out the oxy/acetelyne.

I started out just holding onto the blade to do the tang. Just start on the end and heat till you start getting color then keep your flame moving back and forth sorta dragging the color down the blade.

Probably not a great pic but here's an action shot

And here we are after the first draw. I was trying catch the color in this pic to show the spine is a purplish hue. Also thought I had the water just a little deep so I poured a little out after this

Blurry pic but shows the purple color a bit better

I'll draw each blade twice so before doing the second one I'll sand the color back off. It comes of pretty quickly with a little handsanding

And finally here's a shot of the twins fully heat treated ready to be ground and finished out.

Unfotunately for our WIP schedule which has been progressing steadily I'm waiting on some new belts before grinding the bevels and clips. The order probably won't make it here before Monday and the wife is traveling for work Monday through Friday next week so we may very well be on hold till the following weekend :2:

Thanks for following along thus far fellas- Josh

Opps almost forgot, I got a brand new 50 grit blaze on the way and some 80 J flex's too. I'm not anicipating any trouble grinding post HT but if I wear out an extra belt or two so be it :3:

Josh Dabney
02-04-2012, 06:49 AM

I just got my ABS Journal and saw in Aldo's advertisment that 52100 is listad as decarb free annealed. Just wanted to mention this for others HT-ing their own blades that they should be fine skippping normalizing and annealing.

If I had this info before starting I probably would've Profiled and rough ground then did a subcritical anneal at 1200 for an hour then let air cool.


HHH Knives
02-04-2012, 07:46 AM
Josh this is a great WIP, very informative Im learning from it. Stuff I can put into use to make my HT process better.. Thank ou for taking the time and being so detailed in your explanation etc. .

The blades look great.. I am interested to hear how they grind after HT..


Josh Dabney
02-04-2012, 09:09 AM

No problem on the info in the WIP. Making blades is a process of learning that never ends for us all. Sharing info like this is a great way to spread info, spark interest, raise questions and answers, and give us all an oppertunity to learn something new.

I'm certainly still a student myself but being as detailed as possible allows me the oppertunity to learn, make mistakes, be corrected and continue to grow as a maker. (Many teachers will drop you a PM and offer advice and suggestions for improvement)

Since your's is the second comment about grinding post HT I'll share my thoughts on this and why I'm not worried about trouble grinding these hardened blades.

Hypothetically- lets say we've got 2 identical blades to grind, one 1084 and the other CPM M4 both hardened and tempered to 60 rockwell.

We pretty much know from others experience that the M4 is gonna trash belts, put hair on your chest, and make men out of boys. The 1084, no problem... beginners steel.

Now both blades are the same hardness so they should grind the same right ? WRONG and here's why- Carbides

1084 is a simple steel with just iron and carbon and will form iron carbides when the carbon bonds with the iron atoms. There aren't any other carbide forming elemnts in 1084.

Now lets look at the M4- Carbon, Chrome, Vanadium, tungsten, Molybdenum which will all form carbides. This is important- Not all carbides are created equal. I believe Vanadium carbides are the hardest and carbon carbides are the softest and the others fall in the middle. All these carbides are suspended throughout the iron which is why you can get a rockwell of 60 while maintaining the extreme hardness of those indivdual carbides. In a nutshell the Rockwell reading will tell you the hardness of the "matix" the carbide is suspended in NOT the hardness of an individual carbide.

Now as this applies to grinding it's those extremely hard carbides that wear out belts extra fast.

Now lets look at 52100's carbide forming elements 1% Carbon and 1.5% Chrome. The carbon will be no more of a problem than grinding 1084. At 1.5% we'll also have chrome carbides just not alot of them when compared to a typical stainless steel. I've never had an issue grinding ATS-34 after hardening so I'm not anticipating any roblems here.

All this coupled with the fact that I gave these blades a soft (spring) back draw so the tang and upper portion of the blade is pretty soft in comparison to a typical blade hardness.

I'll report back after grinding these blades but my prediction is it won't be an issue at all.

Knowing when the time is right to retire a belt helps too ;) ~It took me a looooong time to figure out that a worn out belt still has alot of texture too it and appears as though it'll still cut. And in fact it will still remove steel although requiring extreme pressure and with the added feature of building up extreme heat very fast~

I think it's also worth mentioning while talking about grinding that as my skill and confidence in my grinding grew I can grind a blade MUCH closer to finished size with a rougher belt while finishing a small portion of the grinding with an 80 grit and using belts above 80 for finishing only. ( I define finish grinding like this- I'm not attempting to change the shape of the steel only refine the scratch pattern.

Thanks for the comments fellas- Josh

Josh Dabney
02-11-2012, 02:37 PM
Does down time suck or what ! When I get into making a knife I like to stay focused and make steady progress till she's done but such is life. I got my belts and other supplies this week as expected and the wife's home from travelling so lets get to makin a couple knives shall we.

With the blades HT-ed we're ready to make some grinding dust but of course there's a little prep that needs done first like sanding all the oxides off the blades-

Next step is to cover the edge and spine of both blades with Dykem layout fluid. If you happen to still be using a sharpie for this pick up a bottle of dykem it's well worth it because it holds up to the heat and continued dunking in the water far better than ink from a sharpie.

Now we need to scribe some lines to assist in keeping the edge in the center of the blade and give us a visual refererence while grinding to help keep our grinds straight and parallel with the center of the blade. First we need to know how thick our blade is to determine the center

Now I want to grind my edge to .015 give or take a little. So we take half the desired edge thickness and add it to dead center. I wrote it out just so it's be easy to understand for folks who aren't accustomed to thinking in thousandths

I've yet to get a surface plate but it's on my list :3: till then I use this glass. I shopped all over for a deal on a height guage. The best deal I found was at Enco on this Import model when it goes on sale for 58% off. I think it was $86 and worth every cent. Zero the guage on the glass then come up to .0885, lock it in, scribe one side of the edge and clip, then flip the blade and repeat

I gotta run to the inlaws for dinner but I got alot of pics while grinding out blade #1. Stay tuned- Josh

Josh Dabney
02-11-2012, 07:13 PM
I took a ton of pics while grinding. Learning to grind was something I really feared would have a steep learning curve and for a long time I considered it to be the most difficult part of making a knife. I'm finally to the point where I don't fear the grind anymore and rarely shank a grind so bad that it has to get donated to the wall of shame. That said I'm WAY out of practice though so we'll see how they come out.

Hogging- I basically want to get rid of excess steel while avoiding both my upper grind line and the plunge area. I also want my edge to be parallel with my scribe lines but not quite to them at this stage. I like a 50 grit Blaze belt for this purpose

I'll run a grind about 1/4" up the blade and roll out towards the tip of the blade

Then I'll flip to the other side and run a grind up to around 1/2" and leapfrog up the blade like this untill I'm at my desired height. Here's the opposite side about even with side 1 but I took this pic to show that I'm not concerned with the plunge and I'm staying well ahead of where my plunge will end up.

I'm trying to preserve the thickness of the blade right where the clip grind will be as much as possible. To do this I'll roll out the blade as I get closer to the tip. If I didn't do this the grind would stay more parallel to the edge like the dotted line

It's a little difficult roll out exactly the same on every pass. What I'll do is take a couple passes pushing my grind higher but go straight down the blade without following the belly or rolling out. Then I'll take a pass to blend the tip and belly back in. I had a hard time getting the light right to catch the small facets so I traced over them to show y'all where they were

Now that I've got a good portion of the hogging done I'll draw my proposed grind lines on just to help keep myself aware of where I'm at

And here we are hogged and finished with the 50 grit

Here's a shot of the edge showing that I've still got some meat at the edge for fine tuning and some gnarly plunge areas.

And here's a spine shot. Very little taper but pretty even which is just what I'm looking for

Before I get into grinding plunges in I always check this. This is a shot of the back side of the platen. Notice there's about 1/16" of belt hanging past the side of the platen at the top and zero at the bottom. This will cause you nightmares when trying to grind matching plunges so I check and adjust if needed. Loosen top bolt and tap the platen over until it's parallel with the belt

I colored the bevel with a sharpie just so we could see exactly where I'm removing steel while grinding the plunges in. I switched to a brand new 80 grit J-flex for this. I started by establishing a radius on the edge side of the plunge and begin pushing that plunge grind back to where I want it. I'm staying away from the top of the plunge on purpose right now.

