The knife has come back from Heat-Treat and it is time to get to work. First, we are going to taper the tang. This is a full length exposed tang knife. This just means that the blade runs all the way through the handle and can be seen all around it. Tapering the tang reduces weight and helps add balance, while maintain the strength.
As you can see, the blade is darkened from the heat treat and very rough. It is time to “make it pretty”. This knife will have a mirror finish. Many of the steps are the same wither the knife has a mirror finish or a satin finish. Several grits of abrasive are used to polish any type of metal, starting from rough and moving to smooth. Really, the process of polishing is just making smaller and smaller scratches. There are some that rely on a buffer to smooth the finish. A buffer is a final step, but if it is used to much, it will remove the sharp grind lines that set-off a knife. I start with 60 grit, and for a mirror finish, work my way to 3000 grit.
Step 1: Begin the mirror finish process by “side-plating”. This is putting the mirror finish on the bulk of the blade – everywhere but on the hollow-grind.
As you can see, there is a dramatic difference between the start and the finish.
Step 2: Next I am going to layout what I am going to do. I like to draw it onto the knife, even though I have drawn it out on paper and on stencils. When I see it drawn, I know how it is going to work.
The next few pictures shows the evolution of the bolsters.
Next we add the middle Nickle accents. These are peened in place like the bolsters. The tolerances are VERY tight. To get exact sizes on the spacers, they were cut on a mill. The pins used to hold the accents were 3/32″ diameter, and the width of the spacers was 3/16″ leaving only 3/32 total +/- variance.
Next we start fitting the wood an turquoise. On a side note here, you may have noticed magazines opened under the knife in the pictures. The magazines are TRAPSHOOTINGUSA and CLAYSHOOTINGUSA. Great magazines. Big thick beautiful magazines with great articles, good reporting and stories, and thick large-format pages. I use these so that any glue or mess gets on a something easily and cheaply disposable. A big plus is to have the paper thick enough that glues wont soak through them These magazines are perfect. And because there are multi page magazines, I just tear out a dirty page and have a new one ready. And I get to revisit all the old articles and ads that I like.
Back to the handle fitting. Each piece of the handle is individually hand sized and fitted
After I have the fit I like, then I pin and glue them in. I have found that with knives with many pieces like this, it helps to do it in stages (53 individual pieces in the knife alone).
After the glue has set (24 hours), then I work the rock. i start by marking it out on the rock to prepare for cuts on the rock saw.
Then shape each piece to fit. The goop lying around is water and rock dust mixed. To keep the heat from shattering the rock, and the dust from filling your lungs, I run water on the materiel while I shape it.
After it is fit, it is glues in place. and ready to rough grind
Ready for some 22o and 400 grit.
After the 220 and the 400, then it hits the buffer.
Then we polish the hollow grind using successive finer grits, finishing with a 3000 grit and then the buffer.
And the last step for the knife is adding the makers mark. I use an electro-chemical process which marks into the blade about .003″.
And the knife is complete and ready for us to create the stand.