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The Road To Fiddleback Friday: How The Knives Are Made (VERY Photo Heavy)

Discussion in 'Fiddleback Forge Knives' started by mistwalker, Nov 21, 2014.

  1. mistwalker

    mistwalker Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    I have been following the work of Andy and the crew at Fiddleback Forge for several years now. I always enjoy talking to the guys and seeing their wares at Blade. I own Fiddleback knives that I carry regularly in the field in my work, and I have put several through some pretty hard paces over the last six years or so. I think the knives are wonderfully done and very well made, but I have also always really like the feeling of the energy, what I refer to as the soul or spirit of these knives. When you look at them, feel them, and then use them long term, it is clear the knives are crafted by someone who really loves what they do, and who really cares about the tools they produce.

    I have been wanting to stop in the shop, and see the work in progress for several years now, but have never really had the time, and I have always hated the idea of imposing. However recently, while working in the general area I was given the opportunity to stop in and attempt to capture the process in images. I didn't stop anyone to ask questions, I understand the process that goes into making knives. I wanted to maintain a level of unobtrusiveness and capture things as they happened, the way they normally flow.

    The following is a series of images that tell the story of the weekly road to the Friday sales posts in the Fiddleback Forge sub-forum. It is a series of photos that illustrates the effort, level of craftsmanship, and love for the craft that goes into the knives that are handcrafted by Andy Roy and his team at Fiddleback Forge. I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I enjoyed taking and going through them.

    Some things to note here are; the absence of automated machinery, it's very hands on. Also, the protective gear being worn and the attention to detail that is paid. As well as the temperature conditions at times. You will notice a space heater in use even while a lot of physical exertion is being expended, and if you look close you will see ice building up on the inside of a face shield. As I said, this is a very dedicated group of individuals who work very hard performing a job they love dearly, into order to produce highly functional works of art.

    The shop entrance lets you know where you are. The shop is the home of both Fiddleback Forge Knives, and Fletcher Knives. Dylan Fletcher apprenticed under Andy, and then started his own knife making business.

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    Since by most accounts a knife is defined as a sharpened piece of steel with a handle, obviously the first step is to shape the steel. This process begins with tracing patterns of blade profiles onto dykem coated steel stock.

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    Those are then cut into individual pieces, and the knife blanks profiled out on a belt grinder.

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    Once shaped the the blanks are scribed, and then the holes are drilled for the pins and bullseye.

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    As you can see, the dykem is also applied the the blade end of the blank on the opposite for the grinding of the primary bevels. The the tangs are tapered and the primary bevels ground. Watching Andy grind the bevels was something to see. The man is very talented.

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    Next, the shaped blanks go into the oven for heat treatment, then the quench, and afterward allowed to cool.

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    The heat treated blanks are then scribed for grinding, and then they are cleaned up with the grinds being taken to the next stage.

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    Last edited: Jan 2, 2015
  2. mistwalker

    mistwalker Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Then the handle materials are chosen, epoxied together, and placed with the blanks.

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    After this the handle scales are drilled for pinning and rough shaped. Then the surfaces are cleaned, the scales are epoxied and pinned to the blanks, and clamped for drying.

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    Now you can see the knife starting to take shape.

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    Here is where Andy works his magic again, shaping those sublime handle contours.

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    Then the fine finish sanding is done.

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  3. mistwalker

    mistwalker Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Now they go to engraving and a cleaning. You see them starting to come to life now, and ready for Andy to do the final grind.

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    Then after a final cleaning and oiling of the handles, the knives are finished.

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    Now they are photographed, and posted in the Fiddleback Friday post we see here each week.

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    On Monday Andy gives the knives their final sharpening. He does the primary bevel on a belt, inspecting the bur under a powerful lighted magnifying glass. Then the de-burring and final sharpening by hand.

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    On Tuesdays the packages are shipped off

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    A few days later, at least for those of us here in the continental U.S., we get our neatly wrapped brown paper packages of awesomeness :)

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    And if Fridays are too hectic, or just a bad day for you, then there are dealers who carry Fiddleback Forge knives

    http://www.usamadeblade.com/Fiddleback-Forge_c23.htm

    http://www.knivesshipfree.com/fiddle...?sort=alphaasc

    http://www.bladecousa.com/fiddleback...-andy-roy.html

    http://www.theknifeconnection.net/fi...e-andy-roy-en/

    http://www.bladehq.com/cat--All-Item...back?x=10&y=13

    http://www.arizonacustomknives.com/f...id=4339&Page=2



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    Last edited: Dec 23, 2014
  4. GooberBoober

    GooberBoober

    677
    Dec 30, 2012
    That must have taken you some time to put together, nice job man :thumbup:

    It's really nice to see how my most coveted items on the planet are born, Andy must be proud.