As I'm working that plunge back I'll run it a little higher each pass until I'm as far back as I want and full height

With the plunge cut in I can finish grinding this side with the 80 until I've got my plunge, grind line, and edge thickness very nearly to final dimension and have something looking like this

Second verse... same as the first-

Now we're getting somewhere

Of course when your very nearly done and it's looking sweet... You gotta put a big ole whoop-de-doo in your grind line.

Somethin bout like this aught to do us fine

Boy this getting long so I'm gonna post up and take five but more to come later

Josh Dabney
02-11-2012, 09:10 PM
I should mention that I did put on a new 220 for the last few passes on the bevels.

Time to grind in the clip. This is a fairly challenging grind for several reasons.

The grind is short in height. VERY little room for error !

To maintain the thickness at the grind line it takes alot of roll out over a short distance to get the spine thinned and keep from pushing the grind too low

I pretty much just free hand it in with an 80 grit J Flex as best I can. The grind on this clip sure isn't one of my best but a big part of grinding is knowing when to stop. You can see it's faceted and quite ugly but the important thing is I didn't push the grind lower than I wanted so with a little effort I should be able to clean this grind up pretty good hand sanding it.

Getting that clip cleaned up with some Norton 3x 220 grit and a G10 sanding block

Getting into this curved plunge can be challenging with a flat block so I get this last section of the clip with paper wrapped around a drill bit shank. This works great for alot of things but you do have to move the paper alot since it's only making contact on very small part of the paper.

You can see here that I didn't quite get it down to .015 at the edge. .002 variation over the length of the edge isn't too bad and will clean up beautifully with a convex edge

Josh Dabney
02-11-2012, 10:11 PM
Now That I've got this sucker ground out I'll give you guys my thoughts

50grit Blaze ground this thing like butter. I didn't even use the fresh 50 on it because I just didn't need to.

The new 80 grit J flex same thing. It's not even wore out so I'll be using these same two belts on my second knife.

Dabney's thought's on belts-
I've tried a bunch of different belts. Zircs, Gators, Ceramics, Blaze, J Flex, Metaloy AO, Norax, and cork.
I like Blaze in 50 grit for rough grinding. They give alot of mileage and cut nice for a long time.
For me nothing cuts as well as a brand new J flex belt. I use these in 80 and 220 and love'em. A sharp 220 will clean up the 80 finish no problem and a clean flat grind will hand sand out to 220 pretty quickly.
If I want a belt finish I follow the 220 with a 400 J Flex then finish off with a 600 grit cork belt.

The thing I dislike about the "super belts" is that they last a long time but the don't cut like new for a long time. I prefer to trash a J Flex and have a belt that cuts like new even if it costs me a little more for that.

I tried out 120 grit belts a few times but just don't see the point when a 220 will clean up those 80 grit scratches so well.

Back to grinding my blade. This thing really ground easily which now has me wondering a little about my heat treat and how it's gonna perform. Something we should always do is grind our blades, get'em sharp and do some cutting with them to verify performance before we invest more time and materials in finishing it out.

I rough my convex edge with a 220 slack belt right to a burr then smooth everything over with a 400

Now we're shavin sharp so lets do some cutting. Got started with some cardboard

Anyone who's cut alot of 2x4's will tell ya this is your worst enemy. Knots will gladly point out potential weakness in HT or thin geometry. Too soft = flat spots on the edge. Too thin = edge deformation. Large grain would probably get ya some chipping at the edge

No problems thus far

Lets try some batoning across the grain

Batoned this 2x4 into stakes, sharpened them, bored a hole through one with the tip, and batoned one stake into pieces across the grain.

Going strong with no damage-

Why not baton through some romex

No damage from the Romex. I'd say we've got a winner here.

Keith Willis
02-12-2012, 05:31 AM
A winner it is,now lets see it finished :biggrin:

Great WIP Josh! Thanks for taking the time to post

God bless,Keith

Josh Dabney
02-12-2012, 06:06 AM
Now that I've one of my blades ground I decided to start a little prep on my handle material so it'll be ready to go when needed. Although I got a free set of G10 liners from Boss I haven't used them yet but wanted to try it out so I picked up a sheet of black .060 for these knives and need toget the liners attatched to my scales

One thing I learned long ago is that handle material is NEVER flat. Although this micarta is close to flat there are low spots on all 4 of my scales
The scale on the left is as recieved. The one on the right is decked flat on 220 grit paper. The one in center shows the low spot after a little bit of sanding. I really want a surface plate but between the surface grinder and this $5 granit tile from Home Depot I can get thing flat so it just hasn't been top priority yet

Now I'm sure they're all flat

After flattening with 220 grit I score up all mating surfaces in a crosshatch pattern with some 60 grit paper

I clean all surfaces with alcohol in prep for glue up. Get my epoxy out. get out a popcicle stick to mix with, get out some sarand wrap, presize my clamps, and get a mixing cup. I picked up some of these mix cups when Boss had'em in a 400 pack and wouldn't give them up for anything.

Once everything is ready mix up some epoxy and spread it on the scale then stick the liner to it and lay it on the edge of the bench. Cover with a piece of sarand wrap to prevent sticking then glue up the second one and place on top. Put a big chunck of mild steel on top and clamp it up tight.

That brings us up to where I'm currently at. Today will be a repeat of yesterday only on the second blade.

Take care all - Josh

02-12-2012, 06:21 AM
The procedural detail is killing me. I love it. Keep it up!

02-12-2012, 08:09 AM
Hi Josh, Very nice WIP. Very imformative. Thankyou.

HHH Knives
02-12-2012, 08:12 AM
Great thread!! :) Thanks Josh for sharing, your a natural teacher!!

Josh Dabney
02-12-2012, 03:15 PM
Thanks for the comments fellas. WIP's are alot of fun. I really have learned alot from other's WIP threads so it's good to give back even if a little bit. I always try to remember that when I first started making knives I knew exactly ZERO about making knives and everything I now know was taught to me by other knifemakers. While some knowledge is gained through experience even that is usually just taking what others taught you and putting it to use.

I didn't take alot of pics today as I ground blade #2 as it's pretty much the same process as blade 1. Since I didn't need a bunch of pics today I thought maybe it would be interesting to record exactly how much time it took me to grind out this blade. As a rule I NEVER keep track of time while making a knife. It takes as long as it takes for me. Now that I've kept track of grinding this blade I return to following my rule of not keeping track :3:

1. 50 grit blaze 10:34 to 10:53 19 minutes

2. 80 grit J Flex 11:07 to 11:40 33 minutes Total= 52 minutes

I did wear out my 80 and grab a new one. This pic shows why I love those J Flex belts. A brand new 80 and a perfect pass. No way I could lay this grind with a 1/2 used ceramic belt.

3. 220 grit J Flex 11:59 to 12:03 4 minutes Total= 56 minutes.

This pic is 1 pass on the 220

4. clip (with an 80 grit) 12:29 to 12:47 18 minutes Total = 1:14

And here's the girls. Not identical twins but they're still very close :1:

Of course we need Maker's Marks

As etched

Cleaned up

Ready to begin working on the scales tomorrow night


02-12-2012, 06:53 PM
Looking really good Josh. Just got mine done today i finaly tore myself away from your wip to get some work
done. Great wip was fun and learned a few little things along the way. BRAVO!!!!!!!!!!

Josh Dabney
02-13-2012, 09:50 PM
Well fellas it just wouldn't be proper WIP without at least one screw up.

I went out and un-clamped my scales and although I've glued a bunch of material just like this before this set decided to be difficult. Both scales have a graceful full length bow to them which I suspect was caused by a small piece of crud or ding in the benchtop. The lowest part of the bow is of course the center of the scales so these are a definate no-go. Even clamped up tight and epoxied on the ends of the scales would most certainly pull up eventually.

I have a trash can handy and could easily drop them in and move on but figure why not at least make an attempt to save them. First order of business is to get the liners off the scales. This is why I feel mechanical fasteners are a must on knife handles.

Grab liner with channel locks and twist. Hmmm

Pull gently to seperate...

And WhaLa Liners seperated from scale... WAY to easy !!!

