Wa Handle Construction – Martell Knives

So this is mostly a post for the other makers out there having issues with making wa handles……but maybe my customers might like to see it too?

It’s common for most (wa) handle makers today to use a dowel internally to provide stability/security while shaping the handle (off knife). This is sort of like making a dowel to work like (what we get from) a tang when shaping a handle while it’s mounted on the knife. This is especially important to a maker when metal spacers are involved in the build as they tend to hold onto heat and melt the epoxy allowing the handle to come apart but when a dowel is used this problem pretty much isn’t an issue.

Using dowels internally does add a lot of strength for to a handle, for sure, but I don’t believe it’s necessary for kitchen knives since they’re not used in a manner that requires such characteristics like say a camp knife would require (chopping, etc). I only use dowels for the reasons noted.

I first used a single dowel in my wa handles, like most other makers employ, but I found this limiting and looked for another method. The reasons for this…

1. When a single (large) hole is drilled it’s difficult to keep the hole running straight as the depth increases.

2. Bigger drill bits cost more money and are harder to find. The same is true for dowels.

3. The size of the hole/dowel limits the size/shape that the finished handle can be brought to. Using a large internal hole/dowel often meant wider handles than I wanted to provide, especially the case on small petty handles.

4. When making handles for several different size knives one needs to make different sized handles, this means many different size dowels and drill bits to keep on hand. With the double dowel method I can use one size drill and dowel for all handles.

Doctor, Doctor!


What knife do you carry during the Covid-19 pandemic?

There are a lot of options to choose from.  I’m going with Steel Will’s Plague Doctor!

Steal Will Plague Doctor
The Plague Doctor is a tactical level knife from Steel Will

Steel Will offers three levels of pocket knives.  First is their EDC.  Up a notch is their Outdoor line followed by their Tactical line.  I don’t know the difference.  I’m cynical enough to know “Tactical” products are usually black and cost more.

The Plague Doctor is a product of the fertile mind of the mysterious designer Vaeringi.  At least he is mysterious to me.  I was unable to find a first name or any kind of bio. 

The knife is a frame lock, with G-10 scales available in OD green and black.  I went with green G-10.

STeel Will Tactical Level Plague Doctor
Who says photos don’t lie?  The lighting conditions produced a black blade and not the silver satin steel blade it should be.

The blade is made from D2 steel, a high carbon, high chromium die steel and is the highest carbon alloy tool and die steel in production.  The steel contains 1.5% carbon, 12% chromium, 0.75% molybdenum and 0.9% vanadium and a smattering of other elements.  It is the chromium and vanadium that is of interest.  Both form hard, tiny carbides that pin the grain boundaries, and provide strength and edge retention.  The chromium forms a thin, tough transparent metal oxide that protects the steel from rust.  D2 is right on the edge of being stainless, so it benefits from an occasional wipe with oil.  D2 was popularized by Jimmy Lile and later by Bob Dozier.

The knife blade sports a flipper that rotates to form a deep guard for the index finger.  The top of the blade has a riser with jimping providing a friction surface for your thumb.  A depression in the handle feeds your thumb into the jimping. 

There is no opening stud on the blade.  This knife was designed to open with the flipper.  Not enough of the closed blade is exposed to grasp it and open the knife slowly and politely.  Politeness be damned, it’s a fighting knife.

Steel Will Plague Doctor clip side

The clip is reversible, but not interchangeable.  Steel Will gives you a second Clip.  All you need is a T-6 torx and a drop of loctite.

I went with the OD green because it wasn’t black.  There is a fine texture on the G-10 to help with grip but not so much you’ll sand the inside of your pocket.  Steel liners support the scales and one side forms the liner lock.  The lock takes a pretty solid bite out of the back of the blade.  The blade pivots on what appear to be bronze washers.  I’d put tiny drop oil on them too.

