Kitchen knives available

At long last, I have a few kitchen knives available!  They will not be for sale here on the web site, however.  I was invited to be the guest maker for the Boothill Blades monthly email newsletter knife sale.  The newsletter will come out on Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at noon EST.  If you are interested in one of these, go to the Boothill Blades web site or just go directly to their newsletter to sign up.

A lot of love, time, and some special handle materials went into these.  I think you’ll find them to be exceptional kitchen tools which will last you a lifetime as long as they are cared for properly. Here they are:














And the flipside:














All of these are made of AEB-L stainless blade steel, heat treated to maintain a fine edge, and are razor sharp.  The handles are wood & cast resin combination, stabilized redwood burl, coconut coir Shadetree composite, maroon houndstooth Shadetree composite, and Red Devil Kirinite.  All handles are sculpted to a comfortable hand-fitting shape, even the little paring knives.  They are all ready to work in your kitchen!


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Some new updates

I’ve done a complete update of the website.  There are lots of new pictures in the folding knives, fixed blade knives, and kitchen knives pages.  Check them all out.  Here is a small sample of what you’ll find inside.

damascus stainless steel mammoth ivory barlow classic linerlock folder folding knife pocketknife damascus stainless steel mammoth ivory barlow classic linerlock folder folding knife pocketknife
damascus stainless steel mammoth ivory barlow classic linerlock folder folding knife pocketknife damascus stainless steel mammoth ivory barlow classic linerlock folder folding knife pocketknife

I think this is my favorite barlow of all that I have ever made.  I had to search long and hard to find the blue-green mammoth ivory that the customer asked for and putting it all together was truly a labor of love.  I hope he enjoys carrying it as much as I enjoyed making it.  The 2 1/4 inch blade, the bolsters, and the backspacer are all Devin Thomas stainless Damascus. The scales are a blue-green mammoth ivory. The first picture was professionally shot by Caleb Royer.

forged hunter 1084 high carbon steel nickel silver pin teak wood handle
forged hunter 1084 high carbon steel nickel silver pin teak wood handle forged hunter 1084 high carbon steel nickel silver pin teak wood handle

This 10 1/2 inch long hunter features a 5 1/2 inch forged 1084 high carbon steel blade with a 416 stainless steel guard. The handle is teak salvaged from the customer’s old boat and is accented by a nickel silver pin. The sheath is hand-tooled veg-tanned leather.

chef cooking kitchen santoku knives aebl aeb-l stainless blade steel chef knife koa stabilized exotic wood chef cooking kitchen santoku knives aebl aeb-l stainless blade steel chef knife koa stabilized exotic wood chef cooking kitchen santoku knives aebl aeb-l stainless blade steel chef knife koa stabilized exotic wood

Here is one of my kitchen knives that has been kicked up a notch! It is my normal 7 inch santoku profile in 0.100 inch thick AEB-L, in my opinion (and tests), the best steel available for high-quality, handmade kitchen knives. This one is set off by stabilized curly Hawaiian koa wood which are accented by copper corby bolts. The copper and koa are a perfect marriage of style and the AEB-L blade is razor sharp, holds an edge for a long time, easy to re-sharpen, and ready to go to work in the kitchen.

Please check out each of those pages for many more updates.

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More forged knives and a new low-cost option

Even though I have been pretty busy with other endeavors lately, I’ve also squeezed in some time for turning out a few more forged knives. Here is one example.
Handforged hunter knife 5160 blade stabilized wood curly Hawaiian koa handle domed nickel-silver pin
I was really happy with the way this one turned out and it represents several firsts for me.  The blade is hand-forged from 5160 high-carbon steel.  I really like this steel as it is tough, durable, and takes a heat treat very well to provide a really sharp edge and it holds an edge pretty well.

The guard is made from 416 stainless steel and I experimented with a new shape that turned out nice.  Behind that I placed a green reconstituted malachite stone spacer which is another first for me.  Here is a close up of the guard section.

