Decided to make my own knife...advice would be welcome

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Decided to make my own knife...advice would be welcome

Post by proteus » Mon Jan 13, 2014 10:27 pm

Hello all ZS knife makers,

After a bit of thought I have decided to make my own knives. I have dozens of different knives from cold steel to Busee combat, and still I keep looking for my perfect knife. I decided that the only way I am gonna find the perfect knife is to make my own. Now i have no illusions of forging or heat treating my own metals. I found a place that I can get pretty much any type of metal and they will laser cut a knife blank, and heat and cryo treat it for me if i send them the specs. I decided that this would be my best option. What I want to do then is grind out the bevels and edges and then create my own g10 scales for the knife. To this end I have a 8" bench grinder and a whole plethora of dremel tools that I can work with. I was going to use the bench grinder with different grit wheels to remove the excess material from the knife blanks and then switch out the grinding wheels with buffing ones to put the final finish of the knife. I was then going to purchase g10 stock and use my dremel tools to cut and shape the handles for the knife. ( I am aware that a respirator is required to work with g10). So thats the general idea. Any advice to helping me accomplish this would be very welcome.

I would like to create 3 knives as a sort of set Knife specs:

Knife 1: d2 tool steel, 1/4" stock, 12" blade length, 18" overall length, g10 handles,

Knife 2: d2 tool steel or high end damascus (other suggestions and opinions welcome), 1/4" stock, 6" blade length, 12" overall, g10 handles,

knife 3: high end damascus or CPM S35VN (other suggestions and opinions welcome), 1/4" stock, 3.5"-4" blade length, 8.5"-9" overall length, g10 handle

So is there anything I missed or haven't considered. Is there a specific tool i should be using? any particular type of grinding wheel or buffing wheel I should use/not use? where would I get these items? And any other general advice would be very welcome! Thanks so much in advance!
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Re: Decided to make my own knife...advice would be welcome

Post by HellSpork » Mon Jan 13, 2014 10:50 pm

Barebones, knifemaking is pretty simple. Though, your biggest problem is going to be heat-treating.

You're going to want to shape and bevel the blade BEFORE heat treatment. This'll make it easier to grind your bevels and will provide for a better heat-treat (being thinner at the edge will cause it to cool slightly faster. Think differential hardening of a katana, but not nearly as drastic. It's almost negligible, but still a factor in making a proper knife).

IF you have the tools to cut and shape steel, just order the steel in the specs you need. Trace out the blade design, cut it out, and bevel it. I've done all my beveling with various belt grinders, belt senders, bench grinders, angle grinders, etc. This is referred to as stock removal, as opposed to forging. Leave a blunt edge, you don't want it to be sharp for the heat-treat.

I don't know the exact details for HT'ing D2, so you'll want to look that up in a technical resource.

As far as making grips, shit, use your imagination. I do most of my shaping using a flap-drum sanding head in a power-drill stuck into a bench-vise. Often, you'll want to get it CLOSE, then epoxy it onto the tang, pin it, then to the final shaping and polish while on the knife to get the lines perfect.

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Re: Decided to make my own knife...advice would be welcome

Post by proteus » Mon Jan 13, 2014 11:02 pm

HellSpork wrote:Barebones, knifemaking is pretty simple. Though, your biggest problem is going to be heat-treating.

You're going to want to shape and bevel the blade BEFORE heat treatment. This'll make it easier to grind your bevels and will provide for a better heat-treat (being thinner at the edge will cause it to cool slightly faster. Think differential hardening of a katana, but not nearly as drastic. It's almost negligible, but still a factor in making a proper knife).

IF you have the tools to cut and shape steel, just order the steel in the specs you need. Trace out the blade design, cut it out, and bevel it. I've done all my beveling with various belt grinders, belt senders, bench grinders, angle grinders, etc. This is referred to as stock removal, as opposed to forging. Leave a blunt edge, you don't want it to be sharp for the heat-treat.

I don't know the exact details for HT'ing D2, so you'll want to look that up in a technical resource.

As far as making grips, shit, use your imagination. I do most of my shaping using a flap-drum sanding head in a power-drill stuck into a bench-vise. Often, you'll want to get it CLOSE, then epoxy it onto the tang, pin it, then to the final shaping and polish while on the knife to get the lines perfect.
Thanks for the info. I have a place that will laser cut out the blank and heat and cryo treat it for me. My biggest challenge will be the stock removal. Thanks for the tips with the grips.
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Re: Decided to make my own knife...advice would be welcome

Post by Storm Crow » Tue Jan 14, 2014 2:49 am

Using a stone wheel bench grinder is gonna be frustrating, slow,unsatisfactory, and potentially dangerous. The standard in the knifemaking world is a 2" x 72" belt grinder with at least a 1 hp motor, and buying those is going to start out at $600 and go up from there: http://www.grizzly.com/products/G1015" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Here's a really nice one I'm eyeballing: http://www.twuertz.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; That's over $3000. Some day.

