Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending an Advanced Knifemaking class at L.T. Wright’s shop. I’ve already covered the Beginner and Intermediate classes on these pages, so rather than rehash the narrative, I hope you’ll enjoy these progress and finished photos of the blade I built at the class.
First step of course is cutting the pattern out of the steel. We are using 1095 in this case. Blade will wind up being a bit under four inches.
Here is the profile cleaned up and holes drilled for pins and lightening.
Stamping out initials into the blade. Trying to keep all three lined up was challenging.
Here it is after putting a full flat grind onto the blade. Don’t mind the extra practice initials in the handle area 😀
We also learned how to do vine filework. This can all be done with hand tools, but we used a 3/8″ diameter wheel on the grinder to do the large curves and a small triangular file to do the “thorns” of the vine.
Now the part where it turns from a knife shaped piece of steel into an actual knife: heat treated by hand with an oxyacetylene torch.
Here it is post heat treat after some freehand grinding with finer grits to clean things up. I’ve never had the steadiest hands so this was the part that I was most nervous about, but by taking it slow and practicing on another junk blade first it actually came out quite nice.
We learned how to do a dovetailed brass bolster for this knife. Here is my piece of brass for the rough fit – drilled, trimmed down, and the front shaped and polished.
And here is the end result. The angle has been ground in, the pins peened and the sides cleaned up. This is now permanently attached and ready to receive the handle material. It is still amazing to me that the brass pins disappear completely at this stage, provided you’ve peened them properly.
Here is the scale material I picked out – a lovely blue-dyed curly maple. We also used a black paper liner that we actually wrapped around the dovetail joint.
The matching angle has been ground into the wood. Checking for fit before proceeding.
Here the scales have been trimmed and drilled with the paper liner in place. You can see it poking out between the bolster and the wood. Now it is ready to insert the mosaic pins and the lanyard and then glue everything up.
Here is a shot after the epoxy has cured. We mixed black dye in with the epoxy. Combined with the black paper liner, this helped create a perfect black line between the scale materials. If there were any minor irregularities, this can actually help hide them (within reason of course… you still have to be very close).
Before handle shaping we had to clean everything up and grind it square. Getting to the home stretch now!
Handle shaping is a bit simpler on this knife than on the Intermediate Class GNS. You can see the paper liner really well in this shot.
Things are left mostly rectangular, breaking over the edges and putting a slight radius on the “flat” of the scales. Starting to really look like a knife now!
Almost there! Just need to sand to a few finer grits, polish the handles and put an edge on it and the knife will be done.
Here you can see the dovetail joint with the paper liner.
Close up of the handle. I really like the way the blue maple turned out. I like the lighter patch on this side that held the dye a little differently than the surrounding area.
The filework cleaned up really nicely too. I was not too enthusiastic about my results at first but once we got things cleaned up it turned out better than I expected it to.
Here it is with the rest of my LTWK Class Knives. Before I took the Beginner’s Class with L.T. I had never made a knife before, and thanks to his training I have a pretty solid footing now.
I have been rounding out my shop at home and have been able to practice in between classes and each knife I’ve made so far has been a little better than the last.
I still haven’t turned out a “perfect” knife at home (who has?), but I’m at the point where I no longer need to pay others to make prototypes for my Nordsmith Knives company. Being able to do this in house has helped my design process immeasurably, and since L.T. makes the knives I sell under my Nordsmith brand, getting to know the way they do things has been extra helpful. Beyond that, it has been very fun!
So my recommendation if you have even a passing interest in knifemaking is get out there and take a class! I can certainly recommend L.T.’s events, but there are plenty of others willing to teach.