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Geoff Keyes

Start to Finish

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I found the original thread pinned here, I didn't remember that I gotten quite as far as I had. I'm going to put this here as well, Don you can pin or not as you like.

 

Ok folks, here we go. BTW, feel free to kibitz or jump in with your own processes at any step. There is nothing here that is hard and fast, it’s just the way I do it, most of the time.

 

BBBlank.jpg

 

This is the piece of steel I started with, it’s a piece of 1 ½ x ¼ , 1084 from Aldo about 7 inches long. It was cut off from another project and was lying under the forge when I decided to start this project.

 

BBTip1.jpg

 

I’ve started forging down the tip, this is heat 1. You can just as well clip the tip off to get started, but the end product is just a bit different. A forged tip is longer (at least for me).

 

BBTip2.jpg

 

Second heat. The thing to remember is that part of every heat needs to be spent forging the upset out of the work. As you forge the edge down, it get thicker (all of that mass has to go somewhere), and if you don’t want a really thick tip, you have to forge back to the ¼ inch dimension.

 

BBTip3.jpg

 

Heat 3 plus one more to clean everything up. This is the basic preform for most everything I do. If I was going to do a dagger or a spear point I’d adjust the final position of the tip, or if I were doing a Seaxe, I’d leave well enough alone.

 

BBTaper.jpg

 

I’ve taken a heat or two to forge in some distal taper, you can see the ripples from the hammer blows along the edge. At this point I decided that I wanted more length and less width in the piece, so I took a couple of heats and forged the width down just a bit, forged in more taper and cleaned up the surface. Most of this was done on the hammer, so it went pretty fast.

 

BBStretch.jpg

 

I decided to start the tang, just because it makes holding the piece a bit simpler. I start with a top and bottom fuller to set the notch, and then one heat on the hammer.

 

BBStub.jpg

 

Having gotten everything pretty much where I wanted it, I started in forging the bevel. I start at the tip and with a combination of forging the bevel and forging down on the edge I moved the tip into line with the spine. I could have just flipped the whole thing over and forged the edge from there, but again, it make a difference in the final look. I find it hard to get rid of the square corner, and it tends to make the tip longer and swoopier, not what I wanted for this knife.

 

BBEdge.jpg

 

Here I’ve used a new tool to set the plunge cut. I’m still figuring it out, but it does seem to make this part go a little faster. I’ve also extended the edge bevel back along the blade. There are 3 or 4 heats involved between this picture and the one before it.

 

BBPlunge.jpg

 

Here I’ve set the ricasso, I also have a tool for this step. You can use the edge of the anvil or a square hardy tool, but I find you get some deformation of the spine, which you then have to forge back out. You can also see that the tool has taken some of the curve out of the spine. Since I wanted a flat spine, that’s good, if you liked the curve, you’d do this step a bit earlier, so that as you forged the bevel you could keep the curve you are creating.

 

BBRicasso.jpg

 

At this step I took a mild heat and started tuning up the blade. Making things straight, taking out lumps and bumps, that sort of thing.

 

BBTuneup.jpg

I took a nice bright heat on the tang and drew it out with the hammer, and then did one final tune up.

 

FinForg.jpg

 

Next I fired up the horizontal forge and took 3 normalizing heats and buried the blank in vermiculite overnight. Total forging time was about 40 minutes. After the blank had cooled overnight I took it to my grinding shop and scrubbed most of the scale off with an angle grinder. Then I profiled the blade and ground the blank with a new 36 grit belt.

 

BB36grit.jpg

 

At this point the blank is clean except for the tang, distal tapered, and the plunge cuts and ricasso are roughed in and the edge is ground to about a nickels thickness. I cleaned up the plunge cuts with a file and filing guide. I’ve got another couple of hours in at this point. I will grind to 120 grit next and then it’s ready to heat treat. I probably won’t start on the false edge until after the heat treat.

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Thanks for taking the time Geoff.

 

Take care, Craig

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Nifty thing. I'd like to get a look at that tool you've got to set the plunge cuts. Thanks for sharing.

