Jump to content

New hawk, sort of a half WIP, picture heavy

Alan Longmire

Recommended Posts

This is the tooling setup.  That graver is used for 95% of the cuts.  It's an M42 HSS 1/8" square blank from Gesswein.  Been using it for 21 years. it's about 1/4" shorter than it was when new.  




And here's what the hawk sees during the operation:




Scary, eh?

  • Haha 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On to the other side!  Same drill, lay out the design, cut the outlines, fill in the details.  In addition to the 1/8" square graver and the push graver 9also a 90 Degree 1/8" square), I used a 120 degree push graver to do the chip carving in the border at the eye and a 1mm flat graver to do the wigglework frame on the diamond.




The nice thing about the watercolor is that if you screw up make a design change at the last minute, you just lick your finger and wipe the blade.  Presto, a clean canvas!  That's the 90 degree push graver.




And done.




Tomorrow, we experiment with the etch.  The pattern shows up great in the forge scale, but a quick dip in ferric didn't do much.  We shall experiment with different etchants.  Probably will go with 75% 1:4 FeCl with 25% 6% acetic acid.  That mix often shows grain on wrought better than straight ferric, and isn't as scary as the other things I can use.  I will need to remember to mix up a hot saturated solution of sodium carbonate (washing soda, not the bicarbonate baking soda) to neutralize the etch.  With the inlays and the open grain of the wrought, water and Windex don't do enough to prevent rust.  Hot washing soda will stop the reaction completely.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

20 hours ago, Gerald Boggs said:

I'm sure it's just coincidental, but the word Unibomber popped into my mind :-)



I'll have you know I don't even own a hoodie. :P


The etch is complete.  This is really clean wrought, very subtle pattern except where it started fraying when welded to the steel edge.





  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Alan


Thanks for this WIP. Loving the hawk. Kinda curious about the symbolism of the diamond. I would assume it’s a symbol for peace and the knife for war; but what do I know? Could you perhaps add a quick history lesson here?



Edited by Charles dP

"The way we win matters" (Ender Wiggins) Orson Scott Card


Nos qui libertate donati nescimus quid constat

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, guys.


Charles, there's no overt symbolism on my part.  I just took some design elements from two different hawks by John Small, a smith whose work I admire. This guy: 



I've made two direct reproductions of his hawks (the one in that video and the one he made for Meriwether Lewis), and I incorporated some of his design elements into this hawk.  The knife is the most obvious (apparently the Shawnee called him Big Knife), but he used inlaid silver diamonds as decorative thingies on a lot of his stuff.  This one also incorporates a nod to southern rifle makers, a silver nameplate on top of the head.  I have engraved that, but my block lettering is so horrible I may have to file it clean and redo it.


The one hawk with the knife from the video is in the "this is why I'm always recommending files to people" pinned thread that I linked in the first post of this thread, the other is here: 

That was done before I knew that Small made that hawk as well.  I figured since he made my favorite historic hawks, I should virtually apprentice under him so I could faithfully use the style.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 5/29/2022 at 9:29 PM, Alan Longmire said:


Scary, eh?

Why Alan.....surprised to see your beard is not really on fire! :lol:

Stunning work, waiting anxiously for the handleB)
Some day I want to make one and smoke it, the handle is the biggest challenge for me. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have you tried Galilean loupes before?

they have become quite affordable, I got one for 50€ with lamp and nice coffer. The focal length is incredible, compared to optivisors. Really High magnification without having to stick your nose into the chisel

Link to comment
Share on other sites

29 minutes ago, J.Leon_Szesny said:

Galilean loupes


Those are new to me under that name, I'll look into those, no pun intended. :P  I like the optivisor because it prevents glare, but if I can find those cheap enough (my optometrist uses them for tying flies and quoted me ~$400) I may try them.  


What is the depth of field, z.b. can you see clearly within a 40mm front-to-back range?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Alan LongmireI got them at 3.5x and the focal lenght seems to be around 40cm(3.5x is advertised to have 42cm Focal length)
tho I havent measured it with a ruler, compared to my optivisor lenses, definitely much better.
I'd even consider going with 4x magnification, I think those will still have enough focal length, not to strain my neck or interefere with my face in the work, lol.
the only drawback I can see, is that they give you a smaller field of view but I dont think thats a problem for engraving where youre working slowly along.

