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  • Writer's pictureBrandant Robinson

Progress on the Camp Knife

Well, like I mentioned at the end of my last post, I completely forgot to filework the spine of the blade before I hardened it. I thought that I could use a set of diamond files to get the job done on the hardened blade, but it was pretty futile. I spent a few minutes with the diamond files and had hardly scratched the surface. Could I have fileworked the blade with the diamond files, probably, but it would have taken two lifetimes. Ultimately, I decided to try annealing the blade, which was a huge disaster. The decarb on the blade was absolutely terrible, rendering the knife useless. The kids today I think would call that an epic fail. That's major mistake #2. Dang it! Many more to come, I'm sure.

Here's the second blade profiled and surface ground, but left unhardened at this point in the build. I've drilled and temporarily pinned the bolsters in place so I could match the bolster profiles to the blade. You can't see it in the photo, but the back ends of the bolsters have been ground at 30 degrees for a dovetail fit with the scales.

The scales have been rough profiled, drilled, and temporarily pinned to the tang using the mosaic pins and thong tube. This desert ironwood is really beautiful and wonderful to work with. I wonder why it's taken me so long to use this material?

Here's a spine view of the knife to show that dovetail fit.

After a few minutes on the grinder, the scales have been ground down to fit the tang profile.

It was about this point that I realized that I had made major mistake #3. Dang it AGAIN!!! I remembered that my friend had requested that the scales have red liners, which once added would throw off all of the aligned holes through the scales and tang. I really thought that I would have to make yet another full blade. But, to my utmost elation, I was about to work things through and not lose too much work. I didn't have to compromise the integrity of the knife either, which would have been unacceptable anyway.

In this pic, the red fiber lines have been attached to the bottom of the scales and to the dovetail area at the front. The scales to contrast very well at this point, but once the handle is finished out, they will look really nice. Adding the liners has pushed the front edge (the mating surface between the scales and bolsters) forward about a 1/16 of an inch. I was able to grind back the dovetail surface on the bolsters just right so that the fit was perfectly tight like before. Shortening the bolsters by that small amount didn't even change the looks of the knife, so, problem solved! Nice save, Brandant.

I'm not sure if I lost photos of the filework on the spine, or if I just got into the zone and didn't take any. Either way, my cell phone doesn't do closeups anyway, so not much lost there. After completing a twisted ribbon filework design down the blade spine, I went ahead and hardened the blade. Here it is after the second tempering cycle.

Here's the final pic of the weekend. The blade has been hollow ground on an 8 inch wheel. I had originally thought to leave a belt finish on the grinds, but I decided to go with a nice hand-rubbed satin finish like a do on most of my blades. So, I took the knife up to 600 grit and finished with a 1000 grit cork belt charged with green compound. The next time out in the shop I will go to the bench and do some hand sanding.

I don't know why this simple knife is causing me so much trouble, but I really struggled out in my shop this weekend. I ended up grinding the knuckles on both index finger (ouch), spilled my bucket of water all over the floor that I use for cooling the blade, and popped the top of my layout fluid off which sprayed blue dye all over my shop, my clothes, and made my hands look like I was a smurf. In spite of all that, I will not let this knife defeat me. I will prevail! At least I keep telling myself that.

Well, that's it for this week. With the Easter holiday next weekend, I probably won't make it out to my shop, but I expect to get a lot more done on this knife the following week. Thanks for following along with me on this build.

- Brandant Robinson

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