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Dagger handle build help


Aaron Gouge

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Good morning all,

      I have been working on re-creating a Civil War dagger that was picked up off the battle of Perryville in Perryville, Kentucky. I live about 20 minutes from the battlefield. A local bank has a glass display with Civil War items in it. One of the items is the stagger. The owner/collector denied me the privilege of handle and measuring  it. I did the next best thing! I returned with a tape measure!  Then I  just took pictures and measurements of it through the glass.

        Having never constructed a handle before with a steel ferrule. I’m just looking for some tips on how you would assemble it all. My understanding and commonsense tells me the ferrule should be tight on the wood handle. So in essence, it’s almost than like assembling a hidden tang with a guard and butt cap.

    1- dry fit everything nice and tight. Apply epoxy to all necessary. Components. Then peen the but  cap on while glue is still wet.

 

   2- dry fit everything nice and tight. Use stay bright silver solder and solder guard in place. Then secure the rest of the handle with epoxy and peening but cap. 
     

 3- if using option one or two would you let the epoxy dry before peening on the but cap. 
    I guess I’m just fishing for information on how other people do it! I want to make sure I’m not missing something that might make my life simpler or my products better! 
    Pic of original handle and where I’m at with mine. 
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The original guard would not have been soldered to the blade, that's a late 20th century innovation.  The ferrule would have been brazed to the guard, though.  I personally let the epoxy cure before any peening, but only because I once splashed epoxy all over the shop that way...  :rolleyes:

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Allen,

     Do you think brazing the ferrule  to the guard still would be a better solution than just fitting everything and then using epoxy? I definitely like the idea of brazing them together! My brazing skills aren’t quite as good as my epoxy skills ;-) The only brazing rod I have is SilFoss…. You recommended it to me when I was brazing brass fittings for a Dirk scabbard. 
    Will the SilFoss work good in this aplicación? If not then what would I need? My guard is wrought iron and the ferrule is a mild steel. I was hoping to etch the guard before installing it. How does the feric affect the breeze joint?

    Aaron 

    
    

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Ferric won't affect the brazing, no worry there.  Do it before you etch, or you'll get a messy braze line.  Silphos is fine as well.  Just clamp it before brazing and it should be fine.  You may get a thin shiny line at the joint, but it'll weather to brown soon enough.

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So…. I worked on shaping the guard to more of its final shape. Then I tried brazing the ferrule to the guard. I clamped them together in a metal c clamp. Put the C clamp in my post vice. Fluxed,  heated and  braized. My guard cupped in the heating proses. I was working on taping it straight and things pop apart. It seams the brazing rod didn’t flow into the joint. May have to practice this application with some scrap. 

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Hi temp silver solder flows much better than braze in my experience.  Jewelry supply places typically sell it in three temperature ranges, easy, medium and hard.  There may also be an extra easy and something that is called iT solder which has the highest melting temperature.  Easy or medium would be fine for this job.  Also rather than using the c-clamp to hold pieces in place use iron binding wire.  The clamp is a bit of heat sink, may hold the pieces so tightly together that the solder can't flow between the two pieces and also prevents you from putting the solder on the inside of the ferrule where it should be placed on an assembly like that.  Heating from the outside will draw the melted solder into your seam and clean up will be much easier.  Solder always flows towards the heat and make sure your parts are bare metal and free from oxides or scale where you want the solder to flow.  I'm going to guess you are using a propane torch for a heat source which will work, but oxy acetylene would be a better choice.  More hotter more better.

 

When I look at the picture of the handle and guard of the original I can't help but see the handle and guard for a sharpening steel like what a butcher would use.

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Gaza,

    I had not thought of it but you’re right! The handle and guard of the original dose resemble a butchers sharpening steel!! 
     Thanks for chiming in. The big C clamp certainly was a heat sink! I wondered if that was the cause….

I will try with wiring it in place. Yes I am am using a hand torch with map gas. 
    So how do you guys set something like this up for brazing? Do you just set it on fire brick? I thought about clamping one end of the garde in a 1 inch C clamp. Then clamping the C clamp in my post place. But I would be afraid the guard would bend/ sag once heated.

      

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Gazz beat me to the clamp being a heat sink and the reason it didn't work.  Soft iron wire is the stuff, or it can be done loose.  I use a soft firebrick with a deep hollow scooped out of the middle. The hollow lets me set objects across the gap so I can heat from all sides.  Your c-clamp idea would work too, and it shouldn't bend under that level of heat. If you wire it, run the wire through the guard and over the top of the ferrule, don't just wrap it around the outside. I usually use medium or hard hi-temp silver solder, but sil-phos flows in the same range as the EZ-flow hard solder, so it should work fine. I've also been known to use Harris Safety-Silv 56, which is in between the EZ and the Medium and almost the same as sil-phos.

