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Conner Michaux

Burning in a tang?

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I want to try burning the tang into the handle with the knife i'm currently working on, Good or bad idea? I would drill 2-3 holes to make a guide hole, Then I would clamp the knife in a vice and use a plumbers torch to heat the tang to a dull red and push the handle into it, and tap it with a mallet,  Does this sound like it would work? 

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This is one of those things that some makers will swear by, and others swear against.  I will say that I have found it to be more difficult that I would have thought, but seems fine otherwise.  I'd definitely plan on scraping (broach) the inside a bit after burning.  

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Okay, thanks!

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It does work, and I do it all the time now. You have to stack things in your favor. Use 1000% DRY wood. Choose a softer closed grain hardwood with straight grains and no knots. I like to use maple; curly is fine. 

Get 90% of the hole cleaned out with a drill and a broach, then get your tang to a red heat, and with your handle block in a vice, press the tang into it. Dont hold it in too long. You dont want to compromise the wood around the hole, only to burn the interior wall to shape. So dont let the whole block get hot. Make sure you keep the hole cleaned of embers between burns. It takes several burnings before you're done. NEVER EVER TAP THE HANDLE ONTO THE BLADE. It will split on ya. 

As jerrod said, you can just broach it out and not risk it, but I really like to burn my tangs in. 

Also, clean the charred wood off of the walls of the handle with a file or the edge of a broach to make sure you have a good strong surface to epoxy the tang to. Also, texture your tang. 

Good luck! 

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Posted (edited)

 Thanks, Okay, so I’m using a cherry burl for the handle, so not a straight grained wood at all... I guess I’ll just use a drill and a brooch, I don’t have one though, is there a thread on this forum that I could use to  help make one?

Edited by Conner Michaux

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I've seen people use ground down hacksaw blades, jigsaw or reciprocating saw blades, or even files that they'd ground large teeth into the side of.

 

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Make the tang have a rectangular profile with a little bit of swell near the shoulders, it can have some distal taper but not too much. The tip of the tang should be heavily chamfered because sharp corners will dig in the wood and set the tang off course.

The tip of the tang should burn a hole that is big enough for the rest of the tang to clear but the swell near the shoulders of the blade should get everything tight. If you heat the whole tang you can burn too much towards the front of the handle.

I broach the handle some first and if I cant get the last little bit of tang in I just file it away.

You can harden a tang in wood, dont go above critical.

With a heavy enough blade you can tap the handle on the ground, like reseating a loose hammer. I havent split any handles. With smaller blades I push the handle on. Get the tang out as soon as possible.

Its an easy thing to do this way, its all about the shape of your tang, its the tool that is fitting the tang. 

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I made this one years ago and I still use it from time to time.  I used a larger jig saw blade with aggressive teeth. I ground down the tip to fit into a pilot hole and go from there - it cuts quick and keeps the tang hole narrow.  Blade is a little over 3".  I made this in about 15 minutes....faster that making a broach.

hole saw.jpg

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That looks simple enough, I’ll try it. Thanks.

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, Zeb Camper said:

NEVER EVER TAP THE HANDLE ONTO THE BLADE. It will split on ya. 

Matthew Parkinson showed me a neat trick about this when I took a class from him on kitchen knives. Put the blade in the vice and push the handle wood onto it. Then loosen the vice and holding the wood in your hand, tap the back of the block lightly. It takes several times, but it works and won't split the block.

Edited by Joshua States
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14 hours ago, Joshua States said:

Put the blade in the vice and push the handle wood onto it. Then loosen the vice and holding the wood in your hand, tap the back of the block lightly. It takes several times, but it works and won't split the block.

 So tap it with a hammer or mallet? Or just your hand? Matthew's pretty good at what he does, so I have to ask; what are the advantages? Everytime I've tried tapping i got a split, but now that i think about it i was using really hard/crack prone wood (oak).

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3 hours ago, Zeb Camper said:

 So tap it with a hammer or mallet? Or just your hand? Matthew's pretty good at what he does, so I have to ask; what are the advantages? Everytime I've tried tapping i got a split, but now that i think about it i was using really hard/crack prone wood (oak).

We were just using a regular ball peen hammer. You probably got the split because the knife was in a vice and the force of your hammer completely translated into the wood and tang. When you hold the wood and tap the back with a hammer, part of that force moves your hand and everything else. It's not as "hard" on the handle/tang. It's just enough to inch the tang in a little bit further. BTW-I clean my handle out after each heat. Scrape out a little burnt wood with the broach. It probably takes 3-4 times to seat the tang.

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