Sunday, May 31, 2009

STR's "He Man" Folder in ATS34

This one is equippped with an ATS34 blade with a blead blasted finish. I chose a flame orange G10 overscale with texture to aid grip in wet or cold conditions and set it up with some nice stainless steel stand offs for an open design. Pivot is 3/16" and rides on phosphorus bronze washers.

Overal length is 7 and 7/16"
Weight 3.3 ounces
Blade is 3.125" and folder is 4 5/16 closed. Titanium slabs are .095 thick each and look at that lock close. The lock is made with no lock cut at all. This is my 'He Man' model and ironically although I made it to sell at first its been adopted and one of my most used folders as of since the week it was made. This is one strong folder. I call it a man's folder with a 'man's lock.' I do that because my wife can't close it very easily but it is workable. I have no trouble with it at all and find its quite smooth.

Due to the nature of my work I get a lot of contacts from knife owners and perhaps you've noticed on my forum or here on my blog that a lot of my work involves production folders. One of the most frequently complained about areas for frame locks that comes up from time to time on this type of folder is the whimpy lock cuts that many folders have built into them for relief cuts to spring the locks.

These cuts can be milled or ground into the lock to make bending the lock to spring it for proper tension easier to do. Of course while it does this it also helps to reduce the lateral pressure on the blade action but the lock cut also makes manipulation of the lock easier by taking a thicker slab down to liner lock thickness or I should say liner lock thinness. This of course means the lock will feel more like a thin liner lock to the user in how it behaves and how easy it is to operate. Perhaps in production folders when you are trying to please the masses this is necessary and I can sure see that as the case but with a custom order it is possible to get it built the way you like it. To those that feel these lock cuts are too thin this is the ticket. It seems that to many knife nuts these lock cuts are seen as the, "weak link in the chain." Of course I'm referring to that old saying that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link and these very thinned down areas of the otherwise massive and impressive lock slabs are seen as that weak point in the system by more than just a few folks apparently, and of course this is based on my contacts and the questions I get asked about lock cuts.

As a result of some of those contacts via email or private messages on forums from users this knife was a bit of an experiment to see just how thick I could make the slabs I used for my frame lock but still get away with bending the lock with no need for a relief cut. This was a hard lock to bend at a solid .095 thickness but I managed with some heat and gave it a gentle coax to set it where I needed it. Then I let it cool down and bead blasted the heat coloring off the slab. The result is a fine user that surprised me at how well it actually works. I have pulled off .080 lock slabs and sprung the locks with no need for a lock cut. I've seen that done by production manufacturers also. So, I knew that .080 was not a problem. Later I also did some .090 and that worked too.

This time I bumped it up even more and I believe I'm about at the limit of what you can hope for with a solid slab at this thickness of .095. The length of the long cut for the lock can be played with some here to try to make the manipulation easier by using the law of leverage to your advantage. The idea of course being that a longer bar will be easier to bend than a shorter one. That held true here for this folder and by making my long cut just a bump longer than I normally would in this size folder it allowed me to get away with this solid lock slab.

As you can see in the pictures, although the lock is stout it does not off center the blade when closed and its also not really affecting the pivot action but maybe a very tiny bit. I believe this would only be a problem for someone with a habit of opening and closing their folder all day long as opposed to the type that only pulls it out when he needs it. About the only area it may really affect is that it would make it very hard to hyper extend the lock out the wrong way should one decide to take the pocket clip off and carry it in the pocket instead of on the pocket. Hyper extension to cause a lock of this type to lose spring is when you push to release the lock and then push the lock too far out the opposite way of the spring tension. This has occurred with thin lock cut models that have locks that stick to the blade contact very hard. Usually the pocket clip is set up on most open frame type locks so that it blocks overtravel to some extent but some prefer to carry without a pocket clip or every now and then a clip is made and mounted in a position not really allowing it to perform this double duty. When a lock binds terribly to the blade the extra pressure needed to force the lock to release so the user can close the blade is what I think is the culprit behind how the lock can lose spring tension and the owner/user of the knife resets the memory of the spring set. Its just a guess on my part but on the few models I've had mailed to me that the locks lost spring mysteriously on, the one thing they had in common was the locks stuck terribly binding to the blade contact. On at least one the owner decided to carry his small frame lock without the pocket clip which did happen to partially block the lock travel some.

