Sunday, July 30, 2006

I just have to say a few words about the gadget and gear forum The guy who started and owns the board, Jon S. Burlison, is just a total class act. He is a very bright and generous person who I have spoken to a few times on the phone and exchanged quite a few emails and messages. Jon is full of cool ideas and really has his head on straight as far as I can see. Recently I tried to send him some funds in support of the forums and he called me to tell me that he was returning the funds, that he felt I had already done alot to support the forums and get it going. Then he followed that with an order for my gear. Wow. Hat's off to you Jon! :)

I also have to thank Monica for a great job in maintaining the forums and the other great moderators such as Karen, Heath, Todd, Bravo 25 and probably others that I am forgetting. You guys are just great! I would also be remiss if I didn't mention a few of the wonderful members such as GG, DH, Knightrider, TKC, KMCrawford, M Tex, Joe G., Badgerboy, Stillphoto, Jem, Simbad, Colby and many many others. Every board needs a bunch of hardcore regulars to keep it going.

What I really like about the edcforums crowd is that the group is very diverse and that helps give a fresh perspective on things. Since the board isn't focussed primarily on just one thing such as knives or guns as most other boards are, it allows for a lot more discussion on other pieces of gear, general carry methods and day to day strategies for preparedness. And it tends to bring in a lot more of the flashlight and techie folks into the usual mix which I think really adds a nice dimension to the discussions.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Damascus #2

Here was piece #2 from the batch below. Man, I love that Odin's Eye!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Elements of Design

There is a rule of thumb in the knife and tool world that when you are about to make something that might be close to someone else's design that you contact the other maker out of courtesy and ask if the design or even elements of the design are too close to theirs. I have done this with other makers and people have come to me and shown the same courtesy. It is the polite and respectful way to go about it.

Usually the concern is nothing to get excited about and the prospective maker was being a little too sensitive and overreacting to a specific element that they thought was similar to the original. Often there is no cause for concern and the original maker gives their blessing and seal of approval to carry on. But if something does prove to be a little too close then the parties have a chance to work out the differences and avoid public embarassment and confrontations.

Recently I came upon an instance where there was a disagreement but we have resolved our differences to the satisfaction of both parties. Lessons learned on both sides and we're both the better for it. :)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Damasteel Mini

Hey, remember the Odin's Eye Damasteel pieces I had shown below? Here's how the first piece came out, the Mini:

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Peek in the Oven

A peek in the oven. Temp was at about 1700F. on it's way to 1950F.

After Heat Treat

Here are some pieces after heat treat. You can see the thin scale and discoloration. After bead blasting these will become a uniform gray in appearance.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

What's for Dinner?

Or I should say, what's in the oven? :)

It's finally not as hot and humid today so I'm running the heat treat oven. Managed to scramble the last couple of days and got a lot of stuff done. In this load are a couple of Son of PryThings, some Mini Prybaby® XLs, some Prybaby® with spanner XLs, some Imps, a few Micro Bug Out Bars and a few regular Bug Out Bars, some tanto Goblins, the damascus goodies that I wrote about and photographed below and last but not least some wharncliffe Boogers. Not a particularly big load for the kiln but enough to keep me busy afterwards for quite a while.

Heat treat temperature has to go up to 1950F. and be held for approximately 30 minutes, then the pieces are removed and either press quenched between aluminum blocks or set onto thick metal plates (in the case of the Prybaby® pieces) to air quench.

I usually squeeze quite a few packets of tools into the heat treat oven, two pieces per packet. I have had as many as 90 pieces in a single load if they are small and compact. This load has 68 in all and represents more than a week of work to prepare. The packets are made of heavy stainless steel foil that has been folded and creased over a couple of times. The idea is to exclude air but at the same time not so tight as to completely remove the air space around the parts. I have found I get less scale forming if the packets are left a little on the roomy side. This will translate into less work after the heat treat to clean up the little bit of surface scale which inevitably forms to some degree. The commercial guys don't get this problem because they heat treat in a vacuum environment in their special ovens.

Once the heat cycle is complete, the pieces are pulled and they are allowed to cool down to room temperature. At the same time the oven will be cooling down and when it reaches the 650 degree range I will put everything back in for the two tempering cycles. Each cyle is 2 hours and I let the oven cool back down to room temperature in between cycles. I leave everything in the packets for tempering as that covering continues to protect against scale formation.

One exception is the damascus. It has been double wrapped with two pieces of foil, a packet within a packet. This really helps to cut down on scale and I do it on special pieces. After heat treat the packets containing the damascus pieces are put back into a cooler oven for the tempering, usually around 350F. for about an hour. Once completed I can proceed to finish sand and etch the pieces.

The other exception is with the CPM 3V tools, which are the prybars and the Imp knives. They will go through two more cycles at 950F.

After all the heat treat tasks have been completed I can move on to blasting and finishing. Then will come sheaths for the knives and cord wrap for the prytools. The spannerbabies will go back in the oven after blasting for a final heat coloring tempering cycle at the same 600F. temperature for 30 minutes or so. Then they can be tiger striped.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Back Up and Running

Got the controller all squared away and running. Three cheers for Rob Frink, he's just great! :) Now my grinder is making a little noise on start up that I think might be one of the bearings. Won't be too bad of a fix if it turns out to be a problem but I am headed to the hardware store for a refill on my grease gun tomorrow and hopefully a little lubrication is all it needs.

