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Joshua States

A pair of commissions

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So, I stopped by this morning and couldn't find this thread! Thanks for the pin Alan (I assume so anyway) I am honored.

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Yep.  I pinned it for the excellent WIP stuff on the scales and bolsters.  Lots of handy info here!

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Well, the pin has got me all frazzled now. I am going to get kind of detailed. Here is the next installment.

Last scene was cutting the tapers on the fronts of the bolsters in preparation for buffing. Those got buffed and then I decided to go back and hand sand the taper to a satin 600 and leave the little flat high polish. The photo didn't come out so well. So I'll move on and come back to that later. It's time to prep the knife for the handle. Epoxy doesn't like smooth surfaces, so you have to hollow out the sides where the scales will sit. I have done this a variety of ways and I think this way is the easiest. I have a 2" grinding wheel in the top  of my flat platen set up. I tip that forward all the way and use a 60 grit belt on the edge of the wheel to hollow out the center. You have to be very careful not to get out to the edge, but leave a thin area of flat around the perimeter.

Hollowing out.jpg

Wheel edge.jpg

Hollowed out 1.jpg

The little pointed area will get roughed up with a grinding stone on the Dremel tool.

Dremel with stone.jpg

The bevels get mechanical finished to 400 grit (A45 Trizac Gator belt) and the flats get hand sanded to 400 grit before etching my maker's mark.

Hollowed pair.jpg

Now to prep the bolsters. It is critical to use fresh, clean pin material and clean the surfaces of the bolsters. Any dirt or oxidation will show up in the peened pin as a halo around the pin. I take fresh pin stock and rub it down with 1000 grit paper, the super glue and black sharpie residue on the bolsters is removed with a razor blade and plenty of acetone. The areas around the pin holes are sanded clean (tops) and the mating surface is hand sanded on the granite slab to 30 micron (~400 grit) Everything gets liberally sprayed with acetone.

Cleaned bolsters.jpg

I have a tapered countersink bit to open the holes in the tops of the bolsters and both sides of the holes in the blade.

Tapered bit.jpg

I pin the scales to the blade and overlay the bolsters with the pins in place. Last chance to check the fit.

Check fit.jpg

More in another post.

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Time to peen the bolsters on! 

I make a paper towel sheath to wrap the blade in for the remainder of the handle process. I have noticed the bolsters sometimes move a little while peening the pins down, so I attach one of my thin file guides to the blade (over the paper sheath) and push it up against the bolsters. The scales keep them from sliding backward, the file guide keeps them from sliding forward.

I have a small hardy bick that I use primarily for silver forging, but it comes in handy for this operation.

Slide block.jpg

Now before you go smashing the pins down, it's important to get them the right length. Too long, and they just bend over. Too short, and they won't fill the tapered hole. Holding the knife flat against the bick, I file the pins down with a bastard file until there is about 1/16" sticking out on either side.

Pin length.jpg

Peening is gentle at first. Peen one side a little, flip it over and peen the other side a little. You have to watch the bolsters and make sure you keep them flat against the knife. They have a tendency to separate. This can be fatal, as the pins can bulge in between the bolster and the knife keeping you from getting a tight fit. I use a very small ball peen hammer to start (probably about 4 ounce) and move to the 12 ounce once the pins are swelled a bit and the bolsters are held against the knife tight. Then you go to town and smash them down finishing with the flat of the hammer, until they look like this.

Smashed  (1).jpg

Smashed  (2).jpg

That process done, you should have something like this.

Bolsters set (1).jpg

Next step: Prepare to glue it up.

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Gluing the scales on with dovetailed bolsters is a little trickier than it is with a straight backed bolster. It pays to practice a time or two with everything dry before you start getting wet epoxy all over the place. Anyway, you have to hollow out the scales a little and leave a flat line around the profile to sit flush on the handle. You can trust your eye and just go for it, or you can draw a line inside of the line you cut the scale to. Leave between 1/16 and 1/8 inch of flat.

Sribed line.jpg

I use the Dremel tool for the hollowing. First I cut inside my line with a barrel culler using the edge of the cutter.

Hollow 1.jpg

Then I use the same barrel cutter and a drum sander (60 grit) to remove the excess and get the small spaces. A ball head cutter puts dimples in the surface. Epoxy likes surface area. The more surface area you give it, the better it holds.

