Knife design

Von Gruff

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A couple of ph calls with @Dr Ray has resulted in the sugestion that I start a thread on knife design, so in light of that, I thought to start by outlining where my knife preferences stemmed from.
I was handed an unsuitable knife t0 go kill a sheep for the dogs on the high country station I went to after leaving school, so my knife designs really all stem from that one incident and the result of over 50 years of use in the killing (with the knife), dressing and processing of domestic farm animals along with of course the dressing and processing of animals hunted and killed by rifle or shotgun.
Making knives for myself during those years refined what was helpfull and with many upgrades, it came to the time when my knives would simply, safely and efficiently, do what I wanted them to do withot having to compromise on any aspect of their use.
Since I started to make knives for sale I have been priveledged to have discussions both by written and spoken means with members here who have had design/knife needs that have fallen outside of my experience and it has been a very real pleasure to work through the stated criteria and make a knife to suit the particular chores or simply style choices they have outlined.
I think I enjoy the design process as much as I do the making process and the conversations that lead to a new knife or parts of a knife with the rear of the handle on the new PH EDC being influenced by @rookhawk or the thumbrest on the thumbrest skinner being the result of @ActionBob. Some knives are fully atributed to members, with the likes of the J T Ranger being directly atributable to @Red Leg or the Old Western to @Hank2211. It was the sugestion/encouragment of @Dr Ray that I started to use the stainless damascus that I can buy in small bars in various patterns and because they are commercially made with guaranteed hardness (Rockwell) numbers I am able to offer them with the same confidence that I do for the stainless and carbon steels I heat treat myself.
I do know from experience that having a knife that exactly fits what I intend to do with it, that there is a direct correlation to the safe use, satisfaction, and confidence to to be had from finding/building (or having built) that rifle you have always wanted because it fits you ergonomically, in style and more importantly will do the job the way you prefer to do it.
Having corresponded with may of you on your personal needs in some areas of knife needs, I fully recognise that while there are some designs that are universal in thier usability, there is also an indefinable personal element in a knife choice that goes beyond what handle material, bolster treatment and or blade steel that will go into a hard use knife or simply one to have as an expressive extension of who you are and what you like to have.
A recent example has been the PH EDC that was the result of an email exchange with Lon @Tokoloshe Safaris and as I wrote on my main knife thread ---------------

The new design I have been refining is called the PH EDC As an EDC for the professional hunter this knife must be able to do any of the chores a PH may need a knife for during the day. It has a skinning influence toward the front half of the blade with enough tip for penetration and enough length of straight blade for simple cutting needs and enough depth of blade to give good finger protecton during heavy work. Handle has been shaped so that there is depth for a slight slab sided feel which is an aid to prevent rolling in the hand increasing directability and safety which also eases cramp (caused by having to hold tight to prevent turning in the hand) during long cutting work with the rear of the handle having the recurve eased to ensure there is no friction (hot spot) against the heel of the hand Front of handle and in particular where the index finger rests is narrowed for specific transition curve to give support without inpinging on hold as this is another area where hot spots can occur. Blade will be from 5/32 1095 high carbon steel with a 4 3/4 in blade having a FF grind.
It will come set deeper into the sheath so that when doing any of the daily activities there is NEVER a chance of the knife being dislodged so will always be ready at hand when needed.


I would be pleased if there were follow up posts here where we may discuss aspects of knife design and possibly show some of what you may want if you were commissioning a knife to be made for yourself.
Are you looking at a knife set where you can have 2 or 3 (or more) knives to do everything from field work through to bench work to get it fridge or freezer ready or further into the knife needs of kitchen/chef work and on to table knives to finally eat what you have so dillegently hunted and bought to the table..
 

Wade J VanGinkel

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For the most part I like one knife that does anything I need of it. Which is what I see in most of yours.
These days most guys are going to folding knives or replaceable blade knives they don't need to sharpen. But like you said I take great pride in a fixed blade knife that I gave specifics and consider a part of me. And something that can be handed down to continue its work after I'm gone.
I anxiously look forward to the completion of my order.
 

Hank2211

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I have always liked nice knives, and at one time when I was feeling particularly flush, I had a few knives in various shapes and sizes made for me by a knife maker named Carlton Evans. He does beautiful work, and while his work is expensive, I've always been a fan. Buying one of his custom made knives is not a decision lightly made though.

