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 Make a great carving knife...why bother?

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Blackhorse
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Blackhorse

Age : 72
Location : Portland, Oregon Area
Registration date : 2010-10-23

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PostSubject: Make a great carving knife...why bother?    Make a great carving knife...why bother?  EmptyWed Jan 16, 2013 1:53 am

Some of you might know me as a carver...some as a knife maker. Well, I'd like to think I'm both. At the least I appreciate both sides which for this thread are 1. the knife as a functional item and 2. how well it works at its intended task. Recently I've been involved in making some carving knives and have used blades from three very good sources (I'll try to paste links to below) - all being Nordic in design and fabrication.

Now, Nordic blades have a long and interesting history. Currently they are being made in four...for lack of a better term I'll call 'configurations' even though that's not ideal. What I mean is that there are four basic ways that the blade steel is done. For my purposes these are high carbon (takes a sharp edge and is easy to sharpen), stainless (not as sharp, not as easy to sharpen but resistant to corrosion), progressively tempered (where the edge of the blade is tempered harder, like to Rc 61 - 64, and the body/spine is less hard, and like Rc 55...allows the blade to keep an edge for a long time and not suffer from being brittle) and finally laminated, which is the type that this thread is about (these are 3 layers, soft steel on the outside, sandwiching a hard steel in the center, which does the cutting and is in the neighborhood of Rc 62).

So that's the basics to bring everyone up to speed. Now a few of the Scandinavian blade makers have done much with the laminated style and are known for it...Mora, Frost and Helle among them. These are good choices for carvers since we're always looking for a blade that will take a super sharp edge and hold it under hard use, and be easy to bring back.

While looking for blades I checked 'Ragweed Forge' which carries a large number of blades of the proper design. It's an excellent Site. I looked at the Mora/Frost blades and ordered one and after receiving it was impressed with the finish, etc. A knife I'm making with it is nearly done. So off I go to find some blades for the next batch...and while checking that out I look at the finished knives from the same maker.

Now here's the point of all this. I find finished knives with the same blades as are being sold alone...for something like 25 percent less than for just the blade. Now I'm sure there are a number of reasons why this would be the case...but for me...well, I ordered two knives instead of the raw blades and will take them apart to use my own exotic wood for handles...and saved $10.

By the way, if you use the links to look at these things don't be put off by the low cost of the items. These really are top quality pieces in regards to how well they work. They're just not fancy.

The blades to look at in the link below are the ones from Frost, the top set pictured, which are the laminated carbon steel ones. ..the first, second and fourth.

http://www.ragweedforge.com/BladeCatalog.html#f-blades

Make a great carving knife...why bother?  Frosts-blades-laminated

Then at the link below you have to go nearly to the bottom of the page, look for the 'Carving Knives' heading. There are 4 with plain wood handles. I popped one of the pics here to show an example:

Make a great carving knife...why bother?  120

http://www.ragweedforge.com/SwedishKnifeCatalog.html


If you look and compare you'll note is $5 cheaper...and even though you can spend $ 75 for a high end knife blade (and I admit to doing so) you really don't need to.

I just thought it was interesting and represented one of those, ''Blackhorse Big Bargains'' that I like to share on occasion. And with the few pipes I've made, and the carving of a wide variety of woods other than briar, it seems that one like that linked below would be excellent for smoothing, scraping and any kind of detail work. I'll say one thing - the little SOB's are razor sharp!

Make a great carving knife...why bother?  122


Of course I have to admit to having a favorite among the high end items...the little Roselli UHC (ultra high carbon) ''Bearclaw'', which at $85 is nearly six times the money. The blade alone is $55.

Make a great carving knife...why bother?  R231

Interesting note: Ultra High Carbon Roselli blades have a carbon content of 1.5 - 2.0%. They are hardened to HRC 64 - 66. As good as their regular high carbon blades are, these are said to hold an edge about twice as long. It is not practical to sharpen them on a stone, and they require a diamond plate or ceramic.

I've heard that the blades will glow if there are orcs about!

