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 Post subject: Artifex project: the Frankenfex
PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 2:25 am 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 6:20 am
Posts: 1470
So about 6 months ago I decided I did not enjoy using my Artifex anymore. The Artifex was not a bad knife, but my knife rack was becoming populated by higher priced knives that simply made the Artifex...dated. This was compounded by the fact that Mark has done such an amazing job bringing in outstanding knives at ridiculous prices, ie the Goko Damascus.

Now I had long considered a number of projects but I did not have any knives either in need of work or that I was willing to try my inexperienced hand at modifying. So rather than sell my Artifex, I decided I would make it....my Frankefex.

So the plan was:
1) thin the Artifex: this idea came from a Ken video detailing a convex zero grind on an Artifex (IIRC)
2) remove the yo handle and convert tang to accept wa handles: Tim has done a few of these and if Tim can do it, I can screw it up
3) make a wa handle for install: this was the part I sat on the longest, then estayton...well he didn't know it but he called down the thunder.

So I got to work!

The convex zero grind went better than I could have hoped. Using a Harbor Freight 1x30 belt sander and the belts that came with it I was able to do exactly what I set out to do. Now being inexperienced there were some hangups and some pit falls persist. There are several spots where there are over grinds. Time will tell if these will result in holes in the edge, but right now there are just thinner spots in the grind. I also did not appreciate how delicate I needed to be while thinning the tip and ended up rounding off the tip and loosing about 6.5mm. Along with the lost length, I also lost some of the pointed tip profile of the KS styled. Perhaps the more persistent question is will the edge hold up, did I ruin the heat treat? I don't know. I checked temperature frequently, dunked the blade in water frequently, and worked to minimalism belt contact with the edge, I only needed to work down to the edge, I would do finial sharpening on the edge with stones.

Once I reached a reasonably consistent grind along the length of the blade and attained the convexity and thinness I wanted, it was time to clean up the grind marks and restore an attractive, uniform finish. My original plan was a mirrored finish. But since my only power tool was a 1x30 belt sander and I did not want to spend a lot of money on materials, I attempted to finish the knife by hand with wet/dry sand paper. All you knife makers, stop laughing. You started out too, once. It turns out stainless steel hardened to 61 Rockwell does not yield easily to anything. It is amazing a knife has every been made, yet alone made to look good and preform well. So after many, many, many hours hand sanding, I returned to the Harbor Freight 1x30, put my finest belt on and went to work on a brushed type finish. The only problem was the convexity of the edge and the combination of tension and slack in the belt made consistent contact nearly impossible. I would get a streak of nice clean grind marks about 1/2 inch wide, but these swatches would never match up and there were several dead zones where I could not get the belt to make contact at all. So I did something monumentally cringe worthy. I used binder clips to attach a swatch of Scotch Brite pad to the platen on the belt sander to provide yielding back pressure to the belt. It is amazing that using an abrasive on the back side of a belt sander did not end in tears but IT WORKED! Now when I removed the pad there was a lot of powdered Scotch Brite pad and I cannot imagine that belt is much good anymore, but I got what I wanted out of the deal.

Next step was to remove the handle and convert the tang. Handle scale removal began by drilling out the rivets in the scales. A pop from a punch drove out the rivets and the scales fell free. You culinary pros should never, EVER let health inspectors know what filth resides under handle scales. I freehand sketched a rat tail pattern on the tang and went to work with a Dremel and a cut off wheel. This actually went far better than I had expected. I kept the blade wet to alleviate concerns about heat buildup but I don't know that it was necessary, the blade itself did not get that hot. I probably only needed 1 1/2 cutoff wheels, but I used a third to get the additional radius to reach into the machi area and square it up. Finally I gave the tang a few passes on the belt sander to clean up the rather jagged cut.

For the overview of the handle build look at any of several posts by Tim, or the outstanding walk through with pictures by estayton. I will not rehash what others have far more expertly covered. Instead I will regale you with the tales of my special brand of success. First of all, can anyone recommend a table saw blade and tooth count for very hard woods? Once my handle blank was glued up, I could not find a tool that would do a satisfactory job rough cutting it to spec. So I chopped it to spec with a chisel. The correspondingly crap rough cut ended up well away from center and not particularly square to the original blank. As a result, one wall of the handle was thinner than I was comfortable with and I had to amend my plans for traditional octagonal handle for one with smaller bevels on the top and more exaggerated bevels on the bottom. Furthermore, my dowel joinery, which was supposed to be easy to carve out for the tang of the knife ran diagonally through the handle...so that was fun.

Since I had such a monumentally rough cut for the handle I needed to move slowly and guarantee straight sides. I did not have excess stock around the dowel to screw up. So I used a combination of sanding block with 80 grit sand paper for targeted and aggressive stock removal, and a sheet of 80 grit on a polished granite reference surface to true my surfaces up. I used a square and a straight edge to constantly confirm progress. I managed an amazingly perfect square cross section before screwing it up on the bevels. Overall the bevels don't suck, but they ain't awesome either. The bevel facets were too small to give good tactile feedback so I could not...did not hold them as square as I did getting my initial squared up cross section. The end result is the handle looks slightly torqued. Like someone grabbed the front and back and twisted in opposing directions.

The horror of making the handle worsened when I had to cut the mortise for the tang. A few lessons from this exercise: 1) use needle rasps as Tim says, not needle files; 2) make sure your drill bit is long enough, files suck at deepening a hole; 3) make sure the dowel joining your handle is straight and square; 4) don't put too much faith in a Harbor Freight drill press; 5) test fit the knife frequently; 6) be prepared to redefine generally meeting the definition of a handle as a soaring success.

