For the manner in which men live is so different from the way in which they ought to live, that he who leaves the common course for that which he ought to follow will find that it leads him to ruin rather than safety.

Please visit my new blog:

Friday, December 30, 2016

Meh...Not My Best Day

I wasn't feeling good today. Didn't get much done, outside of prepping some pastry for tomorrow... a pastry. I pulled a new piece of micarta out of the press. By layering it just right, I got a two tone block to work with.

Bender Is Done

It ain't much to look at, and could use an adjustment or two, but it works.

Functional, could use a coat of paint, though.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Not Much Makin'

Today's focus wasn't so much on making new stuff as it was on getting rid of old stuff. Seriously, how much crap can a single guy in his thirties accumulate? (that's right, ladies, I'm single)

Anywho. Today was a purge day. I had a mini purge last week or so, and kept it going. Shit's gotta get gone! Besides cleaning, I got some shellac and wax onto my bottle opener and got it wrapped up for the new owner.

This evening was a little productive...

I need a functioning lathe. Drilling concentrically down a small rod isn't as easy as it looks.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Where The Hell Was I?

Talk about getting swept up in projects! I've been busy on a couple of things, and really have no idea where the time is going. To me, that's a good thing! It means I'm doing what I like.

I started yesterday morning making some blueberry muffins to share with my neighbor. Secret recipe!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Another Morning Update

I had unexpected dinner company last night, so instead of writing the post, I enjoyed some food and drink until the late hours. What did the day have in store? And what have I already done this morning?

Work continued on my little fixture. My standard vise setup ended up being too tall for the drilling operation, so I reset with my tool maker's vise. I need the holes to be drilled straight relative to the angled face.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Yesterday's Update, Today!

I wasn't feeling it last night, so I didn't do any writing. I just hit the chair and poured a glass. Let's have a look at what went down!

Took a break from knives to start work on a new project. I'm collaborating with a friend to make some new stuff. Anyway, I needed to do some angled milling. Here I've got my tilting table with the vise mounted to it. Getting everything straight!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Someone Is Having A Good Day!

And that someone is me! I hope. This mood could crash and burn at any moment, but I'm going to enjoy it for now. As I was wrapping up in the shop for the day, I was asked to provide a price for nine knives. Nine! WHOA!!!

Anyway, I had to do some math and get back to this prospective customer while I also worked on the current projects. Let's see what got done today:

New safety glasses! I saw these in the Lee Valley catalog and couldn't resist. I got two pairs.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Not Sure If I Like It

I finished a paring knife today and handled a Small Outdoor knife. Not sure if I'm sold on the paring knife...

I prefer flat sided handles, it's just me. I thought today I'd stray from my norm and round the profile of this one a bit more. I'm not sold. I think I might reshape it flat. Anywho, black with red liners. Future uncertain!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Just a Few Things ...

Not a bad Tuesday, if you're in to Tuesdays. I'm more of a Saturday guy, but a day is a day. Two new knives finished, and some notes about making laminated handles. Let's get this party started, shall we...

Last night, you saw them roughed out. They are now complete!!! Micarta scales made in-house. Two Outdoor knives ready to take on the world. Made from a charcoal Dickie's work shirt! Upcycle? Recycle? Reclaim? I dunno. All I know is that the longest lasting work shirts ever made can be made even more durable with the addition of epoxy resin!

Monday, December 19, 2016

First Micarta Handles

I've been waiting for this moment! They won't be finished until tomorrow, but I handled a Small and Large Outdoor knife with my own micarta tonight! I'm pretty stoked to see how this turns out.

One large, one small. Rough cut handles from a charcoal Dickie's work shirt! These scales are 3/16" thick. All drilled and ready to go.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Ah Hell, The Weekend Is Over

What a snowy, crappy weekend! Since Friday morning, we've gotten about a foot of snow here in Milwaukee. I don't like it, not one bit! I hated snow before all of the broken bones. I hate it more now. If you have a plate in your ankle, you know how I feel. Enough of my whoa-is-me crap...what did I do today?

Two folding knives. These are kits, but you have to do the handles from scratch. One is done, the other still needs a little tweaking. Once these are done, my Christmas list will be complete.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

When The Snow Doesn't Stop just hunker down. Well, sort of. We had a break for much of the day and I was able to do some running around and stock up on some supplies. Then it was back into the shop just as the snow started back up. I spent some time cleaning the shop...the deep cleaning...the throwing stuff away because I haven't looked at it in a year sort of cleaning. I need to do this more often! There is still some cleaning and purging to do, but I had some fun stuff I wanted to get done as well.

