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Larry Garfield

Afixing brass to steel?

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Hi folks. File this under "please tell me if this is a stupid idea before I do it..."

I'm working on a knife for a friend, and part of the handle has some deep dips in it toward the back.  Basically I cut it a bit shorter than intended and there's some divots at the tail end in it that are too deep to just file off.  In discussing what to do with it, we came up with an idea I want to run past folks here before I try to see if there's any land mines I should be aware of.

Basically, the idea is to file the divots to square notches, similar to the deliberate file work I've seen people do on thicker spines.  Then after heat treatment take a small chip of brass and glue it into the notch with epoxy.  Once it dries, file/grind/sand off the excess brass, polish, and attach handle scales as normal.  The shape of the notches below the surface doesn't matter, just the part on the exposed surface of the tang at the back.

The end result: The tail end of the handle is still smooth, but has some decorative brass shapes in it.  Similar concept as putting colored epoxy in, but I have brass on hand and not colored epoxy. :-)

So... is this a good idea?  Stupid idea?  Anything I need to watch out for that would make it a good idea rather than a stupid idea?  Anything I really ought to know before trying?

Thanks for any warnings.

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This method works with brass as well.  Anneal it and make the notches undercut/dovetailed and you won't need glue.

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Fascinating and potentially useful for something else I'd planned for the future!  However I think the geometry is rather different than what I'm dealing with, which probably means I didn't explain it well.

Here's a picture of what the back looks like right now (which I should have posted in the first place, my bad):

tail-notches.jpg

 

Rather than having wonky-shaped divots, my thinking was to file them square so I could fit square brass into them.  The under-cut technique Alan described above I don't think would work here, as it's the under cut that would be showing on the edge.  I'm looking for a set of clean right angle notches.  Or am I just not following the geometric options properly?

Or if someone else has a better idea to run past my friend I'm flexible.

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Solder?  I just don't think glue will hold.

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Weld it? 

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For a permanent bond for brass to steel, there is only 2 ways that I could recommend.  #1 is an inlay process what Alan's post is about.  Any mechanical process will make a long lasting fit.  #2 would be to braze it.  If you under cut that notch just a hair, (as having any kind of mechanical join will help) once brazed, the brass should never come out. 

Since I learned how to braze, I like the process a lot as you can join dissimilar metals to each other.  Epoxy meh, I'm not impressed with glue.

 

However for this project I would not over think it. It might be safer and less technically difficult if you just cut the handle shorter. Or, make the flaw the focal point.  incorporate it into a file work pattern.  Your fix is something possible, but I think it's a harder road to travel than other options.

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Hm.  All sorts of hot work that I've never done before, mostly with tools I don't have.  Joy. :-)

Incorporating it into a file work pattern is what I was thinking of, but since it's part of the handle I would want to fill it with *something*, I'd assume.  Otherwise the back of the handle would have holes in it, which seems ungood.  Affixing in brass seemed like the natural thing to try (since the rest of the knife will have a lot of brass in it already), but I guess not.

What else could be used to fill in the filework gap?  All I've seen online is colored epoxy, but I presume there are other options.  I... suppose it may be possible to use the same wood as the handle scales, which could look interesting.  I'm assuming wood->steel epoxy would be sufficient, since that's how the scales attach to the tang anyway.

 

I'm tucking Alan's inlay post away for future reference on another project, as it looks super cool, but wouldn't fit here I'm afraid.

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