Retired and a Maker: Another Day in the Life.

There are times when my daily walks are more rewarding than others. Yesterday, I picked up a discarded knife on the trail. It didn’t look like much. In fact, it looked like a bit of trash. It was covered with sand and the scales were broken. However, it looked as if it could be salvaged. A new one looks like this:

I could have thrown it away or added it to my growing display of found objects, but I decided to see if I could make it useful again even though I really don’t need another knife. Knives are cool, don’t you think?

If I did need a new knife, I could get one from Amazon in a day for a bit less than $18. What’s the fun in that? I have a workshop, tools, and time.

It’s particularly cool looking with its tanto tipped/serrated blade. Functionally, it is defined as “ball bearing assisted.” That means that it unfolds very easily and can be opened with one hand, when it’s not full of sand. Amazon customers (173) gave it 4.8 stars, out of 5. The only complaint I could find is that the blade might deploy “too easily” and cause an accident.

Spoiler alert, as if the picture wasn’t spoiler enough. I was able to fix it up. It now joins my ever-increasing collection.

The first step was to disassemble and clean it. It used the smallest Torx screws I’ve ever seen to hold on the side pieces (the “scales”). They were also worn down as if scraped on the asphalt. Luckily, I was able to remove them. Mostly, the way I got them off was to obliterate the remaining scales and grab the screw heads with needle-nosed pliers. I didn’t worry about ruining them because I wasn’t going to be using them for the reassembly in any case. The pivot hardware was another story. I had to use it later. Luckily, the screw heads were more robust, and I was able to get them off without destroying them.

I collected all the parts that I was going to reuse, dusted off my jewelry ultrasonic cleaner, and gave them a bath in cleaning solution.

There were a couple of small screws that needed to be replaced. Luckily, I used to build and fly model airplanes, so I had small stuff available. Turns out, the screws I needed were metric (sized 2). The ones I had were cap headed and 16mm long, a bit too long. I cut the screws with a Dremel cut-off-disk and I was all set except for the scales.

My first thought was to make the scales out of Plexi-glass. I made a pair, carved them to shape, but when I drilled the holes, they shattered. My second thought was to get material that wouldn’t shatter when drilled. I went to Amazon and found some scale material made of G10 fiberglass. Great! There was only one problem. How am I to justify buying $15 worth of material to repair and $18 knife that I found in the street? So, it was back to the workshop to see if I didn’t have something on hand that would do the job. Of course, I could always use plywood, but I thought about how that would look and wear. Then, I thought about the pile of cutting boards that I have left over from CampQuest projects. The material in a plastic cutting board is HDPE (High Density Polyethylene). It’s tough. Some of its characteristics include good looks, long wearing, easily workable, and most importantly, I have a bunch of it. A short time with my bandsaw, a belt sander, and a drill press, and I had my new scales.

Reassembly when well. It was a good thing too. Before I was finished, I had to take the knife apart 3 different times. The job wasn’t going to be done until it worked like new. That took some tweeking.

The final step was to hit the completed knife with a small blow torch to raise the texture of the HDPE scales and knock off the sharp edges.


About AZAtheist

Retired--Researcher, Developer, Program Manager, Arizona Regional Director--American Atheists, Organizer--Tucson Atheists, Organizer--Skeptics of Tucson
This entry was posted in Camp Quest, Repurposing Material, Retired--A Day in the Life, Science and Technology and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Retired and a Maker: Another Day in the Life.

  1. mark hamilton says:

    Maker stories are always good:)

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