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Last edited by Blackhorse on Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:46 pm; edited 4 times in total
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kingcobradude



Registration date : 2011-12-22

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PostSubject: Re: Make a great carving knife...why bother?    Make a great carving knife...why bother?  EmptyWed Jan 16, 2013 2:12 am

isnt laminated style blades what were used in japanese Katanas?
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Blackhorse
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Blackhorse

Age : 72
Location : Portland, Oregon Area
Registration date : 2010-10-23

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PostSubject: Re: Make a great carving knife...why bother?    Make a great carving knife...why bother?  EmptyWed Jan 16, 2013 2:35 am

Not the same thing. The katana was made by taking special steels and forging them into a single billet...again, and again, and again...rather like Damascus steel...and then doing a differential tempering of the blade by masking the area of the blade they didn't want hard with clay, and applied to the steel prior to heating. It's more like the Laurie PT and PTX blades (and others) at the link below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xOIilY9r0I&feature=youtube_gdata_player

And here are some of the resulting blades showing the progressive Temper line.

http://thompsonsknives.com/lauriptx.html

Make a great carving knife...why bother?  116ptxx


Below is a photo of the hamon on a Katana created by differential hardening. With the popularity of the katana among the steel buying masses, there are many short cuts to creating an authentic looking hamon that do not involved the historically authentic process. Be that as is may, the "hamon" above is not 'clay-created' so to speak, the one below IS. Whether the resulting effect used clay or not, they are both progressively tempered...which is really the big thing.

Make a great carving knife...why bother?  I1

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Blackhorse
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Blackhorse

Age : 72
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PostSubject: Re: Make a great carving knife...why bother?    Make a great carving knife...why bother?  EmptyThu Feb 07, 2013 7:53 pm

Well, as usual it took more time than I thought...thinks that need another part or a solution to a jinx-like problem or being nearly done with one handle and then deciding to go in a different direction. Good thing I'm not paid by the hour. lol


I've dedcided to make the first ones in sets of two, with one 'typical" Nordic style blade form (for roughout and carving that needs some belly on the blade) and a Warncliff blade form (can't beat 'em for detail work). These are what I would call 'medium' sized carving (more like whittling) knives. What I would normally use are blades less than 1" in length. These are about 2 1/2" long. Also, my other carving knives have edges that while very sharp and honed often, the angle of the Scandi grind on these Nordic blades is extreme, making the sharpness really significant...and also somewhat delicate. You can't muscle these things, they need to be used with finesse.

Here's set number One.

One blade is a Norwegian Brusletto Spikkeblad ('whittling blade') designed for woodcarving. It's about 2 7/16" long, 3/4" wide, and .111" thick. This one is carbon steel for ease of sharpening. The other is a Swedish blade (the Warncliff) from Frosts (Mora). It's a laminated carbon steel design, sharp on the straight edge of course, (60 mm) 2 3/8" long, .60" wide, .106" thick. Both are about $15 from Ragweed Forge.

The knife handle is made from Osage Orange (Arg.) and they have thin brass bolsters and spacers of black paper micarta and red fiber. The underside of the handle is incised for grip and the curved butt fits into the heel of your hand.


Make a great carving knife...why bother?  DSCN1676_zps3b4608f0


The other one is the first of the set of two. I just finished it thing morning and whated to get it up here. The blade is one pulled from the Frosts/Mora Swedish knife shown in a prior post in this thread. I planned to use more of the Osage Orange but got a wild hair and was forced by 'an insane urge' to use some really fine Red Coolabah Burl from Oz. It's gorgeous...but has a tendancy to check along the lines of the burl grain, in this case from the spine of the handle downward. I think I have it under control at this point. The One quarter of the butt is pared away to form a smooth fit in one's palm (you can see a bit of this in the bottom photo) and the heavy brass guard is also shaved on one of the quarters to give a good fit to the index finger. It feels very good in the hand this way. The spacers are from a forest green fiber and Morta from the shop of ta harris (of BoB fame).


Make a great carving knife...why bother?  DSCN1684_zps0cbfa572


Make a great carving knife...why bother?  DSCN1690_zps61bc0340


The handle for the second knife in the Coolabah series is cut from the same blank as the above and matches is almost perfectly.

