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I Forge Iron

First kitchen knife. Ladder damascus. Pic heavy


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Also the 30th knife I have made. I have a spreadsheet and keep track.


Steels: 1084, 15n20. 600 layers ‘organic’ ladder. Handle: curly, or fugured I've seen it called, Koa wood with gaboon ebony front. No end grain towards cutting edge. 

Overall length 14.5”  blade length ~8.5”

weight feels quite light at 8oz.

Etched with ~20% ferric chloride, darkened after sanding with Walmart brand instant coffee.



A few months ago my Aunt and Uncle went to Hawaii and he brought me back a block of curly Koa wood figuring I could make a pretty knife handle with it. Well, tonight I’m giving him that wood back, with a blade stuck in it. 


Originally I wanted a high layer perfectly even ladder pattern. And have it match the ‘chatoyance’ of the wood. I made dies for my 88# Anyang, but had too many bars on it and the steel bounced too much to get nice even rows. Then I thought what if the pattern is more ‘organic’ and flows like the wood itself does? So I risked the 640 layer biller and gave her a go on the bouncy dies.


I really like how it turned out. 


Ends of the billet from 20 -> 80 -> 320. Then a hotcut and single fold to 640.  Call it 600.







Made a block from a slab of mesquite, had a clever idea. Just after the dark line on the top of the block, i have a strong hidden magnet about 1/8” from the carved channel the blade goes in that holds the edge off the wood when the blade is inserted.

My lovely wife made some vinyl to put on the block.



Now for my own critique: the ebony front ofthe handle should have been filed more carefully to leave less gap. I filled the gap with epoxy mixed w/black printer toner.


Where I put the touchmark, it dished the steel and I couldn’t grind that deep on the whole thing to get it flat... still figuring when to stamp in the process... need to electro-etch...

also the scratches in there I couldn’t get out without eating too much of the stamp.



Self critique over.


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Love it. The ebony/Koa combo is very aesthetically pleasing.

Aside from your self criticisms, I think the work is excellent, I really like the handle shape. Only thing I’m wondering is if the handle is angled downward. Hard to tell in the pics if it’s in line with the blade or if it angles slightly downward (from an edge down, horizontal perspective). When I make a chef/large kitchen knife, I like to actually give the handle a slight bend in the opposite direction, mostly for knuckle clearance when chopping, but that’s just a personal preference of mine. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Thank you. It was a blast to make!


The steel work was fairly straightforward. However, I feel most accomplished in getting the angles of the wood (where koa meets ebony) and the front of the ebony into matching the roughly 15 degree angle I put on the heel of the knife... hard to explain what Im talking about. The angle where the ebony part of the handle meets the spine on the steel is not 90 degrees, its more of a 75/105 degree, and I wanted the wood lines to match and be parallel to that angle.


For me, that was the hardest part of the whole build... LOL

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Nice looking knife. 

On 12/31/2018 at 3:52 PM, Jclonts82 said:


Made a block from a slab of mesquite, had a clever idea. Just after the dark line on the top of the block, i have a strong hidden magnet about 1/8” from the carved channel the blade goes in that holds the edge off the wood when the blade is inserted.


I will hopefully remember this on my next one.   Thanks for sharing.

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