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JamesK

First time Bowie/Hidden Tang

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Hey guys, I’ve been working on a Bowie knife from the second half of an old prybar (that hardens well), and this is my first real Bowie and I want a hidden tang to stay true to the classic Bowie shape. I’ve never done a hidden tang before and thought I’d ask a few questions before I continue to hammer out the tang because the last thing I want to do is ruin this knife because it looks good so far. 

F39D2FC5-DC10-45B0-8DE1-657C3411D966.jpegSo here is my knife after about an hour and a half (2 days of forging). I like the shape and think it can turn into something nice, but the tang is weird right now. It is not centered and it’s almost aligned perfectly with the top...how can I drop that tang down so that it is centered with the knife? I was thinking I can put the bottom part on the horn and just hammer from the top but I’m not 100% sure... this is really my only question but feel free to add additional tips I should know before attempting my first hidden tang

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In bladesmithing there is usually more than one way around a given bush. If you didn't discover it yet (I can't tell from the pic) it is easiest, with a clip point, to begin with the tip down low on the preform either by cutting the tip diagonally or forging it down and the letting the forging of the belly and its bevel bring the tip back up. This avoids the "fish mouth" effect.

Now to your blade and question. The blade looks a bit short especially if you plan on further bevel forging. This should, IMO, be addressed before moving to the handle. Were it me, I would use the back edge of the anvil to establish the pullout working towards the tip and then establish the ricasso and start working towards the tang from there. You are correct in that you can use the horn, to make a fuller-like depression at the juncture of the spine and an established ricasso and then forging the tang material towards the butt.

IMO you have a bit too much belly, too far back, in the blade and this should be addressed first.  My personal way around the bush is to get the blade, bevels, pullout ricasso,  etc, established and proportioned to my satisfaction while using the future tang material as a handle for my tongs. Again, my way around the bush.

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33 minutes ago, Vern Wimmer said:

In bladesmithing there is usually more than one way around a given bush. If you didn't discover it yet (I can't tell from the pic) it is easiest, with a clip point, to begin with the tip down low on the preform either by cutting the tip diagonally or forging it down and the letting the forging of the belly and its bevel bring the tip back up. This avoids the "fish mouth" effect.

Now to your blade and question. The blade looks a bit short especially if you plan on further bevel forging. This should, IMO, be addressed before moving to the handle. Were it me, I would use the back edge of the anvil to establish the pullout working towards the tip and then establish the ricasso and start working towards the tang from there. You are correct in that you can use the horn, to make a fuller-like depression at the juncture of the spine and an established ricasso and then forging the tang material towards the butt.

IMO you have a bit too much belly, too far back, in the blade and this should be addressed first.  My personal way around the bush is to get the blade, bevels, pullout ricasso,  etc, established and proportioned to my satisfaction while using the future tang material as a handle for my tongs. Again, my way around the bush.

ok, thanks for the advice...I do realize it's pretty short right now and hopefully I can either fix it or make a better one in the future...and what do you mean by using the back of the anvil? I'm a huge newbie at forging, but do you basically mean using the small surface area of the anvil to move the steel in two directions (drawing out the blade to lengthen it at the expense of thickness)? I could use cross pein but that would leave huge forge marks...thanks

Edited by JamesK

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I wad able to enlarge the pic and it looks like you may have some blisters from overheating the steel. Not a big deal at this stage but you want to watch out for it later on.

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13 minutes ago, Vern Wimmer said:

I wad able to enlarge the pic and it looks like you may have some blisters from overheating the steel. Not a big deal at this stage but you want to watch out for it later on.

Ok thanks

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22 hours ago, JamesK said:

So here is my knife after about an hour and a half (2 days of forging). I like the shape and think it can turn into something nice, but the tang is weird right now. It is not centered and it’s almost aligned perfectly with the top...how can I drop that tang down so that it is centered with the knife? I was thinking I can put the bottom part on the horn and just hammer from the top but I’m not 100% sure... this is really my only question but feel free to add additional tips I should know before attempting my first hidden tang

Forgive the cruddy Paint edits, but you need to keep the bottom of your existing tang on the flat of the anvil and make a simple fuller out of a 1/2" rod.

(imagine the black circle is a 1/2" rod)

Drive it down to the desired thickness then draw the tang out.

example.jpg

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1 hour ago, Don Abbott said:

Forgive the cruddy Paint edits, but you need to keep the bottom of your existing tang on the flat of the anvil and make a simple fuller out of a 1/2" rod.

(imagine the black circle is a 1/2" rod)

Drive it down to the desired thickness then draw the tang out.

example.jpg

Ok thanks so much, I don’t have the tools but I can come up with something, worst case scenario I grind the top part to the right shape because it doesn’t go down

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The only tools I use for my hidden tangs are several hammers of different weights and the anvil. It is trickier this way, but you can do it to the same result as the fullering tool. I would have to write a book explaining how. I sort of did a while back. I just use the anvil edges.Here's the post I attemped to explain how to do it.  A fullering tool will make it waaaay easier though. Just saying if you have no good access to scrap metal or a welder, this is a good alternative.

 

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And I just read back through what I wrote. I needed to be more clear. when your hammering the tang below the ricasso with the base of the ricasso hanging off the anvil, you have to flip the blade often to keep the tang centered. Hope this makes sense. 

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Congrats Zeb & Don. Well done explanations. I was doing it Zeb's way just out of "I'll make a Hardie or a spring fuller laterism" then bumped into a Hardie fuller in a junk shop. Sooo much better. As the man said,

"I'm a man

but I can change

If I have to

I guess."

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To pinch a hidden tang from scratch, I use a spring fuller or my guillotine. 

The above advice is to correct an error (one sided).

Image search "spring fuller". If you don't have tools, this is a good one to make as you start your collection.

  • Material required: 1/2" steel rod
  • Skills required: ability to bend steel rods

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