I started off by pulling my first piece of micarta out of the the press. It's approx 1/8" thick and solid. The West Systems resin did its job. I will trim this to final size later and prepare it to become knife handles.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Keep Calm And Carry On

So, here in great white Wisconsin, we have a doozie of a snow storm upon us. Good time to get a few errands done and hunker down for the the weekend, right?

Not so much. Silly truck broke down. That kinda threw a wrench in the works for the day, but I still got some work done.

These were supposed to go into the mail today. The truck situation made it more difficult to go and get wrapping paper and get them out. I'll have to mail them on Monday.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Lots Of Grinding...(and more)

So, last night I got the flat work done on eight new blades. Tonight I ground the bevels. I also got some other work done. To the pictures...

The blades from last night have been ground! After the bevels, they go back over the flat grinding platen to take the scratches out.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

My Night In One Picture

Eight blades sawed between last night and tonight. Flat work is done. I hope to get all of the bevels ground tomorrow night and heat treat them on Friday morning while the rest of the world is still asleep.

Three Large and three Small Outdoor knives. Along with two paring knives. This was my evening.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Completed A Pretty Cool Knife

I finished my secret squirrel project tonight. I wanted to make sure the idea would work before putting it all over the internet:

A Small Outdoor knife with hand knit burlap micarta! A friend of mine does knitting and crochet. She was kind enough to pass some scraps my way for this idea. This is why I made the micarta press. We'll probably talk about the press tomorrow.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Manic Monday

Monday is a gym night. So I don't get as much done. I go to the gym to pretend that I'm not getting older and putting on weight. It eats up half of my evening, so less shop time.

One of the handles that fought me yesterday continued to fight me today. It cracked. Only this time it was already epoxied to the handle. I now need to saw it off and clean the blade back up before installing a new set of scales. Ugh.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Let's Wrap Up That Weekend....

Ok...well...where to start. I haven't mentioned cooking for a while so lets start with food and then we'll talk about shiny metal things...

Usually I bake my own treats. This weekend, however, my dad made stollen. I hung up the apron, drove to his house and grabbed this tasty treat!!!!!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Knife Sizes

I got to see Ralph's initial impressions of the paring knife I made for him (here) this morning. It appears that he likes it (phew!). I get nervous making stuff for people. I mean, heck, I know I do good work, but it's what the customer thinks that really matters!!

Anywho, one comment he had was that it was hard to tell the size of the knife from the pictures. So, to rectify that situation, here are pictures of my current line up to give an idea of scale:

Paring knife top, fruit knife bottom. This paring knife is the same size as the others, the blade is just shaped a little different as this one is a custom order.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Thursday Night Action

Thursday night hasn't been too bad. Got plenty done...

I actually finished this one a few weeks ago. I'm delivering it tomorrow. I played with the etch a "a bit" I mean that I changed it entirely. Just trying out new things as I go.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A Good Wednesday

Pretty happy with this evening's work. Birdseye maple is the muse of the evening...

Paring knife after the first soak in oil. Birdseye maple, brass/stainless hardware.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Boring Night. But Productive.

Doing handles is the boring part of making a knife. There are four that need handles tonight. I have a few more that will get matched handles later this week. My hand sawing has been dismal lately, so I'm waiting til I get up to my dad's house and run the scales through the band saw there.

Moving on...

My day started with noticing that this warning sticker was flipping me off!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Anyone Got A Reset Button?

Looking at my title and suddenly wanting to make political jokes.

Anywho, my evening didn't go as planned. That's life, and we deal with it...

I laid up some laminated handles...and had a glue failure.

So, the red parts went back into the press with a black liner. Let's see if I get it right this time.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sunday Funday

My day in the shop:

I started by pulling my cherry/brass layup out of my little press.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

A Productive Morning

So, last night we left off with tossing a few blades into the kiln to be cooked. The new recipe worked great. Early this morning, I threw five more through the process. All of them came out as straight as they went in. I'm relieved! I'm definitely on the right track here. My paring knives were about 50/50 before. That's just not very good at all. On to the pictures...

One thing I wanted to do was fix this wheel. There is no spacer between the bearings, which meant that I couldn't torque up the axle bolt as much as I'd like. I decided to take care of that while the kiln was running.

