This project has been on the book for a very very very long time. I have been watching the industry very closely and seeing how it has changed over the years. Within the past 3 years makers have been using the term “midtech” to describe what are essentially production knives. I have been wanting to have another midtech project but I have been waiting for the right time; I have never been a “me-too” guy and I refused to do a midtech several years back because everyone was doing them.
I am going back to the original concept of having parts done outside the shop and then actual handwork done in my shop to finish them. You will NOT see a plain framelock or a tumbled-to-hell complete knife because that is a lazy way of finishing out a knife. There I said it :) Makers might be angry at me saying it but you can train a chimp doing that work. Off the soap box….
The first design is the Pirate; this is a model I was making about 12 years ago and it was discontinued about 7 years ago. CRKT made a production version of it called the Pharaoh. All the parts are fabed out of my shop and I get them like you can see in the first photo; a pile of parts.
I go through the entire blade, removing all machine marks; refining the finish of the grind. Chamfering any holes that need to, lapping the pivot, grinding the ball detent ramp and surface grinding to the final thickness. Finally once this is all done I put the final finish on the blade.
The reason why I am posting this information is not to be pointing fingers at other makers saying look at what they are doing. I want to be transparent about what I am doing; I want the collectors to understand what they are purchasing. These knives will never have a medallion so they are not being confused with my customs. The logo will be the old style crane with Elishewitz below it.
The pricing will be at least half of a custom; even though I am spending at least 4 hours on each knife (I timed myself on the prototypes and it was about 5 hours). And if that doesn’t sound like a lot to you; know that I am very fast in the shop.
Back on the midtechs: I take the frames and straighten them on the arbor press; remove any kind of burs and chamfer all the holes. I chamfer the inside corners of the liners and put the final finish on the inside of the liner. Then I run the edge around on the grinder to remove any kind of machine marks and to blend the line and the surface. After this I spend a long time on the grinder contouring and removing the machine marks. The goal is to just remove the machine marks and nothing more. Some of them can be quite difficult to get to because they are in the valley of a groove or they are very deep. Then I put the final finish on the surface. These liners are going to be offered in 2 styles: Smooth or textured. I want to be able to offer variety so you will see variations/options on all these midtechs.
I carbidize the lock face, set my ball detent and bend the lock to the correct height.
After doing the blades and frames, I focus my attention on the back spacer. I run around the edge and bevels on the grinder to blend and clean the surfaces. To explain blending: You might think right of the machine, it is good to go but it is not. If you run a scotch brite wheel around the edge, you can see jerky motions from the machine. That is what I am cleaning up and blending to make the lines flow smoother. Then I surface grind the spacers because I want to be sure my thicknesses are correct. Then I assemble the knives. I tweak in the lock and the detent. All of these processes is what I am doing to all the knives; I cannot imagine omitting any of these.
It has been a week of hard work; lots of concentration but we are beginning to chip away at what felt like an endless pile of parts. This is for only 50 knives so I can’t even imagine what the makers who do 200 feel like! This was one reason why I got out of midtechs, I couldn’t stomach looking at all the parts. So far everything is going smoothly except that yesterday I threw out a handful of carbon fiber handles; the quality of the carbon fiber was just crap and even for a midtech I do have standards. My friend Pat Doyle is helping me with this project; it is nice to have another skilled pair of hands in the shop helping.
You don’t know how the knife is going to work until you put it together….. parts are parts until you have to make them work together. We had problems we had to solve a couple days ago and it took half a day to just put 10 knives together [sigh]. Now we know what needs to be tweaked and hopefully it is going to go a lot faster. We were able to complete one handle color; there is going to be 4 total. Yesterday the second one was done and today we start working on parts for the 3rd and 4th. I am hoping to have these knives ready for sale early next week so keep an eye on the website and email updates.