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Keeping the tang centered on a seax


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Hey everybody,

So I couldn't find an answer to my dilemma on the forum, which probably means I'm being a dope, but I'm having an issue keeping the tang centered on seax and similar blades while forging. I always end up with a greater distance from the tang to the edge than to the spine, and I'm not quite sure where I'm going wrong.

 

When I'm trying to forge this type of blade, my order of operations is thus:

-I start by forging the steel down to the desired thickness at the spine

-I forge the profile of the blade

-I forge down the tang, beginning with a guillotine tool to get fairly even shoulders

-I forge the bevels

-Forging the bevels pushes the edge outward, so the tang ends up closer to the spine than the edge.

 

Should I be starting with the tang off-center towards the edge to compensate? Do I need to be hammering the edge as I thin the bevels to keep the profile even? I'm having a lot of trouble figuring this one out for some reason, and I'm running out of practice scraps.

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The guillotine tool should be getting your tang pretty well centered. Make sure that you are switching the sides that you are working from. You can refine the alignment of the tang by getting the junction of the blade and the tang hot and tap tang to where you want it. A wood mall or mallet is good for this because it won't move the steel that it contacts as much as a steel hammer, though you might have to go back and refine the edge of the blade a little if you have to forge from the edge side of the blade. You should also keep in mind that forging the bevels will move the steel away from the center of the blade as roughed out. You could try preforming the tang to be a little toward the edge side of the blade before forging in your bevels. It's just going to take you developing a little experience to know how much to offset the tang.

 

Doug

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One of the first things I always do on a sax is to forge a step from the spine to the tang, just on that side. Then I start forging and beveling the blade and tang, and only as one of the last steps do I put in the step from the edge to the tang. When the edge is already thin, you don't have the support to create a deep enough step from the spine to the tang. Plus I also always keep a bit more material at the transition area from blade to tang then further down the blade. If you don't, you end up with the blade getting too thin or too narrow at the transition area, and that looks poorly.

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One thing to keep in mind is that the tang of a seax (or any flat ground blade) is also beveled together with the cutting edge. This Will widen the tang towards the edge side, keeping it more centered.

But I have found that it will still help to start the tang off center as jeroen described Above.

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I tend to put a very small step in the preform (2mm each side) and the bevel the blade all of the way through the tang so that the diference between the widening blade and tang are not so great.

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I tend to put a very small step in the preform (2mm each side) and the bevel the blade all of the way through the tang so that the diference between the widening blade and tang are not so great.

Well now, that is something I wouldn't have ever thought of. Neat :)

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I forge them in off center, and just guess at how far. works most of the time. Jeroen's method looks like a good idea and i will try that next one I forge. you can also skil the notches in the forging and just forge a taper that is them notched on the grinder or with a file.

MP

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Thanks, guys! I was getting really frustrated at myself over this. It sure doesn't help that my hammer work is a bit sloppy from lack of practice in the last two months.

 

Doug, thanks for reminding me that I need to make a new wooden mallet; that would have come in handy yesterday.

 

Jeroen, what you drew out is almost exactly what I was thinking; I'm definitely going to give that a try soon and see if it works out for me. It's really helpful to hear it from somebody else, since I was starting not to trust my own thoughts on the subject.

 

Matthew, I was at the point yesterday where I thought "Screw it, I'll just grind the tang in later, " but then a louder thought said "THAT'S CHEATING!" :D

I figure that learning to forge it properly is in the long term better for my craft than relying on material removal.

Edited by Adam Betts
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I was at the point yesterday where I thought "Screw it, I'll just grind the tang in later, " but then a louder thought said "THAT'S CHEATING!" :D

I figure that learning to forge it properly is in the long term better for my craft than relying on material removal.

 

 

There is no such thing as cheating.....In the big scheme of things that is... grinding is just another tool....

 

But I would stick to what YOU think is the rite way to do it.

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There is a physicaly good reason to have the tang a little off center and keep as much spine thickness as possable for strength.

 

I love that seax

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Aw, mine looked just like that before I "fixed" it! Dang, I could have called it historical! I feel like you'd either lose some handle strength or have a weird handle/blade junction with the tang so close to the spine, though.

 

I didn't think to look at puukos, but it makes sense that the process would be similar. If I wasn't so addled from lack of sleep I might have connected those dots myself. :D

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I started out forging the tang last, but these days tend to forge the tang first for three reasons:

-I've made several cold shuts forging the shoulders once the steel was thin on the blade side.

-I've dented, marred, and/or bent the tip of the blade trying to hold onto it while forging the tang, and then ended up with a thinner point than I wanted trying to fix it.

-I'm not so good at estimating how much material I need for a tang that I'm willing to wager a whole forged blade on it.

 

These are of course based on my own inadequacies in skill and tooling-- I can totally see advantages to forging the tang last, it just doesn't work for me at this point.

Edited by Adam Betts
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Am I the only person in the world that forges my tang in last?

 

Nope, I do it almost every time. Just seems easier that way, since I know what the blade looks like at that point.

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Adam:

I started out forging the tang last, but these days tend to forge the tang first for three reasons:
-I've made several cold shuts forging the shoulders once the steel was thin on the blade side.

I'm not sure how you did that, but I never forge my edges thinner than about the thickness of a nickel. This ensures that there is enough material to grind down to a clean, keen edge.

-I've dented, marred, and/or bent the tip of the blade trying to hold onto it while forging the tang, and then ended up with a thinner point than I wanted trying to fix it.

A pair of offset tongs will fix that (link) these grab the blade by the spine and edge allowing the point to lay parallel to the reins.

 

-I'm not so good at estimating how much material I need for a tang that I'm willing to wager a whole forged blade on it.

I usually start forging the blade from a larger bar and cut it off with enough to make the tang. I also do the math beforehand so I know how much steel I need for the blade and tang when done. So if I do start with a smaller piece of steel, I know I have enough to do the blade & tang before I start.

 

On the rare occasions that I haven't had enough material left to form the size tang I needed, I just welded on some more material.

Just different methods, I guess.

Edited by Joshua States
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So the blade I was working on when I started this thread turned out to be one of those "everything goes wrong" projects and ended up being comically small in the end.

However, I forged a new one today, and it's turning out much better so far. I did a lot better on the tang this time, too, thanks to the expert advice offered here.

20170128_204151.jpg

I didn't think making knives with hidden tangs would be much different from making full-tang blades, but it turns out there are several key differences that have proven to be stumbling blocks; thank you all for helping me out with this one.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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