First folder... where to start

Kev

Well-Known Member
On my list of to-dos this year is to build a folder. I getting better at fixed blades and I’d like to expand.
Where does one start, to glean the most knowledge from the experience?
I thought about making a few friction folders, but have came to the conclusion that I’d like to do a liner lock or something similar. A true “pocket knife”, if you will.
Thanks in advance.
 

bladegrinder

Well-Known Member
Kev, first let me say thanks for sending me that great Christmas box !
On linerlocks I believe the best way to learn is from hands on with some one that makes them, I was fortunate to have two makers help me get started. that being said...if no one is near you I would probably buy a kit, put it together and reverse engineer it. there are a few great tutorials on the internet that I've seen.
another thing that helped me along, and still does occasionally is Bob Terzoulas book on linerlocks. unfortunately that book is out of print and has become somewhat of a collectors piece, I have seen printed pages of that on the internet too though.
your first linelock will be a challenge but they get easier....after about ten or fifteen Ha ha...:D
 

EdCaffreyMS

"The Montana Bladesmith"
I suspect many have already heard me say most of this, but it's worth repeating.... Building folders doesn't only demand that you learn new methods and techniques, but, in order to be successful, requires a change in how you think. To explain, when building straight knives, most people think in terms of fractions of an inch. The need for precision with folders forces the maker to teach themselves to think in fractions of a thousandth. Which isn't a bad thing.....because it will maker your straight knives that much better.

Steve gives sound advice on books and other sources. PLEASE do not depend on YouTube! I have watch video after video on Youtube that claim to "how to make folders", or "getting started making folders". They are so full of misinformation that I have to wonder if the individuals putting them out there can even spell "folder". The alternative? Seek out information/texts from established folder makers! It will be well worth the effort.

OK, now, any new folder that a maker produces will require a pattern, and likely a few prototypes. I personally like making folder patterns out of thin Plexiglas, or other transparent materials....that allow you see the travel of the blade within the handle. This will allow you to see where blades, stop pins, locks, etc set in both open and closed positions, and allow you make adjustments more easily. Once you get a pattern you feel is what you want, transfer it to steel....that way you don't wallow out holes when using it for a pattern.

Let's talk tools! First, get yourself a GOOD set of digital calipers, micrometer, or both! You will literally wear them out if you build enough folders! Next, a wall chart with Inch/Metric, tap drill sizes & Decimal Equivalents...... You will find you use it EVERY time you build a knife or folder.

Here's likely the most important tool.....a GOOD drill press, or better yet, a benchtop mill. It's about accuracy of holes..... that means not just "round" instead of "oval" shaped holes (this has more to do with the quality of drill bits then anything), but also hole being drilled "square"....or at true 90 degrees. Most drill presses these days have "flex" in the tables....which mean that holes drilled on them are usually NOT square. Do this to a folder frame or blade, and it will drive you nuts trying to find what went wrong. The solution for most is a benchtop mill, or a very high dollar drill press....the kind that is massive, weighs a lot, and is solid.

If you're going to get serious about folders, you WILL eventually want a surface grinder. I know, I know.....EXPENSIVE. Yes, but you can literally try to hand sand for DAYS on a granite surface plate, and still never get a folder blade anywhere near as flat as a surface grinder will in a few moments. What's "flat"..... let's just say this.... in my experience, if a folder blade is as much a ONE THOUSANDTH out of flat when finished.....the folder simply won't work....at least not in an acceptable manner.

Those are some of the major pitfalls to avoid, and please don't let it deter you. You do not have to have all of that to start, I'm just telling you that without them, building folders is "challenging" to say the least. Can you do it? Sure, I did. But I spent literally WEEKS more time and effort, for folders that were only "so-so". It's just one more challenge in the never ending learning curve of Knifemaking..... and on the bright side....it give you and excuse buy more tools!!! :)
 
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KenH

Well-Known Member
Both Steve and Ed have made really good points. I'm not really adding anything to the discussion other than listing a few of the really important points they have made.
buy a kit, put it together and reverse engineer it
Steve has VERY good advice there. Boss has some very good kits and templates that will really help:
https://usaknifemaker.com/shop-categories/kits/folder-kits.html

get yourself a GOOD set of digital calipers, micrometer, or both!
There is no "or both" involved, you do NEED both. A good set of digital calipers are good for .001" to .002", but micrometer will measure that tenth of a thou you'll want.
GOOD drill press, or better yet, a benchtop mill. It's about accuracy of holes
If you're really serious about making folders, forget the drill press and get a benchtop mill. You'll find so many uses for it you'll wonder how you got by without it. It's by far the more accurate for making those holds "square", and that's REALLY important when talking about folders, linerlock or slipjoint .
you WILL eventually want a surface grinder
While a "real" surface grinder is really good if you've got the room for it, a SGA will work just fine. I've no problem holding .001" (or less) on folder size parts. Of course, with a "real" surface grinder working in tenths of a thou is normal, but they've got to be good condition.

Go for it and have fun!
 

Justin Presson

Well-Known Member
My only advise is to start....that's the hardest part but you have ti dive in. I admit it is a daunting task, especially without a mil or surface grinder. I have only made 4 folders to date. One friction folder, one slip joint and 2 frame locks. Let me look I did a somewhat tutorial one my first and I will post a link. It is far from a how to! But may give you ideas.For me the geometry is the hardest part, where the pivot is in relation to stop pin, handle, tip of blade making sure it is covered, flat, parallel....it all matters.
 