Well I gues I'd better glue up the other set so I'll have something to work with in a little while. This time I put the steel under the scales and used a piece of rectangle tubing on top to keep everything flat-

Now that's done I can get back to fixing the 1st set. Here I'm taking that worn 80grit from grinding these blades and prepping it for the surface grinder. Slap it on the anvil and use this wore out Blaze to sand all the grains off the splice

Obviously the magnet isn't going to hold the micarta so I've got a piece of steel on the chuck to block them in. Then put a small drop of superglue on each scale and glue them tight against the steel. Fire up the grinder and take a .005 pass

This being my first time using corbys I figured I should check things out to see just how deep I wanted my counterbore to be.
With the corby srewed all the way together there is .335 between the shoulders so we need to end up with more distance than this from bottom of counterbore to bottom of counterbore. I also don't want the corby to be only threaded one or two turns so I threaded it to where I liked it and decided I wanted about .400 in this space will be the tang, both liners, and whatever's left below the counterbore in the scales which is what I want to determine


Since I'm not sure how much I'll be using corbys in the future I didn't wanna drop $50 on a counterbore just for this purpose but I did want to use them on this knife so I needed a different solution.

Just a block of wood chucked up in the mill and a 1/4" hole drilled into it and a little pice of tubing cut to go in the hole.

Removed the 1/4" drill bit and replace with a brand new 5/16" endmill I got off E-bay for $5 delivered

Since this is an experiment I figured maybe I should try it out on a pice of scrap wood first. I drilled a 1/4" hole through then fit the hole on the pin which is centered on the endmill

What do ya know it worked like a charm

Drilling the first scale

While it was still lined up from drilling I scribed around the tang which will help speed up profiling the scales

Put the scale on the pin and lower the mill until it just touches the scale and zero out my PoBoy DRO

Mill the counterbore to a depth of .185

Repeat for the second scale and check out the fit-up. Aught to work nicely I think

Check back for more tomorrow night


Josh Dabney
02-15-2012, 09:44 AM
Unfortunately not alot got done last night. Went to get our taxes done and stopped for a bite to eat so I got out to the shop a little late. Got a bit done and got a call from a bladesmith buddy about a trip to the range and a weekend visit and that was all she wrote. Anyhow lets get started-

Remember I scribed around the tang before so I could do this pre-profile on the scales. I keep this 36 grit Zirc belt just for hogging on handle material. For me this is just quicker and easier than fooling with the bandsaw. I run it full tilt and use alot of pressure for the hogging to avoid scorching the material. For the inside curves I just run the belt 1/4" off the platen and freehand it in close.

To get the placement on the front of the scales I use a straight edge to eyeball the placement in relation to the plunge then mark the edges of the scale with a sharpie to transfer my line to the scale side. Then line it up on the scale and scribe the "grind to" line

Hogging micarta will really load up the belt ! Keep your belt cleaner handy and use it often to keep the belt cutting instead of burning

Now this scale is fully pre-profiled use the corbys to allign the second scale and scribe around and then pre-profile scale 2

Now we can install the scales on the tang for our actual profiling. The reason I like to do this "pre-profile" is so I'm not searching for the tang while profiling and accidentally grind more of the tang away than intended.

Before starting profiling I square up my platen with the tool rest using a 123 block

This is a first for me but I want to profile my scales before they are attatched to the tang so I can etch the blade, tang and all, then assemble my handle pemanently. With the corbys sticking out of the handle it not too steady on the tool rest so I took my wood test piece and cut it to fit to help keep my handle flat on the tool rest for profiling

I'm usually more drawn towards thinner liner material so I thought I'd give this .060 a try and see how I like it. This is as far as I got before the phone rang but It gives us a little peek at hoe the liners are going to look. I should also mention that I'm using a 220 grit running slow for the profiling. Not alot of material to remove so it's pretty easy at this point.

Should have a bit more time tonight


Keith Willis
02-15-2012, 10:48 AM
Looking great Josh,very in depth toturial

God bless,Keith

02-15-2012, 01:20 PM
Liking this...keep it up!

Josh Dabney
02-15-2012, 08:12 PM
Moving on with profiling I used the platen for the top and back of the handle then used the top idler to get down to steel in the center section on the bottom

Here you can see that the idler isn't quite going to make it into the tighter curves toward the front and back but now I'm halfway there and will clean it up with the small wheel

Gittin-r-done with the 1" small wheel cleaning up the center section and both finger grooves

I thought I may end up with some rippling in that center section and have to clean it up with a slack belt but I got it pretty good on just the wheel

Cleaning up the notches to get a perfect match between scales and tang. Remember I drew the tang back with the torch so the 5/32" chainsaw file cut no problem.


I'm thinking that for any repetative cutting these notches will be down right brutal on the hands so attempting to improve that situation I took it back to small wheel to put tiny flats on all the sharp points. I didn't wanna go crazy grinding this so I slowed the grinder down to 5 htz (of a possibly 60 running wide open) and just gave it a single pass around that rear groove

While I had the file out I also cleaned up the notch on the spine

Now everything is final profiled except the fronts of the scales so I drew roughly what I was after then disassembled and put just the scales back together to finish the fronts off

Now the scales are 100% profiled. I'm again going to do a cold blue and bleach etch on these blades so I cleaned the blade with Acetone then again with dishsoap and water to prep for bluing then applied the blue with 4 q-tips held together

This is such a cool process ! Here we are at 1 minute in the bleach and you can see the heavy layer of surface rust already on the blade.

Comming out at 5 mintues

To clean up I hose it down with PB Blaster and scrub it out with steel wool then wash with soap and water then spray with Ballistol. Cleaned up with a 5 minute etch which is pretty mild so I went for 5 more minutes in the bleach after this

Token shot of it with the scales just bolted on for tonight's parting shot-

That all for tonight fellas- Josh :biggrin:

Josh Dabney
02-16-2012, 08:48 PM
Before we get excited about gluing up I've only got the front faces of the scales profiled at this point. They need to be completely finished prior to glue up so I set the platen at this arbitrary angle to grind the face of the scales and also the little bottom tip ( where the scale doesn't quite reach the end of the "guard".

Now Just need to prep the scales and tang just Like I did to glue the liners to the scales

Before mixing up the epoxy a assemble everything need for the glue up so I'm not searching for anything I'm going to need
-Mix cup and craft stick
-Small c-clamp
Off to the left of the pic is also a roll of paper towels and a second cup half full of alcohol for clean-up

As we all know glue-up can be a sticky messy adventure which is why it's important to have your clean-up stuff ready to go. It's near impossible to get pics of gluing up without a photographer handy so I'll be stuck with describing my process.

Before I started I alligned each scale on the tang and marked around the front with a pencil. This serves two purposes- 1. Let's me know where to prep sand. 2. Lets me know where to put the epoxy when gluing up

Mix epoxy and cover both sides of the tang with a thin even layer only getting close to my pencil line.

Then I put a thin layer across the front of each scale. This ensures I'll get full coverage with a little squeeze out on the front edge of the scales while preventing a giant glob of epoxy on the ricasso area in front of the scales. When large amounts of epoxy sqeeze out it gets on your hands, blade, outside of scales, clamps, pretty much everywhere. Been there done that so I shoot for a little squeeze out and not much more.

NOTE- Being a rookie with corbys I'm glad I assembled/disassembled this handle a few times during the process. What I learned was the fat part of the corby fits my counterbore VERY tightly. This is a good thing as it'll probably look seamless when finished but I could see where I might run into trouble while gluing up. Here's the issue- To get the threads close enough to start the 5/16" part of the corby has to be started into the counterbore a good little way. To get around this issue I pre-installed all 4 parts of the corbys into counterbores fully seated So I'd have an easy time getting them to thread together. Thought I'd mention this potential problem just in case there are other corby rookies following along.

To assemble I put the female corby side on first because the female side alligns with the 1/4" holes in the tang so it'll go right where it needs to be.

Then put a tiny dab of epoxy on the threads and get both corbys started then snugged them down, check to be sure the scales are flush with the tang and fully tighten both corbys.

Then I used two c-clamps for front and back to be sure I got the scales pulled down tight and any extra epoxy squeezed out as it should be. I could've installed the lanyard tube at this point but I'll be thinning down the back of the handle while shaping and want to wait till I'm closer to final dimension before putting it in so I used a clamp here instead.

Now we're glued up and ready for clean-up. I immediately swab around the entire perimeter with an alcohol soaked paper towel to get rid of the gross squeeze out. I also think this soaking wipe acts as a solvent to delay the epoxy from curing long enough to get thing spick and span.

Following that I do a more thorough version of the same with q-tips and alcohol.

And follow that with one more cleaning with acetone.

