As a knifemaker, I've found that there are certain knives that I like to make more than others. Miniatures of course being one of them. My background was jewelry to start with, so making small things was an easy enough aspect to get into, but miniature knives ended up being a completely different beast. The biggest problem I found with miniatures is the aspect ratio, whether making them in 1/3 or 1/4 scale, because you're not making a small knife, but a detailed version of a large knife. 

I've decided the best way to explain this, is by showing what I've made by separating my minis into two categories, first year and second year. I hope this'll show a decent progression of how new techniques learned over the years has affected the miniatures I've built.

First Year 

This was my very first two minis, a Bowie and puukko. The puukko was made into a necklace knife for my wife Jordan .

From the first two knives, I realized that my handles were too big, so I implemented that change into my next few knives.

Even after handle size adjustments, the aspect ratios were still off to me. So I decided to try simpler styles of knives for practice, slowly creating a muscle memory for the small grinds needed.

After getting a little more confident with my abilities, it was time to start playing around with what could be done in miniature.

This ended up being the last knife in my first year of miniatures, which only spread out over a 4 month period.

Second Year

After a hiatus of 7 months from anything resembling a miniature, I ended up with a custom order for a large kitchen knife. To work out the details, I made a mini version to see how it looked before diving into the fullsize version.

I didn't notice it at first, but something changed with how my miniatures looked. Maybe it was a finer attention to detail, but it was something that really affected their overall appearance. 

Over the last few months I've built less miniatures,  because I want everything in perfect scale. Oddly enough though, I spend more time invested in my miniature knives, than I would a regular sized knife.

This was one of my last minis, but it's become the standard now for which I hold all the new ones.

It's weird to see a lot of my knives put together like this, because it shows a progression of how my standards have changed in a short period of time, compared to being broken up over a period of years  in unrelated stories. Oh well, enjoy.


Views: 792

Replies to This Discussion

Nice work Charles nice to see another Mini maker here and with a background in Jewelry too! What times do you get on here?


Chris Sievert said:

Nice work Charles nice to see another Mini maker here and with a background in Jewelry too! What times do you get on here?


Hi Chris,

  I randomly browse in the morning before heading out to the shop, and sometimes during the evening.


What a great progression of work!  It is also quite a range of types of knives.  One thing I like about the devoted mini makers is they tend to span across the many different types of knives available in various different countries

Great progression. My wife likes to collect mini's.

Very nice Charles. The progression is obvious of course. It appears that once you got comfortable with the proportional scale issue you really started focusing on the details and finish more.....all natural part of the learning curve.

Yeah, I can make a full size bowie in two thirds the time I can make the scaled down 1.25" version. Just the way it is. Your average person has no clue what goes into a well made miniature. Pricing is really difficult.

How many "universal" jigs have you made so far? I got a drawer full of them.

Thanks for sharing.

Great looking mini's Charles. I also love the mini's. Someday I hope to be able to try my own hand at making a few. In the mean time, I will just enjoy looking at yours, Tamera's and all the mini knife makers. Thanks for sharing!

Thanks everyone.

Carl, I end up making a special jig for each of the daggers and puukkos, but for the full tang minis and Bowies, my go to tool is an adjustable ring vise. It's saved my fingers from cramping quite a few times .

My Miniatures aren't priced by the time involved.... some I've spent 100+ hours of hand work on them... Can't really see trying to get over $1000 for them. But I don't make them to feed a family which is good I'm too much of a perfectionist.

Charles - yeah tried all kinds of things as well, do use a ring vise on occasion, just seems to get lost a lot on the bench. One of the toughest issues I have is when I am re-working a sliver of Damascus to get the pattern reduced to match the scale of the knife, then forging the blade to shape. Have to preheat the bench anvil just to keep the steel hot enough to forge properly. Try to do the old jap style of holding right above the anvil surface before strike, but it's a tricky maneuver to say the least.

Chris - Not many knifemakers large or small that can charge by the hour. To even use time to any major extent in the calculation of pricing usually just makes us cry (I'm sure you know).

No, I'd never consider trying to make a living with the mini's, but they are an addictive side. Being an old school hippie recycler/repurposer, I just can't stand to see good material leave the shop as waste. So....anything that leaves is in the shopvac bag if it's not cutlery.

Jeremy - "someday" won't come unless you grit your teeth and just do it.

Carl, I know all about the problem of Damascus when working in miniature. That's part of the reason I don't use it that often now, even though I've started forging my own. The solution for me was to forge weld up some GoMai on the last knife shown, which gave me a little more detail on the scale I wanted. And I admit, that I'll forge to a rough shape before profiling, but I find that the loss of heat hasn't been a real big issue for me. My speed has been increasing for work time from forge to anvil, since I started doing laminates and Damascus.

No problems with the full size stuff either, just the little mini's. Don't hold their heat long.

Like do the minimal layered stuff now, 3-7 layer when just using hammer (gets a little tough on these aged arms and shoulders). Got a press for multi layered billets and liking it.

Carl , to me its just fascinating what folks can do in smaller sizes. I really give you credit, so much to consider, with relative proportions. But a fine series of progressions. Can't wait for Tamera to eventually finish her military duty and bring us up to dte on her work and hopefully she can provide some comments on yours.


White River Knives

Visit Lee' s Cutlery




JSR Sports!

Click to visit

© 2024   Created by Jan Carter.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service