Saturday, January 24, 2015


Variations on a theme

A small batch of Benghazi Warfighters.  All of them are forged from 1/4" 80CrV2 steel.

First one is pretty standard fare for me, with tan canvas Micarta and Kydex.

One with tan TeroTuf and a black oxide finish.

Another in tan Micarta.

And a shorty double-edged version built for a Border Patrol agent, with olive drab canvas Micarta.

The difference in balance between a regular ~ 6 1/2" single edged Benghazi Warfighter and a ~ 5" double edged is interesting.  Usually they are slightly blade-heavy, making them chop decently for such a short knife.  The angle of the shot makes it look a bit further forward, but it's balancing just in front of the handle slab.

With the shorty, the balance point was right under the first of the handle rivets, making it feel very fast.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Jungle chopper for the Texas jungle

Those of y'all that don't think Texas can be a jungle should see the impenetrable masses of briars, mesquites, scrub oak, and wild rose that cover large portions of the state.  :D
This commission was made at the same time as the customer ordered up a Benghazi Warfighter for himself and one for his brother.  He has been very patient waiting for the chopper to get finished up, and I waited until he could give me some feedback on its use before I posted pics.

The blade is forged from 5160 steel, approximately 15 inches long, with a fully sharpened forward edge.  This is something I've done once or twice before, and is something I don't particularly want to do again.  :)
The handle is black Micarta with flared stainless steel rivets.  This is the longest blade I have ever put a slab handle on; usually they are integral sockets.  I'm very pleased with the results.  He ordered a Kydex sheath from me.

And a leather rig from Luke Swenson.

A closeup of the handle.  He wanted an exposed skullcrusher pommel.

Here's his report back: "So I finally managed to string together some days off and take the Chopper for a spin, but didn’t bring my phone so I don’t have any pictures. I cut through several thigh sized limbs as well as some smaller stuff. It went through both the live branches as well as some old dead ones with minimal force behind the swing. It took a couple of minutes to get through the thick stuff with just lazy swings and probably half that when I put some force behind it. Only thing that gave away that it had been used was some gunk from the green tree limbs which was easily cleaned off. No touch up on the blade needed, it’s still shaving sharp. 
The weight was perfect and the handle is very comfortable and the handle made it easy to keep my hand in place without slipping when swinging it. I loved every second of swinging it around. Thank you for such a well made proficient blade."
Always glad to hear about my blades being put to work.  :)

Friday, January 9, 2015

Finished chopper

Several people have asked me about the blunt-ended chopper pictured with the sinuous bush sword a few posts back.  It got black paracord for its wrap.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Sinuous bush sword and sheath finished up

I had built this sword toward the end of summer to have on my table at the Gathering, with the intent of it going to my best friend (who has been waiting a very long time for a bush sword from me) if it didn't sell at the show.  Although it got picked up a lot at the show, no one walked home with it, so I built a sheath to go with it, sharpened the top edge, and delivered it to my buddy.

Here it was post-heat treatment:

Ready for the show, top edge not yet sharpened.

And then, when I got to hand it to my buddy and get some final pics, it was, as usual, at the end of us working a long day on my family's farm, and lighting was less-than-ideal to capture it.

And my buddy, in appropriately dramatic pose with his new blade.  He's quite happy with it.  :)

Blade is approximately 16", steel is 5160, handle is an integral socket with marine-epoxy-impregnated paracord.

Visitors to the shop

Upon occasion I have folks come by the shop and visit.  This is the first time that they've originated from another country.  These fellows come from Australia, though some are now in the U.S.  The two in the middle wearing sunglasses are brothers, both veterans of the Australian Army.  The one holding the knife now lives in Texas and works in law enforcement.

They were hoping I'd have some blades for sale on hand, though pretty much everything I have at the shop at the moment are commissions for customers.  There was one knife in 80CrV2 with a leather and paracord wrap that I had discovered had a slight waver to the bevel and set aside to maybe fix later.  He pretty much insisted that I sell it to him, and since he stood taller'n me and was there with his gang, I agreed to sell it at a discount.  :D

They hung around and played with my new shop cat and tested out my demonstration tomahawks on the old clothes dryer while I built a Kydex sheath for the knife and gave it its final edge.  In amongst such was a lot of good conversation ranging from V8 utes to my usage of the compound contraction "y'all're" in a text message with him.

