Any cutlery item can only be as good as the sum of its parts. And certainly a key component of that is the steel for the blade. I work primarily with O1 high carbon steel, sometimes referred to as tool steel. O1 steel was first produced in the early 1900's, and its use in knife making dates back to the late 1930's. Suffice it to say, most of your Grandma's and Great Grandma's kitchen knives were made from O1.
O1 has great properties for a camp knife in that it can be hardened for durability and it can be sharpened to a very fine edge. Additionally O1 blades can easily be sharpened in the field. Generally speaking unless the edge has significant damage a good honing with a firm leather strop will bring the edge back to great cutting ability.
I am fortunate to have a large inventory of new old stock O1 steel that was produced in Sheffield England. Sheffield was a dominant worldwide source for high quality steel for many decades.
This is a little history of Sheffield England and the steel making that took place there:
Sheffield England……….Sheffield Steel and a long history in steel making and cutlery.
As early as 1379, 25% of the population of Sheffield were listed as metal-workers.
By 1672 Sheffield city had 224 metal-working smithies in the town itself. A major innovation came in 1751 when came the invention of crucible steel, which provided the first way of producing steel of consistent quality at a large scale.
In the 1830’s Sheffield was producing plantation knives and machetes for the expanding American and Caribbean markets. “Bowie” knives were also a center piece of many Sheffield knife catalogs and produced for the American Market.
By the late 1880’s the engineers at Sheffield had invented Manganese steel and later another important alloy steel – stainless. At this time Sheffield was the center of the worlds steel production.
Throughout the 1930’s and the World War II era Sheffield set the mark for high alloy steels the tool and cutlery industry was thriving.
Alas by the early 80’s and throughout the 90’s steel production in Sheffield declined and for the most part no steel is produced there. They do still however process large quantities of specialty steel there by alloying or heat treating steel that is produced elsewhere.
Desert Ironwood Natural
If you are going to have a knife then you need a way to protect it and protect yourself from the sharp blade. As with the scales I prefer to only work with natural materials and hand craft all of my sheaths from either Water Buffalo or Cow hides, all purchased from reliable and ethical sources that tan the leather to exacting specifications. All the sheaths are fabricated by me and are hand stitched with linen thread. In most of my builds I offer a thread color that matches other elements of the knife. The sheaths are given an acrylic water proofing treatment on the inside of the sheath. The exterior is then hand rubbed and coated with a premium leather wax. This gives you a beautiful and long lasting sheath that will provide you years of service.
Knife Scales or handle material is both an aesthetic as well as a functional part of your knife. I think that most would agree that pride of ownership comes with having a knife that is constructed using beautiful and eye catching handle material. Here at ngycustoms we worked almost exclusively with natural woods. However to give proper strength and durability to the handles most of our scales go through a process called stabilization. Sometimes the resin is mixed with colors to make an even more dramatic and interesting look. Stabilization is is a process that penetrates the pores of the wood under vacuum or pressure with a thermosetting resin. This produces a rugged handle that is water resistant and will have minimal expansion and contraction. Our final processing utilizes many hand finishing steps to produce handles with excellent luster and a good proper feel in the hand.
Stabilized/Dyed Horse Chesnut Burl
Large Camp knife in O1 Sheffield Steel
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