Sunday, April 17, 2016

With Your Own Hands

     On this blog, I’ve talked a lot about some of my big passions - hunting, fishing, family, and the outdoors. But I haven’t mentioned another of my hobbies: working with my hands. Whether it’s in fixing things, carpentry or blacksmithing, I get a feeling of satisfaction that I can’t quite put into words. It might come from seeing a hunk of wood or metal come together and turn into something pretty or useful, or both. Or it might be that in this world of instant gratification, seeing something that took time, effort and skill is really rewarding.   
     Apprentice-Dad has come home more than once to find me huddled over a bed of coals with a red hot piece of steel buried inside, or the belt sander singing as the University of Wyoming logo is shaped from a hunk of cedar. It comes with a price though. Currently I have two or three cuts that might scar over, three blisters, and a chunk of my right ring finger and pinky where the skin just is just starting to grow back after getting caught in the belt sander. But for all the pain it caused me, and the scares it caused my mom, I think it was worth it. Not only do I make myself some cool toys, I know how to do cool stuff that I can pass on to the next generation.
     Last Wednesday, I got the itch to make myself a knife. So I got two files from the local hardware store. So with consultation from my favorite YouTube bladesmith, I set about prepping one of my files to become a knife by firing it to break its temper. Once it was ready, the long process of shaping the blade began. First I drew a stencil onto the knife file, then cut that out roughly with a saw. With the other file, I cleaned up the edges of the stencil. Then I built a bed of coals in a barrel, and with a Shop-Vac as my bellows, I heated up the knife and quenched it in oil (I used motor oil) to harden it. Then I placed it in the oven for a couple hours (I used our toaster oven in the garage, as using the one in the kitchen tends to stink up the house and cause one’s mother to question one’s hobby.) While that was going on, I used the belt sander to quickly make handle and made a sheath out of PVC. Once that was all done, I put the varnish on the handle, and spray painted the sheath. Then I put Wyoming Armories’ (my company) brand on the handle and sheath and epoxied the handle to the blade. And it was done.
     I guess what I love about doing this kind a thing is the ability to watch the process and emotionally attach yourself to something that begins as a commonplace object and through work, turns into something great, useful, and beautiful. It reminds me of life - how we start as not much, but as we are forged in life’s fires, we become useful, great, and beautiful.

-The Apprentice 

For more info on knife making, here are some things that have helped me: