DRoberts

Completed, English Scalping Knife Replica 1750-1790

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img_0037.jpg?w=300img_0036.jpg?w=300img_0045.jpg?w=300img_0044.jpg?w=300img_0039.jpg?w=300img_0050.jpg?w=300

 

This piece was my very first commissioned work, as such I tried my best adhere to the dimensions, look and function of the item.
It’s a very hard blade with great flexibility, and it is very sharp.
This is also the first sheath I've ever attempted but I think it turned out ok.

 

Specs:
Steel: 9260
Length, Overall: 11.5”
Length, Blade: 7.5”
Length, Handle:4”
Width, Blade Edge: 1/8”
Width, Blade Max Width: 1.25”

Width, Handle: 1”

Taper, Distal: None, until the last .25”
Blade Edge: Taper Grind
Handle Material: Walnut, brass rod/tubing
Finish, Blade: Smithed look(unpolished very light sanding), boiling vinegar bath.
Finish, Handle: Walnut Danish oil
Quench: Vegetable oil full length of the blade and halfway up the handle
Temper: 45mins at 500F, dark yellow and light purple hues visible.
Sheath: Cow leather, black polish, wet soaked to knife shape, cooked in dehydrator.

 

Detailed post, more pics.

http://davidproberts.com/2014/01/02/blacksmithing-finished-english-scalping-knife/

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Do you happen to have a photo of the knife you replicated? I would be very interested to see it.

I have never seen a tube rivet in a blade of this time and place. Also I have never seen a blade that was not filed or ground bright. I am not saying it could not have happened but it would be a rare blade to be left as forged.

It would be fun to see a historical blade left ruff

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My son did French & Indian war re-enactments for a while and that was that era 1750-1760.  He was a French trooper as our family were Abernaki Indians and French ancestors.  Will have to see what he had for a knife, he researched it big time even made his own 1756 French Musket. Interesting stuff to make.   

 

Nice job

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I would guess the fist photo is the only original blade. It very much looks like it was scrubbed bright at one time. All the others have clearly been acid etched. While etching can produce a very attractive surface I do not believe it was a common used practice for knives of this time period.

I'm not trying to be rude. I am just trying to push accuracy for historical reproductions

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Hear Hear!  I run into that all the time with medieval work---people want it to look like the one in the museum that has 500+ years of wear and weathering when supposedly it was under a decade old when their "portrayal" occurred.

 

Had one fellow who wanted a high middle ages blade with 8 centuries of wear on it---I told him I'd make him an early migration era blade as that what would have had the "look" at the time he was interested in---totally unsuited for the styles of blades in the 13th century though....

 

I also get a lot of folks telling me that if it's old it must be crude---generally I show them the sutton hoo stuff and they get real quiet.

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I would guess the fist photo is the only original blade. It very much looks like it was scrubbed bright at one time. All the others have clearly been acid etched. While etching can produce a very attractive surface I do not believe it was a common used practice for knives of this time period.

I'm not trying to be rude. I am just trying to push accuracy for historical reproductions

you're fine nit pick all ya want for conversations sake. 

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If you call a horses tail a leg; how many legs does a horse have?  4: calling it a leg doesn't make it a leg!  

 

Some of us are hoping you can get a head start on making things historically accurate without the decade of two we floundered around.  You already have a good grasp of knifemaking and many a neotribal smith would be happy to claim that blade as their work.  If you had presented it as a modern piece here you would have probably been knee deep in kudos; even so only a few curmudgeons will comment on how to improve the next one.

 

And yes you often have to bend to the historical inaccuracies of the client---but educating them can be part of working on a commission too.

 

Have you seen: 

Collecting Indian Knives: Identification and Values;  by Hothem, Lar 

 

 it mainly deals with a later time period but with your location it might come in handy.  I'm currently hoarding a chunk of real 1828 steel waiting on the guy who wants an *authentic* fur trade blade replica and is willing to pay for it to be done using no modern equipment or materials, (got some oak that has been air drying for 200+ years too)  won't be fancy, just *right*!

 

BTW when are they going to move the state capitol back?  (My mother's from down near Altus, Jackson County is what we put down for her birthplace; I live and worked in the oilpatch and started smithing in OKC around 32 years ago; moved on to an apprenticeship with a swordmaker in AR after the bust of 1983)

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If you call a horses tail a leg; how many legs does a horse have?  4: calling it a leg doesn't make it a leg!  