Removed one bearing and got a measurement for the height of the spacer. In this case, it's OK to make it slightly long, but too short means that it isn't actually doing anything. I shot for a few thou over the nominal measurement.

Ready to reassemble and mount back onto the tooling arm. Notes on the process follow...

I still haven't finished my lathe. Mostly because I'm lazy. This needs to be done on the mill. NOT the way one would normally make this part, but that's life. As we said in the Army, "adapt and overcome."

To drill the hole, I put the spacer into my toolmaker's vise. My hold down clamps use two leveling screws each. Previously I had stainless socket heads. That's actually not a good idea, as they will score the mill bed. I switched them out to brass tipped set screws.

All clamped up.

The leveling screws lift the back of the clamp so that the clamp can provide the required holding force to hold the vise down. The actual block doesn't touch the bed.

Using the coaxial indicator to find the center of the spacer.

Always start with a center drill.

There's a part under there somewhere. You have to work your way up to the 1/2" drill, it's not practical to just power through.
As I finished up the spacer, blades were ready to come out.

I allowed three blades to cool in air, like normal. The two paring knives were quenched between the large aluminum blocks. It's amazing that there's enough heat energy in those two small knives to heat those blocks up within half a minute or so. They get nice and warm, which is sort of welcome this time of year when the basement gets a little chilly. The idea is that they cool the blades a bit faster than air, and can help to keep them straight too.

All of these were heat treated last night and this morning. All came out straight and like I said above, the change to my process seems to be what I needed. Nine blades that need to be finish ground and have their handles put on. I should have a fun week!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Keeping The Momentum

I gotta say, I feel reinvigorated after my vacation. Back to normal, or as normal as I get...a guy who's broken this many bones can only feel normal to a point. It's been a good week.'s my evening as it stands:

Last night was a light work night. I worked on a tooling arm for my grinder and ground out this little guy. A piece of scrap kept staring at me, and I knew it wanted to become a knife. I need a small utility knife around the shop anyway, so I came up with this. I think it's sorta cool. It's ready for heat treat at this point.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Inertia says that an object at rest will stay as such, and a moving object will stay moving. That is, until they are acted on by an outside force. I'm getting better at staying moving once I'm there. I'm using inertia to keep my lazy butt focused on getting things made. As long as I don't park on the couch, I can keep going until the neighbors complain about the noise.

A quick demonstration of what my grinding gauges do. Same shape blade, same wheel, same thickness. The top blade had a .125" gauge, the lower one a .063". You can see how the grind goes further up the lower blade, and is steeper on the top one.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Good Evening

Well, it's good if you look at the end result. Fact of the matter is that it was an evening dominated by sawing. As good as it is to have a band saw, it's the worst part of ANY project. Tool steel tends to wear blades pretty quick. I need to search out a source of decent blades that won't empty my bank account. This is compounded by the fact that I use a 64 1/2" band saw. Not the best. I can only afford what I can afford, though.

Alright! That's what I'm talking about. Two of each pattern. I'm making a third Small Outdoor knife with this batch so that I can have a permanent metal pattern. It has grown to be a favorite of mine. From left to right: Small Outdoor knife, Large Outdoor knife, Modern Paring knife, and Hunter. All sawed, shaped, and flattened. They're ready for their bevels. So that's eight total knives and one pattern. A lot of grinding! A lot of tool steel! I need to find my market and start selling these suckers or something...this is an expensive hobby and a house full of knives will just make people think I'm a serial killer. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Hodge Podge

So, as I wind down my's the details from what got accomplished last night and today. I think I can squeeze in a few more things tonight, but I'm pretty much ready to give myself over to the fact that I have to go back to my day job.

Grinding gauges. I use these to set up my belt grinder. I may have mentioned them a while back...can't remember, but I felt like talking about them because of how handy they are. Each one of these has a different step cut into it. The idea is that the step represents a dimension equal to or greater than half the thickness of the knife being ground. This allows me to reset my grinding rest to the same position every time. For example, a 1/8" blade needs a step of 1/16" or more. The closer to half, the less steep the grind...making a finer edge. The larger the step, the grind gets steeper.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

New Knife and New Grinding Rest

Two new things to emerge from my shop. First is a new chef's knife. Second is a work rest for the flat platen attachment.

