WIP - Bali Kit - Watch the work in progressof the Level 1 Bali Kit we recently listed


KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
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I decided I would build one of the Level 1 Bali Kits we recently added. This is David's at Great Lakes Waterjet design.

We are giving away one of these along with a Pivot Lap and some additional bali parts to make one of these...
The drawing deadline is June 30 >click here to get in on the giveaway drawing<

First, I should point out I've been a busy guy lately and have not used my home basement work shop to make a knife in nearly a year. I have been using the shop at the warehouse.

This is what happens when you run in, do something and leave stuff where you set it. I always meant to put it away..


After a couple of hours of cleaning

Here is the Level 1 Bali Kit with a few extra parts.
You would get the major metal as you see it. The Bali Pivots, washers and bushings are not included in this kit but we have them. I found out in just a minute or so after this I grabbed the wrong ID washers. I needed 3/16", not the 1/8" like are pictured here. I had some in my own supplies that were .005". I'll have to grab some .015" 3/16"ID washers at the warehouse next time I am there. After having the supply business in my garage and basement for nearly 6 years and then moving it, I can't believe how easy it was in the past to go pull a part from stock. I am going to have to pay attention on what I need from now on.

I will be using a KD Pivot lap to get the bushings and Pivots to exactly the right length.

First we are going to drill the handle pivot holes to 1/8". I start with smaller drill bit and then ream to size. I use a #31 which is .120" and then ream to .125" This give me a smoother, rounder hole that is closer to the size I want. This is Ti and tough to drill so I make sure and use some cutting fluid. It helps the bits stay sharper longer.

I use a 123 block for a drilling block. It's easier to hold onto the parts when they aren't flat on the drill table. Here I am using a long chucking reamer. The idea behind the long reamers is they will flex a little giving you a straighter hole. If you want a round(er) hole, drill slightly undersize and ream to size. If you really want precision, you drill an undersized hole, ream slightly undersized and then barrel lap to exact size. I don't have any barrel laps here so we are skipping that.

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I can't tell you I don't like taking pictures with my iphone. I will need to dig out a better camera that doesn't seem to shake as much. I can see now some of these pictures are fuzzy. We'll have to live it for now...

I love Buffalo wings. I have been making them once a week now for at least the last couple of months trying to get good at making them. Last nights batch was delicious. I took this picture and sent it to my college daughter to see if I could get her to stop by and have some. She had to work. My 18year old son will polish these off in a day or two. This has nothing to do with building a Bali kit. I just thought you should know.


Now we have the handles drill to accept the bali style pivots. We will have to counter sink them but they fit nicely and don't seem too lose. I have learned to keep small parts in a container the hard way -- more than once.

The blade and handle has been drilled to 1/8" to test fit the bali pivots. I will take the pivot holes up to 3/16" on the blade in a minute to fit the bushings. The bump on the blade is a tab left over from waterjet cutting. I will grind that off in a minute also.

Double checking the bushing OD. .187" it is. I have drilled way too many wrong size holes to not double check every single part I drill every single time. I know the OD on this part. I had them made but I still checked it. The digital caliper says .187"

Same thing for every drill bit I use. I check them against the drill guide plate. It's amazing how many times this habit has saved me a lot of pain I used to go through routinely.

Here you can see the blade now has 3/16" holes to fit the bushing. The washer will fit over the bushing.
The bushing will sit proud of the washer and blade on both sides .0005" to .001" when I am done lapping them with the pivot lap. That way you can tighten the pivot screw as hard as you like and you (or the customer) won't be able to bind the action on the blade. I have about 10 minutes into this so far...well 2 hours and 10 minutes if you count cleaning of my bench...
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KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
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Here is a big pile o stag scales I came across on my drill press/buffing bench. These didn't make the move last year. I will need to get these to the warehouse. Raw stag as it comes from India looks pretty bad. It has to be cleaned, sorted and buffed quite a bit before it is presentable.


Here is a better look at the bushing and washer set up.

The 440C blade in the kit has been descaled but still needs some work on cleaning it. It measures .145" here.
Lot's of bark and pitting to get rid of. I am going to go for .125" thick finished.