This folder would be difficult for that to happen with and I say that because I base it on how hard it was to even bend the thing in the first place to put that spring tension in the lock! I can only imagine it would be just as hard to now accidentally take the spring out and in fact I'm sure to take the spring out of this one would have to be purposely done to make that happen making accidental spring loss to the lock a near impossibility. Although its more difficult to manipulate this lock by a little bit than one with some thin lock cuts milled into the lock its certainly not hard to do for me compared to many other folders I own. For what its worth my CQC12 with a very thin lock cut on it is harder to close than this one is because the lock sticks on my 12 terribly and has since I bought it new. Well, thats enough about that. I appreciate you taking time to read here and put up with my ramblings. This space gives me a good place to think out loud and share my views as I learn and grow in this practice of knife making.

Anyway, thanks for looking.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Deacon's Spyderco R2 Re-incarnated

Big thanks to Deacon for contributing these photos of his folder seen here with some Koa wood scales on it over .050 jeweled titanium liners. The jeweling on the inside doesn't show up of course but its a bit hard to see other than having the folder in your hands in the right light.

This conversion took quite a bit of 'special treatment' to get done. None of the original hardware could be reused and unfortunately the folder did have to be modified permanently to make it go together in the configuration requested when I had to drill out the blade pivot hole to a new 1/4" size from the 7/32" or close to that that came on it from the factory. That original barrel was just not long enough to allow for the new liners and scales.

If you are not familiar with the model shown here, I've also reprofiled the blade to a splinter picker point and of course the handle shape is closer to that of a Spyderco Stretch which is what the owner of the knife wanted. This folder was ordered with no pocket clip. It opens up very well and is rock solid when locked up with no give at all. I was fortunate that I happened to have a barrel from a past job that was the exact size needed for the rocker arm on this folder. Otherwise the whole project would still be on hold looking for it. Thanks to finding that one piece that had the proper length needed compared to the original the entire project became a possibility instead of a pipe dream. Fortunately for the Deacon I pulled off his idea and applied it in what you see shown here. Thanks for looking.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Waveless CQC14 Framelock

Seen here is yet another Emerson CQC14 framelock conversion done by me to beef up this great model that comes from the factory as a thinner liner lock. Once again I've incorporated my replacement for the factory floating stop pin that sometimes has been reported to rattle by some end line users on their factory knives. I've seen more than a couple now with wads of paper on either side of the floating stop pins to keep the rattle from being a nuisance to them. I came up with this idea to try to give those mailing me their knives with notes complaining about this issue a solution to both make them quiet and less annoying but also to give them a convenient way to adjust the stop themselves manually now and again.

This is just one of a couple different ways I thought of for eliminating the rattle noise which apparently can be annoying according to some owners of these style of folders. I have owned a couple that rattled some myself but I can't say any of them were quite as bad as some I have handled from others but I do get the question of how to prevent it or what solutions I know of now and then.

Some have asked me if there is an advantage to the free floating stop pin also and as I hinted at above, the answer I give them is yes, there would be a perceived benefit for the way the stop pin spins by not being secured. It usually can move around on its own but not all are as lose as others are and some require a physical twist by the user to move them to the point the blade slams down on it in a different spot instead of the same one every time. Stay with me tho because the truth of the matter is the pin is often times nearly the same hardness as the blade and in some instances actually harder depending on the blade steel used so wear or indenting is nil and its debatable if the lock wear or lock over travel differences seen after use can be attributed to any indenting of the harder stop pins. Some do appear softer in hardness though and generally speaking I think they are probably a little stronger if not the same hardness as the blade. 

If and when there is wear or indenting on the stop where the blade hits it, it usually takes years to develop. This is not to say that a visible mark takes years to develop. Those marks happen quite soon after the folder begins seeing use. Marks and indenting however, are two different things.

Its quite easy to spin your own fixed stop pin from time to time which is recommended and done on many knives incorporating fixed stop pins and also its done on many pins placed just as the factory Emerson pins are, only tighter fitting so they are not free to move so well on their own but instead are almost fixed in place by how tight they fit compared to the Emersons which spin easily and usually on their own so no manual adjustment is necessary. Many makers and manufacturers incorporate non secured pins held in place by pivot screw tension for the blade adjustment but only a few rattle. Even with Emersons I've only handled a few that had an audible report attributed to the stop pin.