Then there're the homebrewed options:







Image

Image

But, without getting into making your own grinder or laying out a lot of cash, your best bet is probably going to be a steady hand and an angle grinder with the appropriate wheels. This guy's early knives were shaped entirely using and angle grinder on the balcony of an eastern European apartment.

http://tomasrucker.com/knives/Custom_Ha ... Rucker.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Of course, he's an artist and has a good eye for design (he takes purty nekkid lady pictures also). If you look at some of his plunge cuts, you can see it's been done with an angle grinder (not that I guessed from that, he has shown pics of his process on another forum).

You're bound to screw up the grinding on the first few, especially if you try it on a bench grinder, so I'd recommend practicing shaping with mild steel before you pay for the blanks to be cut from D2.
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Re: Decided to make my own knife...advice would be welcome

Post by proteus » Tue Jan 14, 2014 11:06 am

Storm Crow wrote:Using a stone wheel bench grinder is gonna be frustrating, slow,unsatisfactory, and potentially dangerous. The standard in the knifemaking world is a 2" x 72" belt grinder with at least a 1 hp motor, and buying those is going to start out at $600 and go up from there: http://www.grizzly.com/products/G1015" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Here's a really nice one I'm eyeballing: http://www.twuertz.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; That's over $3000. Some day.

Then there're the homebrewed options:







Image

Image

But, without getting into making your own grinder or laying out a lot of cash, your best bet is probably going to be a steady hand and an angle grinder with the appropriate wheels. This guy's early knives were shaped entirely using and angle grinder on the balcony of an eastern European apartment.

http://tomasrucker.com/knives/Custom_Ha ... Rucker.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Of course, he's an artist and has a good eye for design (he takes purty nekkid lady pictures also). If you look at some of his plunge cuts, you can see it's been done with an angle grinder (not that I guessed from that, he has shown pics of his process on another forum).

You're bound to screw up the grinding on the first few, especially if you try it on a bench grinder, so I'd recommend practicing shaping with mild steel before you pay for the blanks to be cut from D2.
Hey Storm Crow,

Thanks for stopping by and lending your advice! I really love some of the work you have shared with the community. It was kindly suggested that I get a belt sander on another forum as well so I am getting a 4x36 with a disk sander as well to start. Ill work my way up to the nicer 2x72 eventually. also ordered a number of different grit belts to go along with that. The blank is going to be laser cut for me so i only have to worry about the various edges and not cutting the black out of stock. Any other advice is more then welcome! Thanks again!
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Re: Decided to make my own knife...advice would be welcome

Post by Storm Crow » Tue Jan 14, 2014 11:43 am

4" x 36" grinders generally are not the thing to use for blades. Not to say they can't be used, but you end up with too much surface area. A 2" belt is more...nimble.

Another option would be this: http://www.sears.com/craftsman-21513-1- ... ockType=G4" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

It's underpowered, but with an aggressive belt and some patience, it will work. If you go that route, I'd probably build a different platen that is 2" wide, since the one it comes with is overly wide. I had one of these as my belt grinder for a while, and it did ok.

A number of knifemakers rely heavily on their disc grinders, some of whom say they actually use it more than their belt grinders. I think Kiku Matsudo uses a disc grinder only for his shaping. http://www.japaneseknifedirect.com/Kiku ... Knife.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

So, maybe this is another option: http://www.harborfreight.com/12-inch-di ... 43468.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Poke around YouTube for a while and you can find a lot of videos of guys grinding blades. That'll give you at least an idea before you try your hand at it.
Proud to be a Neo-Tribal Metalsmith scavenging the wreckage of civilization.

Forged blades: http://www.helmforge.com

Stock removal blades: http://www.helmgrind.com

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Re: Decided to make my own knife...advice would be welcome

Post by proteus » Tue Jan 14, 2014 12:04 pm

Storm Crow wrote:4" x 36" grinders generally are not the thing to use for blades. Not to say they can't be used, but you end up with too much surface area. A 2" belt is more...nimble.

Another option would be this: http://www.sears.com/craftsman-21513-1- ... ockType=G4" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

It's underpowered, but with an aggressive belt and some patience, it will work. If you go that route, I'd probably build a different platen that is 2" wide, since the one it comes with is overly wide. I had one of these as my belt grinder for a while, and it did ok.

