Monday, November 3, 2008

Bush Knife

I thought while I was at it with making big knives, I'd try my hand at a bush knife. I guess you could call it a machete but that makes it sound rather aggressive so I'm sticking with bush knife.

A friend kindly handed me a few lengths of HRPO (Hot-Rolled Pickled & Oiled) steel. That stuff is STRONG! I thought I'd try cutting a piece off to work with before I annealed it, and it made a mess of the cutting disc I had on my grinder.

So the design isn't really my own - I borrowed a few ideas from here and there. But I figure that I'm not making and selling these so making one for personal use shouldn't stir anyone up too much.

I wanted to have a billie hook but keep the rest of the design as simple as possible so the handle is just a paracord wrap. I say 'just' lightly though - for functionality purposes I'd take paracord over the nicest of timbers.
I've got the macho knives out of my system for now so I'll be going back to something smaller for the next post.

Bowie Knife

I've never had a bowie knife. I know they have a function (aside from looking menacing), but most of the time I don't need anything that big - and if I do, I reach for the axe.
But I wanted to try making one - I also wanted to try making a half tang knife. And the thing I learned.. is that I'll need to try harder next time. I was rushed with this one, and I think knowing that I was making it for myself, I didn't give it the attention it deserved.
So on to the details. I started out with a piece of tool steel, annealed it with the ol' blowtorch, and cut out the blank with an angle grinder, then shaped it up on the bench grinder.
The design wasn't too difficult to come up with - but given that I keep breaking steel guards when I'm trying to make them I cut up a piece of micarta and used that for the guard - that was my first mistake.
The micarta slabs I have really aren't that thick, maybe 10mm. So I had to drill the holes for the tang but leave enough space around them for the rest of the guard. To make the handle not look rediculious, I made this a similar thickness - so when I had glued everything up and got to shaping it, I ended up cutting in too deep and as you can see from the pics, ended up with a resin pommel/butt/bolster/what have you.
I also managed to overshape the micarta top the point where there is a very deep groove where the guard meets the shoulder.
Like everything in this blog, it was a learning curve - and I'm happy to learn - but I do hope I do better next time.
Oh, and before I forget - the wood is curly birch. I gave it a little brown leather stain for the colour.

Handle gluing rig

After the last knife I decided I needed something to hold the handle against the knife while the glue was setting - so I headed down to Bunnings, picked up length of threaded rod and cut it in half with the hacksaw when I got it back to the garage.
I drilled a few holes in a large piece of oregon I had sitting around and bolted the rods in place.
Then I attacked a few pieces of pine with a chisel and positioned these on the rods with nuts and washers and voilĂ  - now I don't have to cover handles in elastic bands to get them to stay still while the epoxy cures.
I tested this out with my first half tang knife. It pushed the guard and handle together nice and tight - almost too tight in fact - it took ages to the epoxy to cure.
I'm thinking I'll be using this again in the future though.

Knife for my Brother

I wanted to make a knife for my brother this time around. We both love fishing and camping so I thought a full tang camp knife would be ideal. It's the same shape as the one I made for Dad with a few variations in the design.
I gave this one a partial scandi grind and some filework along the spine. The handle is made from soapwood and ringed myall with a fibre spacer.
I was pretty happy with the way this knife turned out. It could have done with less gaps when I epoxied it and some of the pins didn't work out the way I had hoped but it's all good experience, and my brother didn't offer up any complaints. He was pretty pleased in fact.