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Capturing the Character of Old Knives


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One of my favorite type of projects recently has been pieces inspired by specific old knives. I've gotten better at matching the dimensions, materials, and general construction, however I don't think I'm quite there as far as really doing justice to the character of some of the old knives I've looked to for inspiration. I'm not sure if "wabi sabi" is the right term, but there is some combination of form, finish, and aging which old knives come about honestly that I have had trouble replicating with intention. I would definitely be interested in any advice/insights people have about this kind of work. I feel like finish is a big part of it. I have been struggling to produce knives with a finish I can be proud of (even, and intentional) while making something that doesn't look too plain, sterile, or bright. Some people I think do what I am aiming for very well are Dave J from Crossed Heart Forge, Alexey from Dobun Knives, artistic metalworkers such as Form Hallam and Jim Kelso, and a number of other people on this forum I can't think of at the moment.

 

Below are some pictures of some of my knives and their inspiration along with some of my thoughts on what I like/don't about them. I would love to hear any opinions on what is/isn't working with these as well as any suggestions for future attempts.

 

Pukko-6.jpgIMG_9674.JPG

First a couple of puukkos. Using non-flush shoulders is one of the strategies I really like, though I think they are better when forged as opposed to filed like these two. The finish on the right one is 600 grit buffed with emery, which I'm fairly happy with. It's handle is a different shape, but that's because I planned to make a "hat" sheath for it which wouldn't work as well with a handle like the original.

 

Leuku Example.jpgIMG_8284.JPG

The blade may be a little wide and thick on this one, and the handle isn't quite right. I wish this picture was better, but the knife is far away at the moment. A lot of these old leukus have dips from forging that look nice on an old blade with a patina, but I think they would be pretty jarring on a new blade. The flats are finished with a Scotchbrite belt which is a bit "flatter" that 600 grit sand paper.

 

post-25468-0-51725800-1467271527_thumb.jpgIMG_7060.JPG

The original in this case feels "softer" to the eye that my version. I can't quite think how to fix it. From a practical standpoint, my knife is also too thick; it's a bit clumsy and imparts a lot of shock to your hand. I'm coming to the realization that these knives are generally thinner (and smaller) than they seem from pictures. I like the blade better on the one on the right, but the knob on the handle came out kind of wonky.

 

komi 7.jpgIMG_8354.JPG

I think I got the geometry pretty close on this one, but the sanded finish feels sterile and has the same "sharpness" the last knives did. The knives on the left are used by Komi reindeer herders.

 

Sakha.JPGIMG_8631.JPG

The handle on this one is a bit small, but that is because I used a piece of found wood and was limited on the size. This one is a better match, but probably because the knife that inspired it was made by a professional knifemaker who put a decent degree of finishing and ornamentation into it.

 

NM.0213615A-B.jpgNM.0213619A-B.jpg

These are a couple of old knives I really like and might use to inspire some work in the future. These also have the softness I am shooting for. 

 

Thank you for reading and for any input!

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I would experiment with etching the blades - after you take them to a crisp 600 grit finish, etch in ferric for 20 minutes or so, and then rub out the oxides with 1200 grit or finer  on a soft backing (wash the blades first with a fairly aggressive cleaner to remove the loose oxides or the paper will load instantly). The etching will erase the harsh light scatter from the freshly sanded surface, and the fine sanding will soften the lines slightly while simultaneously highlighting the clean geometry. I think this will give some softness and character while still looking clean and new. For the handles you could try coating them in shellac, and taking them back with steel wool, before oiling.

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There is a guy who goes by Templehound on IFI that has a knack for making things look old but new at the same time. I can't explain what I mean by that, but if you search for his stuff, you may find some inspiration.