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Ok, just a couple of more pictures. First, the blade at 120 grit, ready to heat treat, with the notch cut in. I haven't cut the shoulders yet, I'll do that after I get closer to finished surface. Because that part of the blade doesn't get hardened, I can still do it after heat treating. If you full harden, you'll want to cut those sooner.

 

BB120.jpg

 

Next, a picture of the tool I made to forge in the start of the plunge cuts. With this tool, having used it once< I think you need to go around to the other side and hit it again to even things up. The tool is a guillotine fuller, with the blades cut at 15 degrees (7.5 degrees each side). I made it out of heavy truck leaf spring, heated, flattened, but not re-hardened.

 

Fuller.jpg

 

Geoff

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Here is the blade, post HT. This was normalized 3 times after the last picture, twice for drill and to get my eye calibrated to the color and the last time to HT. The proper color in daylight is gray, barely red, in the dark after sunset it's bright orange. Edge quenched in mineral oil at 100 degrees. The black mark on the blade is where the tang of one of the other blades (which were quenched in veggie oil) came to rest on it.

 

BBHT.jpg

 

More soon.

 

Geoff

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Ok, boys and girls, more updates. This is taking forever, I'm really sorry.

 

Here is the blade at about a 150 finish (actually a 100 grit Gator belt, what ever the equivalent is). I usually stop here and do file work and guards, since the blade gets beat-up on the bench.

 

BB220.jpg

 

I've ground down to within a few 10 thousand of sharp, then I chopped some 2 x 4, just to check the edge. I've only ever had one fail this test, and it was a piece of mild that some troll snuck into my steel pile. The final finish grind should take it right down to a razor.

 

Here is the rough guard. I cut a slab of NS from a brick of the stuff I bought, about .300 thick. The outside surface has this strange look to it, so I know that I'm going to have to take it down quite a bit, so I cut it thick. I roughed it out on the mill, and I've just begun to file to shape.

 

Grd1.jpg

 

Someone asked if it was possible to forge (or at least hammer) NS. Here you can see that I've hammered the neck and end of one arm and thinned it down a lot. I did it cold with frequent annealings (heat and then quench). I've never tried to hot forge this stuff, but I'm betting it's red short, so you'd have to be carefull.

 

Grd2.jpg

Grd3.jpg

 

 

Here I've done a bunch of steps. I've hammered both ends out, surfaced the flats, domed the ends, and cut the hole for the tang.

 

Grd4.jpg

 

This shot shows the back side of the guard. You can see that I've relieved the back side of the hole. This way, when you are filing to fit, you don't have to take off as much material. When the handle gets fitted, that space will fill up with epoxy, so as long as you don't overdo, the handle will cover the hole.

 

Grd5.jpg

 

This is the guard mostly done. I decided to do shell ends (something I've never tried before) but at this stage the guard is still flat. That makes getting your tool marks out somewhat easier. I ground everything I could reach on my belt grinder, then spent an hour with a dremel tool. Then I buffed everything.

 

Grd6.jpg

 

Here is a closeup of the guard bent to shape. For this stage I padded a vice with some leather, heated each arm with a torch and hammered on a wood block to bend it to shape. If you have tapered the arms, then when it is hot, it will hammer to a nice curve. I did have to flatten the body a bit. I did that cold with a wooden block on the top surface, hammering on the block.

 

Grd8.jpg

 

Here is the knife with the guard just slipped on. I'm of three minds as to the handle right now. I have a nice piece of stag, but the texture seems too much for this piece. I'm also considering a coke bottle frame handle, with either white bone slabs, or perhaps some nice desert ironwood slabs. The ironwood will give it a substantial look, very masculine and businesslike, while the bone will give it a Gents SF look. I've got a paper template cut, and I'll lay out some pieces of both and see what I like. I also ask my creative consultant what she thinks (my wife, Marianne :lol: ). She has a very good eye.

 

BBFitup.jpg

 

I often get stalled right here for a time. Lots of paper gets used up and bits and pieces of wood and bone get scattered around my chair in the livingroom. I think this time I've got a pretty good idea of what I want. This will likely get a filed spacer behind the guard, and a butt cap filed to echo the shell ends. It also looks like I need to kick the tang down just a bit.

