Tilted Earth – Making the Knife – Part 1 – Getting ready for heat-treat.

My Webmaster – Kurt really strongly suggested that I do this as a “blog” post.  I wanted it as a page instead but he turned out to be right.  At least WordPress makes it easy to change between the two.  This series will be a photo intensive journey into making the Tilted Earth Donation Knife.

This project is very special to me.  The winery is a place that Annette and I consider our retreat, our sanctuary.  The people there treat us like family and welcome us.  Last year, after Annette and I attended the Tilted Earth Festival, I knew that I needed to contribute.  I wanted a piece that was as unique and meaningful as Page Springs is to Annette and I.  I spent several weeks designing and perfecting this design in my mind, then drawing it on cocktail napkins for Annette to laugh at, to critique and then to finally say “wow, that’s it!”.  Then, I drew it on a napkin for Paul one day in the tasting room.  He grasped it and said “wow, that’s it”.  My idea involved Arizona materials that no one else had access to.  Arizona Oak that had been aging some of Arizona, and the US’s finest wines.  Rocks… stones…. minerals that only Arizona can produce.  A design that reflected the very essence of the event; the tilt of the earth.  The tilting earth gives us our seasons; it gives us the changes that bring character to our fruits and body to the wine we enjoy.  So I started with the core of the knife.  The steel makes up the heart and soul of the knife.  Great steel makes a great knife.  I use ATS-34; a steel that was developed for jet-turbine fan blades and adapted to the cutlery industry.

First, I cut the knife from a piece of bar-stock.

cutting from barstock

Next,  I get it ready for layout. I draw all my designs first on a piece of paper, revising until I am happy with the result. I transfer it from the paper to a piece of PVC paper – a more permanent model for possible future use.  I transfer from the PVC paper to the steel using machinist layout dial dye, and a carbide scribe.  I mark all my steel this way instead of just freehand cutting.  I feel like this does the best job of transfering my ideas to a finished product.

Spraying with layout dye

After I have sprayed the steel and let it dry, Then I scribe the design into the steel.

scribing the steel

After the design is scribed, the metal removal process begins, and the knife starts to come to life.  For this process, I use a Burr-King 2×72 grinder.

Shaping 1 shaping 4 Shaping 3 Shaping 2

After the knife is shaped, then it is time to do the initial hollow grind. First, we need to mark the width of the blade using a blade marker.  This gives me a desired thickness so that I do not make the blade too thin.

Edge marking layout dye Edge marker edge mark

Next, we do the hollow-grind which gives us the cutting edge.  The grind is blind.  You work by faith.  You have to learn to watch your lines and understand what the grinder is doing in relation to your angle.

Hollowgrind 3 Hollowgrind 1


Then you have completed the grind.

Hollowgrind 6_complete

Now we just drill holes for the handle and it is time for heat-treat.

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