How to Build and Scale up a Knife – Ru-Titley Knives
This is such a good article written by a guy called Rupert Titley. We recently sent him an Enzo Necker 70 Blade and some Carbon Fibre Scales to pimp out. Not only did he do that, he also put together this phenomenal step-by-step guide on how you can do it yourself.
If you were ever considering making your own knife or pimping up one you already own, then reading this is highly advised! He shares some really useful tips and tricks.
Have a read below, and if you like what you see, please give him a follow on his Tumblr feed here.
Introducing the Enzo Necker and what I plan to do with it
Kindly sent to me by the good folks at Heinnie Haynes to scale up, test and review the full flat version of the Enzo Necker.
These Sandvick 12c27 stainless Neckers are proving very popular among UK bushcrafters as they are also available in a Scandi grind and it will work great as a back up to a main bushcraft knife or when coupled with just an axe.
They can be simply wrapped in 550 cord (shown in the next Section) with a Kydex sheath or fully scaled up with a leather bushcraft sheath and are also proving a real hit with folks wanting to make their own (or personalise) Neckers without the time or expense of making their own knives.
The guys at Heinnie Haynes also sent me a pair of the K&G CF (carbon Fibre) twill scales, which they also sell to scale the Enzo necker in. These are generous sized scales measuring 12.7cm x 3.8 cm x 0.8.
CF is very lightweight but strong and is easy to work though, but the dust is harmful and can be an irritant so protective gear IS A MUST when working with it.
The surface finish on the these scales really reminds me of the textured surface of peel ply G-10 which I’ve not ever come across on carbon fiber before so am looking forward to testing it out.
My plan is to scale this up in a work in progress tutorial to post up here, so you guys who’ve always wanted to have a go at scaling a full tang knife can use it if you wish as a tutorial.
Initial thoughts, and a quick cord wrap
The 12c27 Sandvick blade was real sharp out of the protective sleeve, one little niggle though was that side was a little deeper ground at the spine than the other but its only a cosmetic thing and will not effect the cutting performance .
The plan is still to do a work in progress of the build, but thought I’d give it a quick cord wrap to show what can be done with these great Neckers whilst the G-10 liners glue up to the CF scales.
I also added a tungsten carbide striker with Cyflect glint & glow tape to the lanyard hole, just because the Kydex screw hardware were a perfect fit . The spine of the Enzo knife is squared off enough to strike but nothing strikes quite like tungsten carbide.
The internal kit was then sealed in self amalgamating tape before being wrapped in several feet of technora 600 cord. This makes for a simple but comfy grip whilst I wait for the epoxy to cure on the scales .
Part 1 – Enzo 70 Necker work in progress – CF Scales and G10 Liners
Due to the amount of pics and info I will have to break this up into a series of parts, but will try and keep them flowing together so it helps for anyone trying to follow the how to scale a full tang knife tutorial .
*Please note that there are several different ways to scale a full tang knife this is just the way that I do it.*
This first part concerns gluing the G-10 liners to the CF scales so if your not planning on adding liners you can skip this part but there is valid info concerning gluing in cold temperatures.
The K&G CF scales are quite generously sized, so the first thing to do is to cut them down either using a hack saw or band-saw if you have one. I like to mark around the tang with a pencil and then cut a rectangle of the scale that is over sized so that you have excess CF material all the way around.
Carbon fiber/G-10 dust is an irritant and produces dangerous dust so always wear a dust mask when cutting/sanding , eye protection too is certainly advised, and some folks find the dust to be a skin irritant so surgical / washing up gloves are also advised.
With the CF cut to size (keep the off-cuts for further projects) lay the CF scales over the thin G-10 liners draw around them and cut them to fit the scales
Using rough grit wet & dry sandpaper, remove the shiny surfaces from the CF and G-10 liners and then cross hatch both pieces with a diamond Dremel type bit or a craft knife, this cross hatching keys the materials and gives the epoxy something better to stick too rather than the shinny factory surface.
After cross hatching, it’s important to clean the scales with warm soapy water to remove any dust, once dry thoroughly de-grease the scales and liners to be glued with acetone easily found in nail varnish remover using cotton wool ear buds.
Whilst they dry prepare your epoxy. I like to use the 30 minute set epoxy as it gives more play time than the faster 5 minute set and takes a full 24 hours to cure at room temperature.
