Friday, March 4, 2011

A "Scagel Style" folder pattern in a modern day interpretation

First things first. Click any picture to bring it out to full size.
A few years ago I bought a couple copies or clones of Scagel folding knives. These sanctioned licensed copies were by Northwoods Knives. (top photo of double blade model) These were supposed to be built to exacting tolerances following patterns from original knives they knew of and had possession of, at least long enough to copy, that Bill Scagel himself had made when he was alive. Although they are both very nice (see first picture of second wood handle model ) they were quite pricey, limited in number made and more importantly quite heavy for their size. The way Northwoods made them both the folders I bought were double blade models like the top knife shown here with stag handles which anyone knows is also problematic for the handles cracking especially around the pins.

Unlike what I've  done here with my version of this folder, both these copy knives were made using extra thick blade and spring stock by Northwoods since that is what Bill Scagel's knives were like. As a result of the springs and blades being as thick as knives way bigger than normally seen in knives of this size, both had very big 'foot prints' in the pocket. They were way more folder than I would want to carry due to the thickness of two extra thick blades and the weight they brought to the table but otherwise I loved the shape and design characteristics of both.

I have several other Northwoods Scagel models. Of all the models I own the one shown above with wood handles in that first picture is the knife that excited me even if it is not original anymore because its been taken apart to make into a single blade. I like it so much because its very pockeable. I've carried it off and on. However, the 'shoe shined' rounded off finish and thickness of this one and the fact that Lignum is the heaviest of all wood means its still a bit thick and a bit heavy even as a single blade model now. The bottom line is that its close but no cigar and still carries bigger than you would expect for such a small knife of only 3 and 3/8" closed. My intention in creating my own version of this wonderful design was to improve on that footprint size and reduce the weight at the same time.

What I've done here is simply re-interpret this classic pattern for my own pocket as shown next to the two Northwoods models in the first picture. My examples here are 3/32 blade stock using ATS34 steel set at 60 Rockwell hardness for the blade and 50 RC for the back spring as opposed to what appears to be 3/16" stock if not more on the Scagel copy by Northwoods. This is a classic Sod Buster design or very close and as you know if you've followed some of my other models, I've been a Sod Buster fan all my life!

All of my folders are all equipped with titanium liners in .050 thickness as opposed to the much heavier nickel silver or brass used in many other traditional knives and all of these folders except for the last one sport textured G10 handle scales made to pop on and off to interchange. The models shown here all weigh in at 1.4 ounces to 1.5 ounces for the first two shown together. I used solid ti pins in those first two and made the pivots a beefy 1/8" diameter on all of these. The last one shown alone here in black textured G10 is the one in my pocket. I've been using the tar out of this thing since finishing it up!. The original that I copied to make these weighs in at 3.4 ounces.

None of these shown are for sale but the first of some I plan to make later and later on I'll have some available. I had this project shown here on my agenda to do for some time and finally got around to using those blanks I had cut out by a Water jet service a long time ago.

Anyway, these are great little folders whether done in tradional styling with natural handle materials like wood, stag or bone, with or without bolsters or a non traditional approach such as mine using G10 and Micarta man made synthetic materials for handles. Either way the knife fits into my philosophy that less is more, less is best, and keep it simple. These done using G10 or Micarta are everything I think a carry knife should be to be great. That means an EDC should be light weight so that you don't know its on you until you need it. It should be stainless to be pretty much immune to sweat, salts, rust and other such things like pitting or staining. It should be a great edge keeping hard blade with proper heat treat. It should be able to work bigger than its size and it should be grippy and done with a handle material immune to acids, oils, chemicals, moisture, splitting, cracking, chipping , fraying, warping or temp or weather changes. I have all that now shown right here. Thanks for looking.

Edit: Bob Pickle is a fellow knife maker friend and has sent me pics of the one I did for him that he wanted to do his own handles on so I'm posting those up for folks to see. This turned out really nice Bob and I really like the lignum handles on yours. Nice and flat! I know that one rides in the pocket right!. Thanks for sharing it with us.


Stewart said...

Great knives Steve. Simple design but all they need to be.

I was wondering how you had managed the nail slots but then saw you had the blades waterjet cut - seems an ideal way to get that done!

Steve A/K/A STR said...

In the original I had to drill holes and then join them. It was pretty hard but possible. I wouldn't want to have to do them that way all the time though so the water jet or laser services are really great for that yes. They can also maximize the amount you get from your material which is nice.

I have my most popular pocket clip requests cut out that way. A 12" x 12" sheet my way using the band saw yields about 20 of one particular clip. My service at the waterjet routinely gets 48 out of that same sheet.

Thanks for the comments on my slip joint knives.

Elvis said...

If I'm not mistaken,I'm the fellow knifemaker STR sent the unfinished knife to. Like everyone who works on knives to any degree, your own knives get done last. So it is with this one. I've yet to decide on a handle material, but I can assure it will be something strong yet light-weight as those terms describe this knife perfectly. The single blade profile and Titanium liners make it amazingly light while the ATS-34 (especially with the specs Steve has it heat treated to), I'm certain will make it one comfortable workhorse of a knife. I also have the 1/8" stainless pivot barrel for the blade hinge that I plan to use. I promise to update after I'm finished with it, but a preliminary "fit-together" tells me I'm going to like it a LOT.

Steve A/K/A STR said...

Yes thats you Bob that I referred to. Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to seeing what you do with the one I sent you. Enjoy

Elvis said...

The knife is finished and I'll be sending pictures to Steve for posting. I used the 1/8" stainless barrel pivot and Ligmun Vitae for the handle material. Nickel-Silver pins with expansion room to give the spreading NS somewhere to go without splitting the wood, then I sanded the area flat. Even with the wood, it's still light-weight for it's size, but I think the thing I like the most about it is Steve having the guts to have the blade taken to 60-61 Rockwell. A lot of knifemakers shy away from that level of hardness for fear of making the knife too "brittle" or too hard to sharpen. For me, it means less sharpening as it holds an edge amazingly well. If I want a pry-bar, I use the STR Titanium pry-bar instead of my knife. Duh!

This knife really is the best of both worlds. A proven Scagel design with minor improvements and the benefits of materials Scagel never had around to work with. The only place I won't be taking this knife is the airport.

Elvis said...

I see you've edited a bit, all in the interest of brevity, but I wanted to say that you nailed it. The LV handles could be made a nice and thin 0.125", which is something I wouldn't have tried with any other wood. Slightly oversized holes prevented cracking and it lays as flat as one that size possibly could and still be attractive. I know you love your indestructable synthetic handle materials and this is the perfect little work-horse for them. A great pattern!

Steve A/K/A STR said...

Yeah I hit the edit button a couple times to try to smooth it out some. Not sure if I did or not for how it reads and how long it is. Hope so. I think I left out some things I had mentioned earlier. Like about why I selected and used the threaded stainless barrel construction and screws being due to every pinned together folding knife I've ever owned having developed side to side blade play over time.

Hopefully that can be adjusted out for the new owner. I ended up selling the last one I kept for myself. Guess I have that excuse to get after it on the 14 more I have planned. :-)