Xtreme Challenge Knife

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Storm Crow
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Xtreme Challenge Knife

Post by Storm Crow » Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:47 am

This is something I came up with for the Extreme Knife Challenge on BladeForum's Wilderness and Survival Skills Outdoor Gear, Survival Equipment & More sub-sub-forum. :)

Basically, the idea is that a number of knifemakers sign up to make knives that they think will meet the requirements for the challenge and they are sent to one or two judges who put the knives through their paces and post their conclusions about how they performed.

The first one that I heard about was the Custom Machete Challenge, but only after it was over. :( I would have loved to participate in that one. There have been several others since then, but this is the first challenge I've participated in. The challenge this time is to build a knife to handle extreme survival situations, which can take place anywhere, including urban environments, and may include what would constitute testing to destruction.

I did a rough sketch, then forged the blade from 1 1/2" x 1/4" 5160 steel. I wanted a plenty capable chopping blade with a big belly and the sweet spot dropped below the level of the hand for extra chopping power. However, I wanted the blade to remain straight for general ease of utility (such as drawknife duty and choking up for fine work) and to make it easy to sharpen on a flat stone, so I made the drop come from the curve of the handle and the angle of the blade to the handle. It needed to handle a variety of task sizes, and I wanted it to not be too heavy and to also be somewhat concealable if needed in an urban environment, so I went with a 12" long blade. Big, but it could be slung under a coat or long-sleeved shirt or fit into a backpack.

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After forging it out, I decided that although I was quite happy with the profile and that it would make a great brush chopper, the thickness of the blade was a little suspect for some of the suggested activities for the challenge (breaking padlocks and chain, etc.) The spine was approximately 3/16" before the raised clip, 1/8" for most of the false edge, and about 1/16" just back of the point. I knew how it would handle hardwoods and such, but the more extreme end of things had me worried. I decided that I would finish out the blade, but then would forge a heavier version for the challenge.

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As it stands now, the Mk II version has been soaked in vinegar to eat off the scale and is ready for stock removal. The false edge area is around 1/4" thick right now, but will thin out a bit. The MkI had a shorter handle than I typically do, making it where I wouldn't have enough room for my usual Turk's head knot at both ends of the handle, so I made the Mk II have my standard handle length.

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I chose some subdued olive drab paracord for the handle wrap and two-strand Turk's head knot, sealed in Minwax Wood Hardener. After sharpening, I tested it out on both thin, whippy hackberry branches and a good-sized pecan log. I'm happy with it and will put it on my table at the Blade Show, while finishing up the Mk II version for the Extreme Challenge.

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Re: Xtreme Challenge Knife

Post by JoeTosco » Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:44 pm

I loved the profile, if I wasn't in a bad financial moment I would start asking for a price on he first one...
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Re: Xtreme Challenge Knife

Post by KentsOkay » Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:56 pm

Sometimes I wonder if it is redundant to post on every posting of your latest stuff, but hey what can it hurt? Excellent job as always, I'm starting to like that paracord wrap look.
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Re: Xtreme Challenge Knife

Post by Fenris » Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:26 pm

So... Beautiful....



DO WANT!

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Re: Xtreme Challenge Knife

Post by Storm Crow » Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:25 pm

Thank y'all!

KentsOkay - I enjoy having others appreciate my work, so as far as I'm concerned, let the redundancy flow. :mrgreen: There are several other knifemakers whose work has the same effect on me; it feels like I should have a generic phrase of praise that I just cut and paste each time they post a new knife. :)
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Re: Xtreme Challenge Knife

Post by badasp118 » Tue May 01, 2012 10:58 pm

Storm..... I now have one of your knives, one on the way, and now your tempting me with your bush swords! grrrrrrrr I see another purchase in my future! lol! I haven't used anything but my new bowie since I got it! I have still yet to need to sharpen it despite two camping trips and clearing g brush from around my leanto frame on the river.... its awesome! looking forward to the smaller knife!

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Re: Xtreme Challenge Knife

Post by Storm Crow » Sun May 06, 2012 10:59 pm

The Mk II version is now ready for heat treatment.

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I need to do the stock removal on four more big blades for the Blade Show and then I'll heat treat them as a batch, including the Mk II.

Notice that the false edge isn't as well defined on this one. I wanted to just even it up a bit and not thin down that section much, leaving it plenty thick for hammering.

