Category Archives: Blades and Edged Weapons Including Khukuris

Blades and Edged Weapons Including Khukuris

20 tips for getting better results with epoxy

I use a ton of epoxy as part of my work plus fixing all kinds of stuff at home, on cars, guns, knives and more.  I’d like to take a few minutes share some lessons learned with you to bear in mind on your next project that involves epoxy:

  1. Buy quality epoxy – not cheap junk.  Epoxy is a generic term and a lot of the no-name blister pack retail stuff is crap.  Go for brand names.  If they list real specs about the formulation then it is probably legit.
  2. I recommend industrial epoxies and not the consumer stuff.  My hands down favorite epoxy is Brownell’s Acra Glas liquid.  It is strong and resists breaking down from repeated impacts very well.  It’s one down side is that it takes a long time to set up so it may not be your best bet if you need something to be fixed and back in service quickly.
  3. Know your application and match the formula to your need – there is no magical formula that does everything.  You may need a putty, a fast cure, a short pot life, higher heat resistance, improved impact resistance, shear strength, etc.  Figure out what you need and then look for the epoxy that will work best for you.  At any given time I probably have 3-4 different formulations on hand.
  4. The longer it takes an epoxy to cure the stronger it is.  All things being equal, an epoxy that cures in 24 hours will be stronger than one that claims to do so in 5, 10 or 30 minutes.
  5. Read the package – setting up vs. curing and reaching full strength are two very different things.
  6. If you want to get epoxy to flow into wood or difficult areas, heat it up.  The liquid thins as it warms up but note this will also speed up how fast it sets up and cures.
  7. As epoxy gets colder, it takes longer and longer to cure.  If you are working outside, use a space heater, flood light or other heat source to keep the epoxy and the work piece area being repaired at least 70F.  I shoot for 80-90F.
  8. Epoxy can get really thick as it gets cold and not want to come out of the containers.  Either keep it inside where it is warm or at least warm it up before you use it,
  9. Epoxy resin can sugar with age just like honey.  What I mean is that will develop a solid mass in the resin bottle – it’s not really sugar!  If you heat up a container of water, take the resin container’s lid off and then set it the container in the water, the resin will warm up and the solid will dissolve back into liquid.  I buy 28oz or larger bottles of Acra-Glas that I don’t always use right away so when it sugars, I do this.
  10. As mentioned above, I buy my epoxy in bulk.  Acra-Glas can be measured by volume and it has a ratio of 1 hardener to 4 resin.  The way I deal with this is very simple – I use 10cc syringes without needles.  I have on syringe in a cup that I use for hardener and one syringe stored in a cup that I use for hardener.  The reason I do this is that the two parts do not react to the air very fast.  I may be able to use one syringe for a several weeks/months before it stops working so I set the syringe in its dedicated cup when done to be used again.  I do not use fresh syringes every time.  A 100 count syringe pack will last me at least a year.
  11. You can definitely color epoxy.  You can buy purpose-made dyes such as So-Strong or add in powdered tempra paint.
  12. You can add fillers for strength or looks.  When filling gaps, I mix 1/32″ milled glass fibers with the epoxy.  The ratio depends on the epoxy you are using, how thick/pasty you want the result to be or how much you want it to still flow into place.
  13. To get rid of bubbles you either need to draw a vacuum, apply pressure or at least use a heat gun to thin the epoxy once it is applied and this allows the trapped air to escape.
  14. When I am gluing big objects together, such as wood panels, forms, or other construction I will use a cartridge based epoxy.  My favorite is Hysol E-20HP.  To use a cartridge, you need the dispensing gun and also the correct mixing tip.  This allows you to squeeze the trigger and properly mixed epoxy comes out of the tip.  When you are done, you just let the tip harden in place sealing the epoxy.  When you are ready to use the gun again, you simply remove the plugged tip with a new one.  This allows for you to deploy a bead of epoxy very quickly but the con is that you throw away a tip every time you stop.  You also can’t color the epoxy first but it is fast and convenient on larger projects.
  15. The surface must be clean for epoxy to work best.  Remove dust, dirt, oil, etc.
  16. A rough surface is always better than a smooth surface.  I always recommend sanding, brushing or blasting a surface to improve adhesion.  Not only do you increase the surface area but you also are creating a texture where the epoxy can get under the base material in thousands of tiny places to really grab hold.
  17. Wear disposable gloves to avoid making a mess.  I buy boxes of the Harbor Freight 5 mil nitrile gloves when they go on sale for $5.99/box of 100.  They really are a good value for a medium-light duty disposable glove.
  18. If you need to clamp parts together, wrap the assemble with wax paper to avoid gluing your clamps to the work piece – yeah, I’ve done that.
  19. Whenever possible, I prefer to clamp work together to get this best bond.
  20. Check, double-check and come back in again later and check your work again to make sure nothing has shifted.

I hope these tips help you with your next project.


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How To Make a Kydex Cross Draw Khukuri Sheath

I recently made a sheath for a khukuri with serrations on the back of the spine and it was a bit of a learning experience compared to how I normally make a khukuri sheath and though I would share what was done.  The khukuri in question had a nicely done blade and fitment was good.  It had about a 10″ blade, 6″ handle and 16″ overall.  The spine was between 1/4-3/8″ thick.  All in all, it was a medium weight nice khukuri though I am not really sure who made it

Now for this weight range, I could go with .080 or .093″ Kydex.  I went on the heavy side and used .093″ thick black Kydex that I buy in 12×24″ sheets – usually from www.knifekits.com.

So, first up I do two layers of blue painters tape on each side to allow for some “wiggle room” between the blade and the Kydex.  If you want it tighter, use just one layer.  I would recommend having this space to allow for dust, dirt, etc.  Next up is to trim the Kydex so it is long enough to have a bit of material past the end of the blade, a few inches onto the handle and then an about 1.5″ or so on each side when the Kydex folds over.  If you want to use two pieces, you certainly can.  The final sheath I did for this khukuri uses two sheets of Kydex trimmed to size.

Once the Kydex is trimmed to size, you need to heat it to around 360F but less than 400F.  I Use a 16×20″ MPress Heat Press with a digital controller to set the temperature at 360F and to heat the Kydex for 40 seconds.  Note that I also have Teflon/PTFE sheets attached with rare earth magnets to protect the press’ faces if the Kydex were to melt. 

In years past, I used a modified hot plate / electric griddle to heat my Kydex.  For a tad over two years now I have had the MPress and really like it.  At any rate, once the Kydex is hot and pliant, you need to mold the Kydex to the blade.  In this first take, I used my HD Industrial vacuum press to do the work.   You draw the vacuum down and let the membrane do the work and cool down so the Kydex stiffens again.

 

Next up, draw your planning lines around the blade.  You need to figure out your rivet pattern and then drill the holes.  I do 0.75″ centers to accommodate large Tek-Lok belt fasteners among other options.  Notice the big flap drawn at the top above the handle.  That creates the “funnels” that will guide the khukuri into the sheath and then lock it into place.

Next, debur the holes with a deburring tool such as the Mango II in the above photo.  Then, install the correct size rivets in the holes.  Orient the larger factor finished end of the rivet to be facing viewers when the blade is carried.  It looks better than the small end that results after compressing the rivets.  After that, use a rivet tool to flare and secure the rivets.  I use purpose-built dies in my 1/2 ton arbor press to do that but there are cheaper manual units for use with hammer.  If you plan on doing many sheaths or holsters, go with the arbor press.

Here’s the result.  Note that the round tools are what I use to form the funnels.

Next, I use a band saw to cut close to the outside cut-off line I drew.

I then use a Rigid Oscillating End Sander to do the shaping.  I bought thebunitat Home Depot two years ago and it works great for this.  I use a 40-60 grit belt to quickly do the grinding.

Now I did the test fitting and had an “oh crap” moment.  I normally expose the blade to allow for quick insertion and extraction but I couldn’t do that with this model due to the serrations.  They were exposed and would clearly hang up on everything so it was time to come up with a plan B.  It dawned on my that I needed something to serve as a “sheath” for the serrations that would give me work room inside the sheath once it was formed.  So after thinking about for a few minutes, I took some 3/16″ fuel line, slit it down the middle and pulled it onto the khukuri.

I also wanted the khukuri to push a lot further into the rear piece of Kydex so that meant I needed to use the khukuri press that I designed just for this.  It is built like a tank from layers of 3/4″ plywood and uses four 500# Quick Clamps to compress the Khydex.  The results is tight uniform clamp around the handle and blade of a khukuri.

Next, it was time again to mark, cut and rivet the sheath.  Again, note the tabs drawn above the handle to form the funnel.

After cutting, I use a heat gun to heat each tab and bend it over a round mandrel.  I have a 1/2″ round piece of aluminum that I normally use.  Note, I have burned out a number of cheap heat guns.  The DeWalt is over two years old and still going strong.

I use MEK solvent on a rag to smooth over the edges of the Kydex and make it look good.  If you use MEK, be sure to wear solvent gloves and work outdoors or in a very well ventilated area.  That stuff is hot – meaning it evaporates fast and is not something you want to be breathing.