The handle install went OK. The mortise was too big, so the knife wanted to move while the epoxy set up. It took several tries to get the knife lined up in a way that looked straight...it was not, but it looked it. I set the knife in a tube from a roll of tape mounted in my bench vise, it was the best way I could get the knife to "stand up" in a way that the knife would stay, well we'll call it straight. Unfortunately, the 20 minute epoxy only needed 20 minutes to run out of the mortise and leave not only lovely gaps in the install, but stunning runs 1/2 an inch down my new handle. The judicious use of a razor cleaned that up, but it did necessitate refilling the mortise with epoxy and ultimately resanding the handle.

At this point, home free. A brief soak in mineral oil for the handle and a Shapton Pro progression finishing on an Arashiyama 6k and I have a new old knife.

I have not used the knife. I have not report for its performance. I am very excited to play with it as soon as I am done with the pass around knives. My three biggest concerns going forward are: Will the handle fall off? Is the HT OK, will it hold an edge? and Will the over grinds make the edge unusable over time?


The original Richmond Artifex can be seen here: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/riar24gy.html.

Specs were:

weight: 6.8oz
length: 248mm
height @ heel: 46.5mm
width @ spine: 2.4mm

And the Richmond Cedarhouse Frankenfex

Specs are:

weight: 5.4oz
length: 241(+)mm
height @ heel: 45mm
width @ spine: 2mm
machi gap: 16mm


Overview:

Image


Twisted handle (is that a band name?):

Image


Scoliosis:

Image


Handle install:

Image


Choil shot:

Image


Balance point, the blade is balanced on the cork:

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Artifex project: the Frankenfex
PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 3:11 am 

Joined: Sat Jan 04, 2014 8:57 pm
Posts: 546
Awesome project cedar! And I appreciate the detail you put into your process description. Even if it didn't turn out 100%, it looks like a great learning experience and came out pretty good so far as I can see for a first shot at some pretty major work. The flats on the handle look nice and flat with crisp edges between them, and the front and back chamfers look pretty professional from the pictures. I'm impressed you hand sanded in the bevels with as much success as you had. I found out on my first handle how hard it was to get them flat and even and switched to the hand plane which seems to do a better job at that out of the tools in my arsenal. It is hard to keep the sanding block flat and I ended up with slight twists when I did it that way.

I'll try to find out what blade is in my table saw tomorrow. It works, not perfectly, but well enough to do a rough cut. I don't trust it enough to go closer than about ~3-4mm from finished size though, in case it deflects a little. What size stock did you start out with?

I look forward to hearing how the knife cuts now that you have revamped it!

(Edit: I have made 6 handles now, some made just for practice and currently sitting around without blades, and I have hidden my fair share of slightly off-kilter dowels. It gets easier each time to get it straight.)


Last edited by estayton on Sat Aug 16, 2014 3:17 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Artifex project: the Frankenfex
PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 3:13 am 
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Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2012 4:17 am
Posts: 3630
Cedar you are quickly becoming one of my new heroes! :D



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 Post subject: Re: Artifex project: the Frankenfex
PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 4:35 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2012 1:14 am
Posts: 552
Location: San Ramon Ca.
Nicely done! Way to go making an item into what you want opposed to what it was.



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 Post subject: Re: Artifex project: the Frankenfex
PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 4:40 am 

Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2013 2:22 am
Posts: 632
Great job and great post!


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 Post subject: Re: Artifex project: the Frankenfex
PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 6:32 am 

Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2014 7:15 am
Posts: 897
Location: Raleigh, NC
Looks like a roaring success. Time to have its new honorific etched or silk screened on.

I actually tried polishing by hand with sandpaper on a knife that had some rough scarring from sharpening and had great results. I got some salient advice from a mechanic and kept to short jumps in grit with water to lubricate and it took me about 30 minutes to get out some 800 grit scratches.


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 Post subject: Re: Artifex project: the Frankenfex
PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 2:37 pm 
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Joined: Sat Mar 22, 2014 2:38 pm
Posts: 187
absolutely beautiful!

pat



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 Post subject: Re: Artifex project: the Frankenfex
PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 2:46 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 19, 2012 7:18 pm
Posts: 7335
Location: Madison Wisconsin
Wow! That's an amazing transformation.



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 Post subject: Re: Artifex project: the Frankenfex
PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 3:25 pm 

Joined: Thu Mar 21, 2013 7:06 pm
Posts: 202
Awesome work man. I've thought of trying some work like this but never worked up the nerve. Admire you getting after it.


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 Post subject: Re: Artifex project: the Frankenfex
PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 6:44 pm 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 6:20 am
Posts: 1470
Thanks for all the kind words guys! When I was doing this I was constantly frustrated that it didn't go like I had planned, but overall the outcome was better than I could have hoped for given my experience. I am very excited to put it through its paces when I am done with the pass around knives.

Jeff, if I am your hero then I seriously question your judge of character :D

Lepus, I had taken the knife down to 150 grit and I could not get those coarser scratches out. In my experience, like stones, the coarser stones need to be closer together than the finer ones to do their job well. I suspect that if I had done my homework and put up some money for better sand paper, with closer grit counts them I may have had more success.


FWIW, I started this project because so many knife makers, sharpeners, and enthusiasts have shared their hard earned DIY and professional experience on this forum an elsewhere. I knew going into it this it would be a challenging learning curve, I come out of it all the more humbled by the effort. You guys who do this regularly and produce consistently high quality product, you guys are amazing. Thank ya'll for the inspiration and the information. I will likely attempt some more handles, that was only a few hours effort with materials I have around the house, but I will not be tackling a big knife sized project without better kit. That said I think my next project is a couple of sayas, thanks coachnj for putting that bug in my ear ;)


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