Andy, please tell us about your handles

Discussion in 'Fiddleback Forge Knives' started by HikingMano, Dec 3, 2010.

  1. HikingMano

    HikingMano

    Sep 2, 2008
    I'm a handle guy. The handle connects the user to the tool. When that connection is suboptimal, user effectiveness and efficiency suffer. I believe a poor handle negates the features on the other end of the tool, no matter how awesome they may be in their own right. Simply put, if I can't manipulate the tool well or comfortably, I don't care about what the rest of the tool offers.

    The design and execution of your handles is a large part of what drew me to Fiddleback Forge and persuaded me to order a knife from you. I'd held one or two of your knives, spoken with others, and spent a good deal of time poring over pics and videos here before going ahead with an order. But I've never asked the man himself about his handles. So, can you tell us about them? :)

    Some seed questions (no obligation):
    How has your own experience led you to your current designs and construction? What sort of grips do you most often use, and how do your handles reflect them? Do you focus on certain fingers or parts of the hand when designing your handles? What are your thoughts on contouring? Do you prefer certain materials, and if so, why?
     
  2. Fiddleback

    Fiddleback Knifemaker Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Dealer / Materials Provider

    Oct 19, 2005
    I wrote this big long post and lost it somehow. I'll answer more later.

    Basically, I agree, the handle makes the knife a usable tool. I want mine to work comofortably in lots of grips.
     
  3. HikingMano

    HikingMano

    Sep 2, 2008
    No rush, just curious :thumbup:
     
  4. Fiddleback

    Fiddleback Knifemaker Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Dealer / Materials Provider

    Oct 19, 2005
    OK. All just my opinion, btw.

    I do use a lot of grips. I like to carve walking sticks (very rudimentary) when I'm outdoors. So the knife flies around. Then the fist grip for heavy tasks. Upcutting. Steak cutting grip. The chest lever grip. A good handle should do all those comfortably I think.

    The first and formost quality of a good handle is getting the edge right to the fist for heavy cutting. This rules out choils, ricassos, and serrations.

    On a really huge knife, I can see putting in a choil. On a 4" bladed knife the idea that you would have to choke up onto the blade to get fine control is only necessary because the handle is horrible. Disfunctional actually.

    If you're a sailor, then you need serrations.

    Since I don't do stick tangs, the only reason to put a ricasso there is so there is just the sweetest little spot for my signature. So I sign on the spine. The edge needs to be as close to the fist as possible.

    The shape of the handle is egg-like. Fatter at the spine and narrower at the edge. The HI guys tought me that.

    And on my big knives, speaking of the HI guys, the shape is based on the khukuri handle. One of the most versatile handles I know of.
     
    Kenneth F Huls, JRTufts and schmittie like this.
  5. chainring

    chainring KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jul 20, 2008
    It works.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2010
  6. Fiddleback

    Fiddleback Knifemaker Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Dealer / Materials Provider

    Oct 19, 2005
    Oh yea. They should be pretty too.
     
  7. HikingMano

    HikingMano

    Sep 2, 2008
    I did notice that you put your edges right up to the handles :thumbup: It really does provide for more power and control in cut.

    Feel free to not answer if this gives away trade secrets or something :D, but how do you come up with the shape/contouring on your handles (from front to back of handle, rather than top to bottom egg shape)?

    And, do you prefer wood or synthetics? If you do have a preference, why?


    Sorry, just want to pick your brain :eek::) I can't wait to get my Hunter in hand. And yes, I don't think I've ever seen an ugly knife from you :)
     
  8. Fiddleback

    Fiddleback Knifemaker Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Dealer / Materials Provider

    Oct 19, 2005
    Quick test you can all do right now.

    Grip your knife in the fist grip. The one you'd use if you were whitling a point onto a spear. Now with your other hand. Pinch the spine of the knife and pull the knife through the pinch in the same motion as whitling that point on your spear. Now move your pinch up the spine. You can see right away that the first inch you move greatly reduces the force you can control for a tough cut.

    Your questions:

    Are you asking how I accomplish it, or how I thought of the shape?

    Hollowdweller had a giant handle shape influence on me. He is the one who advised me not to let the back of the knife swell, which makes my knives so comfortable in various grips. He also influenced me toward fatter handles.

