OKCA Display Award Knife

At last years OKCA show I got asked to make one of the display award knives for this year.  The club provides the profiled blank and the knife maker makes a knife out of it and gives it back to the club where it is used as an award for the display table competition.  I finished up the knife and sent it off, so I thought I would post some pictures of it.


okca2014-1 (Medium) okca2014-2 (Medium) okca2014-3 (Medium)

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Closing out October with an Update

(edited to update the Link to James Austin’s more current website)

Looking at the date of the last post I have been rather bad about getting an update out.  Since the last post I’ve done a couple shows worked on some new projects and attended a great hammer in.

I was fortunate enough to get a table at the USN gathering this year.  It was a wonderful show.  I had the opportunity to meet some really great folks and have quite an enjoyable time.  The show is in Las Vegas and while it isn’t on the top of my vacation destination list (vacation.. not sure I know what one of those really is.. ) it is probably the best locale for the Gathering.

The second show was the North West Knife Collectors show in Kelso Wa.  I always find it enjoyable to spend some time with the local makers and collectors.  This is probably the smallest, in terms of traffic, of all the shows I do.  This fact sort of makes it a nice way to end the show season.

October has really just been a zoo.  It started off with the Kelso show on the 5th and 6th, so the first week was show prep and show.  Then I had 2 weeks to finish up some kitchen knives for Town Cutler in San Francisco, before I headed to Oakland for one of the most amazing hammer-ins I’ve had the pleasure of attending.  With travel time the trip took about 9 days (dang the kittens were both cranky and clingy by the time I got back).  Now before I go any further let me take a moment to explain what a hammer in is for non-smithing folks.  The easiest way to think of it is sort of like a conference.  There are usually presentations, demonstrations, lots of discussions with other professionals in your field, possibly a fundraising auction or sale, and probably some show and tell by the general participants.  The biggest differences are probably that our “Cons” are smaller, held in Industrial spaces or the middle of nowhere, involve sharp pointy bits of metal and Fire.. oh yes lots of fire.

The trip started with me driving down to Eugene and meeting up with Michael Kemp of Elemental Forge.  The next day we drove down to Oakland and made camp at the hotel where we would be spending the better part of a week.

The hammer-in ran Thursday afternoon through Sunday afternoon/evening.  Thursday was a free form kind of day starting at 2:30ish.  Which gave Michael and I the chance to go into SF in the morning drop off the knives I had for Galen and finally see his shop.  Ahh yes driving/navigating in downtown SF.. street grids that clash.. one ways.. endless no left turns.. steep hills  with trolley cars..  but here is proof we made it, a picture of Michael at Town Cutler [hey this is my blog I can avoid being in the actual pictures if I feel like it 🙂 ]

Town Cutler Visit

After that back to Oakland, lunch procured, and time wasted till around 2:30 when we headed off to Alchemy Metalworks.  This being the name of the shop where the conference was taking place.  This is the shop of James Austin who was one of the hosts and a presenter.  Jeff Pringle was co hosting and presenting. The additional presenters, in no particular order, were Owen Bush, Petr Floriánek, and Jake Powning.  The official title of the conference was “Oakland Axe’n Sax-in 2013” and as the name implies the focus was on axes and seaxs.  Thursday was filled with socializing and show and tell for the most part.  In the evening Jeff cranked up a propane furnace and did a crucible smelt  turning magnetite into iron and steel.  Which looks something like this:

crucible smelt

It would really take to much to go into detail about all the presentations.  Suffice it to say there were talks about Germanic art, artifacts, leather work, antler carving, axe eye welding, historical broken back seax construction, and more melting/smelting.  Really it was a wonderful 4 days and I can’t thank the hosts enough.  Heck even the attendee list had a high percentage of very notable smiths.

Rather than ramble on any more I’m going to insert a gratuitous photo of one of the Alchemy Metalworks shop cats.

shop cat

And in closing I’ll taunt you with a couple photos showing the top and bottom of the first “puck” of steel crucible-smelted from Colombia river magnetite ore.

puck top

puck bottom




Posted in Hammer-in, Historical blades, Knife shows | 2 Comments

July update

I know, I know.. I’ve been terrible about updating here.  I’ve been a bit preoccupied with getting things back up and running after vacation,  and making some adjustments in the shop.    One of the things I’ve been busy with is streamlining processes and adding some custom tooling in order to speed up production of the “standard catalog” kitchen and utility knives.   I’ve gotten about 60% of the changes I want to make implemented.

I’ve got steel in the kiln so I shouldn’t ramble .. so I’ll leave you with a recent picture of what is on the bench.. these are profiled, drilled  and stress relieved.. next step will be heat treatment.

pile of kitchen knives before heat treat

Posted in heat treat, shoptour, WIP | 2 Comments

They’re Here

The FedEx person was kind enough this morning to drop of…. wait for it.. wait for it…

THE 2013 Podforge patches:

This year is Orange and the carving knife

This year is Orange and the carving knife

I did order them late which is why they weren’t at the OKCA show.. but I’ll have them at Blade.. stop by table 15O and pick one up if you make it to Atlanta this year.  For the folks who were at the OKCA show, send me email and I’ll send you one by snail mail.


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OKCA recap

Due to scheduling we left for the Show Friday morning this year instead of Thursday.  Leaving early got us into Portland around 9am, right on schedule.  We then had a detour to go pick up a roughly 2foot by 4 foot by 2.5 inch thick slab of walnut.  This one..

