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WIPstagram - American Tanto progress

Discussion in 'Hammer & Tongs' started by Erin Burke, Jan 28, 2015.

  1. Erin Burke

    Erin Burke KnifeMaker...ish

    May 19, 2003
    I think that THIS is it. There are probably better options out there... and this guy is a bit expensive for what it does.
  2. stezann


    Apr 13, 2011
    It is the new magic dremel mandrel ;) it is very neat, whenever possible i choose wheels and buffs that use it instead of the screw ones.

    Erin your wips are among the best ones!!
  3. Lo/Rez


    Feb 10, 2013
    This is pretty cool. Thanks.
  4. Mecha

    Mecha Madscienceforge.com Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 27, 2013
    Nice work on those hilt parts! :] Copper really is beautiful.
  5. Erin Burke

    Erin Burke KnifeMaker...ish

    May 19, 2003
    Hey, thanks Lo & Mecha... I hope to keep this thread interesting and enjoyable.

    PHOTO 45 (Frame)

    I selected a block of stabilized Karelian Birch (from Mark at Burl Source) for the handle because I think it will look good with the copper and the black frame & wrap. Mark had quite a bit of this wood for sale a few years back… I bought three blocks, but wish I had gotten more. It’s one of those woods that looks OK in pictures, but is way more attractive in-hand. Karelian Birch doesn’t really have any chatoyance, but has this odd-but-cool butterscotch feel in person. :apple: <--- using this emoticon because, hey, if I don't who will..?..


    Due to the frame construction, I had to split* the block in half and sand things flat. (Edit: "split", not "spit"... though that would be cool...)

    It is important that all components are FLAT... completely. I rough-flatten the pieces on a small disc sander, but follow up with paper on a surface plate. I don't take the grit too fine, as I want to allow for a good epoxy bond later.

    PHOTO 46 (Stick It)

    To ensure a clean fit, I'm gluing the handle together in stages. First, I glued the frame to one of the scales using Acraglas. I’m kind of anal about my epoxy mix, so the resin and hardener are blended by weight in a tiny plastic cup on a small digital scale. :cower:


    Once dry, I mounted the block in my mill, and created some pockets for epoxy to settle into for final glue-up.

    Next (not shown) I trimmed carefully around the frame on my bandsaw, then (even more carefully) sanded scale #1 close to flush with the G10.

    PHOTO 47 (Clamps)

    Here we have it clamped up to glue on the other scale.

    It's important to have enough epoxy to bond the scale to frame completely... but I need to avoid too much spill into the internal cavity, as I still need to be able to slide the tang in there.


    PHOTO 48 (Test Fit)

    Here is the first test fit of all of the handle components. This is where we check to make sure all mating faces are dialed-in and there are no gaps. Overall, things look really good. :thumbup:


    PHOTO 49 (Draw)

    Drawing the temper WAY back on the tang.


    When doing this, I pinch the blade between my bare fingers (near the "WATER HERE" arrow in the photo), and start heating at the tip of the tang with my torch. As I walk the heat up the tang, my fingers start to develop this uncomfortable burning sensation :livid:... at which time I submerge the blade up to the choil area (to avoid destroying the edge temper) and continue applying heat. I like to walk the heat coloring just forward of the area where the guard will sit.

    PHOTO 50 (Get a Grip)

    The handle on this knife will have the physical support of a pin combined with an Acraglas bed. In previous photos, I showed some of the mods that were made to the handle and G10 frame to give the epoxy some bite… here, I am giving some teeth to the tang.


    Before drawing back the temper, the tang would have scoffed at this bandsaw blade, but now it slices like butter. The softer tang will also make the eventual drilling of the pin hole easier.

    So, for the first time in this thread, the pictures are caught up to my progress in real time.:eek: Now what are we going to do??? :confused:

    This weekend I'd like to get some hand sanding done on the blade... but I have family coming into town from the other side of the state, so we'll see how that works out.

    (More to follow...)
  6. zooker89


    Sep 15, 2014
    Great thread! awesome info and my kind of humor! Thanks Man!
  7. coldsteelburns


    Aug 2, 2010
    Lovin everything about this thread! Let alone the knife!, I can certainly even appreciate the "unfiltered beer" and "unplugged filter guitar" logos you have to think of and then make just for a single picture, along with everything else your doin! :D You really are throwin out all the stop on this one brotha, and I VERY much appreciate all of it, I just hope everybody else can see everything your doing here as well.. I used to play around (and still do sometimes) on corel paint shop photo pro and loved making graphics etc, so you've got even more respect on my part :applause: ;)

    ..And please don't leave us hangin for too long!

