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Andrew Hardesty

First Dirk

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So here goes my first attempt at a dirk. I have the blade rough forged, but don't have a pic yet and am still trying to figure out the final cross section for the blade grind. (I left it pretty thick so far) Here is the template I drew up with a basic handle shape. What do you guys think? It's open to adjustment/critique as I would like this to be half way accurate on the size and decoration. I'm making this for my wife and she really likes the few from 1600 she has found, but with more decoration in the handle. How bad would I be bending history if I put a fuller in it and carved some simple Celtic rope knots into the handle? I haven't seen many from that time period with much decoration, but maybe some people who have more knowledge can help me out. Lastly on the blade grind it seems from my research that anything from a full flat to diamond to apple seed are acceptable grind profiles. Full flat would be easier, but tips on what is more historical would be great. I like the Highland style the best out of all the styles I've studied, but I believe they came much later. Thanks to anyone who can help.

 

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I like the templates....... ;)

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I can't help you much on the historical aspects of dirks, but I like where you are going.

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Sorry about the delay. Been a busy past couple days. Here is what I've got so far. Forging this thing was a mind stretcher for me, I kept wanting to forge the spine straight since I was making one side thicker than the other. I finally got it pretty even, but not perfect by any means. One side is definitely thicker than the other and I think it will grind out OK. Some times I think I've got something nice and flat and when it hits the grinder I realize it was no where close! :blink: Right at the tang junction (Ricasso or Hilt? I'm getting used to sword terms now.) is a little uneven, but it's uneven on the long side. I should be able to clean it up and still make my pattern. The tang is nice and thick for strength, probably too thick. I definitely need to get/make some wolf jaw tongs. flat tongs are almost dangerous with these weird blade bevels and small tangs with long blades hanging off them.

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Here it is roughed out and drawing out the bevels. Thank God for a horn and different hammers with peins. This would take significantly longer if I only had a flat faced hammer.

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Here's a small picture of my shed, too. It was fun to make but that's a whole other thread and learning experience...

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Here's what I see when I look out. Feel mighty blessed to get to see this instead of my neighbors house.

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Here it is as of right now. Profile and thickness. Standard #2 pencil for scale.

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Question time now! If I leave the tang this thick I'll have to drill the hole in my 1 piece handle so large i'll have a gap at the top because the blade is narrower than the tang. So, should I thin the tang out or do a two piece handle and just carve it out?

 

Thanks all who look and/or comment. Never made something like this, but it sure is a fun process. Drew up some Celtic knots in AutoCAD today. Don't have an excuse I guess for not being able to free hand them anymore...

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I have a clay stopper in my forge to "shorten it up" internally and it was just far enough in to allow the full blade inside. My in-law and I built it way before I knew hardly anything about them. He got the burner tuned great, but it could definitely use another one for more heat. It used to be just a steel pipe with refractory inside. I wrapped a couple inches of kaowool around it for heat retention and covered it with more cement. It welds high carbon, but barely makes the heat currently for mild. I'm working on a vertical style for that now.

It'll be the cats meow for me when I get a packed lime floor. I built everything 4" high to accommodate it then ran out of time to get it. Now I just keep pushing it back. Oh well, at least the anvil is the right height and the view is nice.

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Like Austin said, looks dirky! I personally hate wolf jaw tongs, they don't hold anything. Check out v-box tongs instead. One low-sided box jaw, one v-bit jaw. They hold any shape you can grab very firmly.

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This is looking good Andrew.

I am at a loss for understanding why you would leave the tang so much thicker than the blade.

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Andrew, I left the tangs thick on a few and found it does not work. Cannot fit bolster/ guard and get tight fit to solder. However, if looking for rustic "highland" look without metal fittings it would be acceptable. But it adds weight.

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OK. I don't have problem grinding the tang down. Honestly I haven't been able to find a pic of a tang to us for referenece. I keep forgetting to Google search the forum so maybe I'll find one that way to compare to for thickness. I just didn't want to make it to thin. Never made a long blade before so I've got a lot to learn about proportions and balance. Thanks all.

Edited by Andrew Hardesty

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Here's an update. Working on a special Tomahawk and life in general is making progress a little slow, but at least it's moving. Here's where it is now.

20160404_220002_zpsh0wzxnjk.jpg

This is roughed out on the grinder with the tang still left long. I'm just doing a full flat grind and still working on the distal taper in the blade. It tapers towards the point, but needs a little work to make it even along the full length. Here is the spine of the blade in a small hollow that didn't clean up yet. It's about 3/16", but goes to about 7/32" above it then starts to taper out. The next pic is about the average for the blade edge right now. I'll focus on thinning the blade out and keeping the spine where it's at currently (about 3/16 - 7/32) if that seems like a good stopping point for grinding.