Let’s summarize the knife specs:

  • Blade Length: 3.43″ with a cutting edge that’s 3.54″
  • Closed Length: 4.96″
  • Overall Length: 8.31″
  • Blade Material: D2 Tool Steel
  • Blade Thickness: 0.14″
  • Blade Style: Drop Point flat grind
  • Handle Material: OD Green G10
  • Handle Thickness: 0.51″
  • Weight: 5.4 oz.

Steel Will Plague Doctor, OD Green

The liner lock engages its full thickness on the back of the blade.  The steel liners make this a solid knife!

You can get you own Steel Will Plague Doctor for just under $80.00 at


It’s a lot of knife for a reasonable price.

Steel Will is a division of Sports Manufacturing Group (SMG), an American company located in Huntington Valley, PA.  The knife was manufactured in China and despite my feelings about China due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is a quality knife.  I would have no trouble carrying this to a knife club meeting or taking it off the pavement. 

Boker’s Pocket Knife

Mickey Yurco is an interesting fellow.  He’s been making knives for a number of years and has a number of unique concepts.  His current creation is a fixed blade knife he and Boker Knife call The Pocket Knife. 

Mickey’s fixed blade “The Pocket Knife”

The first thing you notice when you open the box is the graceful saber grind drop point blade tapering to a point.  The egg-shaped handle is depressed by about 26 degrees from the center blade line.  More on that later.  The handle also sports a cutout that accommodates your index finger.  The egg-shaped handle is constructed of black G-10 and has a slight palm swell making it easy to grip the knife.  The upshot of this design is a knife that locks into your hand and the allows your wrist to be at its neutral position where you have the most strength and control of the knife.

Clearly it was a designed for a purpose. 

Let’s look at the specs, shall we?

The knife is made from 440C stainless steel.  The blade is 3.3 inches long with a 0.15 inch thickness and overall length of 6.8 inches.  The finger groove acts as a stop to keep your hand off the sharp edge.  The bend also helps to keep the knife from slipping forward or backward in your hand by converting either motion to a push into your palm or a press into your closed hand.  A large lanyard hole is available, always a good idea when working over water or deep snow.  

The knife seems to want to nessle deep into the palm of my hand

440C isn’t a super steel.  But it is the best of all the 440 steels.  It is also the steel everyone compares their newest steel to.  Frankly a well-made, well-tempered knife of 440C will give you all the performance the majority of us will ever need.

No discussion of steel is complete without a formula sheet:

440C contains:

  • 0.95-1.2% carbon
  • 16-18% chromium, 
  • 0.75 molybdenum,
  • 1.0 manganese and
  • 1.0 silicon.


This formulation provides high strength, moderate corrosion resistance and good edge retention.  Some of the chromium and carbon form tiny carbides on the grain boundary.  Iron also can form carbides, but they are not as effective as chromium carbide.  These grains are very hard and resist the shear needed to displace the steel grains.  This is what gives steel its strength.

The remaining chromium forms a transparent thin film of chrome oxide that limits rust making the steel discolor or stain less.  Still an occasion drop of food grade oil is always a good idea.

The results of this chemistry and heat treatment gives The Pocket Knife a Rockwell hardness c scale of 57-58. 

The sheath is made from strong light weight kydex

The sheath is fabricated out of kydex and sports what I think is a unique attachment device, the Ulticlip.  This clip allows you to fasten a variety of holsters and sheaths to pants without a belt.  The sheath slips into your pocket and locks on to the edge and provides a secure platform to draw the knife.  The knife sheath is designed so you can set it up for left or right pocket carry.  Mine arrived set up for left side.  I may leave it that way.

The Ulticlip is relatively new but quickly becoming a go-to solution for anchoring whatnots

The way back story.

Mickey has been seriously studying martial arts since the early 70s.  By 2000 he became interested in knife combatives as taught in Martial Blade Concepts.  Despite being in law enforcement, Mickey realized that even with CCW not everyone can carry a firearm, but most of us can carry a knife.  Mike Janich has developed an evolving concept of using a small legal knife for self-defense.  These concepts were attractive to Mickey and evolved into “The Pocket Knife.”  I’ll let Mickey tell you about it.