Hollow final.jpg

Note the two recesses where the big holes in the tang are. These become "epoxy rivets". Before you even think about mixing the epoxy, get prepared. Have you clamps ready. Have your pins handy and smear the blade and bolster fronts with petroleum jelly. Smear the clamp faces as well. There's nothing worse that removing a clamp and having it take a piece of the scale with it. Get your latex gloves on and have some paper towels handy. 

Smear.jpg

The process is to start with the pins inserted into the holes of one scale, but do not have the protrude above the small flat area. Pour the glue into the hollow and along the length. Slide the scale under the dovetail and push the pins into the holes in the tang. Do not have them protrude above the rim of the tang.  Pour the glue onto the tang and onto the hollow of the other scale. Slide it under the dovetail and push the pins through the second scale. Trim the pins off fairly flush and clamp down over the pin locations and the center.

Set onto something that you don't mind getting covered with epoxy and let dry blade up.

Drying.jpg

Leave the epoxy cup on the bench and check it at whatever time it says it should be set up. If it isn't set up, either the epoxy is bad or you go the mixture wrong. You have to pull everything apart, clean it off, and do it again. In about 10 or 15 minutes, come back and wipe the heel of the handle clean. All the errant epoxy will flow downward and puddle there. 

Next phase, profile grinding.

 

Edited by Joshua States

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Great work Joshua, and thanks for all the pics.........but just thinking about doing a handle like drives me nuts.......hat's off to you sir! B)

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This is a great WIP, and I am following with great interest. I like the look of dovetailed bolsters but I am not brave enough to try them just yet.

 

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On 2/28/2019 at 12:00 AM, Gerhard Gerber said:

Great work Joshua, and thanks for all the pics.........but just thinking about doing a handle like drives me nuts.......hat's off to you sir! B)

 

4 hours ago, Pieter-Paul Derks said:

This is a great WIP, and I am following with great interest. I like the look of dovetailed bolsters but I am not brave enough to try them just yet.

 

Thanks guys, and for your first go at dovetailed bolsters, I would highly suggest that you do not taper the tang. It only adds another level of complexity. If you look back at page 1, the original knife I am matching does not have a tapered tang.

Also, use thick bolster stock. I start with 1/4" bolster stock and that gives me room to manage sufficient grinding and shaping, but still have a handle thick enough to be comfortable.

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Posted (edited)

For finishing the handle, I first file off the pins flush with the wood and flatten the scales down so there's no glue on the surface. This is a fast operation in preparation for the profile grind.

2 Sand faces flat V2.jpg

You just want to get the faces smooth so you can get a square cut on the 2x72. The profiles (except the finger notch) are done across the spine at 60, 120, and 220 grits.

5 Profile grind (1).jpg

The 200 grit is then done inline by holding the knife vertically on the platen. both point up and point down. Roll it all the way through the point of the blade and the end of the handle. Then you do the finger notch with a small wheel. I use a 3/4" .

6 Profile grind (2).jpg

The profiles at 220 grit.

7 Profiles at 220 (3).jpg

Now I'm ready to take the sides down and taper the handle.

 

Edited by Joshua States
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Posted (edited)

I like to bevel the handle so it is slightly thinner at the bolsters than it is at the heel. The bevel (and all the rest of the finish sanding) is done on the 9" disc.  To bevel the handle, you hold the knife in the center of the wheel. The outer edge of the wheel turns faster, and cuts harder, than the inside.

3 Bevel position.jpg

I Start on the high part of the scale at the dovetail and grind a flat-ish plane between the front of the bolster and the heel of the handle. Then it's time to start rounding the scales for comfort. This is done on the top of the wheel.

4 Rounding position.jpg

Here you can see the flat bevel on the left and the started rounding on the right.

Rounding  (1).jpg

The rounding  at 60, 150, & 220 grits is done on the hard disc. Then the profiles are taken to 400 (A45 Trizac gator) on the platen and the finger notch on the small wheel. Grits higher than 220 on the rounds are done on a rubber backed disc. The finger notch is also hand sanded to 400 grit to wash out any grind lines. I got one of these two done to 400 grit all around.

9 400 Grit (1).jpg

10 400 Grit (2).jpg

 

 

Edited by Joshua States
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600 grit and add a little Danish oil.

Oiled (2).JPG

Oiled (3).JPG

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These are finally ready to deliver.

 

Photo 1 V2.jpg

Photo 2 V2.jpg

Photo 3 V2.jpg

Photo 4 V2.jpg

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Very nice Joshua!  I love dovetailed bolsters, its just a good look.

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Lovely work Joshua and thanks for posting the WIP. I’ll be referring to this in future.

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