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Fairbairn Sykes knife


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Fairbairn Sykes fighting knife

Here‘s something I‘ve been wanting to make for a long time and just a short while ago, another member posted his version of it, giving me the final nudge to get started with it as soon as my current projects allow. The Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife is one of the most elegant modern fighting knife designs I‘ve come across. It has a very graceful shape and wonderful lines.

Of course I‘m going to do my version of it, not a direct copy. Here‘s the start, the rough blade after angle grinding and then after clean-up on the belt grinder and some filing, ready for heat treat. Steel is 80CrV2, 6mm stock.

It‘s always a pleasure how quickly and easily these little blades can be made. I‘m so used to working on swords that I have a wholly different expectation regarding speed of progress.

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Having a slightly beefier tang than the skinny one the original had is I think a step in the right direction.

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Our blades are almost twins or something! Same steel, nearly identical thickness and breadth. I like the profile of yours better though, Lukas. :D

Can't wait to see where you're going with this. Honestly I was thinking of taking another try at the concept, since I am not quite satisfied with the first one.

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@Al Massey: indeed, the original's tang looks rather flimsy to me. Easier to manufactur, no doubt.

 

@Adam: right, that was you! Thanks for motivating me to get to this ;) I hope you'll like where I'm going...

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  • 3 weeks later...

Finished: Fairbairn-Sykes Revisited

And here it is all done!  

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I‘m happy with how it turned out, it‘s a very elegant dagger that has a quite dangerous feel to it. It‘s light and quick in hand, yet not unsubstantial. The blade is quite massive with a thick spine and a convex distal taper. The edges are finaly honed and though the blade is plainly thrust-centric, its cutting capacity must not be underestimated.

Stats:
Overall length: 28.7cm
Blade length: 17cm
Blade width: 2.5cm
PoB: 1cm
Weight: 141g

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The design is very obviously based on the famous WWII fighting knife by Fairbairn and Sykes but I made some alterations. Functionally, my version is a better weapon with a more robust tang and stouter tip. The handle is wood and oval in cross section, unlike the round metal handle of the original. I read that there apparently were issues with the original having too step an edge angle for efficient cutting... can‘t comment on that but I can say that edge on my version is not to be scoffed at. It's not the sharpest blade I've ever made, the cross section just isn't designed for that but it will cut, no doubt.

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Aesthetically, I played a bit with contrasting materials and surfaces. The blade is finely polished 80CrV2, the handle a lightly colored, smooth piece of box elder while the guard and top cap are mild steel with a gnarly fire-finish. The tang end is peened over and left standing proud with the texture from the ball peen hammer.

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Overall, this was a fun piece to make. It came together pleasently quickly though I‘ll have to see when I can find time to make a suitable sheath for it... until then, thanks for looking!

Cheers,
Lukas

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Always wondered what one of those would look like with a wood handle. I want a lathe. When I get one, the FS is going to be one of the first things I do.

Great interpretation. Thicker tang is better, for sure.

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Having a mate who was an Australian Commando in the veit and post era I know he would absolutely love something like this. His original issue is mounted on his wall. 

This looks good. I like the mild steel gnarly looking guard. I am new to knife making and I think sometimes me and no doubt others look for premium materials instead of what is readily available. 

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1 hour ago, Lukas MG said:

Thanks, guys.

Kevin, no need for a lathe. I don't have one either ;)

Lukas - well done! Did you do the trick where you mount the workpiece on some all-thread in a drill chuck? I am even more impressed, now.

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I've always loved that design, even with it's faults it has a certain elegance to it.  Beefing up the tang, making the handle cross-section oval, and tweaking the blade geometries makes this the knife the original wanted to be...

Well done man.

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Nice! The original was a great design and the tweaks you made are good improvements on that design. The wood grip is a nice touch as well.

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I appreciate the comments! Glad you like it, including my "tweaks". Had some purists complain, lol ;)

@Kevin (The Professor): nah, I didn't think that far. Also, you can't make an oval shape on a lathe of any kind (as far as I'm aware). I drilled a pilot hole, burned the tang in, scribbled the handle shape on and ground away everything that was too much. I'm not a real wood worker, I treat everything like a stock removal project. Not a single rasp or file was used on that grip, all done with the angle grinder (I kid you not) and the belt sander. I did use a carving knife for the recess of the top cap but that was all.

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Lukas, that came out beautifully! I love that box elder handle-- the movement in the grain makes the whole knife look like it's ready to jump into action on its own. Very nice work!
 

4 hours ago, Lukas MG said:

I drilled a pilot hole, burned the tang in, scribbled the handle shape on and ground away everything that was too much.

I did the same thing, since I don't have a lathe either-- the grip on mine is somewhere between a rectangle and an oval. I got really good at symmetrical carving making CO2-powered wooden racecars in shop class. A 36 grit aluminum oxide belt on the grinder just makes it go faster. :D

Edited by Adam Betts
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I am just the opposite, I use a rasp or file for EVERYTHING on wood that I can. Chisels or milling machine, too, but usually a rasp for curves.

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  • 1 month later...

Nice leather work! How secure is that retention strap? Do you think you could wear the knife upside-down with it? I'm still torn as to whether to use a strap like you've got here for my sheath, or whether to go for a strap with a snap at the top end of the handle like the original production sheaths had. I made my sheath so that I can actually wear it concealed point-up under my arm (not that that's legal) or point-down on a belt the regular way, but retention and extraction become a bit more challenging when the thing is upside-down.

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It's very secure (the fit of the sheath is also very good though). You could easily wear it tip-up as the originals from Shang-hai. I in fact considered trying that because the knife is illegal to carry over here anyway, whatever you do so playing with it at home is all you can do. But since I might sell it, I thought it best to go with a standard sheath design.

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Kevin,

You can turn an oval on a lathe by using double center locations.  If you're turning a large, heavy

pieceof wood you need a HEAVY lathe.

Bill

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You could also turn it round and just a bit oversized and "ovalize" it with a belt grinder and files.  I don't understand the double center thing, but lot's of what people do with lathes is magic to me.

 

Geoff

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