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Question and Answer Thread

Discussion in 'Big Chris Custom Knives' started by Big Chris, Sep 2, 2016.

  1. Big Chris

    Big Chris SAHD/Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 1, 2010
    If you have a question about anything Big Chris Custom Knives, or just knife or knife making, related ask it here.

    Hit me with your best.
  2. Steve in SoCal

    Steve in SoCal

    Mar 16, 2011
    Hi Chris, How about a couple of basic questions. What range of thickness behind the edge and inclusive edge angle do you typically produce? How do you initially sharpen your typical knife (i.e. What process or sharpening progression).

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
  3. Big Chris

    Big Chris SAHD/Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 1, 2010
    With the high hardness that I run my knives I can take the edges thinner without too much worry.
    Rarely is a knife thicker than .012" before I start to sharpen it, most are between .008" and .010".
    That thickness will usually give me a finished thickness of .010" to .012" Behind The Edge (BTE).
    Some knives will go thinner (chef/kitchen , boning/filet knives) and some will be a little thicker (SAR, and heavy camp or chopping knives).

    As for sharpening, the really thin chef knives will go straight to diamond stones and I will hand sharpen completely.
    Others I will start the process on my belt sander using either a rotary platen or the slack above the top pulley.
    Using a fairly fresh 220 belt I will bring the edge just to the point of rolling a burr, and then it will go inside and be finished off by hand with diamond stones.
    I use a progression of DMT stones, Extra Coarse (black), Coarse (blue), Fine (red), Extra Fine (green), and then strop on 600 grit Silicon Carbide loaded strop.
    Every knife that leaves my hands gets sharpened this way and when finished should cut phone book paper rather efficiently.

    I set the bevels in the shop at 30 degrees inclusive on pretty much everything, large choppers and camp knives aside.
    Chef knives will get the same starting angle and then I will sometimes feather a really slight convexity above the edge just to be sure it is truly thin enough.
    bigsurbob likes this.
  4. LukeTheSpook


    Jan 2, 2015
    Chris I'm curious, what would you say is your signature knife?

    What is your best selling knife?

    From idea to sales thread, how long is the process (I know the chillren create a lot of variables but on average)?
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2016
  5. TLA

    TLA Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 25, 2002

    I really like your Wolverine knife and I was wondering what the inspiration for this design was and the intended purpose?
  6. Big Chris

    Big Chris SAHD/Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 1, 2010
    Honestly, I wish that the first thought in peoples mind when they heard my name would be for chef and kitchen knives.
    As far as signature knife, I really don't know.
    I do think that my best selling is my Wolverine. Rarely have I put one up for sale and it did not sell in a couple days.

    Some knives go from sketch to ship in a couple weeks.
    Most knives are cut and heat treated in batches and worked on for weeks to months.
    If it is a new pattern that I am really excited about, I have made in just a very few days.

    I like to work in batches though, 5 to 10 knives is where I am comfortable and it keeps the process efficient and interesting.
  7. Big Chris

    Big Chris SAHD/Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 1, 2010
    I think that the Wolverine is a real "Sleeper" of a knife.
    I really like Wharncliffe style blades.
    I was aiming for a woods or bushcraft knife close to a wharncliffe but not quite.
    I lowered the tip a little farther than that of a spear point and ran with it.
    Giving it a little extra blade length and a Full sized handle was the combination I tried in an effort to make an extremely versatile woods tool.
    Personally, I find it a success. I do believe that I could live with a Wolverine as my only knife.
  8. Mrs. Big Chris

    Mrs. Big Chris Moderator Moderator

    Nov 21, 2012
    How did you decide to take the leap into becoming a knifemaker? What would you say the biggest hurdle is to owning your own business?
    bullpin likes this.
  9. dogrunner

    dogrunner Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 26, 2003
    Great questions and really interesting thread!
    You have really bucked the trend of thick-bladed knives (un-usefully thick oftentimes), were one of the first to go for higher than typical hardness and experimented with "super" steels a lot. Would you say those are reflections of some overall knife use / making philosophy and has it impacted sales in either direction, do you think?
  10. Ajack60

    Ajack60 Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Apr 21, 2013
    How do you decide which steel you'll use for a run of different knives? I know you've been using 10V lately and performs very well.
    What are your thoughts between 4V and 10V ? Is one slightly better in your opinion in terms of staining, corrosion resistance, working with, popularity of a steel.
    Personally, I'm more than happy that you use a variety of different steels. I wouldn't have so many of your knives if you used just one steel. :)

    Have you ever made any small knives? Like a neck knife size. Or one smaller than the Personal EDC knife you make.
  11. Big Chris

    Big Chris SAHD/Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 1, 2010
    I was extremely displeased with the previous custom knives I had purchased.
    I had one that was so thick behind the edge that it would not cut, and another that's heat treat was so bad it would dull cutting meat - in just a couple cuts.

    It was a case of building a better product and I felt that I definitely could do better than what I had already bought.

    These 2 knives led me to the thin edge geometry that I use and why I use the high wear steels at high hardness.

    Definitely the hardest part of having my own business is keeping track of orders and getting them out in a timely fashion.

