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I Forge Iron

Primal Bowie for retired SWAT, with progress pics


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This one went out today to a retired SWAT officer who works at a military school and does survival training with the cadets, the Boy Scouts, and Venture Scouts.

He wanted a similar pattern to the SERE knife I made for the airman at the beginning of the year. I forged 3/4" round 5160 into a blade approximately 8" long with a spine 1/4" thick and a cross section that tapers from the spine down to the secondary bevel (or as some folks call it, the primary bevel. :D ). Essentially a full flat grind except that it's forged and filed instead of ground.

You can see how closely it was forged to its final dimensions. Not a whole lot had to be ground away to clean up the profile and not a lot had to be filed to complete the primary bevel.




After my typical triple quench in canola oil and triple temper cycle heat treatment I use on 5160, I cleaned off the oil and cut out a slab of leather for either side of the handle and cut a hole to match the anchor hole drilled through the tang. A little patience, a little tape to temporarily hold things in place, and I started wrapping the hemp cord around the leather. It anchors at the end of the handle through both the steel and the leather. Then I tied the two-strand Turk's head knot a the front of the handle using black cotton cord.



And then plenty of amber shellac to seal things and create a natural composite material in place on the handle.


After the shellac was nicely dried and hardened, I sharpened it to shaving sharp (giving it its secondary (or primary :D ) bevel. Here's what it looked like right before being packed away and dropped in the mail.


I would consider this to be part of my Primal/Tactical lineup, but leaning a bit more on the primal side of things.

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I admire your works clean lines and geometry. I am warming up to your handle treatment! At first I wasn't sure about a wrapped handle, but the more I see of this the more I think I might like to try it myself.

Good work as always sir!

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Thank y'all!

Kwisatz - I brushed it on using disposible acid brushes from harbor Freight. I give it an initial coat, then immediately follow with a second one. After it's had some time to soak in, I brush on a third, then will let it set up overnight. If it's too rough on the hand, I'll give it subsequent coats as needed to make it comfortable.

Bnewberry - Give a wrapped handle a try and see what you think. They're simple (not to be confused with easy) to do, and if you don't like it you can take it off and turn the knife into a hidden tang. Think of it as making a composite handle in place. As for the lines, I do have a good eye for flow of lines, if nothing else. :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have made wrapped composite handles as well. I used jute twine, then brushed on a thick coat of slow-setting epoxy. The slower the better, it gives it more time to penetrate the cordage and to self-level. It's a good idea to mask off anywhere you don't want epoxy with tape, it's cheap and saves a lot of work later. I also turn it regularly until the epoxy sets up, so I don't have drips form. Once it's completely hardened, I sand it smooth and finish with a coat or two of spray-on satin spar varnish, masking again to prevent overspray issues. Masking tape is cheap and saves a lot of work!

I really like the way your handle turned out. I am in no way trying to criticize your work, just offering an alternative means to a similar end. Thanks for posting!


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something i picked up as a trick from a guy working with carbon fiber and i use when i am building up handles on hammers and the like is to get it to the size you want coat it with epoxy and then wrap it with electrical tape with the sticky side out you still over lap the way you normally would with tape but the stretchiness of the electrical tape lets you squeeze the epoxy into the fibers and as well once it has set up you can unwrap it and have a fairly smooth handle its nice for doing odd shapes as well and gives nice satin finish that has a nice feel in the hand
if you are doing a particularly thick handle you can layer in the epoxy and just use the slow set stuff

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  • 4 weeks later...

Didn't take measurements beforehand. But I do the heavy forging using offset fuller dies on my power hammer that help spread the blade width out more than I can do with my regular hand hammer. If I used a cross pein as a fuller to spread it out, I'm sure I could do similar, but forging with the main face of my hammer makes for a longer, skinnier blade.

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