This article will be translated to English very soon!

 
Steve and myself

 

Da familiens sommerferietur 2012 skulle gå til USA, og vi skulle besøge nationalparker tæt på knivmageren Steve Johnsons hjem i Utah, var det nærliggende at forsøge at indlægge et besøg hos ham.

Da jeg startede på knivmageriet i 1999, søgte jeg en del hjælp og information på amerikanske knivsites, især på www.knifenet.com, og her "lærte" jeg bl.a. Steve Johnsons knive at kende, og jeg har længe været fan af især hans subhilts og hans exceptionelle finish. For nogle år siden blev der udgivet en DVD, hvor Steve viser, hvordan han laver en subhilt fra start til slut og kommer med mange gode tips undervejs. Jeg købte straks naturligvis DVD'en, uden dog at komme i gang med teknikkerne selv, men når man er fan, må man jo ha'.

Steves knivmagerkarriere startede, da han fik Gil Hibben som spejderleder en gang i 60'erne. Gil Hibben er kendt for bowies, art knives og store knive. Steve lagde knivene på hylden, for at han kunne uddanne sig til lærer, men han blev ved med at få forespørgsler på knive, og da han var færdiguddannet, havde han bestillingsarbejde nok til et år frem, så han tog chancen og gik i gang med knivene igen og har aldrig siden set sig tilbage. Dorothy og et par af sønnerne har også taget del i arbejdet med knivene. En overgang arbejdede han sammen med Bob Loveless, og de to havde nærmest et far-søn forhold.

Omkring 2 måneder før vi skulle af sted, mailede jeg til Steve, om vi måtte komme forbi, krydsede fingre for et positivt svar - det fik jeg, og vi aftalte at mødes en julidag. Det viste sig i øvrigt, at Steve har danske aner, da hans bedsteforældre på mødrende side var udvandret fra Danmark en gang i 1800-tallet.

Familen Bybjerg troppede op foran Steves hus, der var nydeligt og velplejet (det havde jeg også forventet; når manden er omhyggelig med sine knive, er han sandsynligvis også omhyggelig med alt andet). Vi hyggesnakkede lidt med Steve og hans kone Dorothy og gik så i værkstedet. Han holder til i en tilbygning og klarer sig med overraskende lidt plads. Da jeg efterhånden fik listet op, hvilke maskiner jeg har (en del, man skal ikke gå ned på udstyr), sammenlignede han mig med Bob Loveless, der heller ikke kunne få udstyr nok. Det tog jeg selvfølgelig som en kompliment!

I det første rum var diverse litteratur, pakkebord, en kopifræser og en gammel Bridgeport fræser. I mellemste rum var et delt arbejdsbord med div. skruestikke og håndværktøj, kompressor, presse til pins m.v. I det bageste rum var der en Bader båndsliber med et stort udvalg af hjul, bl.a. et dejligt sæt 14" hjul, som han bruger til både store og små klinger samt en solid udsugningsenhed. Desuden var der en stor Jet metalbåndsav, to skiveslibere (den ene hjemmegjort) han bruger til at rense op efter tapering + i ricassoområdet og en stor polermaskine.

Han viste mig så, hvordan han sliber fas på en - i forvejen taperet - klinge. Han bruger ikke og har aldrig brugt fikstur af nogen art ("måske når jeg bliver rigtig gammel", mente han). Grundslibningen klares med et korn 50, i øjeblikket er favoritten Cubitron 967F fra 3M, derefter på et Trizact CF 337 fra 3M A45 (svarer til korn 400), herefter går han over til korkbånd fra Klingspor korn 400 og 1000 til finish. Jeg fik et par prøver med, som jeg har testet med godt resultat. Amerikanernes standardbånd er 2x72" (1829 mm), men da mine båndslibere er hjemmelavede, kan jeg få båndene til at passe på den ene af maskinerne. Steve bruger i øvrigt det samme polermiddel til alle processer, både når der arbejdes med korkbåndene, skivesliberen og polermaskinen.

Da produktionen var på sit højeste, lavede Steve omkring 90 knive årligt. I dag laver han 60-70 knive, en del af dem er knive han har lavet for år tilbage, hvor kunden efter en årrække er vendt tilbage med ønsker om en re-skæftning med mammut eller lignende. Priserne ligger på 500$ – 5000$ og knivene købes for størstedelens vedkommende af samlere over hele verden.

