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Main Gauche (my third blade attempt)


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Okay, I have been watching and reading and learning from this forum for a few years now. It was probably about four years ago when I got a renewed urge to make blades (i dabbled in high school). So I hit the internet to see what it would take. Somewhere I read to take it slow. I started with wooden swords. I made them for about a year and a half (in my spare time). Then I moved on to making armor and I made a few shield bosses, an articulating elbow and a pauldron.

 

Then Christmas (2011) my wife got me a little forge and I graduated myself to blade smithing. First thing I did was hammer down on a railroad spike to get the feel for it. Then I made a small sword (http://rashystreakers.tumblr.com/tagged/first+sword) from a piece of rusted steel I found.

 

Then I got the serious bug and got really ambitious and made something to kill zombies with (cause they're everywhere these days) (http://rashystreakers.tumblr.com/tagged/zombieslayer). That one I forged way to thin though so I couldn't risk the heat-treat and I just have it on display in my office.

 

I had some left over weld steel from the zombie slayer project so I formed it into a dagger. My goal was to make this one thicker, with better polish and more accurate fittings. I had been using the weld steel from Lowe's (as it's cheap and easy to get ahold of) to practice with. This was to be my last project from weld steel. I used a few of the tutorial here to make this dagger, the salt water etch, handle fitting and hand sanding with sandpaper glued to a metal bar and blackening steel with oil. I also took a chance on having it heat-treated. I realize I am nowhere close to doing that myself and am glad I took it to a professional. I am happier with how it turned out (http://rashystreakers.tumblr.com/tagged/dagger) but I still have some issues.

  1. My fittings still wiggle a bit. I just can't seem to get a fully sold piece.
  2. Peening over the butt-cap seems miserable I must be missing something.
  3. Making the butt-cap is miserable... it's such a tiny piece and it wiggles.

I would love any feedback/help and really appreciate all of the great smiths who post so much on this forum. Without this forum I'd probably still be fumbling around flattening out nails and wishing they were knives!

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First of all, if you are not happy with the fit, don't assemble it until you are. With the cross bar both sides of the bar are hidden, so you could fill the gaps with epoxy, or tiny copper shims, or even pewter.

 

You can get a near perfect fit on a handle also using epoxy, you can simply epoxy the whole thing into place (solving the issue for all time) or, and this is highly secret (so don't tell anyone!). Wrap the tang with teflon tape. Fill the handle with 5 minute epoxy. Shove the handle on and wipe up the oozeage. Wait 5 minutes ( or until the epoxy is hard) and pull the handle off. Now you've got a repeatable fit and very little play. Once you've got a fit on the package, a little bit of epoxy locks it up.

 

Making a small shoulder in the tang for your tang nut to sit on will keep you from splitting the handle. Once you got the pieces all lined up and fitting the way you want, countersink the nut (so you peening has a place to go) and torch soften the end of the tang. Remember that you only want about 1 diameters length of the tang exposed past the nut. If the tang is 1/4", you want about 1/4" sticking out to peen over.

 

With epoxy the peening is mostly for show, but you want it to look good.

 

Geoff

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First off welcome to the forum, and great work for a third blade! thats not a simple project to take on so good job, and your worrying about the fit but you've got alot of pieces in that haddle that all have to work together... but like Geoff said epoxy can be your friend! also tiny files and not rushing your work. I still hate fitting up guards and when I was starting out, I would try a get it done as fast as I could and the results where never good!! Now I try to slow myself done as much as possible (getting it to fit 90% of the way and using small files to get that last little bit) and the outcome improving :rolleyes:

 

Looking foward to seeing more of your work! maybe give us some measurements for scale, sometimes you see a knife on here that turns out to be a sword! B)

Edited by MLenaghan
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As said above. Become really good friends with epoxy. There are many methods similar to what Geoff mentioned about epoxy fitting the grip, I use Vaseline instead of Teflon tape, works just as well.

 

As for getting cross bars, pommels, butt caps and all to fit correctly, I personally don't like soldering, glueing or anything like that. I prefer a nice solid friction fit. Get yourself a good selection of needle files. Once you've hot punched the tangslots, use the needle files to shape the slots so that they fit nice and tight on the tang before they end up in their final location. I then use an old iron pipe slid over the tang to tamp the fittings to their final position. The fittings can't be TOO tight, or they'll bind, requiring you to remove the fitting, if it gets stuck on there really tight, you might damage your piece. Of course, a lot of people get superb results using low temp solder and/or epoxy.

 

Other than that, great looking blade you've got there!

Edited by Freya W. Ward
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First of all, if you are not happy with the fit, don't assemble it until you are. With the cross bar both sides of the bar are hidden, so you could fill the gaps with epoxy, or tiny copper shims, or even pewter.

 

You can get a near perfect fit on a handle also using epoxy, you can simply epoxy the whole thing into place (solving the issue for all time) or, and this is highly secret (so don't tell anyone!). Wrap the tang with teflon tape. Fill the handle with 5 minute epoxy. Shove the handle on and wipe up the oozeage. Wait 5 minutes ( or until the epoxy is hard) and pull the handle off. Now you've got a repeatable fit and very little play. Once you've got a fit on the package, a little bit of epoxy locks it up.

