My nephew loves his dad.
I said I would help my nephew to make a training blade as a father’s day gift. I’d planned on a simple wooden trainer – but he had other ideas. After saying that “his dad deserved the best” – he talked over his options with me then spent the day in the shop making a rather awesome knife.
I was impressed, as it was a lot of time-consuming work. We started with an old piece of scrap, a half finished milling prototype for a knife I made a while back. He used files to finish shaping the blade. The blade was made out of aluminum, and he insisted on 5 sanding passes to get the blade face to look just right.
Once he was happy with what the blade looked like – we stamped in his dad’s name on one side, and “I love you dad on the other”. He even made sure we checked that “I love you dad” would be right way up, and readable, when his dad was using the knife.
We watched a bunch of YouTube videos on para-cord wrapping knife handles. Once we found a pattern he liked, we drilled the handle and he wrapped it up.
It was a tricky process, as he had to hold tension on the cord, while setting the pattern on the top and bottom of the blade. I offered to do the wrapping, but he wanted to do it.
In the end I was really impressed with what he made. It is a sweet training blade in itself, but my nephew was right – you can read “I love you dad” when you are using it, and thats just awesome.
I’ve wanted a set of wooden kitchen knives for a while now. All the training blades I have ever run across were all patterned after crazy blades meant for poking holes in, or cutting, other people; basically large combat or hunting blades.
For knife work, I figure that if I ever have to defend myself form a knife attack, it is way more likely that my attacker will be using a weapon of opportunity than pulling out some crazy combat or hunting knife. Conversely, kitchen knives seem like a good pattern to practice basic knife attacks – as they are easily found most homes. So I am making a set of kitchen patterned training knives.
I started with some holly that I had harvested a few years ago.
The piece of holly I started with was fairly thick – so after cutting out a knot
I planed the rough cut stock flat on both sides, cut the stock in half, and then planed it flat and to the desired thickness.
From there I traced the pattern of the pattern of the knife in question onto the wood. I tried and pick a location and alignment with the grain that will work best for the knife pattern in question.
The next step is gluing on the handle scales. Holly is a very white wood, so I am glueing on American cherry scales. I’m hoping after a few coats of linseed oil it will finish off nicely. The scales are taking forever to add since each side takes a day for the glue to dry.
Gebhard Solutions has some interesting training blades for small folders. I want make one like this but I think I will make a pattern from scratch. Mostly as a learning experience.
Finally got a chance to take pictures of the second loveless prototype. First thoughts are that the white under wrap with black over wrap did not look as nice as I was hoping.
I still want to try a flat under wrap – which should let me space out the over wrap a little better, and father apart. Regardless the top side insert was about 4-4.5mm too long, leading to the notch of empty space by the lanyard hole.
I do think this blade fits better in my hand. With the insets the wraps make the handle about 4mm thinner. I think I could take it down another 2mm and then weight the handle to shift the center of mass back into the hand. Before I do any major reshaping of the design I think I will make the next blade from steel and see how that impacts things.
So the second bit of feedback I got from my knife fighter friend was that her training blades always get banged up in knife to knife fighting. I made the blades form 6061 aluminum, and was curious how it would hold up.
I mounted some scrap stock in a vise and did some slash cuts on it, then let my friend do the same. I marked the blades with sharpie so that the damage would show up better.
*Ahem* I looked like I was waving a tiny baseball bat around with one hand and her strokes looked like she was performing an appendectomy. The result of both our cuts though was gouges on the blade. So while 6061 Aluminum is probably fine for training knife defenses, I think I will want to make the final training blades from tool steel so that they can also be used in knife to knife training.
This blade design is inspired by the keen-edge blades 9 inch loveless. After the handle felt fat in my hand, I took a second look at their pattern. I double wrapped my handle – so right off the bat my dimensions were bigger than theirs by 6mm. So I figured I would cut the same knife but with either side of the handle inset by 3mm on each side. (Inset shown with the red arrows).
I also added a small guard on the back side of the blade opposite to the finger guard. The idea is the extra guards and insets would simultaneously make the blade thinner even after I added a double wrap, and help keep the under wrap from sliding around on the handle over time. All in all I think I want to play with this idea more. I like making the handle feel thicker with a double wrap – but without its feeling wider.
Unfortunately I dropped the knife off at the dojo for people to play with before taking pictures of the new design.
So I got some time to play in the shop this weekend. Once I adjusted g-code generation to just pencil line the profile of the blades I got the cut time for both blades down to 17 minutes. That was going super slow at 5IPM, since I did not want to drive Z faster and the g-code generator was not playing nice if I tried to have the axis at different top speeds.
For this first blade I worked off the loveless 9 point hunter. I really liked the lines on the keen-edge knives pattern for the loveless. In the end it seems a little small in my hand. Maybe I got the pattern wrong but the finger guard presses into my hand.
I did both the handle wrap and the over wrap with 3mm para cord – so the handle also feels a bit thick to me. Interestingly that bulk made it seem handle heavy to me, but as soon as I placed the knife in a friends hand who is a knife fighter her immediate comment was that it was blade heavy. Adding a false blade profile should help – but this drove home that I am going to need to get a lot of feedback from blade people to make this project work.
The reverse grip feels a little less “fat” in my hand, but I don’t know now how to improve it. A little stumped here.
So eventually I want to try making some real knives, but first I want to make some training blades. Basically knife shaped and weighted objects, but constructed with out points or blades. You use training blades like this to train in the martial arts. It allows realistic attacks, without the pesky side effects of “oops” – “I think I just cut open your jugular vein” or “I think I just stabbed you in the kidney for real!”.
While I have never done business with them, Empire training blades (http://www.empiretrainingblades.com/Training%20Knives.htm) has a nice looking catalog of training knives. In particular I liked their loveless training blade – so for my first knife I figured I would use that as inspiration / target. The Empire blades are only like $30, and so unless you are trying to learn from making the knife, like I am, or trying to go into business making them I suggest just buying one and finding some place else to spend your time. Like training with the blade.
Any way, my first attempt cutting out the knife was going well enough until I realized, all too late, that the g-code assumed a roughing pass had been done. So the mill buried the cutter into the stock, then snapped off the bit trying to do a heavy cut. Luckily it was a small cutter designed to snap under those conditions.