I fired up the disk grinder and work on taking off some stock. You can't get things flat with a belt grinder. It takes a disc grinder.

Let's check. OMG..this will take a life time to get to .125" Time for some bigger hardware..

The flat platen with with ceramic glass will work.

I grabbed an old Blaze 36 grit and get to grinding. I will leave it .005" thick and then clean up and flatten on the disc grinder. Use a flat platen on a belt grinder still rounds over parts but I want to get rid of some stock quicker. My dunk bucket had dried out and I had to refill it.

I make it a point to move quickly back and forth, flip it over often and then switch hands to do the same thing. All in an effort to keep it just a bit flatter. The belt tension I have as tight as I can get it so it doesn't pucker around to the top and bottom edge.
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After a few minutes on a Blaze 36 grit, I switch to a gator a300 belt to clean up the 36 grit marks. You can see on the blade near the tang end the gator finish vs. the 36 grit on tip end.

My dainty little fingers have apparently not been burned enough by the grinder lately since it hurts.
I grab a push stick. This stick has a piece of metal mounted on the end with a couple of rare earth magnets epoxied on the end. The heat kills these magnets pretty quick so I epoxied a Popsicle stick on top of that. It helps keep the metal to metal scratches down and keeps some of the heat away from the magnets giving them a longer life. I don't like push sticks, I lose all finesse with them but I will finish with the disc grinder to clean up any bobbles the push stick gives me. I just want metal gone quick.

Much better. That took 5 minutes instead of 20 on the disc grinder. I left it .008" fat here to take .004" off both sides for a better finish.

I use a Norax disc. It's glued on with feathering adhesive. This is medium tack stuff that allows me to peel this disc off and replace with another grit. You can remove and replace different discs several time with out having to add any more adhesive. If this was a PSA disc, I would have to scrape it off and it would be ruined.

OK, here we are at .127" thickness with a decent enough finish and it is flat. I'm sure I will tinker with it more and take off but we are where we need to be for now.

I clean up the waterjet tab on the horizontal grinder. I wonder what that loose bolt is for in the background?
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KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
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OK, the blade thickness is where I want it. Let's see about countersinking those Bali pivots..

Let's measure the top of the Bali pivot. .160" it appears

Using a wire drill guide plate, I test fit the bali head to the nearest oversize drill bit. Turns out to be a #7.

I don't have a counterbore here that will fit so I am going to just use a drill bit to enlarge and counter sink the pivot head. I will probably regret this but it's quick and I need to know how well this will work. I have centered the hole as best I can. I ease the drill press down and let the bit self center the part. There is some chatter as it moves around and bites in but that settles down after a few thousands into the part.

This is just trial and error and eyeball. The hole is a bit rough but it works. I will figure out how to polish the hole up later. I just keep trial fitting the bali head into the part until it is countersunk just enough. Some of you may want to use a sophisticated measurement process. I mainly stick my tongue out when I am drilling like this.

Here are both pivots countersunk into the handles. Close enough I think. I will have to shorten these pivots and counter sink the screws but this is good for now.

Here we are all screwed together. I have about 45 minutes into this so far. Not bad since I have to stop and take pictures of everything. Work time is about 30 minutes I suppose.

Here we can see the bushings are quite a bit oversized. I have .005" washers in place so when I replace those with .015" washers a lot of that excess length will be used up.

That's as far as I could get today. I will add onto this as I work on it when I can.
I have to countersink the pivot screws, mount and fit the latch and spacer block. Then I will need to shorten the bushings to length. Then grind the blade, heat treat it and finish the cosmetics on the handle.

Stay tuned, same Bat time, same Bat channel...
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I had a little more time before and after mowing the lawn...

I need to knock off the little tabs left from waterjetting.. I am using a Beaumont horizontal grinder here...

The other thing I need to do is minimize the draft left from waterjetting. When something is waterjet cut, the cut isn't perfectly square. The thicker the material, the faster the travel, the lower the water pressure, the difference in material all makes a difference. There are waterjets that tilt the head to minimize the draft (slanted cut) but this isn't bad at all. We'll take out the draft with the horizontal grinder to square up the edges a bit. Here, looking at the edges you can see the draft cut.

