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Hello all,

 

  This is my first pattern welded knife and my first brass guard/bolster. I’m having a hard time getting the lines right. I posted this blade awhile back. It’s 288 layers of 15n20 and 1075. Blade about 4 inches. The pictures show iphone photoshop and as is. The handle will be longer for sure. If you could please give me any input or handle shape ideas I would appreciate it. Also, how can I polish the brass without messing with the pattern. You can see from the pictures that I have already tried.

 

Thanks, Jon

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B79E9DA9-442F-4193-8C3C-4DD06991AE32.jpeg

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Jon, I'm not sure how much you want to hear, but I'll start it off with a lot. You can pick and choose what you want and discard the rest.

 

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1. I sincerely hope the guard is not soldered on yet. Even if it is, remove it, clean up the blade and etch it again to get rid of the sanding marks.

2. A couple of questions you need to answer: Will you finish the handle and guard after you glue it onto the blade, or will you finish the handle and guard off this knife and do the final assembly afterward? The first choice is easier, but a simple slip and your blade is marred for life. The second is a little trickier and more work, but far safer.

3. Regardless of which way you choose to go, the front face of the guard should be 100% finished, done before you put it onto the tang and press it (or solder it) for a final fit. This will avoid making the same mistake you already made by trying to sand the front of the guard with it on the tang.

4. That's a very strangely shaped ricasso, but let's assume you want to leave it that way for now. On a blade that size, your handle width (from top to bottom) should be about 1 inch. Generally speaking the top and the bottom should line up with the top and bottom of the ricasso. (The part of the ricasso that contacts the guard face). It doesn't look like you have that much width in the ricasso. so your handle should either straddle those lines and be equidistant from either edge. (Does that make sense?) or you should taper the handle down to that width.

5. If I assume a solid block of wood for this handle, I would make the tang narrower by taking the top side down a bit. That will give you more wood above the tang and make a stronger handle. You can always put a belly in the handle and accomplish the same thing for the bottom side.

6, My personal taste is that the guard should hang down as far as the blade edge or a little more.

 

Here's what I would do if I were you. Take what you have apart and fix the blade. Lay it on a piece of white paper and draw a line around the entire thing, including the tang, Draw the two lines representing the thickness of the guard and draw the handle shape you want. erase it as many times as needed (leaving the blade & tang profile intact.

 

Square the shoulders up so you get a nice clean fit against the guard. Do this by taking a black magic marker, a sharp stylus, and a square. Then blacken one side of the ricasso along the shoulders and  scribe a line through the black so you see a nice bright line. Put it into in a vice or file jig if you have one, and files the shoulders down to the line. Sand the front face on a very hard & flat surface until it is around 400-800 grit smooth. Fit it tight to the blade tang and push it tight against the shoulders or even until the shoulders make a little indent into the guard face. Now draw  the guard shape on a piece of paper using a center line. Measure the ricasso and draw the box where the ricasso will be. Cut out one side of the guard and one side of the ricasso box and super glue it to a piece of stiff product. (vulanized paper, hardboard, whatever you have on hand.

Super glue the half guard drawing to the template material and grind it down to the lines. Include cutting out the ricasso box.

Now blacken the guard face and put it back on the blade. Put the blade tang in a vice with the blade pointing up. Take the template and lay it up against the ricasso and scribe the outline in the black. Flip the template over and scribe the other side. take the guard off and grind it down to the line. Finish the edges as desired, hand sanding until you like it.
See this thread on page 4 for a visual tutorial on making and using guard templates.

 

Now prep the handle material and bore the hole for the tang until you can get the tang to fit in the handle wood and the front face will sit against the guard. Don't make it too loose top to bottom. The front of the handle material should be flat and smooth so there are no gaps against the guard. Super glue the handle drawing you made on one side of the handle material, remove the handle from the tang, and cut it out/grind it down to shape, profile only.  Put it back on the tang and put the handle in the vice with the blade pointing up . Take a pencil and mark the outside edge of the guard.  Now view that same thread on the bottom of page 2 for how to transfer the blade center to the handle. Then grind/shape the handle off the blade and finish the fit up for gluing.

