Photo 1: Since a Gordo is a high end knife, I thought we'd add some filework to the spine. The filework pattern I do is called a double vine. It consists of a series of two different types of cuts arranged in a pattern. A guy has got to be pretty steady here. As you can imagine a slip wouldn't be a good thing, either for my fingers or the blade. This picture shows a lot of sparks flying. Thats a good sign. These sparks show us that our steel got hard in our heat treating process. See how complex some of these sparks are? That is a sign of hardened steel.
Photo 2: Our next step is to attach the bolster. I chose a nickel silver bolster for this knife, as I thought the color of the nickel would go well with the handle material. Two pieces of nickel are cut from a bar. Then using the blade as a template, I drill the holes in the nickel material that are needed for the pins. I attach my bolsters by peening the mosaic pins. What this means is that those pins that you can see in the photo are ground almost flat and then I hammer the heck out of the pins. The holes through the nickel have been tapered slightly. This tapering gives the pin room to expand when hammered in essence becoming a rivet. I seal the bolster with JB Weld first prior to the peening and you can see some on the pins and between the bolster pieces on the spine. The JB Weld acts as a moisture barrier as well as providing some additional adhesion for the bolster. I use to silver solder the bolsters on, which is a more traditional way of doing this. However, my testing has found that this system of JB Weld and peening provides a stronger bond. Those bolsters are on there. After peening, the bolster is ground to shape, the blade is wrapped in tape and the knife is ready to have the handle material attached.
Photo 3: Here we are glueing on one side of our handle material. I had found a very special piece of blue Mammoth Tooth to use for this knife handle. It was a unique blue color, one that I had not seen before. On Mammoth Tooth I use a liner which is the red line of fiber material going horizontal in this picture. This has previously been glued to the bottom of the handle material and will go between the material and the tang of the knife. I also glued a blue piece of fiber to the top of the tooth. Sandwiching the tooth in this manner will aid me in the working of this material, particularly when its time to drill holes through it. It will help prevent chipping of the handle material. This blue fiber will be ground off later in the handle shaping stage. During the glue up, I put in a small red spacer between the bolster and the handle material. This spacer will match the liner and also provides some stability to our project. Here the right side of the handle material has been glued up and clamped. I'm checking to make sure that the handle material is square and tight against the bolster. After drying overnight, I will trim off any excess handle material and then drill the pin holes using the holes in the tang as a guide. After drilling, I will glue the left side handle material on and allow it to dry overnight again.
Photo 4: After the second side has dried, I will drill the pin holes all the way through and then glue in the pins and thong tubes. After these have dried I trim off the excess pin material and any excess handle material. In this photo, the knives in the foreground have been trimmed. The knives in the background still need their pins trimmed. I use my small metal cutting bandsaw for this operation. This photo shows a pretty normal batch of knives. There was sixty in this group. I have not yet started shaping the handles and I call this the 2x4 stage as all the handles are square and blocky.
Photo 5: Now we are starting to shape the handle and bolster. I will use this grinder to get all the large inside curves evened out. At this stage I'm paying particular attention on trying to get the tang of the knife absolutely perpendicular to the grinding belt. I call this setting the angles. This is all done by eye and feel. I have already set the angle on the spine which can be seen between my thumb and forefinger here. At this stage I am using a 120 grit ceramic belt.
Photo 6: Here I'm using a spindle sander to get into any small curves such as finger grooves that I can't reach with my other grinders. This is a 80 grit sleeve and removes material quickly as you can see in the photo. Care must be taken to keep the tang perpendicular to the sleeve. I have found that changing the direction that the knife is pointing during this operation keeps things even. In other words, I will do half of this grinding with the blade to my right and half with the blade to my left.
Photo 7: The first view of our handle material. I'm using my 9"disc grinder to grind off the blue fiber that was on top of the handle material and to also even out the handle material, pins and bolster so that they are level with each other. Mammoth Tooth does not like to get hot from the grinding, so I'm constantly dunking the whole knife into water to cool it. In this pic you can also see the uniform finger groove done by the spindle sander.
Photo 8: Shaping of the handle continues. Using two different grinders in four different configurations, I will continue to shape and refine the handle shape. In this pic you can see that I am using what is called a slack belt. That means that there is nothing under the belt supporting it. You can see the flex in the belt caused by me pressing the knife down onto it. This enables me to grind the handle with a convex shape to it that is pleasing to the hand. It also allows me to round off the corners. The perfect handle is either a rectangular oval or an oval shaped rectangle. I proceed from 120 to 220 to 330 to 400 grit on the handle and tangs. I then proceed onto 600 and 800 grit on the tangs. The total time frame to accomplish this stage is about 45 minutes per knife. This is really the last of the grinding that I do and polishing will soon begin.
Photo 9: Using a buffing wheel on a Dremel tool, I buff out any little rough spots or nicks I might have caused with the grinding belts. The knife is now smooth to the touch and has been shaped to its final configuration.
Join us again as we finish this knife though a multi stage polishing process and finally sharpening and testing the edge.