Handforged hunter knife 5160 blade stabilized wood curly Hawaiian koa handle domed nickel-silver pin

The wood is very special.  I hand-selected a couple of boards of premium curly Hawaiian koa wood at a small mill in Honolulu a few months ago, which I sent off for professional stabilization.  I was able to cut out a total of 21 handle blocks from the wood and this is the first one I’ve used on a knife.  The handle is accented with a single 1/16 inch nickel-silver domed pin.  This is not the first domed pin I’ve done, but it is a relatively new technique for me.


I’ve also introduced a low-cost option.  These little neck knives, which I’m calling “The Claw” are simple, small, and very light.  They come with a kydex sheath designed for upside-down carry and work great on paracord around the neck or hanging on a carabiner from the front belt loop.

154CM stainless steel neck knife kydex sheath

You can see more pictures on my “Fixed” page or purchase on the “Available” page.

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Forging and Leather Work

Though I started with forged knives, I have been doing a lot of stock removal blades for some time.  But I love forged knives and I have shifted back to doing more of them lately.  Here are the latest two.










These knives are both meant to be used and are built to last.  Both have hand-rubbed blades forged from 5160 high-carbon steel.  The guards are 416 stainless steel.

I have also stepped out with some new techniques on the sheaths for these knives.









The smaller hunter has a pouch-type knife which is a bigger challenge for a knife with a guard.  The larger knife has a wide strap to hold the knife very securely in place.  I left the end of the strap hanging out past the edge of the sheath so it is easy to grasp and pop open quickly.  The space between the strap and the body of the sheath shows off the stainless guard when the knife is in the sheath.

Look on the “Fixed” page for more information and pictures of these knives.

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Making a Liner Locking Barlow Folder – Part 4

So far in this WIP series, I have built the rough handle, ground and heat treated the blade, and shaped the handle and finished the blade.  At this point, the knife is structurally complete.  It could be sharpened and used as is and would perform well for years to come.  BUT, it’s not very pretty yet.  Now it is time to put on the finishing touches.

The customer asked for hammered copper bolsters.  In order to do this, I made a punch for applying the divots into the copper by rounding the end of a 1/32 inch nail set.  The process is pretty tedious, but actually quite simple – just lightly punch randomly all over the bolster until there are no smooth spots left.  Here I am punching a bolster.

using a round punch to make hammered copper bolster

Here is a close up view of the completed bolster.

close up of hammered copper bolster














As is common for liner locking folders, this knife will have a thumbstud to assist in opening the blade.  The blade was drilled and countersunk prior to heat treating.  Now the thumbstud is installed with a 1-72 flathead screw.  The blade won’t fully close with the thumbstud in place, so a notch must be cut into the handle for it to fit into.  I disassemble the knife and then screw together the liner, bolster, and scale from the right side of the knife.  The location of the thumbstud was marked prior to disassembly.  I take the assembled piece to the belt grinder and cut the notch with a 1/4 inch diameter wheel.  The next picture shows the blade with the thumbstud attached and the side of the handle with the notch.  Notice that the notch is partially in the bolster and partially in the scale.  This notch is actually dual purpose.  In addition to accommodating the thumbstud, it allows the thumb to more easily access the locking bar when closing the blade and it is angled slightly to make it easier to get to the lock bar.

thumbstud and notch it fits into

Finally the knife is completely disassembled, all flat sides are lightly sanded one last time to ensure that there are no burrs on any edges and everything is carefully cleaned.  The nylatron washers are replaced with a new set because the washers which are in place during knife construction get dirty and are almost impossible to clean.  We don’t want any metal particles on the washers because they will wear down the blade tang and liners over the years of use.  Finally, all these parts are assembled one last time and threadlock is applied to the hidden screws and the pivot screws to ensure that they do not back out with use.

barlow style liner lock folder completely disassembled












After careful cleaning and final assembly, the knife is finished.  Here are some pictures of the knife ready to go in the mail to its new owner.

barlow liner lock folder with sheepsfoot blade and hammered copper bolsters closed barlow liner lock folder with sheepsfoot blade and hammered copper bolsters half-open barlow liner lock folder with sheepsfoot blade and hammered copper bolsters open

That’s it.  I hope you have enjoyed following along with this knife build.  Please leave any comments or questions.