Efter et par timers demo og hyggesnak om knive forlod vi Steve med slibebånd, polermiddel og rødt mellemlægskarton i bagagen, en stor oplevelse rigere!

 

 

 

In 2012 the Bybjerg family vacation was set to go to the US in an RV starting in Denver, Colorado and finishing in San Francisco, California. As our road trip would bring us very close to the famous knifemaker Steve Johnson's home in Utah, I took the opportunity to ask if we could pay him a visit.

When I started to make knives in 1999 I studied quite a lot of American websites, and especially www.knifenet.com and I became familiar with Steve's beautiful knives. I've been a fan of his subhilts and exceptional finish ever since. Some years ago Center Cross Instructional Videos published a DVD where Steve shows how to build a subhilt fighter from steel bar to finished product with a lot of good advice along the way. Of course, I had to have the DVD (being a fan!), but I never started to grind a blank myself.

Steve's career as a knifemaker began in the 1960s where his scout leader was the well-known knifemaker Gil Hibben. Gil is known for bowies, art knives and big knives (knives for Rambo!). Steve took a break from knifemaking to become a teacher, but he still received orders for knives, so when he had finished his education he had enough orders for a year's work. He took a chance and picked up knifemaking again and hasn't looked back ever since. His wife Dorothy and a couple of his sons have also participated in the family knife business. For a while he worked with Bob Loveless, the two of them had close to a father and son relationship.

Around 2 months before our vacation I sent an email to Steve asking him if we could pay him a visit, crossed my fingers for a positive reply - and got it! We set up a date for a meeting in July. It turned out that Steve has Danish ancestors as his maternal grand parents had immigrated from Denmark some time in the 18th century.

The Bybjergs showed up at Steve's house which was very nice and well-kept (which I had expected - when the man is careful with his knives, he is probably also careful with everything else). We had a chat with Steve and Dorothy and went to the workshop. His shop is an annex to the house, not very big, but well-equipped. When I told him which machines I have (quite a few...) he compared me to Bob Loveless who was also a tool-lover. I took that as a compliment!

In the first room he had books, a table for packaging, a copy mill and an old Bridgeport mill. In the middle room he had a split workbench with vises and hand tools, compressor, press for pins etc. In the back room he had a Bader belt grinder with quite a selection of grinding wheels, incl. a nice set of 14" wheels which he uses for both big and small blades. He also had a large Jet metal bandsaw, two disc grinders which he uses to align the handle of the blade after tapering and for cleaning up the ricasso, and a large polishing machine.

Steve then showed me how he grinds the bevel of a blade. He does not use and never has used any fixture of any kind ("maybe when I get really old, he said"). He starts with a 50 grit, at the moment his favourite is the Cubitron 967F from 3M, after this a Trizact CF 337 from 3M A45 (corresponds to 400 grit). For finishing he uses cork belts from Klingspor 400 and 1000 grit. He gave me a couple of samples that I have tested with a good result. The US standard belt is 2x72" (1829 mm), so somewhat shorter than the European 50x2000 mm. Since my belt grinders are home made I can make the belts fit one of my machines without rebuilding it. Steve also uses the same polishing compound for all processes: cork belts, disc grinder and polishing machine.

At the top of his production Steve made around 90 knives annually. Today, he makes 60-70 knives, some of them are existing knives where the owner wants a new, exotic handle of mammoth tusk or similar. His prices are 500$ - 5000$ and the knives are bought by collectors worldwide.

After a couple of hours of demoing and shop talk we left Steve and continued our vacation, richer in experience!

 

 

 

My name is Jette Bybjerg, I am one of Denmark's few female knifemakers.

I hold a batchelor's degree in civil engineering and I'm currently between jobs. Knifemaking is a hobby of mine which has been ongoing since 1999. My annual production is not very big due to lack of time and a passion for playing the electric bass which also takes quite some time ;-)

Although my production is not that big I make efforts to produce the best knife every time. I use various kinds of handle material, with wood being the most frequent one, I also use bone, stag, plastic, micarta and G10 among others.

I use blades from well-known Danish and Swedish knife smiths or knife grinders; I also have intentions of grinding my own blades, but I am not yet satisfied with my grinding results and until then I will only use blades from established blade-makers for my knives.