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I think you hit the point when you use the term "softness" to describe the older knives.  Why do they look "soft" compared to your crisp new ones?  The lines are indeed softened.  To get that effect on tomahawks I use a soft backing on the sandpaper, and I never go above 400 grit.  The soft backing (felt or many layers of paper) rounds over the lines and edges just a bit, and the 400 grit leaves a satin look similar to the old knives.  Then a light etch as Jake suggests.  

 

There are some other things, but it's easy to blur the lines between "aging" and forgery.  

 

I realized after thinking about it that nobody is going to get good enough to make a forgery from the advice they get here, sorry.  Tod of Tod's Workshop on Youtube has a great video on "aging" pieces. 

 

 

I've known guys to toss a piece in a gravel driveway, drag it behind a car, dip it in tar, and so on.  

 

The main thing is to soften any crisp lines except for those in inaccessible places, add a bit of patina, and maybe some non-random dings and dents. Let it rust and clean it up with loose sand and leather.  Think about how a piece comes to look old, and recreate the process.  

Edited by Alan Longmire
changed my mind
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A lot of what you see in the old examples is a result of the tools uses to make them. If you want to get that kind of finish, you have to move away from tools like belt sanders etc. which allow a lot of material removal fast, as well as easily making very accurate sharpely defined geometry. Rely more on forging to shape, and use the grinding process to clean and sharpen. So much less material removal after forging. Then you already get much closer to the more organic shapes of antique blades. 

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Thank you everyone for the ideas so far. I'll give etching a shot for sure. Does the oxide cleaning let you re-sharpen scandi grind blades after the etch?  Patination is something I have been experimenting with lately, so I have some other chemicals I could experiment with as well. I've sanded with a soft backing on convex grinds, but using it to soften lines is something I haven't tried before. I guess "aging" isn't quite what I'm going for, more so I'm trying to imagine what an old piece was like when it was new and make something in that spirit. To the end, I want to make something that doesn't feel contrived or crude but still fits in with the blades that inspired it. A big part of that is making something that can and will be used, which has its own considerations.

 

Jeroen's point about tooling makes a lot of sense. Thinking more about it, the knives  I have gotten the closest to finish wise are the ones that were made using rotary abrasives (like the blades coming out of larger workshops in the 19th/early 20th centuries). It is definitely a struggle to include features like uneven thickness, straightness, or grind height, and softened/rounded profiles that are associated with amateurish work on modern knives but nevertheless are a part of how these old knives look. I can spot some features like the rounding of the shoulders, breaking sharp corners, and profiles with few parallel or perpendicular lines (or straight ones for that matter) that I can try to put in with forging and preserve with gentle and intentional grinding. On the tooling front, is trying out stones of any value? I've been playing around with tool and die stones for polishing carved metalwork and they definitely produce a visually "flatter" surface than sandpaper (though with my experience using them on steel they also make a more rust-prone surface compared to the light burnishing sand paper provides). 

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I have no idea what tooling was used on those puukko or leuku, but yes, using the tooling of the time is very important.  For my hawks, this means filing and drawfiling to get the final finish of a "new" old piece, and rasping/scraping for the handle.  Inlays done by hand, no rotary tools allowed.  I drawfile swords as well, but it would be appropriate to finish those on a large (ca. 6 foot) stone wheel as well.  The rotary grindstone appears in Europe around 1000 AD, give or take, depending on location.  

I am revisiting the EDM stones lately myself.  I do not care for the 80 or 120 grits, but the 220 leaves a nice surface.  Probably comparable to that of a pre-power tool finish. 

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This discussion reminds me of a talk I had with Mike Bell (Dragonfly Forge) about the shapes of Katana.  In certain periods there is a strong difference between blades made in and around the court, and blades made farther away.  Court swords tend to be more finely made, the blades tend to be lighter and more "elegant", the same can be said for the furniture.  Swords made by less well patronized smiths, tend to be more robust in profile and cross section and less finely finished.

When collectors came into the picture, at first they were drawn to the lighter, more gracile forms, and so that is the sort of blades that tended to get published for the rest of us to see.  It is only in the last 15-20 years that collectors have started to appreciate the non-court sword forms.