I used 1″ heavy duty nylon webbing for the retention strap along with a snap stud and quality heavy-duty #24 snap head.  I heat an old small screw driver to melt a hole in the strap for the stud and the snap head and then a purpose built die in my arbor press to actually open the rivet head inside the snap.

The Tek-Lok is secured to the sheath via slotted posts, screws and rubber spacers cut to the length needed.  Note, use Vibra-Tite or blue Loc-Tite to secure the screws and nuts or they will work lose and fall off.

Here is the end result.  The old buffalo hide and wood sheath is above for reference.  I like adding paracord for lashing and survival use.

In the next photo you can see the opening for the tip of the khukuri to slide into – that pocket is essential.  Once the tip is inserted, the handle is pushed towards the funnels that open, allow the handle to pass and then spring closed locking the handle in.  To truly lock it in and protect against brush, you need a retention strap that serves to keep the sheath closed – if the sheath is held shut then the blade can’t come out.

Here are two more shots

I hope you found the post of interest!


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How to make a custom khukuri handle for a rat tang with micarta and epoxy

I am a huge fan of Nepalese khkuris including ones from Himalayan Imports and GK&Co (Deepak Sunar).  I do like customizing them also and have made handles many ways for both the full-tang and rat tail tang blades.  What I am going to show below is a rat tail tang and you’ll notice the curve the tang has.  This is the traditional tang and is very strong.  Westerners have a mistaken belief that full-tang is better.

The Nepalese bladesmiths, known as “kamis”, have evolved their design over centuries based on real world experience.  Their rat tail tang is very strong, allows for the traditional handle to be changed relatively easily and since the handle can flex somewhat on the tang, some of the shock is absorbed there vs. by the wielder’s hand.  When the British arrived they mandated a full tang on their Army models based on their experience and beliefs.  In short, when you are looking at khukuris, do not discount rat tails as weak because they are not.

The first step I do is to blast my slabs of Micarta to prepare them for maximum adhesion.  I am a zealot on cleaning too before gluing.  Do not attempt to glue the shiny micarta to the blade or it will knock right off with the first shock. Basically we are going to make a handle by sandwiching a piece in the middle that has the tang outline cut out between two outer slabs.  These are black canvas micarta slabs that have already been blasted – that is why they are dull.

The thickness of the middle slab needs to be the same thickness as the thickest part of the tang to keep things simple.

Next, I lay the middle slab under the tang and trace its outline.

I was doing two blades at once.  See the one above sitting in the cut out notch and the one below I have just traced the outline with a Sharpie marker.  Please note I have not taped the edge of the khukuri’s blade yet.  I would recommend you do that at some point to protect yourself.

This is slightly out of sequence but see the two round drill holes at the end of the tang?  I did them before sawing to make turning around at the end easier.  The numbers marked on the micarta correspond with which of the two blades I was working with.

I would then use a jig saw or band saw to cut the section out where the handle went.  Note, I more often use a band saw these days and you can do whatever works for you.

See how the tang fits in?  It does not need to be perfect as this will all be filled with structural epoxy.

I do not have a photo, but I would abrasive blast the tang until it was clean shiny steel.  I would wear nitrile rubber gloves and hose everything (tang and slabs) down with brake cleaner to make sure no oils from my skin contaminated the work pieces.  Note, I often drive a 1/8″ brass cross-pin in through the thick part of the tang to lock everything in place just in case and also use a piece of thick wall 3/8″ brass tube at the rear to make a lanyard hole.  I did not do these things on this particular model and they are features to consider.  For people new to this, I would recommend the brass cross pin.  I always do this now even though I have never had a handle fail but I evolved this method and learned over the course of a number of years.

Next, take the outer slabs and round the outside edges over.  What you want to do is to create the taper you want before you glue the handle on.  It is hard to sand up front on the handle once it is glued together.  I would take the three pieces, clamp them together and then work on the belt sander until I got the shape I wanted on the front leading edge.  This is all we want to shape at this point.  I always preferred to do the majority of my shaping once the handle was epoxied onto the blade.

For gluing the handle, I will only recommend Brownell’s AcraGlas liquid.  It is a very strong, durable, and shock resistant epoxy.  Absolutely do not use a cheap epoxy as it will likely break down and crumble (“sugar”) over time with repeated heavy blows.  Always bear in mind that the big khukuris are choppers and heavy.  What you do needs to hold up under extreme use compared to many knife handles that see very light relative use.  To be safe, I would recommend you always abrasive blast the steel and the micarta before applying the epoxy – don’t try and just get by with sanding or otherwise scuffing the surface.  By blasting you are almost doubling the surface area for the epoxy to adhere to and the irregular surface creates countless shapes where the epoxy can get under “ridges” in the micarta and the steel to really securely hold the parts together.

Follow the AcraGlas mixing instructions to the letter.  I add in a bit of milled 1/32″ glass fiber to increase the strength in the filled areas.  The ratio for AcraGlas liquid is 1 part hardener to four parts resin and I’d add about 1 part of the glass fiber.  It is a bit of a balancing act because you do not want to make the resulting epoxy too thick.  You need it to run in, fill voids and seep into the micarta as much as possible.  [To get the most out of your epoxy, please click here to read a post I did a while back detailing my lessons learned over the years.]

Next, cut a piece of wax paper to wrap the handle.  You want to apply a ton of epoxy, clamp the heck out of it and let it sit and cure for 24 hours.  When you remove the wax paper, if there are any imperfections you need to fix by adding more glue, first blast the surface, clean it and then glue it.  Do not just put epoxy on top of epoxy without preparing the surface first.

Next, if you haven’t done so yet, tape your blade’s cutting edge to make sure you don’t get sliced when sanding the handle.  When working with a belt sander it can grab hold of the work and surprise you – you don’t want a sharp edge to be flying around!!

I do a lot of my handle work on a Rigid oscillating belt edge sander from Home Depot with 40-80 grit sand paper.  Hook your shop vac up to suck up the dust and be sure to wear both a good dust mask (such as a N99 rated mask/respirator) and eye protection.  The dust goes everywhere so be sure to have the vacuum hooked up and stop periodically to clean up and also to inspect your work.

In terms of shaping the handle, I will relay a piece of funny sounding advice – remove all the material that isn’t part of the handle.  Really useful, right?  When the fellow told me this years ago his point was that making a handle is applied art.  You are sculpting a handle by removing material and working towards a shape you have thought out.  I would remove a bit and test the feel, remove a bit and test the feel over and over.

I have experimented with many shapes over the years and it is really up to you.  I would stick with coarse sanding to keep the handle from being slippery and did both one handed and hand-and-a-half models.  In all cases, I wanted to user to have control while chopping / hacking with the blade.  One real strong recommendation:  ALWAYS build a finger stop or hand stop into your design.  You do not want a hand to slide forward onto the blade.  I always built the stop into the handle but you could certainly make your own metal cross guard or do something else — just be sure to protect the user’s hands.

The below blade is acid etched with a combination of apple cider vinegar and phosphoric acid and then everything, including the handle, had boiled linseed oil (BLO) applied to it. [Click here for my post about acid etching blades.]

 

This is a handle from a big HI WWII model blade.  Note the lanyard hole at the end.  I would drill the hole both for a friction fit and I would cut the tube longer than needed, blast it, clean it and then apply epoxy liberally before inserting it into the blade.  I would then sand it down to size as part of the final shaping of the handle.

This is black paper micarta that comes out a beautiful obsidian black.  It is on a long, elegant 24″-ish Sirupati.  Notice the oversized pommel to serve as a hand stop and the finger groove up front for indexing and grip.  This is a hand-and-half design meaning a person could grab hold with their second hand if they really wanted to.

The cool thing with the handles is that you have a ton of materials and options to consider to make a very unique functional piece.  I hope this blog post gives you some ideas.


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How to get what you want from epoxy – for me it is long life, shock resistance and strength

 

Folks, I work a lot with epoxy and reply on it as a structural adhesive to both fill gaps and bond parts together.  I’ve done everything from fixing car parts, wood furniture, tools, rifle bedding, scope mount bedding, custom knife handles and much more with epoxy.  It is incredibly versatile but you need to do some planning to really get what you want out of it predictably.

In case you didn’t know it, “epoxy” is a general term for a wide range of cured polyepoxide resins glues with different physical characteristics such as how long they cure, strength, temperature resistance and so forth (click here if you want to learn more about the chemistry).   There are a ton of options out there as quality manufacturers experiment with different resin and hardener formulations.  In short, not all epoxies are the same and for people concerned with the quality of what they are building, they need to think things through.  For quite some time I’ve wanted to write down a series of tips for folks to get strong reliable results so here they are:

Buy a quality brand epoxy to begin with

What I have found over the years is that not all epoxies are created equal so spend the money and buy quality epoxy.  There can be a huge difference in how well the epoxy will last over time and/or how strong it really is.  Do not buy the bargain basement junk.  In general, if the maker lists all the physical properties then it is a well thought out and executed formula.  I have three epoxies that I use the most in order are Brownell’s AcraGlas liquid (not the gel), Locite E-120HP, JB KwikWeld and ITW Devcon Plastic Steel.  Once in a while if I need a fast cure epoxy, I will get a retail blister pack of some five minute epoxy and I’ll explain more in a moment.

