Joss Delage

Pictures of custom knives

16 posts in this topic

All,

I thought you might find this interesting. I'm a hobbyist photographer, and I also collect custom knives. I thought that this thread would be a good vehicle for me to share my enthusiasm for this craft, and also to get feedback on my photography. Feel free to comment the photos or the knives, and to ask questions.

For some reason, the custom knife craft doen't get the same credit as other crafts, so I get much pleasure introducing other people to fine knives.

The first pic is of a small "art" dagger by a Canadian maker named Wolfgang "Wolfe" Loerchner. The piece is entirely carved out of one piece of 440C stainless steel. The inlay is of black lip pearl. It's pretty small, only about 7" long. Wolfe is a very well considered maker and his work is hard to obtain so it was quite the "coup" for me to find one. The picture is a double exposure. I photographed the piece oriented 2 different ways, then I selected one as being the "core" picture and from the other I pulled two small sections and incorporated them to show more details.

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Joss, are the two smaller parts different views of the same dagger? Do you keep these out so guest can see them?

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This is a folding knife by Barry Davis. The blade and the bolsters are made of non-stainless damascus steel. Damascus is made by forge welding 2 or more carbon steels (non stainless). Typically, the steels selected will be steels that have similar heat treating characteristics, with one being a "simple" steel (a simple alloy of iron and carbon), and the other steel being a nickel rich alloy. The process of developping a billet of damascus (or more exactly pattern-welded steel) is well explained here:

Kevin Cashen article on damascus

This knife is a gentleman locking folder. The handle slabs are made of white mother of pearl. The pins and the bail (the little ring at the end that could be used to attach a chain or fob) are made of gold (not sure which grade). Inside the handle are 2 slots in which are hidden a pair of twizers (also made by the maker out of his damascus steel) and a gold toothpick. This is again a double exposure. I'm not too happy with this picture as the second exposure looks "off". I will redo it soon.

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Joss, are the two smaller parts different views of the same dagger? Do you keep these out so guest can see them?

Yes & yes, typically. I have a display cabinet where all my knives are out. Right now, they are stashed away as I reorganize everything, and sell off part of my collection.

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The following pics are of 2 knives made by Tim Wright.

Tim is a fairly confidential maker who only makes a few knives a year. He is one of the most perfectionist makers, and is absolutelly commited to superb design and execution. His fit & finish is impeccable.

Those two knives are both lock back folders with stainless blades of BG42 steel. The inlays are respectively black-lip-pearl and white mother-of-pearl. The knives are interesting in that Tim made everything. Most makers use at least some off-the-shelves parts (screws, pivot bushings, etc, etc). Tim makes everything, including the screws. His knives are sold with a little tool (also custom machined) to unfasten the screws (those screws are of a 3-slot pattern, but Tim now uses 5-slot).

As you can see in the second pic, everything is polished and finelly machined. There's even a little piece of neoprene used to protect the blade tip when you close the knife.

I haven't yet found a way to show in one picture the knives open and closed, and disassembled. I'm also unhappy with the lack of detail in the white mother-of-pearl inlay.

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And disassembled:

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Joss,

These are beautiful knives. I love the Wolfe.

Thanks for posting.

Want!

Joss, How big is your collection? How long have you been collecting?

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Joss, How big is your collection? How long have you been collecting?

I have 65+ pieces, and my main emphasis up to this year has been hand forged (so non stainless) fixed blade knives (i.e., not folders). I am new to the fancy folder scene (and those are not very fancy). I'm in the process of selling some and upgrading the collection (fewer pieces, higher average rarity / value). I've been collecting for slightly less than 10 years, but I've been interested for at least 20 years.

A couple example of fancy online knife retailers, just for kicks:

Great Lakes

Knife Legends

And the site of one of the wealthiest, best established collectors in the US, Phil Lobred:

http://www.sanfranciscoknives.com/

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Joss, Beautiful knives, good photography. You've got great taste. I like the simple elegance of those knives you've displayed versus the somewhat more 'rococo-esque' examples Lobred has on his website (at least on quick perusal). What a wonderful object to collect. Knives can be a beautiful thing.

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I have 65+ pieces, and my main emphasis up to this year has been hand forged (so non stainless) fixed blade knives (i.e., not folders). I am new to the fancy folder scene (and those are not very fancy). I'm in the process of selling some and upgrading the collection (fewer pieces, higher average rarity / value). I've been collecting for slightly less than 10 years, but I've been interested for at least 20 years.

Joss, These are great. Have you ever attempted to make a blade?