I've had a couple of people question me recently about my integral socket handles being offset; they aren't. I align them with the blade. There's a little bit of asymmetry due to the ends of the socket preform moving differently than the middle, meaning that the seam side tends to be just a bit flatter than the opposite side. I put the seam to the inside of the fingers so that the more curved side fits into the palm, and when I wrap the handle I lay the end of the cord along the seam before wrapping around it, helping fill out the seam side better and also making the cord *really* anchored.

Here are some pics I took of a different integral socket handle to show what I mean.

The view of the seam side:

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The view of the opposite side:

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Looking at it from the top. Notice the handle is not offset to the blade but is aligned:

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You can also see how much the end of the handle is rolled back on itself. This also makes for a stout anchor for the cord as well as adding some visual interest. Notice also that the socket is an oval cross section, making a mechanical lock in the hand to keep it from turning sideways while chopping. I'm all about handles having mechanical locks. :)
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Re: Xtreme Challenge Knife

Post by Niblick » Mon May 07, 2012 9:45 pm

Did you say that you min wax the 550 cord on the handle?

Again dude, amazing work.
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Re: Xtreme Challenge Knife

Post by Storm Crow » Tue May 08, 2012 10:09 am

Minwax is the brand, the product is Wood Hardener. It's made for strengthening soft or partially rotten wood, and is used by a lot of knifemakers to do home stabilization of handle materials, using a vacuum pump and a Mason jar full of it to suck the wood hardener down into all of the air spaces in the handle block.

It has the consistency of water and wicks into the fibers instantaneously. I keep brushing it on until it stays on top of the cord, then let it dry. Makes a composite material in place.
Proud to be a Neo-Tribal Metalsmith scavenging the wreckage of civilization.

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Re: Xtreme Challenge Knife

Post by TheLastOne » Tue May 08, 2012 12:02 pm

Storm Crow wrote:Minwax is the brand, the product is Wood Hardener. It's made for strengthening soft or partially rotten wood, and is used by a lot of knifemakers to do home stabilization of handle materials, using a vacuum pump and a Mason jar full of it to suck the wood hardener down into all of the air spaces in the handle block.

It has the consistency of water and wicks into the fibers instantaneously. I keep brushing it on until it stays on top of the cord, then let it dry. Makes a composite material in place.

Oh cool, kind of an instant-ish paracord micarta?
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Re: Xtreme Challenge Knife

Post by JoeTosco » Tue May 08, 2012 3:27 pm

Storm Crow wrote:Minwax is the brand, the product is Wood Hardener. It's made for strengthening soft or partially rotten wood, and is used by a lot of knifemakers to do home stabilization of handle materials, using a vacuum pump and a Mason jar full of it to suck the wood hardener down into all of the air spaces in the handle block.

It has the consistency of water and wicks into the fibers instantaneously. I keep brushing it on until it stays on top of the cord, then let it dry. Makes a composite material in place.
Interesting...
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Re: Xtreme Challenge Knife

Post by Storm Crow » Tue May 08, 2012 9:55 pm

TheLastOne wrote:
Storm Crow wrote:Minwax is the brand, the product is Wood Hardener. It's made for strengthening soft or partially rotten wood, and is used by a lot of knifemakers to do home stabilization of handle materials, using a vacuum pump and a Mason jar full of it to suck the wood hardener down into all of the air spaces in the handle block.

It has the consistency of water and wicks into the fibers instantaneously. I keep brushing it on until it stays on top of the cord, then let it dry. Makes a composite material in place.

Oh cool, kind of an instant-ish paracord micarta?
That's the basic idea. It's not as strong as Micarta, but it's not coming off unless you're really working at getting it off. It won't come loose on its own.
Proud to be a Neo-Tribal Metalsmith scavenging the wreckage of civilization.

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Re: Xtreme Challenge Knife

Post by bladeright » Thu May 10, 2012 5:12 pm

thats 1 sweet chopper

also your socket handles seem like they could be one of the most comfortable

and great idea/info on how to stabilize at home with vacuum sealer!
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Re: Xtreme Challenge Knife

Post by Tetra Grammaton Cleric » Thu May 10, 2012 6:17 pm

Hell yeah. That is all.

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Re: Xtreme Challenge Knife

Post by Storm Crow » Wed May 30, 2012 12:03 am

I gave the Challenge knife my typical triple normalizing, triple hardening, triple tempering heat treatment that I use on 5160. Given the nature of some of the proposed tasks, I decided to hedge my bets and selectively temper the spine to a tougher spring temper.

