Straight from Ryan's personal shop, the Gold Point Thick Billy club is perfect for all your oversized bashin' and general ass whoopin' needs! Ryan built these Billies with his daughter Hannah, making them a multi-generational Gold Point piece, at the Gold Point Forge on his Defiance 1904 lathe. These Billies can be easily thrown in a pack for whenever you need some extra leverage. Each is solid chunk of hickory, that has been tapered down to the handle (featuring the signature texture that the Defiance lathe is known for) to then flair into a pommel. On top of that, each Billy is loaded with a lead weight at the tip for some extra 'oomph' as well as a counter weight at the butt end to keep things balanced. The butt end features Gold Point's Defiance logo denoting what machine it was produced on. These Billies have a Valhalla motif engraved down the length of them, and each one has a hand finished with Ryan's own home-made concoction giving it a reddish brown finish.
Note: Each one is hand finished, so they are all a little different. Some are lighter, some are darker. Don't get worked up, and know yours is truly unique!
If the Gold Point Forge can be said to specialize in one thing, it would be that it specializes in NOT doing the same thing over and over. Kind of the bizarro-specialization, that things are ever-changing and always developing. Every piece that comes out of GPF is totally unique, hand made, one of a kind. But sometimes, you just gotta make more than one of something, and that usually means more time spent on quantity development, or a loss of certain custom qualities.
Ryan Johnson works in many mediums, with all manners of tools ranging from his own two hands, to modern CNC equipment, 100+ year old machines, and everything in between (and often mashing manufacturing processes from all of the above together). So, when faced with the dilemma of making 'more' without losing the hand made and hand finished product GPF is known for, Ryan turned to the past.
The Defiance Machine Works automatic copying lathe you see above was built in 1904 in Ohio. It spent the majority of its production years turning out Springfield M1903 gun stocks for use in WWI and beyond, alongside dozens of its fellow Defiance lathes. A mechanical automatic copying lathe like the Defiance does exactly what it sounds like - it copies a base "master" object and cuts a duplicate shaped piece. Unlike modern CAD-driven lathes, the Defiance (to grossly simplify things) has two main operations: one side of the lathe 'measures' the example master object, and in real time, copies the form of the master onto a new piece.
One side of the Defiance holds the master object, which is the real-time template for the cutting side.
Basically, once you hand make and finalize the item you want to duplicate, you chuck that 'master' on one side of the lathe. Then, you chuck up an uncut piece of wood on the other side. After all of the fine-tuning to the settings and the master to get the cut right, a gauge on the master side measures the depth of the cut as the drive is activated, and mirrors that measurement to the actual cutting production side of the operation. If all goes well, once the dust settles, you have a freshly cut duplicate ready for final clean up and assembly! The Defiance can cut one part at a time, and requires you to manually chuck up a new blank every single time. For 1904, this tech was invaluable - but you can see how much work still goes into each piece even before final trimming and fitting happens.
As the lathe moves and measures the master, the cutter mirrors the movement on the cutting side, making a 1 for 1 copy.
A few years back, Ryan found this Defiance and brought it back to new life. This included a complete rebuilt of several integral parts, changing and re-wiring the motors (the original production was set up to be belt driven off of overhead drive shafts), and getting a brand new cutter custom-made. After over a year of cleaning, rebuilding and fine-tuning, the Defiance cuts again!
An American Tomahawk Model 3 handle, trimmed and ready to be hung.
The Defiance is currently working on production handles for several RMJ Tactical and American Tomahawk handles, as well as several custom Gold Point Forge products. Ryan has plans for collaborative projects with other makers that do not have the capacity to make more than a handful of pieces at a time. The Defiance lathe opens up a new world of possibility by creating components faster than Ryan can by hand, all while keeping the hand fit and finished elements, as well as the rapid development and ability to take on new ideas, that the Gold Point Forge is known for. Every piece that comes of the Defiance is marked with a special mark, denoting the heritage of the machine that cut the part you hold in your hands.