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Author Topic: Handles and fittings, the low tech way.  (Read 12840 times)

Offline D.Ellis

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Handles and fittings, the low tech way.
« on: June 20, 2014, 12:02:00 AM »
Here's the next installment. I'll be showing the way I do one style of guard and spacer as well as the coffin handle and probably some checkering and carving along the way. This is the way I do it, not the only way, and in some cases other smiths may have far superior methods than I do. Anyone with ideas or tips to contribute please feel free.    :readit:  not too much else is needed to make this guard. I will be using a rotary tool later on(for texturing) but that is not required.
Here's the bar of steel, and a scribe for marking lines. You can see the tang of the blade and I am holding a drill bit shank over it to determine the correct size to drill the holes.
     

In this pic you can see a few of the files I use. At the very least you will need a couple of sizes of round chainsaw files, a large flat file double cut on one side and single cut on the other, and a small square needle file or auger file(more about this one later). Needs to be small enough to get inside the holes to square them up. I also use a coarse half round file and a round, course rattail file a lot for shaping and contouring.

 
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62# "Zang Hill" string follow

Offline D.Ellis

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Re: Handles and fittings, the low tech way.
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2014, 12:18:00 AM »
In that last pic there is a slotted wooden stick. I use that for tapping the guard onto the tang. More on that later.

Here I am laying out where the slot for the tang needs to be in the guard. This guard will be blade centered. In other words the distance from the top of the guard to the spine will be the same as the distance from the top of the guard to the   edge, not to the bottom of the ricasso. See arrows in photo.

           

After laying out where the slot needs to be, I determine how many holes I can fit with the drill bit(slightly smaller diameter than the tang thickness) without the holes overlapping. In this case 4 holes. If you are using a hand drill measure very carefully and center punch for each hole. I didn't get the punch marks perfect, and it caused a goof up. The drill bit was narrow enough that it didn't cause me any grief though.
   

Here's the goof up. Worked out OK anyway. There should have been a web between those two overlapping holes, but the combination of poorly placed center punch mark, and a very dull drill bit caused the bit to wander.

     
60# GN Lil'Creep Jackknife
67# osage selfbow
62# "Zang Hill" string follow

Offline D.Ellis

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Re: Handles and fittings, the low tech way.
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2014, 12:33:00 AM »
After drilling the holes, the web between needs to be filed away with a suitable sized round file. Open it up until you can get a flat file in there. In this case I am using an auger file. It has teeth on the flats at one end, and teeth on the edge at the other end. Also, it's tapered to fit in a fairly small slot. Very handy file for squaring up the corners of the slot. If you can't find one of these, small flat or square needle files will work also.

   

Continue to open the slot up until the tang will fit in the slot. The tang is tapered so the guard will only go on a short distance at first. Just keep filing and checking and try to keep the slot sides as flat and square as possible.


Here is a view from the top. I am now using a 6 inch flat file with teeth all around to enlarge the slot more. The hole in the guard should be tapered so it is larger in the back than the front. This helps to get a nice tight looking joint. Guys with mills often mill a larger slot in the backside of the guard........this is the same effect. Makes it easier to get the guard fitting tight and square.
   
60# GN Lil'Creep Jackknife
67# osage selfbow
62# "Zang Hill" string follow

Offline D.Ellis

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Re: Handles and fittings, the low tech way.
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2014, 12:42:00 AM »
Here you can see I am getting close to the shoulders of the tang.
   
At this point I make sure the shoulders are as true and square as possible with the blade. I use a round file for this. Don't want any sharp corners here. I also bevel the edges of the tang a little bit. If you have a file guide to help here that's great. I just use my eyeball and then check it with a machinist square when I get things really close to seated.
Now I'll take my slotted stick and tap the guard towards the shoulders lightly. Don't whomp it too hard or it'll stick on really tight. If this happens, just use the slotted stick to tap the guard back off again........and don't hit so hard next time.    :D    
   
60# GN Lil'Creep Jackknife
67# osage selfbow
62# "Zang Hill" string follow

Offline D.Ellis

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Re: Handles and fittings, the low tech way.
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2014, 12:50:00 AM »
After I remove the guard from the tang I look inside the slot to see where it is too tight. This will show up as rubbed and dented spots. See red arrows pointing where things are too snug.
 