And here we are glued up and cleaned up

Josh Dabney
02-16-2012, 09:03 PM
Tomorrow is going to strictly be an R&R Day so there probably won't be another update till saturday sometime.

Got my good buddy Rob comming up in the morning and staying the weekend. We'll be heading to the range for some rifle and pistol action then home for some dinner and brews for dessert.

Sure am excited to break in my freshly built AR :2guns::punk::gun_bandana:

Take care everyone !


Josh Dabney
02-19-2012, 03:02 PM
It's been a GREAT weekend fellas ! :biggrin:

Everything went according to plan other than not getting into the shop on Saturday. Spent the day at the range friday having a fantastic time making bang bang and the fresh AR build functioned without as much as a hiccup. 100% reliable thus far. Ran some rounds through my 1911 and really enjoyed trying out a CZ P-01, an old H&R .22 derringer, and chewed the bull out of a sillouette and put about 20 center mass head shots in with a Kimber Custom Shop compact .45 . What a fine shooting pistol !!!

I did remember to snap a pic of my rifles for those of us who are gun nutz.

Ruger 10/22- Modded factory stock, Clark fluted bull barrel, and some action goodies
AR- Bravo Company Stainless Match grade 16" mid length upper, BCM M16 bolt, YHM Todd Jarrett free float forearm. Magpul MOE grip and stock in OD Green. PSA tube, spring, buffer, and LPK, and OD green P-mags. Optic is a $32 tasco from walmart. Leaning towars an EoTech eventually with a Troy BUIS.


Josh Dabney
02-19-2012, 04:36 PM
Rockin AR content outta the way lets embark on a lengthy journey of Dabney handle shaping theory and practice.

Knifemakers SHOULD be asking themselves. What IS a knife ? What IS this knife I'm making to ME ?

Is it-
A Ultilitartian tool and nothing more ?
A generic tool for the masses ?
A specialized tool for a specific task ?
An art knife ?
A fantasy knife ?
A workhorse ?
A safe queen ?
A historical representation ?
A modern representaion ?

How should it LOOK ?
How should it FEEL ?
How will it be used ?
Who's gonna use it ?

For every maker there is an opinion, everybody's got one. Even for makers who may think deeply about their knives and ask these questions of themselves they come up with their own combination of answers that take them in the direction they go.

Now we're to the point where our scales are attatched and profiled to match the tang. This is the point in the process where the answers to the above questions will to a great extent determine the 3-dimentional shape of the handle material.

A great knifemaker recently made an analogy between knives and cars. A simple post but a profound one. What draws your attension to a specific car ? What lines ? What shape ? What makes it attractive to YOU ?

I've often seen folks say something along the lines of - The hand can adapt to many different shapes. True, But all to often it seems an excuse to justify a flat shapeless handle with rounded over edges. This type of handle work is very common with newer makers and they'll always recieve the critique- Handle's too "blocky" Can the hand adapt- Sure. Does it feel wonerful- probably not, does it evoke emotion- nope, does it beg to pe picked up and felt- nope, is it pleasing to the eye- Naaa, it's just there.

What do we wanna build ? A Yugo, Honda Element, 84 chevy pick-up, early 70's Corvette, Cadillac CTS, Infinity M, Ferrari , Lambourgini, nova, chevette, etc etc etc...

Each knife handle is a small adveture and this blank not bing something that's my typical style I put some serois though into the shape of this handle.

Thats the end of Dabney handle shape theory 101 :3:

Josh Dabney
02-19-2012, 05:15 PM
Moving on to shaping in practice we start by going to the bandsaw and cutting off the stubs of the corby bolts

One of my personal goals is to get the right side of the knife as close as a mirror image to the left side as possible. Since we're dealing with scales that are equal thickness we can use calipers to scribe scribe some reference lines on the scale to assist in keeping things equal

I'm planning for a slight palm swell in shaping the handle so I got a comfortable grip and marked the scale where the thickest part of handle should be

Now I used a square to tranfer the mark to the opposite scale

I've had issues in the past with tape causing me problems with oxidization on the blade so my current method of protecting the blade while shaping the handle is too wrap with a paper towel then tape over that with a couple layers of masking tape.

I started grinding with my 36 grit but as you can see it's finally getting too worn to grind without scortching

I switched to the last 80 grit I used for grinding bevels and scortching problem solved. Right now I'm grinding a flat taper from my scribed lines to the thickest part of the handle

In the interest of keeping things symetrical I have much better luck grinding in "hard lines" with the flat platen as opposed to just going at it with a slack belt. It's FAR easier to tell if these "hard lines" are symetrical than eyeballing the soft contours created by the slack belt
Here we are with the intial taper ground

Now I scribed lines on the butt end and I'm going to use the 10" contact wheel to grind the scales similar to the sharpie line

Here we are getting very close to where I wanna be.

Instead of a just a straight plunge into the scales with the wheel it's kinda carved in using the wheel. You can see how I "rotated" the grind keeping with the radius of the corby

Again, grinding in these "hard lines" we can keep thigs very close to even

Now I switched from the 10" contact wheel to the 1" small wheel to begin contouring the finger grooves

An overview shot to show our progress

Now that I've got my hard lines ground in I'm going to switch from the 80 grit I've been using to a 1" 220 grit slack belt to contour the hard lines. In case there's any newbies reading who don't know how to split a belt here's how to do it. Use a razor knife to cut through the splice in the belt

Then pull the two sides apart until it's all the way around and you now have two 1" wide belts. This one split pretty cleanly but sometime you'll have some "strings" loose on the torn edge. When I get that I'll throw the belt on the grinder and peel those loose strings off until they're gone.

I'm posting up and take 5 but more comming shortly :3:

Josh Dabney
02-19-2012, 06:30 PM
Using the 1" belt allows me to get into the small radius of the finger grooves and smooth things over. I also adjust the belt tension according to what exactly I want to accomplish. I started out with it very tight to grind in the domed shape from top to bottom then loosened the belt up to smooth everything over. This is off the 1" 220 belt

The top scale in this pic is ground to "hard lines" while the bottom is also contour ground

Now that I've got the first side contour ground at 220 and know exactly where I need to end up on side 2 I threw the platen and the 80 grit back on to remove some bulk on side 2. I'm guessing this saved me about 20 minutes on the 220 slack belt

Notice the flat ground from the top of the corby to the edge. Getting my dome shap with the 220 will be very quick now

Still thinning it down on the 80

Back to the 220 to smooth up side 2 and even things up

Now we're rough ground to 220 and pretty much finished with machine work on the scales. There's still a bit of detail work to do but it'll be done hand sanding instead of with the grinder.

Before continuing with the scales though we need to get our lanyard tube installed. First step is to cut a countersink on the lanyard tube hole

Maybe this step in necessary and maybe not but I cut my pins and tubing a little long on the bandsaw then grind it to final length and bevel the outside and inside edge. I know I'll be grinding some of the tubing off anyway but for a couple minutes of prep I feel doing it this way gives me the best chance for success. Off the bandsaw

Ready for install

I start with a little drop of super glue in the hole. Put the tube in and spin it around to spread out the glue. I only use the glue to seal out water not because it's needed to hold the tubing in place.

Get the tube through the handle with an equal amount sticking out both sides, insert the #2 wood screws and squeeze in the vise.

The initial squeeze flip squeeze got the tube flared pretty tight everywhere but one spot. To get that spot flared tight pull the handle over to an angle and hold it there while squeezing.

That helped but I'm still a little concerned that I'll end up with a visible gap between the tube and scale in that one spot so I put one ball peen in the vise to use as a peening anvil and then peened the flare down using another ball peen.

Tubing installed and ground near flush with an 80 slack belt then finsished up with the 220. You can see the tubing is slightly out of round because of the peening but it's better IMO than a gap around the tubing somewhere. Of course this trouble could easily be solved by getting matching flaring dies and countersink but this is the PoBoy method :3:

Tubing is installed so now we're ready to hand sand the handle so I though I'd throw up a pic of my homebrew knifemakers vise. I think the pipe was about $6 and everything else I had laying around. It's uglier than homemade sin but it works like a charm. My bench vise has a pipe vise on the bottom so I just clamp it in there which works great. It swivels 360 and adjusts to any angle.

Hand sanded at 220 using a hard backed block over the pins and tube, cork backed block or shoe shine technique everywhere else to tune things up abit. Followed handsanding up with a light buff with white compund

Just needs a sheath and sharpened and it's a knife fellas. What do y'all think ?