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Making a Liner Locking Barlow Folder – Part 3

In the first installment of this series, I went through building the rough handle for a Barlow-style liner locking folding knife.  The blade was cut out, fitted to the handle, ground, and heat treated in part two.  This section will cover shaping the bolsters and handle scales and finishing the blade.

During handle construction, the bolsters were cut out, drilled and fitted onto the liners, but were left as rough blocks of copper.  Now the handle scales must be added and both bolsters and scales shaped.  I drilled the zebrawood to fit the liners and roughly cut it to size on the bandsaw.  Then I sanded it to the exact profile on the belt grinder.

zebrawood scales cut to profile shape on barlow style liner lock folder

The next picture shows the bolster shaping started.  I grind each edge down at an angle like this, then grind the next section up at a shallower angle, and finally round all the sharp edges out.

shaping copper bolster on barlow liner lock

Wait, you say now – that’s not the same wood!  So here is the explanation.  Shaping the metal bolsters without the handle will result in bolsters that are slightly rounded downward at the rear.  This creates an unsightly depression in the area where the bolsters and scales meet.  But grinding on the bolsters with the scales attached can burn many handle materials.  The risk is greatly increased with copper bolsters because the copper is a really good conductor of heat.  In order to avoid this risk, I make sacrificial scales from scrap wood to use only when shaping the bolsters.  Once the bolsters are ground to shape, I replace these scrap wood scales with the correct scales and then shape the wood.

Here is the result:

bolsters and scales shaped on barlow liner lock

And here is the knife, both opened and closed, with the rough blade installed.

knife assembled with bolsters and scales shaped

The next major step is finishing the blade.  This is my setup for handsanding blades.  I made a wooden bracket to mount the small vise on its side and hold a blade horizontally for sanding.  The blade is always protected from scratching by the vise jaw by leather.  The small board under the blade prevents the blade from flexing downward while I am sanding it so it won’t bend.  The bench-mounted magnifying glass is vitally important for frequent inspection of the blade so I can ensure that all imperfections are removed.

my setup for hand sanding blades

Now a little philosophizing on hand-rubbed blade finishes.  The next picture shows the blade for this knife with hand sanding finished up to 1500 grit and another blade that has been finished to 220 grit.  Many people say that you can’t tell the difference as you continue to go to higher and higher grits and I agree that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to tell the difference in a 600 grit finish and an 800 grit finish, but you can see from this comparison that the opposite ends of the spectrum are very easy to distinguish.  Not only is the finer finish more aesthetically pleasing, it also leaves much less surface area for corrosion to form.

comparison of 220 and 1500 grit hand rubbed finish on knife blade

After sanding is complete, the blade is etched with my maker’s mark.  The next picture shows the stencil for applying that mark.  The black electrical tape serves three purposes:  to hold the stencil in place on the blade, to the secure the blade while etching, and to protect the blade from stray marks.

set up to put makers mark on sheepsfoot blade

The etcher uses DC current first to remove metal from the blade, etching the mark into the blade.  Then it is switched to AC current to burn on the black finish in the etched lettering.  Here is the finished blade with the mark applied.

finished hand rubbed sheepsfoot blade for barlow liner lock

The final installment will cover the finishing details to complete the knife.