Working on another load of stuff for heat treat. Boogers of all kinds, more Mini XLs and hopefully some Imps. It's rather hot and humid in the shop right now and progress seems painfully slow but I'm determined to get a bunch done this weekend. Looks like next week will not be as productive due to some unforeseen family obligations so I have to strike while the iron (and the titanium) is hot.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

You've Got to Be Kidding Me

Those were the words that came out of my mouth followed by some choice expletives yesterday as I flipped the switch on my grinder. I have a variable speed controller for the 2 horse Leeson motor and for some reason it up and died on me just as I was about to sharpen a knife. I flipped the switch and nothing happened. No lights on the unit to indicate that it was getting power. I checked the circuit breaker, got out the multimeter and checked the outlet and it had power. So apparently it just stopped working. May have been due to a power surge or something as we were having some violent weather in the region yesterday.

Anyway, I got on the phone with Rob Frink at Beaumont Metal Works and explained the problem. For anyone who does not know, Rob is an outstanding businessman and he makes what is arguably one of the finest belt grinders that there is, the mighty KMG. Rob walked me through a few diagnostics and concluded that the problem was not something that could be determined over the phone.

The upshot is I will have the new unit overnight FedExed to me and then will send the present one in for repair. The unexpected outlay of $500 and some odd dollars was not entirely welcome but I cannot afford to be without a grinder for more than a day or two. I have a second more modest machine, a Coote that I purchased secondhand this past winter but it isn't hooked up to a motor yet. Now it looks like I will end up with a second variable speed controller so all I need for it is a motor and I will be styling with two variable speed machines! The Coote takes a smaller belt though so it is limited as far as function but still nice to have a backup machine. And worse comes to worse I can always swap controllers if need be.

Ah well, such is life. :)

Monday, July 10, 2006

Been Quiet Around Here

Hello everyone, sorry for the long absence. I've been up to my eyeballs with alligators as the saying goes. Just spent the weekend cranking out some basic stock. Mini Prybabies®, Spanners, Keytons and such. Have to cover the basics first before getting back to new knives. My plan is get my basics replenished so I can get things turned back on on the site.

I'm hoping to start some new pointy stabby things later this week. Might take off for a mid week overnight getaway with my wife up to Burlington on Tuesday but not sure yet. We'll see how we feel and how the weather is going to be. That is one of the cool things about being self employed, although I often work through the weekend I can sometimes make time when I need it.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Start at the Bottom

See the sequence of making these pieces by scrolling down the page. Then work your way back up.

What's Next?

I will continue this series in the next day or two and show how these pieces evolve. They have already come a long way but there is still tons to do on them. I have left them with a 180 grit finish which will have to be much finer. I still have to debur the edges, grind the main bevels on the Drop Point Booger and the Nano Card. The V notch has to be milled on the mini Prybaby®. I have to stamp my name and then do a final once over before they can go into heat treat. The steel is Odin's Eye Damasteel. After heat treat there will be a further cleanup process then sheath making, then etching and finally sharpening.

Cleanup on the Flats


Now for the Drilling

Ahh yes,

How about a micro kiridashi kind of thing? Back to the grinder to change the shape a bit. Then I proceed to drill my marks with a #2 combination drill/countersink to get the holes started.

Still Debating...

..what exactly to do with the piece marked with a ?. I'll figure out something. In the meantime I measure out and mark the hole locations with a nice automatic Starrett centerpunch.

Next Steps

So we've got the rough pieces cut out. Next is profile time with a worn 80 grit belt.

How About a Set?

This is how it starts...... :)

Sunday, July 02, 2006

That Frightened Look

It never fails to amuse me.

I'll be lying in bed reading a book and unwinding after a long day, sipping a beer or a cup of tea when suddenly a new idea pops into my head. It might be something that I have been thinking about for weeks or even months or it may be something entirely new. Whatever it is, I usually mull it over for awhile before turning to my wife and asking, "You know what would be really cool?"

That's when it appears, that frightened look. Because she knows I'm about to come out with something that will at first sound utterly ridiculous, at least to her. She always fights me on these things. I'll explain it to her and she'll come up with 25 reasons why it sounds stupid or why it won't work. To be fair, she does occasionally murmur her approval but generally her first worry is that I'm about to spend time and money on materials and such for something that will prove to be a total dud.

I mean, she thought the Prybaby® was the dumbest idea she'd ever heard of. Who would want one of those and why on earth would they pay money for it? I'm still gloating over the crow that she continues to eat over that one.

Truth be told, I tend to enjoy these kinds of challenges. I will admit that sometimes she's right and I take her words seriously especially is she has a compelling argument against it. She has killed more than a few budding projects with her excellent powers of logic and analysis. It's usually with ideas where she has a good grasp of the issues involved. The Paint Goblet was a case in point or Catnip Cologne, two whacky ideas that might actually have worked had they not contained certain fatal flaws.

But with tool projects I am almost always the prevailer and besides, she knows that no matter what she says if I think it is worth doing I will just go ahead and do it anyway regardless of her opinion. So far I've got a pretty good track record I think...

So last night I was reading an interesting book, "American Green", about American's obsession with their lawns, when I started mulling over an old idea that keeps popping back up again. I thought about it for a few minutes, added a few new features and then came out with it. She shot it down immediately. The idea was a for a new kind of rescue tool sort of thing but she came up with some good arguments against it so I moved on to Plan B, a second and totally unrelated tool which I am not at liberty to divulge just yet. She roared with laughter at that one and shook her head instead of just arguing against it but I stubbornly stuck to my guns.

I will never admit defeat! :)