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I Forge Iron

soldering on guards

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You don't have to give up on the solder if you still have some patience left :)

Soft solder flows to very clean fluxed surfaces. As mentioned you can put a coat of masking oil to help stop the solder running and touch the solder on the handle side. Use very small diameter solder or cut what you have and use a very small flame if you can, small propane tip works fine. Solder follows heat so heat the brass first and apply very little solder when at the right heat, feather the torch so as not to overheat the brass and slowly feather the torch to the blade and back to the gaurd until the solder just flows the joint. You can always add a bit of solder but it's hard to take back.

Not a Damascus guy but I hope this helps.


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Couple of different ideals is to use a carpenters pencil and mark where you do not want the solder. Solder will not stick to graphite. I also have some yellow ochre powder that you make a paste with and paint on areas you do not want the solder to go. it is available from Jantz Knife Supply.

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  • 4 weeks later...

This works.....

1. Fit the guard tightly.

2. Put a gel super glue on the blade side of the guard all the way around the blade (gel on the guard and the blade).

3. Let the super glue set.

4. Do your soldering, as usual, from the tang side.

5. Clean the super glue off with an appliance that doesn't mark the blade or guard.

6. Re-polish the blade and/or guard on the blade side as needed.

The photo below shows the results I had with the very first knives I made. Not perfect, but there is no solder on the blade side of the guards.


Edited by djhammerd
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I have tried about everything and found nothing that blocks solder from ruining a damascus blade. Damascus waits in your shop for years to suck up solder as fast as it can, you just give it the opportunity. If someone has a method that they have used succesfully I would love to learn about it.

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I did read the post and unless it is a quirk of the photo process there appears to line on the middle and bottom blades that looks as if they were lightened a bit from cleaning up the solder and or super glue. If that is just a reflection then you have done a wonderful job on a tricky process. I hot blue some of my damascus blades and that would not work. Thanks

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I have developed a way of cleaning up my blades and guards that works quite well, with very little disturbance to the finish of either the blade or guard. I've always been a little sloppy with my solder jobs but I use the cappillary draw method of soldering and when the solder starts, or even before it starts to show up at the face of the guard, I take a large very clean needle with only a soft point and dip it in the flux a little and start running that point along the guard/blade seam right after putting the heat to it and I can get the solder flowing after the needle point and I follow the point all the way around the seam working out any bubbles and flux inclusions, and once it's a solid solder line stop immedietly and let cool on its own. Once it's set up good but still hot, I'm impatient, cause I just gotta know if it's a good job or not, I take a tounge deppresor( I get them by the box from the local dentist)thats been sanded square and beveled to an edge on one end, and a small bit of fine bronze wool and I push the bronze wool into the seam with the edged stick and I can remove all but the finest hairline on solder at the seam leaving a nice appearance. Any runoff of solder can also be removed with this same method, and it will disturb even a high polish very little so that it's pretty easy to reestablish. Now on damascus this will work well too if the etch is not really really deep, and since I don't blue my damascus I cannot say what it will do but I know proffesional gun refinishers will use bronze wool to remove light corrosion on barrels and action without removing much of the bluing. hope this helps! Wes

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Rich Hale...

I might have mis-understood the beginning of this thread, but I intrepreted it as asking if there was a way to keep solder from running onto the blade.

I have almost zero experience with knife making, cleaning up or putting fine finishes on layered steel (or non-layered). I don't know all the methods that can be used to clean-up after something stains a guard or a knife, and I don't know at what point during the knifemaking process one would consider the finish finished.

What I do know is.... using the gel super glue keeps the solder from running down onto (or into) the knife blade when I solder a brass guard on.

There is.... indeed.... a very slight discoloration on the blade (and guard) where the super glue was. I'm assuming that it's there because I don't yet possess the skill or knowledge how to remove or polish it out. I doubt very much that the discoloration has permeated the metals far enough so that they cannot be removed by someone who has greater experience and skill than I.

I have to believe that somewhere in this universe of skilled craftsmen, the proper cleaning and finishing techniques and "order of process" exists that will eliminate that 'ever so slight' imperfection.

Hopefully they will be shared.

In any case..... Using the super glue kept my solder from running down onto the blades.

I learned the technique during a demonstration put on by Audra Draper, who is a nationally known bladesmith. I'm fairly sure acceptable blade finishes are compatible with using this technique.

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In point of fact she was, and I was standind right next to her when he did. She was a ranch hand of his, of sorts, any time anyone went to visit ED more often than not we ended up bailing hay or herding cows. I never minded at all as that's what I grew up doing. The reason I never adopted the super glue technique is that the stuff always bothered the hell out of my eyes, no matter how far away from it I was. It still needs clean up afterwards anyway, and Ed, nor Audra for that matter, usually did not solder on a completly finished guard, theirs were most always just rough blocks of brass that were shaped, sanded and polished, after it was soldered to the tang. Not saying thats backwards, just not the way alot of makers are doing it nowadays. WES

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