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monbla256

monbla256

Age : 74
Location : DFW Metroplex, Texas
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PostSubject: Re: Make a great carving knife...why bother?    Make a great carving knife...why bother?  EmptyThu Feb 07, 2013 11:46 pm

Blackhorse, you do some beautiful work! Those knives look as though they would do the carving themselves ! Smile
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Rob_In_MO

Rob_In_MO

Age : 46
Location : Park Hills, MO
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PostSubject: Re: Make a great carving knife...why bother?    Make a great carving knife...why bother?  EmptyThu Feb 07, 2013 11:48 pm

Blackhorse - I'm waiting for you to make a throwing knife, then we'll talk business. Cool
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Blackhorse
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Blackhorse

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PostSubject: Re: Make a great carving knife...why bother?    Make a great carving knife...why bother?  EmptyFri Feb 08, 2013 12:12 am

Heck Rob, you can throw any of 'em that ya pay for first! Laughing

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Wet Dottle

Wet Dottle

Location : Littleton, CO
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PostSubject: Re: Make a great carving knife...why bother?    Make a great carving knife...why bother?  EmptyFri Feb 08, 2013 12:45 am

Great job, BH. It's the first time I see morta used as handle material. But my favorite is the top one in Osage. That looks like a great carving knife.
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Briar Spirit

Briar Spirit

Age : 51
Location : England UK
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PostSubject: Re: Make a great carving knife...why bother?    Make a great carving knife...why bother?  EmptyFri Feb 08, 2013 2:55 am

Some very interesting work there David, I often wonder if I shouldn't invest in a decent knife for cutting plugs, but of course they're always cost prohibitive, your work is fantastic chap, I am totally impressed. Smile
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Blackhorse
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Blackhorse

Age : 72
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PostSubject: Re: Make a great carving knife...why bother?    Make a great carving knife...why bother?  EmptyFri Feb 08, 2013 3:46 am

KF - As you might guess I have quite a few knives. I use a number of different ones to cut plug or rope into nice shavings. But what you use needn't be super expensive. One I use and like really well is the Spyderco Kiwi...a little stainless slip joint that I often use as a neck knife. The one I have now I got for less than $20 USD.

http://www.knifecenter.com/kc_new/store_store.html?ttl=Spyderco%20KIWI%20Models&cat=sp&k=kiwi&

The other one I'd recommend is one of those Swedish Frost/Mora carving knives...with the blade like the one I used for the Coolabah knife here...laminated carbon steel...Rockwell of about 60.

Here's a link to an outfit in Finland...BRISA. They have one for 17,00 EUR. They would ship to the UK for 10,00 EUR I think.

https://www.brisa.fi/portal/index.php?option=com_oscommerce&osMod=product_info&cPath=92_128&products_id=1010

I had some trouble with this link when I tested it. If you do as well just go to 'brisa.fi' and look under knives then Mora or Frosts as the brand and the two at the top are my pick.


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Briar Spirit

Briar Spirit

Age : 51
Location : England UK
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PostSubject: Re: Make a great carving knife...why bother?    Make a great carving knife...why bother?  EmptyFri Feb 08, 2013 5:22 am

Thank you for the links and the information David, some fascinating stuff on the Finland site, when funding permits I shall refer to this post again. Smile
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taharris

taharris

Age : 51
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PostSubject: Re: Make a great carving knife...why bother?    Make a great carving knife...why bother?  EmptyFri Feb 08, 2013 8:39 am

David, you do wonderful work. I am glad you put thr Morta to good use.

Todd
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Rob_In_MO

Rob_In_MO

Age : 46
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PostSubject: Re: Make a great carving knife...why bother?    Make a great carving knife...why bother?  EmptyFri Feb 08, 2013 8:55 am

Blackhorse wrote:
Heck Rob, you can throw any of 'em that ya pay for first! Laughing

You know what I mean (I hope) - all metal, single or double edge, etc...

There is no way I would dare use one of your works of art as a throwing knife. Mad

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i.keenum

i.keenum

Age : 30
Location : coast of mississippi
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PostSubject: Re: Make a great carving knife...why bother?    Make a great carving knife...why bother?  EmptyFri Feb 08, 2013 10:50 am

The wood on the red orange handle looks slot like briar. How is it to work with?
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Blackhorse
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Blackhorse

Age : 72
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Registration date : 2010-10-23

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PostSubject: Re: Make a great carving knife...why bother?    Make a great carving knife...why bother?  EmptyFri Feb 08, 2013 12:35 pm

Here's the hype blurb from the Woodcraft site:

Coolibah (pronounced cool-a-bah) comes from one of the hardest and strongest trees in the world. This species is widely distributed over Northern Australia, generally along rivers and in heavy soils of flood plains. This premium exotic burl wood offers unmatched color and grain patterns. This deep reddish-brown blank is perfect match for our high-end turnings.