 

Perhaps some of what you're seeing is the difference between a used city made piece and a used "hand made" piece.  The non-factory work may have been less finished to start with, and so has worn differently

 

Geoff

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It seems like the finish does vary pretty widely. I'm not much of a collector, but I've been given a few of these knives and bought a few of my own. It's hard to tell what the "deepest" layer of the finish is, and what came later from sharpening. All of the ones I have handled have some marks from rotary grindstones, maybe in the 100-200 grit range. I would agree on the stones, too. I have found that you can make some very deep scratches with the courser stones that take a lot of work to get out.

 

That's an interesting point about the swords, Geoff. At this point, I made have actually looked at more furniture than blades, and there is certainly a wide spectrum. I also think I remember reading that many swords made in times of conflict destined for immediate use would receive a less refined polish (shira togi?) so they could be made faster and cheaper. I have been reading Anssi Ruusuvuori's book on puukkos (the one in a photo in my first post), which tells a pretty good visual story about the difference between knives made in big workshops and those made locally in Scandinavia. 

 

IMG_7048.thumb.JPG.c9f2b86d6fb1d6081211b8fc291ed936.jpg

From the looks of it, this blade was finished with some sort of loose abrasive on a wheel, with some deeper scratches peeking through. It also has nicely forged shoulders left proud of the handle, something I think can look appropriate on a well made knife if done skillfully.

 

IMG_9679.JPG

This one shows forge marks and what looks like pre-HT file marks. The grind is ever so slightly hollow, suggesting a wheel.

 

IMG_9675.JPG

This is an old leuku blade. There is a well developed skin with a lot of scratch patters, but it seems it was predominantly ground convex with lines going straight across (maybe rocking on a wheel?) then sharpened with a grinder/stones a number of times to a variety of heights with stones/grinders with scratches that go every which way. The spine is nicely rounded, seemingly with a file. I have made square spines out of habit so if someone wants they can strike a fire steel (I personally prefer lighters, but have sold a decent number of knives to people who believe in ferrite), but a lot of old knives have round ones, presumably to save your fingers when pushing on them. It also appears to be laminated from looking at he spine, but I don't see any clear weld line near the edge.

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6 hours ago, Brian Dougherty said:

There is a guy who goes by Templehound on IFI that has a knack for making things look old but new at the same time. I can't explain what I mean by that, but if you search for his stuff, you may find some inspiration.

 

So while looking at his stuff, I ran across this folder! This folder is by Templehound. This is a little off subject but how does that type of liner lock work? Or is that a true liner lock?? The second picture shows the release. However I can't see in my mind exactly how that  works. Can anyone shed a bit of light on the anatomy of such a release?? Does the button press sideways or downward! I have been trying to find more about this kind of lock and either I am not using the right terminology or something because I can't seem to Goggle up anything on it!!

 

Ru8,k..jpg

 

Resize of DSC09594.JPG

Edited by C Craft
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Remember that all old knives were once new.

 

It is very hard to imitate time and use without actual time and use, but that is what makes that aged character so attractive.

 

It is an art within the art to reproduce patina without looking fake. But a clean, new knife is the place to start.

 

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I've seen a couple different types of liner lock setups.

The most common is a piece of the liner thats bent, acting as a spring- that locks into the liner, and is released when you put pressure on it to push it out of alignment with the blade notch. It has a bent tab to press and release it.

 

An older type- looks like what that might be?

The liner spring pushes out the lock into the blade notch- and the release is pinned in place, rotating on the pin. When you lift it, and rotate it- a wedge shape or bend on the other end of the release pushes from the opposite side and pushes the spring back in to release.