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Making a Liner Locking Barlow Folder – Part 2

In the first installment of this series, I went through building the rough handle for a Barlow-style liner locking folding knife.  Now it is time to make the blade.  This very unique custom knife will have a sheepsfoot blade.  Here is the blade profile scribed from the pattern onto a bar of 3/32 inch thick 154CM stainless steel.

sheepsfoot blade profile scribed onto 154CM stainless steel

Just like the liner, the blade is cut out close to the line on the bandsaw and then ground exactly to the line on the 2×72″ belt grinder.  The pivot hole is center punched, drilled slightly small and then reamed to an exact one-eighth inch.  Drill bits can produce holes which are not exactly round so the reamer is used here for a hole that is precisely sized and exactly round.

Next I got fully absorbed in the most tedious part of the whole process and forgot to take pictures, but not to worry, I will post an entire tutorial on cutting out the lock and fitting up the blade in a future post.  The locking notch is scribed onto the back end of the tang and cut into the blade at an eight degree angle.  After the pivot hole is drilled and the locking notch cut, the blade is placed onto the pivot on the left side liner and clamped down at the desired open position.  The liner is scribed along the notch to indicate the end of the locking bar.  The locking bar is cut out, drilled to receive the detent ball, and bent inward.  Then the end of the blade on the other side is slowly filed down where it meets the stop pin until the lock bar engages and notch in the blade.  Here is the knife assembled to this point and ready for the blade to be ground.

barlow style locking liner folder rough handle with blade blank installed

You can see the line scribed across the blade where the plunge line will be ground.  Also visible is the countersunk hole which will receive the thumb stud.  Here I am grinding the blade.

grinding knife blade















Here is the rough ground blade.

rough ground sheepsfoot blade for barlow style liner locking folding knife


The blade is wrapped up air-tight in stainless steel foil to protect it from oxidation during the long time at high heat in the heat-treating kiln.

154CM sheepsfoot blade wrapped in stainless steel foil for heat treat


The next installment will cover shaping the handle and finishing the blade.

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Making a Liner Locking Barlow Folder – Part 1

I am working on an order for a customer who saw my first Barlow-style liner locking folding knife and asked me to make a similar knife.  The starting point is the pattern which I have designed and cut out in Formica.

custom barlow liner lock folder patterns

I have built several Barlows using the classic clip point blade pattern.  This build is a little different, though, as the customer has requested a sheepsfoot blade.  I made a new blade pattern for this which is shown in the picture above the clip point pattern.  The next step is tracing the liner pattern onto 0.042 inch thick titanium using a carbide scribe.  As shown in the next picture, the titanium sheet is painted with Dykem blue, a dye which makes the scribed line easy to see.

scribing the pattern onto titanium liners for barlow liner locking folding knife

After the pattern has been traced onto the titanium for both liners, they are cut to rough shape on the bandsaw as shown below.

cutting out titanium liners on bandsaw

Next, one liner is ground exactly to the scribed lines on the belt grinder.  The two liners are taped together with a strong double-sided tape and all holes are marked and center-punched.  Holes are drilled and tapped while the liners are taped together to ensure that the holes are exactly aligned in the opposing liners.  The next picture shows the two liners, which are now screwed together so that the second liner can be ground to size to exactly match the first one.

liners with all holes labelled

The picture above is labeled to indicate the purpose of each hole.  The handle scales will be screwed into the two holes labeled “scale”.  The back end of the knife will be held together by two flathead screws through the backspacer holes.  These holes will be opened up to clearance size and countersunk on the left liner.  The screws will be hidden beneath the scales.  The pivot hole will be drilled and reamed to one-eighth inch to accommodate the pivot.  The bolsters will be held on by screws into the pivot and by a second screw in the bolster hole.  Finally, a second one-eighth inch hole will be drilled for the stop pin where the center punch depression is visible.

The next picture shows both liners with all holes complete and the liners separated.  The copper bolsters have also been drilled and countersunk and the backspacer rough cut and drilled.

liners with all holes drilled, topped, countersunk, with rough bolsters attached and backspacer

Here is the entire handle assembled and the bolsters and backspacer ground to the correct profile.

rough handle fully assembled

This slab of stabilized zebrawood will be cut and shaped for the handle scales.

zebrawood piece for scales on barlow style folder















That’s all for now.  The next installment will show construction and heat treating the blade.