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Have you ever attempted to make a blade?

Yes, it's a lot of fun and is a good way to learn how to appreciate a fine knife. A lot of different challenges & skills go into making something like that with your hand, and in many ways it is more rewarding and challenging than working in a big corporation. It certainly provides a nice counterpoint, and I was surprised how much satisfaction comes from making something with your hand. I think that it has to do with the fact that each project is yours alone, and that you can see improvements come within a few hours. Most corporate projects are team projects that have week- or month-long lives.

With this said, this is not even an active hobby right now. I don't have the right shop space set up. I love the handforging part, and even the profiling (which I do with hand files because I don't have grinders) is very rewarding.

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All,

You might enjoy those pictures, it's a step-by-step photoshoot of how twist damascus is made. They are not my pics, they were posted by a knife maker & bladesmith named Craig Camerer on another forum. Twist damascus is very popular - the blade on my Barry Davis folder above (2nd knife from the top) is made of twist damascus.

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Here is the 1084 and 15N20 all cut up and ready to be stacked into two 19 layer billets.

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Here are the two billets prior to going into the forge.

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Forge welding the initial billets.

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Here the two intial billets are cut and being restacked to form a 114 layer billet.

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This is the 114 layer billet. It will be cut into 3 pieces, cleaned and restacked into a final billet consisting of 342 layers.

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At this point the billet was squared up and the twisting is being done. The key here is keeping it hot and the twist even.

After that the billet will be forged flat, the blade will be forged, ground, polished, heat treated, then etched in ferric chloride (which blackens the simple carbon steels but keep nickel-rich alloys bright & shiny).

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All right, here are a couple more knives. Both are not with me anymore - one is sold, the other one is on consignment and hopefully will be sold soon.

This first knife is by maker Ted Dowell, who has been making knives for several decades. This is a pretty typical example of his work. He specializes in integrals, that is to say knives where the fittings (guard in this case), the blade and the tang are all ground out of one piece of steel. In most cases with knives the fittings are soldered or pinned (sometimes screwed or pressure fit), but in this case all is carved out of one piece of steel. It makes it much more difficult to get a nice, clean symetry and a tight fit. This knife is made of D2 steel and stag. D2 is a steel that has a chromium content just below the 11.5% requirement to be deemed stainless.

This is a triple exposure phot obviously.

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This second knife is a medium sized bowie knife. It was made by bladesmith Jason Knight. It's pretty typical of the majority of knives in my collection - fixed-blade, medium size, & handforged. Most handforged knives are made of non stainless steels because most stainless steels are air hardened. That means that as soon as you pull a piece of stainless from the hot forge, it starts hardening, which obviously makes it impossible to then forge (some stainless are marginally hand-forgeable, but the majority of bladesmiths stick to non stainless steels).

Steels that are routinely handforged include simple alloys and some fairly complex ones (that incorporate nickel, chromium, or even vanadium, etc). This one is made of 1084, a simple steel of iron & carbon. It has about 0.84% carbon (1084 has 0.84%, there is also a 1095 that has 0.95%, a 1050 that has 0.5%, etc).

The handle of the knife is made of African Blackwood with a mother of pearl inlay, and the fittings are made of mild steel (e.g., iron scrap...) and are blued.

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Here are two pictures I took yesterday. I changed a little bit my MO, with a white background and less angle from the camera to the knives. Here the pictures are taking nearly vertically.

The first pic is of a fighting knife, or bowie, made in the 90's by maker Wild Bill Caldwell. The handle is stag and the fittings are damascus. One interesting thing is that the blade is hollow-forged and ground, whereas generally most hand forged knives have a flat or even an apple-seed profile. The damascus is made of one or more million layers of a variety of steel. We know now that this doesn't bring anything to the blade and might in fact be detrimental - still, pretty cool. The knife is called "Kajiya".

Mr. Caldwell has now largely retired from knife making and focuses on making and customising guns.

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This second pic is one of a knife made by GenO Denning. He is known for offering great quality and superb prices. This knife is called a "chute knife", and is made of stainless ATS34 steel using the stock removal method. The handle is a gorgeous wood called desert ironwood, that comes for the SW US.

The chute knife was designed by legendary knife maker Bob Loveless . It was designed in cooperation with a customer named Archer who was a parachuter (I don't know if he was military - I think so). The idea of the knife is that it has a back edge that can be helpful for a 'chuter caught in a tree to cut the straps behind him.

It also makes this knife - double edged and compact - an effective self defense tool. It is a favorite among collectors. It has become an extremely popular Loveless model.

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