Sunday, September 14, 2008
Thanks for looking.
Of course getting it apart is only half the battle. Once apart all the parts including the blade have to have new 1/8" holes precisely machined out in them. If you are off a micron it can change the lock up so its very important to map everything out precisely. Once done then you can custom fit your new barrel and screw construction to the folder after custom sizing those parts to fit. In the end you have an all screw/stainless barrel construction. Although I do not advocate taking the folder apart even after this screw construction is completed it is possible. Most of them are quite easy to get apart. Its getting them back together that often times messes with the novice, particularly when washers are involved and that is the case with the Lava. Lockback folders with washers in the pivot can be very tricky for someone unfamilar with how to finesse things in place. The pivot for the blade has a washer set up so you have a washer on each side of the blade that smoothes out the action. Lose one you'll notice so only take one apart when time allows.
This limited edition folder like others Spyderco produced is using a new steel designed by Hitachi. ZDP189 is a laminated steel where the inner core of the blade is much harder than the outer shell surrounding the harder steel. This is very similar to the Japanese swords and combines both strength and extreme edge keeping due to the hardness of the cutting edge. Unfortunately it can be challenging for some to sharpen a blade when its 64 or 65 Rockwell hardness. As a result there are many that don't care for the steel since trying to sharpen it back up to snuff gives them so much grief. If you have the right tool for the job though this steel is probably about as good as man has created for edge keeping.
Lignum is one of my favorite woods. I often times grab a piece of scrap in my shop just to sand it for a few seconds because I love the smell of this wood when you work it. Lignum has a long history of being used for knife and utensil handles. Its still used in the marine industry for boat engine drive shafts, and for sheaves and other parts in the building of sailboats, and even sees a lot of use for judges gavels to this day. Its the heaviest, densest, strongest wood on planet earth according to what I've read. Unfortunately though its hard to determine when you have actually been sold Lignum and when you were sold Vera wood, a close relative. This is quite common. I have some of both woods myself. Both work and even smell very close to the same and in fact there is a lot of evidence that Lignum Vitae is not really just referring to one species of tree but refers to a family of them. True lignum for the tools mentioned above though is denser and heavier than these others and sinks like a rock in water and once you see and handle both you can tell which is which. Still though I've used both and like them fine.
Here you are looking down at the blade center when closed and the new body and talonite blade. The factory ATS34 blades are among the thickest you can expect in a folder this size. I measured the factory blade at 4.5mm thick. Thats chunky! A blade that thick makes for a sharpened pry bar which is about what these little tanks of a folder were when Buck still made them. Needless to say it means having to purchase an equal thickness piece of talonite to replace that blade. Talonite is not cheap stuff either! I was shocked to find out what just the blade alone amounted to on this knife. $60 for the Talonite material and that was just enough to make this blade and no longer or wider! The stuff is non magnetic and grinding it? Well, you may as well be grinding on a rock!
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Doing a lefty conversion is dependent on several areas I must see before I can tell if the knife will allow such a conversion. This is tricky to do on some and impossible to pull off on others. These were both tricky. Most of the difficulty lies in having enough blade metal to play with to change the lock contact angle on the blade to a true left hand function angle so the new lock will work mirror image of what it did from the factory. In some cases as with this 15 model the lock side washer had to be reduced in diameter just a little bit because of the new angle and lock position. It was also necessary to activate a true lock detent ball on both these models. This little ball bearing in the lock is what is responsible for keeping the blade from opening by gravity. Without it the blade point could lift up and protrude out from between the body of the two slab handle sides.
That first one for my friend Oupa (Dirk Potgieter is his real name) was a liner lock. I've never much cared for liner locks though and when I started making more for myself I beefed them up to what you see here. No two are ever exactly alike. Being ambidexterous I have even done a couple true left handed folders that I gave to some friends of mine. These are true handmade folders through and through. Also sporting custom made titanium pocket clips made by me in either standard style or my signiture low rider style clips also referred to as 'fold over' clips for low profile carry. Some of these in 1095 blade steel are thinner blade models and done that way on purpose. My favorite carry knives growing up in the hills of West Virginia was always some kind of a Case pocket knife with one of the CV blades in it. During that time I got used to the versatility of a thinner easier slicing blade than some of these thick monster blades you see in frame locks today so my idea was to tie in that original thinner blade of the old slip joints I carried as a youth with some more modern lock type titanium folders. The one hand easy opening and pocket clip further brought them up to date but the blades allowed just enough flavor of yesteryear that I thought the two combined together quite well.
Most of these folders will look similar so you can tell they are the same model. However, one may sport a 2 and 3/4" blade while another may be up to 3 and 1/4" depending on how it comes out or what I have in mind when building one. Closed lengths run from 4" to 4.5" and I use anywhere from .100" to .110" *(my favorite) to .140" thick beef cake titanium slabs for the lock sides depending on what I can find. On others I'll use .050" thick titanium with Micarta or G10 over scales or stand alone sides on the non lock side of equal thickness to the lock side in G10, or Carbon Fiber materials to build them without a liner on the non lock side. I've even done quite a few in .070 thickness titanium which makes for a thin medium duty folder easy to carry and quite light in weight. Click any picture to enlarge to full size. This is the only folder model I make from scratch anymore. I've found that it allows me to have a custom folder from scratch to still claim to 'make knives' without hindering my other interests in knives which is the other stuff you see here in the way of rebuilding or redesigning production folders more to my own personal liking. Feel free to ask any questions regarding this folder model. I'll sell a limited number a year only because being a hobbyist I don't want to get into a situation where I change my tax braket.