Edited by Welsh joel
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Don, I wouldn't say my goal is so much to make a knife that isn't doesn't look new as to make something that has some of the organic, rough around the edges, features of knives made with simpler tools. Sometimes it takes a fair bit of imagination to envision what these knives used to look like, especially finish wise, which is part of the challenge. On the other hand, I don't want to put knives out into the world that are amateurish or half baked. If I did all of my polishing with an 80 grit wheel on a bench grinder it would certainly look rustic, but it wouldn't be something I would want to sell or even give away.

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7 hours ago, Aiden CC said:

Don, I wouldn't say my goal is so much to make a knife that isn't doesn't look new as to make something that has some of the organic, rough around the edges, features of knives made with simpler tools. Sometimes it takes a fair bit of imagination to envision what these knives used to look like, especially finish wise, which is part of the challenge. On the other hand, I don't want to put knives out into the world that are amateurish or half baked. If I did all of my polishing with an 80 grit wheel on a bench grinder it would certainly look rustic, but it wouldn't be something I would want to sell or even give away.

  

Aiden sorry I took your thread in a different direction with my first post. Sometimes you see something and you have to run with it before you have a brain fart and it is gone!! 

 

When I first got into knife making I had an adopted mentor. I adopted him not the other way around. He makes pretty much traditional knives. And he knows the history behind them better than anyone I know! His name is Wick Ellerbe, http://www.wickellerbe.com/gallery/index.php?action=showfull&vpic=200&gll=1&tpic=66&maxp=71 Sadly due to me doing less and less in knifemaking these days due to my wife's health. As said he is a traditionalist. He will tell you right quick that brass, copper and fancy pins were not used in the time period that he creates from. It is not that they weren't being used just not in America. He will also tell you that it is hard sometimes to sell reality, and therefore. Knife makers sometimes have to take liberties! I learned a lot from this man. Probably forgot more than I retained!! 

 

Another maker that was a traditional knife builder was, Chuck Borrows. When I first meant him we got off on the wrong foot. I was a greenhorn and asked a question that should not have been asked till I got to know him more. Back in the day, most makers held there secrets close to the vest, so too speak!! Chuck has several books out on the subjects of what you are speaking of! This is a Google screenshot and most of these are made by Chuck. https://www.google.com/search?sa=X&rlz=1C1JZAP_enUS930US930&sxsrf=ALeKk02mhVvpUdD39PWBeq1AXFOYor_M7A:1616877535455&source=univ&tbm=isch&q=traditional+knife+makers+in+the+US+Chuck+Burrows&ved=2ahUKEwjblJWZqtHvAhVTG80KHYwBCboQjJkEegQIBRAB&biw=1920&bih=880

Oh, by the way before Chuck died from cancer me and him made amends and he shared some of his ways with me!! He would tell you that think of your knife and your sheath as being old, carried and heavily used. There are always friction areas and if your were to pick up an old sheath and knife where would you expect to see those wear areas. Distress those areas slightly, not only would those areas be worn but they would have generally changed color. Leather begins to bleed and change color. Not like a streak but in a way that shows the wear. He was a master at that in my opinion. 

 

Another maker that I spoke extensively with back then was, Stuart Willis. Sadly he passed in his sleep one night in his early 40's! He was a maker of traditional tomahawks and a master at his craft! They showed the period and a great amount of effort was put into his work. I am going to include a few links from that time. I used to be known as Dixieblade57 when I first started. Sadly this forum seemed to get all about money and who could bash who! So I walked away and came to this forum and one more! Anyway here are those links! As well as a couple of other tomahawk makers! 

