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Modifying and Shooting the Ruger Old Army and Other Large Percussion Revolvers

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Ruger 14 (2)

I have long maintained that Bill Ruger’s Old Army was the best percussion revolver yet made. I have owned the standard stainless steel 7.5-inch model for decades and taken deer and alligators with the pistol. During my work with other percussion revolvers such as Pietta’s 1858 Remington .44 Buffalo with a 12-inch barrel and a Uberti Colt Walker Replica, I had made various modifications to enhance the hunting capabilities of the revolvers.

On the 1858 stainless Remington, which was sold by Cabela’s with a mirror-bright finish, I had the gun nitride coated by H&M Coatings of Akron, Ohio. This dulled finished was much less likely to spook close range animals, particularly deer and wild hogs. More work was needed on the Walker. It not only received a nitride coating, it had a new loading lever, sight base, action job and cap-retaining pin installed by Dykes Reber and Michael Brackett, Gunsmiths in Arkansas and Georgia who are specialists in reworking percussion revolvers.

Although I had built what I called a Super Walker and successfully hunted with it, I was still not satisfied. The Walker was/is a powerful pistol, but it is a weak design. I thought a better choice for a deer and hog-capable percussion revolver would be my Old Army with bored out chambers to increase its power capacity and a longer barrel. Dykes Reber mentioned that he did such modifications years ago when the Old Armies were readily available, but had not done any recently because the supply of new guns had dried up.

I had Reber install a 14-inch barrel on my pistol, deepen the chambers and install a sight base so I could scope the gun. Thus modified I was convinced that I had built as good a percussion hunting revolver as could be managed, short of modifying the frame and lengthening the cylinder. My intention was to load this shorter-cylindered gun with Hodgdon’s Triple7even to make it as powerful as the Colt Walker in a more reliable platform.

This objective was achieved. When the three pistols were shot, the 14-inch Old Army with Kaido Ojamaa’s 255 grain Keith-style bullet generated 1039 fps. and 611 ft./lbs. of muzzle energy. This compares with the Colt Walker which with a 200 grain Ojamaa bullet and load of 55 grains of Olde Eynsford FFFg recorded 935 fps. and 388 ft./lbs.  The round ball load from the 1858 Buffalo with 25 grains of Olde Eynsford had a muzzle velocity of 1060 fps. and energy of 352 ft./lbs.

In previous testing the 7.5-inch Old Army had produced 50 fps. less energy than the 14-inch-barreled gun. The longer-barreled Old Army had a higher velocity and greater energy that the unmodified pistol, but  not tremendously so.  It did produce energy figures that were better than black powder loads from the Colt Walker and shot significantly better groups, 5-inches vs. 12 inches, at 50 yards. The Old Army was an easier to use, more durable and more reliable hunting handgun. You can see the results of this shooting at:

Although the modified Old Army is a more powerful and reliable hunting handgun than the Colt Walker, it is not a .44 Magnum. In terms of cartridge handguns, its load of Triple7seven most closely compares with Elmer Keith’s loads in the .44 Special that he shot from his single and double-action revolvers in the 1930s. His pioneering work ultimately resulted in the Remington .44 Magnum. Keith used his .44 Special loads to finish off deer and elk when he was guiding clients in the Idaho wilderness.

While I am confident, and have demonstrated, that these percussion revolvers can kill deer and hogs up to the 200 pound range with good shot placement, I do not  know what the reasonable upper limits of these loads might be on big game. My suspicion is that the Triple7even load from the Old Army will work on animals up to about 300 pounds, but I have not demonstrated this capability. After this season’s hunt with the modified Old Army, I will have a better grasp of what size game animals can be reliably taken with this pistol.

I have killed hogs with the .22 short rim fire shot from a single-shot pistol, although I do not recommend the caliber as a hog-killing round.  Earlier this year a person killed a 800 lb. wild hog in his yard with a .38 Special. I do not recommend that round either. What I am looking for in a pistol round is one that will penetrate through the gristle plate and shoulder of a boar hog, go through both lungs and disable the off-side leg. Big hogs are dangerous. Once a boar reaches a weight of over 200 pounds, he has little fear of anything that walks. At 600 pounds and larger he is the undisputed king of the Southern forest. Will the longer-barreled Old Army reliably kill such a beast? I don’t know, but before I make claims about the magical killing power of this load, I want to see it done.

