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Have at it!

New maker here looking for honest critique of my work. I have thick skin so have at it. Been a hobby for about a year. Really enjoying the process of learning new skills. This is my first attempt at a dagger. Both are 1095 stock removal. 

I don’t post on forums very often, hope I am doing this correctly. 

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Ed Caffrey has reacted to this post.
Ed Caffrey

First, Thanks for stepping up and getting things rolling on this portion of our forums!  Knife Design is always a very subjective thing, but there are some universal attributes that tend to be present in any well designed knife.... so let's talk about some of them..... First is the handle shape/configuration.  Think about the human hand.... and image a hand closing around/grasping a knife handle (or really anything)..... the smallest part of the grip is where the thumb and index finger wrap around whatever is being held/grasped.  While the largest portion is  the heel of the hand/pinky finger.  It follows that a knife handle should be smaller and thinner in the front, and larger/wider/thicker in the rear.   

  I actually think you're doing yourself an injustice, posting a dagger for evaluation.  Why?  Because a dagger is technically the most difficult knife design to get "right".   Not just that frustrating grind line down the center line of the blade, but because of the many different "planes" a dagger presents. A typical knife has 2 "planes" (or sides), and ideally, each side should be a mirror image of the other.  With a dagger, each side contains 2 planes..... meaning that not only should the 2 planes of each side, be mirror images of each other... but the 2 plans on one side, should be mirror images on the 2 planes on the opposite side.   OK, now that I've muddy up the waters horribly, lets go on.... 🙂

   As stated in the description for this sub-forum, I am looking at/evaluating the presented knife as if it were being judged for ABS Journeyman Smith consideration.   Since there are two different knives presented, I will take them in order.  

  The first knife would fail based on design, as I explained in the opening paragraph.  The build and fit/finish of the handle looks OK.   What I am seeing is that your skills are sound in the composition and assembly of all those handle pieces, which leads me to believe that you are bringing those skills from another area/vocation/hobby in your life.  The overall fit of steel to non-steel components is excellent.

  To my eye, it's obvious that you are much further ahead in assembly, and finishing of the non-steel components.... because there is a huge gap in the quality/refinement of finishing the non-steel, versus the steel components.  That is a matter of time and practice.  

  The judging criteria of the ABS is actually very simple when is comes to finishes...... " Flatness, bevels, and finishes are to be uniform"  which in this case, both blades require significant work in order to be "uniform". That word (uniform) does not just apply to a blade, or just a handle.... but the "uniformity" must also be present between the blade/steel finish, and the handle/non-steel components.    Many find it initially very difficult to deal with finishing/finishes on steel/blades.  That's because most don't have any life experience/knowledge when it comes to finishing steel, and it does carry a significant learning curve.   That being said, on both knives the level and uniformity of the blade finishes needs attention.... not just the level/uniformity of the blade finishes, but in matching the level of finish between the handles and the blades.

  From a purely personal angle, I like to see handles that are less "square".  Rounding/shaping more, in order to fit the human hand.  Not to the level of being/feeling like a "broom stick"...... but shaping and blending everything together, to make it 1. Look Good, 2. Feel Good, and 3. Work good.   


  Thanks for posting the pics and being willing to seek the critique that I feel is a necessary part of improving you skills and your knives.

  As a side note..... could you please fill out your profile to let us know your real name?  It's always nice to know exactly who I'm talking with.  THANKS!     



Ed Caffrey, ABS Mastersmith "The Montana Bladesmith" "Nobody Cares What you Know, Until they Know You Care!"

Thank you for your opinion and guidance, it is greatly appreciated. I realize I was setting myself up with the dagger, but I figured what the heck. 

I am still at the stage of making “knife shaped”or “knife looking” objects. No training to speak of, just YouTube for information. I have made about 20 or so knives, but having a very difficult time grinding my bevels to what I believe to be acceptable. I do ok with the lower grit belts but once I get to 220 I start getting facets and it goes downhill from there. I usually end up putting a scotchbrite finish on it to salvage the blade as best I can. Very frustrating. 

I am going to start on a new knife and use all of the advice you have offered. Maybe I post it when I am finished. I am going to keep working at it and hopefully get the hang of it eventually. Thanks again for your help. 

Ed Caffrey has reacted to this post.
Ed Caffrey


Thanks for breaking the ice on this section of the forum.  I’m looking forward to the  honest feedback on my work in the near future that you just received.  It will raise the bar for all of us!

Ed Caffrey has reacted to this post.
Ed Caffrey

Greg, I feel like you are not giving yourslef due credit (more than likely being humble) with your work.  I have no qualifications to "judge" someone else's work but I can say what I see.  Looking at the knife as a whole, the handle really stands out to me.  From the materials you used to the colors you chose to your finish skills are all great.  To me those color choices are "out of the norm" for what most makers choose and that is a good thing because your work will stand out in a crowd of "normal" knives. I normally do not like mosiac pins (just personal preferance) in most knives but again, in this case they work well.  On your grinds, all the lines are pretty much straight and your plunges look good and sharp.  Ed covered steel finish (which I am still working on too).  I am not sure if this is the place to discuss the facets you are getting while you grind but someone here may be able to help.  How are you grinding? Freehand, jig, standing or seated.  What platen material are you using?  Glass, steel ot other?   

Ed Caffrey and Bruce McLeish have reacted to this post.
Ed CaffreyBruce McLeish
I never claim my way to make something is the best way. I only claim that it is my way...

    Thank you for the kind words. I need all the encouragement I can get. I really enjoy the process of making the blades and scales. Just frustrating not being able to finish the bevels to my satisfaction. I’m just going to keep grinding and practicing.  
    I am grinding freehand on a glass platen, standing. Thanks again,Greg

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