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Joshua States

Guard Squaring and dagger bevel centering

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When some makers hand me their latest work and ask me what I think, one of the first things I look at is whether the guard is square to the blade and the handle is centered on the blade.

When done correctly, the center line down the spine of the blade should be the same line extended through the center of the handle. Too often this is not the case and the blade is crooked looking. On daggers, the most common mistake I see is the center rib is not perfectly straight and centered down the blade.


This is a common speed bump for newer makers and I was taught a simple method for getting it right that I am going to share with you.


The guard stock should be set on the blade (not shaped yet) and only thing you need, tool wise, is a small mirror.

Let's look at two blades.

1 two blades and mirror V2.jpg


Yes, I know that's a piece of walnut on the dagger. It's there for demonstration purposes, and as long as the front face is smooth and flat, it works.


On the Bowie blade, you are basically checking that the guard is square to the center line down the spine. Once you gat the guard square, you can push the handle up against the back face and it will be square as well. The position for holding the mirror is across the top of the guard like this.


2 mirror position V2.jpg


Now look straight down the blade into the mirror. If the guard isn't square, the reflection will be crooked to one side or the other.

This one needs to come down further on the right side of the blade (left side in photo)


3 crooked V2.jpg

So you tap that side down a little at a time while keeping the other side where it is, and adjust until the reflection is straight in line.


3 Straight.jpg




Edited by Joshua States
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Daggers are a three step process.

Not only do you check for square to the guard as in the above, you also have to check equality in profile and straightness of the center rib, on both sides of the dagger.

First you get the guard straight in the same way we did the Bowie above.

Then you move the mirror to the side of the blade.

Dagger (1) V2.jpg


Now you look down the blade into the mirror again. The profile should be straight in the reflection.


Dagger (2) V2.jpg


The center line should be perfectly straight down the blade and right through the reflection.

Any deviation means you have to go back and grind or file the bevels again to get the line straight.

Dagger straight V2 (2).jpg



Thanks Joël. I wasn't done yet. I was working on the dagger process when your post appeared.

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Thanks for these tips Joshua! 

Getting everything straight is by far the most difficult step for me

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On 12/28/2019 at 2:59 PM, jorge iruzubieta said:

Muy interesante!!!! Muchas gracias, Joshua!!!



Da nada amigo!

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Excellent tip Joshua, thanks! B)


I'm likely to drop the mirror and get 7 years bad luck for my efforts, but since I'm still busy with the previous 7 that shouldn't matter much! :lol:

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