 

As a second thought, just spend an hour or so going through the thread.  It's all spelled out there.

Edited by Joshua States
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Mr. States, thank you for the thoughtful insightful reply. First off, the guard is not soldered on. It’s press fit and pretty tight. My original plan was to finish it on the knife. I did have a handle halfway fit before I decided I didn’t like the way the guard left the small gap at the ricasso. Yes, I get what your saying about the handle being equal distance top to bottom. That’s exactly why I decided to ask for guidance. With the unfinished handle on it just looked wrong and that’s the reason. I’m thinking after reading your reply and your other thread, that I’ll draw some different handle mock-ups. See what looks better to my eye. I might have to remake the guard as much as I would like to avoid it. I will for sure re-sand and re-etch the blade. I’ll try to follow your instructions as best I can the rest of the way. This is my first try at putting a handle on a hidden tang also my first guard. (I made the ricasso too small for this short of a blade didn’t I?)

 

Thank you very much, Jon

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you can salvage the existing guard and turn it in to a cap for another bit of brass behind it remove it shape it oval polish it up re install then add one that goes under it wich can have a sloppy hole which will make it quicker to make or just make it smaller and a suggestion on the recaso in the modded photo

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a handle that would work with a smaller guard adjusted for length and such i would bring the butt up a hair this is really not my drawing program at all

InkedInkedBCC8BCB2-792C-4F64-B330-68BACA6B53E2.jpeg.3b084344b8d6df575147e3210565c444_LI.jpg

Edited by dragoncutlery
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Hey, Dragoncutlery. I like the the handle and ricasso design. When you say reshape the guard as a cap and add another behind it, then another under it? I’m not quite sure I’m following you. Do you have a picture of an example? What you did with the photo is exactly what I was wanting to see. Very good feedback. 

 

Thanks, Jon

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Or like this small brass washer/preguard to cover the top of the next layer makes the next layer easyer to manufacture wile keeping a clean look if per chance you wanted to do a double guard but not re file work what you allreddy have

Handmade_Japanese_Samurai_Sword_Tanto_1.jpg

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The only reason you would need to make another guard is if that one is too narrow (side to side) than what you want your handle to be. Otherwise, you can continue to use it for the guard. 

Sometimes a narrow flat sided handle is appropriate. I think what was meant by the suggestion to use that piece in another location, was to use it as a spacer between the guard and the handle material. The classic Bird's Head handle would fit that blade very well. Here is a hunter I made a long time ago and still use in the field. It shows the bird's head design, the spacer idea, and the flat sides.

 

My Hunter (4) V2.jpg

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Thank you both for the ideas. I drew a handle shape on an outline of the knife. I will need to slim the tang for sure. Let me know what you think. This could change of course. The handle could probably be 1/2” an inch longer. The drawing measures 4-1/8” long.

 

Thanks, Jon

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Forgive my rotten edit/draw skills. You need more curve in the underside of the bird head. If I were you, I would change that ricasso and get rid of the curve into the skinny neck. Then I would drop the choil to have the edge go past the bottom of the ricasso bottom. That moves the guard forward and makes the ricasso longer so the handle can be wider at the guard.

A little belly in the handle wouldn't hurt either.

 

InkedBird's head_LI.jpg

 

As for the handle length, You want 3-3/4" to 4" from the back of the guard to the pinky pocket or tip of the beak.

 

Bird head dimensions V2.jpg

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Thanks, Joshua. I thought the same thing myself about the ricasso. But the small choil? Do you really think it would look right? I’ll draw this out again on paper. I’ll post it up when I do. Thank you for the feedback. I appreciate it.

 

Jon

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Ok. So here’s what I came up with. It might require re-heat treating but I think it looks ok. Sorry about the photo. Trying to keep my shadow out. Feel free to picture edit. I’m open to any suggestions.

 

JonFCEDE8DE-4488-4723-AC64-A43365B06BC3.jpeg

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Now move the bottom of the ricasso up to match the bottom of the handle and see how you like that.

No need to reheat anything. Just grind it.

Edited by Joshua States
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Ok. So maybe something like this? A little more curve and depth to the bird’s head?

 

Jon

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