Well I'm missing my counter bores so I have to do this the slow way. They are on order and hopefully will be here soon to speed up the process of drilling the handles. I got the first pair on and fitted today. They have been roughed profiled.
I'm going to change the profile later. I do not like the G10 coming all the way down on the finger guard. I will have to grind it a little off and keep reattaching the handle until it fills right in the hand and then be able to grind all the others to the proper fit.
It's tempting to sprint at this point and get the knives done. I really want to get them out of the shop and start on something new, but big batches are marathon's and you have to have the correct pace or you will screw things up. Tomorrow I will put in the palm swell and adjust the finger guard. Also I will profile the very front of the handle where it meets the blade and polish it up.
Their almost done. But I can't let my guard down now.
Been out for a few days nursing a back sprain. But I'm back now, and time for some new updates.
Today I put the palm swell into the knife. A palm swell is just as sounds. The handle is thinner towards the guard and butt of the knife and thicker in the middle. I learned this technique back in the 80's from a stock removal maker in Abilene Texas who was a game warden at the time.
The rough profile.
I'll make a pattern after this knife is done since I have so many to do alike. Usually since it's one knife at a time and they have different handles you just grind the swell in and go by how it feels in your hand. If the swell is symmetrical it will feel equally well in both hands so you don't have to do anything different for a lefty. Only the sheath is different for a lefty.
Now we start blending in the contours. If you have ever polished shoes then this step is very familiar to you. All I do is take a long piece of emery cloth about 1" wide and start sanding over the handle like I'm polishing a set of shoes. I do it from every side and it blends in everything really nicely.
Doing the top side.
Roughed in on the top side.
A good handle should have curves like a woman. Here's a good angle showing off the curves in this handle.
Each one has to be done like this. I do not have a cnc router that will rough shape them for me by the hundreds. That's it for today.
Almost finished. Here is the final profile of the handle. I still need to counter bore the holes in the handle so their not so sharp. I also need to figure out a way to make the plunge cut for your thumb at the front a bigger radius. My biggest small wheel for that is to small for me. And the 8" contact wheel is to big. Now I need to clean it all up. Finish sand it and send the blade off to be coated.
Heat treated a few blades this morning and cut out some more G10 handle stock. Here is the L6 bowie knife blade. I can tell it's real L6 because even annealed I could not drill a hole into the handle to hang the blade in the salt.
I was having trouble drilling the holes. My counter bores are gone and new ones ordered. They haven't gotten here yet and instead of sitting around I'm doing it the hard way. You drill your pilot hole. Change drill bits to the bigger side and drill in the center of the hole to make your shoulder. Not the best way but really the only way I have available until the new counter bores get here.
Unfortunately the angle of the blade is throwing it off on the full flat ground blades.
I tried making an angled wedge the same angle as the blade grind to solve the problem. It didn't.
But luckily all the blades were water jetted so they all have the same handle. Using a tanto blade I realized if I drilled the holes on it where the blade was not causing an unwanted angle in the handle dimension. The handles bolted right up on the full flat ground blade. Wish I would have thought of that sooner. All well. I just banged out 5 handles in about 30 minutes doing that. So all the blades should have handles on them soon.
Well it appears I am completely screwed until I can find a counterbore. I have thrown away five handles today. Does anyone know anybody in town that can make one. Or can turn down a drill bit to the right size so I can move forward. Any leads would be appreciated.
Here was my attempt today at making my own counterbore. I drilled a hole in a scrap piece of 4140 in a shop from the same drill bit I planned on grinding down the bore on.
Then I machined a notch in the block so it would sit square on my surface grinder.
I then attached it to the surface grinder and put a c-clamp on for extra insurance to not move. The drill bit run's through the hole and has stop collars on each side to prevent the drill bit from moving back and forth.
A different angle after switching to a structured abrasive belt.
The final results were less than spectacular. For some reason my digital dial indicator just decided it had had enough abuse from me and quit. So I had to grind a little bit. Take everything apart, measure, grind a little more, and repeat the process until I got it close to what size I wanted. It was within .01 I would like a closer fit but this was the best I could get without a dial indicator on the grinder. Unfortunately it wasn't good enough. The stop collars lasted about 4 seconds before they quit doing their job. I'll try to find some better ones tomorrow and try again.