Also, if you look to the right in the first picture, you can see that I'm growing a beard!  :)

Monday, December 8, 2014

"Aggression" Primal/Tactical Rig for U.S. Army Sniper

I was recently approached by an Army sniper stationed in Afghanistan to build him a knife that would work equally well at clearing brush and gathering vegetation for building "hides" and for use as a weapon in up-close-and-personal encounters if need be.  He said he already carried garden trimmers and a folding saw, but as he put it, "they're pretty lame and useless as weapons".  :D

The knife on my website that had caught his eye was the latest addition to the Aggression brethren.

I had traced the blade of it prior to wrapping the handle, so I had a pattern to start with.  I made a few suggested changes to make it more practical, which I made in blue Sharpie, to which he agreed.  We also both agreed that retina-searing orange would be a poor choice for a sniper, and settled on a more subdued wrap for his.  :)

I made a posterboard pattern of the altered design, and after a couple of false starts, got the blade forged.  It took several cycles of cutting away excess metal, cleanup grinding, and re-forging to get the desired profile, weight, and balance.

After normalization and an overnight vinegar soak to eat off the scale, it was time for stock removal and heat treatment.

The wrap on this knife is a bit different from what I've done before.  Usually, I use an underlay of paracord with its core intact to build up the bulk around the tang, with a stripped-core paracord overlay.  This time, I laid a foundation of a slab of leather on either side of the tang, the edges heavily beveled to keep from getting square corners on the handle, then wrapped a black stripped-core underlay and tan stripped-core overlay on top, capped off with an intact-core three-strand Turk's head knot.  The whole wrap was then impregnated with marine epoxy, making a solid handle in place on the tang.  The leather foundation helped make one of the most comfortable handle wraps I've done, and I'm very pleased with the outcome.

After establishing the edges, the whole knife was dipped in solution to give it a black oxide finish and the final sharpening done.  The epoxied wrap was impervious to the solution.  I had tested out dipping a wrapped handle in before trying it on his, of course.  :)

As beautiful as the ostrich-hide-inlaid leather sheath was that Luke Swenson made for the previous Aggression is, the sniper and I decided that Kydex was the way to go for his.

This was the most complex Kydex sheath I've built to date because I wanted to give him a lot of carry options.  He wanted to be able to wear it attached to his pack or from his belt, and for it to have an extra retention strap, something I haven't done on a sheath before.  We also both like the concept of using the sheath as a platform for a survival kit, so that factored in as well.

Here's the full rig:

The two sets of MOLLE locks are for attachment on a pack, the straps can be used for such or for the attachment of MOLLE pouches to the outside to carry a survival kit, and the paracord is the same as used on the handle wrap, arranged where a piece is quickly accessible, but won't accidentally come loose from the sheath even if the end comes untucked.

Here's the "prosthetic" piece I built to attach the retention strap.

I wanted a quick way for the sheath to go from pack carry to belt carry, so rigged up a couple of quick-detach belt holders that slip under the MOLLE locks.  The first was the webbing one, which is more flexible.

I decided that he might want it more rigid on his belt, so I built a second one out of Kydex with a TekLok.

Both belt carry setups are height-adjustable and can be swapped out in under a minute.  Never seen another setup like that.  Doesn't mean no one else has done it, just that I haven't seen it.  :)

I'm looking forward to seeing how he ends up setting up the rig for carry.  I sent along what remained of the tan paracord, as well as 10 feet of the strap and some extra buckles and sliders.  He can play around with all kinds of different carry options.

And a couple of shots of the blade in hand to get a feel for scale.  I don't think I took final dimensions before shipping it out (though I can measure the tracing I did of it), but it's about a 12" blade with the top edge fuller sharpened for about 1/3 of the length.

And finally, a video with most of what I just said, but a bit more:

He's pretty happy with it so far.  Said he has to look at it every twenty minutes, which is what a maker likes to hear.  :)