At 10 3/8" OA with a 5 3/4" blade this is the perfect size for my kitchen. The blade was flat ground at 2 degrees on each side to make it super skinny towards the cutting edge. The thickest portion of the spine is 1/8". The handle is matched padauk with brass and stainless fasteners. It has its flaws, but is good for me. There's that old saying, "perfection is the enemy of good enough." When you're learning something, you have to remember that you won't get perfection the first time around. Or even the second or third. As long as I learn and do better every time, then I'm happy.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Flat Platen Done...

...and all I need now is the work rest. This has been quite the project. I put a lot of time into it. I'm one of those people who has more time than time is how I get what I want.

This is my morning's work. Before heading out to the family dinner, I spent some time in the shop to keep this going. The platen plate is in the mill. At this point, it was square and one face flat. It still needs holes for mounting screws. I also mostly completed the angle plate.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

New Knife Design

It's not my intent to keep coming up with new knife designs. This one, however, I wanted to make as soon as I thought of it. I believe I mentioned the beginnings of this new design in a recent post. Between you, me, and the rest of the internet, I'd like to find just a few designs that I enjoy making again and again...with the occasional custom shape thrown in for good measure. As opposed to having a gazillion "standard" shapes.

These are the large version of my outdoor knife. The top one has bubinga handles and brass/stainless hardware. The lower one has blue G-10 with a black liner, and stainless hardware. The blades are ground with a 12" hollow grind. The top has a full plunge grind, and the bottom is ground all the way back (I'm calling it a half plunge). 6 1/4" OA with 3 1/4" blades.

Flat Platen For My Grinder

As long as I'm knocking out shop projects, it's time for a flat platen for my grinder. Up til now, I've been using my Kalamazoo for flat work. The motor is old and tired, and the whole grinder was ready for out-moding when I moved up to my 2x72 grinder. It served its purpose and got me moving. Once the flat platen is done, all the work I do can be completed on my large grinder, and I can move the Kalamazoo to the shelf.

The basic frame, with wheels installed. I rough cut this on the band saw and milled the edges. The corners were all done on the grinder, and I laid out the holes the old fashioned way and punched them on the drill press. There's an oopsie or two one the radii, but that's all superficial. Since it's for me, I can live with it.

Monday, November 21, 2016

New Knifey Things...

Been working on sharp things...

The key to a chef's knife? Thin is in! This blade started at 1/8" thick. I used a 2 degree taper on each side to bring it down.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Grinding Rest Complete, and more

Gawd! It's nice to take a break from the day job!!!! I enjoy my job, don't get me wrong. I get to work on all sorts of cool machines. I troubleshoot, I assemble, I make's a good gig. It's also, however, a very tiring job. Physically and mentally. I haven't really taken a break at all this year so far. Hence the spotty entries here. When I get a chance to hit my shop, that's where I am. Sometimes I just don't have the energy to type an article when I'm done. Then a week later, it seems like old news to me, so I don't do it.

Well, that being said, I'm on vacation. I believe the snobbier amongst us would call it a "staycation." I don't use words like that. They make me feel pretentious and arrogant.

Anywho, I have a 10 day weekend, and I'm putting it to good use.

(rant over)

New stuff. Happy stuff. A 12" contact wheel from Ameribrade, and a pair of 2" wheels from Wilmont Grinders. The guys at Ameribrade are a new business, just getting on their feet. I thought I'd throw them a little support. The little wheels, well, we'll have to wait for a later post before we see them again. I need to get some new chunks of aluminum to build the attachment they are intended for. I bought some other wheels from Wilmont, and my grinder is based on his it's only appropriate that I support him.Well, it's appropriate because he makes good stuff. I could start a whole rant about...shut up, Mark. Ok.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Grinding Rest Redo

I've said it before that I rely on jigs and fixtures because my free handing skills aren't so good. That means that the guides I use need to be accurate and user friendly. My existing grinding rest for my belt grinder was neither, so it was time to remake it. Here's just a glimpse into one of the parts...

One reason I was putting off this upgrade was the fact that I didn't have a rotary table. Well...guess who has one now! First order of business is to find the center of the table, and that's done with a coaxial indicator.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Let's Make a Knife, pt 5

Let's see if we can wrap it up here in part 5! I took a ton of pictures, and probably made it seem over complicated, but what the hey! More info is good info. It also made me think about what I was doing.

This is an upside down picture because, honestly, I don't feel like editing it at the moment! Anyway, stuff laid out to fit the handles. Acetone to clean the blade, loctite for the nuts, epoxy, a cup, and a brush.