Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Did manage to get a couple of things finished today

for Medieval Fair, two folding knives. Closed, halfway open,

and open

The blades are spring steel, the grips are antler with a slot cut, then a hole drilled through it and the blade for the pivot pin; the ends are riveted over brass washers. Top blade is 2.75" from antler to point, bottom is 3".

It's an old design I ran across years ago; the drawings I found were from the colonial/fur trade era here, but I'm pretty sure the design goes back quite a ways further.

Have you ever tried cutting a slot in antler? Well-seasoned hard antler? I'm using modern tools, and it's messy and something of a pain; doing it with a saw, chisels and files would have taken a lot of time and effort. Between achy hands and weather, only reason I got these done is that a while ago I got a cutoff tool that runs off my compressor; spins a 3" wheel that allowed me to get these done more easily than ever before. Used a hacksaw to cut the first part of the slot at the end(keeping that straight is fun), then you can set the ricasso into that and use it to line up the rest of the slot so it'll be straight. Then used the cutoff tool to cut the slot. Faster than before, but DAMN, that throws a lot of dust. White, fine dust that sticks on your jacket. And anything else it lands on.

These will be the last pieces I can work on before the fair, especially since they're now talking about the weather going to hell tomorrow night; colder, some rain, and a fair chance of snow Friday.


Sigivald said...

My impression has always been that in period they worked with fresh antler wherever possible, for that very reason.

(You do wear a dust mask when working with antler, right? White Lung's not your buddy!)

I have a project for a Canterbury find-style knife this summer.

(I'm told that there's a Birka find or two like it, but Birka I has been out of print these past 60 years, so it's difficult to check...)

Just have to get around to having a convenient blacksmith rough-shape the blade for me...

Firehand said...

From what I understand, only way to get them really fresh would be if you shot a buck when they were still growing/just finished; once they reach full size for that year, they stop growing and harden through.

Also, if they were still 'green', I'd worry about them shrinking as they dried further after working. May not be a factor, I've never had any that fresh to try out.

Oh yeah, outside and protection. I had a friend years ago who was a woodworker, damn good at it; he'd inhaled so much sanding dust over the years his wind was shot. Things like that make me careful.

Now, that's interesting, I'd not seen that piece before. That would be interesting to try. Only real difficulty would be that you'd have to plan the handle and blade together, size and pin location. If you can figure out that and send me a drawing, I can give it a try. May take a while to get to it, I warn you.

Firehand said...

I'll throw in, if by 'rough-shape' you mean shape the profile, you could probably get a piece of 1/8" oil-hardening steel from Enco or someplace similar, it comes annealed, and can be cut and shaped with hacksaw and file. You could cut it out of that, drill the pivot hole and grind the bevels before heat-treating. Or are you including heat-treating in 'rough-shape'?

Sigivald said...

What I meant was, "I want a forged blade, because it's period-appropriate", so I'll have one of the smith-types pound one out.

I could totally shape it from a piece of steel myself, with grinder/saw/file/dremel, but I'm more after authentic than Ideally Hard To Modern Standards.

The sharpening, and maybe some decorative file-work, I'll do myself.

I'll talk to Ye Local Blacksmith about heat-treating, though I don't think it'll get treated hard enough to make drilling difficult. Knife-making's not really my thing, so I was just going to ask advice locally when I had the blade fabricated.

My plan for fitting is to just trace the outline I want on some cardstock, hand it over, and then make the handle to fit it (making the blade notches myself if needed).

I've done a (prototype, not production) antler comb before, so that part's not going to be a big problem.

Firehand said...

I love forging, especially blades. And authentic has a lot going for it.

Assuming my hands stop acting up so damn much when the weather evens out, I'm going to have to try one of those.