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Brian Myers

Hidden tang help

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OK this is my latest project, my take on the tracker-style. I've made enough knives I don't feel like a newbie, except with hidden tangs. I've only made one that was perfectly straight. I've taken my time and made sure that the end of the knife where the bolster will go is perfectly even using a filing jig. My bolster will be either a 1/8 piece of polished steel or a 1/4 inch piece of brass, haven't made up my mind yet. The handle will be bloodwood. Can everyone chime in for any tips they may have to help me get this right? Thanks in advance. 

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Well, it's a bit too late, but where your ricasso ends and tang begins should be rounded, not square. It's a stress riser. Aside from that, can't help you much unless you got specific questions :lol:. I just completed a hidden tang hunter with bloodwood and brass though. Very nice wood to work with! 

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Some photos of the tang/ricasso junction would help identify if you have any additional prep work to do. The pictures you provided make me think you are looking for blade design critique rather than handle making or guard fitting advice.

If you want some tips on how to fit a guard to the tang, check out this: http://www.americanbladesmith.com/ipboard/index.php?/topic/2554-fitting-a-guard-–-topic-for-september-2016/

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Sweet, that did have some good info. I really like the idea of filing the tang down a bit on the sides to get a hidden fit. I do plan on rounding those shoulders out just a bit. One of my biggest problems is getting the hole in the handle just right and straight. I've seen some people use epoxy putty in an oversized hole, but right now I don't have any extra funds. I don't want to burn in, every time I do that the handle wiggles and the hole gets oversized. I've made a broach out of an old saw, so I'm hoping I can get a tight fit with that. 

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Without a drill press it could be challenging. I got one but my drill bits were not long enough to drill all the way through. I had to make very precise measurements and drill both ends. Still I had a lot of file work to do afterwards. Ended up with a small play but nothing a good epoxy can't manage. 

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I've only made a few hidden tang knives, but as a time saver, the epoxy putty is well worth the few bucks it costs at home depot.  If you just want a finished knife with a hidden tang, purchase the epoxy and save yourself the time and effort.  It's pretty effortless and will make life a lot easier on you.  If you want to use this build as a means to expand your skills and learn the broaching process, by all means go that route.  It all depends on what you want to get out of it, the finished product will essentially be the same.

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The other option is to mortise the tang into two scales and glue them together. That way you can get a very tight fit with almost no play.

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Joshua's Idea is my go to method unless I really want a seemless fit on a wood that has a lot of cross grain action. If you don't mind a critique: the hook part of the tracker looks dull. Looks like it would hinder your slashing abilities. I did a full tang blade like this once. I'll try to find a pic of the "hook" part.

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See how the "hook" is dished out? It's been a couple years since I did that, but I imagine I used a chainsaw file, and cleaned it up with flat files, sanding block, etc. Looking back, I wish I had slapped a hamon on it. Woulda been pretty cool lookin 

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Edited by Zeb Camper

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Joshua's method is the only way I feel 100% confident with for hidden tangs. Not to say I haven't done it by other methods with complete success but sometimes I felt like I was gambling and sometimes I did lose.

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BTW- People seem to use the term "hidden tang" interchangeably with "stub tang" or "partial tang" and even for "through tang". I never seem to know which one people are talking about when they say they are going to try a "hidden tang". I assumed Brian was talking about a partial or stub tang, but the mortise method could also be used for a through tang. The real beauty of the mortise method is it prepares you for the jump to frame handles.

Edited by Joshua States

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17 hours ago, Joshua States said:

BTW- People seem to use the term "hidden tang" interchangeably with "stub tang" or "partial tang" and even for "through tang". I never seem to know which one people are talking about when they say they are going to try a "hidden tang". I assumed Brian was talking about a partial or stub tang, but the mortise method could also be used for a through tang. The real beauty of the mortise method is it prepares you for the jump to frame handles.

What Joshua said.  It is also good practice for making sayas for eastern blades, and handles for many western sword designs, so it is a very good skill to develop. 

After a few hours of hand sanding very hard steel, I find the time spent carving out a precise channel in wood to be very relaxing.

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True enough. This is a stub or partial tang. I haven't attempted a through tang yet. And as for the hook, I was going to file one in with a half round file, but for whatever reason I liked the way the two bevels are separated from each other. After a lot of research I THINK I'm going to drill out as a channel that is slightly larger towards the bottom and set the tang in a generous amount of epoxy. I'll be sure to put plenty of notches in the tang for the epoxy to grip onto. I've also decided on brass for my bolster, I've got a good 1/4 inch thick piece in my odds and ends box. I think I'll also use a thin layer of black construction paper soaked with epoxy as a spacer between the bolster and handle. Should look really good with the bloodwood. 

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Well, the handle isn't fully defined and sanded yet, but I'm pretty happy with how straight and tight the blade ended up. Thanks for all your suggestions and support! 

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