 

Here is how I would go about this from this point forward:

 

1. file/sand the surfaces back clean and bright.

2. set up your clamping system

3. flux the mating face of the ferrule and set in position, add a little more flux inside around the edges.

4. spread small chunks of the braze material around the perimeter of the joint on the INSIDE of the ferrule.  As Gazz said, solder or braze flows towards heat.  

5. gently heat the assembly, playing the torch over the underside of the guard and around the edges of the ferrule, keeping it moving the whole time to get an even heat.

 

When it hits temperature, it will "flash," that is, the little chunks of braze will suddenly melt and disappear into the joint. When this happens, stop. No more heat.  Let it cool to black, then let cool another minute or two, then quench in warm water.  This should remove the leftover flux.

 

Flux is critical for this.  I use either borax ground in water (for extra-hard) or Handy Flux, a storebought borax-based flux that has a bit of fluorine added. Your stuff should have come with flux, use that.

 

When that original was made, if the ferrule is brazed to the guard (and I would bet it is) they used borax and filings of coin bronze or what they called spelter, which is more of a brass.  

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With all brazing, heat control is key. I come from a bicycle building background with lots of brass, silver and nickle silver experience.

 

Propper paste flux is key. I also find that an oxy acytelene or oxy propane torch is going to give you much better heat control. Its easier to be more precise with a finer/ higher temp flame than MAP will give you.

 

It will take some practice, but sweating a preform of filler out from the inside may be better in this case than trying to pull it in from the face. You'll be left with a larger internal fillet and clean face.

 

Rather than clamping or tying, using a bent piece of scrap to hold the collar down while the flux liquifies is all you need. 

 

 

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Thank you all for the feedback! I would certainly be up a creek on so many builds  without your alls  help!

    How many little pieces like this should I place along the inside of the ferrule? 

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I have used s soldering tripod with a wire mesh on it for stuff like this so you can heat from all sides. 

 

Another trick is to scribe a circle where the ferrule will go with dividers and with a hand engraver raise stitches or burrs to the circle so that your ferrule will be located where you you want it.  If you place them on the inside of the ferrule you will not need to clean them up later.

 

 

And those three bits of solder should be enough as long as all is clean and you get the solder to flow properly.

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Never mind! This thing is killing me! I cleaned it up, did some final shaping on the garden and put it in the feric. After about an hour, I pulled it out and washed it off. It was hanging on about 7 inches of string.  I bumped the PVC wall of my feric container and it popped apart! 

   Maybe I’m trying to hold it too tight with the wires?

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Edited by Aaron Gouge
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So how hard should I be able to manhandle this thing if I did a good job with my brazing?
   I’m shifting over to a practice piece to try and figure out what I’m doing wrong. Want to know what my tests for success should be?

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I don’t think I’m achieving enough heat with my hand torch…. Every time I do it the pieces of brazing rod turn into a puddle right on the edge of the inside of the tube. But it doesn’t flow in at at. It just sits there. One little tap of the backside of the wrought iron on my post vice and the tube steel falls off.

 

Calling it a night until I get more feedback. I may see if I can borrow a friends portable torch set.  

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You are not getting it hot enough. Don't be shy about it and keep the torch moving to get it all to the same temperature at once.  Use plenty of flux.  It would be helpful to have a soldering pick which can be made from a stick welding electrode.  Bust the flux off one end and sharpen to a point and use it to push the solder around, rather keep it at the seam.  Your ferrule looks to be a heavier piece so more heat is required there but again, get the whole thing to the same temperature at the same time otherwise the solder will flow to the hotter piece.

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So my buddy is letting me borrow his portable torch l at some point today. I could not get it hotter with my hand torch. Keep you all posted. 

Edited by Aaron Gouge
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Things work so much better when you have the right tool! Borrowed my friends portable torch set. Did a practice run on my scrap pieces. Success!! But the oxygen tank ran empty, not a big deal because my friend sent me a full spare. Hooked up the full spare and I wasn’t getting any flow. No pressure at all to the torch. Pulled valve off and there was junk inside the regulator filter. There was also junk in the mouth of the tank! Cleaned things out but still not working! Did I just ruin his regulator? 
 

 

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When changing bottles of high pressure gases, always crack the valve on the bottle for a quick blast of gas to clear out any junk that may have found its way into bottle valve. If you are not getting any flow through the regulator it is probably plugged with the junk you found in the bottle valve.  I would discuss your problem with the owner before you attempt to take it apart.  To bad you weren't able to get your parts stuck together first.

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