I think optivisors seem better for getting a big magnified picture...like, reading?
theyre great for reading!


how bout this?

these are the ones I got, basically the same thing

as I understand it, with the insane pricing for these that professional(doctors) use, is due to medical equipment tax(making it extremely expensive, because they can) and due to special fine tune adjustments to the operators specific visiual abilities
but from reading up stuff, it seems like for most people, theres not much of a difference between the 1500-5000$ and 30-100$ ones
a lot of medical students get told to buy the thousand dollar ones and later give reviews about the cheap ones saying "if I had known...."
so that probably says alot?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Today was fitting the handle.  Step one is to line the eye with thin leather to act as a gasket, so if you choose to smoke it you actually can.  I didn't get pics of that due to discovering that my epoxy resin had decided it would set up solid since last month.  Basically you just take some thin scrap (I used some 2oz purple suede, darker is better) make a pattern, cut to fit, and glue it in.  I usually use epoxy, but this time I experimented with the Loctite A330.  It worked fine, but I was worried for a while.


You can line the whole eye, or just the back half.  If you do the just the back half you can use thicker leather, but you'll then need to skive it to nothing.  A sanding drum on a dremel is good for this.


Of course, if you drifted the eye to the largest fit on the drift so it'll fit a preturned handle from Dunlap Woodcraft, the leather gasket means it's not gonna fit anymore.



I decided to re-profile the handle for a more John Small-ish  look.  Two minutes on the KMG with a 60 grit belt to shape and a worn 220 to smooth, and here we are.



Start fitting, and check the head alignment.  It'll always be a bit wonky.




I've talked about how to fix that in other threads, but basically you gently remove a bit more wood from the side you want the blade to move towards.  DO NOT TOUCH THE BACK (bowl end) OF THE HANDLE.  Removing wood there will screw up the geometry and you'll have to start over with a new handle.



  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

An hour later and here we are.




This is all done with cabinet scrapers.  The amount of wood to be removed is miniscule, and power tools take way too much too fast.  I did remove the chamfered end with a bandsaw, though.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

19 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

Dunlap Woodcraft

Looked at the Dunlap site, they offer four types handles: Mouse, WD-1, WD-6, and WD-24, with a lot of grades.  I didn't see any explanation as to the differences.   Since you've mentioned Dunlap several times over the years, i thought I'd ask you :-)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

With Dunlap I break my usual rule of never using the phone, because their website is pretty useless.  I just call them and tell them what I want, and they'll send it.  You usually end up with Daniel Miranda, the warehouse foreman.  They rarely have every grade in stock.  What I'd call standard grade is the $20-$25 range.  That gets you good curl, usually around 1/4" wide, the cheaper the grade the wider and less even the curl.  This handle had a pencilled-in $50 price, and it's at least six years old.  It's probably the super-premium grade now.  Although, he did have a couple priced at $75 when I ordered that one.  It's a standard sized teardrop.  The mouse hawk handles are cute, but not big enough for serious use.  


If you get Wayne, he'll try to sell you whatever he's most excited about at the time.  That's how I 've gotten European ash (Fraxinus excelsior), curly hickory, figured beech, English walnut, and once, long ago, some curly American chestnut.  That came from a log felled in western Virginia so far up a hollow they couldn't drag it out back in the 1930s, and chestnut being as rot-resistant as it is, still had enough sound wood to make a pile of hawk handles and small blocks.  I've also ordered extra-long blanks of white ash, drilled square blanks for making odd profiles than need a bulge down near the mouthpiece, and so forth.  They are a lumberyard serving the furniture industry, so they have about whatever you might want.  And they're close enough for you to make it a daytrip and check it in person. It's 7 hours one way for me, so I just call.  


The drilled ones cost $10 more than the plain ones, and I gladly pay it rather than drill it myself.  Back when I was still doing that I ruined five nice handles out of a dozen, trying to save that $50.  Cost me $150 in "learning experience." :rolleyes:


Lunch break is over, back to the shop!  Making the silver end cap.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So then:  making and adding a silver cap.  First, inlet the top where the cap will fit over the wood.  I mark the line with a compass, then use the coping saw to cut a slot the depth of the teeth, which is 0.025" deep, not coincidentally the thickness of the sterling sheet I'm using.


Slot cut:




Excess wood removed with Japanese carving chisels and files:




1/4" wide sterling strap fitted and soldered.



  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If I were a jeweler, or had actual skill, I'd cut the top to fit inside the frame.  Since I'm not that good, first I file the top of the band flush with the wood.


Before filing flush:



After filing flush:




Then I found a bit of sheet sterling the ring would barely fit on.  Here it is clamped for soldering.