The Super Walker now has a new home with a new owner in Texas. He has access to hogs, and is anxious to see what it will do, as am I. I feel as if I had sent a child off to school and am looking for their first report card.

Written by hoveysmith

September 19, 2017 at 9:07 am

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Media Exposure Planned for Fall-Winter 2017-2018

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Hovey at desk in library

I will be doing a major media push in Print Media, Radio and TV in coming months to promote my new company, Hovey’s Knives of China, new book, Ideas for New Businesses: Finding ideas for your million or billion dollar business and business consulting activities. Some of the radio materials have already been recorded such as two segments with Ric Bratton’s “This Week America” which is a news-format show originating in Ft. Wayne, Indiana carried by 150 radio stations throughout the country.

Bratton was exposed to two of the gag ads that I used on my Radio Show, “Hovey’s Outdoor Adventures.” These were for Misty Mange, The hair-care product that you and your pet can share and SIN, Inc.’s red  white and blue turkey made from the best of “coal tars, petroleum by-products and agricultural waste” for your holiday enjoyment. The Skype video recording may be seen at:

If you would like to have an hour-long consultation with me to help determine the best possibilities are for your new business venture send me a letter to describing the subject materials that you want to talk about. If I think I can help you, we can arrange a follow-up group telephone call. After we have our conversation, I will send you a written report with my recommendations. The charge for this service is $200.  I can assist those who want to do consulting, outdoor media and products, publishing and discuss how to contact appropriate foreign partners.

I recorded both shows at my writing station in my office after doing a mucking out. As one might suspect,  I had accumulated years worth of print photos, 35mm slides and old printed-out stories and photos that needed to be cleared out and this was a good-enough excuse.

As commercial items the old prints and slides are now nearly useless. Few of the editors that I write for will accept prints or slides, and those who still do will have them only if they are the photos of some historic event that I reference in the text.  Authors have limited use of these old materials when they write their books and want to show some photos of their former selves or activities.  I have already done that with my books and E-books on bowfishing, crossbow hunting and muzzleloading, and can no longer justify hanging on to these dusty folders of long-gone life events.

I posted this problem on Facebook, and the general experience of my fellow outdoor writers and photographers was that this material had no real value to anyone and was best sorted and the extra and excess disposed of. I am taking a real “walk down memory lane” now as I sort through these materials. The great majority of them will wind up in the burn pile. I will retain some of the prints and rephotograph some of them in a montage or as single digital images. Others I will keep for someone else to throw out after I am long gone.

Written by hoveysmith

September 8, 2017 at 9:45 am

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RFD (Rural Free Delivery) Wild Hog

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Woodman Hog 1


Hunter’s luck may sometimes  be good or bad.  In this instance I had RFD (Rural Free Delivery) of a wild hog which fed its way into my back yard in time to be cornered by my dogs and taken by a Woodman Arms .50 caliber muzzleloading rifle.   That particular rifle had completed  Georgia’s nearly six-months-long deer and turkey seasons without a  kill. As an outdoor writer, I shoot almost every different piece of game with a different gun. When a maker sends me a gun it is with the understanding that I will test it, with the hopeful culmination that I use it on a successful hunt. It was past time that the Woodman rifle needed to have some dead game on the ground.

The rifle had been carried on more than a dozen hunts on my farm and also on a trip to Florida in hopes of taking a deer, hog or wild turkey. I liked the way the 6-pound rifle carried.  In order to retain its favorable carrying characteristics,  I had equipped it with a Red Dot sight that weighed only three ounces. This combination resulted in a fast-acting rifle that was  perfectly sighted for my usual close-in shooting, which is often in thick cover at under 30 yards. This sight is also adequate for game out to  100 yards, should I have such an opportunity.  Despite many hunts  in two states, I could not put any legal game that I was willing to shoot in front of the gun.

