O1 is one of the most versatile oil quenched, high carbon tool steels. With a good heat treatment process, it produces a knife blade that has a high toughness, excellent wear resistantance and great edge retention. This steel needs to be maintained in order to prevent corrosion, and should be wiped dry and given a light coat of oil (food safe if used while cooking) after use. The upside to this is that it will also age with you, and develop an attractive natural patina which in turn will help to prevent corrosion.
Depending on the model, I temper my O1 back to 59-61 on the Rockwell C hardness scale (HRC). In long term testing I have found this to have the best balance of properties with the blade geometries that I use.
G-10 is a glass laminate composite material created by stacking layers of glass cloth, soaking them in epoxy resin, and compressing the resulting material under heat and high pressure until the epoxy cures.
It is favored in knives for its high strength and weatherproof nature as well as its reassuring weight, pleasing texture and wide range of colours.
Much like G-10, Micarta is a laminate composite. Instead of glass cloth however, many other materials can be used for its primary make up. The main one that I use is a brown linen which gives a nice natural contrast with brass or copper handle pins. In the finish polished scales you can clearly see the attractive fabric weave. It's lighter than G-10 but still extremely strong and has a nice warm feel in your hand.
On my smaller knives I like to use a thermo plastic called Juma. Unlike most plastics, Juma feels more like glass and polishes to a beautiful lustre. It comes in a variety of colours and complex patterns.
I use a two part crystal epoxy resin mixed with various micas and dyes to create these scales. Once mixed I pour the mixture into molds and cure in a pressure chamber to get rid of any small bubbles from the mixing process. I sometimes use an aluminium honeycomb material in the molds in order to create really unique designs that resemble fish scales. This too can take a great polish and is extremely durable. No two knives will be exactly the same.
In order to permanently secure the handle scales to to my knives, I use an extremely strong slow set epoxy. The straight pins that are driven though the entirety of the handles are 5 or 8mm carbon fibre, G-10, composite, brass or copper round stock. I also use 8mm brass loveless bolts which have the added benefit of providing a mechanical connection for extra strength.
Kydex is a robust thermoplastic that I mold to each knife. Unlike leather, it is weatherproof, scratch proof, easy to maintain and holds it's shape. As it can't absorb moisture, it won't hold any against the knife blade. If the knife is to be used for hunting, then this material is particularly desirable as it can be easily washed out. Since the retention is achieved by molding the sheath to features on the knife, no straps or fasteners are required to keep the knife secured and it allows the majority of the handle to be exposed for easy extraction.
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