1 1/2" X 1/8" flat bar
1/8" brazing rod
3/8" X 2" X 5" oak
5 minute epoxy coat
Good exterior varnish
Two sided tape
1 1/4" fiber cutting disks
1X32 bench belt and disk sander and
Aluminum Oxide sandpaper (80 to at least 600 grit)
Black, white and lastly blue polishing compound
Drum sanding kit
High speed drill bits (1/8" and 1/2")
Side cutters Clamps
Sisal, spiral sewn, and loose buffing wheels
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First, plot out the blade and handle shape on graph paper. Draw it to actual-size. When people see a knife, the first thing they see is the blade. Therefore, it should set the theme for the knife, and make the knife look great.Then transfer it to mate board, cut it out using a utility knife and hold it in your hand to see if it feels right; if not back to the drawing board. This may take a few tries until you are satisfied.
Now you are ready to make your knife. Cover your metal in painters tape, lay the pattern on top and trace around it using a pencil.
Start cutting our your knife. I cut out the pattern with a "Dremel" type rotary tool, using the fiber type cutting discs (the fiber discs last a lot longer than the cheap ones). Take your time, start at a slow speed until you have a grove cut, and then you can increase the speed.
I use a rotary tool rather than an angle or bench grinder, as you can get allot closer to your pattern, it do not tend to over-heat the material, and saves time cleaning up your knife.
Finished cutting out the knife, now let's clean it up. I use a 1X32 belt sander and disk sander, plus a drum sanding kit on my drill press, and files.
Beveling the blade I use my judgment and put about a 22 degree angle on both sides of the cutting edge and on one side of the back of the blade. I use a simple jig constructed out of a couple of straight brackets and a few bolts to ensure the bevel on both sides of my blade stop/start in the same place.
Now finish clean up your knife. First locate where you want the rivets in your tang, use a center punch to mark them and drill the holes on the drill press using 1/8" bit (you may have to use a different size for the rivets you are using). You should also drill divots in the tang which will help your epoxy stick when installing the scales, with at least a 1/4" bit. Then sanded the steel with Aluminum Oxide sandpaper, starting with 40 grit then 80, 120,240, 320 and finally 600 grit (Only sanded the tang section with the 80 grit to remove the rust/dirt, leaving a rough surface again to help the epoxy stick). Finally polished the blade section using buffing wheels on the drill press. First the black polishing compound going against a sisal wheel using a heavy to medium pressure; next white compound against a spiral sewn wheel using a heavy to medium pressure; and lastly blue compound with the turn of a loose wheel using a medium to light pressure.
I would now temper and heat treat the metal if I were making the knife to use, and then have to re polish the steel.
The handle is next, using two pieces of 3/8" oak and 1/8" brazing rod.
You need two identical pieces for each handle scale and have the rivet holes line-up, plus two rivets (I use brazing rod, cut it to length and then fluted). I used an old carpenters trick, using two sided tape and tape the two scales together before starting. Tape the tang to the wood tape it down (gives you the third hand) ensuring holes for your pins are exposed.
Using the drill press and the 1/8" drill bit drill the holes through the scales for your rivets. Take a second 1/8" bit pop it in the first hole you drilled to help hold the knife in place while you drill the second hole.
Use two 1/8" bits to hold the knife in place and trace around the tang to get the outline of the handle.
Rough cut the handle using a scroll saw, leave about 1/16" outside the line, except for the front and the back of the handle. Finish shaping and sanding the front and the back of the handle, as once they are glued to the tang you will not be able to.
Tape the blade of the knife right up to where the scales are going to be glued. I always make sure the blade is covered tight to where the handle is going to start (and in this case end), as it saves a lot of time of cleaning up glue that can get on the blade, plus stops you from cutting yourself.
Using 5 minute epoxy coat one side of the knife tang, coat the end of your rivets with epoxy and put them in place, and slide the corresponding side of the handle in place, and clamp for 5 to 10 minutes. Then glue and clamp the second side.
Both scales are glued to the tang. I used my wood rasp,1X32 belt sander and disk sander, drum sanding kit on my drill press, and palm sander to shape the handle. I sanded everything down to 400 grit. I find a broken belt from my belt sander, with the knife in bench vise, helps make quick work of the finial shaping. You have to be careful not to overheat the brass in this step as it can burn the wood and glue.
Some peen the rivets, but with the rivets fluted and epoxy, they have yet to fail me.
Put at least four coats of varnish on the wood. Re-sharpen the knife and you are finished.
Tstal - This knife was inspired by the Na'vi knife from the movie Avatar, thus I have called it tstal which is Na'vi for knife. I made a sheath for it using laminated oak and wrapped it in white nylon twine.
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