The Longbow is a slim and recurved blade and was my try to do a bigger knife. I had complete creative control and just added an awesome handle of green stabilized poplar burl to the mix. The spine of the blade offers a thumb stop and a swage (not sharpened). The leather sheath has a pattern that symbolizes the tip of the blade being pulled out.Continue reading “Bowie: Longbow”
The Bowies I made till now were with wide recurved blade design. I like the form a lot but I saw a lot of knifemakers doing a very slim design for their Bowie blades. I also wanted to make a bigger knife to see how far I can go. The main challenge is not grinding a bigger blade into shape but the size of my forge and the containment of the heat treatment oil.
While I planned the new knife, my friend Joe asked me to make another knife for him. This time I should do it completely free as I like and put as much into the knife as I want. When working with and for Joe he always gives me complete creative freedom, but this time I also suggested the knife model. That was perfect timing.
I showed him the draft and he liked it. So I started with the project and got the shape into the steel. I was totally amazed when I held the rough blade in my hand for the first time. The ergonomy of the handle was on point. I don’t know if I have a good sense of handles or it is pure luck. But I like how I can grip the handle with the full fist or put the thumb on the back on the spine of the blade and up to the thumb stop.
I showed Joe pictures of the progress and I felt how he began to love the blade after he just liked it at first. He told me he would love to have a green handle. I had seen nice colored wood at a german online dealer for knife makers. And I showed him the exact piece of stabilized green poplar burl. That stuff looks like jade marble. He liked it and so I ordered it.
The piece of wood looked even better when you see it live – but it made me very nervous to cut the wood into halves. The knife would have a full tang so I needed two parts. I have had some problems getting perfect straight cuts on my bandsaw before. I practiced with some pieces of wood – and it went much better than expected. So I cut the stabilized wood in half and sanded it perfectly flat on a piece of sandpaper that lay flat on my workbench.
The wood left neon green wood dust everywhere – even more, when I started shaping the handle. My workshop looked like an alien landing zone with all the green stuff around. Good, I got my respirator.
As always I left the handle a bit thicker. A big knife like the Longbow needs a handle you can grip on.
The blade is polished to a mirror finish – and I don’t know why but this went pretty good this time. Usually, I have a tough time getting all the scratches out of the wood but this went pretty easy this time.
Until now I worked on one knife at a time but I always strive to find the best way for me to work on my projects. Working on one knife at a time meant, for example, to fire up the forge to heat treat just a single knife, it would be much more efficient to harden more knives at a time. Or to carve out the blanks for multiple knives at a time instead of just one and then have to switch tools and so on.
On the other hand, I want to keep the passion I put in every single project – Concentrating on the details that make every single knife unique. To make sure I do not loose this I will allow myself to jump between the projects and push on the parts of the single projects that I am most motivated in.
Currently, I have 4 knife projects in parallel active. I am working on the “Longbow” Bowie knife, another Kukri III, a new Tigershark hunting knife and the PB skinner but with a thicker blade. I started all blades at the same time but now the Longbow is finished for etching and I have a beautiful piece of stabilized wood for it here. All other blades are heat treated and ready to be cleaned up. Only the skinner is already partly ground clean from the filthy remains of the hardening oil.
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From Germany,🇩🇪 with Love.. Big Mail Call day.. I also received this Beautiful Custom made Kukri III, from my good friend and Maker, Andreas @simplyknives.. This Kukri is Flawless and Absolutely Beautiful.. Andreas is one of the most Meticulous Makers, I’ve Ever come across.. His attention to detail on this Kukri, as well as my jamzt53 Knife, is unbelievable.. What REALLY BLOWS me away, this Kukri is his 10th Knife, he has EVER MADE.. Yes, I said 10th.. Knife making is his True Labor of Love and I can’t say enough, just how happy I am, with this Gorgeous Kukri.. Thank You my friend, Thank You..🇩🇪🗡⚔️🔪🤙🏼🙏🏻🇺🇸
For a long time, I had a picture in my mind of a hunting knife with a constant flowing line from the tip of the blade to the heel of the handle. A simple but appealing knife form that also serves perfectly as an EDC.
My first design was quickly drafted on the PC, but when it comes to dimensions and proportions a desktop screen is not the best solution so I always print it on paper and cut it out – and oh boy that blade was too big for an EDC. So I shortened my design and brought that onto the steel blank.
I asked my younger son (10) what would be a nice name for a blade and he made some suggestions. One was “Hai”, English “Shark” and I thought about the Serpent Wood I had in mind for the handle and with those stripes could be tiger stripes – so I said “Tigerhai”, English Tigershark and we agreed.