A number of knifemakers rely heavily on their disc grinders, some of whom say they actually use it more than their belt grinders. I think Kiku Matsudo uses a disc grinder only for his shaping. http://www.japaneseknifedirect.com/Kiku ... Knife.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

So, maybe this is another option: http://www.harborfreight.com/12-inch-di ... 43468.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Poke around YouTube for a while and you can find a lot of videos of guys grinding blades. That'll give you at least an idea before you try your hand at it.
Ill take a look at the disk sander....thanks for the advice. I got a bunch of different grit belts going from 50-400 for the belt sander. I thought I would do my finishing work on my bench grinder with different buffing and paper wheels...
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Re: Decided to make my own knife...advice would be welcome

Post by proteus » Tue Jan 14, 2014 1:49 pm

Storm Crow wrote:4" x 36" grinders generally are not the thing to use for blades. Not to say they can't be used, but you end up with too much surface area. A 2" belt is more...nimble.

Another option would be this: http://www.sears.com/craftsman-21513-1- ... ockType=G4" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

It's underpowered, but with an aggressive belt and some patience, it will work. If you go that route, I'd probably build a different platen that is 2" wide, since the one it comes with is overly wide. I had one of these as my belt grinder for a while, and it did ok.

A number of knifemakers rely heavily on their disc grinders, some of whom say they actually use it more than their belt grinders. I think Kiku Matsudo uses a disc grinder only for his shaping. http://www.japaneseknifedirect.com/Kiku ... Knife.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

So, maybe this is another option: http://www.harborfreight.com/12-inch-di ... 43468.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Poke around YouTube for a while and you can find a lot of videos of guys grinding blades. That'll give you at least an idea before you try your hand at it.
SO I ended up canceling my 4x36 bench grinder order and looking into getting a 1x30 or a 2x42 inch grinder for now and working my way up...
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Re: Decided to make my own knife...advice would be welcome

Post by Sworbeyegib » Tue Jan 14, 2014 7:34 pm

+1 on the belt sander. I've done anything along the lines of major stock removal or shaping, but I've reprofiled a lot of edges, and the results are fantastic, even if you have to be a little more patient. I used a bench grinder in my youth, to um... "mixed results."
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Re: Decided to make my own knife...advice would be welcome

Post by proteus » Thu Jan 16, 2014 12:06 am

Here are the concept sketches for the larger sized knife I want to build. I will post the images for the 6" and 4" bladed knives as soon as I have them drawn.

Image

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Any criticism is welcome. Thanks
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Re: Decided to make my own knife...advice would be welcome

Post by maldon007 » Thu Jan 16, 2014 12:26 am

If the 4x36 you are looking at is a harbor freight or equally weakly powered model, it will take a LONG time to remove stock... I know :rofl:

It just doesn't have the power, bogs down, tries to cut too much at once... Something narrower for sure & with better power. I am still looking myself but I have used an angle grinder with some success, surprisingly... And with a thin cutting blade they do ok at cut-outs/shaping.

Good luck!
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Re: Decided to make my own knife...advice would be welcome

Post by proteus » Thu Jan 16, 2014 12:38 am

maldon007 wrote:If the 4x36 you are looking at is a harbor freight or equally weakly powered model, it will take a LONG time to remove stock... I know :rofl:

It just doesn't have the power, bogs down, tries to cut too much at once... Something narrower for sure & with better power. I am still looking myself but I have used an angle grinder with some success, surprisingly... And with a thin cutting blade they do ok at cut-outs/shaping.

Good luck!
Thanks for the info. I have decided to go to a more powerful 2x42 belt grinder instead. Its not ideal still but better then the one I was going to get. Also getting a 12" disk sander.
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Re: Decided to make my own knife...advice would be welcome

Post by proteus » Thu Jan 16, 2014 3:29 pm

Thanks for the critiques! here are some updated designs! Start round 2 of the critiques...


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Re: Decided to make my own knife...advice would be welcome

Post by proteus » Thu Jan 16, 2014 3:29 pm

Image


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Re: Decided to make my own knife...advice would be welcome

Post by Storm Crow » Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:58 am

I must say that you're taking folk's comments in that other place surprisingly well and your design is improving as you go as a result. I have much the same reaction as them to the designs, but am not as vocal. :) I'd like to see your latest iteration posted here, and to continue the conversation on this side as well.

