Well, today was a great day. For the most part I had my anxiety under control, maybe due to the fact that I was hanging out with one of my favorite people, my buddy Mike. Mike is like a father to me and I cherish our friendship maybe because my father was never around, I like spending time with him more than anyone else outside my family. I always learn so much, and have fun in the process. Today I did my first mechanically fit Mokume bolsters on a knife that I cannot wait to see when finished. And we also did some grinding, and heat treated some blades. an all around great day, and I topped it off by spending time with my wife and kids, Bolsters are something that alot of knife makers simply don't do because they are technically hard to do. It isn't easy to grind, fit, and peen bolsters without getting the Half moon look on the pins, but when it all comes together it is almost magical. For me it is a test of my skills and abilities as a knife maker that I want to tap into more and more on this journey. I hope one day I can call myself a bladesmith, because at the moment i consider myself a knifemaker. There is nothing wrong with that, I just want to master the art of knife making, and put my heart and soul into it like nothing I have ever in my life. It's weird how we find things in life that just fit, and make us happy to wake up and do everyday, and that is what knife making has done for me. The bolsters look great, and after final finish, they will be beautiful. So you will see more steel, brass, mokume, and damascus bolsters on my knives in the future. I have alot of work to do though to master this art form, and I will continue as long as god allows. Not much more to say today, just feeling blessed today. I hope that feeling continues into hunting season, as I look forward to getting out into the steep, beautiful unforgiving mountains of Idaho, chasing elk and deer like we do each fall in this neck of the woods. Next time I will bring you the finished product of this knife. It should be really neat. Until next time, god bless, and may your blade always stay sharp.
Well, I was up early this morning because I was having a weird dream pretty much all night long. You know, one of those dreams where all of your friends from high school are in it, and they all play different roles, and you are relieved when you wake up that your not going to die, or go to jail for the rest of your life. LOL. I RARELY dream or remember dreams, but last night was one of those nights. It made me think though, before I get to the pictures above, about time, and distance, and how it changes things, and how people change, or maybe it is just me and my problems I dont know. To make a long story short, an old buddy, probably my best friend ever when I was younger came to hunt deer and elk here I Idaho last year. I wasn't honest with him about my anxiety problems, and did not tell him how severe it was. By the end of Elk camp, about 8 days, I'm sure he was somewhat frustrated, or confused about me, and how I had changed. I think on top of my fears, I feared not putting on a good hunt for him, and I feared not "impressing" him with my life. How stupid looking back, but this was a guy I considered a brother from another mother, and we used to be tight. We had fun, his brother came too, my neighbor and wife as well, and my wife and I filled our tags, but hunting antler sent my buddy home chewing on tags, not good. We have talked once since, and It feels different, almost like I had dissapointed him or something. I respect him, but the truth is, although I should have been more honest about my limited abilities compared to 4 years ago, I shouldn't care what others think, and in most cases I don't. With anyone else, I would have not worried, but this was different, about 15 years had separated us, and that is a long time. Hes doing great, and I'm happy for him, but I learned a lesson. Not sure why any of this matters, but my reason for this blog was to try and get healthy, and bring my readers along for the wild ride that is severe anxiety and PTSD. Long story short, If I let him down, it was unintentional. But today, looking back, I busted my ass to make sure he had a great camp, and had fun, so I should feel good about myself. The last few days have been up and down, but after talking with my brother for hours the other night, I am really starting to work on things, and yesterday was a good day. I got alot done, and I am taking the attitude that two things are certain, you are born, and then you will die. It is what we do in between that matters. The contents in between the bread is what matters, and is my life sandwich going to be PB and J, (although I love PB and J) or a huge roast beef, cheese, tomato, and mayo sandwich. You either get busy living or get busy dying as they say, and I plan on living, no matter what. So with all my physical symptoms I hope they soon start to subside, and I can feel better, but I will take one day with results anytime, and I woke up early today with the I dont give a crap attitude again, and that is a good thing for me. When worry sets in, its all over, so I just wont let it. But it may take years before I can feel normal again. Anyways, I had this blade that the etch did not turn out on, so I decided to buff it down, and re etch it with vinegar, and I had never used vinegar before. But it is cheap so I tried it. I was very surprised at how well it worked. The first picture is of the blade after I buffed my etch back off. Pic 2 is only 15 minutes in the hot vinegar, and the third pic is after 2000 grit light sanding to bring out the ridges in the pattern. Vinegar does work, and I was told by many it didn't work good. I just found a new trick for my arsenal. It does give a little bit more dull etch, but sandpaper will fix that, and when finished it looked exactly like I wanted it to. This particular damacus is very high in carbon, so when I put it in the vinegar it boiled. It was pretty cool to see. Cant wait for fall so I can really hit the grinder and forge hard and come up with my signature line of women's hunting knives, and try some new patterns. Well back to work, Will post again soon.
