This custom project is for a HUGE Bowie knife. It is in fact the biggest knife I have made and probably the biggest I will ever make as this about the limit of what I can get into the heat treating oven. As usual, the customer and I collaborated on the design. I sent sketches, we made adjustments, and came up with a design that he liked.
As I said this is going to be a BIG one. The customer has already named it "KING KONG". It will be a 21" Bowie style cut from 3/8" thick 440C stainless steel. It will have a blade 15" long and 3" wide, hollow ground and mirror polished. The blade will have a 6 1/2" sharpened top clip point. The full tang handle will be stabilized and polished smooth white giraffe bone and attached with 6 1/4" brass pins. The oval guard and butt cap will be fashioned from 1/2" brass.
We will finish up with a custom leather sheath with black stingray hide inlays.
Here is the final drawing of
where we are headed.
So let's get started. First, I print out a full size print of my drawing.
I use the print out to trace the blade profile onto the 3/8" thick x 3" wide 440C stainless steel bar stock. The bar stock weighs nearly 7 pounds but we will be cutting and grinding away a lot of that weight. As my mentor once told me, we will "grind away anything that doesn't look like a knife". This is still going to be a heavy knife. I am estimating that the finished knife will be between 4 and 5 pounds!
Now its on to the metal cutting bandsaw.
And "KING KONG" is born!
Next we finish profiling the blade with the disc grinder. This smoothes out the rough edges from the bandsaw and refines the profile of the knife.
That's all for today. Next I will finish profiling the blade and mark my center lines in preparation for rough grinding.
I do a preliminary surface grind to clean up the sides of the blade.
Next, I coat the areas that I will grind with a blue machinists dye.
When the dye is dry, I use calipers to mark where my grind lines will be. The blue dye acts a visual guide to help me in grinding.
Here, I darkened the grind lines so you can see them better.
Using a special tool I scribe the center line where the cutting edge will be.
Now I start by grinding 45 degree bevels not quite to the center line. I won't take it all the way to an edge at this point. I want to leave it a little thick until after heat treatment and then I will finish grinding.
Now I grind the top edge or "clip". Again I will leave this a little thick until after heat treatment.
Now the real work begins, a LOT of hollow grinding
Here we have pretty much finished the rough grind.
Now, I need to drill holes in the handle for pins and tap threads in the end of the handle for the butt cap. I'll give it another quick surface grind and then we will be ready to heat treat and harden the steel.
Here it has been surface ground to remove any remaining scale from the annealed steel.
Red hot out of the oven
Final surface grind
Now I gather the giraffe bone handle slabs and some 1/2" thick brass that will be the guard and end cap.
A quick mock-up
Next, I finish grind the blade. Since this knife is going to be mirror polished, I want to remove all grind marks. I do this by grind with a series of finer and finer grit grinding belts. I typically start with 60 grit and then progress to 120 grit, 240 grit, 600 grit, 1200 grit and finally 2000 grit. At 2000 grit the blade finish is almost mirror polished but I will now go through a series of buffing compounds to really remove every minute scratch.
But before I buff the blade, I need to sand the flats of the knife down to 2000 grit. I do the flats by hand to insure that there are no grooves or dips that might be left from a grinding wheel.
All polished up and shown with the beginnings of it's companion, "Kong II"
Now to make the brass guard and end cap.
The giraffe bone handle is taking shape but it still needs final sanding and polishing.
Here, I still have a little more work to do on the knife but I went ahead and started on the sheath. We did an overlay over stingray hide. I added a carving of King Kong to the bottom. The brass guard and end cap are covered with tape just to prevent scratches while I am working with the knife.
We are getting close now. Just some final polishing, etch the blade, sharpen and finish the sheath.
The finished knife.....
This was another monster knife weighing in a a little over 4 pounds! It 21" in overall length with a 15" x 3" x 3/8" thick blade.
The was a lot of knife to mirror polish but but it really looked great with that beautiful shine.