Strongly consider what your application is

Epoxy comes in many formulations.  They can vary the chemistry of the resin, the hardener and the filler to behave differently.  Consider the following example characteristics:

  • Liquid, Gel/Paste or Putty/Bar — The liquid can seep into pores and fibers plus it can be spread but it can run into places you do not want.  Gels and pastes tend to stay put better but do not seep in as well.  The really thick puttys and bars are great for filling space or creating an impromptu clamp or to seal a hole but they definite don’t sink in much.
  • Temperature – you need to think both about the temperature when you are mixing and applying the epoxy as some will not set up at all if too cold.  You also need to think about the heat when in operation because many epoxies soften and lose their bond the hotter they get.   For example, you may apply epoxy to an exhaust manifold but it will blow off when it gets hot.
  • Pot life – this is how long you can still apply it before it starts to thicken.  Some folks will refer to this as working time.  You need to mix the two parts together, apply the epoxy, position and clamp the work before you run out of time.  Keep this in mind.
  • Cure time – this is how long until the epoxy reaches full strength
  • Color – you can get epoxies in different colors
  • Ratio / mixing – some are by volume or by weight.  The easy consumer stuff is usually 1:1 by volume but when you get into the more sophisticated epoxies the volumes vary or a digital scale is needed
  • Heat resistance – some epoxies resist heat better than others before they soften and “let go”
  • Shock resistance – some formulations hold up better than others before they start the break apart and “sugar”.  Sugaring refers to the powdery look epoxy gets as it breaks apart.  Brownell’s AcraGlas, Loctite E-120HP, JB KwikWeld and ITW Devcon Plastic Steel have all held up very well for me under shocks.  My go-to epoxy for most work is Acra-Glas liquid because it holds up so very well.
  • Others – there are other factors that may matter to you but the important thing is to think through your application

Go with as long of a curing time as you can for maximum strength

What many people do not know is that the faster an epoxy cures, the weaker it is.  Conversely, the longer the formulation takes to cure, the stronger it is.  All things being equal, a 24 hour curing epoxy will be stronger than 90-second, 5-minute, 30-minute and so forth epoxies.  Now there is a time and a place where speed is needed and also situations where strength is paramount.  When I make khukuri hands and other things where strength is critical, I always use a 24 hour epoxy.

Use the Proper Ratios

Be sure to carefully follow the mixing ratios.  For volume ratio work, I use 10cc or larger syringes without the needles on them to meter liquid resin and hardener.  For example, I like AcraGlas and it is 4 parts resin to 1 part hardener.  I keep two syringes separated that I re-use over and over.  With the syringe in the holding cup labeled “resin”, I use it to draw 4 cubic centimeters (CCs) of resin out and squirt it into a mixing cup.  With the hardener syringe, I meter out 1 CC of hardener into the cup.  Now you can vary that.  If you need a smaller about, meter out 2 CC of resin and 1/2CC of hardener.  The syringes really help.  If you are doing larger volumes then either use bigger syringes or disposable cups that have measurements printed on the side.  Also note how I pour from the bulk container into the smaller intermediary containers that are easy to work with plus I avoid contamination, dropping a big bottle, etc.

The Loctite E-120HP comes in a specialized dispenser tube that uses a gun and tip to do all the mixing.  It’s cool as can be for volume work where additional coloring or fillers are not needed.

For the Devcon Plastic Steel, I use my digital scale.

Here’s one thing not to do:  Some guys have heard that if they add more hardener it will cure faster.  This may be true but the resulting cured epoxy will be weaker.  Do not deviate from the manufacturer’s recommendations if you want the physical properties they report.

Mix thoroughly

Folks, I can’t stress this enough.   Mix the heck out of the two parts and combine them thoroughly.  If you are doing larger volumes, consider doing what is known as a double pour.  Pour the two parts into a first container, mix them thoroughly and then pour the combination into the middle of a second container and mix.  What a double pour does is avoid having unmixed materials that have stuck to the walls of the container come out when you are applying the epoxy.  Keep your pot life / working time in mind.

Most of the time I am using a generic 5oz plastic cup and plastic knife to do the mixing.  I buy them by the hundreds for Ronin’s Grips and they are cheap regardless.  Do not use styrofoam.

Prepare the surface

Whatever you want to bond epoxy to had better be clean and free of oils, greases, waxes, release agents and so forth.  Second, the more abraded the surface the better.  If you abrasive blast a surface not only can you double the surface area being bonded together but the irregular surface creates many opportunities for the epoxy to get “under” material to create a better grip.  If you can’t blast then at least sand the surface with 80-100 grit sand paper.

So here are two rules to bear in mind when it comes to the surface:

  1. Clean, clean, clean and wear gloves to not contaminate the surface with oil from your skin
  2. Shiny is bad.  A polished smooth surface will not give you anywhere near the bonding strength that a blasted or abraded surface will.  I blast everything that I can – metals, micarta, plastic and even wood.  It makes a world of difference – seriously.

The following is a bakelite handle from an electric griddle of my parents’.  The unit works great and has sentimental value so I cleaned it, blasted it, cut a quick cross hatch pattern to give even more grip and then cleaned it again.  It set up like a rock and we used it all Memorial Day morning to cook hundreds and hundreds of pancakes with no problem.\

Heating Epoxy

Heat can help you two ways.  First, by warming epoxy it tends to flow better.  If you need to to soak into wood or other surfaces, consider using a heat gun to blow/chase the epoxy into the wood.  Do not burn the epoxy – just warm it up.  Second, in general, warming epoxy up tends to make it cure faster.  Now there are limits and you need to either experiment or talk to the vendor before doing anything too radical.  I will often use a halogen light or other heat source to warm the surface up to 80-100F.  In chemistry, there is a formula known as the Arrhenius Equation that notes that for each additional 10 degrees Celsius added, a reaction rate doubles (click here for more info on the equation).  My experience is that you want the heat to penetrate and warm all of the epoxy and not just the surface and you also do not want to burn the epoxy.  In general, I do not exceed 100F but that is just me.  I found something that works good enough and have just stayed there.

Also pay attention to the minimum temperature requirements for curing.  Some epoxies will not do anything at all at freezing.  Some take forever to cure at 50F.  It just depends.  When in doubt, use a lamp or something to gently heat the part.

Coloring Epoxy

What many folks do not know is that you can actually color epoxy.  I have found two approaches that work.  First, use powdered tempera paint.  You can stir in a bit of black powder to get black epoxy.  Now I did this starting out and have since moved to using epoxy dyes so I am added less powder to the mix because I want to save the volume for glass fillers which we will talk about next.

Fillers

You can modify the physical strength of epoxy by adding a substrate or fillers.  For example, fiberglass is matted glass fiber that bonded together with epoxy made for that purpose.  Folks working with carbon fibers are using epoxy for bonding that together.  I add 1/32″ milled glass fibers to my epoxies to get more strength.  If I want more of a paste, I add more glass fiber and if I want it to be more of a liquid, I use less.  The exact volume of glass fiber depends on what you are trying to do.  Some vendors will give you recommendations and others will not.

Clamping / Work holding

In general, you want to apply the epoxy and then clamp everything together really well and then let it sit.   You may choose to use traditional clamps, vacuum, etc.  Bear in mind two things:

1.  Be careful that you secure the material and that it can’t shift while curing.  I can’t tell you how many times I have checked stuff and found out it moved and had to change my approach.  Figure this out before you apply the glue in case you need to make something, change your approach, etc.  Check it regularly to make sure it hasn’t shifted regardless.  Every time I think something can’t move – it does.

2.  The epoxy will run out of what you are working on.  Decide how you are going to deal with it.  Wax paper can protect your tools and table.  You can scrape the epoxy off after it has partially cured.  You can wipe things down with acetone when partially cured.  Just think it through otherwise you are going to glue stuff together really well that you do not want bonded – trust me.  It is a real headache so plan for seepage/dripping and how you will deal with it.

Patience

This is something I have gotten better at over the years – wait the recommended amount of time.  If they say 24 hours then wait 24 hours.  If you have questions about using the part sooner then ask the manufacturer.  For example, you might be able to assemble something after 10 hours but not actually put it under strain for 24 hours.  Factor in the temperature.  The colder it is then the longer it will take.  Remember what I said about the heat from lamps above.

Safety

Yeah, I had to add this.  Follow all guidance from the vendors.  The resins aren’t too bad but some of the hardeners are nasty.  Wear rubber gloves, use eye protection, work in a well ventilated area and wear a real good dust mask when sanding.  I use N99 masks now for everything.

I hope you found this general epoxy guidance helpful!


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon or click one of the AdNow advertisements.  EBay and Amazon you need to buy something, AdNow pays for each link you visit – no purchase needed.  Doing so will help us fund continued development of the blog.