I gave up trying to make my own counterbore a few days ago and bit the bullet and ordered a real counterbore from MSC with a pilot that was larger than I needed. That was because their was just no commercially available combo that these titanium bots are in.
I put the pilot in the mill to spin and used sand paper and a file to bring it down close to the size I needed.
Once the pilot was close I hit with the sandpaper.
Here's what it looked like all completed.
I was able to knock out all these handles in a matter of 30 minutes. Doing it the old way I only have two handles to show for nearly a weeks worth of cussing.
The tolerances were good enough for the G10 but the carbon fiber was a whole other animal. The pilot would seize up the handle material literally breaking off the set screw in the counterbore and started grinding the pilot.
I was still able to get the handle done. and rough shaped.
I bought extra pilot's and will have them turned down by someone with a lathe that can get a more accurate and better finish than I could. Then I wont have to worry about it seizing in carbon fiber again.
Time to glue the handles on. First thing this morning was to go get a set of disposable coveralls. I made sure every part of me was covered from head to toe to avoid the carbon fiber dust that itches. I finished rough shaping the handle and am now done using a grinder on the carbon fiber. Everything from now on is hand sanding.
first thing I do when gluing the handle on is every surface that needs to be bonded is first sand blasted with 60 grit aluminum oxide grit. This gives the surfaces a grit that the epoxy and really grab on to. If you have to remove a scale that has been glued on this way you have to completely grind it off. Just beating it with a hammer will not do the job. I am gluing this one because the blade will not be coated. And water can eventually work it's way to the metal and corrode. Epoxying the handle together makes a vapor barrier making the handle last much longer before it needs to be replaced.
When I take the parts out of the sandblaster I make sure I am wearing disposable glover so the oil on my hand does not interfere with the glue bond. The parts coming right out of the sand blaster are cleaner than you can get them with solvents so don't use those as you can contaminant your glue bond with residue left over or from something on the rag. Just use a little compressed air if you have to remove blasting grit.
My glue of choice is Brownell's Acraglas. You can ask any gunsmith on here about how stout this stuff is.
Their is no way for me to show you this next part. It's chaos and I can't hold a camera, the knife, the parts, and everything else before the glue starts to set up. Once it is all put together I use c-clamps to get the scales as tight as possible to the handle and cinch up the bolts.
When this was done I got a phone call from an old shipmate that will be in town on business and we spent nearly an hour trading sea stories about all the crazy things we did in service. After the phone call I noticed the glue hadn't even started to set up. That means somewhere I screwed up. This glue gives absolutely no leeway on getting it right. It is either right and it hardens or you screwed up and it wont harden. So I take everything apart and clean it off and back to the sand blaster.
My second attempt.
Making sure this time my proportions are correct and using a timer to make sure I mix it long enough.
I didn't use a fraction of the glue but it was necessary to make sure my proportions were correct. Rough glued up and handle in place.
Using the C-clamps to hold everything nice and tight.
Hand sanding sucks. It sucks even more when you can't find a shop stool of the correct height and your humped over all day long. Several hours of that and my back hurts for days. On the advice of a visitor to the shop I went and bought a casino slot machine chair. Man what a difference. I had been looking online for quite sometime for a decent chair to do the hand sanding. Making a few calls this morning a place sent me a text showing this stool for 95 bucks. I went and picked it up.
What a difference that little stool made. I hand sanded for 4 hours today and my back doesn't feel like I have sanded at all. Still even with the improvement the hand sanding is taking way to long. At only one or two knives a day this is a real bottle neck on getting these knives done.
Searching a few knife forums and metal finishing sites I got directed to a vibratory tumblers with media. The big professional models can put a mirror polish on a hundred knives in a matter of hours. So I'm going to have to step up and purchase one soon. In the mean time I'm trying the more smaller one I picked up at harbor freight today.
I picked up several types of media as well. Right now I'm running the 1" ceramic triangles. It has knocked the scale off of 4 heat treated blades in about an hour. It would do better if I was able to run it wet. Just to let you know in case you buy the same model. It comes with a drain hole but no plug. So tomorrow I have to go back and try and buy a plug the same size so I can use it wet.
I just got the knife back with the kydex sheath. The carbon fiber print on the kydex looks really good with the knife.
Several knives I put a mirror polish on today. They still need a little work before coating. It sucks to put a mirror finish on a blade I know is going to be sandblasted before coating but I want a really good finish.