Running it across the small wheel on the horizontal. You can see the difference after a couple passes. The bright line on the edge of the handle standing on it's edge is the draft being ground flat.

hahah.. shaky picture again. Here I using a set of carpenter scribes to guess where the middle is so I can center the latch screw.

I used some Dykem to dye the steel a bit so I could see the scratch marks better.

I have the center marks scribed, now I am eyeballing placement for the latch. I will make a cross scratch here.

To find the center, I eyeballed it as close as I could with the scribe, scratched a mark and then scratched it from the other side also. The result was two very closely spaced parallel lines. The center was right between them. The cross mark from the end is the other locator mark. Then I center punched it so I could drill it in the right spot. I had to use my magnifier visor to get the center punch in the right spot.

Here I have started the drilling. You can see the double marks and cross mark.
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KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
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Now let's countersink the small parts...

I screw things up enough. I label parts as much as possible. The handles will have one side countersunk for the bali style pivots, other side will be counter sunk for the screws. The head sizes are not the same so I separated and labeled them.

I have the hole drilled for the latch in one of the handles. I want to index this hole across the other three handle parts. I used a drill bit two sizes too small for the .125" hole in the first part. I will use this first part as a drilling guide for the other parts. I used the extra small hole size since using it as a drill guide for three more holes is going to make it bigger by the bit wallowing around in the hole. Good thing I went two sizes smaller as one size wouldn't have been enough when I went back and reamed it to size there wasn't much left to ream out.

There is a pivot pin holding the blade end indexed together. I clamp the two parts with a small vice grip pliars and use the first hole as a guide for the second. I am using lot's of cutting fluid.

This drill bit was too dull to chance it breaking off. I quick sharpen in the Drill Doctor. Highly recommended. They will pay for themselves in drill bits cost but also give you cleaner work since you are working with sharp bits instead of trying to make a dull one last.

Ok, the holes are all countersunk for the pivots and the screws. This time I used a smaller diameter drill bit for the bali style pivot heads. I think I like the bigger counter sink holes but we'll wait. I made the latch end so the latch can be switched to one side or the other. Some flippers like to change this up.


Getting closer. I suppose that was another 45 minutes of time. I am not very fast in the shop. I'm sure someone else could do better.
I grind the blade next and heat treat it. Then I will mount the tang pins and grind some relief for the tang pins to get it to close. Finally I will fit the latch.
After that, it's just cosmetics.



Well-Known Member
Great WIP!

Although I can't make a bali over here, there's lots of transferable details to other folders - thanks!


KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
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I went to grind the blade on the 14" wheel and got it so thin I ground through it.
I will need to go get another blade and start over...
i hate when that happens.
It did feel good to toss it across the shop tho..:what!:


KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
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Tools are not the only thing a little rusty. LOL
no kidding. I was using the 14" wheel which I always find hard to use and then with a .125" thick blade, no practice grinding for at least 6 months and it was meant to fail.



So the blade profile looks way wider than the handles when it is closed...
I think you are right. I may have to reprofile it a bit when I get the next blade ground (or the third)


Well-Known Member
I suppose the good part about having the blade "too wide" at first, is that every maker can have some leeway to create their own design out of it.


KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
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This is blade #2. Blade #1 bit the dust on the 14" wheel. The grind got away from me trying to match it and I ground through the blade. This was done with the 8" which is easier for me. I made a handle to hold the blade with. I've tried using a vice grips but this worked a lot better. It turns out this was a piece of metal I used in the Glue Wars testing 8 or 9 years ago. The blade is basically ready to heat treat. I took it to A65 Norax which is about 300 grit. I'll probably leave it at that.

The .015" washers I had from store stock over lapped so I had to make some with a smaller OD. I have large batch of custom washers coming in this size but they aren't here yet. Here I am using a shim punch on some .015" bronze sheet. This punch set has indexing pins so you get the ID hole perfectly centered. They work fairly well but I wouldn't want to do a big batch of washers. These punch sets are a bit pricey. I don't think the average guy could save enough making his own washers by punching them himself but it is nice to have the flexibility to make your sizes quickly.