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This was a very stange day.  Most people know by now that there was a 5.9 magnitude earthquake in Virginia.  At work in Washington DC, I felt the building shake vigorously.  I’ve only been in one other earthquake and that was about five years ago in California.  When that happened, I ran out of my office looking for a way out of the building in a hurry.  All the native Californians looked at me like I was crazy and told me to go back to work and not worry about it.  This time, everyone else looked as concerned as I was.

When it was over, there actually wasn’t much damage.  In fact, there was nothing significant as far as I know.  Even though this one didn’t cause much damage, earthquakes can be devastating.  As I consider what could happen, I also remember that current forecasts have Hurricane Irene coming through this area this weekend.  Any number of natural disasters and emergencies can leave people over a large area in a situation where they must fend for themselves for survival.

This may not seem to be that closely related to knifemaking, but it really is.  I’m reminded by all this that we need to be prepared for whatever may happen.  In an emergency survival situation, a good knife is an invaluable tool.  A knife can be essential in cutting vegetables, digging out of rubble, butchering game for your next meal, or a host of other tasks essential to life when the normal societal infrastructure has broken down for whatever reason.

That is why I strive to make every knife the best that I possibly can.  I want to ensure that if you are in any situation where you must rely upon one of my knives that the knife does not fail you.

So is a good knife the most essential tool in an emergency situation?  Let me know what you think in the comments.

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A New Folder Design, How It’s Made – Part 1

This is the first of a three-part series to give a brief overview of how I make a locking liner folding knife.  My methods are roughly based on a tutorial written by Ray Rogers, though I depart from his method at several steps.  This is a new design so I start bydrawing out the design.  Knifemakers use a variety of methods for drawing out their designs.  I draw mine in PowerPoint, using the edit points function to drag the lines around until I get the shape I want.  After the drawing is complete, I print it out and paste it onto kydex to make a pattern for each of the knife parts.  Here are the kydex patterns with the paper drawings still pasted onto them.

Kydex patterns for blade and liners

It is important to make solid patterns instead of just pasting the drawings onto the steel and cutting it out.  The patterns can be pinned together to see how the knife will look and feel in various positions.  If the kydex pattern does not feel right in your hand and in your pocket, then the finished knife will not either.  Fine adjustments can be made much easier at this stage than when working with the steel and titanium.  Here are the patterns pinned together in the opened and closed positions.

Knife patterns in open position

Knife patterns in closed position

Now that I’m happy with the size and shape of the patterns, it’s time to start on the knife itself.  The first step is to mark the blade pattern onto the steel.  I mark around the pattern with a permanent marker then remove the pattern and color in all around that area.  This allows for a good contrast when the blade shape is scribed with a carbide scribe.  The scribe scratches a line into the steel and it is very difficult to see without coloring over the area first.  Here is the blade shape scribed onto the steel.

Blade pattern scribed onto steel

Notice that I have marked off two identical blades back to back on the steel.  For folders, I always make two blades at the same time.  This makes it easier to grind the blade because one blade can be used as a handle while grinding the other.  When grinding fixed blade knives, the tang serves as a handle, but that area is so small for a folder blade that it is difficult to hold onto.  Making two blades at once solves this problem.

Next the blades are ground down to the profile shape all the way around.  At this point, I drill all the holes in the blades before the bevels are ground into the blade.  It is much easier to fasten the blade down flat to ensure that the holes are perpendicular to the blade if the drilling is done while the blade is still flat.  Here are the two blades fastened into my drilling fixture.

Blade in drilling fixture

Here are the blades with all holes drilled.

Blade with all holes drilled

Next the bevels are ground.  Then the blades are cut apart and heat treated.  Grinding and heat treating will be the subjects of future posts so they are not covered in detail here.  The next picture shows the blade after heat treating.

Heat treated blade

Fabricating the liners and assembling the handle section of the knife will be covered in Part 2.

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