To do this I used a trick I learned from Tim Lively: tempering tongs. I have a pair of tongs with 1" square bar welded to the jaws. I heat the jaws up, then use them as a heat reservoir as I pinch the spine of the blade and temper down the length of the blade, drawing the spine to a blue color and the edge to a straw. This method is how I heat treated all of my big blades before getting a kiln large enough to fit them in. Some folks do the same with a torch, but I find that the slower speed gives me more control, as well as letting the heat soak into the core of the blade and not just temper the outside.

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I keep a soaking wet rag (one of my old gray T-shirts) handy to control the edge from getting too hot.

I'm getting a haircut tomorrow so I don't scare folks away from my table at the Blade Show next week!

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I work my way from the base of the blade to the tip. The jaws have to be pretty hot for this to be effective, and I had to reheat the tongs three times. It takes longest at the base of the blade because you are bringing cold steel up to above 400 degrees. After that it goes relatively quickly.

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I drew the very tip back to blue to make sure it didn't snap off under stress. Before that, I held the blade up and dropped it on the cement floor point-first. No damage to the tip.

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At this point it's ready to sand down, wrap the handle, seal the cord, and sharpen.
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Re: Xtreme Challenge Knife

Post by badasp118 » Wed May 30, 2012 12:20 am

I curious Storm.... how does the Handle feel? going by the picture it appears to "drop" a lot more than most of yours. not critisizing, just curious if you did this on purpose? possibly to give more blade forward during a swing? I think it looks very pleasing to the eye that way..... u usually have a method to ur madness so to speak and I'm always interested in hearing how u make em!! that's probably why I keep ordering knives from you! LOL!

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Re: Xtreme Challenge Knife

Post by Storm Crow » Wed May 30, 2012 12:33 am

On this particular design, I wanted to keep the edge straight, yet maintain the elongated sine wave that I tend to use for my big chopping blades (which drops the chopping sweet spot below the level of the knuckles and makes for a powerful chop). So I got that with the handle curvature and the angle of the blade to the handle.

Having whacked around with the MK I version, it doesn't feel weird at all. Does what it's supposed to how it's supposed to. :)
Proud to be a Neo-Tribal Metalsmith scavenging the wreckage of civilization.

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Re: Xtreme Challenge Knife

Post by badasp118 » Wed May 30, 2012 7:44 am

so if I'm understanding you correctly the way the handle and blade are causes the sweet spot much like a khukri? at least that was the way I was thinking it might be.... :-) awesome blade!

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Re: Xtreme Challenge Knife

Post by Storm Crow » Wed May 30, 2012 11:53 pm

Pretty much. Many chopping blades follow this principle. In fact, if you look at an ax with a fawn's foot handle and trace the curve of the edge through the position of your hand when swinging, it does the same thing, making an elongated sine wave.
Proud to be a Neo-Tribal Metalsmith scavenging the wreckage of civilization.

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Re: Xtreme Challenge Knife

Post by Storm Crow » Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:09 pm

Here it is finally finished up:

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Olive drab Kydex to match the handle wrap, two MOLLE locks, and plenty of eyelets to give options for attachment, cordage storage, and the addition of gear storage pouches.

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And a shot in hand looking at the false edge. Plenty of steel there to turn over and use as a hammer!

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This took longer than necessarry. Moving shop and getting back functional has been more of a booger and time-waster than I had anticipated. Sure am looking forward to seeing what my blade will do as well as the other knifemakers'.
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Re: Xtreme Challenge Knife

Post by JoeTosco » Fri Aug 03, 2012 12:08 pm

What are your plans for this one? Will you put a price tag?
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Re: Xtreme Challenge Knife

Post by Storm Crow » Mon Aug 06, 2012 5:00 am

This one will go to the challenge, which could be destructive testing. After that, it probably depends on the condition of it!

I still have the Mk I and plan to put it up for sale. I'll send you a PM on price.
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Re: Xtreme Challenge Knife

Post by maldon007 » Mon Aug 06, 2012 6:52 am

Storm Crow wrote: Plenty of steel there to turn it into a small car!
Ftfy :lol:

Seriously, what does that beast weigh?
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Re: Xtreme Challenge Knife

Post by Storm Crow » Mon Aug 06, 2012 10:57 pm

maldon007 wrote:
Storm Crow wrote: Plenty of steel there to turn it into a small car!
Ftfy :lol:

Seriously, what does that beast weigh?
Nah, it's only about a 1/4" thick on the spine. It's a bit heavier than I'd make for a straight-up brush chopper, but not bad.
Proud to be a Neo-Tribal Metalsmith scavenging the wreckage of civilization.

Forged blades: http://www.helmforge.com

Stock removal blades: http://www.helmgrind.com

The Wasteland Crow Project: http://wastelandcrow.blogspot.com

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