In the middle of 2010, I agreed to pimp a friend’s cheap production folder. It was Chinese-made but well engineered and I was happy to see what I could do with it. He had no say in the outcome except that I wasn’t allow to stop or bin it because I wasn’t happy with it…
I wanted to make something slightly more masculine than my normal stuff (as that was in keeping with the knife itself) and I also wanted to have a play with some materials that I’d never worked with before.
I’ve started work on it but I thought that I would post pictures as I go along because of the fun of seeing unconventionally constructed scales from the inside…
Some early sketches.
The material of the scales are going to be a beautiful glove leather and rayskin. Originally, I was going to use other materials as well but I wanted to keep it simple and really show these materials off to their full advantage. First I shaped the patches of rayskin, cutting around the dots and stained the edge black. You can see that I have also removed two dots in each patch – tiny gold screws will fill these later.
In order to get a form to stretch the leather over, I had to construct a thin wooden structure. The rayskin needed to sit down within the surface and the four panels on the left are raised.
In order to stitch the leather, I had to cut slots in the wood to get my needle through…I could have drilled individual holes but this works well.
The wood is then superglued to a tightly stretched piece of silk organza to hold the pieces in the correct place. When it is dry, the pieces are laid (but not glued) on silk habutai. The weave of the silk organza is quite open…if I just sewed through that, then the threads would break as I pulled it tight. If I just used the habutai, then the fibres are so close together that the superglue wicks along the threads and forms a solid sheet that is impossible to get a needle through. So, the two get used together.
Over the top goes the leather. Here you can see the imprint of the rayskin panel – it’ll go back into the hole and it’s ready for sewing.
The bottom image is how it looks after all the stitching is done…the rayskin is stitched down as well and the screws are just resting in their holes.
Another piece of thin ply wood is glued to the back to hold everything in place and all the excess fabric is trimmed away. The screws are just a push fit through the wood but the metal scales have been drilled and tapped ready for them.
The overall piece is now quite rigid but still thin. The edge still need a little bit of smoothing before the next stage.
The leather has been trimmed and the back is stitched to pull it tight. On this side, I sewed a piece of silk to the bottom edge of the leather first – the reason for this will become apparent later…:D The stitching reminds me of my corset lacing.
This is what it looks like from the back with the silk stitched down as well.
…and this is how the scales are looking from the front. Now it’s all ‘proper’ knifemaking. The scales get screwed onto the knife liners and it’s finished.