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I was working on two W's patterned bars a while ago. One was planned to stop early in the process and 4-way the bar for a mosaic pattern. I got the two bars confused and ended up doing the accordion cut on the wrong bar. The pattern was actually pretty cool, so I decided to make a dagger from it. Then I was browsing a few of my inspirational files and decided to switch gears and make a Dirk. I set myself to forging this bar to shape today. I went browsing last night  through the forums looking for dimensions and such. One thing I couldn't determine with any certainty, was the hilt size, or approximate dimensions of the three portions of the hilt. My forging as of today allows for 13 inches (33 cm) of blade, about 1-1/2 inches (3,8 cm) wide at the base, and about 6 inches (15cm) of tang.

 

Rough Forging V2.jpg

 

I was figuring on about 3-4 cm for the haunch area, around 10 cm for the grip, and about 13 mm for the pommel area (what is the correct name for that thing?)

Are those dimensions about right?

 

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Third time is the charm they say. A nice piece of Bubinga.  

A few days of chilling later...... For those of you who were wondering what went wrong with that last one, it was all in the clean up on the lathe. The casting was quite solid and the back t

So I made a third wax model, and set about trying to cast it again. After getting some pointers from @Pieter-Paul Derks and someone I didn't know on IG, i managed to make something I think will work.

Posted Images

The actual proportions are highly variable, but the handle should be around 4" overall, no more than 4 1/2". Remember that the dirk is held with the thumb and forefinger around the haunches (in a backhand grip the thumb and first three fingers grip the shaft and the pinkie curls loosely around the haunches).

 

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  • 5 weeks later...

I got to work on the rough grind and did a final normalizing before HT. Sneak peek at the pattern in the steel.

Dirk is on the left in the pic of two blades.

 

Pattern reveal (1) (1).jpg

 

Pattern reveal (3).jpg

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

It survived HT and I am getting into the handle design. Are forward bolsters common on Dirks? I’m thinking of a flat bronze plate and butt cap

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2 hours ago, jake cleland said:

ferrules are common, as is thin plate. Bolsters less so.

OK. Maybe it a semantics issue. To me, a "bolster" can be either a piece of metal laminated to the side of a blade or handle (think full tang with bolsters), or it can be much like a guard, except it has no extended branch, so essentially, just a flat plate, perpendicular to the blade.

 

Thanks much for your input Jake, I do appreciate it greatly. Now you have me tinking about a ferrule. To me, that is something almost cup shaped. It fits over something else which is reduced to fit inside the cup. Just like the piece of metal that holds the eraser on the end of a pencil. How does that work with the haunches? Is the ferrule oval and fit onto the handle, with the haunches slightly larger behind?

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'Bolster' to me implies a degree of mass which the very thin sheet guard plates do not have - they're more like washers than anything. Ferrules fit over a recessed area at the front of the haunches, and can be fairly plain oval shapes - or more commonly slightly apple seed shapes, as the haunches tend to be narrower on the edge side and fatter at the spine - but the nicer ones tend to be tapered from haunches to blade, and kind of folded over the end of the handle a bit so they more fully enclose the blade, and have a slight arc to them as well...

 

dirk 1725.jpg

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Thanks Jake. That's a beauty. I just remembered that I have several pics of Dirks I liked stored in a folder on my drive, so I'll check those out and see how it goes.

The blade survived HT and with a little straightening I set to grinding. I can get 32 cm of blade length, 3,3 cm wide, and a little over 4 mm thick at the spine. My next question is edge geometry and bevels. I can easily take this flat bevel all the way up the width, or I can roll that step out and make it visually dissapear. I still have enough edge left at .035" to go straight wedge or convex.

 

Post HT start.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...

Taking the advice of the resident Dirkmaster....I set about hand sanding this thing. Here it is at 200 grit.

200 Grit hand V2.jpg

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  • 4 weeks later...

Today I tried to layout the handle. I have a nice piece of boxwood that should fit the ticket. 

I start by drawing the blade profile, including the tang. The blade here is at 600 grit finish.

 

Pre-etch blade 600 grit.jpg

 

Add some layout lines and scale the components off of a photo I found in another post by @jake cleland

 

Handle Layout.jpg

 

Erase the layout lines and tweak the profile a bit.

 

Handle Profile.jpg

 

Add some knot work design ideas. I'm basically copying the embellishments in that same Dirk photo.

