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I Forge Iron

52100 Integral Bolster Knives

Graham Fredeen

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I figured since I neglected to post these here when I actually finished them, I might as well do it now. Figured you folks might enjoy them.

Blade Length: 3.125" (tip to start of edge, 1.5" choil/bolster)
OAL: 8.0625"
Hand Forged 52100 Blade, differentially hardened.
Hand rubbed finish
Big leaf maple handle with hidden tang integral bolster construction





And here is the second:

Blade Length: 2.75" (tip to start of edge, 1.5" choil/bolster)
OAL: 7.5"
Hand Forged 52100 Blade differentially hardened
Hand rubbed finish
Madrone burl handle with hidden tang integral bolster construction




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I'll second that. Those are really nice. How do you get such a clean fit between the bolster and the handle? Some sort of filing jig or something? I did a couple like this and they turned out pretty nice, but didn't have as nice and crisp and clean of a junction there. I used dye in the epoxy and the slight gap isn't noticeable to anybody but a knifemaker, but always looking for ways to improve. And the Madrone burl... Wow, seein' as I live in Oregon I should get some of that stuff and give it a whirl. It'd be a hit around these parts.


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Thanks folks.

Mitch and mcraigl, the answers to both of your questions is with hours and hours of work, and being very perfcetionistic ;)

Believe it or not, I actually didn't use a file guide to fit those handles. I filed the shoulders completly by eye, and then slowly with many trial fittings, sanding slightly in between (removing a little here, check the fit, a little there, check the fit, etc), fit the handles sections to the bolster. A file guide would make this process a heck of a lot easier and faster for sure. I know Uncle Al, over at Riverside machine shop makes a nice integral file guide, with a round section that can clamp to round bolster transitions. Its not exactly "cheap" though, but would be well worth it if you plan on doing any more of these guys. I'll probably end up buying one, or make something of my own for the task on future integral blades.

And in terms of the blade finish, that is just lots of practice at hand rubbing blades. The important thing when doing a hand rubbed finish is to keep all the sanding scratch pattern going in the exact same direction, and you must have a great deal of consistancy in your sanding motion (speed, pressure, direction, etc). Also its important to not try to jump and skip grits too early, you must first make sure you get all of the previous scratches from the previous grit out of the blade first (helps to not have drastic jumps in your grit progression). Doing good hand rubbed finishes is extremly labor intensive and takes a great deal of time to do. Most folk don't do them right and end up with "hooks" in the finish (little c-shaped scratch patterns from changing direction, or stopping/starting inconsistatly, etc). Despite all the work though, I think its completly worth it for the result. I've come to really hate grinder finishes (they are alright on some blades, like those that will take a beating, but for anything else in terms of high-end custom knives, I think its just poor craftsmanship and taking the "easy" way out. Again, there are exceptions to the rule).

Hopefully that answered your questions. If you need any additional pointers, feel free to drop me an email.


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Thanks guys.

Michael, good too see a familar face. Glad you enjoyed my youtube videos. Someday I'll get the rest of them up there (there's tons more in that "series" on making a pattern welded knife.)

bigfootnampa, I don't think you'll have to worry too much. My production is very very limted and I get very little time in the shop anymore, so its not too often I have new work to show ;) . But definately don't be afraid to post your work here, even if its next to mine and you don't think it looks as good. There's nothing wrong with making a knife that isn't perfect or pretty. And remember, my knives didn't always look like this, you should have seen some of my "firsts" ;)

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Hey Graham,

I dont suppose you have a pics of those swords you were working on? I want to see them finished. Those were real beauties!

Cheers mate! Keep it up!

Unfortunately those swords didn't really make it. I accidently ground the fuller too thin near the tip of that smaller viking styled sword, so I ended up using it for HT practice and a destruction test afterwards. And the larger longsword, I still have, but it warped pretty badly durring heat treat (its got good performance though) so I never took it further. I tried heat treating those swords in my forge, before I built my digitally controlled vertical HT furnace, which is why I had the warpage issues. I havent had time to really play with any swords since then. Hopefully life will slow down here in the next few years and I can get back into doing some swords. I'm really wanting to do some multi-bar pattern welded viking swords and things like that, maybe even some large pattern welded longswords etc... but thats all a ways off still. I think my main focus for the next couple years will be prepping my work to go for a Journeyman Smith test in the American Bladesmith Society, and just trying to keep up with various commissions that come in, etc.
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