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It's grown about 1-1/2" from my pattern on length, but other than i've stuck to the pattern. I've also thinned out the massive tang. It's still got a little more to go, but it was getting late and I didn't want to push it too much and take to much off in a hurry.

A few things I've learned/realized:

I need a bigger slack tub

I need a bigger quench tank

I'm gonna need something to keep my feet from catching on fire from the continual shower storm of sparks that happens when you're grinding a blade longer than a 4" hunter

This is a lot of fun

 

Hopefully I'll have more pics and be ready for HT in the not to distant future. Thanks to everyone for the help.

Edited by Andrew Hardesty

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Look for an old air compressor with a burned up motor. Those ones Home Despot sells like this one:

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Husky-20-Gal-175-psi-Quiet-Portable-Air-Compressor-C201H/206189626

often burn the motor up and leave a great tank behind. These make great slack tubs.

 

Home Cheapo also sells 4 inch ABS or PVC schedule 40 pipe. You can use a 2 ft piece of this for for a quench tank if you are really careful not to bang the red hot knife into the side wall.........I would suggest going to a steel yard in your area and checking the scrap area for a piece of 6 inch or bigger steel pipe though. They usually sell this stuff for around $1.50 a pound or less.

 

I almost forgot.....the dirk is looking good!

Edited by Joshua States

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Quick questions, what is a good thickness to leave on the edge for these short swords before heat treat? Is there a benefit to edge quenching a single edged blade like this or should I just go for the whole thing like I see on most swords? Thanks.

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I generally go down to about 1/32nth on the edge, but the spines on mine are usually at least 1/4", and it depends on the steel and quenchant. Engraving/inlay/filework etc on originals indicates that the backs were generally left soft. Looking at your design, you seem to have made the common mistake of treating the haunches like a guard, where they should be part of the grip: the whole handle is generally no more than 4" - 4 1/2" long from guard to pommel, with the shaft only about 2 1/2" - 3" of that. The heel of the hand should lock against the pommel, while th thumb and forefinger wrap around the haunches at the base of the blade...

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I'm glad you chimed in Jake. I really admire your previous postings of all the dirks you've made. So it sounds like I should really reduce the radius at the guard where the tang transitions to the blade and then shorten the tang up quite a bit. The steel is 5160 so I'll try just heating the edge up and quenching like i do with my shorter knives. Is copper traditional for these at the guard for the reinforcement strips?

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Got it sanded to 220 last night and started reducing the radius on the tang for the handle. I'm building a fullering tool like some of the ones I've seen on the forum so after I make that I'll post some of the fuller and start the saw teeth file work.

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Look for an old air compressor with a burned up motor. Those ones Home Despot sells like this one:

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Husky-20-Gal-175-psi-Quiet-Portable-Air-Compressor-C201H/206189626

often burn the motor up and leave a great tank behind. These make great slack tubs.

 

Home Cheapo also sells 4 inch ABS or PVC schedule 40 pipe. You can use a 2 ft piece of this for for a quench tank if you are really careful not to bang the red hot knife into the side wall.........I would suggest going to a steel yard in your area and checking the scrap area for a piece of 6 inch or bigger steel pipe though. They usually sell this stuff for around $1.50 a pound or less.

 

I almost forgot.....the dirk is looking good!

Thanks for the tips Joshua. I'm calling around today to see if I can find some pipe.

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I am learning some things about myself while trying this build. First is that I've fallen into what I'd say is a 'comfort zone' with my edged creations. This dirk is really forcing me to push past what I'm used to and cause me to pay much closer attention on things so I don't screw it up (or try not to).

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I made a fuller tool to scrape my groove in the blade. It's not really pretty but does the job. Talk about being nervous! I ended up putting stops on each end of the blade to help me be more consistent with the fuller tool. I finally relaxed a little, but the "dunk - scraaatch- dunk" as the scraper went back and forth got to be pretty rhythmic. I used to grind single point tools for beginning machining students so grinding a half round profile bit with relief wasn't bad. However I am finding out that hand scraper geometry vs. powered cutting tool must require some different approaches to the edge relief angles. i honed the edges like normal, but my groove has a lot of chatter and required a little force to cut semi-efficiently. It has what I like to call a 'chatter finish' :). I didn't want to stop once I started but I might be able to go over it again now that it is at least established. If anyone has any photos or advice on reworking my HSS bit I would greatly appreciate it.

