A Knife Build: Start to Finish
So, from the beginning when I started making custom knives for my clients, I wanted them to experience and feel as if they were part of the entire process. I did not want to just leave them with an empty initial consultation, where we discussed the details of the build, from the steel used, to the design, the materials, and of course, the hard earned money they were willing to pay for a custom knife. I wanted them to be an integral part of the development, up to completion, and to aid in building a better customer relationship.
From the time we (the client and I) agreed upon the minutia of the build, I would send them photos and video of the steps taken to produce the knife they were willing to wait for me to make for them. They would see the piece of steel billet, unformed, flat and uncharacteristic, to having the shape of the design drawn on to that empty canvas. A photo would show the rough cutting out of the blank before it was taken to an 8″ stone wheel to clean up the edges.
These would be followed by pictures of a clean, well profiled blank of the knife design, taking shape, with minor detail such as a choil, pin and resin holes, jimping, and sometimes the maker’s mark stamped into the metal. Next, they would get to witness the bevels being cut into the blade…the ricasso, the plunge lines, the personality of the knife, beginning to appear. Once those were completed, preparation for the heat treatment would ensue.
The client would be able to see the blanks coated in anti-scale agents, then placed into the heat treat oven to undergo three separate cycles of normalizing to even out the carbon steel molecules. The pictures would show the red hot metal glowing, having reached a temperature where the steel loses its magnetic properties (in excess of 1450 degrees). These three cycles would give way to hardening, where the knife is taken to a set temperature, allowed to soak, and then hardened by quenching in oil, to increase the toughness of the steel and create martensite, which is small, fine grain structure in the steel. Finally, a couple of tempering cycles in the oven to make the knife a bit less fragile and the final steps could begin.
Once the knives are clean from any scaling, they would be taken to the grinder in progressive grit sanding belts to the desired finish on the bare metal. Handle scales, pins, and such are gathered, then the final finish is placed on the knife. This could be anything from stonewashed, to blued, so acid etched, and so on.
At last the handles are put on the knife, shaped, and polished. The edge is put on the blade making it shaving sharp, and a sheath is made for the client to safely carry.
These steps can take anywhere from a few weeks to couple months, depending on the specific build, its requirements, and the number of total orders in a batch. Each one of my clients gets to experience the build to the best of my ability to provide such to them. I plan on doing an page on the site in the near future showing the build of a knife in pictures and videos, so anyone visiting the site can get a small glimpse of the heart and soul of the knife maker that goes into each blade.
You may also contact me and we can send you on your own journey with a knife that would be made specifically for you.