A small doe had provided an early opportunity for the Woodman rifle early in Georgia’s muzzleloading season, but I hit the animal badly because the stock loosened on the mile walk into the stand. I finished this animal off with my 1858 Remington percussion revolver and made a repair on the stock.  From then on, it was like the gun was jinxed. I just could not see any game to take, despite many hours spent in some of the best game country in the Southeast.

Because wild hogs may be taken on private land any time of year and without limit in Georgia, I had kept the two guns I had prepped for the 2017-18 hunting season loaded. I prep two guns each season so I have a back-up gun, should I have a mechanical failure while on a hunt.  One gun was the Woodman Arms with its repaired stock and the other was a Markesbery .50-caliber muzzleloader from the 1980s that had the same barrel length, but was a pound heavier with its iron sights. I had also done a repair on the cracked fore-end of the Markesbery  by fitting steel reinforcing rods in the fore-end and a new desert ironwood fore-end cap.

To simplify loading I the 209-primed Marksbery, I used 90 grains of Blackhorn 209 and a 250 grain copper Markesbery  copper (bronze) Beast Buster bullet which had a very deep hollow point. In the Markesbery rifle I used a  no. 11 percussion cap in the out-of-line ignition system and 90 grains of Old Eynsford FFg Black Powder and a 295 grain Power Belt bullet. The heavier Markesbery with its larger stock was the more comfortable gun to shoot, and I also liked that I could silent-cock the external hammer. Silent cocking is important when you may have  hogs only a few feet away.  I had every reason to expect that both guns would be equally effective on hogs and deer.

Getting my Hovey’s Knives of China products ready for the International Blade Show in Atlanta consumed a lot of my  hog hunting time after the close of turkey season.  In previous years I had often hunted them in June. One year I took six at one time and on another occasion I killed one that weighed over 200 pounds under June’s blue moon.

The day I shot the hog I was working on rebuilding a Dexter boning knife. This had been a dirty, knife with a heavily stained grip. I had ground the grip away and replaced it with one   made of rosewood designed to fit a large hand. This grip, like many of my knives,  is designed to rest upright on the table with the blade clear of the surface. It also thickens towards the palm and has a thumb rest. This was one of the knives I was hoping to finish for the Blade

My work was interrupted by loud, insistent barking from Hera, my white Lab-Sheppard mix, and my half-dog Fred. Fred is a mixed breed with some Lab, Sheppard and hound. I call him a half-dog because of the time-share arrangement that I have with his owners who live nearly two-miles away. Fred is spooked by thunder, storms and gunfire. When he thinks a summer thunderstorm might be approaching, he comes to my house for shelter. This is no real problem. He is welcomed, fed, watered and comforted. He also provides a playmate for Hera and acts as effectively as a guard dog for my house as he does for his own.

When you live with dogs, you know from the tone and persistence of the barking episode when something serious is happening. I thought that they had found a 7-foot black snake that I had scooted off my back porch the day before and went out to rescue the snake. What I saw was a medium-sized hog standing under one of my pecan trees being confronted by the two dogs. The hog was not too much disturbed by the dogs. I went inside the house, retrieved the Woodman rifle, made sure it had a primer on the barrel and returned to the yard.

Although there was nothing that might be called a chase, the dogs and hog had moved about 30 yards from where I first saw them.  I had to shoot while I had a clear shot before it stepped back into the briers and timber. I turned on the Red Dot sight, took the safety off the gun and aimed low on the neck to pass the bullet transversely through the hog. When I fired the hog went down instantly. Good thing too, as I had no reloads with me, although I did  grab my 1858 Remington Sheriff’s Model and stuff it in my belt as I walked out the door.