 

Making a small shoulder in the tang for your tang nut to sit on will keep you from splitting the handle. Once you got the pieces all lined up and fitting the way you want, countersink the nut (so you peening has a place to go) and torch soften the end of the tang. Remember that you only want about 1 diameters length of the tang exposed past the nut. If the tang is 1/4", you want about 1/4" sticking out to peen over.

 

With epoxy the peening is mostly for show, but you want it to look good.

 

Geoff

 

I will try the epoxy on this. I should have enough room to take the nut off and grind it down a little. Countersinking it is a fantastic idea. It's hard to just observe that in the finished pieces since it's usually already done. Also, it sounds like I'm also not leaving enough showing to peen over. Thank you for the tips!

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First off welcome to the forum, and great work for a third blade! thats not a simple project to take on so good job, and your worrying about the fit but you've got alot of pieces in that haddle that all have to work together... but like Geoff said epoxy can be your friend! also tiny files and not rushing your work. I still hate fitting up guards and when I was starting out, I would try a get it done as fast as I could and the results where never good!! Now I try to slow myself done as much as possible (getting it to fit 90% of the way and using small files to get that last little bit) and the outcome improving :rolleyes:

 

Looking foward to seeing more of your work! maybe give us some measurements for scale, sometimes you see a knife on here that turns out to be a sword! B)

 

Thank you for the warm welcome, I've been very nervous about posting!

 

Patience was one of the big things I realized from this project, I let my excitement overdrive my attention to detail. I tried to control that more with this project, but there were a few instances where it got the better of me (fine grinding out the curves in the blade and the tang fittings).

 

As for the measurements:

16.5" blade length

1.187" width

5.25" cross guard

5.25" handle (includes cross guard, handle and pommel/peen)

21.75" total length

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As said above. Become really good friends with epoxy. There are many methods similar to what Geoff mentioned about epoxy fitting the grip, I use Vaseline instead of Teflon tape, works just as well.

 

As for getting cross bars, pommels, butt caps and all to fit correctly, I personally don't like soldering, glueing or anything like that. I prefer a nice solid friction fit. Get yourself a good selection of needle files. Once you've hot punched the tangslots, use the needle files to shape the slots so that they fit nice and tight on the tang before they end up in their final location. I then use an old iron pipe slid over the tang to tamp the fittings to their final position. The fittings can't be TOO tight, or they'll bind, requiring you to remove the fitting, if it gets stuck on there really tight, you might damage your piece. Of course, a lot of people get superb results using low temp solder and/or epoxy.

 

Other than that, great looking blade you've got there!

 

The piping over the tang to get the pieces to fit right is an excellent idea! I can't wait to use that. I've ended up getting my file work a little over bored because I hadn't found a good way to get the piece popped into place. This makes total sense now. Thank you for the idea!

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WOW, the blade is exceptional, especially given your experience level.

I would recommend spending some time looking at period examples to refine the hilt forms however. The cross is far too short for the intended function of a parrying dagger.

 

All that aside, a noble attempt and a wonderful blade.

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Very nice for an early attempt!

 

And Geoff gave you some great advice. I've been doing something similar but I really like this method instead. I've been using petroleum jelly on the tang and Bondo.. which works great. But repeated ins and outs start to erode the Bondo. The epoxy wouldn't do that. And I never thought of teflon tape as a release! Love it!

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It looks good. However, it will not be very functional since you used case hardened (?) mild steel. If you would have used a good medium to high carbon steel it would be functional as well as beautiful. Still, good work! B)

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David... You would be surprised at how functional mild steel can be with the right edge geometry. Especially if it was case hardened effectively. He made a historical weapon.. not a modern hunting or tactical knife. Many historical blades were nothing more than 'case hardened' iron. 'Functional' is a function of it's intended purpose. Parrying and stabbing somebody with a piece of mild steel can quite... functional. :-)

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David... You would be surprised at how functional mild steel can be with the right edge geometry. Especially if it was case hardened effectively. He made a historical weapon.. not a modern hunting or tactical knife. Many historical blades were nothing more than 'case hardened' iron. 'Functional' is a function of it's intended purpose. Parrying and stabbing somebody with a piece of mild steel can quite... functional. :-)

 

Perhaps I should keep my "mouth" shut, as I am very adept at sticking my foot in it. :wacko::blink: I should have stated my point better. It will be functional, however it will not be as funtional as it could be if you had used a good medium to high carbon steel. ;)

Edited by David Dickhut
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  • 4 weeks later...

After reading through some of the advice given to me on this thread, I went back in and took apart my handle assembly and made some fixes. I sanded it rough and made a little groove in the tang to give some room for epoxy and then reassembled it. Now all of the wriggle is gone. It's a much better piece to hold now and no one that I hadn't told about the epoxy has guesses at it since it's not visible!

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