I prefer to squeeze out two similar sized blobs of hardener and resin and then as it is a cold -1 C here. Gently warm the epoxy under a light bulb until it runs smooth then thoroughly mix up the epoxy using a glue spreader in my case recycled wooden ice cream sticks.
When thoroughly mixed, spread the epoxy onto the CF scales then slide the liners onto the scales from one end and firmly press the G-10 liners onto them making sure you dissipate any air bubbles.
I then like to clamp the scales together to a flat board and leave for a full 24 hours in a warm room environment. This will give me plenty of time to sort out etching and stone-washing the stainless blade and the pins/lanyard tube combinations I want to use with this knife.
If you plan on making knives always try and collect different sized brass/copper, CF, ally and stainless tubes and rods as a good stash allows you to mix and match pin/tube material but these Enzo knives can also be completed with standard knife-making fixings such as Loveless or Corby bolts as well as torx type screws if preferred.
Part 2 – Enzo Necker 70 Work in progress – Preparing the blade
With the epoxied carbon fiber scales now gluing up its time to sort out the blade itself.
Having decided upon using some carbon fiber rods and a CF tube for the pins and a lanyard hole that is wider than the existing tang holes. Therefore, I need to widen the x3 pin holes to fit the CF pins I want to use .
As its a live blade I carefully wrap the blade in thin cardboard from a recycled cereal packet and wrap with tape which will protect me from any accident whilst working on the knife.
In picture two, you can see I’m using a diamond bit in a Dremel type tool to widen the tang holes to fit the CF pins. As its a stainless blade the tang is quite hard and my drill press wouldn’t touch it so the holes have to be widened by hand. This takes some time using the diamond bit in a circular motion until the CF pins fit the newly widened holes. If it starts to get hot then dunk in some cool water.
Next I need to prepare the blade for etching, the tang is quite shiny on these blades so I’m going to rough it up using a coarse mop in a drill, which will also help the epoxy key better when I come to glue the scales on latter.
Eye and hearing protection is necessary here and I also wear a thick leather workshop apron. This is also done with the cardboard blade protector on (not shown in photo) and always make sure that the drill rotates away from you just in case the blade snags and is sent spinning away from you rather than straight towards you.
After the mop we thoroughly de -grease the whole blade with acetone prior to etching.
I’m currently using ready mixed Ferric Chloride to etch blades, Ferric is a salt based etching system often used in computer board printing it is highly corrosive to skin and also a skin irritant so always wear long rubber gloves and I would also seriously suggest eye protection.
After de-greasing I thread some cord through the tang hole and as its quite a long blade use a recycled plastic bottle to etch in. Stainless blades always seem to take longer than carbon steel blades to etch so keep checking on it to make sure its etching to the desired darkness you want.
When you are happy with the colour of your etch remove then counter act the etch using bicarbonate of soda mixed in warm water. This will fizz a bit but will kill the etch from further etching. Then wash the whole blade under warm running water to remove any etch residue.
I’m then going to stone-wash the etched blade using glass marbles and a tumble drier. Allow the blade to dry and prepare your plastic container . Ideally this wants to be a screw top container with thick plastic walls here I’m using a recycled whey bulking powder container. Put your marbles and the blade into the container with a good squirt of WD40 type oil, screw the lid on tight and tape it up well to prevent accidental opening.
I then like to parcel wrap the container in an old workshop towel using 550 paracord to hog tie it up. Always tumble on a low heat setting and if you don’t own the drier ask permission of the owner first.
You can check on it after 5 min’s, though with stainless 10 min’s normally seems to work best. The blade will be dirty but a quick clean up with acetone will remove any oily residue. If your not happy with the finish, re tighten the lid, re tape and re wrap and give it another 10 min cycle. The edge will now be quite blunt, but can be re-sharpened later when all work has ceased.
Part 3 – Enzo Necker 70 work in progress – Preparation for Gluing
In part 3 we are preparing the scales for gluing up by drill the tang holes and rough shaping.
With the CF scales and G-10 liners epoxied together, and a full 24 hours passed allowing them to cure properly its time to drill the tang holes.
