The Midtech Project

I first had the idea for doing a midtech folding knife after I closed my order books. Making knives by hand is a very time intensive activity. This is the biggest problem I have in being able to make knives for people. I absolutely love the process of hand fitting a folding knife together, to achieve a precision fit of the components, be it the lock of a liner lock or the walk and talk of a slipjoint. It takes time to get that done though and it prevents me from making large numbers of knives, a typical folder will take me 25 hours to produce and can easily take longer as features are added to the knife.

A midtech knife is one that outsources some of the processes of knife making to machinery or other companies before it gets finished by the knifemakers hands. The main goal is to reduce the time needed to make a knife. From getting some blanks cut out en mass via a waterjet rather than cutting them out individually on a bandsaw to the other end of the spectrum where companies can CNC grind a blade's bevels for a knifemaker. To allow me to make a large number of folding knives I have been looking at processes that I can use to speed up the production of a flipper folding knife whilst retaining the high quality level I attempt to put into every hand made knife I make.

I am looking to use CNC milling to profile parts from sheet or waterjet blanks. CNC turning to make custom standoffs and potentially the pivots, screws and other parts. A CNC router will be used to profile and shape the handle scales. I will be further investigating some other processes such as double disk grinding to ensure the parts are flat and parallel for a specific thickness.

Project Update - February 2015

I thought it was about time I put out an update on where the Thylacine project is. I had a lot of really good feedback at the Sydney Show. A lot of it reinforced the ideas I had on improving the knife design as well as a couple of other suggestions for improvements.

From that I altered the CAD model and produced a second prototype which was shown at the Canberra Show. I needed to see how much a cerakoting of the blade would alter the thickness of the blade to see if I needed to take it onto account for the other parts of the knife. I have been carrying the new prototype as my EDC knife and using it for all sorts of tasks to test it out and I am really happy with the end results.

A short list of the changes are:

Handle

Blade

The Knifemaker - Alistair Phillips

I have been making knives as a hobby for the last 10 years. The last 8 of those years I have been almost exclusively making folding knives. I am a full member of the Australian Knifemakers Guild. I teach a course in making a slipjoint folding knife at the Tharwa Valley Forge. In 2012 I was licenced by Spyderco to use their trademarked Round Hole design in my folding knives. This journey of investigating a midtech knife has expanded my skills in learning CAD, made me evaluate my designs for efficient production methods and learn a bunch of new techniques. My past work can been seen in my section of the Australian Blade Forums ABF - Alistair Phillips Knives where I am registered under the username Cubane or on my knives website http://knives.mutantdiscovery.com

The First Prototype

I would like to introduce the prototype of the "Thylacine" flipper. It has been designed from the ground up with the idea of making it faster to make without compromising the action or abilities of the knife. The prototype took 16.5 hours to produce. Many of the processes can be spread out amongst a batch of knives to reduce the time spent on each knife. In addition the prototype features a hand finished blade. This isn't feasible for a larger run of knives so an alternative finish will be used.. most likely a cerakote finish. To make this project feasible I need to reduce the man hours I spend per knife to below 4 hours.

The specs:

Next Steps

The next steps for the project will be to determine the amount of interest there is in the production of these folders. I will be taking the prototype and the CAD design to the companies that I have spent a significant amount of time researching and talking with, to determine a final cost for a production run. Based on the initial prototype there are some changes I would like to make to the design and a second prototype will be produced. This will also be used to recheck the amount of time needed for each stage of construction and to check the feasibly of the blade finish.

The changes:

Registration

I am asking people to register their interest in purchasing a Thylacine flipper. There is no commitment to buy at this stage it is purely to determine the interest and feasibility of the project. I will be using the information to put together a mailing list with further updates as the project progresses. One of the ideas for the production run is to do a kickstarter style campaign. There would be a limited number of knives available and the campaign would run until the places are filled or enough time has passed.

If there is enough interest and the project is feasible in terms of time of construction and a price range production could start after the final prototype is made and the design is proven.

In the comments section I would like to know your preference for a kickstarter style campaign vs preorder with a non refundable deposit for materials and processes. Any preference for a pocket clip your might have. An amount of knives you might order. If the knife is only offered in one colour would that put you off ordering vs offering several different coloured handle options. Please indicate the maximum cost you will be willing to pay to purchase one of the production run.

The production run will be limited to Australians only with limited numbers.

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