    Next would be dealing with the emails and phone calls, I would really just rather make knives which is what I really love doing.
  12. Big Chris

    Big Chris SAHD/Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 1, 2010
    My first answer to Mrs.Big Chris had a slight lead in to answering this question.
    I want to be sure that my customers are getting the best edge holding and geometry possible for a given knifes steel and design.
    I also do feel that making the thinner, lighter, harder, high wear knives has limited my customer base.
    However, I would like to think that when someone uses a knife of my making that they can be confident that they are using the best performing tool they could.
    I make my knives to cut and slice and am very confident that mine are some of the best performing out there.
  13. straightwalls


    Mar 9, 2012

    I have the pleasure of owning and carrying the first Wolverine made, my first knife in 4V, it is definitely a great performer and a fine design and I agree it would serve very well as a "one knife solution". My questions to you would be; Which steel(s) have presented you with the largest challenges in working with them, and which one would you select for a "one steel solution", if you had to choose?
  14. Big Chris

    Big Chris SAHD/Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 1, 2010
    I do take into consideration when I start a knife what the intended uses might be. If there is possibility of really hard use I will choose 3V.
    If I expect the knife to see a lot of use around water I would look toward S30V or S90V.
    Or, if purely unbridled cutting and slicing is what I plan it will be made from THIN 10V.
    Some of the time it is a steel that a customer has asked for and I will do a small batch with their knife as one.
    However, a lot of times I don't think about it a lot and just make a few knives from whichever steel I want to use at that time.

    Between 4V and 10V? These are very different performers.
    4V will without a doubt stain quicker than 10V, and most any other steels for that matter.
    I have said many times that I find it to be the perfect marriage between M4 and 3V.
    4V will take a Screaming sharp edge like M4, but is has much of the toughness of 3V.
    I have a small 4V machete that I am testing right now. Although it is thin and light the thin edge geometry is very stable in chopping.
    But, I have not made a large knife from 10V yet to compare those characteristics. It is something I would like to do though.
    4V can also be a pain to grind and finish, a little more so it seemed than previous 10V knives.
    10V will definitely hold and edge longer, and my current 10V heat treat is giving me very respectable stain resistance, IMO.

    I have made a couple small knives, 3 finger knives, or the like.
    Not something I do much of because it is not something I like working with.
    I, personally, do not like working with blades that have less than 4" handle.
  15. Big Chris

    Big Chris SAHD/Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 1, 2010
    Before my foray int o S125V, I could say without a doubt that 10V and S110V presented me with the biggest challenge.
    Mostly just because of the difficulty in working with in both the annealed and the heat treated state.
    They are hard on saw blades and drill bits when soft, and especially hard on belts when hard.

    S125V is very difficult because it can not be saw cut, using my current methods, it must be waterjet cut.
    That also means that it can not be drilled and holes must be put in with the waterjet as well.
    This is because of the alloy content, the steel will work harden very rapidly.
    When it is heat treated I found it to be very similar to 10V or S110V in working with.

    For a single steel solution I would choose 3V.
    It is such a great performer in all sizes of blades.
    Great edge holding for small blades and wonderful toughness for large blades.
    Both these characteristics are at 60-61 Rc.
    I feel that you really can't beat that.
  16. Mrs. Big Chris

    Mrs. Big Chris Moderator Moderator

    Nov 21, 2012
    It is funny you say that. When Chris started making knives, I told him that he needed to pick one steel and stick with it. I told him he would learn a lot more about that steel and it would be more cost effective. As usual, he completely ignored me (you're welcome). Chris is always on the lookout for steels with improved performance and now I see why he didn't want to just settle on one steel.
  17. Fancier


    Jul 1, 2012
    I think of you as a maker of kitchen knives every time I look at my kitchen knife block.
    That Big Chris 3V chef's knife is easily the best kitchen knife that I own.
    It doesn't rust, it takes a really nice edge, it is ground wonderfully thin, and it stays sharp a long time.
    It is also long enough to quickly make a really large mound of shredded cabbage. :)
    Nothing worse than a knife that is shorter than the vegetable that you are trying to slice.

    That leads to my question: Why don't you make more kitchen knives? Are they really that hard to sell?

    I think that most people get more use out of a kitchen knife than any other sort. Why not own the best that you can get?

    For your next group buy I'd take a 5" kitchen petty in 3V that is ground Big Chris thin with enough space under the handle to clear my fingers.
    I think that many kitchen knives are sized for tiny little hands, so I appreciate your full sized handles.
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2016
  18. Fancier


    Jul 1, 2012
    Okay, I have another question.
    Most of these alloys seem to be limited by the hardness at which they begin to chip instead of fold.
    I've never used a knife so hard that it breaks, so for my purposes the limit to hardness seems to be when it begins to chip out.
    Have you ever taken 3V harder than 61 HRC?
    I've heard that it stands up pretty well and still doesn't chip at higher hardness, does that match your experience?
  19. Big Chris

    Big Chris SAHD/Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 1, 2010
    The kitchen knives do eventually sell, but I have still found it to be a limited market, especially with the steels that I use.
    I do have plans to make quite a few chef and kitchen knives this winter, as well as a few 3 piece sets.
    I agree that for a knife that gets used as much as a kitchen or chef knife you should have one that is of equal or better quality than your hunter or camp knife.
    Custom kitchen knives also take slightly longer to make because of the thin geometry and being sure not to overheat the edge.
    This is another factor that raises the price and makes them slightly less desirable, IMO.

    To my knowledge I have not ran 3V over 61.
    I like to think of 3V as the - versatile, do anything you want to do with it steel.
    I would rather a knife deform under abusive or hard use rather than chip.
    A rippled edge is easier to clean up than a chipped edge.
    Chips are not a knife makers friend.

    I have ran S90V at 62 before though and had a lot of chipping issues with thin edges.
    Once I ground them back to thicken the edge it was not near as bad an issue.
  20. LukeTheSpook


    Jan 2, 2015
    Chris, has the amount of knives you've sold increased every year? If so, do you expect steady growth? How much has the "bushcraft/survival" trend helped the knife business in the last few years?

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