Reviewing and Remaking K-Bar’s Kephart

I subscribe to all 3 of the prominent knife magazines and every issue is read from cover to cover… more than once. As I am a custom knife crafter (stock removal) I always pay particular attention to the knife reviews. To be honest I have always wondered whether or not the articles were biased in favor of the maker. One of the magazines did a review of K-Bars new release of the Kephart Knife and I bought the K-Bar ‘Kephart’ based on that review. Sorry to say, I was more than a little disappointed with their product (and consequently decided that there is definitely a bias).

K-Bar Kephart
The K-Bar Kephart

The steel is good (1095 CroVan Carbon Steel) and I really like the finish K-Bar used on it. I also really like the knifes design (designed by Mr. Horace Kephart in 1897) and the thickness of the blade. I was also impressed with the quality of the sheath although it was not true to form for a Kephart reproduction. Unfortunately ‘my’ review goes down hill from there.

First off K-Bar used nuts and bolts to secure the handle material instead of steel pins. Then they placed the nuts facing out rather than the bolt heads (Very tacky looking and an obvious lack of quality control?).

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K-Bar scale above. The knife remade with y own walnut scale below.

The “walnut” grips were not epoxied onto the tang and when I removed them after my testing, the tang was heavily rusted. I am well aware that in Mr. Kepharts time there was no epoxy, but then again there was no rust inhibiting coating like K-Bar used either. I’m all in favor of using modern technological advantages if it improves the quality and extends the life of the knife, and is not blatantly obvious.

In that same vein – the walnut scales were not stabilized or finished with anything (raw wood) and I was getting small chips of wood coming off at the finger guard. The handle also ended up being very scarred up from use. Treating the wood with Tung Oil or some other hardener would have helped prevent this from happening. This is the first time I’ve received a knife with an unfinished handle. I also found the knife handle way too thin, which resulted in hot spots and difficulty in gripping it under serious use… and I do not have a large hand. Since it is a reproduction, maybe the measurements taken were of an old and worn handle and that’s why it is so thin?

Given the quality of the K-Bar version, I would have priced it at around the $80 mark rather than the $119 I paid. Having said all that – I really like the knife (thanks mainly to Mr. Kephart) and it will become my EDC once I finish modifying it to my liking.

….It was a rough looking affair when I received it, neither ground nor polished. Every cent of its value had been put into material and temper, leaving me to beautify it as I might wish.” (Horace Kephart)

So that’s exactly what I’m doing. I am beautifying it as I wish. Thicker stabilized walnut grips with a red fiber liner (both epoxied on), peened copper pins and a Tung Oil/Linseed Oil finish. On mine I did a mustard etch and a partial bluing of the blade, just my own personalization of ‘my’ knife.

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Blueing and mustard treatment modification I made to finish on the blade.

 

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I added red G-10 liners.
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My completed modified knife with blueing/mustard treatment on blade, new heftier walnut scales, red G-10 liner, copper pins and my logo pin.

I am in the process of making 4 more that will be for sale in about a month. So if you bought a K-Bar Kephart knife, and are not quite as happy with it as you thought you’d be, and you like what I’ve done with mine, and leave a message or email: moondogknives@gmail.com. And I can “beautify it as YOU wish.”

If you find Mr. Kepharts knife design aesthetically pleasing, as I do, and want to know more about the knife and the man – pick up a copy of Knife Magazine or go to www.knifemagazine.com. They did an outstanding article that intrigued me enough that I went to Amazon and got one of Mr. Kepharts books.

 

The LEDC – Lady’s Every Day Carry

ledc

This series has come about by interpreting the market trend towards a “Non-intimidating” EDC (Every Day Carry) for women. Everyone, including women, should have personal protection on them but many ladies are hesitant to carry a gun. A knife is an excellent alternative. Having a knife on hand at all times is also handy when you are working around the property as well. You just never know when you’ll need one.

The blade is 2 7/8″ in cutting edge length and is made of D2 High Carbon Tool Steel. Although it is somewhat harder to work with, I must say that I am pleased with the edge I was able to get. It holds it’s edge well and is easy to ‘Field sharpen’. I think you will be pleased with it as a handy LEDC.

Each knife in this series is one-of-a-kind custom made with a customized handmade sheath.

The knife pictured here is the prototype for the series. The blade is brushed D2 High Carbon Tool Steel. The liner is black G-10 resin impregnated fiber. The handle is oak and the bolster and pins are brushed copper. The sheath is handmade of leather, stamped design and laced with artificial sinew.

All knives in this series are for sale at $125.00 (Price includes knife, sheath and shipping) unless it is marked sold. If there is a knife you like and it has been sold, let me know and I will see if I have the woods necessary to recreate it. However, keep in mind no two knives can ever be exactly alike.

Email me at moondogknives@gmail.com to place your order and I will invoice you via PayPal.

 

The Scalliwag – A Lady’s Purse Carry

scalliwag

Every lady needs a little protection. Many are hesitant to carry a gun. A knife is an excellent alternative!

This knife is a custom build for an amazing woman we dearly love. (The pattern will be available for others but I don’t plan to mass produce this model.) She is without a doubt the most truly Christian person we have ever met. At the same time she is a realist and a bit of a survivalist. She is perfectly capable of taking care of herself while she goes out into the community helping others.

