The Nilox is supposed to be similarly to AEB-L a very fine grained steel. The Niobium forms very small and very hard carbides what allows the steel to be fine grained and resist abrasion well. In other words a very interesting steel (not only) for kitchen knives.
At some point in the future I would like to compare it to AEB-L and D2 (which has usually much larger grain structure) - actually - that is what Project #13 will be all about :)
The designFor the testing purposes I have decided to make a smaller knife. At the moment I plan a simple WA handle, but may even give a hidden tang western handle a try.
The design of the blade was simply done by hand on paper on my bus commute. I am actually really starting to enjoy designing blades by hand.
The knife will be made of 2.2 mm thick (thin!) steel. The blade will have a continuous convex grind and I plan to make it nice and thin behind the edge.
I took a fresh blade for the hack saw and had the coarsely cut-out blank it under 10 minutes. Part of that was of course that the steel was only 2.2 mm thick. Still - this would have taken longer with a steel like D2.
20 minutes later the blank was shaped, edges ground up to #120 grit (I used cheap #40 ceramic belt to shape the blank) and thus basically ready for grinding the bevels.
You may notice that the bump where the tip of the blade is supposed to be. I have seen Don Nuygen doing this and realised how a great idea that was. This makes the tip more robust while grinding, heat treating and final shaping after HT. The bump also serves as heat dump when final shaping after HT. I will see how that will work for me.
|The design and the blade blank. Notice the hump ner the tip.|
As always - I was checking the thickness at the edge and at 5, 10 and 20 mm behind the edge and tried to keep it as consistent as possible with slight taper towards the tip.
|Blade ground (pre HT) and cleaned up to #240 belt|
|Sanding the tang to shape.|
|Sanding the blade to #400. I write down the note if I do not manage|
to finish in one session.
|Blade after HT after first few passes on #120 Norton Blaze belt.|
|Detail of the grinding on the cutting edge.|
Note: Here I would like to mention that my blade grinding procedure is far from fine tuned and I am still learning what belt progression works the best for me, so take the above just as an example.
In Parallel I have started to work on the handle. I chose Mora for the bolster and Bocote body of the handle with yellow and black fibre spacers. The main reason to choose these materials (other than design) was that they are relatively lightweight. The blade is very thin and I did not want the knife to be butt-heavy.
|Blade before finishing and handle materials.|
Once the glue cured I used first belt and disc sander to clean and square up the block. The challenge here was to remove as little material as possible before the next steps, as both woods were on the thin side and there was very little room for error.
|Squared up handle ready for drilling.|
|Ready to glue the dowel.|
Once the glue cures I would do some light rasping with a needle rasp to get the tang fit cleanly - some glue usually leaks in the slot and needs to be removed.
It turned out that Niolox reacts quite differently to sanding than the D2 (the only other stainless steel I have used so far). When I went up to #600 grit I started to get a quasi-mirror finish, but at the same time I was seeing quite some #400 scratches I could not quite get out. So I went back to #400 and finished the blade with this grit.
|Working with a #400 sanpaper - there are still grinding marks to be removed.|
|Finishing the shaping before chamfering.|
|Flattening all sides.|
|Chamfering to octagonal shape.|
|Testfitting the blade. Good!|
Note: One needs to be careful and watch where the pressure is applied as one may unwillingly 're-shape' the handle. Ask me how I know.
Sanding with the higher grits is done with a small sanding block (about 10 x 2 x 4 cm) - the long narrow sides have a double-sided scotch tape so that I can swap the paper. I do the sanding 'free hand'.
|Hand sanding - finishing the handle.|
|Hand sanding finished.|
|Hand sanding finished.|
|Hand sanding finished.|
|Oiled with board butter.|
Once the handle was finished I glued it onto the knife with G/flex epoxy. That is a slow procedure in particular when it is colder in the shop and the glue does not want to flow quite as fast as I would like, plus it takes patience once the knife was fully inserted to take out all bubbles that may appear many minutes later.
As the photos of the finished knife show - I have one obvious need for an improvement. namely when putting the edge on the blade for the first time I inevitably scratch the blade 5mm or even more from the cutting edge meaning that the blade should actually be re-finished again. Hmmmm, I need to give it some thought.
Since I was in a hurry and the finished knife was already with my friend for testing, I did not manage to take some photographs, so here are a few taken by my friend.
Looking at the photos below I can not help but admit that the finish of the blade does look a bit ... particular (the photos do make it look a bit more scratchy than in person though). I really need to work on it in the future.