Once you’ve removed any excess hardened glue that’s squeezed out and cured (a craft knife is the best tool here or you can sand it back but excess glue will clog up sanding belts). I then tape the two scales together with both sets of orange liners on the inside and then tape the knife in the correct position to the scales. Make sure that there is plenty of scale material all around the tang of the knife that you will remove later on.
Using a drill press, vice and the correct sized drill bits carefully drill at a slow speed using either spare drill bits or the pins you’re going to use to help keep the scales in place.
Once the tang holes are all drilled remove the pins / drill bits and sever the tape holding the knife and scales together and mark the scales left / right.
It is now time to remove excess CF scale material. This can be done either with a band saw or bastard files, but is much faster with a flap sander in an angle grinder. Definitely wear full eye, face and hearing protection at this and all sanding stages as CF dust is harmful.
Using the same drill bits to hold the scales onto the knife’s tang, clamp the handle and use the flap sander to remove the majority of excess CF material, but do not go to mad and make sure to leave a small amount of CF material proud of the metal tang.
You can then use a sanding drum in a Dremel type tool to further remove the CF material at a more controllable speed, but again do not go all the way down to the metal of the tang.
Before gluing up it’s important to sort out and finish the front of the scales. That part that will sit at the front of the knife where the blade meets the handle.
Remove the blade and place the scales together using the drill bits as pins and then use a drum sander or the flap sander to shape the front of the scales. If using the drum sander in a drill, always make sure that the drum turns away from you rather than towards you.
When you’re happy with the shaping of the front of the scales go through several grits of wet & dry sand paper to remove any tool marks or sanding scratches and to reveal the CF pattern.
As I plan to stone-wash the scales later then 320 grit is fine enough, but if you want a shiny CF look then sand up to at least 1500 grit and polish if you like shiny shiny.
Check the scales are flush at the front by putting them back onto the knife and that you are happy with the fronts of the scales as once glued down these are harder to re sort out.
Using a pencil I then mark around the front of the scales onto the blade itself, any metal before this line (ie under the scales) needs to be roughed up with either sandpaper or cross hatched with a diamond type tool to help key the epoxy, and the same done for the inside of the G-10 liners.
Part 4 – Enzo Necker 70 work in progress – Fitting the scales to the blade
It’s now time to glue the prepared CF K&G scales from Heinnie Haynes to the Enzo 70 Necker blade. The CF pins and lanyard tube are cut with a hacksaw just proud on the scales which makes them easier to fit and sand back later, and they are roughed up on the outside with a small diamond file to key them ready for gluing.
The epoxy is squeezed out in by eye measured doses, its always best to squeeze out a little more than suddenly realize you’ve not got enough half way through a build. And, if you’ve any other mending or gitd in-fill projects to do have these on standby so as not to waste epoxy.
Epoxy doesn’t like cold temperatures, so if its a cold day gently warm the epoxy under a light bulb. Thoroughly de-grease the liners with acetone/ nail varnish remover, also the blade, and the pins. Again, if cold gently warm the blade to using either a low setting heat gun or radiator but never get it to hot that you cannot hold it.
Thoroughly mix the epoxy with a glue spreader and coat one scale, set the pins and lanyard tube into the scale holes and fit to the knife. Coat the pins that are now sticking through the tang holes with more epoxy and coat the second scale.
Fit the second scale making sure that there is an equal amount of pins and tube poking out on either side of the scales. Using a series of F or G clamps, finger tighten them strategically along the tang so that there is a tight no gap fit between scales and knife tang.
Excess epoxy will now creep out from the pressure, this is best removed with cotton earbuds. I tend to lick mine (the earbuds) once to get them wet, which helps to remove the epoxy but you can use acetone if you prefer just be careful that it doesn’t flood between the liners and the knifes tang as will hinder proper curing.
It’s most important to clean the front of the scales where the handle meets the blade, wipe off any excess glue from the finished fronts of the scales and any that may have seeped out onto the blade. Again, a moist ear bud works best here and acetone on the blade will work to remove any glue smearing or random blob.
Once the blade and handles are free of excess glue store at room temperature for at least 24 hours to properly cure and start another project.
Part 5 – Enzo Necker 70 work in progress – Fitting the handle
Now that the K&G CF scales and G-10 liners are glued up to the knife. and have had 24 hours to cure properly its time to sort out the fit of the handle .