Here are links to some of the stuff I use:

AcraGlas at Brownells.  As a reminder, I prefer and recommend the liquid, not the gel:
http://www.brownells.com/gunsmith-tools-supplies/stock-work-finishing/stock-bedding-adhesives/acraglas–prod1033.aspx

Loctite E-120HP [note that most sellers on Amazon charge a fortune for this so dig around at industrial supply houses such as McMaster, Zoro, MSC, etc.  Also, remember that you need the tube of glue, gun and disposable tips.  When the glue hardens in the tip, it protects the cartridge and you then replace the tip for your next work session but it does mean you need multiple tips.  I use this glue mostly for big projects like bonding together larger pieces of wood, etc.]
http://na.henkel-adhesives.com/product-search-1554.htm?nodeid=8797913677825

ITW Devcon Plastic Steel

JB KwikWeld – note that this is a thicker grey liquid.  I use it if I am in a rush and need an epoxy.  I’ve used it to bed rifles and repair stuff mainly.  I have not used it on knife handles.  Also, due to its grey color, you can go darker towards black but not lighter.

Now I have used a ton of their sticks to create clamps, fill voids, etc.  I typically have 2-4 sticks sitting in my supplies because when I need them, I need them.

Epoxy Dyes – there are a bunch on Amazon but I don’t know them.  In general, I use So-Strong dyes from SmoothOn when I need small amounts.  My black dye is bought by the pound in bulk containers.
https://www.smooth-on.com/product-line/strong/

10cc Syringes

Digital Scale – it will get filthy so buy something cheap but with good reviews.

Clamps – there are so many ways to clamp stuff together.  I use everything from woodworking vises to spring clips to C-clamps to the big heavy duty Irwin clamps that can do up to 600 pounds of pressure with one hand.

Wax paper

Plastic Cups – I’d recommend checking around.  You need to balance cost and quality.  Some cups are absurdly thin and you can’t use them for mixing.  I get mine from GFS and you can tell they have made them cheaper and cheaper over the years.  5oz is still good but 9 and 16oz cups aren’t so red hot any longer.

Plastic Knives – again, check around.  I get mine from GFS in a big box and they work just fine.

Heat gun – I have burned out a ton of them.  This DeWalt D26950 is the first one to last longer than a year.  I’d guess I’ve been using it for almost three now.

Dust Mask – I used Moldex 2310 N99 face masks now exclusively.  They hold up fairly well and aren’t hard to breath with.

Nitrile Gloves – the best deal I have found is from Harbor Freight for their 5mil gloves.  When they go on sale or you get a coupon for $5.99/box of 100 gloves, go get them.  They are thin and don’t hold up to tough use but to keep your hands clean and balancing off strength and cost, they are a pretty good deal.  Even at $7.99/box without shipping they are a pretty good deal.

 

How to find interesting big cleavers on eBay

[This is a New Haven Edge and Tool Co Cleaver]

I sometimes get emails from guys who want to find a large antique/vintage cleaver to restore.  The best deal you’ll get is at garage, barn and estate sales – no two ways about that.  My challenge is that I don’t have time to go hunting for stuff so I do a lot of automated searches on eBay.   What I am going to do in this post is try and give you some tips plus also live searches of eBay using key words that frequently turn up cleavers to keep an eye on.

That leads us to tip #1 on eBay – set up searches that email you when they find stuff.  What you do is enter your search term on eBay and then click “follow this search”.  EBay will then give you options for alerts and so forth.

 [This is a 16.5″ Foster Bros #8]

Learn some of the phrases folks use to describe / market these big cleavers.  No doubt, I like big cleavers so I use search phrases like “giant antique cleaver”, “giant hog splitter” and what not.  In general, the hog and cow splitters are big.  These huge cleavers were used in the days before extensive automation to chop up big farm animals such as cows, hogs, lambs and so forth giving them their name.

 [This is a 16.5″ Lamson]

There are also certain brands that I really like such as Fosters, WM Beatty, Lamson and New Haven Edge Tool Co.  There were a lot of makers including folks on farms and village blacksmiths forging their own cleavers so it really takes some digging.  I found searches on Google to turn up interesting information about the history of the makers and so forth when I could find some kind of logo or marking.

 [This is a 20″ WM Beatty and Sons]

Another tip I would give you is to look out for old cleavers that are shiny.  Somebody probably sanded or ground the rust off.  I have bought a couple that were utter train wrecks from guys trying to make something look good for sale.  Just be careful.  Nothing that was used is going to be bright silver steel any longer.

Do not worry about rust, dirt and dings – you are going to be working on it anyways.  How far you want to go with the wood is up to you.  The most fascinating cleaver I ever worked on had a trashed handled that I built up with epoxy.  It was stunning wood under decades of grime.

Be careful on the measurements – look for the blade size and overall lengths plus the weight.  I like to look for cleavers that are at least 18″ overall.  Call be weird but the smaller ones are okay but just not as interesting to me.  I do have an exception though – some of the small Fosters are just wicked.  They were forged, have a thick blade and quite a heft.

Watch out for photos.  Sellers try all kinds of stuff to make them look big, in great shape, etc.  You are especially focused on whether the blade is intact, meaning no big nicks or any cracks, and the dimensions.  The photos are nice eye candy but don’t base your whole purchase on them.  I certainly use them to try and judge the condition of the blade.  If a seller doesn’t have an angle you want to see, ask them to send you what you need.  Many sellers will oblige these requests.

 [Giant 24.5″ cleaver with a 1/2″ thick blade from an unknown maker – my all time favorite]

Now be patient and don’t rush.  Watch the prices these things are selling at and don’t start bidding until the last minute.  Also keep an eye on the seller’s ratings.  New ones with fewer than 20 sales make me nervous.  Read what folks have to say about the seller.

Keep an eye on shipping charges.  Some guys will do stuff like list something dirt cheap and then charge a fortune for shipping.  Don’t just assume shipping & handling charges will be reasonable if it isn’t listed.

Be patient!  You can get some very decent cleavers for under $100 but what you consider a fair price is entirely up to you.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon or click one of the AdNow advertisements.  EBay and Amazon you need to buy something, AdNow pays for each link you visit – no purchase needed.  Doing so will help us fund continued development of the blog.


Here are some eBay Searches to help you get started using keywords I use in my own searches:

Giant Antique Cleaver

Giant Antique 32" Hogsplitter Meat Cleaver Butcher's Knife - Enormous Blade

$517.50
End Date: Thursday Mar-15-2018 15:55:46 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $517.50
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Giant Hog Splitter

Giant Cow Splitter

Huge Antique Cleaver

HUGE!! Antique Blacksmith Forged Large Cleaver Pig Splitter Butcher Knife

$29.95
End Date: Monday Mar-19-2018 10:30:46 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $29.95
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

HUGE Antique US Civil War Period Hooked Cleaver bill hook hatchet Butchers Knife

$375.00
End Date: Friday Mar-23-2018 5:49:44 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $375.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Huge Antique Vintage VILLAGE BLACKSMITH NO. 9 Butchers Meat Cleaver 17" Long

$75.95
End Date: Sunday Mar-25-2018 18:48:20 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $75.95
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Antique Vintage Hog Cow Splitter Meat Cleaver Knife 24" D.W. Brablek

$168.75
End Date: Saturday Mar-24-2018 14:04:51 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $168.75
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

FINE Antique L&IJ WHITE Buffalo NY Chef's Butcher Meat Cleaver Knife No. 9

$147.99
End Date: Friday Mar-9-2018 8:19:35 PST
Buy It Now for only: $147.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Vintage Chef Butcher Carbon Steel Meat Cleaver Chopper Wood Handle RESTORE Knife

$52.95
End Date: Saturday Mar-10-2018 13:42:58 PST
Buy It Now for only: $52.95
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

RARE Vintage Foster Bros No 8 Meat Cleaver Butcher Knife Antique USA Neat Handle

$74.95
End Date: Monday Mar-19-2018 18:41:36 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $74.95
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

CHOPPER Unique Huge Blade Antique Meat Cleaver Unique Primitive Butcher Knife

$99.00
End Date: Wednesday Mar-14-2018 4:38:14 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $99.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

5 Cleaver Charms Antique Silver Tone Chef Knife Charms - SC1742

$2.99
End Date: Sunday Mar-25-2018 15:53:16 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $2.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

6 Meat Cleaver Connector Charms Antique Silver Tone 2 Sided - SC2605

$2.99
End Date: Saturday Mar-24-2018 11:07:17 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $2.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Beatty Cleaver

Circa 1850s WM Beatty & Son Cast Steel Hog Splitter / Meat Cleaver No Reserve

$6.50 (9 Bids)
End Date: Sunday Feb-25-2018 11:23:05 PST
Bid now | Add to watch list

Vintage WM. Beatty & Son Butcher Cleaver - No.8. Steer Logo

$25.00 (0 Bids)
End Date: Friday Mar-2-2018 20:43:34 PST
Bid now | Add to watch list

Antique Vintage Wm Beatty Chester 21" Long Cleaver Knife COW Hog Splitter

$44.99 (0 Bids)
End Date: Monday Feb-26-2018 16:28:13 PST
Bid now | Add to watch list

