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  • Writer's pictureBrandant Robinson

Let's Build a Camp Knife

Looks like the Talon knife will be waiting a little longer as I've received another custom order that bumped it down the list again. I don't think I'll ever get that Talon done. Oh well, such is life. This new knife breaks a few of my custom order rules, but it's for a personal friend of mine. I'll be making him a camp-style knife that should be good for almost any chore that is thrown its way. Here are the first few steps of the build.

Here is the stack of raw materials from which the knife will be made. O-1 tool steel will be used for the blade which is a tried and true old favorite. The bolsters will be fashioned from 416 stainless steel and pinned to the blade with 416 pins. The scales will be desert ironwood which are currently on order and will be backed with red fiber liners. The scales will be attached using two mosaic pins and a lanyard tube. This should be a really special knife. I spent some time at the mill thinning out the O-1 and 416 stock to the right thickness.

The blade has been profiled and surface ground down to 1/8".

The bolsters have been profiled and the back sides are being lapped so that they are perfectly flat, making the joint between bolsters and tang seamless.

I didn't have any stainless tubing in my shop, but I did have a rod of 440C steel that I had purchased for a future project. So, I got to play a little with my lathe to turn a lanyard tube. Here I am drilling out the inside diameter to 1/4".

This rod was too thick for the lanyard tube, so here I am turning the outside diameter down to 5/16".

One custom-made 440C steel lanyard tube ready to go.

The remainder of my limited shop time was used to get the blade hardened. I did drill the pin and lanyard holes before hardening the blade since it's impossible to do so after hardening without using carbide bits. I also drilled a few extra holes to lighten the tang for a better balanced knife. Since the blade is only 1/8" thick, not a lot of "lightening" is required.

I decided to test the blade hardness before going into the temper, just to make sure that the quench went as expected. HRC64, nothing to worry about here. The blade will now go into a couple of tempering cycles to bring the hardness down to around 59-60 which is the target range for this steel for the given application.

Next week should be dedicated to grinding the bevels and working on the handle. I did just realize that I had promised my friend some filework on the spine of this knife. I sure wish I had remembered that before I hardened the blade. Mistake #1 of this build I guess; many more to follow. Oh well, that's what diamond files are for I suppose. Thanks for following along with me on this build. Until next time, have a great week.

- Brandant Robinson

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