    Video next time? [​IMG] ;)

    Just a few questions:

    What's the apparatus in the right upper corner in this pic?

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    Is this a buckeye-burl Hiking Buddy with blue liners at the top?

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    What's he doing here?

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  5. NUTRAMAC

    NUTRAMAC Platinum Member Platinum Member

    May 8, 2014
    Great Friday Post.
    This is really throwing some chum out in the water:)
     
  6. mistwalker

    mistwalker Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Thanks man, glad you enjoyed the post. Lol, I am a photographer, not a videographer :) I thought it was the base for a cordless phone, but I could be wrong. It may be buckeye burl, not sure. He is blowing it off with an air line I believe.

    Sorry, had to edit...all the photos didn't show up when I first read and quoted it...
     
  7. mistwalker

    mistwalker Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Thanks man. Having bought several of them over the years, I really enjoyed seeing how they come to be.
     
  8. Fiddleback

    Fiddleback Knifemaker Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 19, 2005
    I'm speachless here. You even made this dirty old shop look good. I wish we had the photo skills here to figure out how to do this stuff. Great stuff Mist. Thank you.
     
  9. GooberBoober

    GooberBoober

    677
    Dec 30, 2012
    Just kidding man, although it did feel a bit like watching a documentary when going through your post :thumbup:

    lol, I thought it might be some fancy analysing thingie, I was hoping it wasn't a phone :rolleyes:

    Blowing it off make sense, another scandi buckeye burl HB doesn't, lol

    & no worries, I actually forgot to include the second pic initially so I had to edit my post, my bad.

    Thanks again!
     
  10. mistwalker

    mistwalker Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Thank you, I'm glad you liked it man, and your shop is cleaner than most of the knife shops I get to hang out in when attempting to make prototypes. Eh, I wish I had the skill to turn steel and wood into highly functional works of art :) Maybe one day I can come down and go over some things with Ken to help out with that.


    Well...as a kid I did watch a lot more documentaries and nature films than television... :)

    Hmmm...I think most handle configs get repeated eventually.

    Ah cool, I thought it may have just been lac of sleep on my part :)

    Glad you enjoyed the post man!
     
  11. MajorD

    MajorD Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Mar 18, 2007
    Outstanding write up Mist. A very insightful piece. I always appreciate your work.
     
  12. mistwalker

    mistwalker Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Thanks Dave, I'm glad you enjoyed the post!
     
  13. VANCE

    VANCE Allen, I have an axe to grind with you. Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 13, 2006
    That's our new fangled finger print time card machine
     
  14. prom52

    prom52 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 13, 2014
    Allow me to offer you a "Standing O" for a great compilation Brian......you've offered us a wonderful insight into the amazing process that Andy & Crew follow to bring Fiddleback Forge knives to life. I use the word "life" purposefully since anyone who has ever held & used one knows they have a soul.
     
  15. mistwalker

    mistwalker Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Thank you very much Peter. And yes, I agree. I felt it in the first one I used, and have all others since.
     
  16. trestle

    trestle Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 2, 2008
    Loved some of the rare sights like the box of already glued up scales/liners and the shot with the pins and bullseye waiting to be glued to the blade.

    Thanks for doing it in pics and not video. Some of us still prefer the old mediums.
     
  17. gtr60

    gtr60 Gold Member Gold Member

    199
    Nov 2, 2010
    Best. Thread. Ever. Incredible job, seriously I'm speechless and/or overtired, but thank you for putting so much into this
     
  18. FeralGentleman

    FeralGentleman Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 13, 2013
    Don't know the point of that other thread, your posts and pictures are always a welcomed distraction. When they are here, I don't have to venture out looking for them.

    I often wonder the process that goes into the knives that I have come to admire so much so I do thank you for covering it so well.

    I can imagine those images of Andy/Ken on the computer were the same faces they had reading some of the forum posts this morning lol.

    Some serious Dre Mixr headphones - what's on The Man's playlist each day while grinding away: George Straight, Hank Williams Jr., AC/DC, 2Pac, Brittany Spears?
     
  19. Comprehensivist

    Comprehensivist Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Aug 23, 2008
    This is an awesome testament to the dedication and hard work that Andy and the crew put into making these functional works of art.

    Your photos are amazing Brian! You added just the right amount of text to tell the story while letting the pictures tell the rest. This is an epic accomplishment that is a testament to your dedication to your craft. Amazing!!

    This is my favorite thread ever on this sub-forum. I recommend that it should be made a sticky for easy reference.

    Thanks Brian!

    Phil
     
  20. Bill510c

    Bill510c Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Aug 5, 2011
    Absolutely phenomenal Brian. I really felt like I was reading a magazine article rather than a forum thread. Extremely well done start to finish, thank you..
     

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