In a very few seconds the hog was dead. Surprisingly Fred, the thunder and gun-shy dog, was  interested enough to stay around. Hera  cautiously sniffed the hog, but Fred would not approach it closer than 10 yards.  He obviously wanted nothing to do with it. Good thing too, because that 125-pound sow  outweighed them both. That is the reason that the hog did not run. It was confident that It could take on both dogs and win, should they be so stupid as to attack it.   Although I tried to get the dogs to pose with “their hog,” they would not. The best photo that I could  get was a picture of them sitting in the seat of my truck when I took Fred home before I started cleaning on the hog.

I thought it fitting that I use the boning knife I was working on to clean the sow. I also took advantage of my RFD hog to test out my Aspen Leaf Skinner and Billy Joe Rubideoux Rib Chopper. The Skinner has a leaf-shaped blade with two cutting surfaces, palm swell, flat-topped grip and an unusually long grip. The Rib Chopper was forged from a lawnmower blade, has a pipe grip and a hook to help handle meat. I will admit that my Rib Chopper would make any New Guinea Head Hunter proud, but it use is purely culinary. Both the skinning blade and the rib chopper worked fine, but the one-pin attachment allowed by the single hole in the boning knife’s tang allowed the blade to swing upward in the rosewood grips, threatening to break out of the grip scales.

The field testing on this hog allowed me to identify this problem with the boning knife, detach the scales, install another pin and correct the problem. All of these actions regarding testing the knives and working up the hog are recorded in my YouTube video, “Backyard Adventures with Hog, Hera and the Half-Dog Fred.”  Just as our ancestors did when they settled this part of Georgia in the 1790s, one has to be ready for the unexpected. Sometimes these happenings are adverse advents, but on other occasions they may be beneficial.







Written by hoveysmith

June 21, 2017 at 7:20 am

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Tree Lounge Replacement Parts and New Stands Available from Tree Lounger

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A new company , Tree Lounger is making climbing tree stands using the same jigs and much of the same equipment used by Tree Lounge in their new facility near Cummings, Georgia.  The first stand produced is the Ground Lounger, a strap-on tree stand, and they are now taking orders for the Tree Lounger climbing stand. The climbing stands are the original square-aluminum tubed design. They are shipped with a safety harness and booklet.

Also offered are replacement parts for the Tree Lounge stand, including knobs, gun holders, bow holders, seats and the complete bow adapter with an aluminum floor, instead of the plywood used in the original stands.  They can also replace the cloth chill paths and cushion.   For information on current offerings and prices go to their website at

I visited the facility last week and did the following video which you may see at:



Written by hoveysmith

May 9, 2017 at 1:49 am

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Hovey’s Knives of China in Hometown Magazine

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Hovey’s Knives of China in Hometown Magazine

It is often said that, “a profit is not honored in his own land,” but in this instance I was when I was interviewed by Taylor Hembree for a story that ran in Summer Issue 1, 2017,  of the Sandersville Scene Magazine. This is a town promotional magazine published by The Union-Recorder news staff in nearby Milledgeville, Georgia. After the interview in Milledgeville, photographer Will Woolever visited my shop and took supporting photos for the feature. Many more photos were shot than published, and I have included some similar pictures to provide a more complete look at the knife-making process.

Hovey’s Knives of China offers three distinct services. The first is to make our original custom knives that are based on ancient patterns of cooking knives from China and other cultures. These are made in Sandersville by me and  bladesmith Paul Hjort. The second is to rebuilt old cooking knives so that they are again presentable enough so that Grandma’s knives can again be used in today ‘s kitchens and the third is to take found steels and salvaged woods from old homesteads and make useful cooking implements from them. Although the house may no longer be there, these tools become lasting, functional reminders of a once vibrant, but now long gone, rural family history.

Hembree included several quotes that I often use. One was how I first learned about the unique qualities of Chinese cooking knives through photos of the knife money, which were cast bronze pieces used as currency during the Waring States Period, before the rise of Imperial China. Another quote was, “These knives are derivative designs, not exact copies of any particular knife of that period, but take the spirit of the knife and transform with modern stainless steels into functional tools for the modern cook and chef.”