 

Knotwork design.jpg

 

Let me know what you think of this. Are the haunches too big/tall? I couldn't reall tell where they ended in that photo. It looks like there is some damage. So I scaled it from the longer one.

Edited by Joshua States
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I've had a closer look at that dirk since then, and the haunches are not damaged, so I'd say yours are a bit too tall, by about the thickness of the guard plate maybe. i also think your pommel should be wider, and the concavity on the underside should be shallower. For this pattern of carving there are an equal (even) number of high spots top and bottom, usually 4 or six (4 is easier, as you just align with the edge, spine, and the centre of the haunches), offset so a high spot at the top corresponds with a low spot on the bottom. Its worth marking and cutting in the interstices, even if you want a tight pleat. Some details of how I do it in this post sgian build 2.

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I wish I could click the thanks button twice, or more for that matter. I was just looking at that Dirk again and I see where I am off now. I had scaled the pomell diameter at about 2-1/8". (5,4 cm). The piece of boxwood I have is not that big. I'll have to try something else. Thanks much for the Sgian carving link. I will have to reference that again.

I wil work on the drawing and repost.

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You're welcome. I haven't made a boxwood dirk for that reason. I buy wood as 2" turning spindles for dirk handles. Unless I'm shooting for a 100% accurate reproduction of a specific piece, for handles I generally just turn a cylinder first and then scale everything else off that.

 

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You're getting there, but I think you still have some issues with the haunches and pommel. the haunches should be rounder, and curve in towards the blade, and the transition from shaft to pommel flare should be more defined, and the pommel should have a bit more depth. here's a quick sketch of what i'm talking about:

 

dirk handle design.jpg

 

and a dirk i made in this style a few years back:

 

dirk 3.jpg

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well, I started turning the handle today. Still a ways to go.......

 

Turning (2).JPG

 

It is a little longer than it should be and the curves are not where they should be either.  I still have the afternoon to work on it.

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I always defer to Jake regarding Scots blades (and a lot of other things too!), but in my limited experience with dirks, most Americans make the grip too long.  Your thumb and forefinger will be resting on the haunches of most of them, your middle finger and the web between thumb and forefinger keep the hand from slipping forward because they're at the base of the haunches, and the pommel holds your little finger snug in the groove at the base of the flare.  And the reverse, if you're holding it in an icepick grip, of course. 

 

Like a lot of historical blades, it's very hard to make a good repro if you've never handled an original antique. But you've got this.  B) 

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Yeah, I left the pomell end a little long on purpose. I'm not exactly technically proficient at lathe work, and I didn't want to work that as thin as it needs to be for fear of taking a chunk out......It's difficult to tell from the photo, but the whole the length is just 12cm at this point.

 

Turning (3).jpg

Edited by Joshua States
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45 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

I always defer to Jake regarding Scots blades (and a lot of other things too!), but in my limited experience with dirks, most Americans make the grip too long.  Your thumb and forefinger will be resting on the haunches of most of them, your middle finger and the web between thumb and forefinger keep the hand from slipping forward because they're at the base of the haunches, and the pommel holds your little finger snug in the groove at the base of the flare.  And the reverse, if you're holding it in an icepick grip, of course. 

 

Like a lot of historical blades, it's very hard to make a good repro if you've never handled an original antique. But you've got this.  B) 

Yeah - on my dirk in the post above, the American customer demanded a longer handle, despite my best efforts. Think it ended up being about 5".

 

1 hour ago, Joshua States said:

Well, I started turning the handle today. Still a ways to go.......

 

Turning (2).JPG

 

It is a little longer than it should be and the curves are not where they should be either.  I still have the afternoon to work on it.

The haunches and where they meet the shaft looks great, and the taper and curve of the pommel are also good. i usually leave the pommel long, and cut it away at the end.  You want the same kind of crisply delineated transition from the pommel to the shaft as you have at the haunches, and you want to make sure that the top of the shaft is no wider than it is at the bottom - I generally go about 1/8th narrower...

 

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Thanks Jake. I think I finished up the turning, although the shaft is not as straight as I first envisioned it would be. Is that too much swell?

 

Final turning.jpg

 

I know I have to sand the haunch area down on two sides to create a flatter, more oval cross secion. Does that extend into the shaft area, or does that remain round?

Right now the pomell end of the shaft is about 1/8" larger diameter than the haunch end. From what you said above, I should tighten that up a little?

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