HHH Knives
02-19-2012, 08:12 PM
Josh, Great WIP.. and the knife looks awesome. I love your breakdown and descriptions.. Thanks for taking the time to post this!! :)

02-20-2012, 03:27 AM
Thanks Josh, it has been fun and informative going through this build with you. The knife turned out great, and the narrative superb. You did a great job all around!

Josh Dabney
02-20-2012, 08:14 AM
Appreciate the comments fellas !

We are however FAR from finished :biggrin:

Getting knife #1 to this point is a major milestone in Operation Hometown Hero but there's ALOT left to do. I'll be working on catching #2 up this week and won't bother with process pics of that since we already covered it but will continue the WIP as we proceed from there.

What do we have left ?
Bend some Kydex sheaths and install TechLoks
Make lanyards- Should be a hoot cuz I've never made one but figure if little girls on youtube can do it I should be able to figure it out.
And with sheaths done and knives sharpened we'll do a thorough examination of the final product to provide us with a critical and severe "self critique" As makers if we aim to improve our product we must find all imperfections and ask ourselves- Why did this happen & how can I do it better next time. I think some of you will get a real kick outta of me nitpicking my own work to death. BE YOUR OWN WORST CRITIC ! It will help you improve :)


02-20-2012, 11:11 PM
Great thread!! The poor-man's tube flaring technique is pure genius as well as your vise so I'm stealing both ideas if you don't mind.
My table saw fence is made of 3" square steel stock that is about 3/8" thick, so I can tap directly into it from four sides which should allow me to mount the blank both horizontally and vertically.

Josh Dabney
02-21-2012, 06:37 AM

Glad you're enjoying the WIP. The tube flaring technique does work great especially if your working on a handle that has flat and parallel scales. While I'd love to take credit for the idea it actually came from a tutorial from 3 years back or so. One of my projects that I haven't got to yet is making a set of custom vise jaws for the bench vise with some custom features. One of the features will be a set of matching holes in each jaw to hold a pair of these-

Of course I'll probably make the dies but they'll be just like this. With this eventual set-up I wont have to fool around with putting the screws in the tube and holding them while getting lined up in the vise. Also the dies will be hardened so the tubing wont mar them up.

There's about a million way to make a knifemakers vise. They are also available from several sources commercially.
Here's a tutorial for making a vice -

Of course Boss carries these in two styles-

And Uncle Al at Riverside Machine also has some-

Take care- Josh

Denny Eller
02-22-2012, 08:26 AM
Outstanding WIP, my friend! Your attention to detail always shows in your finished knives and I think its great that you share your thought processes and reasons for doing things a certain way. Thank you for taking the time and caring.

02-22-2012, 08:53 AM
Awsome Josh
You now i was watchining. The whole wip was good i think anyone would gleen something from it, two thumbs up, and a big thankyou with the pancake sheath!!!!!!

Josh Dabney
02-22-2012, 10:54 AM
Thanks guys !

I finished out the handle on knife 1 for a reason also. I did that so I'd have some time to play with it and see if anything needed changing on #2.

I'm very pleased with the contour and thickness of the scales on #1 so I'm going dulicate those aspects as close as possible.

The balance point of #1 is VERY slightly forward of the rear edge of the front corby bolt, or a little towards the back of the index finger. This may quite possibly be nit-picking a very minute detail but I aim to move the balance point forward 1/16" to 3/32" ideally.

What I want is for this knife to balance on the front finger perfectly without a tendancy to tip towards the blade or back towards the butt. If this balance point is achieved I believe we'll have a blade that feels near weightless and morphs into a natural extension of the hand without need for a death grip.

Even #1 is very easily flippable between standard grip and reverse grip and back without a tendancy for the knife to get away from you but we should shoot for knife balance nirrvana. I'd also like to mention that one thing I was a little concerned with the starting profile was handle length. I would've stated flatly off the bat that another 1/4" of handle would've been my preference but I have to sheepishly admit that it's about perfect as is. Pinching the sides of the scales with the thumb and middle finger from a standard grip allows the butt to swing right between the thumb and index finger and "roll" right into a reverse grip. Much more handle and this wouldn't work out so well so I gotta give some Mad Props to Randy on his design work !!!!! And tell Y'all to watch out for that guy cuz there's definately some Mad Genious lurking in there :)

Back to the point at hand though. I wanna adjust my balance forward a touch so how do we go about that ?

-Add weight to the blade side- Blade's already HT-ed and ground so we're not going this route on this knife. (I could however take weight away from the blade side in several ways- add some distal taper, grind the clip thinner, or grind the clip further down the blade come to mind)

-What I need to do here is take some weight off the handle side. Since I'm quite happy with handle on #1 I dont wanna go thinner with my scales or change the entire shape of the contour. Being a sketonized tang already I dont wanna taper or otherwise remove any steel from the tang either.

I do however have plenty of real estate and scale thickness to work with on the underside of the scales so I decided to mill pockets in the scales. Not being a crack machinist I scribed around the cutout in the tang to get my bearings so I could get the pockets very close to the same on the left and right side.

Reducing the overall weight of the knife isn't my goal so I want to do what will have the greatest effect on balance while removing the smallest amount of material which is why I put the pockets in the rearmost cutout as opposed to the front one. The furthest away from the actual balance point you remove (or add) material the greater impact on changing the balance. It's easy to think about it like this. Hypothetically if I drilled hole exactly on the balance point all the way through the handle did I change the balance point at all ? No because I removed an equal amount of weight from both sides of the original balance point. I did however remove a good bit of weight from the knife overall

That was alot of typing to say I milled pockets under the scales to move the balance forward a little but a complete explanation never hurts ;) Just want to add that I milled the pockets .060 deep so I basically just milled out some of the liner material.


Take care fellas ! Josh

Mike Carter
02-22-2012, 02:50 PM

My 5 are almost done. I just need to sharpen them and make the sheaths. I decided to mix them up a bit. The first two are the supplied handle materials and cold blue. The third one has a mustard patina. The fourth one has a black Gun Coat coating and plastic/nylon cammo handle. Number four is a brushed finish with black Micarta.

Sorry Josh, I didn't mean to step on your thread. I thought was a general work in progress thread and it won't let me delete my post.

Josh Dabney
02-22-2012, 03:38 PM

Great looking steel ! Going to be 5 VERY pleased soldiers soon.

I'm really liking the looks of the camo handle material could you tell us a little more about it ?

I nearly went to the dark side and tried out some dura-cote on these knives but just couldn't bring myself to do it.

No need at all to delete your post ! We're all here to enjoy knives so the more the merrier. Always have enjoyed your blades anyway :biggrin:

Take care- Josh

Mike Carter
02-22-2012, 03:51 PM
The cammo handle is some material I picked up at the 2010 Blade Show. It think it was from Texas Knifemaker Supply but I am not sure. It is some kind of synthetic. It works like the polymer materials I have used but it seems a little tougher.

Josh Dabney
02-25-2012, 07:09 AM
Not alot to report. I did however get #2 caught up with #1 and made my very first lanyard.

Used Black and Coyote tan para cord for the lanyard to tie in the colors of the liners, tek loc, and kydex. I didn't snap any pics while making the lanyard but I used this tutorial to help me figure it out-


The tutorial says to finish the lanyard- trim the cord 1/2" and melt the ends to lock them in. I found this to be WAY too much length to melt and would recommend about 1/8". Other than large blobs of melty stuff at the ends the lanyard came out fine and was pretty easy to make.

I used two 4' lengths of cord and braided 17 rows for a length of 3 1/4". At $0.12 a foot it only cost me $0.96 to make this lanyard. A nice addition to the knife for less than a buck.

I also picked up 2 Black Oxide skull with rose beads from Boss with the supplies I got for this build. I wanted the Black Oxide finish and these were the only ones in stock when I ordered. I was a little apprehensive about $7.65 beads but these things are totally sick. As soon I as I opened it I thought " oh these beads were SO worth it "

I plan to be doing some sheathmaking tomorrow but here's a couple quick shots of this weeks progress-

Take care fellas- Josh

Denny Eller
02-25-2012, 05:38 PM

02-26-2012, 06:36 AM
Nice Josh! You will be tieing triple hex inverted pigtail knots before you know it.:what!:

Josh Dabney
02-26-2012, 08:25 AM
Our girls here are ready for some brand new Kydex shoes. Like shoes, a perfectly fitting and functional sheath will seemingly go un-noticed by the person wearing it while a loose fitting one will rattle, rub, and wear blisters where ya don't want them.