Perhaps the best expression of my philosophy of knife making in the article was, “To be sellable these days, knives have to have several different characteristics. One, knives have to be distinctive – you have to look at these knives and know that the knife is not like any other. Two, it has to be intrinsically useful. I have no use for fantasy knives, I have no use for fancy knives; but I do have great use for functional knives.”

I am also a believer in the proposition that the best kitchen knives are designed by those who use them. I am a recognized outdoor cook, and have recipes and common mentions on cooking game and fish in Backyard Deer Hunting, Crossbow Hunting, X-Treme Muzzleloading and Practical Bowfishing.  As an outdoor writer I have been publishing on knives for two decades, with many articles in national knife magazines. In 2015 I made two trips to China as a guest of the People’s Government as a presenter and attendee to international conferences. While there, I had a chance to visit museums and see some of their historic artifacts and cooking techniques.

Since the article was written, I have received several inquiries about knife making classes. I will offer a 2-day class where the student will make a knife of his choice under my supervision from materials that I will supply for $350 which includes meals and lodging if they are from out-of-town. For locals there will be a shop-time charge of $150 a day.

Photos that were used in connection with the article was one at me in the exterior portion of my shop grinding using an angle grinder to profile the blade of my Billy Joe Rubideoux Rib Chopper and another of  some of my knives and a plate of cut deer being guarded by Hera, my Yellow Lab-Sheppard mix.  A more complete selection of photos appears below.

Hera with blooming bells 2Hovey's Knives of China June 2016 on pegboardBilly Joe's Chef's knife in kitchen


Hovey, center, with Chef and Hotel Manager for the J.W. Marriott In Zhengzhou, China

Blade being tempered in forge



Written by hoveysmith

March 9, 2017 at 4:45 pm

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Hovey’s Knives of China Shoots a Bull’s-eye at SEOPA

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Lakeland, Florida, Oct. 6. Hovey’s Knives of China, a new knife-making company based in Sandersville, Georgia, won the First Place Award for an Outdoor Entrepreneur Project at the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association’s (SEOPA) annual meeting in Lakeland, Florida.
This award is sponsored by Mossy Oak Brand Camo and includes a plaque along with a cash prize. The award is part of SEOPA’s Excellence in Crafts competition where members compete in categories for the best newspaper, magazine, book, video and other media published during the contest period. The Outdoor Entrepreneur Project is unusual in that it is, “Any original activity, product or service created between the contest dates by the entrant and related to the outdoors demonstrating creativity and risk-taking, and designed to produce a profit…”

Assorted knives on red back. banner

The creative aspects of the new company is that more than 15 patterns of cooking knives have been made based on ancient designs used during the Chinese Bronze Age and now made of modern materials for today’s Chefs and cooks. The designs had undergone hundreds of years of development and were used as inspiration for a series of cooking knives that are more efficient than any in use today.
Risks in launching any new product in the culinary market are that knives are durable tools, a wide variety of styles are already available at sometimes nearly give-away prices and low-volume production custom-made knives must command premium prices in order to be profitable. For those who cannot afford costly hand-made products, many low-cost substitutes are readily available.
New cooking knives must have distinctive designs, high quality, be demonstrably functional and aggressively marketed to be successful in today’s market. A low-volume maker cannot hope to compete in price against inexpensive unlicensed copies made in China and elsewhere. Patents offer no protection in today’s knife market, as even most minor variation in design or materials may be claimed to be a new knife, and the cost of lengthy court battles would quickly consume any profit from the products. Considering these realities, the business plan for Hovey’s Knives of China is to produce the knives and license their designs to anyone who wishes to make them for a small royalty.