Some owners have written me and told me that they find a tactical folder that rattles to be counter productive. Others are just annoyed by the sound as I said earlier. So I came up with a simple solution easily incorporated into the design. Some makers cut a half moon shape into their blades with their mill or by design when its cut out by a water jet or laser service. This half moon shape or half a hole shape from a drill bit is done to make the blade wear on a larger surface area for both the pin and blade so it wears longer and more evenly. If you spin the pin now and then before problems occur, in my experience the pins are rarely a problem for indenting. I have only seen it a handful of times in all the time I've worked on knives where a pin was damaged. Its a much less frequent occurrence to see indenting in my experience than it is to see knives without the stop pin because it was lost. This from falling out of the folder when being used or carried which has happend on many occasions.

I've replaced several lost stop pins for end line users over the years from all manner and make of knives made this way, some quite recently. The pivot screw tension is what keeps these pins from falling out. If the pin in your folder happens to be just a bit out of tolerance and shorter than it should be or the tolerances are off in all of them from one batch the company had made up and then installed in their products and you are someone that lets your pivot screw get lose to where the blade develops too much side to side blade play it can be a recipe for a lost stop pin so its best to adjust that screw for the blade now and then to check it for proper tension on knives with free floating pins. I get a lot of Emerson and other knives mailed to me each year and have noted on more than a few of the Emersons mailed to me for other work that many of them do have lateral (side to side) blade play when they arrive here. When I've asked about this the owners of the knives have reported that the knife simply Waves easier that way.

The Wave is a hook built into the blade to catch the corner of the pocket as the knife is pulled out to use it. You can see an example of the Wave hook in the next folder down for jobs I've done because its still on that blade compared to this model shown here which the owner modified. So if you have a lose pivot screw which equals blade play, and a lose pin for the stop, especially if your pin is just a bit out of tolerance and shorter than maybe it should have been to where it rattles even when things are tight, you may be an accident waiting to happen so check your knives.

Another way I've done stop pins is to use a barrel fixed in place but equipped with a hardened stainless steel sleeve that freely spins around the stainless barrel which takes care of the situation quite nicely and doesn't rattle at all. Columbia River Knife and Tool did this on their S2 model frame lock folders and its worked for me on my own with that knife flawlessly for many years now. The way I do these stop replacement pins as shown here on these Emerson folders in this set of pictures and other Emerson models is simple. I cut the barrel to exacting measurements to fit so that the screws on each end can be super tightened down but not squeeze in on the folder body changing the pivot action of the blade. They simply tighten down and then squeeze the barrel as tight as I can make them after applying blue loctite.

The stop pin barrel I'm putting on these folders is actually still quite easy to spin the way I do them because even though the screws are tightened down, the pin fits just enough to sit flush on each side and is not undersized at all. As a result, the barrel readily turns by simply sticking a Phillips screwdriver in the head of the visible black phillips screw on the outside of the frame on the lock side and moving it clockwise just a half turn or so to allow the blade to bump a different spot on the pin. Just do this every now and again and its all it takes. Its also quite possible that it moves on its own over time and in all liklihood it does move on its own since its technically still free enough to do that but still tight enough so it will not rattlle or move side to side. Contrary to popular opinon you can have the best of both worlds here and my little rattle eliminator proves it nicely. Under the G10 scale is a torx button head screw that fits in the recess already put in the underside of every Emerson G10 scale on all their knives. So between that and the phillips head the barrel is not going anywhere in these models I'm rebuilding and upgrading even if the owner of the knife does let the blade develop some lateral movement to make it Wave opened easier.

I've done this one as usual with no permanent modifications to the original factory parts even though the blade had been modified previously by the original owner. Even with the Wave removed from the blade and the blade polished and finished very well as you can see, I made no changes to anything I did so other than the modified blade it can and will go right back together just as it arrived here and just as the factory built it. Original stop, old lock side liner and the G10 scale are all in a baggy to be stored safely away.

This Waveless Emerson weighs in at 5.7 ounces after my slab conversion of the lock side, up from 4.9 ounces before I installed the new lock I built for it.

Thanks for looking.


Friday, May 8, 2009

Emerson CQC14 Frame Lock

I've lost count of how many of these I've done now of this particular model. I think this is number 17 of this model for the frame lock conversion. Anyway, this one here is .160 thickness 6AL-4V titanium with my signiture stop pin replacment to rid the knife of the famous Emerson Rattle much talked about on the forums. The loose fitting stop pin was something I have been repeatedly asked about fixing while I had the knives here, not by everyone mind you but enough to finally make me sit down and just come up with a screw down replacment type of stop for the blade. 

