Published 11:59 pm Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Tim Mitchell is quite the handy man.
Wednesday he was busy forging knives and doing the finishing work on another.
Mitchell makes the blades out of steel, which is extremely hard.
Wednesday Mitchell forged the blade for a Boye knife he plans to work on – a project that will take about a week to complete.
He was also working on the finish work of a smaller knife with an antler handle.
Mitchell poured the bolster for the knife by pouring a collar around the end of the steel.
“This is the most complicated part,” he said.
The bolster provides balance for the knife and also helps protect a user’s hand from getting cut by the knife-edge.
After pouring the bolster, which was made from silver melted down, Mitchell put a block of wood under the knife to help keep from warping the blade as he filed down the bolster to get it just right.
“We are going to work on a hexagon,” he said. “You can also have a round cap.”
He uses a piece of leather to help stop the blade from scratching as he files the bolster to perfection.
Mitchell also used a “baby hacksaw” to cut down the bolster. “The metal is just soft enough to cut with a knife,” he said. “What we’re going for it to make two sides match up. We’re going to blend everything in.”
Then he’ll use sandpaper and a file to dress the antler up the side to make a more smooth finish before sharpening the knife.
The process by which Mitchell works is reminiscent of old gunsmiths from years-gone-by.
“They were bad about putting facets in,” he said. “I think it just gives style to something backwoodsy. This is something you can’t do on a machine. It has to be done with your hands.”
Mitchell said he’s been making knives for 20-plus years.
“A lot of it is just trial and error and a lot of messes,” he said.
Mitchell said he spent two days working on the small knife – a gift commissioned for Christmas.
“I make all kinds of knives – big ones, small ones – you name it,” he said.