I learned a lot while making this blade. One goal was to try to do as many steps as possible on the belt grinder instead of lengthy hand sanding. The mistake was, that I went too far using a rough 40 grit belt while shaping the bevels so I ended up with a thin blade with still deep scratches. I managed to grind out most of them then went to etch my maker’s mark and the “Tigershark” logo into the blade. First of all the logo had too wide letters – this makes it harder to get a consistent and clean etching. I ran into a second problem because I had etched too early and while cleaning up the surface of the blade ground out too much of the etching.
I have had problems with the micarta liners while gluing the layers directly to the wood. The wood soaks up the epoxy and starts bending, then the epoxy gets dry and the wood stays bent. It is close to impossible to bend back the handle scales – I tried that. This time I made the Micarta liners separately and then drilled and glued steel, Micarta liners, and wood together in one step. Also, I used screw clamps for more pressure than simple clamps and that did the trick to get a perfect flat connection between steel and handle scales.
Feedback I got
A friend of mine is a professional hunter and I did not know he is also a passionate collector of knives and he did not know rom me that I am a passionate maker of knives. He got very interested in my work and i showed him around in my small workshop.
He liked the Tigershark a lot and gave me some good tips on how I could improve the knife, especially the handle I was shaping at that time. I was able to let his suggestions influence the final shape of the knife and he and I like the final result.
I like the blade shape and the look of the wood and will take this design into my repertoire of blades I will continue to make. This knife has its flaws so I am not sure if I will keep it for my own or just wait for an offer that I like. Either way, I will make a sheath for it later.
Until now I used a sharp scalpel to cut the leather when making knife sheaths. The disadvantage is that the thin blade snaps pretty easily, especially when forcing the tip of the scalpel around sharp corners.
I thought about buying a half or quarter moon knife (leather round knife) for my work and searched how they are used and what the advantages are.
And then I recalled: hell, I am a knifemaker, why don’t I design and make myself a leather knife. So I put some design on paper. I wanted a sharp point on one end of the blade and a circular part of the blade to do rolling cuts and a part of the blade should be suitable for pulling cuts.
Most important would be that this knife is stupid sharp so it would be as good cutting leather as my scalpel does.
I had so much success with my knife projects so far and not so many failures, that I completely underestimated how hard it is to grind the bevels of such a complicated blade. I guess it is not impossible but this knife is no beauty after all. I ended up doing a convex grind for primary and secondary bevel as this helps even out the grinding mistakes. It is difficult to have a consistent angle all around the edge and even harder not to grind into other parts of the blade while concentrating on another. So I consider this grind as my first real failure in regards to beauty. Sharpening went just fine and I have a razor-sharp edge.
I chose some beech wood for the handle, which I had sawn and dried some time ago. The wood is sufficiently hard and cheap for a prototype tool. I glued the Wood directly to the steel without any micarta liners – something I did never do before, too. But in the end, it looks like a useable tool knife and the first cutting tests are very promising.
I like the forms and styles that have a character. I like designs that are remembered. I like unique blade designs that give new opportunities. I am still developing my own personal style but some things drive me when designing a new knife.
Even the most meticulously made blades I make should be practical to use and durable. I am not making “Show-Only” knives that only look good hanging at the wall. I like recurved designs and blades with lots of character. I like doing crossover designs that combine two well-known styles into something new or combine old and modern styles. I like the blade to have a weight and when in doubt I tend to use thicker steel. Currently, I am addicted to carbon steel and love the knives getting character and develop a patina, a personality. I love tools and knives that have to be cared for like a gun, cleaned and oiled. It is like getting into a relationship with a knife as a companion.
The handles must feel ergonomic and comfy in the owner’s hand. Soft to the touch but robust hand tough when in heavy use. But he still should feel the knife, the weight and the capabilities of the blade. I want the handle to give a level of safety and confidence to the owner. The form should always serve a purpose. The thick heels of many of my knife handles give a good feeling that you have a secure grip while hacking with the blade or doing pulling cuts. Finger guards save the owner from slipping into the sharp edge. The form even should provide good handling when just picking the knife up with two fingers.
What applies to blades and handles also applies to the sheaths. They serve a purpose and that is a practical one. They are not only for show, but they should also be practical. They should protect the owner from cutting himself and most of all should be perfect for carrying the knife. I also like to go new ways of designing my sheaths to suit my knife designs perfectly. I like using thicker leather to have a robust product with years and years of use for the owner. I treat the sheaths with dye and a leather fat normally used for outdoor boots to protect the leather.