The knives are so distinctive as to be unmistakable, regardless of who makes them. Hovey’s Knives will recognize, display and publicize knives made under license by custom makers and larger manufacturers at trade shows and other events. This way these eminently useful knife patterns will be quickly available worldwide to anyone who wishes to make dishes of quality and character using effective tools that have ancient cultural roots.
Low cost publicity about these knives is being produced through social medial including some 30 YouTube videos about the knives on a dedicated channel, blogs (, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other outlets. Added publicity on these knives will also result from reviews in magazines, newspapers and TV outlets.
Prototype production has begun at a new shop located in Sandersville, Georgia, and custom production of stainless steel designs will start in January, 2017, following an extensive period of product testing.
According to Hovey Smith, the company’s founder and owner, “We are now testing designs, hardening techniques, evaluating steels and production methods in the field and kitchen to make these designs. Each knife will be custom made. We have a variety of patterns and sizes to fit the users’ hands and satisfy their needs. The new designs include left and right-handed versions of chopping knives, fish-cleaning knives, utility knives, paring knives, cleavers and sushi and lox-cutting knives along with a special design for caterers.
“This isn’t all. We also have the “Billy Joe Rubideoux” line of forged knives, such as might have been made in the Lower Louisiana Delta by a fictional cook and entrepreneur from whatever materials he had at hand to make the tools he needed. Included in this group are a Chef’s and bread knife along with a sharpening steel made from an 150-year-old scythe blade and a rib flipper and forge cleaner made from a piece of lawnmower steel. A version of the “rib flipper” will be produced as a commercial product.
“We have an exciting adventure ahead of us, in bringing these eminently useful new knives to market, and I look forward to showing people how to use them to make some dishes that may not been seen for 1000 years.”

For additional information contact Hovey Smith at or call (478) 552-7455. Cooking demonstrations with the knives and media visits to the shop are available to media representatives by prior arrangement along with limited overnight housing.

Written by hoveysmith

October 22, 2016 at 6:17 am

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Billy Joe Rubideoux Knives and Cooking Tools Made from Salvaged Steels

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Rustic cooking tools and knives have been produced from old steel tool parts as a result of testing a new forge and other knife-making equipment at Hovey’s Knives of China’s shop in Georgia. A rib flipper and forge tool have been made from a piece of lawnmower steel, and a Chef’s knife was cut from a 100-year-old blade from a scythe.

These Billy Joe Rubideoux  products are named after a fictional character from Plaquemine Parish in the Louisiana Delta. Raised in the water-logged swamps below Lafitte, Billy Joe had a hard-scrabble existence where trips to town were infrequent. If he needed a tool, he had to make it  or do without. Working in this tradition, a rib flipper was made for turning meat on a charcoal grill and the rounded piece of left-over steel was used to pound out a forge-cleaning tool.

The rib flipper

Anyone who cooks on a grill must turn their meat. The most commonly use tools to flip ribs, turn chickens and move chops are spatulas, tongs and forks. None of these are very efficient. A piece of steel from the bottom of a riding lawnmower had a curved shape and appeared that if it was straightened and handled would be ideal for that purpose.

The steel was heated on the forge to the point where it could be pounded flat, cut and ground. The result proved to be a somewhat dogleg-shaped object that only needed a handle to be functional. I used a piece of salvaged wormy tea olive as a fitting grip for this tool and designed an asymmetrically – shaped grip that could be held horizontally in the hand. This grip proved ideal for turning ribs and other objects on the grill and outperformed anything I had used.

As the carbon steel in the flipper easily rust, I polished it with a steel wheel and coated it with canola oil to provide a non-toxic protective coating. Square holes in the flipper’s blade provide a handy means for hanging on the sides of my smoker. More custom flippers will be made in the Billy Joe style will be made along with stainless steel adaptations  for commercial use.

The forge cleaner

After the Rib Flipper was completed a piece of steel remained which had a distinctively curved profile, similar in shape of a flattened spoon. I used this piece to clean the ashes out of my forge, which has a steel tire rim as a fire-box. This worked and needed only a longer grip to make it efficient. I wire-brushed it down to bright metal, dressed the edges with grinding wheels and drilled it for a grip. This grip would be firmly attached by four pins made from cut-off nails. The result was an efficient forge-cleaning tool that I protected from further rust by giving the blade a coating of black enimal paint. Thus, both pieces of salvaged lawnmower steel were put to beneficial use to make new-to-the-world tools that performed beneficial functions.