 

Thanks for looking,

 

Geoff

Edited by Geoff Keyes

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That looks good! I really like those shell ends on the guard. I look forward to seeing more.

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That looks good! I really like those shell ends on the guard. I look forward to seeing more.

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That is sweeeet! :)

 

Lookin awesome thus far!

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I spent all day doing fiddly stuff.

 

Handlebits.jpg

 

At the top is a paper template that took four tries and much fussing to get even near what I wanted. Paper is good when you are after symmetry, since you can draw half of what you want, fold it over and cut it out, and get fairly close.

 

On the right is a maple mock-up, which told me that the handle is a bit fat in the center. That piece might get used as a handle at some point.

 

The cat hair is just for show. My old cat (he's 17 or so) thinks anything layed on a flat surface is for him.

 

At the bottom are a pair of ironwood slabs. I will probably do another one like this with ironwood instead of bone, but I got them out to see if I liked the look.

 

In the middle is the product of about 4 hours work, two bone slabs, surfaced, a slot milled down the center (for epoxy and the tang), and all but two pin hole drilled. Between them is a NS frame. The frame started as a piece .250 thick, which I milled down to about .180. I was sure that there was a piece of .1250 sheet around but I couldn't lay my hands on it.

 

Next I scribed my shape on the frame and ground it out. I don't have a metal cutting bandsaw, but for small stuff and curves I don't find that they work all that well. Then I got a piece of 1/4 by 1 1/8 NS stock and made two pieces for the butt cap. Working slowly I marked all the pieces right and left (since they are never quite symmetrical). After drilling two holes in the butt of the frame, I superglued each of the cap pieces (one at a time) to the frame and drilled the holes in the caps. I assembled the pieces and drove and peened pins in the holes and then ground the end of the frame to fit.

 

Using the same technique I glued and drilled each of the slabs. The pins for the handles are 1/16th but the holes in the frame are 3/32nds. That way I get a bit of slop on the position of the frame, but the pin holes in the handle are tight.

 

So, after working all day I've got most of the handle bits prepped, and that is about it. This is probably the most complex handle I've done. If I had opted for the stag, I'd be ready to do the final polish and glue up. I'm still trying to decide if it needs a spacer between the handle and guard.

 

Thanks for looking,

 

Geoff

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Nice tutorial Geoff. This piece is coming along very well and I really appreciate your taking the time to document it. I have pinned it so we can all find it quickly. Good work.

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Thanks Don, I really appreciate your comments. And thanks as well for providing a place for us to do this.

 

On to the latest. Here is the handle frame pommel applied and rough filed. Having done it this way makes me wonder is there isn't a better way to do this sort of thing. Once the pommel is fixed, everything has to match up to it. If the slabs don't quite fit and need to be adjusted, you are in trouble. At a couple of points glue built up on the ends of the slabs and getting it off without disturbing the fit was hard. Likewise, once you drill the pin holes for the tang into the slabs, nothing had better change dimension. It takes some thought, and since this is the first of this kind of construction I've attempted, it was harder than I would have liked.

 

Hndlframe.jpg

 

Here are the bone slabs glued to the frame and pinned. I drilled some short holes through the black liner and just into the bone to give the epoxy somewhere to go. The pins were just dipped in epoxy and tapped through. Then I clamped everything up and left it overnight. There was hardly any glue to clean up and most of what there was I took off with the grinder.

 

Glueup.jpg

 

I ground the slabs to the shape of the frame, and then tweaked that for feel. There is a historical bowie (I can't remember which one) where the handle material, which I think was ivory, was left wider in all dimensions than the pommel, and then sort of rolled down to fit. I thought about doing something like that, but the bone was just too irregular to pull it off.

 

Grind.jpg

 

When I had everything pretty much where I wanted it I put all of the pieces together to see what the final shape was going to look like, not too bad, I think.

 

Mockup.jpg

 

So, as I writing this I've done a bunch of final adjustments, caught a couple of rough spots, and glued the whole thing together. I should have the final comments and pictures tomorrow.

 

Thanks

 

Geoff

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I love that hand guard, beautiful design! Thanks for sharing.

