My roommate's knife design for comment

Jim March

Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Oct 7, 1998

I drew the thing up in Windows Paint, but the ideas involved are those of John Bell, my roommate. John is *very* "combat experienced", more than that I shouldn't discuss.

First thing, his knife holds and moves are *not* based on Asian techniques. Whereas a Kali practitioner will do a firm hold with the back three fingers and hold thumb and forefinger loose for "flow" (clamping down at key moments) his prime grip is thumb and forefinger and he'll clamp down as necessary.

What he seems to be getting that way is very fast "tip speed" and a combat style designed to "take somebody apart bit by bit".

Using a classic European dagger, he'll throw his forefinger around the lower crossguard and across the choil for fine control; his blade design allows the same concept yet protects the finger.

He wants the broad blade but we're both concerned about weight. We need input on strength versus heft of different steels; I suspect that doing it in 1095 would mean a bit less weight than, say, ATS34? Another option is doing it in 3/16ths" stock versus 1/4" for weight savings. He's very muscular and should be able to flick a big heavy piece around fairly well but he wants tip speed.

Comments on heft/balance/strength of materials and stock widths greatly appreciated.

Jim March
To maintain strenght but reduce weight it might be a could idea to use fullers, like on European blades of old. They served the same funktion that your friends' knife needs.
To improve cutting abillity I would suggest wider bevels, flat or convex ground. As this is not going to be a uttility knife, a convex edge might be the best choiche for sharp and strong.
To aid point pennetration I would go for an more pointy or more angled disign.
That would make some knife!!

Jan Dirk

I'm a big believer in distal taper and flat grinding to reduce weight and improve balance in large blades. Compare a good historical repro bowie or a good chef's knife to large hollow ground knives and the difference is amazing. For that matter, compare a chef's knife to a cleaver of similar blade area, and you can easily judge the balance issues. The taper will ease penetration as well.

With a flat grind and distal taper you could then go with 1/4 " stock at the ricasso. Given the size of the pommel, it might be necessary to taper the tang somewhat as well to maintain balance.

'Course it would still be a homely thing, but that's a matter of opinion. :)

I keep thinking Black Beard or any other pirate worth his bounty would love it. Definitely designed with battle in mind. It looks as if it will be extremely hefty as pictured so I agree with Matt in using a distal taper and flat grinding to reduce the weight. I would further suggest dropping the point and narrowing it some. This would help with the weight and possibly improve thrusting ability. However, you guys may have something in mind I am not seeing. The "Outsider" certainly had many qualities not apparent at first look. BTW I believe I have licked the problems with you sheath … if all goes well it will be out Monday.
Nice design but top heavy.Need more heft in the handle. Does'nt have to be longer just thicker more to grip.
We already knew the blade weight had to come down; on top of that I didn't do the grind faces deep enough on the drawing. John and I have talked about the comments so far, and going with 3/16ths stock and flat-grinding most of the face forward of the fingerhole area should drop the weight down to something reasonable. It'll still be a "giant combat butcherknife" but that seems to be exactly what he wants.

Did I mention he's also a cook?

If further weight reduction is needed once we get closer to a final mockup we can drop the spine from where it starts now towards the tip at a steeper downward angle.

Hmmmm. Several points: the grip shape is based on a piece John already has and likes. The fingerhole will have a brass inner ring pounded in and smoothed out, and there'll be a vertical strip of brass where the four vertical pins are between upper and lower guards. The brass pommelweight goes on last and gets sized to balance it all.

I've had one comment from a very informed source saying fingerholes are a VERY bad idea. I'm kind of curious about that; to me, it seems like John is doing something like a subhilt but "enhanced". Subhilts are typical of a "Western" approach with control at forefinger and thumb versus "Eastern" control with the back three fingers...I can't see a major problem with converting the subhilt to a full-tilt hole, can anyone including the un-named lurker fill us in on the exact problem?

Jim March
Interesting design. I must say it reminds of me of a Buck Intrepid blade with a European plug bayonet handle.

Did you guys finallize the design yet?

Taking any bids?

The only thing i would change is to take the grind a little farther forward to get it past the 1/4" tapped hole.

And of course bring the grind farther up the blade to take down the weight.

Is the only purpose of the brass pommel to counterweight the blade? Or is it a tactical addition for his fighting style? Because that blade could be brought pretty closed to balanced without it..

Alan Folts.

[This message has been edited by Alan Folts (edited 05 December 1998).]
Alan, that's just about what we were thinking (re: the flat grind just ahead of the tapped hole). Do that, and use 3/16th stock and we'd be close to the necessary weight reductions. If a bit more off was needed, one possibility would be to take the whole spine and bow it "down and in" slightly concave, so that as it hits the point it's horizontal and the tip is maybe dropped a hair.

Alan, no quotes yet because the cash isn't quite together to start. We avoided talking direct to any makers for that exact reason, that it wouldn't be fair or proper unless John was "ready to do business". Talking ideas out on a public forum isn't the same thing. When we *are* ready to put a deposit out and have ready access to the rest, that's when it's time to talk details and at that point, you'll be a top choice.

Guys, I need to make something clear: if you want a *totally* finished knife to your specs, Harald Moeller is a hell of a good maker. If you want a "finish it yourself" project Alan is GREAT, he's a pro without a "big name following" just yet (that'll change) who's really good about doing custom ground "you finish it" work OR a complete project. With the passing of the great Bob Engnath there's a shortage of good stock removal guys who'll do unfinished work; Alan, I hope you'll always allow people to finish great custom projects if they want custom quality on a budget.

God bless you for being flexible that way.

Jim March

[This message has been edited by Jim March (edited 05 December 1998).]