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Hey y'all, just curious-

What's everyone's preferred type of tang to build, and why?

I've now made hidden, full and through tangs, and I think a through tang with a cold peened end makes the most sense to me. Seems easier to make, and I like the nice solid mechanical securement of the peened end holding everything together.

A full tang on the other hand, seems like kind of a nightmare trying to get the holes to line up. I'm in the midst of pinning and gluing up the scales on one now. I'm a beginner, so I'm sure it'll become easier with practice (also I don't have a drill press)

And a hidden seems like it must be sacrificing strength when compared to a through tang. Thoughts?

Thanks,

 

Alex

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From a strength standpoint,  I think all three styles are functionally equal.  Meaning that, built properly, they are all strong enough to do the job and last forever.

Personally, I find full tangs (without bolsters) to be the easiest to build.  I can see how not having a drill press would make it a touch more complicated, but still pretty straightforward.  

That being said, I prefer to build hidden tang knives. I dont really have a reason, just personal preference.  The only time I see a thru tang having an advantage is if you plan on incorporating a buttcap or pommel of some type.  Otherwise the pin through the handle gives you all the security you need to keep things together.

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What Alex said.  If you're doing something boneheaded enough to snap the tang off, you're using the wrong implement for the job. ;) 

 

Case in point: Average new guy thinks A: full tang = ultimate strength, yet B: katana = ultimate sword.  What kind of tang do katanas have?  A short hidden stub tang held on with a single bamboo or horn pin.  I realize you're asking about knives rather than swords, but if it works for a sword, it'll certainly do on a knife that will never see half the stress.  Ever see a full-tang sword, historically speaking?  Nope.  German messers and dussacks, yes, but they're more of a big knife.    How about the legendary wootz / real damascus swords of Persia and India? Stub tang, no pins, handles held on only by cutler's resin.  

 

In other words, up to a point, tang strength is a non-issue.  As far my favorite kind to make, I like them all, but I find hidden tang to be the easiest, followed by through tang, then full tang, then frame handle.  But that's just personal preference. 

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That all makes sense! Why aren't there any full tang swords though? Just for ease of construction?

I guess I just enjoy the concept of a through tang with the peened end. Kind of a psychological benefit for my own enjoyment haha

 

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Matt Easton on Scalagladitoria has presented full tang "patent" hilts on sabers.  Some with clef or lap welded soft iron tangs, but this is in the industrial era.  Get into earlier Alan is quite correct, except for the dussacks and messers, European swords had a through tang.

 

Doug

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Before ca. 1856-ish steel was extremely expensive, so they only used as much as was necessary to get the job done.  On most European swords the tang was wrought iron even when the blade was steel for over 1800 years.  

I agree that a peened tang has great psychological value, though. B)

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a hidden tang can be fitted to a handle with just a drill and a broach, only the small front face of the handle needs to be flat if there is a guard. guard fitting is just as simple as handle fitting and there are many ways to tighten the fit of the guard if needed. you can go 3/4 length tang or go all the way and peen it. you can make the knife a takedown fairly easily or if the fit is tight enough, sometimes i just leave the blade as a friction fit if its use allows it.

 

my favorite method is to drill the hole, broach almost to size, then burn in the tang. the burning part is tricky but i figured out the tricks, only heat the tip of the tang, which should be wide enough but slightly tapered to burn enough room for the rest of the tang, and the tip of the tang cant have sharp corners or else it will catch in the wood and it wont burn straight. if the tang is too hot it can bend or even harden if its thin enough, with everything set up correctly the burn should take less than a minute, more like 20 seconds if its really done right. you do not want to leave the blade in, ive had a block of wood pop open on all four sides when it got too hot.

 

if you make a file cutting chisel you can cut chisel teeth into your tangs and you will always have the perfect tool for the job.

 

i think the hidden tang is the most primitive construction method but its very versatile, you just might have trouble making a bottle opener on the back of a hidden tang knife.

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I prefer the original Orange flavored tang, but the Grape and Mango are good too.

(Sorry, it's one of those days...)

 

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Me personally I prefer full tangs, I like the heft and feel. While I've made a few hidden tangs that ended up actually straight and inline, most have had some wonkiness that threw them off. Though recently Joshua showed me a way to reduce the frequency of that by making better shoulders so I can get the bolster and blade square to each other.

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14 hours ago, Brian Myers said:

Me personally I prefer full tangs, I like the heft and feel. While I've made a few hidden tangs that ended up actually straight and inline, most have had some wonkiness that threw them off. Though recently Joshua showed me a way to reduce the frequency of that by making better shoulders so I can get the bolster and blade square to each other.

Yea ive had similar issues, my low-tech solution was to just leave the handle with enough extra material that there's room to grind everything flat. That way at least it's not visibly crooked.