 

Some of us are hoping you can get a head start on making things historically accurate without the decade of two we floundered around.  You already have a good grasp of knifemaking and many a neotribal smith would be happy to claim that blade as their work.  If you had presented it as a modern piece here you would have probably been knee deep in kudos; even so only a few curmudgeons will comment on how to improve the next one.

 

And yes you often have to bend to the historical inaccuracies of the client---but educating them can be part of working on a commission too.

 

Have you seen: 

Collecting Indian Knives: Identification and Values;  by Hothem, Lar 

 

 it mainly deals with a later time period but with your location it might come in handy.  I'm currently hoarding a chunk of real 1828 steel waiting on the guy who wants an *authentic* fur trade blade replica and is willing to pay for it to be done using no modern equipment or materials, (got some oak that has been air drying for 200+ years too)  won't be fancy, just *right*!

 

BTW when are they going to move the state capitol back?  (My mother's from down near Altus, Jackson County is what we put down for her birthplace; I live and worked in the oilpatch and started smithing in OKC around 32 years ago; moved on to an apprenticeship with a swordmaker in AR after the bust of 1983)

 

so is it the brass tube that you don't favor? the only thing i wasnt particularly happy with was the sheath. might remake it with more native american tones.

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Oddly enough, I thought the sheath was an awesome addition that really gave it more of a historical look.  Scalping knives and the like were usually nothing more than kitchen knives re-branded, as it were, and they didn't come with sheaths.  So, the end user had to make their own sheath...... which is exactly what you've done.  For your first, I think is very nice and it has that look of a "first sheath" - and that makes it even more fitting for the period.

 

The blade shape is spot on, imo.  I like the finish and can imagine the knife rusting quickly while out in the weather all the time.  Yes, they were made to a fine finish and sold "bright", but what did they look like after a year on a woodsman's belt?

 

Even if coated with bear fat or possum grease to protect it from the elements, it would have had a hard life and I don't doubt the patina would develop quickly 

 

The lanyard tube really sticks out and throws of the historical look.  But on the upside it also makes it look like something other than an modified Old Hickory carving knife from the local supermarket.

 

Overall, two thumbs up.  

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thats 3 out of 3 against the tube, it comes out this evening and i'll remake the handle. i still have the weekend before i give it to the guy.

 

i went with the vinegar bath while forge-dirty in an attempt at the "old' look, but i was toying with another idea i'll run by you guys. i thought it might be possible to dunk the entire blade in molten wax and manually carve out little pits all over before hanging it suspended in muriatic acid. (no idea how long it would take, till now i've only used vinegar. i setup an acid bath tube in the shop and filled it with muriatic this week so i have the option if needed.) the method of making the spots look random is what leaned me away from it. some kind of spikey roller tool might do it, like the stitching wheel used in leather working, but an inch wide. 

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I would not change the blade. Still a fine looking knife and will probably work nicely for years.

I really am not trying to be disparaging. I am always happy to see people working for nicer items on this site. I very much want to see the knowledge of this site go higher and higher. A rail road spike blade is fine to play with on a first forging attempt but we have probably seen a few hundred on here. I am just sharing the little information I know in hopes that it improves someone's forging tomorrow. I have been given good critiicysem here and it has made me a better smith

Aging a personal Item is not hard if you are only going for the looks of it being used for a short time. Like the person bought it a few years ago. Just finish the item as if it was brand new, then start cutting acidic things with it, leave it outside a week or so. A good brown rust will start quickly.

Personally I think the item would be best sold brand new. The knife will discolor from actual use quickly if the person does no matinanc. I love to see all the hand tools around Colonial Williamsburg. Most of them range from new to 25 years old. For the most part they are cared for, but they still show a lively patina from real use daily.

For this knife I think the tube rivet and the un-filed surface is what seems off for me. A as forged item left to rust and a filed bright item left to rust look very different.

Sell your knife and make some money! But next time some one asks for a colonial English knife you will know a little more about them.

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The "rough from the forge" and tube are what  throw me off. It might have been left rough filed, but not hammer rough. Our perceptions of what is proper are often coloured by the Arts&Crafts movement of the early 1900's which celebrated leaving in tooling marks to show it was "hand made".  (For medieval swords I point out that they were generally a top of the socioeconomic ladder items and would you expect your Ferrari to arrive from the dealership with a crudely hammered body?)

 

I like the blade shape and the handle shape and the pins.  The bevel could go further up the side of the blade. 

