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A tale of 6 blades.

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On 2/7/2020 at 12:56 AM, Joshua States said:

I found the photo on an old backup drive. https://drive.google.com/open?id=10Gdt5617I-P2gI0ibn-9M70dayXCrcuZ

The guard tail needs to be thinner and straighter on the back side.

Isn’t that the second challenge knife? A photo of the other side is here.


6 hours ago, Joshua States said:

Now, using a flexible straight edge (I'm using a piece of acetate)

You could also try one of these:


at least some of them are made to only bend in one plane, not sure about this exact one.


Thanks for keeping going with this. Lots of good info here already.

Edited by Charles dP
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And the pommel goes like this..... Take a piece of 1-1/2" round 416 bar and lightly forge it to shape. Surface the sides and cut out my profile drawing, super glue it to one face to rough out the

Preparing for the final assembly.     

5 of 6 are now done. One is on the injured/reserved list after a catastrophic bluing accident.

Posted Images

4 hours ago, Charles dP said:

Isn’t that the second challenge knife?

Well looky there. Yep sure is.


4 hours ago, Charles dP said:

You could also try one of these:

You can use whatever works. I use the acetate because I have a pad of that in the shop and use it for a variety of functions. It provides a protection layer for fittings on the surface grinder so I do not scratch the faces placing on or removing them from the magnetic chuck. I also use it for protecting the handle material when doming pins. For a flexible measuring system, I use a tailor's tape.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just a little bit of progress today.

I have to tell you that the dagger has been taken off the bench for a long while. It will take more time than I have to devote to it right now.

I did make another W2 blade. It will be an EDC take-down. I just realized that I failed to take any photos of the forging or HT process, which is a shame.

Anyway, I drew down the tang and took that to 320 grit today.


EDC tang 2.jpg


EDC 320 grit.jpg


Then I took that big camp knife, fitted a new guard to it (third try is the charm I guess), Drilled the blind pins for the spacer package and got it indexed to the Amboyna block. 

(I drilled and fit the block to the tang Sunday)


Spacer package (2).JPG


Spacer package (3).JPG


I also sanded the blade to 600 grit on the disc and it's ready for handle shaping.


Camp Knife fit up.jpg



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I probably should have clarified that somewhere. With the exception of the full tang knife, all of these knives have blind pins to align the guard/spacers/handle.

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In that Kyle Royer video, he shows how to do the blind pins in the spacer. He creates the spacer around 7 minutes in, and does the alignment pins at 11:20. He also uses blind pins for the buttcap, (14:30) but he doesn't show how he indexes them to the handle. 

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Thanks for referring me to that video, Josh.  I love watching fine craftsmen doing what they do.  I hadn't seen that one before............not sure how I missed it, but it was a good one.  I've not done any stack-ups that technical, but I can certainly see how important it would be to use locator pins.  My first wood carving knife kept falling apart because I was using the wrong epoxy and the heat of shaping the handle softened it.  As a result, I lost the alignment of the various pieces in the spacer stack-up.  I've a lot to learn............a whole lot.  Thanks for the tip.


Looking forward to seeing this camp knife finished.

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Well, Chris got me thinking about doing a little demo of installing blind alignment pins. That Kyle Royer video does a good job showing how you do it with a single spacer (and make it look lie it's multiple spacers), but I like using multiple spacers of different materials and thicknesses. I think it just looks better, and gives me more to embellish. So I came home and shot some pics of the process.


As is well established in other posts, I am a 3-element kind of guy. I like using 3 spacers, and I like to match the length of the ricasso to the thickness of the spacer package. It looks "balanced" on opposite sides of the guard that way.


The first step is to get the guard and spacers mounted on the tang. At least one of them should be a snug fit with very little or no movement. I generally press set the first spacer that goes against the guard. The other two are close or snug. None of them should be so tight that you have to hammer them off. Stack everything up and get it so the spacers are smooth flush and there are no gaps between them. Hold it up to a bright light and look through from side to side and top to bottom. No light should be visible between any of the fittings.


1 Stack.jpg


By this point, you should have each of these pieces "tagged" to tell you which one goes on in what order and what orientation. I like to number the upper right corner of the back side (away from the blade) with an up arrow. Lin Rhea uses a center punch and puts a different number of dimples just above the tang slot. Whatever you do, tag each piece so you can always put them back on in the correct orientation. With a 3-piece spacer, it's not too difficult to figure it out without the tags, but when you do a 6 piece spacer......:blink:


2 Tags.jpg


With everything together, squeeze the package tight and appliy a couple of drops of superglue to the seams between the spacers. Do NOT glue the front spacer to the guard. The guard should be so tight that you need to whack the tang to remove it. This will instantly break the superglue bond.