KenH

Well-Known Member
Justin, it's a really good WIP, I remember when you did it. It'd be really GREAT if you could relink the photos from someplace other than photobucket. Not only do the have the "photobucket" pasted across the photo, they've blurred the image. I'd use something like imgur or (my preference) imgbb.com .
 

Justin Presson

Well-Known Member
Justin, it's a really good WIP, I remember when you did it. It'd be really GREAT if you could relink the photos from someplace other than photobucket. Not only do the have the "photobucket" pasted across the photo, they've blurred the image. I'd use something like imgur or (my preference) imgbb.com .
Dang I forgot all about that. I'm not sure if I have them anymore I will look.
 

Kev

Well-Known Member
I suspect many have already heard me say most of this, but it's worth repeating.... Building folders doesn't only demand that you learn new methods and techniques, but, in order to be successful, requires a change in how you think. To explain, when building straight knives, most people think in terms of fractions of an inch. The need for precision with folders forces the maker to teach themselves to think in fractions of a thousandth. Which isn't a bad thing.....because it will maker your straight knives that much better.

Steve gives sound advice on books and other sources. PLEASE do not depend on YouTube! I have watch video after video on Youtube that claim to "how to make folders", or "getting started making folders". They are so full of misinformation that I have to wonder if the individuals putting them out there can even spell "folder". The alternative? Seek out information/texts from established folder makers! It will be well worth the effort.

OK, now, any new folder that a maker produces will require a pattern, and likely a few prototypes. I personally like making folder patterns out of thin Plexiglas, or other transparent materials....that allow you see the travel of the blade within the handle. This will allow you to see where blades, stop pins, locks, etc set in both open and closed positions, and allow you make adjustments more easily. Once you get a pattern you feel is what you want, transfer it to steel....that way you don't wallow out holes when using it for a pattern.

Let's talk tools! First, get yourself a GOOD set of digital calipers, micrometer, or both! You will literally wear them out if you build enough folders! Next, a wall chart with Inch/Metric, tap drill sizes & Decimal Equivalents...... You will find you use it EVERY time you build a knife or folder.

Here's likely the most important tool.....a GOOD drill press, or better yet, a benchtop mill. It's about accuracy of holes..... that means not just "round" instead of "oval" shaped holes (this has more to do with the quality of drill bits then anything), but also hole being drilled "square"....or at true 90 degrees. Most drill presses these days have "flex" in the tables....which mean that holes drilled on them are usually NOT square. Do this to a folder frame or blade, and it will drive you nuts trying to find what went wrong. The solution for most is a benchtop mill, or a very high dollar drill press....the kind that is massive, weighs a lot, and is solid.

If you're going to get serious about folders, you WILL eventually want a surface grinder. I know, I know.....EXPENSIVE. Yes, but you can literally try to hand sand for DAYS on a granite surface plate, and still never get a folder blade anywhere near as flat as a surface grinder will in a few moments. What's "flat"..... let's just say this.... in my experience, if a folder blade is as much a ONE THOUSANDTH out of flat when finished.....the folder simply won't work....at least not in an acceptable manner.

Those are some of the major pitfalls to avoid, and please don't let it deter you. You do not have to have all of that to start, I'm just telling you that without them, building folders is "challenging" to say the least. Can you do it? Sure, I did. But I spent literally WEEKS more time and effort, for folders that were only "so-so". It's just one more challenge in the never ending learning curve of Knifemaking..... and on the bright side....it give you and excuse buy more tools!!! :)
That sounds like great advice. I have been fortunate to have worked in the medical device industry for over a decade and have picked up a few tools and processes from that trade. On our Swiss screw machines -.0002 is common tolerance. That said it sounds like I may be able to shorten the learning curve some.
I currently own all off the above mentioned measuring tools in multiples, and I have both a huge steady drill press with a gear head, and a knee mill. The only thing I don’t own is a surface grinder but I have access to a dozen.
I guess the only thing left is to start.... right? LOL
THANKS for all of the tips and advice.
 

Motor City Mike

Well-Known Member
I suggest designing your folder in a CAD program first. Something like draftsight. It's free (for now) and 2D which is all you need.

CAD allows you to easily move the pivot, stop pin, lock/tang, etc. locations. It also let's you open and close the knife virtually so you can make sure everything works before you get started with physical materials.

Go to midwest knifemaker supply and get this DVD the boss did with Les Voorhies. It's outstanding. It's also long, like 4 hours but it's packed with information that can be used on any folder. This DVD will answer questions you didn't even know you should be asking. It is an invaluable resource for anyone beginning to make folders.

 

Stang Bladeworks

KNIFE MAKER
I think CAD is a must. You can do so much planning and adjusting without wasting a bunch of time. It allows you to make small adjustments and see the results. I check all my dimensions including contours and counterbores on CAD. Having a mill with a DRO is also great. A benchtop is fine. A bridgeport is nicer but to be honest nothing in folder making seems to require deep cuts. A grizzly g704 or similar should be good. Watch ekim knives framelock series it is very good and will be applicable to liner locks. Prepare to spend some money on tooling. If you dont have the funds maybe start with slipjoints. They are much cheaper to make.
 

bladegrinder

Well-Known Member
If someone is starting in liner lock folder's Bob Terzuola's book is a very good must have. it's been out of print for years, it's good to hear he's bringing it back out, a lot of people have been looking for a copy over the years.
 
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