As the above is important to me I also added it to my About page.
I made the Kengata Santoku Chefs Knife for my mother this year and later a Petty Knife for her birthday too. She loves the knives because they are handy and extremely sharp. She handles them with much care and oils them after every use. But she had no good place to store them.
So my father made her a primitive knife sheath out of some scrap leather he had lying around. He just folded it around the spine of the blade and roughly sewed it shut with a thick nylon thread below the edge. I just finished my third knife sheath but sorry dad, this thing looked like crap 😉
My first impulse was to make two more leather sheaths but hey, these are Japanese style kitchen knives and did I do a Saya yet? No? So it was about time!
A Saya (the Japanese word for Scabbard) is a wooden knife (or better sword) sheath that I had seen made for kitchen knives too. So my chance to try out making one (or two) had come.
I wanted to start from real basic and cut the wood out of some piece of firewood I keep in my garage for our oven. I also decided to do Sayas for both knives, the Kengata Santoku, and the Furutsu. So I cut two thick boards.
Each Board I cut in three layers with the outer of equal thickness and the inner as thin as possible, about 0,5 cm. On the inner board, I drew the outline of the blade and cut this out. So I had a wooden frame that fits exactly around the blade of the knife. This frame I glued to one side of the other boards again. Before I used the frame as a stencil to draw the shape of the blade on top of the board that would be a side element. The outline would be needed later.
After the glue had dried I put a strong neodymium magnet in at the tip of where the blade would end and then I cut away some millimeters of the thickness of the frame on the band saw before I used the belt grinder to thin down the frame close to the 2 millimeters of the blade thickness. I drilled a 5-millimeter hole through one side. After I evened out the frame side and the remaining board I glued them together as well.
As I had the outline of the frame on one side of the glued up sandwich I added about a cm to the outline and cut that out on the bandsaw. The rest was grinding everything in shape on the belt grinder.
Just when grinding the Sayas to a finer grain I noticed that I accidentally used two different types of wood.
After doing all the leatherwork for the knives of my friends and family and having my Bowie Knife on my table in front of me I felt it was about time to do something for my knife too.
These projects I do for myself are the best chance to try out more things and take higher risks just because if I fail it is just my decision if I am happy with the result anyway or if I have to start over and have all the time for doing so.
I don’t want to dive too deep in the steps of making the sheath, as they are the same as on the other knives before. Most complicated about this type of sheaths I make is the order of the steps – when to dye, when to stitch what, when to glue and when to polish. I lately got a routine so I do not have to overthink the whole process every time.
I wanted to try out doing some leather carving where precision really counts just to check the limits. As this would be a sheath for my knife I chose my initials “AB” for the front and some leather punches for the back.
The biggest failure on this project was, that the secondary strap, that closes the open part of the sheath at the spine of the blade, was on the wrong side of the body of the sheath. I just made a mistake while designing the form and cutting it out mirrored. I have made a virtue of necessity and cut it off in favor of a separate strap that I sewed on the back of the sheath together with the belt loop.
As I said on the last post about the sheath for the knife of my brother I liked the result of the decorative stitching and on this new project wanted to take it a step further. I lined every strap and the belt loop with a stitching line that only serves for decorative purposes. What I also wanted to try was using a really white thread to put more contrast on the sheath between the black dye and white stitching. And yes I wanted to dye the sheath black like on the Kukri III.
As if working with steel and wood is not enough I had to learn to work with leather to make appropriate sheaths for my knives. That also means I have to go back and make some sheaths for the knives I already made and as I needed a gift for my brother’s birthday what might be better than making a sheath for him first?
This time I wanted to do some custom carving on the front and I designed some snake/tattoo/tribal style ornaments on my computer. What really worked well was to scan the paper stencil I made for cutting out the paper and use that as a backdrop to get a feeling for the size and what will be visible. As I like to carve in the outside of the blade on the leather there is even less space.
After the black dyed leather of the Kukri III, I decided to go with a dark brown dye on this one. As a contrasting color for the stitching, I chose the very light brown thread again.
The next new thing was some decorative stitching on the sides of the belt loop. It came out perfectly on the brown leather and in the end, I regretted did not do it on the other straps too – next time I will do.
As the blade of the recurved bowie, just like the Kukri, gets wider at the tip of the blade I had to do a folded design again for the sheath, that is open on the straight part of the spine of the blade. There are lots of details to think about when doing such a design but I am happy with the results
What happens is, that if I learn new things this raises the standard I expect of any of my projects and they get more complex. But the final result is always worth it and I like working with leather as much as with wood and steel.