Nomad Handle Modification

Discussion in 'Osprey Knife & Tool' started by Comprehensivist, Jul 5, 2019.

  1. Comprehensivist

    Comprehensivist Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Aug 23, 2008
    I have posted positive comments about my Nomad several times over the years. Its primary role has been as a compact kitchen knife that goes in my travel kit on almost every trip away from home. It has served me well on the road in a world that is predominantly filled with cheap dull knives.

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    The thin 1/16” CPM 154 steel and G10 handle with good finger clearance over a cutting board make this an efficient cutting tool that is easy to maintain in damp, wet, or sticky settings. Just rinse and dry and pop it back in its kydex sheath until next time.

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    While I enjoy using this knife, I always felt there were a couple of spots where the handle could be improved to make it more comfortable in my hand.

    The first is the position and shape of the bump on the bottom of the handle. If a knife has a distinct raised bump in this area, I want it to rest between two fingers rather than act a pressure point under one finger. The bump on the Nomad rests right under my middle finger, which is not comfortable.

    For this reason, I decided to get out a small single cut file and some sandpaper to soften and round-off the point without removing the original form completely. This subtle change minimized the pressure point feeling under my finger.

    The other area that bugged me was the flared shape and squarish corners on the back end of the handle. Many knife makers like to incorporate hard lines and/or squarish corners on the front and back ends of the handle to add visual contrast between curves and lines. It also highlights their knifemaking skills. I get that from an aesthetic or collector viewpoint. From a user perspective, harder lines and squarish corners add nothing desirable to the party for me. That is especially true on a small handled knife like the Nomad.

    My solution was to remove the corners and round-off the pommel for a more comfortable and natural fit in the center of my palm.

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    After I was done with the reshaping and polishing, I masked-off all of the steel and glass bead blasted the handles one side at a time. I went with a slightly coarser texture than Chris normally does for a little better grip in wet conditions.

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    I am happy with the way it turned out because one of my favorite little travel knives has become even more user friendly. That is a good thing in my mind.

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    I understand that not everyone will appreciate or agree with these modifications. That’s perfectly fine. Feel free to comment; good, bad, or indifferent.

    I would like to hear a variety of voices share their preferences on handle design in general to spark some interesting discussion. Please feel free to add your thoughts and opinions on the subject.

    Thanks,

    Phil
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2019
    varga49, schmittie, Kirkwood and 5 others like this.
  2. Bmurray

    Bmurray Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 9, 2012
    I’ll take it, thanks for the giveaway Phil.
     
  3. Comprehensivist

    Comprehensivist Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Aug 23, 2008
    ^You wouldn't like it Bob. There are no notches in the handle. ;) :D
     
  4. RobbieB

    RobbieB Gold Member Gold Member

    522
    Jul 13, 2017
    I’m not a fan of squarish corners at the tail end of knife handles either, especially on smaller handled knives. I think these are excellent modifications for the exact same reasons you gave.
     
  5. Choppaman

    Choppaman Gold Member Gold Member

    May 6, 2017
    That looks great @Comprehensivist !! Well done. I like the end result with your changes. :thumbsup:
     
  6. varga49

    varga49 Gold Member Gold Member

    May 1, 2016
    Nice thought provoking work as usual Phil! I’m going to get mine out and have a look, since I hadn’t used it and left it in Canada, where I’m at now. I’ll be taking a closer look.
     
  7. FeralGentleman

    FeralGentleman RansomWildernessCo Dealer / Materials Provider

    Nov 13, 2013
    Nice work Phil. I always admire you willingness to modify your handmade knives as needed to fit your needs.

    I have been carrying the EDU around a lot over this year. The smallest of the Osprey's I believe. It too has the finger channel with nearly the same, slightly pointy hump transitioning to the rear of the handle. I think I played devil's advocate in the past on this, but even on a small 3-finger knife, the point does not impact any discomfort for me no matter how I grip or tightly hold that knife. Same with the Warthog, etc. Hands in general are pliable so lacking any real acute tip pressing on them they tend to conform to a handle hold. From a lifetime of working with with various hand tools for a living, I rarely find hard pressure on a smoother radius to be a problem. Now there are some goofy things out there that do have exaggerated finger grooves and more definite points.

    The Nomad is slightly different with the hump towards the middle of the handle. For a smaller knife like the EDU, it is more forward. For me the forward hump fits my pointer finger perfectly with the right amount of "bite" to feel very secure when using it to score material or pulling the knife something. Not that that really matters for my uses of something like an EDU; I don't think that knife would ever get loose on me during use. I can see where that middle hump might not feel right for some people with larger hands on the Nomad and a smoother curve working better for XL+

    What grade medium did you blast with? It appears to have a real nice texture.

    Have you had a chance to handle any of Chris' more recent blasted handles coming out of the shop? He has gotten slightly more aggressive with the texturing and it was noticeable, to me, after handling a few knives that I asked him if he had changed anything.
     
