How They Are Made

Longtime Fiddleback Forge follower and contributor Brian Griffin toured the Fiddleback Forge shop in November of 2014, detailing the weekly process - through images - by which Fiddleback Forge creates its handmade knives. We're sharing his story and pictures below for everyone to get a little bit of insight into our knife production and sales process. Our many thanks to Brian for capturing this information so well for us.

I have been following the work of Andy and the crew at Fiddleback Forge for several years now. I always enjoy talking to the guys and seeing their wares at Blade. I own Fiddleback knives that I carry regularly in the field in my work, and I have put several through some pretty hard paces over the last six years or so. I think the knives are wonderfully done and very well made, but I have also always really like the feeling of the energy, what I refer to as the soul or spirit of these knives. When you look at them, feel them, and then use them long term, it is clear the knives are crafted by someone who really loves what they do, and who really cares about the tools they produce.

I have been wanting to stop in the shop, and see the work in progress for several years now, but have never really had the time, and I have always hated the idea of imposing. However recently, while working in the general area I was given the opportunity to stop in and attempt to capture the process in images. I didn't stop anyone to ask questions, I understand the process that goes into making knives. I wanted to maintain a level of unobtrusiveness and capture things as they happened, the way they normally flow.

The following is a series of images that tell the story of the weekly road to the Friday sales posts in the Fiddleback Forge sub-forum. It is a series of photos that illustrates the effort, level of craftsmanship, and love for the craft that goes into the knives that are handcrafted by Andy Roy and his team at Fiddleback Forge. I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I enjoyed taking and going through them.

The shop entrance lets you know where you are. The shop is the home of both Fiddleback Forge Knives, and Fletcher Knives. Dylan Fletcher apprenticed under Andy, and then started his own knife making business.

Fiddleback Shop Overview

STEP 1: Since by most accounts a knife is defined as a sharpened piece of steel with a handle, obviously the first step is to shape the steel. This process begins with tracing patterns of blade profiles onto dykem coated steel stock.

Steel Shaping

STEP 2: Those are then cut into individual pieces, and the knife blanks profiled out on a belt grinder.

Shaping The Blades

STEP 3: Once shaped the the blanks are scribed, and then the holes are drilled for the pins and bullseye.

Drill for Holes

STEP 4: As you can see, the dykem is also applied the the blade end of the blank on the opposite for the grinding of the primary bevels. The the tangs are tapered and the primary bevels ground. Watching Andy grind the bevels was something to see. The man is very talented.

Shaping Tangs and Blade Bevels

STEP 5: Next, the shaped blanks go into the oven for heat treatment, then the quench, and afterward allowed to cool.

Heat Treatment

STEP 6: The heat treated blanks are then scribed for grinding, and then they are cleaned up with the grinds being taken to the next stage.

Next Stage for Blade Grinds

STEP 7: Then the handle materials are chosen, epoxied together, and placed with the blanks.

Selecting Handle Materials

STEP 8: After this the handle scales are drilled for pinning and rough shaped. Then the surfaces are cleaned, the scales are epoxied and pinned to the blanks, and clamped for drying.

Attaching Handle Scales

STEP 9: Now you can see the knife starting to take shape.

Ready for Contouring / Final Shaping

STEP 10: Here is where Andy works his magic again, shaping those sublime handle contours.

Final Contouring and Shaping

STEP 11: Then the fine finish sanding is done.

Fine Finish Sanding

STEP 12: Now they go to engraving and a cleaning.  You see them starting to come to life now, and ready for Andy to do the final grind.

Engraving and Cleaning

STEP 13: Then after a final cleaning and oiling of the handles, the knives are finished.

Final Clean and Oil

STEP 14: Now they are photographed, and posted in the Fiddleback Friday post we see here each week.

Photographed for Fiddleback Friday

STEP 15: On Tuesdays the packages are shipped off and, a few days later, at least for those of us here in the continental U.S., we get our neatly wrapped brown paper packages of awesomeness... 

Packaging and Shipping