    My YT Channel Lsubslimed
  8. Erin Burke

    Erin Burke KnifeMaker...ish

    May 19, 2003
    Hah dude… thanks!… but you give me too much credit. The logos and stuff we're just snagged off the web (thank you Al Gore) then tweaked on my iPhone. In fact, all photos were taken, edited, manipulated and uploaded from my phone… nothing uber-fancy, just a few apps.
  9. DEllis

    DEllis Part Time Steel Basher

    Oct 17, 2007
    Enjoying this a bunch.:thumbup:
  10. Matthew Gregory

    Matthew Gregory Chief Executive in charge of Entertainment Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 12, 2005
    Erin, this is a fantastic project.

    Dig yur shit, bro.

  11. Irony314


    Jun 19, 2014
    Haha, I love it. this thread is the best thing I've read all week
  12. Erin Burke

    Erin Burke KnifeMaker...ish

    May 19, 2003
    Thanks again for the kind words guys. I'm glad somebody is enjoying this... 'cause right about now it's not much fun on this end. ;) (see problems below)

    Thanks Matt...
    For some reason, I have a special place in my heart for Mr. Gregory. Back in the day, I crawled out of the primordial ooze into the sunlit world of Shop Talk, blessed to be met by the early poetic words of Matt and Nick... more often than not, something about robots. :rapture:

    The last weeks have been a loss for knifemaking. As mentioned in the last installment, my family was in town for Valentine’s Day weekend, making it near impossible to spend any time in the shop. But that’s OK… I DID get to celebrate my daughter's birthday AND go shooting with my dad. (Let it be known... I think it's a travesty that this forum has no gun smilies) ;)

    That’s his wispy gray head.

    The following series of photos will be boring. This part of the project involves work (trial & error) and stress, with very little to show for it. :(

    PHOTO 51 (Shinogi-Ji)

    Because this blade is so thin, it will be a real challenge to keep the bevel ridge (shinogi) crisp.


    Here I have started hand-sanding, but you can see how the longitudinal strokes with paper and sanding sticks really begin to blur the transition. This is going to be a bear moving forward. :culpability:

    PHOTO 52 (Kiss of the Disc)

    While hand-sanding can cause blurring of the grind line, a kiss with the disc grinder seems to bring it back. :thumbup:

    I’m out of paper towels.

    PHOTO 53 (Reflections – they mean nothing)

    By now I have hand sanded to a relatively clean 2500 grit. The fine grit pattern runs longitudinally… but the shinogi (grind line is still mildly muddy).


    PHOTO 54 (The Problem)

    A simple illustration of the problem.


    PHOTO 55 (Hamon)

    A couple photos showing some items used to start bringing out the hamon.


    On the left you'll see a bowl of warm vinegar (with a few drops of dish soap) and a folded paper towel. Warm vinegar seems to work a bit faster, and the soap helps break up the surface tension so the vinegar will flow more evenly across the steel when wiped on with the paper towel. This process leaves the surface looking nasty (not shown).

    On the right is a jar with some loose abrasive. After rinsing the vinegar from the blade in the sink, I work the abrasive with my thumbs to "exfoliate" the ugly etch and bring out the hamon. :star:

    PHOTO 56 (Bio-hydraulic Paper Buff)

    Let's lay out the plan.

    The Task: to bring out distinction and clarity in the three areas of the blade... ji (bevel), shinogi-ji (flat) and kissaki... OR to create crisp transitions (shinogi & yokote)

    Here is my BIG IDEA for an order of operations:
    1. Use buffing compound on paper to give a unique look to edge bevels. In my limited experience, I've noticed that green compound can give a darker distant look to the surface and hamon, which may work well for the kissaki area.
    2. Mask kissaki at yokote and re-work loose abrasive into main bevel area. This should open the bevel back up and give a lively hamon, while creating a distinct separation at the yokote.
    3. Sand flats to 3000 grit. This should be the final step that nails a clean shinogi line.

    Seems like it should do something… right?

    Here's a photo of me hand-buffing with a sanding stick. :eek:


    PHOTO 57 (Buff – Part Deux)

    Tools for experimental paper buff.