While I've made some Kydex sheaths I'm certainly no master of it so it always involves some adjustments along with a little experimentation. I actually found a little time last night to begin this adventure in Kydex so lets get started.

I've tryed a couple times at making a foldover style sheath but never have got a result I was satisfied with. What I dont really like about the two piece kydex sheaths I've made before is the extra bulkiness in the width of the sheath with the necessary rivets on the spine side of the blade. As a result I'm going with a foldover style here and come hell or high water I'll get them made with a great fit.

First step is to prep the blade with a single layer of duct tape on each side of the blade. Cleaning the adhesive off the blade is always a pain so as an experiment I first put a heavy coat of Ren wax on the blade hoping for easier clean-up

Trim tape to the blade profile

Now we need to layout our sheath body. Lay you knife on the back side of the kydex where you want it leaving yourself plenty of extra material on the "welt" I like at least 1/2" PAST my finished size so I can grind the sheath to final shape. Trace around it with a pencil then roll the knife around the spine side and trace again
-As it works out for this sheath I'm close to half my sheet's width so I Layed it out the height I wanted and just split the width of the sheet in two

The throat on my 4x6 bandsaw isn't nearly big enough to make this cut so I just use these Weiss tin snips for my initial cut.

Now we're ready to press our sheath body. I prefer to use my heat gun to soften the Kydex. I throw a glove on my left hand and hold the piece by the corner then heat with the gun on high and cover the sheet using a circular motion just like waxing a car. Go over the first side then flip and do the same on the back. Keep at it with the heat and flipping back and forth until the Kydex softens and will no longer hold it's flat shape. It doesn't take too much practice to get a feel for how hot to get the kydex.

Now it's ready to press. Fold the sheet around the knife and sandwich between the foam then place my cutting board on top and stand on it for a couple minutes to end up with this-

Now I just wanna trim some bulk off the welt to make it easier to work with. Line it up, mark it, bandsaw it-

Now I wanna tune the shape of the mouth of the sheath to match the flow of the handle

Grind it in with an 80 grit

Round over that back edge with the slack belt and mark a radius on the front

Now our body is roughed to shape we need to install the TecLoc. As recommended by others I went with Large TecLoc's for these sheaths. They make the most sense to me beacause they do have "bumpers" that can be adjusted to fit a skinnier belt so they have more versatility than the small size.

Line it up being sure that the "lock" isn't overlapping the thick part of the sheath where the handle of the knife is

View with the lock in the fully open position-

Mark one of the corner holes

Drill with a 1/4" bit then insert kydex rivet with the nice side facing the front of the sheath.

Rivet setter. The anvil part goes with the factory flare side and the stake flares the straight side. You can really mangle a rivet being heavy handed while staking or having the stake held at an angle. I use a light hammer and give it a sharp strike then a couple taps.

Now install the TecLoc with the hardware through the first rivet and use a smaller drill bit to drill right through the TecLoc's hole and through the sheath body

Install the second rivet and mark the other two

Tape residue -YUK

This adhesive remover is worth it's weight in gold making clean-up a snap

Now I got a pretty ugly press initially so I'm gonna use localized heat to tune this area up

I want to keep the kydex the way it is around the front of the scales so I wrap a bandana around the sheath while heating the area of the finger groove.

Got called in for dinner at this point so that's the last pic for this morning but there'll be more to come.

I did heat the finger groove area and straighten it up while pinching the kydex tight around the finger groove. Of course this results in fantastic retention. So good in fact that it's a little difficult to put the knife in and out of the sheath and results in a very audible snap when inserting the knife. I've got a plan to maintain the great retension while making the sheath more functional and easier to use. Of course it's an experiment so it may work great or result in a ruined sheath. Rest assured though we'll get it right or make another :biggrin:

Take Care- Josh

Josh Dabney
02-26-2012, 06:16 PM
When molding the finger groove area I want the kydex tight around the handle material but don't want front and back of the sheath pulled all the way together. To keep this from happening I used a piece of scrap kydex as a spacer then pinched the body tight into the groove.

Here's my plan for easing the tension a little. I cut this line on the bandsaw a little at a time and kept checking the fit.

My next issue is that while in the sheath the blade has room to move around a little. This could probably be cured by simply heating up the tip of the sheath and pinching it in tight over top of the point but I'm thinking this would give me a hideaous bulge at the tip on the spine side.

What I've got right now is a drop point knife in a standard pouch style sheath which is folded over and has a relatively straight spine. I'm going to grind the lower part of the sheath's spine off and convert it to more of a butterfly type sheath. Something like this-

Now that I ground the spine we can see what I'm talking about. Here is the knife in the sheath in it's natural position-

Now here it is again with a little pressure on the butt-

I had to experiment a couple times to get this wrap to work. This pic was the second rendition which didn't work out that well but it gives an idea of where I'm heading to close up the butterfly section with an overlay

After grinding the spine higher and flatter I made this piece just rough cut so it would mold around while avoiding the handle part of the main body. I tried heating an overlay then wrapping it around the toe of the sheath and pressing it in the foam but couldn't keep it tight on the spine with that method. I had MUCH better success like this. With Chicago screws holding the overlay to the sheath body I heated just the spine section of the overlay then pulled it tightly around by hand and held it untill it cooled

Apperantly I forgot to snap any pics of shaping the overlay. After molding the overlay I drilled the screw holes through the otherside then sketched what I wanted it to look like with a pencil then profiled it to shape on the top idler wheel and slack belt

With that done I assembled the sheath completely to check the fit. At this time I decided it's near perfect but just a tad still on the tight side for removing the knife from the sheath so I drilled my relief hole out to 1/4" which put me exactly where I wanted to be with the fit. In the sheath there's zero wiggle, wobble, rattle, or anything else. With my pinched in molding in that fingergroove it retains the knife with authority and the addition of the relief cut and hole on the spine the knife will come right out with a firm grip and smart tug. Knife falling out of the sheath will NOT be a concern :biggrin:

Happy with the fit I disassembled everything and hand sanded all the edges to take off any sharp edges and give it a smooth finished appearance.

Sanding inside the sawcut with the shoeshine method

I actually sand a little smooth bevel on the outter edge. The smooth contrast to the texture of the kydex gives a nice little polished border look that I like

Smooth smooth smooth :biggrin:

And here's the final constuction pics of #1 sharpened with sheath

I'll continue on with a sheath for #2 then come to a close with a brutal critique of both knives and sheaths

Take care everyone ! Josh

Josh Dabney
02-28-2012, 08:17 PM
Finished up #2's sheath last night. Again I'm still figuring kydex out but the moon and stars musta been alligned right or something because it came out sweet with almost no fiddling with it.

A few things that I think helped me get a better result this time-

1. When I folded the kydex around the blade I took more care to pull it tight but to also keep the fold alligned more with the blades spine keeping the tip much closer to the fold while leaving a little gap between the top of the handle and the fold. I'm speculating that this cured the issue of the blade having room to move around while sheathed.

2. I still reheated and pinched in the the finger groove area to get a tighter fit. I just didn't sqeeze it nearly as "deep" I'm thinking that when adjusting like this a little goes a long way and a little practice and I'll develop a good feel for this and be able to nail the fit consistantly.

3. I kept the top rivet down just a tad lower. This allows the front and back to flex over a longer distance allowing the mouth to open up easier while insering or extracting the knife.

I also tried out another style of lanyard braid that I like a little better. It's very similar and very easy to make. Here's the tutorial-

Tommorow I'll get working on critiquing these knives but for now they're esentailly completed with one caveat. I dont mind the overlay at all on sheath #1. However I'm not at all liking the chicago screws for attatching it to the main sheath body. Thats the type of thing that WOULD come apart only at the most inconvenient time and could cause a serious safety issue. To correct this I'll be ditching the chicago screws entirely, drilling out the rivets that are in the main body currently, and ordering a pack of the s-66 rivets that are long enough to join all 4 layers permanently. Then I'll be totally confident this sheath will be ready to take on the world.

Although my photography skill are severly lacking I did set up the light box and snap some final pics for the WIP.








Oooops. Ren wax on the front of the liner -

02-29-2012, 05:57 AM
Great Job Josh. I've never done kydex sheathes but I might be more willing to try it now that I have seen how you did it.