Now the washers don't over lap like the others did.

Now for some higher math.
The blade thinned down to around .119"IMG_0310.jpg


The washers I punched measured out around .016" The material is .015" but there is a slight burr that will eventually wear flat. I want the bushings to be .001" longer than the washers and blade stack. This will give some tension to the blade but you can't lock it up by over tightening.

I just got this new digital mike. It's amazing. It has .0005" tolerance. I can't even measure that accurate. It came with a stand. It was on sale at Enco for around $140 and the stand was a freebie.
Here you can see a bushing I honed down to exactly .153 using a KD Pivot Lap. This busing was .1555" OAL before.


To lap the bushing to length, I selected the proper insert and ram. The pivot drops into the hole and then you push it down with the little ram thingy. Using 400 grit paper on a flat surface (I am using a surface plate here under the sand paper). I push down on the plunger while scrubbing the whole "puck" across the paper. I scrub maybe -- maybe 5 seconds. I am at exactly .153" by dumb luck. The puck of the pivot lap is hardened 01. It doesn't feel a thing getting dragged across the sand paper this way.


KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
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Long as I had it out, I measured the latch piece thickness. It is .150". The bushing length is .153" That means we have a gap of .003" total between the latch and the handles. I think I can live with that.


Here is a side picture of the latch end. The pivot here is countersunk but clearly too long. I will shorten it to length with the pivot lap.

The original length is .507" OAL. I need it to be .413" long. This picture is actually from a bit later in the process. It shows the length of a pivot I have already shortened compared to the length of a pivot I have not yet shortened. I shortened the first one to length by trial and error. I never measured the counter sink hole depth so there wasn't any math to do here. Once I got the first one done, I measured that one and shortened the other two to the same length.

I put a bushing around the 1/8" diameter pivot and then into the pivot lap. The bushing will keep it from sloshing around in the hole.

Here is a peek at bottom of the lap. It isn't even burnished yet.

In use you scrub the pivot lap puck around on a flat surface of sandpaper. You press down on the plunger. The puck is hardened 01 and more or less glides across the sandpaper. I'm sure it wears down a bit but it's thick and has hundreds of hours of sanding in it before it will need to be replaced.

Here you can see the (now) shorter pivot.

I give it a couple passes on the sandpaper and measure. This is slower than I like. I am going to try something.

I put the lap on the flat platen on the grinder and hold it lightly against the belt while it is running and press the plunger. The pivot is shortened almost instantly. In fact I go through two pivots in seconds getting before I get the idea it is really really fast on shortening the pivot. I like this. Short in seconds and square.
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KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
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The latch end pivot is reassembled to see how it fits. I find the screw is a bit too long so it needs to be shortened.

I am at the shop and don't have my screw plate here. My screw plate is a hardened piece of steel threaded with a bunch of holes. I would normally run the screw(s) into the hardened (thin) plate and press protruding threads against the grinder to make them shorter. Most often I would normally just clamp a screw into a vice grip and shorten it on the grinder. I would then lose the screw as it popped out of the vice grip. Repeat this about three times before I don't lose the screw. This time I try the pivot lap. I grab a female threaded stand off and thread the 2-56 screw into and into the pivot lap. It took just a couple passes to get the screw to length. I unthread the stand off and that knocks off the burr and repairs the threads as I unscrew it.

I am stumped why one of the screws won't go into the counter sink. I think I missed a counter sink. I measured the screw head. It is .004" over sized. I toss it and get a replacement and it countersinks in fine. Always a curve ball popping up...

Here you can see the screw that is too long threaded into the stand off.

After a few passes, the screw is to length.

Before and after.

Here is where we are at so far. I will need to trial fit some tang pins and fit those. It appears the blade is generously oversized and will need to be profiled down to better fit the handle. That shouldn't be that big of a deal. I will then heat treat the blade and mount and fit the permanent tang pins. Once that is done, I can fit the latch. Getter closer...