LARGE vtg WM. Beatty & Son No. 8 Chester PA. meat cleaver

$125.00
End Date: Friday Mar-16-2018 17:09:52 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $125.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Vintage Beatty And Son Meat Cleaver Number 3

$70.00
End Date: Tuesday Mar-6-2018 10:10:58 PST
Buy It Now for only: $70.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Vintage Antique WM Beatty & Son Chester PA Butcher Cleaver # 8 16" LONG

$99.95
End Date: Monday Mar-12-2018 22:05:08 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $99.95
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Antique Meat Cleaver Signed BEATTY 7” By 5” blade 14.5” Long

$99.99
End Date: Sunday Feb-25-2018 8:36:40 PST
Buy It Now for only: $99.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

W.M. Beatty & Son Chester, PA Meat Cleaver Vintage Antique Butcher Knife

$55.00
End Date: Sunday Mar-18-2018 12:19:33 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $55.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Vintage WM. Beatty & Son Butcher Cleaver - No.8. Steer Logo

$74.95
End Date: Sunday Mar-4-2018 6:48:32 PST
Buy It Now for only: $74.95
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Antique/Vintage Beatty #3, Butcher's Cleaver, Knife, with Maker's Mark

$98.00
End Date: Friday Mar-2-2018 18:49:10 PST
Buy It Now for only: $98.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Foster Cleaver

1 Original NOS Vintage Foster Bros. Cleaver Solid Steel 2190 Hickory Handle

$225.00
End Date: Monday Mar-19-2018 1:13:58 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $225.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Vintage Foster Bros. Butchers Meat Cleaver # 290

$14.99 (0 Bids)
End Date: Saturday Mar-3-2018 5:02:33 PST
Bid now | Add to watch list

Antique/VINTAGE FOSTER BROS 8" 2180 MEAT CLEAVER Butcher Knife NICE!!

$34.24
End Date: Sunday Mar-18-2018 1:31:21 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $34.24
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Vintage Foster Bros. meat cleaver 12 1/2"

$99.00
End Date: Friday Mar-16-2018 17:10:52 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $99.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Foster Brothers Bros Hog Splitter Meat cleaver 13.5blade 31.5OAL Arrow Trademark

$118.60 (1 Bid)
End Date: Friday Mar-2-2018 7:13:04 PST
Bid now | Add to watch list

Vtg FOSTER BROS No.1180 FULTON BRAND Heavy 8" Blade Old Butchers Meat Cleaver

$24.50 (0 Bids)
End Date: Tuesday Feb-27-2018 15:04:30 PST
Buy It Now for only: $57.50
Buy It Now | Bid now | Add to watch list

Antique Foster Bros. Cleaver NO. 8 , Kitchen Butcher Utinsel

$5.00 (0 Bids)
End Date: Tuesday Feb-27-2018 17:14:50 PST
Bid now | Add to watch list

Antique Vintage Foster Brothers Large 8" Meat Cleaver, Shy of 2 Pounds

$19.95 (0 Bids)
End Date: Thursday Mar-1-2018 20:12:29 PST
Bid now | Add to watch list

Antique knife & cleaver lot Lee L. F. & C F. Dick Germany Illinois Works Foster

$94.99
End Date: Sunday Mar-11-2018 7:00:11 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $94.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Vintage Foster Bros. Cleaver Solid Steel 1190 Meat Cleaver 15" - VERY SHARP!

$24.95 (0 Bids)
End Date: Sunday Feb-25-2018 17:15:01 PST
Bid now | Add to watch list

Antique Cleaver

Antique Vintage meat cleaver!! Unmarked

$17.50 (3 Bids)
End Date: Monday Feb-26-2018 9:39:36 PST
Bid now | Add to watch list

ANTIQUE Meat Cleaver 17” Knife Heavy Metal Wood & Metal Handle 9” Blade OLD!!

$39.99
End Date: Saturday Mar-10-2018 5:39:45 PST
Buy It Now for only: $39.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Vtg F F. Dick Germany No 1100 7” Meat Cleaver Antique Butcher Knife

$32.77 (8 Bids)
End Date: Sunday Feb-25-2018 17:00:20 PST
Bid now | Add to watch list

Antique Vintage Wm Beatty Chester 21" Long Cleaver Knife COW Hog Splitter

$44.99 (0 Bids)
End Date: Monday Feb-26-2018 16:28:13 PST
Bid now | Add to watch list

Antique/VINTAGE FOSTER BROS 8" 2180 MEAT CLEAVER Butcher Knife NICE!!

$34.24
End Date: Sunday Mar-18-2018 1:31:21 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $34.24
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Antique Vintage Large 9" Meat Cleaver Marked NTED 79WSG 0L00, 2 Pounds, 4 Ounces

$19.95 (1 Bid)
End Date: Thursday Mar-1-2018 20:16:35 PST
Bid now | Add to watch list

VINTAGE / ANTIQUE HEAVY DUTY MEAT CLEAVER BUTCHER KNIFE - HEAVY

$24.99
End Date: Sunday Feb-25-2018 10:54:47 PST
Buy It Now for only: $24.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Antique White Butchers Cleaver 1930's

$29.99 (1 Bid)
End Date: Monday Feb-26-2018 16:34:14 PST
Bid now | Add to watch list

Antique knife & cleaver lot Lee L. F. & C F. Dick Germany Illinois Works Foster

$94.99
End Date: Sunday Mar-11-2018 7:00:11 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $94.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Antique Vintage Meat Cleaver International Edge Handforged

$24.99 (0 Bids)
End Date: Monday Feb-26-2018 9:06:57 PST
Bid now | Add to watch list

Vintage Cleaver

VINTAGE MATURI BROS. MEAT CLEAVER

$14.99 (1 Bid)
End Date: Sunday Feb-25-2018 9:23:21 PST
Bid now | Add to watch list

Vintage Meat Cleaver ~ UTICA SUPEREDGE Carbon Steel Knife 6.25" Cutting Edge USA

$14.95
End Date: Wednesday Mar-21-2018 7:24:53 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $14.95
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Vintage Meat Cleaver Butcher Knife Cruso

$14.99 (1 Bid)
End Date: Wednesday Feb-28-2018 15:55:44 PST
Bid now | Add to watch list

VINTAGE MEAT CLEAVER/VILLAGE BLACK SMITH CLEAVER/WATERTOWN,WIS./6 1/4" CUT/NICE!

$29.95 (0 Bids)
End Date: Sunday Feb-25-2018 16:26:27 PST
Bid now | Add to watch list

Vintage Utica Cutlery USA SuperEdge 6.25” Meat Cleaver Carbon Steel Knife

$15.00
End Date: Monday Mar-26-2018 18:14:32 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $15.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Large Vintage Cleaver

VINTAGE EARLY 1900's LARGE 15" BUTCHER CLEAVER WITH RIVETED WOODEN HANDLE

$19.50 (9 Bids)
End Date: Sunday Feb-25-2018 15:18:16 PST
Bid now | Add to watch list

Large Vintage high carbon steel knives & Kutmaster Cleaver

$49.95
End Date: Friday Mar-9-2018 4:12:04 PST
Buy It Now for only: $49.95
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Vintage Daisy Large Meat Cleaver

$20.00 (0 Bids)
End Date: Thursday Mar-1-2018 17:43:43 PST
Bid now | Add to watch list

Antique Vintage Large 9" Meat Cleaver Marked NTED 79WSG 0L00, 2 Pounds, 4 Ounces

$19.95 (1 Bid)
End Date: Thursday Mar-1-2018 20:16:35 PST
Bid now | Add to watch list

Large Vintage Meat Cleaver Signed UNIVERSAL L.F.& C. 8” By 4.5”blade 14”Long

$99.99
End Date: Sunday Feb-25-2018 8:37:55 PST
Buy It Now for only: $99.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

 

I hope these tips and sample search terms help.  Happy hunting!!


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon or click one of the AdNow advertisements.  EBay and Amazon you need to buy something, AdNow pays for each link you visit – no purchase needed.  Doing so will help us fund continued development of the blog.


 

April 2017 – My EDC Knife is a ZT 0350BW

 

A while back I screwed up the blog and re-posted an old post about my every day carry (EDC) knife being a Kershaw Compound.  While that was a great knife, I did eventually replace it – with my daughter’s approval.  I have always liked Zero Tolerance knives.  Think of them as a higher end brand to Kershaw.  Both are owned by KAI USA, so I think it is fair to say that.  In the past I owned a ZT 200 and that was just way too big to be an EDC.  It’s a huge folder but not something I wanted to lug around in the shop all the time.  I actually sold it and wound up buying a ZT 350.  The 350 is way slimmer and lighter but still has assisted opening.  It’s a hair over 4-1/2″ long when closed and about 7-5/8″ when open.  It’s about 0.518″ wide not including the belt clip and my digital scale says it weighs 6.2 oz.