The last few days have made it difficult to spend much time in the shop as we have the largest fire in the country just south of us. I have burned nearly 300,000 acres. The smoke in the air is terrible making time in the shop minimal. Its bad enough with the dust and when you add smoke it makes it hard. My anxiety has also been acting up lately, and that will sideline me very quickly. I have been lucky enough to have a mentor when it comes to knife making, and a true friend. My shop is small, and I do not have all of the equipment yet that a knife maker needs. So the fact that my buddy mike ( a great man) has been willing to help me out, and teach me what he knows has been priceless. Yesterday I got over to his shop like I often do to learn more about knife making. I learn something new every time I go to his shop, and I enjoy his company as well. We have a lot in common. Grinding can be one of the most challenging aspects of making a knife, and he has been graceful enough to teach me. He gives me access to his shop whenever I need to use certain equipment, and I can't thank him enough. Most of my techniques I have learned from Mike, so I want to say thanks. Today, the smoke is bad once again, so I wont be spending much time making knives. Maybe tomorrow the smoke will be better, and maybe tomorrow so will my anxiety. I could use really use a break from both. Not much to say today. I just love my kids, and my wife, and my family, and I am grateful to friends like Mike who root for me, and help me out when I need it. Mike, I'm sure that damascus blade will turn out fine once we heat treat, etch, and finish it. I have more billets if not.
Well today it is hot, really hot. We have had such a mild summer aside from our hot weather at the end of June that was completely out of the norm. July and August have been fairly mild and really nice until now. Three days of this heat and we are supposed to start sliding into fall, so these are the last days of summer, or the last few weeks. Today due to the heat I am not doing much knife work, but I did get a customer's knife mailed off to Montana. Its really cool as a knife maker to know that your creations are ending up in some really cool places. Idaho, Montana, California, Northern Idaho, Washington. I'm pretty new to knife making and it puts a smile on my face to get good feed back when someone 1000 miles away loves their knife. To be honest, most knife makers work for very little money. Materials cost a lot, and it takes a ton of time and patience to make a good quality knife. Every day is a learning experience. Today I'm working with Mokume for the first time. (As seen above). I'm making a bolster for a beautiful hidden tang damascus skinning knife. I'm not really known for doing many hidden tang knives, but I picked up some great damascus that came from two finger knife company in Idaho falls. Norm Schenk makes some really nice damascus. I plan to put the Mokume bolster on this knife and add a maple burl handle. Should be really nice. But that is the challenge of knife making, learning to work with new materials and metals that you have never worked with before. Sometimes I wonder how I got here. I first started making knives when I picked up a blade kit at a yard sale for 5 bucks, and thought I would make my own hunting knife. All I had to do was put a handle on it, and I used some walnut I had with deer antler bolsters. It was really the ugliest knife I think I've ever seen. But it lit a fire that has only grown. Today, I do this everyday for my living. Hard to imagine. I have so much to learn, and Hope to continue to grow as a knife maker, and hope to one day feel ok with call myself a blade smith. I'm getting there, and due to my knack for working with my hands, have progressed fairly quickly. I think I will end there. Feel ok today, but I do not tolerate the heat at all, so I cannot wait until fall. Fall means a few things to me. HUNTING SEASON, STEELHEAD FISHING, MY SONS BIRTHDAY, COOL WEATHER, and HALLOWEEN. Yep, you heard it, Halloween. I have always loved that holiday with the leaves on the ground, the smell of fireplace smoke in the air, and the hope that a nice buck and big bull may soon be on the ground filling my freezer with the meat necessary to get my family through the winter. My son will be 5 this October and he has already been there on two kills, and has watched me butcher many animals. I wouldn't have it any other way. My 3 year old daughter and 13 year old have had the same experiences. I encourage all parents to let your children see where their meat comes from. We should never shelter our children. Anyways, so far today my anxiety is under control for the most part, but my foot sure does hurt. Thanks for taking the time to read and may god bless you.