    In this photo you can see my sanding stick, some green buffing compound, and a folded piece of paper that has been impregnated with compound. :frog: Toward the right-hand side of the photo you can see the portion of paper that has already been used.

    PHOTO 58 (Yokote)

    Because of the long kissaki, variance in geometry at the yokote is so minimal as to be almost nonexistent. To emphasize the transition, I'm attempting to employ two different finish polishes masked cleanly from each other. Here I've taped the kissaki and will be attacking the ji (primary bevel) again with loose abrasive powder.


    Finally… in a photograph untaken… I did some final sanding strokes of the blade flats with 3000-grit paper AND…

    … everything sucked. :hopelessness:

    The ridgeline (shinogi) transition is just not popping like it should. One side turned out OK at best, while the other side had areas where the 3000-grit paper made incidental rub marks over the line. Unacceptable.

    I need to reevaluate my process to get this as clean as I want it. I’ve heard of some folks using fine stones to for final finishing. Does anyone have recommendations on some decent stones for this? I’m thinking something like 800, 1500, & 2500 equivalents.

    Had to go make some holes in paper on Saturday... you know, to make myself feel better.


    (More to follow... assuming I can come up with some high-grit stones or another bright idea.)
  13. Matthew Gregory

    Matthew Gregory Chief Executive in charge of Entertainment Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 12, 2005

  14. Matthew Gregory

    Matthew Gregory Chief Executive in charge of Entertainment Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 12, 2005
    ...been thinking about this thread, and this project. Enough to make me walk away from the grinder right now to comment:

    I think I know what you've encountered here, Erin. I just want you to know how impressed I am with the whole thing, and how incredible it is that you're holding your shit together. I don't have the sac you do, and that's all there is to it. I've been asked to do a project where I'm hanging all the laundry out, and I'm not. The pressures involved here are stupendous. STUPENDOUS.
    We all know that knifemaking is less about making the perfect knife and more about fixing your mistakes to make the knife perfect. Not an easy thing to do while the world is looking... I'd have carefully placed that piece clean through the wall, turned off al the lights, and laid on the cold concrete floor of the shop contemplating suicide, and how many others I'd be taking with me as the tendrils of despair embraced me in their relentless grasp...


    Despite how you may have voted in the thread by the infamous Mr. Wheeler, I want you to know I think you're the shit. In fact, I suspect the difference between you and I is that you're going to pull this off, where I'd have already been consumed by my own fury. I tip my hat to you, bro.:thumbup:
  15. S.Alexander


    Jul 7, 2013
    I keep coming back to this one. Enjoying every minute of it.
  16. Erin Burke

    Erin Burke KnifeMaker...ish

    May 19, 2003

    Thanks for the encouragement Matt. Is it mere coincidence that the very weekend after I read your post, I made substantial progress in the shop?!? :eek:
    Maybe. ;) :thumbup:

    Back at it with some disjointed photos.

    PHOTO 59 (Wasted Photo)

    After the trauma with my previous blade polish, I decided that I needed to focus in a new direction to regain my mojo.

    Nothing says I can't put the blade on hold for a few days and give the handle some attention instead... so I took this photo here when I thought I was going to do some handle shaping before glue-up. I've traced the copper spacer onto the face of the handle block.
    But then I changed my mind.


    PHOTO 60 (Shaping Guides)

    Self-explanatory, no?


    Some templates for shaping the handle. The oval-like part in the middle will define the shape of the butt… with the narrow lines in the middle helping me align the template with the black G10 frame. The tapered sticks at the top and bottom will define the flats on the front and back of the handle.
    The dirty keyboard proves that I’m a real manly man… who really needs to clean his keyboard.
    Surprisingly, my grossest keys are the “1” and “2” keys (not shown)… which leads me to the following conclusions:
    1. That I make a lot of lists.
    2. That my lists are typically short.

    PHOTO 61 (Getting Old)

    To fit with the color palette of Karelian Birch and copper, I’m looking for a nice dark finish to the tsuba/guard. To get something that looks (at least mildly) organic, I run the steel through several baths in bleach, followed by some scrubbing with steel wool. Between some of the cycles I’ll rub with gun blue.


    PHOTO 62 (What’s my name?!)

    I couldn’t wrap my head around marring this type of blade with my mark… so my name is going on the underside of the tsuba.


