Spoon carving.

Spoon carving with Jon Mac.
A blog following my journey in the world of bushcraft, spoon carving and kuksa carving. Home of the JonMac MiniMac carving knife.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Evolution of the MaChris Knife...

Some years ago, Sarah bought  me a present. A Julius Pettersson Laminated blade. Not being one to rush into things without giving a lot of thought, I popped it into the cupboard above my chair in the kitchen, and got it out from time to time to have a look at how to fit a well designed ergonomic handle. Sarah's family came up with two types of very interesting hard wood, one Oak and the other African Blackwood. With the help of a band saw the small billets were cut into squares, then carefully honed so as to sit, one atop the other with no discrepancies. I was given a small piece of brass, about three millimetres thick, to shape into a ferrule. After carefully copying the shape of the tangs shoulder, using an incredibly small chisel, I made the brass ferrule fit perfectly. Next I chiselled individual slots into each block, each being unique so as to fit on the tang as the tang reduced in thickness. The second to last block on the handle would hold a hand made brass washer inset into it. Once all the pieces were made and finally checked, it was time to slip each piece into place along with a liberal coating of Extramite glue. All pressed together with the brass washer fitted, and the tang peened over to hold everything together. Once dried I pinned and glued a final block to cover the washer and tang.

Back into the cupboard it went for a while whilst I considered the next step. For me it is incredibly important for a hand tool to fit into ones hand with comfort, allied to a certain strength of purpose. So I spent some time analysing how I held the knife during the carving of spoons, kuksa and treen. During the carving process I find  I will use very strong, forceful backhand cuts to remove waste wood quickly, along with thumb pressure and lever cuts as the work takes on a finer appearance, quite often I  find that I hold the knife on the blade, with only two fingers on the handle, especially when undertaking radial cuts. I decided to make a handle that is fully supported by a cupped hand, is comfortable in any chosen hold, with a tapered shape that will not slip nor cause damage to any ligaments....


I bound up the blade with leather and tape and set about carving and filing until I reached the desired shape.

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The finished Pettersson...

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This is a splendid knife, sharp, holds an edge for a good time and is easy to sharpen. I prefer to regularly sharpen my knives and keep them in tip top condition rather than relying on a super hard steel.


With this knife I have made many beautiful things, I am used to it's characteristics, one of which is the round belly, which I find difficult to use if I am making a small kuksa with a tight internal radii on the handle, for instance.


Some years later I was contacted by Chris Grant

A Bladesmith
  specialising in  bespoke and totally unique handmade functional blades of high quality.


 We had a discussion about Axes and knives for carving. Chris and I decided to collaborate on a new knife type, one with superior cutting qualities and incorporating some features that would make life easier when cutting internal radii and chip carving. Shown below is one of many models made until the final design was decided.

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 We used the same handle silhouette I designed for the Pettersson, and designed a pointed fine working tip. Subsequently Chris has re-ground the Pettersson to take on some of our new design features. 

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Finer belly...

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So from all these ideas and our collaboration, we have finally found what we think is a super design. I am currently testing different steel types and we have sent out some completed MaChris knives to some of our trusted colleagues for evaluation.. 

The fine strong working tip....

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And ergonomic handle design...

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The finished MaChris knife and sheath...

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From this carving design we plan to produce a new type of Bushcraft knife which will incorporate some of the innovations of this quality knife.  

Here you can see Chris forging a new MaChris for Lee, a fellow carver and pole lathe man....

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On the linisher shaping the spine of the knife so it transforms seamlessly into the knife handle...

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The bevels are skilfully ground...

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Another happy customer.
Lee with a newly forged MaChris and our cut down version. The .75...

jon mac


Enjoy...





8 comments:

  1. I like the large handle for those of us that have larger hands..its better for our hands..easier to grip the handle when its larger..William Latta

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  2. Thanks for your input William...J

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  3. Great blog Jon, loving the .75. Thanks again to you and chris for all the hard work in the design stages, well worth the effort chap. I've made my handle slightly smaller too to suit my hands and it's already earned the title of the most comfortable knife I own. great to meet you up at Chris's, hopefully we can all get together again in the future.

    all the best,

    Lee

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  4. I can't prove it, but I tend to believe a saying that I once heard that every serious woodworker eventually becomes a metalsmith as well

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  5. Hi hi Lee. It has been, and still is, an interesting endeavour. I am glad the knife comes up to your expectations. I am sure we can all get together again soon. All the best my friend...J

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  6. Hi George. I can see how that could happen. Bladesmithing is a very interesting and challenging profession. Perhaps one day I may be hooked...J

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