From what I've seen (and this stuff is rare so I haven't seen but maybe half dozen chunks in person) it ranges from what you can see in the photo below to a kind of red-orange smudgy looking surface.


From this:

Make a great carving knife...why bother?  CB02THRU7CUT

Make a great carving knife...why bother?  CB08AN09

to this:

Make a great carving knife...why bother?  154147

to this:


Make a great carving knife...why bother?  DSCN1690_zps61bc0340



Anyway...like Briar, it's a burl. I'm not a botanist, but the 'workability' is related to the fact there is no long grain in the wood since the growth kind of bubbles out instead of being linear...if that makes any sense. So going with the grain means going into the wood...perpendicular...and when you saw, file or sand it it's not particularly 'hard'. The Osage Orange is far harder, so is Oak or Mahogany, etc. When you sand Briar it kind of 'powders' and abrades quickly to a fine powder...right? This does the same thing. And if you look at the second photo below you can see that the inside of the burl is dark red and it get lighter as you move toward the surface, the outer area being somewhat creamy. Most of the commercial pieces I've seen take advantage of that color transition. I've got one more tight piece, well sealed in wax...others that I've seen in stores can be dry and very, very checkered (cracked). So ordering anything online with seeing it in person would be very risky.

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i.keenum

i.keenum

Age : 30
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PostSubject: Re: Make a great carving knife...why bother?    Make a great carving knife...why bother?  EmptyFri Feb 08, 2013 12:49 pm

Wonder if it would be harmful to smoke out of. How does the price relate to briar.?
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Blackhorse
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Blackhorse

Age : 72
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Registration date : 2010-10-23

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PostSubject: Re: Make a great carving knife...why bother?    Make a great carving knife...why bother?  EmptyFri Feb 08, 2013 12:56 pm

I think it has lots of turpins in it...
so if you made a strummel out of it and lit up..
.the whole thing would go up like a Roman candle!


Make a great carving knife...why bother?  Images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQeZnqhh-I_Stp3v6WC__QGNCV-uxkMxm9twciIvOnGXoecQNrN




Just kidding. I really have no idea.

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Blackhorse
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Blackhorse

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PostSubject: Re: Make a great carving knife...why bother?    Make a great carving knife...why bother?  EmptySat Feb 16, 2013 10:57 pm

Finished the second of the two piece set.

Given that the Red Coolabah Burl that I used for the handles has a tendency to open slight checking along the 'outside' of the burl (which is the top of the handles) I did something I've not tried before to keep that as minimal as possible. After the initial fitting and shaping I applied 4-5 coast of Pure Tung Oil and left it on during final fitting, etc. I was carefull to hit the face of the handle, where the bolster and spacers are applied, with a quick sandng with a 60 grit belt to expose fresh wood. The oil would NOT be good for the epoxy to adhere to, etc. And then of course a good cleaning with Acetone just prior to gluing. Then, after filing and sanding the guard and apacers smooth, and following final sanding with 320, 400, 600 grits and a good burnishing with 0000 steel wool plus a good hit with a cloth buffing wheel and white emory...I got out the trusty Dremel and a felt buffing wheel and put a goodly coating of Carnuba Wax all over the wood. Just like I would for a strummel. Hopefully the wax will stop or slow the moisture loss that promotes the checking. we'll see!

By the way, I used the first one completed to carve most of a Black Bear that is the head piece on a new club I just finished. The incredible sharpness, small size and excellent thinness of the blade really lent itself to the work. In other words...these little beauties REALLY are excellent carvers. I also noticed that the extended guard came in very handy in thumb placement during carving in all sorts of positions. This was a surprise.



Anyway - here they are:


Make a great carving knife...why bother?  B3148773-fe54-4668-9155-4d68629d84de_zps1bf3669d

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