I'm Justin Stinson from Vacaville CA, and I am the owner of Running Man Forge. You can find my knives for sale at runningmanforge.com or homebutcher.com as well as here. I focus on making high end cutlery and EDC knives. I do both stock removal and Bladesmithing. I do most of my forging when I’m making Damascus. I make all the Damascus I use, myself. Kelly Vermeer (Forged in Fire Champion) taught me how to make Mosaic Damascus too.
I work with both carbon and stainless steels and do all heat treating in house. Heat treating is done primarily in a kiln. Temperature control is very important. With carbon steel I tend to add hamons whenever possible and everything is hand sanded. I feel there should be some elbow grease involved to give these Knives a handmade aura. I want the customer to pick it up for the first time and feel something special.
Steels: 1095, w2, 15n20, 52100, Aeb-l, Nitro v, CPM s30v, CPM s35vn.
Heat Treat: Typically on Carbon steel I do a decreasing normalizing cycle, 1500, 1450, then 1400 degrees. This decreases the size of the grain structure in the steel. Then I heat treat in fast quench oil at 1475 after a 5 min soak. For my stainless on average I rap in stainless steel foil and ramp up to 1575 and stabilize for 10 min then up to 1950 for a 30 min soak. I aluminum plate quench while using compressed air, then cryo freeze overnight. All steels are generally tempered at 400 unless they have a specific application. Also minor variations of the whole heat treat process apply depending on curtain criteria. I have had customers tell me that their edge is just as sharp as the day they got it. Even after 3 months of use.
Handles: I Prefer stabilized Wood. I get most of my Stabilized wood from Robs Wild Wood. It’s all professionally stabilized by K&G. Otherwise I use all types of other materials; oily woods, micarta, g10, carbon fiber, etc. I also do some stabilizing in house with cactus juice. I have a 5 gal vacuum chamber to stabilize the wood. I dry the wood in the kiln for 2 days at 200, then check with a moister meter to make sure it’s below 5%. Then I fill the vacuum chamber with the wood and cactus juice. Run a full vacuum for a couple days and then let it sit at atmosphere in the juice for 1 week. Then bake. The result is an impregnated wood that resists water and temperature damage.
Grinding: I have a Bader B3 2 x 72 grinder. I take my edges down to where you can role it on brass and see the edge flex before handsanding. I usually end at a 400grit finish off the belt. I have been a big fan of combat abrasives since 2015.
Finishing: My handles are hand sanded up to 3000 grit, buffed and finished with a coat of teak oil. For carbon steel I hand sand to 600 grit and etch in FC to bring out the hamon. Then I use a powder stainless steel cleaner and hand rub the oxides off. Along with some other techniques, I’m left with a dark lined hamon that you find on my blades.
My logo is electric etched using vinyl stickers. The most important part is the final edge. I have curtain tests that the edge must pass to be able to be shipped. If the edge isn’t screaming sharp then it’s no good.
I am part of a local community of makers, we have “hammer in’s” at Kelly Vermeer shop. Wherein I’m able to share my knowledge as well as learn from others. I also help teach simpler Damascus techniques to knife maker’s that are interested in learning hand hammer Damascus.
Being a full time knife maker has been a dream come true. I am able to support my family and do the thing I love every day. I take pride in what I do and love every bit of feedback I get. The best thing is the community that I share this craft with. From Chefs, to other makers, it’s truly humbling and I wouldn’t know where I would be without it.Justin Stinson
Knife maker/Blade smith
Running Man Forge