 

https://www.bladeforums.com/threads/green-river-knife.873053/

 

https://www.bladeforums.com/threads/traditional-spike-tomahawk.625147/

 

https://www.bladeforums.com/threads/spike-tomahawk.665290/#post-7166445

 

https://www.bladeforums.com/threads/tomahawk-1018-1095fg-and-sheath-spf.822243/#post-9302629

 

https://www.bladeforums.com/threads/spike-hawk-forged-spf.827450/#post-9366194

 

Look closely at the pictures and maybe you can glean some ideas on "how to age" a knife. Of the makers mentioned above only Wick Ellerbe is still alive. At least I don't know of him passing! He would be in his 80's know and I imagine still making knives. Use to really love talking with that man. He was not a secret hider and would share with me. Answer many and I mean many questions. You know the kind the dumb newbies ask!! Never once told me how dumb I was, only encouragement! Bowing to the master.jpg

 

Edited by C Craft
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I find myself thinking about the ´´softness´´ of old knives a lot, while I don´t want to make historical or rustic knives I have the urge to rebel against the super clean lines of modern knifemaking,

 

I agree with Jeroen, I think the most important thing you can do to capture the spirit of originals is use original processes.

A blade that is hand filed to shape is never really flat, a bit of convex and twisting of the planes is almost unavoidable.

These old puukko handles were probably split from a block and carved with a knife, and scraped to finish, I imagine this leads to something very different from a handle shaped on a grinder.

 

You are doing great work and I love to see these knives btw ;)

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"A blade that is hand filed to shape is never really flat, a bit of convex and twisting of the planes is almost unavoidable."   My old teacher at the mechanics/locksmith tradeschool would beg to disagree :D :D :D   "You like doing that, boy?"  "Well start again and do it once more."

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If you really want to find out the old ways, then you will have to apply the old techniques and old knowledge(or as close to it as you can get nowadays)

 

its very different making a tool when you know you can grind it with a machine, compared to making it and knowing that you cant because, there are no machines.

"forge thick grind thin" most certainly didnt exist back then.

 

I have grinding machines but for pieces that I sell I dont use electric tools

that means the degree of error im allowed is much tighter and I have to make every step in consideration of what the next process will be.

try forging and filing for your shaping and whetstones for your grinding and finishing work,

I find that it can not be compared to grinding with electric powertools,

you "feel" everything much more, every success and very error.

and it teaches you much more than an electric tool.

 

I also would avoid sandpaper for this, as it is "very sterile" in terms of its performance and much more expensive than a whetstone not to mention in my opinion not as fast cutting, also there are no nuances in its performance other than the degradation of its cutting abilities, 

1 whetstone can cut many different ways depending on how you use it.

 

if youre interested heres what to look out for: 

Synthetics:

SOFT STONES! are the best, they cut the fastes! look for reviews of people complaining the stone is too soft.

and stay away from stones that are congratulated for their hardness.

hard stones dont release their cutting particles as fast so a 200grit can based on its hardness performs like a 2000grit stone.

if you find soft stones of decent price and size buy them in bulk! 

what to buy:

Grind stones: 100-300grit(for rough material removal, nothing else. they will wear out at twice the rate your other stones will)

Shaping stones: 400-800grit (for making stuff flat and even to prepare for finishing and sharpening)

pre finishing stones: 1000-3000gritt (for narrowing things down and checking if you messed up in the last step ;P )

finishing stones: 4000-8000-10k-12k-15k-2... (for sharpening and making stuff slick)

 

special note: Polishing stones:

used for making a mirror finish, now in these stones we do want HIGH HARDNESS, because we want the stones to almost burnish the steel more than cut it. 10k+ (look for stones advertised as gems. ruby. emerald. agate.)

 

diamond stones: no. maybe for flattening whetstones but I wouldnt recommend using them on work pieces you care about.

 

natural stones:......yes

but these are a class of their own, they really shine when used on tools made of steels of different hardnesses.

it is very hard to find good natural stones as they're either too soft or much too hard. there not many people/places selling stones for "old world" techniques and those who do, dont do so cheaply. Japanese sword polishing sites are to my knowledge the only places where you can still find and buy natural whetstones for all the processes, they call them "sword grade stones" 

theyre beautiful and big and I have none of them!

so I'll end my contribution on natural stones here.