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  8. MCS

    MCS

    353
    Oct 7, 2015
    I am wondering where did you have the kydex sheath made? I am due a nomad and looking for a sheath much like yours. Thank you in advance!
     
  9. Comprehensivist

    Comprehensivist Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Aug 23, 2008
    Thank you for the nice comments gentlemen. Since each of you have very respectable collections and a lot of knife experience, I value your input.

    Hey Danny,

    I appreciate your reply and thoughts on handle design.

    I know from some of your previous posts that you are a big fan of the EDU. I agree with your observation about the comfort and secure “bite” provided by the more forward positioned hump on the EDU, Warthog, Raptor, Mamushi, etc. I don’t know if there is an official technical name for the curved divot in front of the bump, but I have always called it an index finger handle choil. It definitely makes for a positive grip. The key for me on those models is that the bump sits between the index and middle finger, so it doesn’t form a pressure point in my hand.

    The Nomad at 5-3/4” OAL is about 1” shorter than the EDU. This means there is precious litte real estate on the handle. The position of the bump (if there is one) plays an ever more important role in comfort to me as handle size shrinks to 3-finger size.

    In response to your question about the blast medium, I used a glass bead blasting cabinet at the shop I work at. I mask off all the steel and the liners & pinstripes so that only the top part of the handle material gets blasted. I do one side at a time and keep blasting until I get the texture I am looking for. I repeat the process on the other side and use care to maintain a matching finished texture. The reason I mask the liners & pinstripes is because they add a little visual “pop” to the finished look.

    I have seen and handled several of Chris’s recent knives with the more aggressive blasting texture. I like it a lot. He is very much a trendsetter in the knifemaking community with his handle work overall as well as the polished and hammer-textured blade flats.

    Getting back to the subject of handle modifications, here are some in-process pics of my current project. The knife is my 1st OK&T knife I purchased from Chris at Blade 2015 when he was just getting started on his own. It is the Raptor I nicknamed the Black Widow.

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    After five years as my most used OK&T, I decided it was due for an upgrade to be more in line with features I have come to appreciate in other knives over the years. The plan is to take off all the sharp corners on the pommel end and add tapered flats on the front end to ease the transition to a pinch grip.

    Here are a couple of “before” close-ups of the features to be modified.

    I have been poked in the side numerous times over the years by the pointy corners on the pommel when I carry the knife in a R/H vertical sheath. A rounded pommel with no sharp corners will eliminate this issue permanently.

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    The front corners of the handle are traditionally shaped. After getting a Vildmark with tapered flats on the front, I realized that would be a useful addition to my old favorite.

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    I do all of my knife modification work at home with files and sandpaper. The only exception is the aforementioned final glass bead blasting on the handle scales. I use soft-jaw gunsmith vise inserts to hold the knife securely while I am filing or sanding. Proper eye and respirator protection is necessary when doing this type of work.

    Here are some in-process pics so far. I still have some work to do on the tapered flats to get them where I want them. I go slow and stop frequently to check balance side to side.

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    I’ll circle back to this thread later with more photos when the project is done.
     
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  10. Comprehensivist

    Comprehensivist Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Aug 23, 2008
    Congratulations MCS on choosing the Nomad. I think you will pleasantly surprised how useful this little knife can be.

    I sent my knife to Eric Lind at Mashed Cat to make the pancake style sheath shown in my original post. The build quality, fit, and retention is great without being overly tight.

    I recently added a Mummert clip to increase carry options without adding a lot of bulk from something like a small Tek-Lok.

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    A couple years ago, a forum friend based outside the USA asked for someone to volunteer to send their Nomad to Mashed Cat to make a taco-style kydex sheath. I did that for him and had two matching sheaths made. He got the first one and I kept the other. The fit and retention is tighter on the taco. I never use it because I still prefer the pancake style. If you (or someone else) with a Nomad want the taco-style sheath for the the price of postage ($10 ?), just send me a PM here on the forum.

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    Thanks,

    Phil
     
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  11. MCS

    MCS

    353
    Oct 7, 2015
    Well Thanks for the information Phil.....I too am a fan of the Mummert clips, I run one on my taco style kydex for my Brock Blades pikal. I would definitely be interested in purchasing the taco sheath from you if no one has claimed it. I will try to message you, but I had difficulties doing so earlier, that is why I ended up posting here.
     
  12. varga49

    varga49 Gold Member Gold Member

    May 1, 2016
    Phil, if no one else has contacted you I’d be happy to have that sheath!
     
  13. varga49

    varga49 Gold Member Gold Member

    May 1, 2016
    Oops I just saw that @MCS had sealed the deal!
     
  14. MCS

    MCS

    353
    Oct 7, 2015
    I have a Raptor, I too agree with the point corners being a pain in the side..... however I am not sure I would prefer to round them for I like the look of the angles and the feel of the angles in reverse grip. Your modifications do look great though! Very nice work!
     
  15. MCS

    MCS

    353
    Oct 7, 2015
    Ah sorry I beat you too it, couldn't pass as I like taco style for inside the waist band carry......Nice boots by the way!
     
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