For the record, don't do that.  I just needed the ring to stay exactly where it was just long enough to tack it with a dot of hard silver solder.  That softened the sheet enough that it warped even with the brass backing strap you can't see, because the clamp was too strong.  I had to cut it loose and reflatten the sheet AND reflatten the ring, which had bent up at both ends.  The brass also acted as too much of a heat sink, which meant the hard solder didn't get hot enough to flow everywhere it needed to. Sigh...


The good news is that the blob of solder helped index it after flattening, so I didn't have to clamp it.  I also switched to medium hard silver solder so as to not risk opening the ring joint.


Here's the ring affixed to the sheet, complete with the unmelted hard solder.




If you look carefully you'll see where I cut the diamond inlay for the blade off that sheet.  Anyway, now clean out the remaining flux (the pink stuff) and carefully cut the cap free of the sheet with the jewelers saw, staying as close to the ring as possible without touching it.  Then fit it to the wood.




That gap is due to the bit of hard solder still stuck inside the cap.  Solution?  Either remove that solder, which given its location and my skillset is incredibly difficult, or, smack the cap with a hammer and inlet where that wire is keeping it from settling to the bottom, using a small veining chisel.  Once it bottoms out, file off the excess material around the rim.  Yeah, I could have removed the solder when the I was fixing the warped ring, but I wanted to leave it for indexing purposes and I had hoped adding the medium solder would be enough to make it flow.  Oh, well.




That's just rough filing, I won't finish it until after it's permanently attached.  For that, I'm going to plug the hole in the handle with a short dowel and bed the cap in epoxy.  Once the epoxy is cured, I'll add four silver nails around the edges for good measure.  The fit is pretty good, and the epoxy is not structural.  It's just to fill all the tiny gaps and rough spots so the cap doesn't get dents and such when I do the final handle install, which involves sliding the head as tight as it will go by hand, then smacking the $!@ out of the handle on that silver cap to drive the head to its final position while the oil finish is still wet.  When that dries, it's like glue and the head can't be removed without a lot of beating on the other end of the handle.  Which will also have a silver tip, which will be next weekend's installment.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Alan


Thanks for documenting this. Lots of good info here. Can you please pin this thread?



"The way we win matters" (Ender Wiggins) Orson Scott Card


Nos qui libertate donati nescimus quid constat

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sweet Alan….


I’m looking forward to seeing the final pic…..and this is a nice tutorial too!!!!!!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another Saturday, another day in the shop!  I plugged the hole with a bit of walnut dowel:




then cut it off and filed it flush.




I epoxied the cap on the handle (West Systems G/5 five-minute, it's not structural and I have no patience for the slow-set stuff for this kind of work) and did some yard work while it cured for two hours.  Then I made silver nails and made the joint permanent, the same way I did in the pinned thread at the start of this one, "This is why I'm always recommending files to people."  


So here's the cap with this first hole drilled and countersunk for the nail:




And here's two nails set.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

File flush and we're done.  The final finish will happen along with the handle after all the inlays are in.




Now it's time for the mouthpiece.  Same as the cap, first scribe a line, then make a shallow cut with the coping saw (a hacksaw works, but leaves a ragged edge).




The remove 0.025" of wood from the line to the end.  Here's the Japanese chisels I use for a lot of this, on Jake Powning's recommendation years ago.  They're cheap, but excellent.  I use the skew for 90% of stuff.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Since the curve of the handle there was done freehand on the grinder, and the mouthpiece sides have to be straight, after I used the chisels to rough out the inlet I used files to level it out.  Somehow I didn't get a pic of that before making the pattern for the mouthpiece...


The mouthpiece is a cone.  There are all kinds of mathematical ways to lay out a cone, but this a: requires math, and b: requires a true conic section.  Thus I cheat.  Take a strip of paper about twice as wide as the inlet and long enough to wrap around the handle with a decent overlap, wrap it as tight as you can around the end of the handle with plenty of overhang off both the end and the inlet, and tape it securely together.  Use an exacto knife or other sharp blade to remove the excess from the tip and to cut cleanly around the end of the inlet.  This is the pattern.


The pattern after trimming:




Neat, huh? 




Since I'm going to cut the mouthpiece from silver sheet, I need that flat. 



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Since silver isn't free these days, lay it out to make as little waste as possible.




Take your handy jewelers' saw with a #3/0 or #4/0 blade and carefully cut that out, staying just outside the lines.  I left extra on the short side because this will have to be filed flush after it's fitted.

I've recently discovered that a disk grinder is an excellent way to get a nice edge on these things. More versatile than a file for this process, just keep the speed low or you'll burn off your fingerprints.




Anneal and begin fitting.  This will take some time and persuasion.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...