As with any creative process it begins with an idea written down on paper. There is not much room for error when forging metal so planning things out in advance is an important part of the process.
I design for myself is a rough guide to what I am intending in the final product. It is not a strict mandate on what must be created.
There are many variables that are sometimes beyond my control so it is necessary to adapt to these changes. Many times the unplanned elements or changes along the way lead to the greatest discoveries.
Making a custom knife is like making a diamond by hand. The pattern lends to the overall design and sometimes can drive or influence the entire concept.
The image rendered through the layers of steel must play along with the shapes of steel and the handle.
I am very fond of the distortion and movement that happens during the forming of the steel. Images stretch and distort and flow along all surfaces. I can only imagine all of the hidden images trapped within the steel that only show a small glimpse on the surface.
Combining steels involves a process of forge welding in heat and applying crushing pressures up to 25 tons. The pattern is achieved through many cycles of heating, forging, cleaning, cutting and reassembly of the components.
The steel must then be treated by cycles of heating and cooling in order to impart the qualities of a functional high performance tool.
Shaping the steel is achieved through both hammer and through grinding and sanding through many grits to achieve a final finish. Handle materials and fitting are carefully chosen to compliment the steel in shape, color, and tone.
The selection of the handle material is equally important to the creation of the steel cutting tool. The handle holds the user’s hand and allows optimum comfort and utility in the task of using the knife. Each handle is carefully contoured and sculpted with files and rasps as well as rough shaped using saws and grinding wheels.
There have been many occasions where a particular handle material has driven the entire design process of the knife! That’s how important the handle can be. The material for the handle can tell a wonderful story of growth and transformation. I routinely forage my property and environment for new inspirations.
Wood and other handle materials are sealed with a penetrating oil after sanding for a highly smooth finish.