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Ballock Dagger WIP


peter johnsson

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Peter,

 

As regards the boxwood staining, though you may have already completed this by this time, you may want to investigate acid staining by either fuming or applying a dilute liquid and heating (needless to say keep the steel away and neutralize afterwards).

 

The process I'm citing comes from a whistle and flute board I frequent and is used on boxwood instruments when figured boxwood is not available:

 

Boxwood can be 'fumed', but it can also be stained by applying (preferably slightly dilute) liquid nitric acid followed by gentle warmth. The acid will react fully, eventually. While the fuming method may seem less dangerous, the fumes are actually the most hazardous part so I think the liquid method is considerably safer; good ventilation is a must in any case

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  • 2 months later...
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I love it and I love your research. I once wanted to make an ears dagger so I requested to study an original from the museum of Castel Sant'Angelo, in Rome (which, btw, was and is in storage, in a crate, along with a lot of other beautiful pieces) and they laughed in my face. What a sad place Italy is.

 

Anyway, awsome work, as always!

NEME SPES, NEME METU http://zansh62.wix.com/damascusknives

www.facebook.com/MuciDamascusKnives

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Francesco,

Thank you for kind words.
What a sad story. I do believe you. The few times I have tried to do research in Italy it has been tricky, to say the least. It seems academic titles are very important as well as connections.
I have been lucky however and am very grateful for the times I have been granted admission. The visit to Brescia and the Marzoli collection back in 2000 was a great experience, thanks the the Armagioli who worked there. I also got 30 minutes with the sword of San Maurizio in the Armeria Reale in Torino, which was a very memorable experience. Once inside the museum, the hospitality was always great. It is passing through the gate and facing the Cherberus they have placed to guard it that is the daunting task...

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That is very true. The gates are always the problems. Think about all the trouble to pass the gates to Heaven! Anyway, I am still looking forward to seeing this finished, I am a big fan of Ballock daggers, I used to wear one myself on my 1400 costume during reenactments and duels....

 

One question, have you ever studied an original "Ears Dagger"? I cannot find decent pictures of originals from which make a proper philological design...

NEME SPES, NEME METU http://zansh62.wix.com/damascusknives

www.facebook.com/MuciDamascusKnives

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  • 2 months later...

Some progress has been made on the scabbard of this dagger. The core has been covered with the outer layer of leather, glued in place with hide glue and sewn down the back with a running stitch.
Next step is to decorate the scabbard.

The scabbard is now like an empty canvas :-)
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The outer layer of leather was divided in two section, with a small piece used to cover the top part. This allows some shaping around the opening of the scabbard for the by knife. After decoration and dying, this two part construction will be less visible. You may note that the leather cover is folded over and into the mouth of the opening for the by knife as well as folded ver the top of the main opening. This helps to keep the glued leather in place and makes for a neater appearance.

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On the backside are four channels cut and shaped. These will take a cord for attachment to the belt. These kinds of slits can be seen on surviving period scabbards. I cut and shape these after the leather is sewn in place, but while it is still wet and before the glue has set. The leather is a bit stretchy at this stage and allows me to insert pegs that provides the form as the leather dries. The leather is also polished down with a bone knife while it dries. There are notches cut in the bone knife that I use to make the grace lines along the sides of the scabbard.

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On 1/19/2017 at 4:55 AM, Francesco Muci said:

That is very true. The gates are always the problems. Think about all the trouble to pass the gates to Heaven! Anyway, I am still looking forward to seeing this finished, I am a big fan of Ballock daggers, I used to wear one myself on my 1400 costume during reenactments and duels....

 

One question, have you ever studied an original "Ears Dagger"? I cannot find decent pictures of originals from which make a proper philological design...

Sorry Francesco, I missed your post!

I do not have any first hand documentation of any ear daggers, I´m afraid. I may have some photos from visits at museums, however. There are some unique design concepts involved in these daggers that are well worth observing. 
I think perhaps that is best left for a separate thread, as the discussion might end up being quite long....
There must be other members of this forum who have also studied ear daggers. We can pool our resources!
:-)

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Beautiful work Peter.

It's great to see it at this stage. Stain and tooling can hide many sins, so it's apparent there are none here.

Thank you for sharing your blank canvas. Outstanding.

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Beautiful work, Peter. I love the scabbard, in particular. I remember this build from Facebook. I'm happy to see it en route to being finished!

It's always a treat to see your WIP photos.  Thanks brother.

Dave

 

-----------------------------------------------

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly." -- Theodore Roosevelt

http://stephensforge.com

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3 hours ago, Dave Stephens said:

I remember this build from Facebook.

Maybe I should log onto FB more often, then I wouldn't miss all the intermediate fiddly bits. Like that whole by-knife part. When did that show up?

Looks great Peter.  You know it's kind of funny that you would start posting here again. I just spent a couple of hours studying this thread yesterday as I plan to start one of these Ballock daggers. 

“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

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18 hours ago, Joshua States said:

..."Maybe I should log onto FB more often, then I wouldn't miss all the intermediate fiddly bits. Like that whole by-knife part. When did that show up?"

Ooops!

Thank you for pointing this out :-) I missed posting about this here.
Below are some snapshots of the making of the by knife and the attachment of the by knife scabbard to the main scabbard core.

