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How to dome pins (or at least one way to do it)


Wes Detrick
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So, another forumite was curious about doming pins, so I thought I would do a how-to. This how-to is from things I have taught myself, followed by some technique that I learned from the how-tos that Nick Wheeler posts. So lots of credit goes to Nick. Forgive the crap drawings and crap pictures but they should serve well enough.

 

Here are the tools:

 

IMG_0714.JPG

 

A jewelers ball-peen hammer. This hammer is super small, just a few ounces. The whole hammer is maybe 8 inches long. Polish the peen of it until it gleams. Sand it out to a thousand grit and then polish with some white diamond rouge. Just get it shiny and without major blemishes.

 

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A few nail set punches that have been modified. Pick up a pack of three for about five bucks.

 

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Take those punches and round the heads off. Polish them like you did the peen on the hammer. Make the curves of them nice and gentle. I have a fairly pointy one for pushing down little areas, but I don't use it that much.

 

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Now, measure your pins before you put them in the handle. The amount of pin to leave standing proud is about the diameter of the pin stock. On pin stock that is 1/8th, I usually leave a little less. Once the pins are measured and cut, finish your handle. Trust me, once those pins are domed, it becomes almost impossible to finish the handle. You will leave halos around the pin if you try and sand. Just finish it now.

Make sure that both ends of the pin are lightly chamfered, and flat. Glue the pin into the handle, making sure that the same amount stands proud from each side. Let the glue cure and set for the proper amount of time.

 

pin.jpg

 

Find(or make) a piece of wood that is a little thinner than the pin standing proud from the handle. Drill a slightly larger hole than the diameter of the pin into the wood. This will become a cushion that the handle will rest on while you spread the pin with the peen of the hammer. It also helps to prevent the pin from moving too much in the hole should the glue bond break.

Now, with the handle resting on a flat metal surface, with the wood under it, and the pin inside of the drilled hole, take the peen of the hammer and start tapping straight down onto the pin. DO NOT RUSH.

 

pin2.jpg

 

Lots of small taps here. You are upsetting only the top of the pin, not smashing the hell out of it. If you are too aggressive, you run the risk splitting your handle material or splitting the pin stock.

Upset a little on one side, and then flip it over and upset some on the other side.

 

pin3.jpg

 

Once the pin has been mushroomed on both sides, take the peen and start tapping around the edge of the pin. Again, light taps, but hit in a circle all round the pin. This will start to drive down the sides without spreading the center of the pin anymore. Do this to both sides.

 

Now comes the hard part. You need both hands for this next step, so you must find a way to secure the knife. I clamp the knife onto a flat metal surface using a piece of leather to protect the handle. I place wood shims under the blade which is wrapped in tape and leather and use a quick clamp the blade to secure it. Just be careful that you fully support and protect the blade.

The knife must be level, and it cannot move. Figure out a way to do this. Nick Wheeler make an ingenious device for doing this that clamps to the ricasso, and I plan on making one pretty soon to make life easier on myself.

 

Anyhow, once the knife is clamped down, take the larger of the modified nail sets and position it above one of the edges of the pin, and careful start hammering down the edge with your small ball peen.

 

pin4.jpg

 

YOU MUST BE SUPER CAREFUL!! If the nail set slips and hits the wood, or your aim sucks and you tap the nail set with hammer while it is against the wood, you will divot the wood or whatever material and you will hate yourself. Good luck getting that divot out. Use your fingers as breaks and to check the advance of the nail set moving. Just go slow. Take your time. Also, use lots of bright light. You will be able to see where the edge is by the shadows. I have seen people use Optivisors, which is something I should probably do :)

 

As you go, use the decreasingly smaller nail sets. That will help move less material as you get closer to the wood.

 

pin5.jpg

 

As you go, test the edge of the pin as it comes into contact with the wood. Run your nail up against edge. You do not want to feel it catch. You want to feel your finger pass smoothly up onto the dome of the pin. If you feel an edge, then go back and lightly tap it down. Once you are done, you should be able to run your finger from every direction and not feel it catch. Once this is done on one side, do it to the other.

 

pin6.jpg

 

Just take your time. Go slow go slow go slow. Once you are done, the pin will have a hammered texture, which I happen to love, so I leave it.

But, should you want to make them polished, cut a hole in some paper tape the same size as the dome, and wrap the tape around the handle leaving the dome exposed through the hole in the tape. Being very careful, use needle files and sandpaper to polish it out.

 

Hope that helps guys.

 

 

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Edited by Wes Detrick
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“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer."  -Albert Camus

http://www.krakenforge.net/

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I had no clue you were a master graphic artist as well =\

 

thanks. My only problem i need to resolve is how to get a bottom fuller on a contoured section of the handle without being over the very tip of the horn

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The graphics really help, thanks. With Wheeler's tutorials I'm just captivated by all his ingenious tools instead of the process :D

Trying to make each knife just a little better than the last

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I had no clue you were a master graphic artist as well =\

 

thanks. My only problem i need to resolve is how to get a bottom fuller on a contoured section of the handle without being over the very tip of the horn

 

Lol, I excel at MS Paint :) I am not sure what you mean about the bottom fuller and being over the horn? Do you mean that the handle is contoured and you are having a hard time supporting the pin under the contoured portion?

 

 

 

 

The graphics really help, thanks. With Wheeler's tutorials I'm just captivated by all his ingenious tools instead of the process :D

 

My pleasure Caleb! He does make some great tools, that is for sure.

 

 

 

perfect timing, im about to do this in a couple hours, the pictures really helped me understand what i need to do.

 

thank you!

 

Of course Steven! Glad I could help :)

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer."  -Albert Camus

http://www.krakenforge.net/

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Exactly.

 

Use some leather. Cut a small hole for the pin, and place the leather around the horn. That will at least work for you while you are mushrooming the pins on both sides. You just have to find something that will support the pin, while not marring the handle. Look around your shop and make something work. But make sure you try it on something disposable first.

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer."  -Albert Camus

http://www.krakenforge.net/

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