Wasteland Crow Project #1 Winner: Allen Rountree (#59)!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Phase Three

Stormcrow writes:

We are working on two different phases of the Wasteland Crow at once this go-around. We're changing things a bit, introducing new elements.

The blades for Phase 3 are completed. This time, we have another 13.5" long main chopping blade and a smaller companion knife. The chopper is based on the Filipino Moro barong. It is forged from leaf spring, the cutting edge and false edge filed by hand, and the blade hardened multiple times in vegetable oil. It has been differentially tempered to maximize the performance, giving it a springy spine for durability and a harder edge for edge retention. The false edge does not come to a sharp point, making it easier to use it in conjunction with a baton to split wood.

This is the blade as forged, filed, and heat treated. Note the integral socket handle. This is an incredibly strong construction, probably the strongest way to build a tang/blade transition. The integral socket handle is found in many blades forged by the Igorot headhunters of the Philippines.

For the handle, I went with a simple cotton cord handle wrap sealed with black shellac; that is, clear shellac with India ink mixed with it. The cotton soaks the shellac in well, making it into a composite material in place on the handle. It is comfortable and durable.

This picture was taken before the handle wrap was completed, and before any kind of a sharp edge was put on. At this point, I could literally whack the edge hard against my hand and it would bounce off without doing any damage. In spite of lacking any real cutting edge, I chopped through this elm (a hardwood) branch thicker than my wrist without too much extra effort. The design of this knife makes for an excellent chopper. The edge profile is an elongated sine curve, which is often found on powerful chopping knives, and the angle of the handle in relation to the blade places the sweet spot for chopping the exact spot it needs to be for maximum chopping power. In addition, both the width of the blade profile and the thickness of the spine taper from the handle to the chopping sweet spot and from that area to the tip. That concentrates the inertia over the sweet spot while reducing overall blade weight and keeping it lively in the hand.

To get a sense of scale of this blade, here is a shot of it in my hand (I'm a lefty). Note the handle is still unfinished in the picture.

As great a chopper as the barong is, there are times when a smaller blade is more appropriate for the task at hand. That's where the companion blade, or symbiote as I like to term them, comes in. The blade shape of this one is based loosley on Filipino balisong blades, while reflecting its relationship to the barong with its shared integral socket handle and raised clip. It is forged from the same piece of leaf spring as the barong, cutting edge filed by hand, differentially hardened in vegetable oil, and given a similar cotton cord and black shellac handle treatment. The butt end of the handle has a double Turk's head knot in cotton cord, while the front of the handle, near the finger notch, features a single Turk's head knot. Almost everyone who has picked this blade up has commented on how comfortable it feels in the hand. The blade will shave hair.

And finally, the pair together. Notice that the handle of the barong is finished with single Turk's head knots in leather lace at either end, and that the cotton cord has seen several more coats of shellac, smoothing out the roughness but leaving some texture for extra grip.

When the blades for Phase Two are completed, they'll be packaged with those from Phase Three and shipped to Noah to work his magic on dressing them.

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