The basic blade of the by knife. Four of the rivets are visible tubular rivets. The fifth is a solid rivet of bronze that passes through the folded sheet bronze that makes up the front bolster. This is a method of construction that you can see on original knives. It is not as clean and tight as you see on contemporary knives (or at least, that kind of tightness is beyond me currently...) but it works OK. The mission with this project is not to make a piece that is surgical clean, but rather something that has the character of a well made piece from the period.
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The finished byknife (Sorry, no more pics of the making of this):
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A close up of the front end of the by knife and its scabbard, showing some detail of the construction of both. The "bolsters" are made from a folded piece of bronze sheet that is drilled through to take a solid rivet. After peening the rivet close it blends and becomes invisible and the bent over end of the "bolster" is filed to shape. I am sure this type of construction has a name among knife makers. I don´t know it :-) The scabbard of the by knife is sewn wet around the knife with the seam on the inside toward the main scabbard. After drying it is glued to the main scabbard with extra wedges of leather added to build up the form. The riser made from the narrow strip of leather will be the place where the two parts of the outer cover meet and overlap. The riser helps camouflage the overlap. 
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Another angle:
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The by knife is nestled at the top of the scabbard. You have to pull the dagger out a bit to clear the by knife as you draw it.IMG_0051_2.jpg

Full length shot before the outer layer of leather was added:

IMG_0050_2.jpg

 

 

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After a break working on other things, some progress has been made on the declaration of the scabbard.
It will be embossed with acanthus swirls in late gothic style and I have been trying out various designs. For a while I played with adding an inscription, such as "A VERBIS AD VERBERA" (from words to blows) but in the end I went for an all floral decoration.

Inspiration for the decoration is original leatherwork from the 15th century. In museums like the V&A in London or other museums that exhibit art and craft from bygone eras there are usually a few examples of this kind of work on display. There is also a lot to be found on the internet of course. I attach a few examples for you to see.

On this scabbard I am shooting for something that is dynamic and organic in style.

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Absolutely stunning! I do have one question, do you draw these floral designs perfectly on paper and then trace them onto the scabbard, or do you freehand them onto the wood and only use your paper sketches as references? I always feel on the safer side when tracing everything from a paper pattern...

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How did I miss this thread! Wonderful set, Peter. 

MP

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This will be stunning leather work.

Thanks Peter

“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

J.States Bladesmith | Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/dos.gatos.71

https://www.etsy.com/shop/JStatesBladesmith

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The more I look at this post, the more I fall in your awe. Great job, Master Johnsson.

 

I don't know if I already asked this, but, would you mind doing a wip, one day, about the construction of an eared dagger? I was never able to see one upclose so I can't figure out the construction methods...

 

Thank you again for this thread.

NEME SPES, NEME METU http://zansh62.wix.com/damascusknives

www.facebook.com/MuciDamascusKnives

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Jonas, thank you!
Normally I mark out the acanthus swirls with basic pencil lines only, leaving much of the detail for the actual cutting. This time I have so much work invested already that I cheated a bit. The lines are drawn in freehand and "improvised" as I go, but I do detailed studies on paper for some places that I know are more challenging. In original work different parts of a scabbard are often "boxed in" so that panels are created that are then filled with decoration. In this case I wanted a pattern that was more or less unbroken for most of the scabbard. This pose some special challenges in the long and narrow parts. You cannot make the lines too close together, or the pattern will not come out well. The decoration has to be in a certain size or scale for the process to work and the tools used for embossing to reach inside the areas.

It is a benefit to go as free hand as possible, since this makes for more "nerve" in the line. I suspect that the medieval masters often started carving with very little or no sketching done. The patterns have this loose and eager character to them that you only get when you create them with a bold and free heart. -This is obviously rather difficult to do, especially when you are fearful of failure. :-)

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Matt & Joshua, thank you guys! Glad you like this.

Francesco, if I ever make an ear dagger I will make sure to post a WIP here on the forum. At the moment I have no such plans unfortunately. There are some projects in the pipeline that will demand much of my tim in the coming months. But we shall see :-)
I find ear daggers to be fascinating. Especially the blades, actually. Hmmm.
-Now you got me thinking. 

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This is unbelievably good! I think you are on a par with the old masters in everything you do. Just impressive and inspirational!

I have an indiscreet question: How many hours do you spend on making a dagger, knife and scabbard like this? 

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2 hours ago, Florian F Fortner said:

This is unbelievably good! I think you are on a par with the old masters in everything you do. Just impressive and inspirational!

I have an indiscreet question: How many hours do you spend on making a dagger, knife and scabbard like this? 

Florian, You are exaggerating, but I thank you for your kind words.
:-)
How many hours?
I have spent as much or more time on this dagger than I do with most swords. 
It will be difficult to price this piece.
I had to get it out of my system and I think it will find a new home eventually, with the right person.

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Today is the day of carving. I have made a new swivel knife for this project since my old one was a bit clunky. The grip of the knife is only a little larger than an old style steel nib pen haft. It is round in section with a slight swelling towards the forward end. This allows you to turn it between your fingers and maintain good control of the cut as you form the stems and leaves of the acanthus pattern. The blade is small. Smaller than a typical scalpel but about as sharp (I forged it out of the upper end of a worn out needle file). You only really need the sharp point as the cut must be less than the thickness of the leather (about 0.5 mm deep). It is a good idea to not make the point too pointy, but not too wide either as you need to be able to track the blade though small curves without causing dragging or kinks in the line. The point of the blade is a cutting point, not a piercing point.
I made the edge of the point at about 30 degree angle to the midline of the haft. It is also a good idea to place the point of the blade close to the midline of the tool. That way it will not want to wander as you twist and turn the knife.
I like these knives to have very small and thin blades as it provides better control for me. I have never been happy with the commercially available swivel knives I have come across. To blunt and clunky. 
Using this tool is a bit like painting with a japanese calligraphy brush.

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