    Here I have a stencil taped to the blade and I’m etching away. One alligator clip is fastened to the bare metal and the other is fixed to the damp (damp with magical etching juice) end of a q-tip.

    PHOTO 63 (Two by Two)

    Here’s the bottom side of the finished tsuba/guard.


    PHOTO 64 (Son, Let’s talk about protection)

    So guess what… I went back to 2500-grid paper and refinished the blade. I made some minor modifications to my process to increase the definition in the grind transition… and I photographed none of it. Your welcome.

    This photo, however, shows how I protect the blade for installation of the handle and fittings.


    First clean thoroughly with soap & water and dry completely. Next, add blue tape and seal edges tightly. Then wrap in sufficient black electrical tape to provide physical protection against clamping.

    PHOTO 65 (Maths)

    In this image, I’m mixing up some Agraglas epoxy. The stuff is typically measured by volume… but weight works as well (but requires the maths).
    I chose to dye the epoxy black for this knife. Acraglas epoxy dye is crazy s#!t… to turn that entire cup of epoxy pitch black, all I had to do was dip the tip of a toothpick (like maybe a 1/8”) into the dye then stir. Mind boggled. :eek:


    PHOTO 66 (Glue and Tape)

    This is my newest hi-tech method for applying pressure during glue-up… the rubber bands kept falling off so I had to pull out the duct tape. Take that, stupid rubber bands.!..


    PHOTO 67 (Getting in Shape… aka Jane Fonda)

    Now that CAD drawing from Photo 60 begins to make sense.


    The spacer and guard are well taped up to protect against files and rasps. You'll note that I didn't do any handle shaping prior to glue-up... which, again, is why Photo 59 was a wasted image. It's all part of the process. ;)

    PHOTO 68 (Awesomeness Prep)

    Might as well throw this photo in here as well.

    In the original sketch, you'll see that a portion of the handle is wrapped. I don't want the cord to sit ON the handle, but want it slightly inset. There's still a bit of finish work to take place in the nooks and crannies... but you get the idea.


    And... as of last night, this knife is basically done. The West Systems epoxy is still drying in the handle wrap (after several wrapped handles, I'm beginning to think that the 209 Extra Slow Hardener may have been a mistake :rolleyes:), and I still need to set the final edge... but this one is essetially in-the-books.

    Now, as I start thinking about taking finished photos, I find myself asking that age old questions, to sheath or not to sheath.

    You know what my dream is?... It goes something like this...
    It's a warm summer evening. I'm sitting in at a computer desk in the middle of a moonlit glade. I have just posted my recently-completed, super-awesomer-than-I-anticipated-given-all-the-problems-I-encountered knife, without a sheath, for sale on a prominent blade forum (I forget the name). A fine gentleperson has just sent me an email, asking to purchase the knife, but has requested that I ship it to another gentleman by the name of Paul Long. Who is this Long fellow?... Well, it turns out that Mr. Long is fairly handy with an awl, and is know for his fine leather goods. A warm tingle spreads through my body. Not only that, but after Mr. Long has dressed the blade in suitable attire, the entire package is then to be shipped to a really-real professional knife photographer (names are not important, but monikers rhyming with Raleb Coyer and Cim Jooper are thrown around). Next, a choir of tastefully-naked {girl} angels encircles the glade and begins sweetly singing me awake... while at the edge of my consciousness, Alice Cooper carefully packages my knife for shipping.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2015
  17. DEllis

    DEllis Part Time Steel Basher

    Oct 17, 2007
    :D glad to see some life on this thread again!
  18. Hengelo_77

    Hengelo_77 Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 2, 2006
    me too!!
    Loooking goood
  19. Matthew Gregory

    Matthew Gregory Chief Executive in charge of Entertainment Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 12, 2005
    ...no photos of restoring the yokote?

    No discussion of the method used?

    At all?

    I take back all the positive shit I said about you.


    CAD printout is pure effin' genius. Almost enough reason to forgive you.

  20. Erin Burke

    Erin Burke KnifeMaker...ish

    May 19, 2003
    The yokote was fine... it was the shinogi (on one side) that I managed to mangle with careless application of sandpapers. Let's just say that the solution involved re-sanding the entire blade, loose abrasives to bring out the hamon again, a paper buff with red rouge (which i didn't like) followed by green along the ji and kissaki, followed by some delicate protective masking of the shinogi and yokote, all chased with more loose abrasive to the ji. It looks like less work when typed out... and way less stressful too.

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