Size and weight are important to me because I keep this in my front pants pocket.  I don’t want a ton of weight dragging down jeans, sweats or shorts nor do I want to have it really noticeable or uncomfortable.  On that last note, big and heavy knives suck in the front pocket – they need to go in a belt sheath, which I don’t want to wear unless I am camping or hunting.

The knife is designed by Ken Onion, who happens to be one of my favorite designers.  In addition to the very ergonomic handle he designed, the blade is made from S30V steel, which is excellent.  Now this is not a safe queen.  I dug back in my records and I’ve been using this since 2015.  I can’t tell you how many boxes, cords, ropes and plastic pails this thing has opened.  I don’t recall ever using it to pry things open but suspect it would hold up pretty well.  The following photos are of the blade in April 2017 and I didn’t bother cleaning it up.  The ZT black finish has held up remarkably well.

The S30V steel really holds an edge but it can be a bear to sharpen.  If you want a working edge, a Lansky Blade Medic pocket sharpener or diamond rod can help.  If you want a razor edge, I would recommend a Ken Onion Work Sharp (KOWS) belt sharpener or it will take forever by hand.  I use my KOWS all the time because it is quick and easy but do take both the Blade Medic and the rod on camping trips.

The only maintenance, other than sharpening, that I have done to it is blow it out with compressed air and then use a precision CLP applicator to lubricate the blade’s pivot pin.  I think I’ve only needed to do that once or twice max.

So, there you go – that is my current EDC and I highly recommend it.


 

If you find this post useful, please either buy something from one of the Amazon links, or use one of the links to go to Amazon and buy something completely different — as long as you use one our links to go and buy something from Amazon, it helps us out.  For each item you purchase, we get a small bit of ad revenue from Amazon to fund the blog.  The same is true for eBay as well.

 


See larger image

Additional Images:

Zero Tolerance 0350BW; EDC Folding Pocketknife; 3.25” BlackWashed Crucible S30V Stainless Steel Blade; Textured G-10 Handle with SpeedSafe Assisted Opening, Liner Lock, Quad-Mount Pocketclip; 6.2 OZ


Features: High performance and premium quality S350V stainless steel makes the recurve blade extremely durable and resistant to corrosion and wear, Non-reflective black Tungsten DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon) blade coating and black G-10 handle cleanly pair together to make a sleek, smooth, aggressive knife, Quad-mount pocketclip convenient for left or right-handed, tip-up or tip-down carry, EDC folding pocket knife ideal for use as a survival tool, during precision cutting, self-defense or tactical use, or as the perfect gift, General all-purpose knife great for everyday tasks while working, camping, fishing, hunting, utility or outdoor activities

Premium-built by Zero Tolerance in the USA, the G-10 Folder 0350BW is versatile and powerful, created durably for razor-sharp cutting. With a compact precision blade, the 0350BW is the perfect EDC for any outdoor activity, delicate and accurate task or household need. Non-reflective black Tungsten DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon) coats the extremely durable, corrosion and wear resistant S30V stainless steel. SpeedSafe Assisted Opening allows the blade to deploy quickly and easily using the ambidextrous thumbstud or flipper. The high-performance blade is paired with textured black G-10 scales for a secure grip and excellent mechanical strength under the roughest conditions. The quad-mount pocketclip is convenient for left or right-handed, tip-up or tip-down carry. The liner locking system prevents the blade from closing during use and provides a secure way to safely fold the knife. With a utility design to conquer any task, the 0350BW is the ideal EDC for any user, anywhere, for any job.
List Price: $110.50 USD
New From: $110.50 USD In Stock

2014 Restoration of a 21-1/8″ New Haven Edge Tool Co #3 Cleaver

This dates back to August 2014.  I scored a beat up but fascinating New Haven Edge Tool Co #3 Cleaver.  It was quite large measuring approximately 21-1/8″ long and 3.187 pounds.  The exact age was hard to say – it could be anywhere from 100-150 years old given the way it is made.   After doing some digging, one person doing research said that “New Haven Edge Tool Company” was  a Sargent Brand and the listed it discontinued in their 1911 catalog so that would mean this cleaver is likely older than that.  Regardless, you would never know it now.

It would appear to be cast iron and is just a big no nonsense brute of a cleaver.  It’s either ready to go to work or to be one heck of a conversation piece.  Let me tell you a bit about what we did after we bought it:

The handle was cracked and we stabilized it internally with a special Cyanoacrylate glue that penetrates wood very deeply.  We also used glass reinforced epoxy to seal the front of the handle where the blade is inserted.  The blade is actually secured via rat tail tang that goes through the whole handle and is peened over at the pommel to firmly secure it.  Once we had the handle all fixed up, we sanded it and then applied four coats of a penetrating combination of boiled linseed oil (BLO) and turpentine.

The blade was actually in very good shape and most of our work was cosmetic.  We did some sanding to shape it, abrasive blasted it and then used an acid etching based on apple cider vinegar and phosphoric acid (click here to learn more).  Once it was all set, we applied a thick coat of engine oil to stop the rusting.  If you plan to use this to cut meat, and it definitely will do the job, be sure to was the blade and then apply a cooking oil to the blade.  This will avoid making your food taste funny plus it will prevent rust.

So, here’s how it turned out before it found a new home:

Approximate Dimensions

Overall length:  21-1/8″

Blade length: 9-5/8″

Blade height by the handle:  3-7/8″

Blade height at its tallest point:  5-1/2″

Handle at its thickest point: 1-5/8″

Handle at its thinnest point in the middle:  1-1/4″

Weight:  3.187 pounds

By the way, the BSI Super Thin glue is fantastic for taking care of cracks:


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon or click one of the AdNow advertisements.  EBay and Amazon you need to buy something, AdNow pays for each link you visit – no purchase needed.  Doing so will help us fund continued development of the blog.


The following is a real-time search of eBay using keywords that have worked for me in the past and I hope they help you find something (note a few odd items might show up just like any other search does):

Circa 1850s WM Beatty & Son Cast Steel Hog Splitter / Meat Cleaver No Reserve

$6.50 (9 Bids)
End Date: Sunday Feb-25-2018 11:23:05 PST
Bid now | Add to watch list

HOG SPLITTER 5160 3lbs 19.5" hand forged S. Texas.

$200.00
End Date: Saturday Mar-24-2018 19:09:04 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $200.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Antique Vintage Wm Beatty Chester 21" Long Cleaver Knife COW Hog Splitter

$44.99 (0 Bids)
End Date: Monday Feb-26-2018 16:28:13 PST
Bid now | Add to watch list

3 Leather Side Pieces Veg Tan Split Medium Weight 12"X24" 6 Square Feet Total

$18.00
End Date: Sunday Feb-25-2018 12:39:26 PST
Buy It Now for only: $18.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Foster Brothers Bros Hog Splitter Meat cleaver 13.5blade 31.5OAL Arrow Trademark

$118.60 (1 Bid)
End Date: Friday Mar-2-2018 7:13:04 PST
Bid now | Add to watch list

UNIQUE! ONE of a KIND HOG SPLITTER MEAT CLEAVER FARM BUTCHER TOOL 40" Inches!

$149.00 (0 Bids)
End Date: Sunday Feb-25-2018 17:29:50 PST
Bid now | Add to watch list

Large vintage Foster Bros #16 meat cleaver hog Beef Carcass Slaughter house

$340.00
End Date: Sunday Mar-11-2018 21:48:24 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $340.00
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Vintage Heavy Meat cleaver hog splitter

$249.00
End Date: Saturday Mar-3-2018 20:54:11 PST
Buy It Now for only: $249.00
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Antique Vintage Hog Cow Splitter Meat Cleaver Knife 24" D.W. Brablek

$225.00
End Date: Saturday Mar-24-2018 14:04:51 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $225.00
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VINTAGE ANTIQUE FOSTER BROS #8 MEAT CLEAVER BUTCHER HOG SPLITTER 16" MADE IN USA

$110.00
End Date: Tuesday Feb-27-2018 14:59:37 PST
Buy It Now for only: $110.00
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Antique Wm Beatty & Son Cow Logo Butcher's Cleaver No. 2 Hog Splitter Farm Tool

$134.99
End Date: Tuesday Mar-13-2018 18:45:35 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $134.99
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Antique P.S.& W Hog Splitter Meat Cleaver butcher knife Peck, Stow, & Wilcox

$149.95
End Date: Saturday Mar-24-2018 18:20:54 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $149.95
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ANTIQUE- VINTAGE 10" BLADE HOG SPLITTER MEAT CLEAVER FOSTER BROS TRADE MARK

$150.00 (0 Bids)
End Date: Wednesday Feb-28-2018 14:18:58 PST
Buy It Now for only: $225.00
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VINTAGE RARE MEAT CLEAVER HOG SPLITTER BUTCHER KNIFE Wood Handle

$155.00
End Date: Wednesday Feb-28-2018 18:45:44 PST
Buy It Now for only: $155.00
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ANTIQUE- VINTAGE 10" BLADE HOG SPLITTER MEAT CLEAVER W M. BEATTY

$175.00 (0 Bids)
End Date: Saturday Mar-3-2018 21:47:00 PST
Buy It Now for only: $250.00
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VTG FOSTER BROS #13 MEAT CLEAVER HOG SPLITTER LONG MEAT CLEAVER BUTCHER KNIVES

$299.00
End Date: Tuesday Feb-27-2018 8:29:12 PST
Buy It Now for only: $299.00
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ITALY S.I. MOSS HEAVY Meat Cleaver FARM HOG SPLITTER 11.25" BUTCHER BARN Forged

$59.95
End Date: Monday Mar-26-2018 20:02:34 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $59.95
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Antique P.S.& W No. 2 Hog Splitter Meat Cleaver Peck, Stow, & Wilcox

$150.00
End Date: Friday Mar-9-2018 13:23:38 PST
Buy It Now for only: $150.00
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Antique Rare Foster Bros Trade Mark #11 Meat Cleaver / Rustic Farm Hog Splitter

$245.95
End Date: Thursday Mar-22-2018 10:15:44 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $245.95
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ANTIQUE WOOD METAL FULL TANG HOG SPLITTER MEAT CLEAVER WROUGHT IRON 18TH 19 17"

$88.00 (0 Bids)
End Date: Sunday Feb-25-2018 11:33:37 PST
Buy It Now for only: $148.00
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The Gerber Golok Machete is Pretty Wicked and Surprisingly Hefty!!