3 glue seams.jpg

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Stage 2.

You can now remove the spacer package as a complete unit and drill your pin holes. I typically use 1/16" pins, but 3/32" pins will also work. I cannot get 1/16" drill bits into my drill press, but my mini-mill can do 1/16" drill bits. It also drill much truer than my drill press. I generally drill through the back spacer to the front. I'll explain why later.


4 drill holes.jpg


Sometimes the superglue breaks during the drilling and you do not complete the holes. If this happens, put everything back on the tang and insert the pin or pins as far as you can, and glue them together again. I Take the spacer package apart and clean the glue off. First scraping with a razor blade and then lightly sanding with 320 grit. Now I  put everything back on the tang with the pins in place. This makes sure that you have good pin alignment. Recheck the spacers for tight fit and get the spacers package superglued together again. Same as earlier.

5 alligned.jpg


Now remove the pins and insert the tang into the handle material. As with the spacer package, this should be a tight flush fit that no light shows through. Glue the last spacer to the handle material at the joint.

6 glue to handle.jpg


Now remove the blade and guard. The spacer package is held to the handle material and will work as a guide for you to drill the holes into the handle. These do not have to be too deep. I typically set them less than 1/8" into the handle.


7 spacer guides.jpg

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Now insert the pins and cut them off flush with the front spacer, or a little less so they do not interfere with the fit against the guard. You have now installed blind alignment pins.

Now to shape the handle, I do this off the knife. I will soon demonstrate how this is done.

Edited by Joshua States
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I'm paying attention, Josh.  It all makes good sense to me..............just never thought about it.  Many things I've done in my life required alignment pins and I should have realized how much they could help in making knives.

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This afternoon, I got the guard and spacer package set on the take-down EDC. Got the handle block fitted and bedded the tang.

Tang Bedding (1) V2.jpg


Tang Bedding (2) V2.jpg

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The bedding went really well. No cleanup to speak of and a very tight fit.

I stole a little time yesterday and today to create the rough finial. I thought I'd share the process.

The tang is threaded for 10/24. So I take a 10/24 hex coupling, put it on a short piece of rod with a small nut, tighten them against each other, and chuck it in a drill.

1 Finial.jpg


Then I turn it round against either the flat platen or the disc grinder. I put a short taper on it and measure the fat end with calipers to get it just a few thousandths under 5/16"


2 Finial .jpg


I have a chunk of nickel-silver that I cast from all my scrap. I cut a piece off and sanded/milled it so all faces are flat, square and parallel.

I then marked off a square section, and the center of it. This gets a 5/16" hole drilled just deep enough to create about 1/32" straight sides.


3 Finial.jpg


I flux the hole and the fat end of the hex nut and tap it into the hole. Eyeballing it for straight & square. Drop a chunk of silver solder down the tube.

Then I steal off to Liz's workbench and solder that puppy in place.


4 Finial.jpg


Cut off the excess (save the piece for later) and I have the rough made finial.


5 Finial.jpg

Edited by Joshua States
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Because this knife will not have a butt cap, I plan on having a bronze washer between the finial and the wooden handle.

So I take a piece of .035" bronze and drill a 5/16" hole in it. On really thin stock like this, the drill bit doesn't make a round hole. It is sort of triangular, and that helps.

Those three points will keep it snug against the stem.


6 Finial.jpg


After cutting it out square(ish), put it onto a piece of 5/16" threaded rod (or a bolt with the head cut off) and sandwich it between two nuts.


7 Finial.jpg


Grind down almost to the washer.

8 Finial.jpg


Chuck it up in the drill and turn it on the disc or belt grinder, using the washers as a stop point. I find using the slack belt works best for this.

You should now have a snug fitting round washer.

9 Finial.jpg


Use that washer as a guide to rough grind the finial and take off the square corners. Then chuck the finial in the drill and repeat to create a round finial.

This can also be done in the drill press or a horizontal drill with a lathe file.


10 Finial.jpg

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Exactly Alan! I now have a lathe, but I thought it would be good to demonstrate how it can be done without one.

Done carefully and slowly, this method gives great results.

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I think I'm going to start a new video series on my YouTube channel. I'll call it "Failures at the Forge" (with rebounds)

So the other day I cut this finial down and found some serious voids in the center of the ingot.



Grinding down just found even more, so I abandoned this finial.

I had no other choice, but to make a new one. I found some 1/4" nickel-silver plate, and went after it.

It's a bit thinner than I wanted, but it will do. A new bronze washer and it's ready for final shaping.