The wrist is in the neutral position and aligned with the long bones of the arm for maximum strength. 

“It was designed to be carried to the far right (just like my politics) of the front right pocket.  A fixed blade can be drawn and deployed faster than a folding knife.  Picture a normal stance with your thumbs in your pockets.  Your hand is now on the knife handle.  It is an inconspicuous way to quickly unsheath the knife. The small egg shaped handle fills the air pocket in the palm allowing a good grip.  The small handle also stays out of the way when not in use. This little blade is also a great shape for everyday mundane tasks from opening mail to cutting a steak at the Outback.  An email I received from Boker stated that it was a popular knife at a German Knife show.  I am pleased with their interpretation of my knife.”

I thought the knife needed to be a little lower in my pocket, so I moved the clip up one notch.  I like it lower in the pocket.  Yes, I will probably scratch the G-10 handle, but as I see it as a tool, I’m okay with that.

Sharp out of the box

I also did a little cutting with mine.  Cut a little rope, reduced cardboard to smaller pieces shaved a little wood.  I think it would make a great pork chop knife.  I’d take it for a walk off the concrete, for weekend at a cabin, or just simply heading out.

I think it’s a pretty cool knife.  Spend 5 minutes with Mickey and you’ll see how dangerous a knife can be in trained hand.  But even I know, that going up against someone with a couple inches of sharpened steel in their hand makes most people think twice.

You can get one for yourself for $60.00 at Boker.  Just follow the link: https://www.bokerusa.com/pocket-knife-02bo522

You can also find the Ulticlip to modify your current holsters, sheaths and whatnots at: https://www.ulticlip.com/?v=7516fd43adaa

When it Rains…..

Ken Onion made his first knife in 1991 and hasn’t looked back.  He is a prodigious innovator holding 36 design patents on different items including locks, mechanisms, and knife designs.

Ken Onion Designed Rain Paring Knife

And frankly, I really love his designs.  So when I had the chance I picked up a kitchen knife from his Rain collection from Chef Works.  The instantly visible, the most striking aspect of the knife is the highly polished blade with a textured rain drop pattern.  Hence the name.  The pattern on the blade is designed to reduce food drag caused by surface tension and drag coefficient by creating multiple pockets of air.

Beats me.  I know drag coefficient is used in calculating friction forces which resist movement. I’m sure if you spent 8 hours a day cutting food, you’d want reduced food drag too!

Reverse paring knife
The blade is on top

The business end is a 3 inch reverse paring blade made from Carpenter’s DBZ-1 stainless steel.

DBZ-1 isn’t made from exotic elements.  The bulk of it is iron.  Carbon is between 0.6 and 0.75% with chromium falling in line with 12.5 to 15.3%.  There’s only 0.75% molybdenum  and a smattering of other elements.  The key to this martensitic steel is that it is designed to produce a network of fine carbide particles throughout the steel.  This produces a steel that takes a remarkable edge and holds it.

The most interesting part is the reverse edge.  The curved blade has the sharp, business edge on the top of the blade.  You need to be careful gripping the knife, because the finger grooves are on the opposite side from the edge.  I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to put my thumb on the razor sharp edge.  Just be real careful with this one.

They even warn you in the box.

The handle is shaped from G-10, a high-pressure fiberglass laminate.  It is made by stacking multiple layers of epoxy resin soaked fiber glass sheets and curing under high compression.  G-10 is the toughest of the glass fiber resin laminates.  It is almost indestructible.

This is a glamorous knife.  The blade catches the light and winks as you move it.  The handle with it’s finger grooves feel really good.  It was Blade magazine’s Kitchen Knife of 2013.

But you better watch that blade.  You may not shoot your eye out, but you’ll cut you finger off.

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