Walnut slab

Walnut slab

It was purchased from the nice folks at Jewell Hardwoods.  My quick picture doesn’t do it justice.  There are tan, chocolate and gray colors in the grain and some really nice chatoyant ripples.  I can’t wait to see how it looks as knife handles and to see how it does with the new finish recipe I worked up recently.  I’ll have to do a post on my finish experiments soon.

We got to the show early afternoon, in time for me to enter this knife into the custom competition.

Wrought Iron over 5160 San Mai sub hilt knife

Wrought Iron over 5160 San Mai sub hilt knife

It didn’t win, but there were some very nice knives entered into the competition.  This is the latest collectible knife.  I’ll be getting a page up for it with a better picture and full description in the next couple of weeks and of course it will be with me at Blade.

I also took some Color case hardened Thor’s Hammer pendants and one made out of Wrought Iron.  here they are before jump rings and leather cord.

Thor's Hammer pendants

Thor’s Hammer pendants

They were well received.  I really like doing color case hardening, and plan on doing more knives with color case hardened fittings.

Saturday at the show was really busy, I rarely had more than 10 min at a stretch that I wasn’t  talking to at least one person.  In fact it was so busy it took me an hour to each the sandwich I had for lunch.  Sunday was slower, but that allowed me some time for looking at handle material.  I only actually bought one piece of handle material at the show this year (not counting that walnut), but dang is it a nice piece.  Here it is (on the left, I’ll talk about the bowie blank in a minute):

Fossil walrus and bowie blank

Fossil walrus and bowie blank

Yup that is a nice little fossilized walrus tusk, that is mineralized really dark.  In the right light portions of it have a blue tint to the black.  It will probably take me a year or two before I get up the courage to cut into it.  The nice thing is that it is a smaller tusk which makes it ideal for the size knives I like to make.

As to the Bowie blank, well it seems I got roped into making one of the award knives for next year.  These are the knives that are given out  as awards for the display tables.  Now I just need to figure out what style to do it in.  I’m torn between walnut with color case hardened fittings and checkering or  Silver plated hollowware in a sculptural form.

We headed back right after the show, which made for a very short trip, but such were the constraints of the schedule this year.  Now time to get a couple orders out and finish the projects for Blade.


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Back from OKCA

Back from the Show in Eugene.  I’ll write up a re-cap post in the next couple days.  Short version is the show was great, and I’ve got some spiffy new handle material to stash away for future work.

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Dang.. the intarweb spambots are hard at work ..last post had over 200 spam comments all caught by the spam filter.. but for now I’m turning comments off.

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OKCA show reminder

Just a reminder I’ll be at the OKCA show in Eugene this weekend table P12.  If you are at the show stop by and say hello, and looks at the knives.

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Febuary update

Well it seems I have managed to catch another cold that is going around.  Since I can’t really get much work done it the shop I figured I would post an update here.

I recently purchased a rotary platen attachment to my grinder.   I’d been thinking about adding one for a while but wasn’t sure how much benefit it would add.  I recently got fed up with some of the nuances of grinding against a hard platen and broke down and purchased the rotary.  This is a device that has a set of 3 grooved wheels and a ribbed belt that runs in the grooves.  It acts like a controlled slack belt  that you can adjust the tension on.   I’m still getting used to it but all I can say is why did I wait so long to pick one up.  One of the great benefits is that it grids material of different hardnesses at the same rate, which is great for finishing tangs and bolsters.

I’d had a knife sitting on the bench for months (like since last April) waiting for me to find time to hand finish the handle/guard.  As soon as I got the rotary platen up and running I grabbed the knife off the bench and finished handle/guard transition in no time with out any dishing  or undercutting between the wrought Iron guard, stabilized box elder spacer and walnut handle.  Finally another forged knife finished (I need to make time between batches of Stainless kitchen knives to get more forging in). Anyway here is a picture of the walnut handled knife:
misc-1 (Medium)

I also recently shipped a gorgeous set of 4 steak knives with carbon steel blades, stainless bolsters/pins and Madrone Burl handles.  These are part of a larger set one of my customers is putting together.  When we started talking about his initial order for a Chef knife he mentioned he was going to want additional knives in the future, so I found matching handle material and set enough aside to complete the eventual full set.   Here is a picture of the steak knives:
Madrone Steak Knives-1 (Medium)

The big project this spring is building the hydraulic press.  Progress is happening after much time spent designing and figuring out what exact type of press I was going to make.  I’ll post more details about it when it gets finished but for now a quick shot of the base and frame.
2-6-2013-21 (Medium)

Last but not least, I managed to pick up 2 large billets of nicely figured cocobolo.  One is approx 3.75X5.75X24 with a reddish orange color and the other is approx 3X6X36 and a purplish color.  These will get cut into handle size blocks and added to the handle stash.
cocobolo-1 (Medium)

Posted in tools, WIP | 2 Comments

2013 show schedule

I’ve updated the Show schedule on the site to the 2013 shows I currently have a table at.  First up is the Eugene show April 12-14.  I’ll be at  table P12.
Then I’ll be at Blade show in Atlanta May31, jun 1 & 2, no table info yet.
The last show I currently have on the schedule is NWKC in Kelso in October. I’ll get actual dates for that show posted as we get closer to it.

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