Ok, so I wind up clearing brush pretty regularly.  Usually its pine, vines, scrub oak and junk like that.  Back in June 2014, I bought a Ken Onion designed Half-A-Chance machete (CRKT K920KKP) from CRKT that has served me well (click here for my review).  On my last trip to clear brush this past fall, I accidentally left the Half-A-Chance at home and had to get a replacement machete.  Thankfully SMKW was on the way so I stopped in and tried out a bunch of different ones in terms of heft and balance.  When I got to the Gerber Golok, I was really surprised.  It’s surprisingly thick and that mass makes a big difference when taking out saplings so I bought it and used it to clear the small stuff.

It seems like an opportune time to compare the two and share my thoughts.  In the next photo, the top is the Half-A-Chance and the bottom is the Golok.

What really surprised me was that the thickness of the Golok’s blade.  Why Gerber doesn’t make a big deal about this, I don’t know because there are fans of knives with big blades.  The blade is 12″ long and made from MN65 steel, which is a spring steel that is roughly equivalent to 1065 steel, which is fairly common in machetes.  The blade comes in at 0.2566″ when I mike it and weighs 1 pound 10.8oz (26.8 oz). That is a lot of steel!  It’s like you are moving the design from being a classical machete more towards a chopper with that kind of width.  When I was hitting some dried oak and ash, the Half-A-Chance bit deeper than the Golok and I think it reflects the relatively thin blade of the Ken Onion design that mikes at 0.1147″ which is less than half the Golok.  The Half-A-Chance also weighs 20.3oz.

The blade on the left is Half-A-Chance and the right is the Golok on a piece of dried ash.

 

You can definitely see the the thicker Golok blade right away.  It’s the top blade on the left photo and the bottom blade on the right photo:

Just a closer view of the Half-A-Chance on top vs. the Golok on the bottom.  The Half-A-Chance’s handle is more ergonomic but the rubber coated Golok isn’t too bad.

The Half-A-Chance’s sheath is fancier while the Golok is simple and to the point.

 

While clearing the lot I did put a nick in the Golok and used my Work Sharp Ken Onion edition sharpener to take it right out when I got back to my shop.

Bottom line, the Half-A-Chance machete is still my favorite and the first one I would grab to clear brush but the Golok is a keeper also because I like its mass and balance.  You ought to take a look when you get some time or even pick one or both machetes up from Amazon.

 


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Additional Images:

Gerber Gator Golok Machete [31-002850]


Features: Dual tapered blade design prevents this machete from sticking in green wood, Full tang construction for sturdy application, Handle with Gator Grip overmold offers all-condition use, Adjustable paracord lanyard for easy tie-down, Sturdy sheath with dual D-loops for multiple carry options

The Gator Golok Machete’s sturdy handle wrapped in the classic Gerber Gator Grip keeps it snug in your hand while being leveled at underbrush. Possessing a thicker blade than any other machete in the line, the Golok is impressively adept at chopping. The thickness and grind of the blade provides high resistance to sticking in green wood. Traditionally used in SE Asia for agricultural purposes, the Gator Golok is well suited for any number of outdoor tasks. Its hardened steel is constructed with a precision grind to cut with minimal exertion, allowing for less body strain and greater efficiency. It includes a unique, adjustable paracord safety lanyard, and a high quality sheath. The sheath features dual D-loops, with a belt loop for multiple carry options.
List Price: $45.49 USD
New From: $45.43 USD In Stock

Restoring a Giant 24″ Hog Splitter

Everyone needs a hobby.  I guess mine is creating or fixing things in my own way.  Back in 2014, I bought an absolutely massive beat to hell 24-1/2″ hog splitter off eBay.  This thing was absolutely a diamond in the rough.  Clearly it had been used very heavily – probably for decades – yet there was an amazing design in that beat up cleaver as well.  First off, the blade was almost a half inch thick and it weighed about five pounds.  Back in the days before machinery, you need mass to butcher big animals and this was (and still is) the most massive cleaver I have personally worked with – imagine a baseball bat with one hell of a heavy end is what it boils down to.

In the eBay listing, the seller was up front – this thing was on its last leg.  The wood was all busted up, dirty as heck and the blade was loose.  Of course, I had to buy it!  Here’s what it looked like when it arrived.  Why I did not get an overall photo at the start, I do not know.

There were no maker’s marks anywhere but it was too professionally done to have been a village blacksmith.  I still wonder who made this as I would love to track down more of them.  If you have one, or find one, and are interested in potentially parting with it, let me know.  I’d even be happy with just the giant blade.

Getting back to the story, I had to look it over and take stock.  This thing was stunningly heavy and the wood was busted up because it was thing and hollow.  There had to be more than what I was seeing so I broke the frozen on nut and pulled the handle off.  Wow.  There was the largest rat tail tang I had ever seen – and still haven’t seen one bigger!!  That’s how they spread the load.  What a great design.

Now, the wood totally intrigued me.  There was something about the color that caught my eye so I decided to fill it with glass reinforced epoxy.  Now not all epoxies are equal.  When you do structural work like this, you need an excellent shock resistant epoxy.  My go to epoxy for stuff like this is Acraglas liquid epoxy from Brownells.  I but it in quart bulk containers and meter it out using syringes or a digital scale.  I use 5/32nds milled glass fibers and black dye to color it.  Fortunately, it’s the same dye I use for my plastics but you can either buy from Brownells or elsewhere.  So over the course of several days, I mixed, poured and let it sit overnight as it takes Acraglas 24 hours to cure so this work is done in steps.  By the way, I used wood stripper to try and get all the grease and oils out of the handle plus I drilled open the end to fill it easier.  By the way, if you heat epoxy with a heat gun, it will get thinner and flow more readily until it cools.  Gentle warmth also accelerates curing of the epoxy but remember that just because epoxy feels dry to the touch does not mean it has fully cured – read the instructions for whatever brand you go with.

Next, I sanded, sanded and sanded.  The wood was very interesting – maybe a cherry or mahogany.  I’m not really sure.

The rat tang was HUGE.  I carefully marked where it was at and drilled holes for two brass pins just to play it safe.  I’ve never had Acraglas let go from a clean prepped surface but never say never.  The pins are a cheap insurance for a giant blade like this.  I inserted the 3/16″ pins with epoxy and then added epoxy to all the imperfections followed by more sanding.  Notice how I blasted the pins before gluing?  Epoxy always, always, always does better on a rough surface.  Do not epoxy two shiny metal surfaces together and expect them to last – they probably will not.

Now this took my breath away.  I used a 50/50 combination of turpentine and boiled linseed oil (BLO), put it in a tank I have just for these big cleavers and let it sit for a few hours before I pulled it out.  The color blew me away.  Wow!!  I wiped it down and then applied additional coats of BLO to seal it.

My last steps were to acid etch the blade (click here for our guide to acid etching), seal everything with BLO and then make a blade guard.  Mission accomplished.

To protect the blade edge, not to mention protect other things from the edge, I made a protective cover out of 0.093 Kydex and 3/8″ shock (bungee) cord.

That bad boy weighed 5-1/4 pounds and was solid as a rock.  I keep looking for another one like it.  I never did find out where it was made but it sure was a stunner.  This is another project that part of me wishes I had kept it but it went to a very happy new owner shortly after I finished it.


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The following is a real-time search of eBay using keywords that have worked for me in the past and I hope they help you find something (note a few odd items might show up just like any other search does):

Circa 1850s WM Beatty & Son Cast Steel Hog Splitter / Meat Cleaver No Reserve

$6.50 (9 Bids)
End Date: Sunday Feb-25-2018 11:23:05 PST
Bid now | Add to watch list

HOG SPLITTER 5160 3lbs 19.5" hand forged S. Texas.

