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This one of my more interesting (at least to me) recent projects. It's a gift for someone who was born and raised on a farm in (then) Czechoslovakia in the first half of the 20th century which got me into learning about some of the knife styles from the area throughout history. I settled on the Pastiersky Nož (shepherd's knife), which in silhouette looks pretty standard but is adorned with ornate tin alloy decorations. I had previously seen these on knives from Siberia and Finland but didn't quite get how they were made. Luckily, I personally know a number of native Slovak (an by extension more or less Czech) speakers. With this luxury I haven't had for a lot of other knife styles, I was able to find a few tutorials on how to do this. Here is my basic process:

 

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First the handle (walnut) is shaped 90% of the way to the final form. I used a saw and narrow chisel to carve in the grooves for the tin. Here is the bar of alloy I used, "Alloy R92" which is a lead-free tin/antimony pewter. For perspective on how soft this stuff is, I made this cut with a hammer and chisel cold.

 

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Next I wrapped the handle in masking tape with a "reservoir" on top, melted the tin, and poured it in. The second photo shows the handle after removing the excess tin.

 

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And here it is finished! It could be a bit cleaner and much more intricate, but I'm pretty happy with it for a first pass. Thanks for looking!

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Nicely done! I haven't seen anyone do it with the blade not installed, that would make it easier.  

 

You see that technique on some early American knives, tomahawks, and halfstock rifle nose caps.  Seems to be a mostly 1790s-1850s thing here. You also see it on French table cutlery between ca. 1860-1890.

I find it helps to use thin cardboard under the tape, that seems to prevent scorching better, and it's more resistant to molten metal leakage. I use plumbing solder, 98%tin 2%silver.

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I tried that once with some bearing metal.  It didn't come out nearly as well as with your handle.  As a matter of fact, it was kind'a shabby if I do say so myself.

 

Doug

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Thanks everyone! 

 

I didn't know that, Alan. If I recall, that's the rough era these knives and the Finnish/Siberian knives with tin were made as well. Just like there are trends in knife making that spread far and wide now, it seems there were back then as well (narrow fullers are one that come to mind). Plumbing solder seems like a good idea, not sure why I didn't think of that! The word in the guides I found translates either as "tin" or "pewter" which I guess is what led me to pick that alloy. I tried cardstock under the tape, but for whatever reason it let the liquid metal flow out and I had a hard time getting a good seal. I think proper carboard would probably be better since it's a bit softer and rougher.

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