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Howdy, y'all.

Super new to blacksmithing and just about to start my first blade. It will be a charcoal chopper for my use. The exemplars are from a few videos I have studied and from a pic Daniel O'Connor sent me of his charcoal knife. My other beginner thread has a vid and here and here are links to some I am focusing on. Think beefy, chisel-bladed nakiri or shallow cleaver.


My question is about forming the tang. To me it looks like a semi hidden tang with no shoulder on the spine side of the tang. I actually see metal at the top of handle for a little distance as if it were a full tang but the handle is solid on underside and the tang/ back does not seem to run all the way to the butt of handle. I also see ferrule and pins.


Any guidance? I will be using 3/8" thick leaf spring stock to forge this down to about 3/16ths or a bit thicker for hardwood charcoal. I will also be forging in a rough, one-sided bevel for the cutting edge. First blade, so I expect it to be a bit rough.





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From what I can see in the videos, all it may have is a short little tang, 3 inches maybe.  Just enough to get a ferrule around and a couple of pins.  Because the grip is really a pinch grip, you done need any more.  In fact, the handle may be over long, given the use.   I think modern makers (myself included) over think tangs.  We have plenty of material to work with and we use a whole bunch in the tang where it's not really needed.  I tested this idea by taking a finished but unhandled blade and bolting it into a 3 foot handle.  You can see my tests on my Youtube channel  (5elementsforge).  Even with 3 feet of leverage on a 5 inch blade, I was unable to break a .250 x .250 tang.  


I think what we need to worry about is splitting the handle where it meets the tang.  If the tang is long, it spreads the forces through the handle.  If you have a stubby tang, then all of the force is concentrated in the couple of inches where the tang and the handle meet up.

In the end, I don't think it matters.  Make what looks good to you.  If it were mine, I would do a through tang and rivet the end over a washer.  But that is the way I do most of my work, so that is just my .02

What about a captive blade.  A long blade on a pivot like this

See the source image

These are tools for making wooden shoes.  The ring fits over a hook on a shaving horse and is used for leverage


Good luck and take pictures of what you come up with



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Yepper, you nailed it, Geoff. I was looking for a bamboo splitting knife. Thanks. I will indeed take some pics to document this project. I should learn quite a bit from this one.



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  • 4 weeks later...
On 9/21/2020 at 5:53 PM, Geoff Keyes said:

...What about a captive blade.  A long blade on a pivot like this
...These are tools for making wooden shoes.  The ring fits over a hook on a shaving horse and ....

Hey Geoff,

I remember back in the 70s seeing a Dutch shoe maker carving out shoes, using a knife as you show and a big spoon-shaped augers. I could have watched him all day, but we had to go see windmills and tulips next.


I think the charcoal knife needs good wrist action to work well, BUT I may need a knife like that for processing wood for the charcoal. Hmm... 

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