The L.T. Wright GNS and I have some history. It was my first LTWK, and also the first knife any maker or manufacturer sent me for review here at TTAK, and now I can add another verse to the David C. Andersen-GNS saga.
This past weekend I attended the Intermediate Knifemaking class at L.T.’s shop, having taken the Beginner’s Class this past spring.
In the Beginner’s course we made a “Class Knife;” a pattern exclusive to attending students and we learned how to do a flat grind, heat treat O1 steel, pin handle scales and perform simple handle shaping and finishing.
The Intermediate class raised the difficulty level. The knife we built was a GNS pattern. For this blade we learned how to do a scandi grind, makes scales with liners, attach them with bolts rather than pins, and execute a contoured handle profile.
Versus the first class I took, there was far less trepidation this time around and that confidence made this class even more enjoyable. Not that my skills were that much better (although I have been doing some rudimentary knifemaking with my Ken Onion Worksharp with Blade Grinding Attachment) but because this was no longer my first time approaching a knife grinder.
Day one was smooth. We ground the knives and then got to pick out our handle scale material. I went with snakeskin micarta over red liners for mine. After we did all our countersinking for the bolts, we fit everything together, epoxied them up and clamped them to cure overnight.
We had plenty of time leftover so we got to do some more practice grinding, as well as getting to practice the handle shaping we would do on the next day using some readied knives they had on hand.
Day two was spent entirely on handle shaping. Due to the contour and palm swell on the GNS, these knives required much more finesse than our Class Knives and the practice the day before was much appreciated.
I am rather pleased with the way mine turned out. I was able to leave the scales nice and fat and worked the palm swell into the inverted egg cross section that I have been grooving on lately. I also executed my favorite mod to this knife by adding thumb scallops, which completely change the character of the GNS for finer work.
All in all, this GNS will go down in my collection as the most comfortable woodcarving/bushcraft knife I own. Putting it together has made me fall in love with the pattern all over again.
The snakeskin and red turned out great too! This is easily one of my favorite handle materials. With an off white base and darker flecks scattered throughout, you get all the advantages of micarta with a warmth that is similar to bone or a lighter wood tone. The red pops nicely against it.
The things I learned are going to be very helpful to me as I start to do more prototyping of my Nordsmith designs myself, rather than having them made for me. I’ve recently acquired a knife grinder and am looking forward to applying my new skills. Since LTWK are building my Nordsmith Knives, knowing their procedures and techniques is all the more useful as I design my blades.
LTWK offers a few classes throughout the year. Although the Pout House gets first crack at the available spots, they do advertise them on their Facebook page. I highly recommend that if you are able to attend, do it. Not only will you walk away with a knife that you made, you will also get the tour of L.T.’s basement – the original location of Blind Horse Knives and the place he got his start as a knifemaker – and you will make some new and fast friends in the process!