I use the auger file and round this over gently......the goal is to have this shape match the shoulder of the tang. It should be a tight fit.
 

Tap it back on and see where it gets to.
getting closer.
 

Take it off and check for tight spots.

 
60# GN Lil'Creep Jackknife
67# osage selfbow
62# "Zang Hill" string follow

Offline D.Ellis

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Re: Handles and fittings, the low tech way.
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2014, 01:04:00 AM »
A few more tries, including filing the shoulders a bit to get the fit closer, and we end up here.
It is a snug fit to get here, can't push it on with my fingers, it still needs to be tapped into place with the slotted stick.
 

Checking for square. I check for square from the side as well as the top.
So far so good, but this sure is an ugly guard!

 


Let's do something about that.
I have an idea what I want it to look like, so I make a cardboard cut out the shape I want.....notched so it fits over the blade and spine/ricasso. I scribe(and here I also used felt pen so it's easier to see in the photo) around the shape, and then repeat all the way around.
   
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67# osage selfbow
62# "Zang Hill" string follow

Offline D.Ellis

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Re: Handles and fittings, the low tech way.
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2014, 01:26:00 AM »
Take the guard off, back in the vice(padded with leather) and break out the hacksaw.
 


And files. It goes much faster if you file the one side to your line (see pic below) and then the other side to match......and finally bring the center down to meet the bevels.

Another filing tip. A file is meant to cut on the push stroke, and a lot of guys will tell you to only file that way. That's good advice, but if you lift the file at the end of each stroke it will clog up and all the grit in the teeth will scratch deep grooves in the piece you are working on.
Instead reduce the pressure, but keep the file in contact with the work and pull it back towards you for the next cut. This keeps the teeth much cleaner and you'll get a lot more cutting done than if you have to stop and clean the teeth with a brush every three strokes. And you'll have a lot fewer nasty gouges to try and smooth out later.

 

Filed to the lines in profile.......drift it back on and check for center and balance.
Looking a bit better.

 

This one is going to be s shaped a bit, so after making adjustments to the profile to get it lined up just right, I take it off again and put it back in the vice. Padded on the inside of the curve with a hardwood or brass block......outside with leather. I do this shaping cold. If I needed to make a more drastic curve, I'd probably just forge the thing to shape instead of doing all that filing. It takes a fair bit of force to curve the guard, I am using a 12 inch crescent wrench for leverage......note the copper shim(penny) on the underside of the wrench jaw. This keeps the sharp jaw from biting an unsightly deep notch in the guard.
 
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67# osage selfbow
62# "Zang Hill" string follow

Offline D.Ellis

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Re: Handles and fittings, the low tech way.
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2014, 01:38:00 AM »
Checking to make sure things still fit.
 

Take guard back off and make any further adjustments.......then I file the edges and contours until there are no uncomfortable spots that contact my hand. I never took any pics of the contouring, but it was pretty simple.....just filing away anything that shouldn't be there and smoothing the shape.

Tap it back on.......not too bad.
 

Nice and comfortable......
 

Time to move on to the spacer and handle......we will return to the guard later to spiffy it up.
That's all for tonight......soon we'll be cutting mammoth ivory   :cool:

Darcy   :campfire:
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67# osage selfbow
62# "Zang Hill" string follow

Offline Thadbow

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Re: Handles and fittings, the low tech way.
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2014, 04:50:00 AM »
Great tutorial Darcy, this is going to help me out a lot!  
Thanks for taking the time to do this!
   :thumbsup:

Offline Ray Hammond

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Re: Handles and fittings, the low tech way.
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2014, 05:20:00 AM »
very nice tutorial, Darcy. Watching with interest.
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Offline kbaknife

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Re: Handles and fittings, the low tech way.
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2014, 08:15:00 AM »
Nicely done tutorial. That guard will suit the knife well. (I like those curves.)