I'm operating with a lot of crappy/improvised tools, no drill press, etc. So it's hard to get things square and straight

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My problem was getting the blade and bolster to set even and straight. The trick was to undercut the blade right at the tang to give it a set of shoulders so the hole disappears and the shoulders can be custom ground to the tang to set straight.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 5/25/2020 at 12:44 PM, R. Alex Dorris said:

Hey y'all, just curious-

What's everyone's preferred type of tang to build, and why?

I've now made hidden, full and through tangs, and I think a through tang with a cold peened end makes the most sense to me. Seems easier to make, and I like the nice solid mechanical securement of the peened end holding everything together.

A full tang on the other hand, seems like kind of a nightmare trying to get the holes to line up. I'm in the midst of pinning and gluing up the scales on one now. I'm a beginner, so I'm sure it'll become easier with practice (also I don't have a drill press)

And a hidden seems like it must be sacrificing strength when compared to a through tang. Thoughts?

Thanks,

 

Alex

Alex, I struggled at first with the pins on full tang knives and had many troubles with them not going together. Here's what I found out and a simple way to do it that works every time.

At first I tried the drill press but soon found out that doesn't work well. In my case it's probably the table is not perfectly square to the drill chuck, so I don't use it. Instead here's my method that can be done by hand without a drill press.

 

First drill the holes in the tang. I use a drill and reamer. I drill the tang holes with a drill bit 1/64" smaller than the pin hole diameter I'm going to use but do not ream until the end.

 

Then I use C-clamps, as many as I can fit, in between and around pins. Usually can get 3 on there. I clamp one scale to the tang as tight as I can.

 

Then drill through the holes in the tang and through the scale, 1 at a time. slip a reversed drill bit into hole after each hole you drill to keep it all aligned in case the clamps slip. I stick a piece of duct tape to the backside of the scale to help with splintering. Try to be as straight as possible, but you don't have to be perfect.

 

Next I slip drill bits the size you drilled, reversed so the back end is into the scale and into the tang until flush. This will align this scale while you clamp the other side onto the tang with the first scale still in place. It's very important that all three pieces be drilled and reamed together in there final resting position. You CANNOT take the first, drilled scale off and clamp the other to it and drill. It just doesn't work because the spacing during assembly causes the slight angles in the hole to change and the holes won't line up with the tang in between.

 

Now clamp the second scale into place as tight as you can, and remove only 1 drill bit at a time and drill through the first scale and through the tang and second scale. slip a backwards drill bit back into all three pieces as far as you can, then pull out the second drill bit and repeat until all holes are drilled.

 

Now, I pull out 1 drill bit at a time and ream the hole and slip an actual pin in while I ream the other holes.

 

Now when you are putting it together with the epoxy drying, the pins will slip right through every time, even if there is a slight angle to your holes.

 

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11 hours ago, Paul Carter said:

Alex, I struggled at first with the pins on full tang knives and had many troubles with them not going together. Here's what I found out and a simple way to do it that works every time.

At first I tried the drill press but soon found out that doesn't work well. In my case it's probably the table is not perfectly square to the drill chuck, so I don't use it. Instead here's my method that can be done by hand without a drill press.

 

First drill the holes in the tang. I use a drill and reamer. I drill the tang holes with a drill bit 1/64" smaller than the pin hole diameter I'm going to use but do not ream until the end.

 

Then I use C-clamps, as many as I can fit, in between and around pins. Usually can get 3 on there. I clamp one scale to the tang as tight as I can.

 

Then drill through the holes in the tang and through the scale, 1 at a time. slip a reversed drill bit into hole after each hole you drill to keep it all aligned in case the clamps slip. I stick a piece of duct tape to the backside of the scale to help with splintering. Try to be as straight as possible, but you don't have to be perfect.

 

Next I slip drill bits the size you drilled, reversed so the back end is into the scale and into the tang until flush. This will align this scale while you clamp the other side onto the tang with the first scale still in place. It's very important that all three pieces be drilled and reamed together in there final resting position. You CANNOT take the first, drilled scale off and clamp the other to it and drill. It just doesn't work because the spacing during assembly causes the slight angles in the hole to change and the holes won't line up with the tang in between.

 

Now clamp the second scale into place as tight as you can, and remove only 1 drill bit at a time and drill through the first scale and through the tang and second scale. slip a backwards drill bit back into all three pieces as far as you can, then pull out the second drill bit and repeat until all holes are drilled.

 

Now, I pull out 1 drill bit at a time and ream the hole and slip an actual pin in while I ream the other holes.

 

Now when you are putting it together with the epoxy drying, the pins will slip right through every time, even if there is a slight angle to your holes.

 

Nice! I loosely followed something like this, but much less methodical and precise haha. I have a bad habit of pushing ahead without concrete plans, and trying to improvise my way through a project.

It's definitely nice to have it written out step by step in one place, I'll reference this for my next full tang.

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