Edited by maolan

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So here we are, at the end of the project. I did a rough count of time spent and came up with something like 25 hours. I am not the fastest worker in the pack, and this one went a bit slower than I would have liked due to some new processes. If you care it breaks down about like this.

 

1 hour for forging, and an overnight normalize cycle.

3 hours on the profile, de-scaling, first grind, plunge cuts, and Spanish Notch.

1 hour for the heat treat, plus three, 4 hour temper cycles.

3 hours to grind to about 150 grit, (36 grit down to very near the edge, 60 and 120 to chase scratches, 100 grit Gator Trizac).

4 hours on the guard, including roughing on the mill, rough filing, hammer work, more filing, guard ends filed, cutting and fitting the tang, bending to shape, and sanding and buffing.

4 hours making the template for the frame, choosing handle materials, shaping the frame, fitting the pommel, fitting the slabs, filing the pommel.

5 hours finishing the handle, finish grinding the blade to 45 Gator, then hand polish 220, 320, 400, 600, 1200, and glue up.

2 hours removing glue, hand sanding the handle, fussing over the last small details.

 

So with a fudge factor built in, 25-30 hours. Still, I think this one fulfills my "Next one better than the last one" credo.

 

A couple of last pics.

 

The finished piece. I still have to do the last bit of work on the edge, to bring it to a real razor. It also needs a scabbard.

 

Done1.jpg

 

And here is a shot down the handle. In the end I opted not to do a spacer between the handle and guard. I did a black spacer between the handle and the frame, which I really like the look of.

 

Done2.jpg

 

So there you have it, done at last. Thanks to everyone who peeked in and left comments. If there are any questions I can answer, please feel free.

 

Geoff

Edited by Geoff Keyes

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Very nice work Geoff thanks for taking the time to document all your work. It looks like time spent very well ! :lol:

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So here is the finished product, well photographed by Mitch Lum.

 

Thanks for looking in,

 

Geoff

 

gk_sguard8x10.jpg

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Thank you. I would call that a frame handle, but it pretty much the same thing. You split the handle material (though in this case it was two slabs) create a pocket in the material and assemble the handle around the tang.

 

Geoff

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Thank you. I would call that a frame handle, but it pretty much the same thing. You split the handle material (though in this case it was two slabs) create a pocket in the material and assemble the handle around the tang.

 

Geoff

Thank you so much for sharing your work and your progression. Its always nice to see a start to finish.

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Very nice work and a good fit with all the handle pieces. Thanks for taking the time to post the whole process.

 

For attaching the handle, do the two small pins in the center of the guard go all the way through the tang or is it only held on with the epoxy?

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Absolutely beautiful work. I really appreciate the time and effort to bring this to us in pictures and the explaination of each step.

 

Did I understand that you normalized three times after heat treat and then edge quenched in Canola oil? I'm confused. Thanks for all your hard work.

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Jaka,

 

For most of my blades I normalize 3 times after forging, and 3 more times after grinding, just before HT. Then edge quenched in mineral oil (which actually is a mix of mineral oil and veggie oil, because I needed more volume for a project) and tempered at 425. Some folks think the second normalize cycles are not needed. It is a process I developed when I building my JS test blades, and I've kept it, especially for longer blades. I also used it to get my eye calibrated to the color of my HT forge, in the days before I installed the pyrometer. On smaller blades these days I go with a single normalize after grinding and before HT.

 

Clear as mud, huh?

 

Geoff

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Jaka,

 

For most of my blades I normalize 3 times after forging, and 3 more times after grinding, just before HT. Then edge quenched in mineral oil (which actually is a mix of mineral oil and veggie oil, because I needed more volume for a project) and tempered at 425. Some folks think the second normalize cycles are not needed. It is a process I developed when I building my JS test blades, and I've kept it, especially for longer blades. I also used it to get my eye calibrated to the color of my HT forge, in the days before I installed the pyrometer. On smaller blades these days I go with a single normalize after grinding and before HT.

 

Clear as mud, huh?

 

Geoff

 

Thanks so much for the explanation. I must have read more into it than was actually there. I appreciate the response. Sounds like you've pretty much worked the bugs out of it making the process easier for those of us who don't have the patience to try new methods.

 

Regards and good work.

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