My thoughts:

1. Kiku Matsuda might be able to hollow grind on a disk grinder, but he's the only person I know of who does, and I'm not even sure that's how he does it. Every other hollow grind I've seen is done on a contact wheel with rubber. Of the various belt grinders I mentioned, the homebrewed KMG-ish ones are the only ones that will do that well. The Grizzlys work ok as an upright, but the motor housing is too close to the contact wheel (or the drive wheel that doubles as a contact wheel) to make hollow grinding particularly effective, especially on large blades. Watch some videos on hollow grinding to see how it's done and you'll have a better idea on what you need. Don't jump the gun on spending money on equipment until you have a pretty certain idea it will do what you want it to do. If it's the 2" x 42" grinder I'm thinking of, it's still only a 1/3 hp motor, and those bog down if you look at them too critically. 1 hp is minimum for *efficient* blade grinding. That being said, here's a nifty upgrade with a "prosthetic" motor:



You still don't have a contact wheel that will do those hollow grinds with that setup, though.
2. The idea of multiple grinds on a blade to do various tasks may seem like a good idea, but I've found that a full flat bevel on a well-heat treated blade actually covers the vast majority of cutting needs. It's not as visually dramatic as some of the other grinds out there, but it does the job(s) well.
3. I'm glad to see the new designs eshew the pinky breaker, er, ring. Aside from the danger to your bones, I can just picture how that would hang up on everything, especially in full battle rattle. Heck, the little tool pocket on the leg of my carpenter jeans catches on things as I walk by, as well as the hammer loop on the other leg. I'd say that rather than the ring, a swell on the end of the handle (think fawn's foot ax handle or traditional khukuri) will do the job better without any of the disadvantages. You can still put a glassbreaker/skullcrusher point on the end, but it'll likely do the job without needing to be as pointy. Look at what Kershaw did with their Camp 10/14/18 handles. Swell at the end, pointed butt.
4. If you want extra retention, a lanyard or a braided paracord knuckle "guard" like on the Busse you posted elsewhere would be a better bet. The paracord would keep the blade from flying, but be flexible enough to not immediately break fingers if things get twisted.
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Re: Decided to make my own knife...advice would be welcome

Post by proteus » Fri Jan 17, 2014 2:37 pm

Storm Crow wrote:I must say that you're taking folk's comments in that other place surprisingly well and your design is improving as you go as a result. I have much the same reaction as them to the designs, but am not as vocal. :) I'd like to see your latest iteration posted here, and to continue the conversation on this side as well.

My thoughts:

1. Kiku Matsuda might be able to hollow grind on a disk grinder, but he's the only person I know of who does, and I'm not even sure that's how he does it. Every other hollow grind I've seen is done on a contact wheel with rubber. Of the various belt grinders I mentioned, the homebrewed KMG-ish ones are the only ones that will do that well. The Grizzlys work ok as an upright, but the motor housing is too close to the contact wheel (or the drive wheel that doubles as a contact wheel) to make hollow grinding particularly effective, especially on large blades. Watch some videos on hollow grinding to see how it's done and you'll have a better idea on what you need. Don't jump the gun on spending money on equipment until you have a pretty certain idea it will do what you want it to do. If it's the 2" x 42" grinder I'm thinking of, it's still only a 1/3 hp motor, and those bog down if you look at them too critically. 1 hp is minimum for *efficient* blade grinding. That being said, here's a nifty upgrade with a "prosthetic" motor:



You still don't have a contact wheel that will do those hollow grinds with that setup, though.
2. The idea of multiple grinds on a blade to do various tasks may seem like a good idea, but I've found that a full flat bevel on a well-heat treated blade actually covers the vast majority of cutting needs. It's not as visually dramatic as some of the other grinds out there, but it does the job(s) well.
3. I'm glad to see the new designs eshew the pinky breaker, er, ring. Aside from the danger to your bones, I can just picture how that would hang up on everything, especially in full battle rattle. Heck, the little tool pocket on the leg of my carpenter jeans catches on things as I walk by, as well as the hammer loop on the other leg. I'd say that rather than the ring, a swell on the end of the handle (think fawn's foot ax handle or traditional khukuri) will do the job better without any of the disadvantages. You can still put a glassbreaker/skullcrusher point on the end, but it'll likely do the job without needing to be as pointy. Look at what Kershaw did with their Camp 10/14/18 handles. Swell at the end, pointed butt.
4. If you want extra retention, a lanyard or a braided paracord knuckle "guard" like on the Busse you posted elsewhere would be a better bet. The paracord would keep the blade from flying, but be flexible enough to not immediately break fingers if things get twisted.
Thanks Storm Crow. I dont mind ever mind constructive criticism, especially on things I haven't ever attempted before. Thats why I posted. As long as it stays civil rip the ideas apart. It the only way I will learn. I got some really good advice once, if you wanna learn to do something ask someone who has done it a 1000 times or be prepared to fail 1001. Anyways Thanks for the recommended changes. I tried to incorporate them in v4. As far as the snader goes its a Jet 3/4hp sander I am attempting to find a 1hp sander but havent had to much luck yet.