You can see this method of doing the stop pin with a hardened steel barrel on other models of Emerson folders here in my blog also if you scroll down and move along to older posts. I only do this on the frame lock conversions. How I do it is to simply cut to length and fit what is sold as a hardened stainless pivot barrel in 3/16" diameter using a matching flat head black coated phillips head screw on the visible lock side and by hiding a T7 Torx button head screw under the G10 side nice and neat. This button head just happens to fit exactly in the small recess cut into the underside of all Emerson G10 scales. The pin can't be overtightened because its cut exactly to the right length so it will only go in that far and stop the screws. Once loctite is applied to the screws its set and ready to roll and no more rattle.

Being a knife repairman for many years I have always been a bit wary of loose fitting stop pins held in place by nothing other than the pivot barrel screw tension. I have actually been mailed these Emerson folders and other brands of folding knives like Kabar D2 tactical folders where the stop pin fell out because the pivot tension was allowed to get sloppy by the user. On Emerson knives I've had some end line users report to me that they loosened the pivot on purpose because the blade Waved opened easier that way and I've noted many times how the pivot tension was lose and the blade had what I'd term severe lateral (side to side) play. You might also note in these and other pictures that I have this habit of purposely forcing the 82 degree drill to skip when I recess just a bit on the holes for the flat head screws as well as the lanyard hole. Personally I think it looks really cool when the drill skips and makes that 'jeweled' affect. 

This folder gained a bit of weight. It weighs here at 5.7 ounces compared to roughly 5 ounces before getting started. Lock cuts to spring the lock are left extra thick. Action is smooth and overall it went together quite well. As usual no permanent modifications were made to any of the original Emerson parts. You can probably see from the pictures if you look close and compare that I have not even bead blasted the non lock side liner of the folder in an effort to keep it original.In the end all I did was build a new lock side to replace the original lock G10 scale. The knife will still go right back together as it was shipped new and no one would know I was even in the thing. Factory lock and stop pin are in a baggy to ship with the folder. I like doing things this way because of several reasons but mostly its from being a life long knife collector. In my mind you can't call this a modification really because nothing is changed. All thats happened is that a screw on part has been replaced so should the knife one day become a collector piece for whatever reason many years after all of us are long gone well, it could still be assembled by some future collector and pass as an all original CQC14 by Emerson. 

Thanks for looking. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

BUSSTR in black linen micarta w/ Christof Harper blade

Yet another in what is starting to become a long line of these bare bones get after users I call the BUSSTR folder. This is the last one of the first run of 10 liner lock knives and two frame lock models, five of the total of 12 which were equipped with Christof Harper's excellent scandi grind 15N20 blades. 

Comparable to the others this folder weighs in at 3.6 ounces and is ready for some serios work with .080 thickness titanium liners and one of my signiture custom made low rider pocket clips set up for tip up or tip down carry for the right hand. Thanks for looking. 


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

BUSSTR in Teal Canvas with Christof Harper blade

Another 3.6 ounces of pocket joy here in this BUSSTR which stands for "Basic Urban Survival" by STR in case you didn't see an earlier post. 
Some rough and tough useability comes in these models with the super tough 15N20 blades made up by my friend Christof Harper A/K/A, Koyote on where we both have our own individual knife maker forums. This one sports some of the really great Teal Canvas sold by Sheffield Supply of Florida. I've drilled and threaded this folder for tip up or tip down right hand carry and its ready now for some serious work chores. Lock and liner are 6Al-4V titanium and .080 thickness each for some real strength in conjunction with super wear to take whatever is dished out to it. See more BUSSTR models below as you look around. Thanks for stopping by. 


Monday, May 4, 2009

Chameleon BUSSTR frame lock in blue tones

This one just up. What you are looking at here is a Blue .125 thickness slab handled BUSSTR folder jeweled inside, on the pocket clip, and on the blade. The blade is a 15N20 blade steel made by Christof Harper. This is a wonderfully tough steel and it should make an excellent user. The knife is drilled and threaded for tip up or tip down right hand carry and weighs in at 3.5 ounces. As you can see its one of my new models sporting the 'Tac Ti' textured surface done for me by Great Lakes Waterjet Inc. It doesn't get much better than this one right here folks! Thanks for looking.