$200.00
End Date: Saturday Mar-24-2018 19:09:04 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $200.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Antique Vintage Wm Beatty Chester 21" Long Cleaver Knife COW Hog Splitter

$44.99 (0 Bids)
End Date: Monday Feb-26-2018 16:28:13 PST
Bid now | Add to watch list

3 Leather Side Pieces Veg Tan Split Medium Weight 12"X24" 6 Square Feet Total

$18.00
End Date: Sunday Feb-25-2018 12:39:26 PST
Buy It Now for only: $18.00
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Foster Brothers Bros Hog Splitter Meat cleaver 13.5blade 31.5OAL Arrow Trademark

$118.60 (1 Bid)
End Date: Friday Mar-2-2018 7:13:04 PST
Bid now | Add to watch list

UNIQUE! ONE of a KIND HOG SPLITTER MEAT CLEAVER FARM BUTCHER TOOL 40" Inches!

$149.00 (0 Bids)
End Date: Sunday Feb-25-2018 17:29:50 PST
Bid now | Add to watch list

Large vintage Foster Bros #16 meat cleaver hog Beef Carcass Slaughter house

$340.00
End Date: Sunday Mar-11-2018 21:48:24 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $340.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Vintage Heavy Meat cleaver hog splitter

$249.00
End Date: Saturday Mar-3-2018 20:54:11 PST
Buy It Now for only: $249.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Antique Vintage Hog Cow Splitter Meat Cleaver Knife 24" D.W. Brablek

$225.00
End Date: Saturday Mar-24-2018 14:04:51 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $225.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

VINTAGE ANTIQUE FOSTER BROS #8 MEAT CLEAVER BUTCHER HOG SPLITTER 16" MADE IN USA

$110.00
End Date: Tuesday Feb-27-2018 14:59:37 PST
Buy It Now for only: $110.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Antique Wm Beatty & Son Cow Logo Butcher's Cleaver No. 2 Hog Splitter Farm Tool

$134.99
End Date: Tuesday Mar-13-2018 18:45:35 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $134.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Antique P.S.& W Hog Splitter Meat Cleaver butcher knife Peck, Stow, & Wilcox

$149.95
End Date: Saturday Mar-24-2018 18:20:54 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $149.95
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

ANTIQUE- VINTAGE 10" BLADE HOG SPLITTER MEAT CLEAVER FOSTER BROS TRADE MARK

$150.00 (0 Bids)
End Date: Wednesday Feb-28-2018 14:18:58 PST
Buy It Now for only: $225.00
Buy It Now | Bid now | Add to watch list

VINTAGE RARE MEAT CLEAVER HOG SPLITTER BUTCHER KNIFE Wood Handle

$155.00
End Date: Wednesday Feb-28-2018 18:45:44 PST
Buy It Now for only: $155.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

ANTIQUE- VINTAGE 10" BLADE HOG SPLITTER MEAT CLEAVER W M. BEATTY

$175.00 (0 Bids)
End Date: Saturday Mar-3-2018 21:47:00 PST
Buy It Now for only: $250.00
Buy It Now | Bid now | Add to watch list

VTG FOSTER BROS #13 MEAT CLEAVER HOG SPLITTER LONG MEAT CLEAVER BUTCHER KNIVES

$299.00
End Date: Tuesday Feb-27-2018 8:29:12 PST
Buy It Now for only: $299.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

ITALY S.I. MOSS HEAVY Meat Cleaver FARM HOG SPLITTER 11.25" BUTCHER BARN Forged

$59.95
End Date: Monday Mar-26-2018 20:02:34 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $59.95
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Antique P.S.& W No. 2 Hog Splitter Meat Cleaver Peck, Stow, & Wilcox

$150.00
End Date: Friday Mar-9-2018 13:23:38 PST
Buy It Now for only: $150.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Antique Rare Foster Bros Trade Mark #11 Meat Cleaver / Rustic Farm Hog Splitter

$245.95
End Date: Thursday Mar-22-2018 10:15:44 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $245.95
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

ANTIQUE WOOD METAL FULL TANG HOG SPLITTER MEAT CLEAVER WROUGHT IRON 18TH 19 17"

$88.00 (0 Bids)
End Date: Sunday Feb-25-2018 11:33:37 PST
Buy It Now for only: $148.00
Buy It Now | Bid now | Add to watch list

Acid Etching Steel With Apple Cider Vinegar

Some folks have asked how I get the dull grey look on khukuris that I used to work on.  The answer is simple – apple cider vinegar straight from the grocery.  I’ve also experimented with various ratios of Prep-and-Etch, which contains Phosphoric Acid, and gotten a darker color but apple cider works remarkably well.  Apple cider vinegar contains 5-10% acetic acid (CH3COOH) depending on how it is made.  For example, I read that Heinz is about 5%.  My local store caries Spartan brand, which is their store brand, and it works just fine.  By the way, this only works with steels that can rust.  For example a mild steel or high carbon.  It will not work on stainless, aluminum, etc.

Safety Notes:

I would recommend doing this outside or some place very well ventilated or else if the acetic acid condenses on metal surfaces in your shop/garage, it will cause rust.

Wear safety glasses and don’t goof around with the stuff.  I’ve never had a problem but probably need to say some kind of warning here.

Process:

  1. Clean the part and remove all oil and grease.  Either hose it down really well with brake cleaner or soak it in acetone.
  2. Abrasive blast the part – I use “The Original Black Beauty” media that I get at my local farm supply store.  It’s made from coal slag and is fairly environmentally friendly.  It does break down quick so if you use your blast cabinet a lot, be prepared to clean it out and add new media when performance starts to suffer.  Blasting will get you a really nice uniform surface color.  I suppose you could try sanding or wire brushing but blasting has worked the best for me and is all I do now.  My only recommendation is not to use sand because as it breaks down it creates a fine dust that will never come out of your lungs – read that as “bad”.  I do use a blast cabinet with a vacuum to get rid of dust, you could do this outside with a hand blaster or tank blaster and dust mask if you needed to.  I wear a hood when blasting outside as the media goes everywhere.  Just protect yourself is the bottom line.
  3. Wear rubber gloves and clean the part again – the gloves are to keep oils from your skin from contaminating the part and preventing etching.  Cleanliness is critical.
  4. Put the part in cider that is at least 70 degrees.  I like 100-150.  If it is too cold the reaction slows waaaaay down.  I don’t like to get it super hot or boil it as you lose a ton of cider with no real benefit.  I have done this in everything from stainless steel containers to plastic containers and even plastic trays used for wallpaper with halogen lights warming it up.  In general the colder the cider the slower the etching and the hotter the cider the faster the etching bearing in mind you will have the cider evaporating faster.
    Note:  If you do not see bubbles coming off the part then either the solution is too cold (especially on cold days under 70F), the part is not clean or ready (so clean and blast it) or the cider too weak.  I’ve never had an issue with weak cider – always the first two.
  5. Submerge the part in the acid and let it sit for 15-30 minutes.  It’s not a strong acid so there’s no rush.  Just check the part and stop at the color you want.
  6. Rinse with hot water
  7. Rub down with WD40 and steel wool to get the loose particles off
  8. Then I like to seal it with boiled linseed oil (BLO).  Some of you may know BLO for woodworking but it is an old school rust inhibitor.  If you don’t want BLO, then thoroughly oil your part.

I like the results.  No real harmful chemicals are used, it’s cheap and looks great.

Photos:

The light brown solution is just apple cider.  If it is darker, it was 25-50% Prep-and-Etch + the vinegar.

 


If you find this post useful, please either buy something from one of the Amazon links, or use one of the links to go to Amazon and buy something completely different — as long as you use one our links to go and buy something from Amazon, it helps us out.  For each item you purchase, we get a small bit of ad revenue from Amazon to fund the blog.  The same is true for eBay as well.

 

You can usually get a coal slag blast media very, very cheap from farm stores.  Check there first because off Amazon you are paying a pretty penny for shipping whether they bury it in the item’s price or call it out separate.  I think I pay $7-9 per 25# bag at Family Farm and Home.

This is the actual product I use:  http://www.blackbeautyabrasives.com/products/black-beauty-original-abrasives.php

Now for the blasting, you have tons of options – hand blaster for small work, siphon blaster, pressurized tank or cabinets.  It all depends on how much blasting you plan to do.  I started out with a siphon blaster – dirt cheap but very slow.  I then got a tank and it was very fast and portable but media went everywhere.  I still have that for working on cars and big parts.  However, for my grips, gun parts and knives, I use my blast cabinet.  I have a Cyclone brand large bench unit and am relatively happy.  If I had it to do over, I would have gotten a free standing unit with a bigger and deeper hopper so I’m not constantly hitting the side or moving media around by hand.  I have a foot control pedal and that really helps plus it gets a the pneumatics out of the cabinet where they would normally be subject to abrasive dust and wear.

Cyclone Manufacturing
http://www.cycloneblasters.com/

My pressurized tank blaster is a Harbor Freight unit.  It’s held up relatively fine other than my constantly wearing out valves and tips.  The tank itself is just fine.
http://www.harborfreight.com/40-lb-pressurized-abrasive-blaster-68992.html