Saturday, June 15, 2019

Putting more "tech" in the mid-tech line

For a while now, I've been partnered with JB Knife and Tool working to add more "tech" into my mid-tech line of knives and tomahawks.  With shared work space, tooling, and expertise, we are working together to bring a greater quantity of high quality blades to meet our various customers' needs.

The most recent fruit of our combined efforts can be seen in my upgraded tomahawks.  The batch put together for the Blade Show and for Blue Line Gear, in addition to slightly wider tangs, a switch to 80CrV2 steel, and Cerakote, featured the first handle scales I've shaped with a CNC router and the first sheaths to have holes, slots, and outline cut with a CNC router.  As a result, I was able to add new texture to the TeroTuf scales for extra grip upon Ryan Johnson of Blue Line Gear's request (something that I like and will make standard on my 'hawk handles) and produce a larger batch in less time than I've previously been able to do.

Here's a look behind some of the process to build the tomahawks in this batch.

It began with my first batch of blanks to be waterjet cut directly by my steel supplier, the New Jersey Steel Baron.  I did not build all of these for the Blade Show, only 27.  :D

Someone on Facebook commented about them having nothing to do with blacksmithing and added "Add a handle and your [sic] done..." followed by a sad face.  That shows very little understanding of what it takes to build a quality blade, even using modern methods. 
I drilled out all the rivet holes to size, countersunk them slightly, and broke all sharp edges on the blanks where they would be comfortable to handle anywhere without digging into your hand.  Then I set up my new DD Work Rest for the main bevels and a homebrewed work rest for the spikes, marked my centers and grind lines, and got to grinding.

Next up was hardening and tempering.  Here are 11 of the 27 'hawks in for their first tempering cycle.

After that they took a trip to Cradin Industries for Cerakote.  After picking them up, I laser engraved my touchmark using a sophisticated positioning fixture.


The handles slabs are whittled out of a sheet of TeroTuf with a CNC router.  This requires three tool changes per sheet, after which it must be re-zeroed each time.



While the router was working, I cut the stainless steel tube rivets, which can be seen in the little tub.
After molding Boltaron sheaths, we used a cobbled-together holding fixture to drill the holes and slots and trim the outside of the shells.  A better fixture will be used in future batches.


After that, it was time to assemble and sharpen everything.

A box for Blue Line Gear...

...and a box for my table.

We built and installed shoulder slings while traveling to the show and at the show tables themselves.  I made my delivery over to the Blue Line Gear booth in two trips.

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