You said, "Anyone with ideas or tips to contribute please feel free."

This may help some. With a few knives under my belt, I've come to where I nearly never drill my hole - any hole - with the drill bit size I want to have first thing.
I work my way up.
When your dull drill bit wandered on your guard slot, it may have been minimized by drilling your punched dots with a smaller drill bit first.
For most holes, I drill a small one for center.
A second hole just undersized of my target hole dimension.
And then the final drill bit.
Saves agony some times.
Always stack the deck in your favor.
 
And I see you mentioned coffin handle?
This is going to be a sweet knife.
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Offline Lin Rhea

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Re: Handles and fittings, the low tech way.
« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2014, 08:30:00 AM »
Nice work Darcy. I enjoy these times on TG.
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Offline NittanyRider

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Re: Handles and fittings, the low tech way.
« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2014, 09:08:00 AM »
Awesome tutorial... I really like your style!  Also really appreciate the detailed tips.   :thumbsup:

This maybe a little off topic for this thread, but which is the best low-tech tool for cutting out blades from blade steel... hacksaw or jeweler's saw?

Offline gudspelr

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Re: Handles and fittings, the low tech way.
« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2014, 10:45:00 AM »
I love getting to follow along like this. Thanks for taking the time to post this up.

   :campfire:


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Offline ymountainman

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Re: Handles and fittings, the low tech way.
« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2014, 01:46:00 PM »
Darcy this is exactly what i need to see done.Thanks for posting again.I been trying to build a guard and it hasn't turned out yet. This will help, Thanks!

Offline Doug Campbell

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Re: Handles and fittings, the low tech way.
« Reply #15 on: June 20, 2014, 02:51:00 PM »
Not trying to be a sa David but beyond a doubt the best way is a hot fire, hammer and anvil...

Darcy, you ever use a mirror to confirm alignment of everything?
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Offline NittanyRider

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Re: Handles and fittings, the low tech way.
« Reply #16 on: June 20, 2014, 06:45:00 PM »
Quote
Originally posted by Doug Campbell:
Not trying to be a sa David but beyond a doubt the best way is a hot fire, hammer and anvil...
 
I know, I know.  That's what I plan to work towards, but I've got to start somewhere!     :)    I got a weekend pass to go to the Mid America hammer-in (late August), so we'll see what happens after that… who knows, maybe I'll come home with an anvil and forge!     :bigsmyl:

Offline killinstuff

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Re: Handles and fittings, the low tech way.
« Reply #17 on: June 20, 2014, 06:58:00 PM »
Darcy has artistic freedom on this knife and so far so good! The only thing I did was describe the blade profile I am looking for and emailed a ROUGH drawing of the handle shape I wanted.  I truly appreciate all the hand, not machine,  work on the knife. Makes things more personal. Changing raw steel to functional art is amazing to us who can't do it. Thanks Darcy.
lll

Online Bladepeek

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Re: Handles and fittings, the low tech way.
« Reply #18 on: June 20, 2014, 08:50:00 PM »
It would be nice to have a mill and the skills to make each piece to +- 1/10,000, right to plan. A lot of us don't have a mill and are not machinists.

For me, it's like this build-along. File; check the fit. File; check the fit, until you get that nice, light-tight fit.

I'll bet this knife is going to be a real knockout and I'm looking forward to seeing it take shape.

Thanks for taking the time to do this, Darcy.
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Re: Handles and fittings, the low tech way.
« Reply #19 on: June 20, 2014, 09:09:00 PM »
I have to admit Darcy I am a little shocked at the simple tools. I know your hands are skilled and experienced but still this is rather enlightening... Thank you for taking the time to post, this is great stuff.        :campfire:
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