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Michael Bergstrom

WIP Ivory Dirk

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Someone contacted me about creating as close to the original dirk he saw on an auction site. I was the only smith that said I would build it out of ivory like the original, other makers were pushing for plastic or antler. This is is a photo of the original. 

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First thing I wanted to do was find a piece of ivory to use, a solid chunk of ivory that size is very hard to find, thankfully, I live in Alaska and have a great resource for legal ivory (both walrus and mammoth). I knew that mammoth was flat out not going to work, as most isn't solid enough and would require stabilizing. I found a nice piece of "fossilized" walrus tusk tip that was solid enough. It's just a little shy for size by a mm or two, I consulted with the client and he said he was okay with that as he understood the limitations with ivory sources and just as long as it still flowed. I did a rough sketch up to get a rough idea of lengths of materials. 

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I chose 1095 for the blade steel, mainly because I was running low on my regular 5160 and wasn't in the mood for 01. I also figured 1095 would be a little closer to the original steel used. I don't really have any photos of the forging, but it was pretty fast and basic. No problems in the heat treat everything went pretty smoothly. 

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The blade blank after HT and Cleanup, checking profile against the picture. I haven't added the small fuller, rounded the shoulders or done any finer detail work on it yet. 

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Checking to make sure I'll actually have enough material to do the handle. This piece of ivory is gorgeous, with a nice dense dentin.

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Starting to lay in the shoulders. I don't have the best ventilation or mask, and also can't afford to mess up with this material, so I'm not using power tools at this point, and might not use them at all on this piece just to be safe and not ruining anything.  

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And where I stopped last night. 

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Edited by Michael Bergstrom
wrong picture
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Looking good! Can't wait to see this one come together!

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Impressive so far!  I'm with you on not using power tools on that ivory.

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50 minutes ago, jake cleland said:

Cool - any info on the dimensions/age/provenance of this piece?

I dont, I can try to find out. But I had to guess at dimensions based off of hands in other photos and averages for dirks. 

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Quite the undertaking Michael. I both envy you and am glad it's not me at the same time! I am definitely going to follow this build.

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I think that you are a wise man for not using power tools to shape the handle.  I even tend to stick with hand tools when working with wood.  Will be waiting to see the finished product.

Doug

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Super slow going. 

 

Starting to refine and thin up the handle, and started filing in the "thistle" pommel cap. 

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Decided to go for wrought iron guard plate and pommel cap, so took some old wagon wheel and forged it down flat. 

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This is the pommel cap design on the original. The cap appears to have a slight dome as well. The cap also seems to overhang the handle by a hair, but I think that's ivory shrinkage with age, and not intentional, so I think I'll go for flush. 

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Drill baby drill, drilled my pilot hole a little smaller than the tang, then filed to fit.  

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Where I stopped last night. (axe of perun pendant in the pic as well, it's my distraction piece right now, haha) 

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So, haven't been able to work on this in a while, had to finish up a couple swords and do some heat treating. Finally started working this week a little on it. 

after reviewing the photos, I noticed that the guard is actually bent. I didn't want to fire up my large forge, so took a crucible and my torch to heat up the guard piece. I creased ahead of time to get a good line, then hot fitted it to shape it over the blade shoulders (which I rounded down with a file). The potato acted as a simple heat sink for the fast fit so I didn't lose my tempering, it worked out great. 

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I started cleaning up the pommel cap and starting to shape it, It's only at about 60 grit right now, but wanted a quick dip in acid to see if this batch of wrought had any pattern to it, I was not disappointed. 

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Stopping point last night. I haven't really worked on the handle at all lately, though I'm starting to fit it to the guard now. I also started filing the guard to shape. Blade is now at a flat grind at 320 grit, and I'll be starting on the fuller today or tomorrow. It's going to be a hard fuller, it marries up to the spine, almost creating a T shape than has a skinny accent line down the along the fuller. Should be fun...

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This is starting to look real good.  It will be nice to see it finished.

Doug

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What a great WIP. That last photo really sets the stage for what this will look like. I am seriously enjoying this one.

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Peen block. 
 
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Testing fitting, you can see the more subtle pattern of the pommel cap now after polishing back a little. I just want the idea of the pattern there at the end, not heavily etched. 

 
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Ivory tends to pick up a lot of gunk when it's not polished. 
 
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Final shape is getting there. 
 
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This is my first time seeing this WIP, but wow! Looking great man. 

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Going by the page views against the replies, it seems that a great number of us are following this build.

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51 minutes ago, Garry Keown said:

Going by the page views against the replies, it seems that a great number of us are following this build.

Oh yeah. I was happy to see it pop up in my email notifications.

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Looks great! Looking forward to more

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Nearing completion now. Need to clean up the secondary fuller, sharpen and make a leather sheathe for it. 
 
OAL: 18.25"  Blade: 14"  Weight: 15 ounces. 
 
Full Length

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Some fun color in the ivory. 
 
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Wrought iron pommel cap.  
 
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Oh, now that's looking good!   The simplicity of the plain ivory with the delicate texture of the wrought really makes it pop.

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Thanks Alan! I considered a deep etch and played around with it but it was a little jarring visually, I like the subtleness of polishing it back. 

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You really did a wonderful job on that.

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Yes, I think that your customer is going to be very happy with that knife.

 

Doug

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Dirk needed clothes. Modeled the sheathe after some survivors. Wet formed the leather and sewed up the single seam on the back. Belt loop is wet woven in with the loop stitched as a saltire. Light tooling, and then colored with vinegaroon, buffed and sealed with beeswax. She's ready to head to her new home! 

 

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Edited by Michael Bergstrom

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Also first time using vinegaroon and I'm a convert! Put two steel wool pieces in white vinegar in a pint size mason jar with a hole in the lid. Let it sit for a few days (I think it was a week), strained it out. Applied with sheep fur, neutralized with hot water and baking soda, then rinsed under running water. I'm shocked about the rich even color, seemed much easier to achieve an even color. That, and my whole goal with this project was no power tools, completely by hand and with historical methods....so it only made sense to color with vinegaroon 

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Looks great!  Got a pic of the back side?

 

 

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1 hour ago, Alan Longmire said:

Looks great!  Got a pic of the back side?

 

 

 

This was pre-sealing and buffing.

 

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