The blade on this knife is full tang 416 fold Damascus heat treated to 58-60 RC so it is a strong blade as well as a beautiful one. There are 3 different steels (5160, 203E 52100, 15n20 for those of you who know steel) used to create this type of blade and it is so expensive it is sold by the inch, whereas most blade steel is sold by the foot. The blade is 2 1/2” flat ground and as already stated, full tang. It is 1/8” thick and 11/16” wide.

The handle is truly special! It is olive wood imported from Bethlehem and comes with a certificate of authenticity. The liner is cinnamon resin impregnated fiber. It has a brass guard and pins.

The sheath is a bit different from most I have made. Since it is designed to be carried in a purse, it does not have a belt loop. It has a locking liner like all my sheaths, so the knife does not fall out, but instead of a belt loop, it has a snap closure.

The Malone Custom Trekker

malone

This knife is a custom special commission. It is 7 7/8″ overall with a full tang. Like the Stoneman, the person this knife was designed for needed a good all around, versatile hiking/camping blade. The 3 1/2″ long by 1 1/4″ wide flat ground blade gives him what he would need for these purposes.

The blade is 5/32″ thick D-2 High Carbon Tool Steel, considered by many to be the best carbon steel for knife blades. It has a combination of superior abrasion resistance and toughness. It holds an edge very well for a long time. It is not stainless steel so it will rust if it is not looked after!

The bolster is brass. Liners are blue and green resin impregnated fiber to off-set the giraffe bone handle. The sheath is full cow leather stained dark brown custom handmade for this knife, laced with braided cord.

What Goes Into the Making of A Knife?

There is a lot to take into consideration when deciding to make a knife; especially if you want the knife to be a success. That is to say, sell more than one, unless it’s deliberately designed to be “one of a kind”. If you want your knives to be known for their quality; if you want form and function to be up to the task you designed the knife for; if you want your customers to be “Happy Campers”, then you need to think and plan the knife very carefully.

A lot depends on the knife maker choosing the right steel, deciding on just the right dimensions and shape of not only the blade but the overall appearance of the knife. He must choose an appropriate handle material(s) that is/are up to the task(s) the knife is being designed for and it has to look good (and not to just the knife maker!).

One aspect of a good knife that is sorely overlooked or downright neglected is an appropriate name. Looking through knife magazines and catalogs this is painfully obvious. A good name can inspire the knife maker and help get his creative juices flowing. I give due consideration to this aspect of my knives as well. There is nothing more hilarious (and annoying) than coming across a knife named something like ‘The Druid’ and it’s a automatic made of high tech materials!

Another important aspect of knife making is the sheath. The sheath must not only protect and securely hold the knife; it should accentuate the design of the knife. Compliment and and enhance it’s appeal. The knife maker must once again make a whole series of choices as to the design, materials, color and type of sheath so as to fulfill these requirements.

Now all of what I have mentioned so far are relevant and applicable for a knife being designed to be sold to “John Q. Public” with the hope that enough people will like it and I will be able to sell at least a couple every month or two.

The Moon Dancer

Blue Moon

I love making custom knives designed for specific people.

This knife was made for a photographer who specializes in night sky photography. She often goes out into the wilds to get her shots and I figured a nice every day carry tool that reflects her personality and interests was something she’d need. Fortunately, she agreed whole heartedly and carries it constantly, showing it off to everyone!

Sometimes knives take on their own character as they are being made and this one is a perfect example of that. It did not turn out the way I had planned, as I messed up on the initial bevel of the blade on one side, so ended up loosing about 1/2″ of blade length in re-profiling it. All in all, I think it is probably better than I had originally planned!

The handle is blue dyed California Buckeye Burl with a Damascus blade of 512 folds of High Carbon steel and High carbon Stainless Steel. The blade length is 2 1/2″ and it is 3/4″ wide. The sheath is obviously dyed leather with blue braided waxed thread.

The PuP Series

PuP-prototypeThis series – the first – has come about by interpreting the market trend towards a “Non-intimidating” EDC (Every Day Carry). Thus the blade is 2 7/8″ in cutting edge length and is made of ‘High carbon” Stainless Steel – 5Cr15. This is the first time I’ve used a Stainless Steel. I usually use plain High Carbon Steel. Although it is somewhat harder to work with, I must say that I am pleased with the edge I was able to get. It holds it’s edge well and is easy to ‘Field sharpen’. I think you will be pleased with it as a handy EDC.

Each knife in this series is one-of-a-kind custom made with a customized handmade sheath.

All knives pictured on this page are for sale at $125.00 (Price includes knife, sheath and shipping)unless it is marked sold. Payment to be made via PayPal. Email me at moondogknives@gmail.com to place your order.

If there is a knife you like and it has been sold, let me know and I will see if I have the woods necessary to recreate it. However, keep in mind no two knives can ever be exactly alike.

PuP-01

PuP-01: Rust liner, Spaulted Alder, Copper pins and Logo. Sheath is natural with dark brown trim, sewn with braided/waxed thread. SOLD

PuP-02

PuP-02: Blue liner, Purple Heart, California buckeye dyed blue, white brass pins and Logo. Sheath is burgundy sewn with braided/waxed thread. SOLD

PuP-03

PuP-03: Red liner, Dark Walnut and Maple, brass pins and Logo. Sheath is medium brown and stitched with artificial sinew.

PuP-04

PuP-04: Green liner, African Ebony, Blond Mahogany, Copper pins and Logo. Sheath is light brown and sewn braided/waxed thread. SOLD