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Wild Rose

Cutler's resin- any recipes?

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Every now and then I read about "cutlers resin" as the substance used in grips of old Talwars, Bowies with hidden tangs, etc. I've seen some "period" recipes but nothing or very little I recognise as available in a modern hardware store.

The chief virtue of the old culter's resin seems to have been that one could disassemble pieces without ruining the grip material. It was also very shock resistant and well-suited for sword grips. I have an indian talwar in my collection which has a very small tang set in a metal grip with nothing but resin and has taken an incredible amount of stress in test cutting with no problems.

Does anyone have any "recipes" for the stuff that they'd be willing to share and has ingrediants fairly obtainable without going to a 19th century apothecary via time machine?

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Al - It's basically pitch.

 

Try this - it's what I use and it works great. Not sure about the disassembly though?

 

5 parts pitch

1 part beeswax (tallow can replace this-available from your butcher)

1 part filler (wood dust, ash, metal dust, etc)

 

Melt them all together and mix well. I then pour it off into old yogurt containers and let cool. Remelt for use. Best/safest way I've found to melt it is in an old crockpot - when melted it's pretty flammable so an open flame is not a good idea. It sets quickly so you have to move right along.

 

Pitch (sold as Brewer's Pitch) and Beeswax are both available at James Townsend and Sons www.jastown.com

First link is to pitch - $8.00 a pound

http://www.jastown.com/bulk/bp-293.htm

Second link is beeswax - best I've ever used - $7.00 a pound

http://www.jastown.com/lantern/bw-290.htm

 

I've used it to haft knives and also using spears and arrows and it works! The only thing is it can soften if you leave the item in a window or car trunk out in the hot sun.

 

A couple of thread on the Outpost that discuss it as well.

 

http://www.ckdforums.com/showthr....umber=2

 

http://www.ckdforums.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=12161

 

http://www.ckdforums.com/showthr....s+Resin

 

BTW - 3 parts beeswax to one or two parts Pitch makes the best leather stitching wax of all - your stitches lock nice and tight - but beware the more pitch the "stickier" it gets and you can even lock the threads before they are pulled tight and then you'll have to cut the threads and start over.

 

Hope this helps.

 

PS - Got an idea that if the inside of the grips or the tang were oiled and then the pitch was added the disassembly thing might work?????? [dunno]

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I heard the grips would be heated with hot water, which as you say would soften the stuff, and gradually pulled free. I also understand it takes a few pulls as the stuff will harden up fairly quick, as you said in your post.

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OK That makes sense. Warmed this stuff loosens up, but when it sets it REALLY grips! I've used a hair dryer to loosen up a couple of grips that went wrong, which for antler or wood is a better go than water.

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Guest Tai

I've used pinon rosin straight or mixed with Dung. Moose dung is my favorite. Virgil England sent me a whole box of it from Alaska. hee hee

 

On stick tangs, if you get a good tight fit to the handle first, you can just heat the tang to about 300 degrees with a torch and rub it with a small piece of rosin. The rosin will melt over that tang and coat it nice and even. Then just slide it in the hole in the handle, and wait for it to set up. The heat from the tang also heats the inside of the hloe which helps the rosin bind with the handle material.

 

Heat will soften most any type of rosin or resin. I think the natural pinon rosin starts to soften at about 150- 200 degrees, but keep in mind that epoxy will completely fail around 250 degrees, last I checked anyway. Those boys in the epoxy labs have been working real hard lately.

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I have restored a lot of older knives and carving sets, a lot of them were put together with shellac this is also used for french polishing of furniture and I can get it over here in my local paint shop.

For assembly, I have been doing as Tai describes it.

 

Richard

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The only disadvantage I know of to using straight pitch (no wax or filler) is it tends to get brittle in cold weather. I've had friends who have had to reset their blades after using in cold temps where as with a filler and wax or tallow the problem never cropped up at least in my experience.

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The old Sheffield cutlers commonly used brick dust as a filler material for their cutlers resin.

 

-- Dwight

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Guest Tai
I never had a problem with straight pinon rosin, as long as there was a good tight fit to the tang before assembly. In this method only a very small amount of rosin is used, not like pouring pitch into a loose hole. I've tested it by freezing it in the freezer and letting it sit outside in the sun in over 100 degrees. In both cases it has always held up fine. The small volume doesn't expand or contract enough to crack or separate form extreme temperature changes. However, a little beeswax will make the rosin a bit tougher, but will also lower the melting point.

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Bohning sells something called Ferr-L-Tite for attaching arrow points to a wood shaft. It may actually be some kind of pitch? Heat it up to liquid with a torch, press the parts together for a few seconds while it hardens, then it will hold up to the shock of arrow hitting target. About $3 for a thumb-sized stick.

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Guest Tai

I'm lucky in that I live close to pinon pines. From all I've learned about natural rosins, pinon is by far the best. The trees live in semi arid and arid climates and like lower altitudes. They are the first pines you see as you head up into the mountains. All "pitch" was not created equal.

 

The tree.

pinonpitch1.jpg

 

The easiest way to identify the tree is by the nuts in the pine cones which are good to eat.

pinonpitch2.jpg

 

Here's a piece of hard rosin. I collect it off the ground around the trees.

pinonpitch3.jpg

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