Back in the Saddle
I got looking at my last blog post made clear back in May of last year. Has it really been that long? I got caught up in some major home renovation projects last year and I also just needed to take a break from knife making for a while. The renovation projects continue (those who own a home know that it never ends), but it's time to get back out in the shop and do what I love to do.
I was commissioned by a friend of mine to build him a Bobcat knife. He had a beautiful piece of maple burl that he wanted me to use for the scales, but other than that, he gave me full license to do whatever I wanted with the build. He wanted a knife that was a little bigger than my standard Bobcat, so I scaled it up to a full 3 inch blade. Here's a look at the build so far after a few weekend's worth of time in the shop.
This knife needs to be something special. As you can see in the photo above, those scales are pretty incredible. I've been saving this piece of Dragon Skin Damascus from Bertie Rietveld for the right knife, and the way that it compliments the texture of the maple burl closed the deal.
Raw materials ready to go. Dragon Skin Damascus blade, maple burl scales, zirconium bolsters, titanium liners, and 416 stainless steel spacer.
Here are the main parts cut out to rough shape.
A lot of worked happened between this photo and the last. Lots of grinding, shaping, drilling and tapping. This knife gets the full treatment with dovetailed bolsters and hidden screws. You can see the steel plugs that are fastened into the back sides of the bolsters. This gives me something solid to tap threads into for the hidden screws.
Here is the first fit up of the handles with the bolsters and scales screwed onto the liners with hidden hardware. Even at this stage it looks sleek and clean without the visible screws. I'm liking it.
The handles have been fully profiled and the faces ground flat. I really love the looks of this burl. Once those bolsters are colored black, that burl will pop even more.
Here is the first full assembly of the knife. Looking good!
Even looks great closed, which, in my opinion, is a must.
It's hard to tell from the angle of this photo, but the knife handle has been ground and contoured to its final shape. From here it's on to the buffer for a mirror polish on the bolsters.
Time to start applying finish to the scales. I really like to use Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil on natural wood handles. Even though these scales have been stabilized, it really soaks in and brings the beauty of the wood to life. I'll apply 3 to 4 coats of oil, letting it soak in and dry between applications. Thicker handles require more coats, but since these scales are so thin, I can get away with fewer and still get the deep luster I'm looking for.
Time to turn my attention to grinding the bevels on the blade. Here I'm about halfway through the grinding process and you can already see the beautiful pattern of the Dragon Skin showing through, even before it's etched.
Mirror polish achieved. You can still see the pattern in the steel. I can't wait to see what it looks like once the blade is etched. It should look pretty amazing.
I still have lots of work left to do, but I'm very happy with the progress. This coming weekend I hope to get this knife near completion. Should be a real showstopper when It's all done. Thanks for checking in and following along with me on this new build.
- Brandant Robinson