The Chef’s knife

I had been saving the blade from an old scythe from the 1800s that was given to me over 30-year-ago. It had been exposed to rust and was well-pitted, but was nonetheless sound. The steel used in this scythe was among the highest quality steels available in the day  and similar to that used to make straight razors. The shape of the blade was wide enough to provide sufficient steel to make a Chef’s knife. After the basic shape had been drawn on the blade, a torch was used to  profile of the blade. Rough shaping was done using a grinder and final edging was completed on a 72-inch knife-making machine, which is basically a 72-inch variable-speed belt grinder with a 2-inch wide belt. To preserve the blade’s rustic look, the deep brown rust patina on the sides of the blade was left intact.

Once the blade was ground and holes drilled for the scales, the forge was  used to re-temper the blade, as heat from the cutting torch had heated the steel sufficient to soften the steel. The tempering process served to stiffen the blade and harden the edge. A video showing how the knife was made is at:

Wood from the tea olive, a native American tree whose fragrant-smelling blossoms caused it to be planted around  many antebellum plantations,  was selected as the handle material. This wood is harder than pine, ivory colored, commonly spalted and worm-holed when it has been on the forest floor.  The natural holes and contrasting colors proved to be complementary to the over-all look of the knife. Although the finished knife is fully functional and has a sharp edge, it would appear to be hundreds of years old. Closer inspection would reveal that its cutting edge is brightly finished, the grips are coated with a tough polyurethane and the back of the blade exposes bright metal.

Billy Joe's Chef's knife in kitchen

In a video, Billy Joe’s knife was tested against a commercial kitchen knife from the mark-down table of a mass-market retailer.

Billy Joe’s knife was compared to a $7.00 Chef’s knife from a mass-market-outlet’s discount table during cutting tests using bond paper and vegetables as I prepared some soup. Although Billy Joe’s knife had the advantages of having a sharper, deeper and longer blade, the pitted sides of the blade produced much more friction. In most cases the commercial knife was superior as a usable kitchen knife, although the rustic Rubideoux knife felt better, worked better as a chopping blade and kept its edge during the test. In short it proved itself to be a usable Chef’s knife, although not as good as the inexpensive commercial product.

The Billy Joe Rubideoux knife is more art than functional knife,  but it will work for its intended purposes in a home setting. Its design is superior to the commercial knife. The longer, deeper blade and long grip with the stag-like feel imparted by the worm holes give it a distinctive feel while the light-weight wood of the grips provide a desirable weight-forward balance for the knife. Only the roughness and perhaps the slight lip at the top of the blade made the Billy Joe knife function less well than the commercial blade.  The wooden grips, which provide an artistic counterpoint to the blade,   will  also soften  if immersed in water or put in a dishwasher. These grips demand careful handling, which is not likely to happen in a commercial kitchen.

A video, “A $700 Billy Joe Rubideoux Chef’s Knife Vs. a $7.00 Mass-Market Markdown Makes Soup for the Toothless,”  was made when showing this knife being used to chop vegetables for a soup. While the knife felt good in the hand and handled better than the commercial knife as a chopper; overall, the slicker-sided commercial knife proved to be much more efficient. While distinctive as a piece of rustic functional art made and fine for casual use in a home kitchen, its pitted blade caused it to be inefficient. Billy Joe’s knife would be thrown out of a commercial kitchen, although it did serve to demonstrate that a functional Chef’s knife could be made from scrap materials in a home workshop.  This video may be seen at:

This experiment was sufficiently successful that the decision was made to custom make knives and tools in the Billy Joe fashion using salvaged steels and handle materials furnished by the anyone who wants a custom-made, functional tool made of something that had significance to him. As long as it is a reasonable carbon steel, a useful knife or tool can probably be made by the  combined processes of cutting, forging, grinding and tempering. The last is significant, because if too much heat is applied to the metal during cutting or grinding the result will be a softer steel and a weaker tool that will not hold an edge or quickly fail if exposed to heat or stress.

Written by hoveysmith

August 24, 2016 at 9:58 am

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