V4:

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Re: Decided to make my own knife...advice would be welcome

Post by proteus » Fri Jan 17, 2014 7:04 pm

Here is Version 5

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Re: Decided to make my own knife...advice would be welcome

Post by Sworbeyegib » Fri Jan 17, 2014 8:11 pm

I'm liking the evolution of your designs more and more. Looks much more functional, and easier to form. The slightly more subdued hook at the pommel looks much more comfortable to use too.
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Re: Decided to make my own knife...advice would be welcome

Post by proteus » Sat Jan 18, 2014 12:23 am

Sworbeyegib wrote:I'm liking the evolution of your designs more and more. Looks much more functional, and easier to form. The slightly more subdued hook at the pommel looks much more comfortable to use too.
Thanks! thats the point of getting input to try and improve.
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Re: Decided to make my own knife...advice would be welcome

Post by Storm Crow » Sat Jan 18, 2014 2:33 am

Yep, you're getting there.

Now my biggest area of concern is at the butt of the handle. I think a less dramatic drop and less abrupt flare would be more comfortable. The width of the flare looks fine to me, I just think I'd use a gentler curve getting there. I know you are wanting to test the handle design in clay, and I'd also suggest cutting it out of MDF about the thickness you want (3/4" ?) and rounding the corners. That gives you a stable, non-squishy test handle to see if it feels like you want it to.
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Re: Decided to make my own knife...advice would be welcome

Post by ODA 226 » Sat Jan 18, 2014 4:38 am

Proteus:
I think you've received some pretty damn good advice from Storm Crow and Sworbeyegib! They have already told you what I would have recommended i.e. getting rid of the fancy "pinky breaker" and using more of a straight pommel as you have in V4. On the large knife and this is just my personal preference, I'd like to see a slightly thicker grip to add better balance and a thicker taint to the knife.

All in all: GREAT JOB!

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Re: Decided to make my own knife...advice would be welcome

Post by mystic_1 » Sat Jan 18, 2014 8:52 am

Yup, I agree that your designs are evolving nicely.

If I may make a suggestion, you might consider building a mock-up out of these with wood or some other easily-worked material. Something that looks good on paper can totally feel wrong in the hand once it's made. Get some oak scraps or something and mock up the blade, use tape and cardboard or more wood for the handle, etc. This can help you decide if the handle is too short, too wide, shaped poorly, and so forth. Use the mock-up to go through the motions for your typical use cases, and you may find that you want to fine-tune the blade length, placement of the thumb ramps, choil, pommel, etc.

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proteus
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Re: Decided to make my own knife...advice would be welcome

Post by proteus » Sat Jan 18, 2014 10:58 pm

Storm Crow wrote:Yep, you're getting there.

Now my biggest area of concern is at the butt of the handle. I think a less dramatic drop and less abrupt flare would be more comfortable. The width of the flare looks fine to me, I just think I'd use a gentler curve getting there. I know you are wanting to test the handle design in clay, and I'd also suggest cutting it out of MDF about the thickness you want (3/4" ?) and rounding the corners. That gives you a stable, non-squishy test handle to see if it feels like you want it to.
Hey Storm Crow. Thanks for the feedback! Cant tell you how much I appreciate it. Which knife are you talking about the handle drop or is it all of them? I will cut them out of plywood as well. I was thinking about 1/2" on each side but sanded into a smooth curve possibly, could go thicker or thinner depending how it feels in my hand.
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proteus
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Re: Decided to make my own knife...advice would be welcome

Post by proteus » Sat Jan 18, 2014 11:01 pm

ODA 226 wrote:Proteus:
I think you've received some pretty damn good advice from Storm Crow and Sworbeyegib! They have already told you what I would have recommended i.e. getting rid of the fancy "pinky breaker" and using more of a straight pommel as you have in V4. On the large knife and this is just my personal preference, I'd like to see a slightly thicker grip to add better balance and a thicker taint to the knife.

All in all: GREAT JOB!

Craig
Hey Craig,

Thanks for the feedback I really appreciate it. Ill make some minor tweaks and try mocking it up and see how it feels in the hand. I definitely want a good firm grip so I will adjust size to make it really fit in my hand well. Really appreciate the feedback!

Erick
When in doubt fire for effect...

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