My name is John April. I have been interested in and collected knives since I was a kid.
My father always had a jackknife in his pocket, and somehow always found use for it, and I realized what a great tool it was. In my early 20's I would save up and buy higher quality factory production knives made by Benchmade and Blackjack.
In 1991, I bought a Lansky sharpener and earned how to sharpen knives so they will shave hair.
Over the years I could afford more expensive knives, I have collected 1800's antique knives, and the knives of some of the great 1970's custom makers. In 2004, I was walking through my woods, and I found a deer antler on the ground. I picked it up, held it in my hand, and decided I was going to make a knife with it. I took an old chef’s knife, drew a blade shape on it with a magic marker, and proceeded to cut out the shape with the $29 bench top grinding wheel I had bought to sharpen my lawn mower blades. I drilled holes, made my own copper rivets,
pounded a slot through a sheet of brass with a screwdriver and hammer, cut it out and assembled it. It’s horribly made, looks terrible. However, I still have it, use it, and love it. At this moment, I am working on my 94th knife and
still trying to get better every time and improve my quality, symmetry, looks and performance.
About my knife shop:
it is not really a knife shop, just an area in the basement where I have all my tools and machines. I have ordinary consumer grade machinery, excluding the KMG 2x72" belt grinder, and the balder buffer.
Most of the other things are from harbor freight of home depot, like the two drill presses, oscillating spindle sander, compact band saw with a swag table, Craftsman 4x 38 belt sander. I added a decent quality Rinkon dust collection system. I probably have 35 hand files at the moment; each one does a different thing. I also use several Dremel tools.
Recent improvements include a height gauge and granite surface for scribing precision lines, a fixture that allows me to make domed handle pins, and a nice Wilton bench vise with 6-inch jaws. out in the barn I have a two
burner propane forge, 100 lb. anvil, parks #50 quench oil, a makers mark stamp holder, and an assortment of blacksmiths tongs and hammers.
About my knives:
I use 1084 or 1095 high carbon steel from New Jersey Steel Baron or Admiral Steel. I quench in parks #50 at 100 degrees, after confirming above critical temperature with a magnet. I typically use nickel silver for the guards and handle pins. The guards are soldered with Sta Brite silver bearing solder. The satin finish on the blades is all hand rubbed. I use Gflex marine epoxy for assembly. I try to get the best fit and finish I can. I like to use dense woods and Micarta for the handles. They are less
likely to get worn or dented. There are no coatings or sprays on my handles, they are shined and polished to 1000 grit and coated with Tung oil and then buffed. I make my sheaths with veg tanned leather, 7-8
Everything is made from scratch; I am the sole author from start to finish.