Round Two (4).jpg


Round Two (1).jpg


I did drill a hole straight through the finial while it was still square. This hole is made with a #35 bit. This is a tad under 7/64". I also purchased some W1 and O1 drill rod to match.


Round Two (3).jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...

So the blade for the knife with that finial is W2 and has a pretty good looking Hamon, but a small void appeared in the etch.

I was trying to sand it out but no dice. So that one is trash. I may make another blade, but it won't be W2. Probably O1


Void V2.jpg


I can feel the hand of Hancock reaching out to me and making me finish that dagger. It was his idea to put a dagger in this set. So the dagger is back online.

I spent about a half hour each of the last two evenings milling the slot for the guard. Pics later.



Edited by Joshua States
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Some progress to report.

I forged out a replacement for that cloudy 1095 blade.

I went for a slightly different shape. This one will have a rounder clip at the point.

Forged v2.jpg


Rough ground it and prepped it for HT


Pre HT V2.jpg


Got it out of the tempering

Post HT (2) V2.jpg


Did some finish grinding

Finish sanding (2) V2.jpg

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I also did a bunch of work on that dagger.

I slotted a piece of 3/8" by 1-1/2" for the guard. The new guard will have the ricasso inset about 1/2 of its length.

Guard drawing.jpg


So the slot needs to be stepped to accept the ricasso and also fitted to the tang. This was all done on the mini-mill.

Ricasso side slot.


Guard slotting (2).jpg


Tang side slot.


Guard Slotting (4).jpg


The step in the slotting.


Guard Slotting (5).jpg


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The ricasso side slot is about .004" narrower than the ricasso is thick. This will enable me to ensure a tight fit when the guard is pressed on.


Guard Slotting (6).jpg


Then I draw back the tang and the ricasso area with the oxy-acetylene torch and a welding tip.


Tang drawback V2.jpg


After considerable pounding with my guard setting team, and cutting the resultant ribbon out of the slot with a hand graver, I got the guard set onto the ricasso.

I also proceeded to make the finial. This was an experiment that worked out great. Originally, I was going to forge the finial from W1 stock, but Hancock convinced e to use 416 Stainless.

The thickest piece of 416 I have is 3/8" and it's not enough. So I got this bright idea to forge weld two pieces together. Then I got a different idea and thought about how cool it would look to have a thin layer of bronze in between two layers of 416. Guess what? If you sand the 416 down to 220 grit on one face, and the .035" bronze clean on two faces, you can make a sandwich that is self-brazing. Just MIG the seams shut and throw it in the forge until it's at about 1600*F and let it cool.


Finial brazed V2.jpg


The only thing left is to redesign the spacer to incorporate some thin bronze.


Guard & Spacer V2.jpg


The guard shaping will be all stock removal.

Now I have to drill and fit a piece of Blackwood to the tang and make the back spacer/finial combo.

Edited by Joshua States
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I'm really liking what you did with the 416/bronze combo.  I've been toying with a similar idea for the guard on my dagger.  After seeing that, I think I'll play around with it a bit this weekend and see if I can pull it off.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I did a bunch of work on these blades over the last few days. I'm going to post the progress shots in groups over the next few days......

I kind of lost track of where I was and when I picked up a knife thinking it was ready to work on the handle, I realized I still had some work to do on the blade. 

First up was that little hunter. After spending several hours refinishing the blade, it was ready to do the handle. I already showed you how I shape the guard and spacer profile and the prep work of drawing the lines around the profile. Now I'll show how I do the shaping. Well, I'll show some of the process anyway. This really kicked my butt yesterday and I didn't take too many pics. First I use my drywall screw and washers to hold everything in place. The blind alignment pins are set ever so slightly into the guard. Just enough to hold it steady.


Handle shaping (2).jpg


Initial shaping of the sides is done on the disk sander, using the lines on the profile to keep everything even. You can easily see in this pic how one side is ground down further than the other.


Handle shaping (1).jpg


Once both side are even, the whole thing goes in a Panavise for some rasp & file shaping. This is where the roughing in for the finger slot and pinky slot happens. It is also where you start to pull in the center of the belly. A good cabinet maker's rasp is an indispensable tool for this work.


Handle shaping (3).jpg


Then a small wheel (3/4") is used to carve out the recesses in both places and start finishing to 400 grit.

You have to take extreme care not to get into the pin area. Eventually you end up doing a lot of hand sanding and get it to shape.

Add a little Danish oil and let it dry. Check it again and do a little light sanding. Reapply the oil as needed (I like 2 or 3 coats before glue-up)

Eventually, you are ready to glue it together.


Ready to glue up (1).jpg


Ready to glue up (2).jpg

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