The picture above on this page is a picture of me that my 3 year old daughter took of me when I was using the table saw to saw up some knife scales. I remember it was hot that morning and she likes to take the camera, and my phone, and take pictures and pretty much whatever she wants to do considering she is extremely computer savvy even at the young age of 3. I titled this blog, (My first on the website) LETS BE REAL for a reason that may or may not sit well with some, but I will be honest, I really do not care what reaction I get from my blog posts on here. I decided to start a blog page on my website not for any other reason but to show the hardships of an at home father trying to get a fledgling business up and running, the victories, the defeats, the good, the bad, and most of all the truth. In this day and age of what seems like political correctness, too many people are afraid to speak their mind. They are afraid to say what they really think, and they worry too much about what others think of them. This is not to say that I don't care about friendships and relationships. As any of my good friends will tell you I do to a fault, but I have hit the age where my clothes, my presentation, and simply what others think about me, really don't matter to me anymore like it used to. My main goal is to teach my children the right things, show them how to survive when I'm long gone, and teach them respect, humility, and that other people do matter, and you should help out others, but we should not put so much time into worrying about what people think about us as people. I don't really care if this blog helps or hurts my business. This is me, it's who I am, and that is that. Today, I love my kids, my family, and I try to be the best person I can be everyday, all while struggling with severe PTSD, Anxiety, panic attacks, and sometimes even agoraphobia. And no, I'm not afraid of rabbits, that would be angora phobia, and that is for another time, another blog. :) A severely broken foot back in 2010 changed my life in ways I could have never imagined. I will have screws and plates and composite bone holding it together for the rest of my life, and it has shifted my pelvis, causing my back to go out, and I have put on weight. So I struggle daily with my mental disorders, and my physical disorders on top of it. Not an easy ride to be on daily, but I keep paying my fare, and getting on anyways. I started this knife, lamp, antler business out of of love for big game hunting,the outdoors, and monetary necessity. I was landing good jobs all the time, and having to quit due to severe pain and panic attacks. after getting a college education, and almost 4 years of being an at home father I went back into the work force against the wishes of my doctors, because I simply had no options. . I quickly learned that I had to do something. So I started KM Antler Customs, and taught myself how to make knives. Don't get me wrong, I have had help along the way, (Mike) you know who you are. Thanks. But I am mostly self taught, and blessed with the ability to make almost anything with my hands. NO I do not do balloon animals. I also have a love for what I do, even though at times I make 2 maybe 3 dollars an hour. This blog will be about knife making, antler lamp making, and the day to day life behind the scenes at KM Antler Customs, but it will also be about life in general. I will not hold back, and I will discuss topics that some may find offensive. If so I apologize, but I wan't to share my story, In hopes that it will inspire someone else out there to speak up and tell their story, if for no other reason that it is good therapy. It helps to get things off your chest. I am a true believer that we are all in this together, and we must always remember that. There is no color, race, religion, border, financial status, or sexual orientation that separates us in the eyes of god, and I truly believe that. (I'm sure that one will stir the hornets nest.) I also believe that we all struggle sometimes, we all have pain, heart ache, joy, happiness and sorrow. Nobody is immune to having deep personal issues that they hide under the surface, for fear of how they will be looked at and judged by others. So this blog will talk about knife making, yes, yest it will, but it will also be real, and honest about everyday life. My everyday life and the things I go through on a daily basis. For now I am taking the rest of this Sunday off to be with my kids , and tomorrow I will get up, feeling dizzy and anxious, i will take my anxiety medication, and do my best to be a good example to my kids. I will try to be strong and not show them their daddy, (Superman) really feels like trash and is always a minute or two away from a full blown panic attack, and in constant pain. For now, I am happy, and blessed to be here today.