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I also started on roughing in the file work on one side of the blade. I was looking forward to this after cutting the fuller, but from previous experiences I didn't want to get too comfortable knowing how easy it is to mess that up as well.

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I have access to hickory, cherry, oak (red and white), maple (curly, fiddleback, and plain), red elm, pine, hackberry, basswood (though nothing above 1" thick), and walnut in handle size pieces. I can sometimes find some with spalting or curly grain or both. In terms of carving for a handle, what would you guys recommend out of these? Or should I look elsewhere? Walnut seems to be my personal favorite for hand tools, but I've never carved anything before.

 

If anyone ever needs any American domestic hardwoods, either rough sawn or milled to a finished dimension, just let me know. There's a sawmill in the family and we cut usually all seasons except winter.

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Looking good Andrew! This scraping the fuller thing mystifies me. I see people doing it, so I know it can be done. However, it still registers as "Impossible" in my feeble mind. I'm going to have to try it some day.

 

I'm a lousy carver, but with the woods you mentioned, I'd be doing something with a nicely figured piece of maple. It would give you the best balance between carve-ability and interesting grain in my opinion. I hate carving walnut and oak, and have too much trouble with chipping in cherry. That being said, I have seen skilled carvers do amazing work in all of those.

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I made a little more progess last night. The filework is done and the fuller just needed its final polish before HT. Speaking of HT, I hope to have that done this week. I started roughing out the handle on the lathe and bandsaw. I ended up going with figured maple.

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When I was almost finished turning I saw a little chunk pop off and go flying. I didn't want to turn off the lathe and see how bad it was, but thankfully the chunk stayed in one piece and I was able to glue it back on after I finished turning the handle. I also realized that the wood may still be drying out because my cutoff from the day before checked pretty good. I ended up soaking the handle in BLO to help prevent that after I finished working with it last night.

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Being slightly oversize now I'm hoping I can sand it in without too much trouble. The handle looked good in the lathe, but now that it's in my hands its still to thick. I may see if I can rechuck up on it and turn it back down some more but that may take some doing since I've burned the tang through (Like I said, I'm learning a lot on this including order of operations, even with it being simple compared to many of the awesome things I see on here).

 

The handle has some curl to it .

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The good news is that the tang burned through straight and seems to be ready for the final fitting. I'm planning on using cutlers resin to fill the gaps at the front and hold the handle as well as add a plate and pein the tang down tight. I will grind the wood I left extra for the tailstock off on the bottom. The end result should be a flare with a flate bottom at the major OD of the handle if that makes sense.

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Now comes the part that I have never done, carving the handle. I think at this point i'm just going to have to dive in as I've been researching how to do it now for about 2 weeks. I'm wanting to have this done by the end of the month, but have a camping trip coming up all next weekend so I'll try to update as I get a chance.

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I guess I just keep plugging along. The handle just got a lot simpler than I had planned, so maybe this thing will get done on time.

 

I drew up roughly what I wanted where I wanted it. (Very rough :) )

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Ended up finally getting something that looks like it was dug up out of the ground after being buried for 400 years :blink: . (My wife like the 'antiqued' look, but this is probably stretching it) For never carving anything like this before I'm glad it kinda looks like celtic knotwork, but as with this whole project I learned a lot on this and hope to make the next one better.

 

I stained the handle so I could see how bad/good it looks.

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Finally I fit the blade to the handle.

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When the wife got home I asked her about the handle and told her I needed to do the trinity knot and another band at the bottom of the handle. She looked at me and just said, "Why?" I said because it's very plain. She said she's a plain girl and likes it the way it is. So I'm not arguing with that and maybe on the next one I'll try some more designs. I'm glad i didn't screw up the handle past the point of no return, which is also why I kinda didn't want to keep carving on it and make it worse. Start small I guess.

 

It's finally starting to come together and I'm looking forward to getting the rest of it done! Thanks for looking.

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Oh yeah, in the first picture on my previous post you can see a spalted line running up the handle on the left side. Next to that is the glue joint for the piece that popped out. I'm very grateful it seemed to work out ok. I also realize that the handle doesn't really look like a traditional dirk handle. At this point I may just have to call this a dirk-shaped-object.

Edited by Andrew Hardesty

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I have to say, from a carving perspective, I think you did well. I would not have been able to make it look that nice. Now that you have achieved this level, you can start climbing your way up to the next level. Remember when you compare yourself to the "Jakes" of the world, that there are also the "Brians" of the world who can't carve their initials in a beach tree. (Not that I would do that eve if I could <shudder>)

 

I can't really comment on the dirkieness of the handle. It's not an area I know much about.

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