Josh Dabney
02-29-2012, 07:11 AM

I should probably explain a little about my personal feelings as it pertains to sheathmaking and working with kydex.

My mentor was a great sheathmaker and he taught me to design and make sheaths to compliment my knives in design, flow, and develop a "total package" that works together. Rule #1 is that fit and function can NEVER take second place to aesthetics. Fit needs to be what needs to be- no exceptions.

From a functional and aesthetic view I had a few point's I wanted to include on these sheaths-

-I wanted the user to be able to reach down and grab the handle and have a perfect grip on the knife with no need to shift the grip once drawn. The profile of the kydex in the finger groove area up to the top not only matches the flow and lines of the center section of handle but it also serves to guide the index finger right into the finger groove of the handle when drawing the knife. IMO this is a case where pleasing form results in proper function without trading off one for the other.

-I had it as a goal to reduce excess bulk as much as possible. From a functional aspect would it make much of a difference if the sheath was another 1/8 or 1/4" wider ? Probably not much at all but I wanted them a small as possible as long as function wasn't comprimised. I tried to keep my rivets close to the blade edge and perhaps this caused me undo stress getting the fit-up right.

I though it important to explain this a little so my personal qwerks don't dissuade you from giving Kydex a try. Generally the initial press will accomplish making a good functioning sheath. Keep the rivets a little away from the blade edge and you'll come up with something usable and functional no problem.

I'm regularly guilty of making things more difficult than they have to be :) just part of my own nature as a knifemaker I suppose.

I should also mention that while I've avoided building a kydex press up to this point since I find myself bending kydex again I'll be ordering some foam from Boss and building one just for the sake of consistancy (and I think my foam is just not dense enough to get a good press). I've managed to get by thus far with my cut-up pilates mat and a fat guy press but generally there's just no substitute for having the correct tool for the task at hand.

Take care- Josh

Josh Dabney
02-29-2012, 11:20 AM
30 days- 2 knives & 2 sheaths. Believe it or not that's pretty good for me considering my "flexible" schedule- which usually flexes towards less shop time not more :3:

This final section of the WIP will cover critiquing knives. What to look for, where to look for it, and how to go about seeing whats there. If we as makers aim to improve it helps greatly to figure out whats "wrong" and how to fix it the next time. Also very handy when looking closely at any knife in general.

Handing these two knives to your average Joe on the street and they would probably never notice most, if not all, of these inconsistancies. Hand it to a seasoned maker and they would point out everything we're about to see and probably some things I've overlooked.

From here out I'll throw up a pic and then critique that pic in the text that follows.


This pic has alot to offer !
Let's first notice that the left scale extends further toward the tip than the right. I profiled the scales together so why is this the case ? The profile of both scales actually does match and the problem here was caused when I took the scales apart to put the angle on the front face of the scales. On the right scale the angle extends all the way through the liner until it meets the side of the riccasso. On the left I didn't get that angle ground as deep which resulted in a tiny flat on the face of the liner where it meets the riccasso and more bulk left in the scale material. Simply putting both scales back together after grinding the angles would've easily prevented this as the mis-match would've been painfully obvious. Overlooking this one tiny detail really cost me symmetry in an area where it's fairly easy to get it NEAR perfect.

Now look at the right side and count up to the 7th ridge of the jimping and look at the grind line that extends from that point down to the right. This mismatch is also a product of not grinding that angle deep enough. Again could've easily been fixed before installing the scales. The difference here is that I could tape up the sides of the riccasso and wash that grind line out by rounding it over or true it up for a minimum of a vast improvement.

There's actually one more issue here but I got another pic to highlight that point.

The checkering looks pretty good though :3:


Better pic- This is actually less of an issue because it at least matches on both sides but it was unintensional. When profiling the scales to match the notch area I just barely ever-so-slightly bumped the scale on the belt where the scales were filed to match the notch on the spine. They no longer match :shush:


The plunges on this blade are not so hot. I've certainly done better off this same platen. Here you can see the radii don't match and the left side is ground further back than the right. -I will note that the edges of my ceramic glass don't perfectly match making it near impossible to get perfectly matching radii but that something I'm going to be addressing very soon.


The clip on this knife is EXTREMELY close ! It's however not perfect. in the section on the right side from the jimping to approx half way down the plunge it's just a teeny tiny bit thicker which coulve been sanded out to perfection with more effort.


This is a big one that really jumps out at ya. Profiling on the small wheel it can be very difficult to keep the grind perpendicular to the blade. I tend to end up being a little off, then over-correcting, etc etc etc. Sometimes I can nail it but not with consistancy as evidenced here. I'm planning to solve this problem by building a horizontal grinder in the near future.


Onto the second knife. Blurry pic but it's still evident that there's more scale material left on top of the liner on that bottom tip of the scales. Could still easily be fixed with some hand sanding. Overall theough I did a MUCH better job of keeping thing's more symetrical especially the plunges and faces of the scales.


After the first knife I was on my toes with the notch area. This is what they both should look like


Boy the camera sure doesn't forgive mistakes ! The scales match up perfectly to the top corner where the angle rolls around. I obviously didn't roll it around near as far on the left as I did the right :o


Again the clip is very close but the left side is a weeny bit thicker up where it meets the jimping


These blades were fairly thin before convexing. One was .019-.017 the other a pretty consistant .0145 which was where I wanted to be with it. I took me some practice with convexing but this shows how I like it. In all the recent pics both knives are sharpened by convexing right to zero then sharpening on a stone and stropping. In the top pic you can see how small the acutal sharpened bevel is with the light bouncing off it. The second pic is same blade same spot but without trying to get the light bouncing of the edge you can hardly even tell it's there and appears to be just convexed without any "micro bevel" Talk about easy an sharpening tough edge. Lovin it !


These two pics demonstrate how I washed these to scales out to uneveness with the slack belt. Just look how much "flat" remains to the right side of the back corby. They were pretty much dead even after grinding them to hard lines :(


This pic shows the big difference between the sisters. I intended for a plunge even a little more angled than the bottom blade. On one pass I got straigther than the rest of the passes and chewed out the top of the plunge. Only thing to do in this situation is grind both plunges straighter or push them both further back which I didn't want to do. Purely aesthetics but that top girl really lost some of her sex appeal :sad: I do feel pretty confident that someone will still love her though :9: The main thing about this is that the straight plunge isn't what I was after and had this been for a customer being made to my blueprint this plunge error would've meant starting over.

I gotta post up so I can pick my son up from school but there is more.

Take care- Josh :biggrin:

Josh Dabney
02-29-2012, 02:06 PM

Close up to show the plunge line (where the radius of the plunge meets the riccasso) It's more of a lazy "s" than a straight line. Notice this is the side ground with the tang in my left hand.


Again the left hand ground side of the blade. Fairly straight but take note of the whoop-de-doo just a little above edge height.


Right handed ground sides much better. I really need to work on my platen. I'm thinking that the sides of the platen are not parallel because no matter what, the plunge left handed is almost perpendicular while the right handed side will end up on an angle where the top of the plunge is closer towards the tip than the bottom. It could be that I just grind cockeyed. LOL. To compensate for this though I'm always squirreling around trying to get my plunge lines to match and end up with the left side buggered up.


I'm WAY overdue to order some stencils from Ernie Grosspitch. I burned up quite a few learning to use my etcher and this is the resulting mark from the one I have left. Notice the "ORIDA" bleeding together in spots and the center of the A's and a general lack of crispness. For these knives with this finish it's not a big deal to me but for something with a nicer finish this will no longer cut the mustard. I have howere probably etched in the neighborhood of 20 knives with this one stencil so I'd say I got my moneys worth out of it ;)


While quite different I think both these sheaths are going to perform just as required- Protect the wearer from being cut, retain the knife under the most rigorous of circumstances, and allow quick access to the knife at a moments notice.

The final little section here is just a description of how to accurately check your plunges and grinds for symmetry-


Viewing the plunge lines themselves. Line the blade up looking directly at the edge side of the blade directly between your eyes and the plunge lines parallel with the ground. Many different things will attempt to gain the focus of your eyes but it helps to have a clean backround with nothing in view to catch your attension. To get both sides of the blade into view you need to stare out past each side of the blade without focusing on any specific point. Sounds a little wierd but it does allow you to see both sides of the blade simultaniously


To view the radii of the plunges I find it helpful to look at the spine side of the blade. This eliminates the edge, convex, and bottom of the riccaso/guard from being distractions to the eye.