Using first a coarse sanding drum in a Dremel type tool to remove excess CF flush to the tang, remembering to wear full face protection and then a fine sanding drum to sand the CF flat, and remove any coarse sanding marks all the way around the metal of the tang.
Next we remove the excess CF pin and lanyard tube with either a hack saw or by sanding them flush on a belt sander, again please remember that CF / G-10 dust is hazardous to your health so always wear full face protection when cutting or sanding.
It’s now time to add some shaping to the flat / square handle, we all hold tools especially knives differently depending on our hand size, so from now on it’s down to personal preference concerning the fit of the knife. The scales for me are currently too thick, so I flatten them a little more on the belt sander and then using the Dremel with a coarse sanding drum chamfer the sides of the scales to curve them making a more comfortable grip.
I’m still not happy with the flatness of the scales so move the knife to the drum sander, angling the handle to the drum to remove more at the top and bottom of the scales, rounding the main flat part and also thinning the front, so that it is more comfortable to hold. It will also be easier to Kydex sheath later on.
When your happy with the knifes overall shape or fit, it is time to work through the wet & dry sandpaper grits. CF abrades quite quick so I started at a 120 grit through to 320. Make sure that you sand out any tool marks on the CF, but also on the steel of the tang. You should also round off any sharp corners. I tend to use a small diamond file for this, but also to work on the finger choil area where the blade meets the handle and at the ricasso. If you want to make the CF ‘bling’ more then take it up to at least 1500 grit, it can then be polished with micromesh or polishing compound on a lose leaf mop in a drill.
Once you’re happy with the overall fit I give the CF a quick wipe with some oil just to make sure I can see no visible tool or sanding marks and technically it could no be finished, but I want to add a few extras to mine so please stand by for part 6 below.
Part 6 – Enzo Necker 70 work in progress – Finishing touches
So, I decided to take the finish of this knife one stage further. It was perfectly acceptable as it was It’s just that sometimes it is easy to stop before you think you may mess something up. Sometimes though taking that leap of faith just creates something a little different.
I’m a big fan of the work of Japanese knife-making legend Kiku Matsuda and had tried his signature handle technique once before on one of my kiridashi knives, and just felt it would be interesting to push this project one step further .
Using a Dremel coarse sanding drum I cut a channel through the CF scale then used a fine drum to remove any tool marks. I then used a smaller bore sanding drum to sculpt into the thicker top / bottom side’s of the scales.
120 grit folded wet & dry sandpaper was then used to clean out the tool marks in the sculpted areas, it was then finished at 240 grit. A small diamond file was used to remove any sharp corners from the sculpting and then the whole handle was brushed with a fine grit abrasive wheel in a drill to blend in and texture the CF,
The metal spine of the knife and the tang were then cleaned with acetone / nail varnish remover before ferric chloride was brushed on to etch the worked steel areas after stopping the etch with bicarbonate of soda. I then repeated the stone-wash procedure mentioned in part 2 of this tutorial.
The stone-washing gives the CF scales a great grip but also helps to round off the sculpting making for a comfy but tactile grip, once any oily residue has been cleaned off.
Just the Kydex sheath to show off in part 7, and then I’m looking forward to getting around to using the knife. So once again, many thanks to Heinnie Haynes for sending me the Enzo Necker 70 and the K&G CF scales.
Part 7 – Enzo Necker 70 – Sheathed and completed
No tutorial on Kydex sheaths this time around but I would be happy to do one if you folks out there require it sometime.
I looked at several potential Kydex candidates for the colour/ pattern, but dismissed standard black, kryptek typhoon and CF pattern black Holstex, as felt that the pattern of the K&G twill pattern CF used on the Enzo Necker 70’s handle was too random.
Instead, I opted for an OD woodland digital pattern exclusively made up by GFG plastics ltd via ebay here.
The sheath can be carried as a necker using OD 550 cord or will fit large tek-lok in either horizontal scout carry or vertical carry or short Gen3 MOLLE Lok from Bladetech.
Where can you can find out more about Rupert Titley
If you liked what you have seen and read, there is load more really cool stuff up on his Tumblr page. Here at Heinnie Haynes we wholly recommend you check it out!
Main Tumblr Site: http://ru-titley-knives.tumblr.com/
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