Straight Wip

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Hello all,

Since many on the forums either wish to make knives or shave with straights I'm posting a weekend trip I did a few years ago to get instruction on making straights. Please forgive that sometimes I am trying to remember several years ago and I have slept since. This will be pretty picture heavy, over 100

I went down to the Houston area and met up with Bob Allman. He is a wonderful guy who is very generous on showing this art. I took a lot of photos as we went for notes and memory aids. Bear with me I'm not the best photographer and there are a lot of photos. There are two sets. One is Bob as he is working, demonstrating each step for me. The second set is my two after each step.

Here's where we were working on the design. We started with laying it out on the graph paper with a standard size of 6 x 1. I worked out 3 designs with Bob's help. Went with the first and third one.


Some of Bob's examples and sketches -


Chopping the bar stock off using an angle grinder -


We use spray adhesive to attach the designs to the steel. Bob than uses an etcher to transfer the design to the steel -


Using the same cutter we removed a lot of bulk material -


Refining the profile with a coarse belt on the grinder's platen -



Mine of after above –


Further refining the profile with a small wheel –


Mine profile and ready for shaping –


To be continued...

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Rounding the edges with the slack belt area –


His setup for doing this without burning your hands. Keeps things cool, critical once the steel gets really thin but make a huge mess -


Tapering the tang, reducing it on both sides –


Shaping the tang. Rounding it out for it final shape –


Mine tapered and shaped. Notice I already made a mistake of not taking off the scale from the blade area. Cost me quite a bit of work later –


Bob putting on his mark and serializing the blades. Mine will be marked later since I use electro chemical etching –


Here is my contribution to the lessons. Some file work, in this case twisted rope. Uses a chainsaw and modified marking file. Here are the first steps –


The file work after shaping and sanding –


Here's my 2 ready for hogging. Hogging is a knife maker's term for large amounts of metal removal on the blade –


More to come...

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Here Bob sets up the grinder for the 8" wheel for the first grind –


Here is the grinding setup ready. Area shows the area we are going to aim for removing with this first grind –


The knives marked to show how much metal will be removed for heat treat –


And the grinding begins –


Here is the test to make sure the wheel is lined up and square to the jig –



Cleaned up and ready for heat treat –


More to come...

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Hardening setup. Mini-forge and quenching pot heated to 150F –


Getting the blade up to non-magnetic for quenching. Notice the tang is outside so it doesn't get hardened –


And the quench –


Here the blades are getting ready for the first temper. Bob uses a deep fryer for it. Gets a 2 hour hot oil bath –


After the first temper it gets a dry ice bath overnight. This gives 1-1.5 additional points of hardness without risking chipping along the edge –


That night we feasted on some homemade brats I brought down with me...

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The next morning after the blades come back to room temp and goes back into the deep fryer for another hour –


Before we hit machines again we take a few minutes to trace out the blades to design the handles -



Here we start back into the grinding the blade. Starting here with a 8" wheel to further refine the hollow grind. Thinning the edge to about .020 –


Here is what it looks like after thinning –


Now for some weird reason I didn't get the 6" wheel shots. On the 6" we are rising the hollow grind toward the spine. It is the same setup and is ground to the same mark as the 8".

Here we move on to the 4" wheel to really get the hollow going. Setting it up –


Grinding out the area above where we had previously ground. In my case the area almost reaches the previous grinds. Should make it a bit easier to clean up –


Here they are after the grinds. You get a good idea where the wheel is grinding –


And onward...

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Here we move on to the 2" wheel. This really thins out the blade area. On this we did have to go back with a quick adjustment to knock down a bump that is left after grinding high on the spine. This is normal and turns the large bump into 2 smaller ones that are easier to sand out.



Let me add real quick here that since we were running out of time Bob switched from grinding one of his and letting me duplicate it on both of mine to him grinding one of mine and I doing the other –


Here are the results of the last grind on the blade –


Here we move back to the 8" wheel to knock down the shoulders so they have a better flow –


All done with the grinder –


And a quick buffing to cleaning up and they are ready for the joyful hand sanding -


At this point I headed home to finish the rest at my place...

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Well, after a lot of sanding I got the other one cleaned up to 220 grit. Got all the grind lines out –


Also got the top one done with 320. Not sure if it was my grinding (I did the post HT grinding on the top one) or my sanding but the edge isn't straight. It has a slight curve in the middle.


Once I get them sanded to 600-1000 I will move on to putting the handles -


Got the blades sanded and buffed. For those of you who may not have had a chance to do shop work let me tell you that can be a little nerve wracking. The buffer is the most dangerous machine in the shop. It can catch and throw a blade is a second. This was even more so since the blades are already sharp. That is normally the last thing I do when making a knife.

Moving onto the marking. Here is where I clean up the surface –


Setup to start etching –


The little toy. Set first to mark. This uses DC to remove metal through the stencil –


How it's done –


Set it over to mark. This use AC to remove and add the metal darkening it –


Not the best but I am not use to this steel –


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Here is one of the blades laid out with the handle design. These were done back at Bob's –


Blades, handles, and parts –


Trimming the handles –


Profiling the outside on the disc –


Here is where I wish I had done this at Bob's. I don't have large wheel to sand the inside perfectly smooth. Had to do it by hand –


Still not perfect but as good as I will get them. Left the end undone since I still have to shape them with the spacer –


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Splitting the scales. Here is another area I wished I had done at Bob's (looks like the handle should have been done at Bob's period). I was not able to split the wood cleanly –


The spacers. Following advice I saved the tip of the pattern for making it –


Getting everything together –


And on to the finish sanding -


Here are the two finish straights -





See, simple. Just follow each step and you can make your own :D


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Lord Jim, you do fine work (insert a long whistle here). I AM impressed. How's the thumb doing?

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Thanks though when under suprevision it's a lot easier to make something look good.

The thumb is about as healed as it's going to get. That's why I've been able to get back in the shop. I'm hoping to get a couple more knocked over the next week or so, yours included with luck.


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Take your time Jim and don't hurry on my account, I am a very patient man. The grand kids have taught me that.

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That Spanish point razor is gorgeous! I love the simple elegance of it

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Those are amazing. How much do you charge for them?

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Those were made while under instruction with Bob and I don't have the tooling. It would run me about $1k to get all the wheels and arms for doing it.

I can put you in contact with Bob if you are interested in getting one?


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As a former metalworker/machinist, I applaud the work entailed!

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Wasn't sure if they were something you were adding to your line of blades, which is why I was checking on how much you would charge.

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Someday maybe :D


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Thanks Drac! I always love your WIP/documentation threads.

It's a pity you don't have the tools on-hand to make more of these, they are straight up gorgeous.

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