    I accomplish the shapes starting with the belt grinder, and then files and sandpaper. I did a handle tutorial a while back. That may help.

    http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=643123&highlight=tutorial

    On materials, I like wood a lot. But the more I made knives and worked with micarta, I can really say that it has grown on me. The last knife I made for myself. (Recent. Bushfinger.) Has Shadetree burlap. Its really a fine material. Indestructable, and still beautiful chatoyance. Its quickly becoming my favorite.
     
  9. HikingMano

    HikingMano

    Sep 2, 2008
    How you thought of the shape mostly :thumbup: And I do like the rounder, fatter handles (as long as they still index fine). Much more comfortable and less fatiguing. But thanks for linking that tutorial, very cool. I never knew files played such a role.

    That Shadetree burlap is nice stuff :thumbup:. I hope to pick up a Bushfinger in shadetree burlap sometime down the line. I've always wanted a three-finger scandi Karda in that GITD kryptonite green shadetree micarta, that would be a wicked little knife :D

    Any downsides to micarta, in your opinion?
     
  10. KarlMaldensNose

    KarlMaldensNose

    Feb 3, 2009
    Andy, while we're on the subject, is there any way for me to sand down the palm swell on the GITD Shadetree Phenolics (micarta?) handle on my Bow Legged Chopper? It is simply too big for me to get the kind of grip on it that I want. Or is this stuff too dangerous to work with without proper ventilation? I also wonder about the kinda-fuzzy texture of the surface. That's from the yarn in the micarta, right? That also seems to complicate the issue of simply just sanding it down. I'm worried about buggering up the surface texture.
     
  11. Fiddleback

    Fiddleback Knifemaker Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Dealer / Materials Provider

    Oct 19, 2005
    I guess the downside is just that the beauty of wood is really stunning, and micarta is pure utilitarian.

    Anything you sand needs proper ventilation. You can send the knife back, or just go at it with sandpaper. Start at 80 grit. Try not to get scratches on the steel. Those are hard to get off.

    Fuzzy. Hmm. Don't know on that. micarta gets fuzzy when you sand it though. Usually gone by the time you get to final grits.
     
  12. RedbeAR15

    RedbeAR15 Platinum Plucker

    Sep 29, 2008
    A lesson in handles - I like it :thumbup:

    Never really thought about some of what you mentioned, but don't really have to when I hold a Fiddleback. The hand knows.

    I like the fatter handles too, and the Shadetree burlap is about the nicest utilitarian you can get, but the wood you use is just killer.

    Ever thought about doing some 1911 grips? If so, sign me up
     
  13. Fiddleback

    Fiddleback Knifemaker Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Dealer / Materials Provider

    Oct 19, 2005
    I haven't. My FIL made some lacewood grips for my Ruger .22 pistol. They're sweet. Problem for me is, as personal projects go, I'm booked with shit for my daughters...

    LOL.
     
  14. RedbeAR15

    RedbeAR15 Platinum Plucker

    Sep 29, 2008
    10-4

    You can always make grips when you get old :D
     
  15. HikingMano

    HikingMano

    Sep 2, 2008
    Thanks for giving us a little insight to your thoughts, Andy :thumbup:
     
  16. Fiddleback

    Fiddleback Knifemaker Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Dealer / Materials Provider

    Oct 19, 2005
    One more thing. The front of the handle is the worst area for warp. Blade end. The guard area is absolutely horrid for this. Almost all the warranty complaints were there. That is why today's handles have no guard area handle material. At the same time I changed that, I went to small pins, as close to the blade end of the handle as possible. I have not had one handle returned with warp/seperation since making this change.
     
  17. sweet

    sweet

    Nov 11, 1999
    The fuzziness in the micarta happens when the material does not get a complete soak of epoxy/or whatever is being used. Sanding the handle with a high grit like a 240 Trizact or higher should solve that.

    .
     
  18. schmittie

    schmittie Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 28, 2009
    It’s been a few years. This sucker should go to the top for a sec or two ;)

    All these years later, I still subscribe to Andy’s handle definition.
     
    Fiddleback likes this.
  19. Fiddleback

    Fiddleback Knifemaker Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Dealer / Materials Provider

    Oct 19, 2005
    schmittie likes this.

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