Then I discovered - or I should say became aware of - @Von Gruff through his postings here. His original postings, showing the making of his knives, really appealed to me, and I decided to try him out. We worked on a number of shapes and sizes and landed on something I liked. There was only one problem. He had educated me about a particular type of wood called "swamp kauri" which is essentially a type of prehistoric wood found in New Zealand. To quote Wikipedia: "Buried under a peat swamp by an unexplained act of nature at the end of the last Ice Age, the trees have survived the centuries underground, sealed in a chemically balanced environment that has preserved the timber in perfect condition". Unfortunately, he didn't have any nice pieces around, and as you might guess, the wood isn't found on every street corner. Nevertheless, I had two knives made anyway, and they were wonderful.

Recently, Von Gruff contacted me to say he'd come upon a great piece of swamp kauri, and was now making damascus blades as well . . . I said what are we waiting for? I got this piece just recently, and while both of my earlier knives are great, this last is spectacular.

The workmanship on these knives (and the sheaths) is really top quality, and when you compare the price of these knives to other handmade knives out there, they are an incredible value.
 

USMA84DAB

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Von Gruff - your pattern above is what we have as a Bushcraft knife here in the States. I really like that pattern, but have not been able to delay/sacrifice a rifle build for a Dozier made like your template. I have putzed around a tiny bit myself with 1095 bar stock and really like your pattern with the addition of thumb jimping on the spine. Dangler sheaths seem to get caught up less for me.
 

Von Gruff

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I really like the shape of the knife in that picture, Von Gruff! What would the handle and bolsters be made of?
I have a few of these to do Wyatt but the one that started this design will have buffalo horn bolsters with a yet to be decided handle wood but I am trying to decide between leopardwood or black palm.
. There are a pair to have buff horn and spalted eucalyptus and another that we havent decided on the handle material yet.
I am going to do a bit of a pic spread on some of the woods I have available for handles when I get some time to do so.
 

Von Gruff

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Von Gruff - your pattern above is what we have as a Bushcraft knife here in the States. I really like that pattern, but have not been able to delay/sacrifice a rifle build for a Dozier made like your template. I have putzed around a tiny bit myself with 1095 bar stock and really like your pattern with the addition of thumb jimping on the spine. Dangler sheaths seem to get caught up less for me.
My bushcraft hunter knife is quite different and has a blade that will cover a multitude of tasks with a spine that will take batton strokes, sharp edged for a fire steel, scandi ground for strength and ease of sharpeng but I wll aldo do ti with a full flat grind is requested. The handle is micarta for grip but is screwed on so it can be removd for cleaning if being used in dirty enviroments or if it is to be replaced by horn,antler or bone from a trophy animal taken during a hunt.
Bushcraft hunter (2).png
 

Tokoloshe Safaris

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Hi I received your PM. I am having internet & Mail problems. I will get back to you just as soon as possible. I will also have a picture of my wifes Doctari knife. She had left it at our hunting camp. Her knife has ele ivory scales from a ele that Kevin personally took. I noticed that recently the ivory has shrunk, I assume due to the intense heat? I believe my next handle will be out of African Blackwood.
 

Von Gruff

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I’d like to see how one turns out. Personally, I love brass bolsters with nice wood
Brass does look good with darker wood but then so does copper
 

Von Gruff

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Hi I received your PM. I am having internet & Mail problems. I will get back to you just as soon as possible. I will also have a picture of my wifes Doctari knife. She had left it at our hunting camp. Her knife has ele ivory scales from a ele that Kevin personally took. I noticed that recently the ivory has shrunk, I assume due to the intense heat? I believe my next handle will be out of African Blackwood.
I had thought that your ivory handled doctari knife had been stolen but just re read the email and see that you had a pair of them. I have used the last of the blackwood I had but do have some ebony that I have stabilised for a black and brass look
 

Von Gruff

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What does swamp kauri look like on a finished product?
This was a very nice piece I used for Henry's knife The pics done do it justice but pieces like this are very hard to come by. I have the off cut that may make a smaller handle with all the rest I have being straight grained with the greens that being buried in the swam impart to it.
4Yq48kFl.jpg
K5C15MVl.jpg
 
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ActionBob

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Wow, nice wood, and a nice blade.
 
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Von Gruff

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Von Gruff

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and the cost for your Bushcraft hunter is... (gulp)?

What would just the steel be?
US$205 with micarta handle scales + courier @ US$55
 

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I love the blades you made for me. I think it was before you started with the Damascus steel. I would get your style of steel in the future too. I do a lot of baton work at camp and like a strong blade like you build. Keep up the good work!
 

Von Gruff

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I love the blades you made for me. I think it was before you started with the Damascus steel. I would get your style of steel in the future too. I do a lot of baton work at camp and like a strong blade like you build. Keep up the good work!
Thank you. I have 2 of the bushcraft hunters cut out of 01 tool steel with one having the scandi grind and the other unground at this stage that are suited to batton work.
 
 

 

 

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