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Hello everybody,


it feels like decades I last posted anything here and so it was with my knifemaking... no time, no tools, no room. But times change (yay ^^) and finally my shop is up again and I can spare some time to start a new project. I already made some cutting tools recently to re-hone my skills and the old fire burns stronger than it ever did! It feels so great to get my hands dirty and all cut up for finally holding a piece of work in them that fills me with confidence and happiness - I cant't find the words for it...


So a really good friend of mine is into reenactment. His role is a scottish clansman of the late 1500's - kilt, socks and all

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First off, I love the design, and the silhouette is pretty much bang on for the period. But from a historical accuracy standpoint, there are some issues. The highland dirk didn't really develop until the mid to late 1600's (off the top of my head, the earliest dirk with a verifiable date is from 1680), so in the period you're looking at, ballock knives or dudgeon daggers would have been the norm, but that's basically the profile you've got, so no real issue there, except the haunches should probably be more defined as distinct lobes. i would leave out the fuller on the blade, as I can't think of any ballock knives with fullers, and even on dirks they did not become common until a fair bit later, mid 1700's ish. The main issue for me, though, is the carving - basket weave was a late development, after dirk production became urbanised - earlier dirks generally had variations on two, three or four lace knotwork, initially in distinct bands for the earliest pieces, later expanding to engulf the entire handle. I can't think of any ballock knives with celtic carving, but that 1680 dirk has a slim handle, smallish pommel, and distinctly lobate haunches, all of which strongly suggest a development from and direct link to the ballock knives of the previous century, so I would argue that some kind of knotwork carving would not be outside the realm of possibility, but my feeling is that basket weave would be anachronistic, and the fluted pommel probably falls into that category too. Materials wise, I think there are some ballock knives with copper guard plates, but I could be wrong, and iron or brass were certainly more common (silver, again, didn't become the norm until much later). Having said all this, very few people know any of this, and given that you've got the basic form just right for the period, I think the degree of artistic license you've taken is perfectly valid in service of an epic design (one I really wish I'd come up with myself...).

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Hello Jake,


thank you for chiming in and for such elaborate critique - I wasn't expecting to be taken so serious! Coming from you it means a lot to me - I've been following your work on here for a long time and the first advice, when my friend asked me about it was "google for Jake Cleland - he makes a mighty fine dirk" :D (I'm not making this up!)


OK now on topic:

Dropping the fuller would actually be easy for me, I was scared to shits because I only yet milled a fuller and I planned on grinding this one in. So much to screw up there.

I think I'll keep the basketweave and call this a transition/ trendsetting kinda approach - I am too curious about the combo of carving and setting the pins and I'm not sure I'll be brave enough to do another dirk after I finished this one... IF at all I am able to finish it.

Now about shaping the bollocks more prominently. I think this could work if I extended the last Diamond of the weave from triangular to square and let the guard follow that line - I'll have to rough-sketch that...

Well combining the celtic knots and the basketweave - that was what I was struggling with as well. I thought "meh, just draw it and see how it looks" and still I'm not sure about it. Glad you pointed it out! Now I could think of making an altered basketweave maybe like a weave that came a bit loose over time - not sure how to realise this though... more drawing to come I think :)


Do you have any suggestions on the pommel design in stead of flutes? Oak leaves, maybe thistles?


I'm all excited now. The coming weeks not too much work so a lot of shop time at hand - this is my kind of wellness holiday

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OK, so I've started redrawing the handle. I wasn't able to draw the loosened weave in an appealing way, something always looked off. Instead I decided on cussioning the lobes as if they were swollen a bit (insert stupid jokes here :D ) underneath the weave. For this I plan to make the pins smaller and sink them deeper into the wood compared to the handle. For the pommel I roughly placed a scottish thistle in but I think this would be too ornate... I'd still be happy about suggestions here.




On a more practical note... Jake, you show a lot of blades with a distinct hamon... how do you deal with backward bending during hardening (sori in japanese terms)? Do you compensate in advance or grind out after? Are you able to prevent it completely?





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