 

Starting with a bright blade I would not do more than perhaps the mustard patina trick; *unless* I was trying to make a piece look artifically old---ie a "fake artifact".  Even so natural patination generally looks better than artificial.  The fellow originally using that blade wouldn't have had pits in it; it would have looked more like my grandmother's kitchen knives: dark slightly mottled patina, edges shining as they were kept *sharp*.  For a "fake artifact" I would add in the handle wear, (find and old butcher knife and duplicate how it's handle is worn)

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For a "fake artifact" I would add in the handle wear, (find and old butcher knife and duplicate how it's handle is worn)

i was thinking as long as im redoing the handle i'll toy with grain raising with a blow torch and steel wool. 

 

as for selling the item new, the knife will probably never be used and is destined to be a part of a costume, maybe unsheathed to show it to people who ask about it once or twice a year. aged look was important to the owner. 

 

i'll post pics of modifications from community input this weekend.

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DR,

 

I like your rendition and wouldn't mind dressing out a deer with it...but like Thomas, I think the brass tube is not accurate from a period perspective.  The finish could be argued either way - forged, filed, stoned, etc. all could have been viable.

 

Many of these trade knives were sharpened on one side only.  I've read that was the practice because the blades were often case hardened so a single bevel was the only way to keep them sharp.  I like to see those types of details that are not apparent to the average person.

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Bottom  line as I see it...you made a  nice knife and tailored it to fit the new owner. It is yours to change or not. The next knife you make may be quite different to suit its new owner. Do your best at it also. 

There have been some very interesting comments on this thread. I am impressed that you took them as they were given.. in a helpful way. 

Any time I can be of help private message me. 

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Bottom  line as I see it...you made a  nice knife and tailored it to fit the new owner. It is yours to change or not. The next knife you make may be quite different to suit its new owner. Do your best at it also. 

There have been some very interesting comments on this thread. I am impressed that you took them as they were given.. in a helpful way. 

Any time I can be of help private message me. 

 

Thanks Rich. I definitely want to change the tube thing. It didn't even cross my mind at the time I put it in. This knife is really the first one I've made that I wasn't ashamed to show to people and I want to really nail it.

 

A co-worker of mine said at lunch that they think muriatic acid will turn steel a bright clean shine instead of black as I just assumed it would, can someone chime in on that for me I've yet to use mine, picked up a gallon 2 days ago. If that's right I could try the wax coating idea and go from the muriatic bath strait to boiling vinegar to turn the fabricated corrosion pits dark and the rest of the blade not so dark as it melts the wax off.  

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Hydrochloric wont color it much,  Ferric Chloride will darken it more.

learn something new every day, i had no idea muriatic = hydrochloric. just had to look that up.

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OK "fake artifact"   and BTW there is no judgement in that description; it's just a description of what we sometimes get asked to do.  Sometimes a museum will ask for a piece to round out a display for example.

 

For my most accurate "fakes"  I like to take wire solder and inlet the date in the inside side of the handle scale---undetectable unless X-Rayed which is a typical thing done when examining a piece that may be real or a very good fake.

 

I sometimes get a rather dicey commission and if they are adamant about me not putting the date anywhere visible and not putting my mark on it I'll do it that way.  Unfortunately these usually pay the best as most folks won't pay for 2 hundred year old steel and wood and all hand methods in the work.  I do refuse to stamp other people's marks even if they have been dead 400+ years!

 

As for aging the blade burying in a manure pile is rather traditional but be sure you TEST the process first to avoid "metal lace".

There are some tricks using coarse salt to create pitting in conjunction with other compounds too.

 

Do look at how old used blade handles wear and try to reproduce it; perhaps a bit of distressing too---old burn or cut worn down smooth

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just gave the knife to the owner, he's super happy. he says he's been showing pictures to his other re-enactment buddies - they want price quotes for several more knives similar to this one and by the sound of it are very eager to get them made.

 

all in all a good first experience at making something and getting paid for it, a milestone for me at the least. Thanks for the community input on making it (more) historically accurate.

 

final pic of the handle redo.

eskfinal.jpg?w=335&h=400

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Ok, forgive my naive-ness, but I have a question. Is this for someone pretending to be an Englishman pretending to scalp native Americans?

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Ok, forgive my naive-ness, but I have a question. Is this for someone pretending to be an Englishman pretending to scalp native Americans?


I don't anything about the end customer in this particular equation but "scalping" knives were a common trade item between Europeans and Amerind tribes. I should think a Huron warrior would readily trade in a stone knife for a fine steel one...even if furs were the unit of exchange.

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