And finally to view your grind lines, bevel or clip, allign the blade like this looking down both sides of the blade in the same manner.

I use these viewing techniques not only with finished knives but all the time throughout grinding a blade.

Curtiss Knives
02-29-2012, 04:30 PM
You keep looking at the blade that way and you'll go cross-eyed!!! Hehe. Nice work and write up.

02-29-2012, 06:13 PM
Josh we all should be are worst critic, but not obsessive LOL, those are two great blades for two great soldiers.
And one great wip that i am sure everyone learned from, you should be ubber proud of them both and send them off to prom without worry!!! lol Great job!!!!!!!!!!!!!

02-29-2012, 06:54 PM
Thats a pretty great WIP Josh. Thank You. I am gonna give mine the critical eye when im finished and make some notes. Im sure i will be always chasing the perfect knife but i think thats why i have intrest in knifemaking. That and i cant afford fancy knives to engrave on.

Josh Dabney
03-01-2012, 08:30 AM
Don't worry fellas, I'm not beating myself up over the flaws. The most important thing is that I know they're there. I've made these ladies and own EVERYTHING about them, both good and bad.

I certainly could send the knives to prom as-is but I honestly wouldn't be doing myself any favors by doing that. I'll share with you guys something a Mastersmith once told me- "being a Mastersmith ISN'T not making mistakes, it's knowing how to fix them when they happen" A profound statement and one that has stuck with me.

Knifemaking is practice ! I looked at these knives as an oppertunity to practice from the beginning. I ground them out freehand for pactice. I could've used the work rest or some type of jig or fixture to assist in keeping my grind lines in better shape. Could've filed in plunges or used a file guide on the tang to help with placement of the plunges. Could've built a clip grinding work rest. Absolutely nothing wrong with any of these things I just wanted to practice my freehand skills. Really I could've chose an easier grind like a full height flat grind with no swedge and trued up my plunges on the horizontal platen and most likely ended up with a near perfectly ground blade.

For me personally it's not always about what I COULD do to attain perfection but more about working on my grinding skills. When it doesn't come out perfect (which it NEVER does, lol) it's part of the process of learning and advancing my own skill in the direction I want to. With every knife I get to a point where I have to forgive it (and myself) for it's flaws and call it done. I personally reach this point when the risk of screwing something up out weighs the benefit of fixing the flaw in question. Of course there have been times when the flaw is unacceptable and the risk of damage to the work that's good is too great and this situation is when handles get taken off and started over from scratch or a guard gets pitched. Thankfully those scenarios happen less and less with more experience but they have happened.

Conventional wisdom is to rough the handle in and finish it up with files, rasps, sandpaper, and blood sweat and tears. This IS the way to do it when seeking the best end result possible. With these two I challenged myself to go the other way and do as much as possible at the grinder. Aside from blending in the radius that joins the profile and the side of the handle there's very little hand work on these handles. Again I went this direction on purpose to work on my grinding and shaping skills with the grinder. Doing this helps me see where I'm at and what exactly I should do by hand and what I can pull of with my grinder-fu.

Again I could just let these knives go but there are some things I can fix so I'm going to fix them. If for no other reason than to practice fixing mistakes :)

Thanks for the comments guys !

-Josh :)

Josh Dabney
03-02-2012, 09:02 PM
Got the house in order early for the big birthay bash. Daughter's 2 on the 6th and son's turning 4 the 11th but the dual party is tomorrow. Boy how the time flies ! Ended up having a bit of shop time despite party prep so off we go to fixing up these scales


These little tips were uneven on both knives so I started there with my favorite simmons black diamond file. I'll be cutting both sides just down flush with the liner material.


Compare this pic with the previous one to see just how far off they were.


Here I'm using an 1/8" round file to true up the "finger groove cut" on the top scale


Rough filed to shape


Mismatched radii


I don't wanna use an actual file for this area so instead I made a 220grit safe edge file to reshape the top of the face of the scale.


Taped up the riccasso with electrical tape for protection and have the side of the craft stick riding up against the tape


Cerainly far from perfection but one heck of alot better than it was !


Clean all my file work up to 220


Headed to the buffer for a light touch-up buff. A word of caution here - Buffers are DANGEROUS tools ! Anything being buffed can instantly become a high speed projectile. These knives are nearly complete and hair poppin sharp & the last thing I want is to have a sharpened knife flying anywhere. Especially my leg or gut !!!!!

That said, if your unfimiliar with buffers and their "safe" operation buying one and just having at it is a bad idea. It would be FAR wiser to find a nearby EXPERIENCED maker and ask them to show you the ropes. End of mandatory sermon :3:


Onto knife number two. Boy this one needed alot more work than the first, LOL. I needed to take the entire left face down a bit until the angle meets the riccasso. I don't want to change the angle just make it deeper


One thing that was REALLY throwing off the symmetry of these scales was the fact that from the front corby forward one scale was significantly thicker than the other. A bit of shaping with the file trued thing up


Sand at 220 to prepare for buffing


Here the left side is still abit thicker than the right. When filing I had the left side poited up facing my light while the right side was down in the shadow. This is why it's important to go in small steps and check things out. This was actually a good place to stop filing the thick side and switch to paper to get that last little bit

Here's how we look now after the tune-up

A couple hours of work on the girls and I'm MUCH happier with them ! Far from perfection (the ultimate goal) but greatly improved.

Always remember- The Devil's in the details.

Aside from all the details about how I went about making these ladies there are some overlying lessons that can be learned from this wip.

-It's always FAR less work to do it right the first time. (the final result is usually better also)

-Get caught up in one task and overlook another and you've got to pay the Piper !

-It's not over till it's over ! Stick with it until the END.

-Most important of all- Have one helluva lot of fun making knives !

Almost forgot to mention- I ordered the longer rivets and some foam to build a kydex press.


It's been a real fun WIP fellas ! Thanks alot for hangin out.

I guess It's about time I should get ahold of the recipients huh. Hopefully I can get them to take pics to post here but either way I'll update once the ladies and their shoes are delivered.

Take care everybody and please feel free to drop me a line anytime !

-Josh :biggrin:

10-18-2012, 06:36 AM
GREAT tutorial and WIP, Josh!!

wish i read it before finishing the last knife lol

thanks for sharing,i know i'll probably be coming back to it again soon!

10-25-2012, 08:17 AM
I gotta give some Mad Props to Randy on his design work !!!!! And tell Y'all to watch out for that guy cuz there's definately some Mad Genious lurking in there :)


i'm STUDYING this WIP btw

HHH Knives
11-15-2012, 06:53 PM
Josh, The knives look awesome! Great WIP. Thanks for sharing I felt like I was in the shop with ya for some of the WIP!! made for a very informative and entertaining read!

Josh Dabney
11-15-2012, 07:11 PM
Glad Y'all enjoyed the WIP !

This seems like FOREVER and a day ago :)


Eddie Mullins
07-27-2013, 09:01 AM
I know this is an old thread but I'm new so they are all new to me : ) . I thought this one was worth a bump and wanted to say thanks! Lots of great info here.

Josh Dabney
07-27-2013, 03:28 PM
No problem Eddie.

In case you haven't run across it yet check out the Master List thread. It's a sticky in the WIP forum.


Eddie Mullins
07-27-2013, 04:31 PM
No problem Eddie.

In case you haven't run across it yet check out the Master List thread. It's a sticky in the WIP forum.


Yikes - how am I ever gonna find time to read all those LOL. Thanks I hadn't seen the master list. I have read through several WIP's already though, and have to say this is easy in the top 3 of the ones I've read (the other 2 contenders being a slip joint WIP and a lock back WIP).

BTW - thanks to you I have a warped blade clamped in angle iron at this very moment. I think I corrected some of warp in a kitchen chopper using this technique. That's how I found your WIP, searching for threads on warping. I have my own WIP of sorts in the newbie's area with some pics. Its just my 2nd knife to fully finish, so its there more for me to get feedback than to help others though.

07-27-2013, 04:35 PM
Where the heck have I been? This was an AMAZING WIP! Josh and you are an amazing knife maker! Great explaining and your detail to making us all understand is top notch ! Thank you for a great tutorial ! Im always learning and picking up tips while I watch you ..

Thank You and great job brutha !