 

 

sorry for going on a tangent...

but if you want to know more in detail, im always happy to convert people to traditional crafts hehe.

 

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On 3/27/2021 at 5:08 PM, C Craft said:

When I first got into knife making I had an adopted mentor. I adopted him not the other way around. He makes pretty much traditional knives. And he knows the history behind them better than anyone I know! His name is Wick Ellerbe, http://www.wickellerbe.com/gallery/index.php?action=showfull&vpic=200&gll=1&tpic=66&maxp=71 Sadly due to me doing less and less in knifemaking these days due to my wife's health. As said he is a traditionalist. He will tell you right quick that brass, copper and fancy pins were not used in the time period that he creates from. It is not that they weren't being used just not in America. He will also tell you that it is hard sometimes to sell reality, and therefore. Knife makers sometimes have to take liberties! I learned a lot from this man. Probably forgot more than I retained!! 

 

I only know Wick through the forums and pm's, but that is one of the masters of natural patina in period work I was thinking of. Guys like him make as near perfect as anyone would a "new" knife, then use their magic to imitate graceful age to the piece.

 

Another of my great influences was Steve Marshall from Middle Tennessee. His philosophy was that the only tool that shows is the last one used. In other words, I can use a grinder up to a point on a period piece, but I'll finish it off by hand if it needs to have a period appearance.

 

I once finished a blade to 400 grit then did the cold blue/boiled bleach deal to darken and pit the surface (per customer request). I could have half finished the blade and faked it, but it wouldn't have had the look we were going for.

 

Point is that shoddy work is not rustic. Bad finish work is not patina. The art is to imagine the piece as it would have looked on the day it was made, be it Colonial American, Viking, or Roman, and then gracefully add years to it until it fits the picture we are trying to create.

Edited by Don Abbott
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I have tried forcing a patina on some of my blades by fuming with boiling apple cider vinegar (do this outside if you can).  As with any patination, the stock needs to be clean.  Give it a try and see if it works for you, I find it to be a "gentler" etch than Ferric and more in keeping with aging through use.

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18 hours ago, Jaro Petrina said:

"A blade that is hand filed to shape is never really flat, a bit of convex and twisting of the planes is almost unavoidable."   My old teacher at the mechanics/locksmith tradeschool would beg to disagree :D :D :D   "You like doing that, boy?"  "Well start again and do it once more."

This reminds me of the first assignment in a class called "fundamentals of machine shop operations": take a piece of round aluminum down to a 1" cube +-0.001" to a side using files. They can certainly be precision instruments!

 

@Pieter-Paul Derks good point mentioning the handles as well! It seems like before belt sanders, powered wood shaping wasn't much of a thing outside of turning (I can't imagine a grindstone would like wood all that much). I have played with scraping a little bit in metal when I made a fuller scraper for Sakha/Evenk knives and a kisage for kinko work, but never really with wood. What would an old scraper look like? I guessing it would look different than something like a modern cabinet scraper but similar in principal.

 

@J.Leon_Szesny tank you for all the info! I will occasionally get the desire to get into stones, especially with regards to Japanese swords where the polishing is such a critical component of the aesthetic, however I haven't really used them much due to a combination of price and time constraints. I do have two combination stones for single bevel kitchen knives. Your point about it being hard to use slow methods when you have a grinder is spot on as well. I have made a few blades that way, but in the past few years I have only been able to work on knives in a few bursts every year, so being able to go from forged blade to finished with 30 minutes of grinding and 30 minutes of sanding lets me put all of my built up ideas into steel while I can. There is certainly something to be said for the extra demand on precision when you are finishing a blade by hand though, and I will definitely try some blades this way.

 

3 hours ago, Don Abbott said:

 

Another of my great influences was Steve Marshall from Middle Tennessee. His philosophy was that the only tool that shows is the last one used. In other words, I can use a grinder up to a point on a period piece, but I'll finish it off by hand if it needs to have a period appearance.

This has generally been my approach in the past, though with varying degrees of success. I think that earlier tools can show through a little bit in the profile and geometry they create the most easily. That being said, I think this approach works very well when the original piece was fairly refined, and has well defined clean lines. A few years ago I got some emery buffing compound and have found that I can get a pretty good match for an old school machine finish. I think the finish I am missing at this point is "large, slow stone wheel" and I have some ideas.

 

I've looked around at various options, and it seems like one potential one would be to pick up a cheap low-speed electric grinder. They tend to come with 10x2" 220 grit wheels and run around 115 rpm (~5 ft/s tangential speed). From the low surface speed though it seems this may be slower than hand grinding on a stone? More accurate perhaps would be some kind of treadle grinder with a large sandstone wheel, but those are more expensive and harder to move/store. There are also hand cranked grinders, but those take a hand out of the running which would make grinding a 10" bade pretty difficult. A process for a leuku might look like: forge, scrape and file, polish flats on slow wheel, heat treat, remove scale on flats, hollow grind on the wheel. This would encourage accurate forging and an organic profile, and I believe the finishing marks would be a close match for what I have seen on old blades. I would be curious to hear people's thoughts on this/if anyone has experimented with those sharpeners or human powered grinders.

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Have you seen these? 

Somewhere around here Dan also has a short video of himself making a glazing wheel by rolling a leather-faced plywood wheel in loose abrasives, with hde glue on the leather face.  Unless he took it down, which I think he did...

 

 

But anyway, throwing sparks with a leather wheel is just too cool.

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I've definitely stumbled across videos like that before (and been envious of the setup). I suppose not all large stone wheels were also slow :D. The Kustaa Lammi puukko video also shows a great large wheel grinder and a number of other polishers, including some kind of loose abrasive process (wax and emery on some kind of buff if I recall) that throws sparks. I finally made a radius platen for grinding the ura of single bevel knives, but the radius is only part of the story with those grinders (I wouldn't mind continuous cooling/being able to sit down!).I also came across these videos a while ago while researching kukris:

 

(The wheel is used here around 13:00)

 

Not throwing sparks, but I thought that the old-school bonded abrasive was pretty neat.

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I also found a few other old threads about big stone wheels, one of which I've moved to Shop Safety and may pin...

 

 

 

 

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A big part of a historic or antique look for me is material choice and texture. I tend to finish my blades fairly high, both for japanese and viking work, but I think the internalizing of old forms and the finish of the wood and steel is really important. The idea of letting something rust and then cleaning it up is really good advice! I have ended up accidentally leaving a sword in the shop for a long time, and cleaning up the rust with some fine steel wool and it looks quite nice afterwards. You can make a nice resting solution with salt vinegar and hydrogen peroxide, and then clean it with the steel wool. 

 

That being said, I think your pieces capture the feel and shape of the originals quite nicely, and aside from crisp lines which could be 'fixed' with a soft backing during sanding like Alan mentioned, I think you're well on your way to achieving that old look! Most of what you see on old blades is a combination of patinas, both on steel and wood or leather. You can do this with some wire brushing and waxing on woods to bring out some of the character in the material, and using a rasp or file to shape the handle and then leaving some faint marks adds a lot of character. Heating leather slightly with a heat gun and then adding bees wax can deepen the color and seal the leather, and if you handle the leather for a little while with less than clean hands, you seal in a bit of that natural weathering, and darken it at the same time. If I was to make a blade look older or more 'primitive' in terms of finishing, I would likely either force rust it, or give it some abuse, batonning through some wood, light stone wash in a container with gravel and water, etc 

 

But again, a lot of this is what happens through time and use, as well as abuse in some cases. If I were you I would probably use scrapers to finish the wood after rasping to shape, and scrape a blade to finish with a sen or files, then use a soft backed polishing stick to clean it up to 320-400 grit. 

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