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Damascus question


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Hey guys, I am new here. I heard about this forum from Thomas Powers. A few weeks ago, I picked up a nice chunk of steel from him to make an improvised anvil. I hope to get into forging, but so far I am cutting my teeth on stock removal. I purchased a nice Damascus blank off of eBay for this bushcraft knife that I am making. I've profiled the blank, ground the bevel and heat treated the knife so far. I cleaned it up after heat treating, and etched the blade for a bit. So, now I am ready to work on the handle. I was just going to epoxy and pin the scales and then shape them to fit, but it occurred to me that if I take that route, I will lose the Damascus pattern on the spine when I sand the wood to match the knife blank. I can't imagine trying to re-etch the spine after gluing on the sides.

So I am thinking that I should pin the wood sides to the knife dry, sand and profile the handle, then drive the pins out (hoping not to get any blow out on the face of the wood). Then I would re-etch the spine, end and belly(not sure the right term) of the handle portion, and finally epoxy the scales on.

Does this make sense? Is there another better process? 

Thanks for any tips you have!


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Well as you have already guessed doing all the set up work on the handle before etching the blade is suggested.

Corby bolts can be used and are removable up until you grind them down to the handle sides and so lose the screw driver slots.

Re-etching the tang is what you are thinking of and should work; but it's hard to get a nice transition to previously etched areas. good masking can make the transition less obvious.

Editing your profile to include a general location can help as many smithing questions have a location component.

As do some suggestions; like:   Don't forget I'll have a forge at the St Luke's Country Fair Oct 7; they kids might like the Dachshund races there too!

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Thanks Thomas,

I did put the location in my profile before I posted, but I guess it didn't take. I just did it again and it is showing now. I suppose if I end up with a noticeable transition, I can sand the blade again and re-etch the whole thing.

Thanks for the invite. I have it on my calendar. Hopefully we can make it out there.


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Who's this Thomas Powers fellow...never heard of him Hahaha.:D

I've done a few Damascus knives with handle scales. Some I've left the spine without any pattern and others I've carefully made it show.....some I've blended in so that its smooth in between the scales but blends back to pattern.

Its all down to preference, what looks best for the blade and maybe what a customer wants.

The ones I've made the pattern show. I got the scales shaped 90% towards the patterned spine and then very carefully hand finished the scales, trying not to touch the spine. Finer paper helps as it not going to effect the pattern too much. If you do over touch the spine it is possible to etch, again very carefully, with a fine paintbrush for etchant and neutralizer. Finishing the scales first with a sealant and masking off helps save any nasty marks on them.

Also....Nice looking blade so far! 

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Hi genesaika,

Yes, I think it is best to shape and then etch, but that means you need to take the handle apart after shaping the scales. I worry about damaging the wood when driving the pins out to disassemble it. I think my plan is to shape the scales, but leave the pins a bit proud to minimize that problem. I would then have to grind them flush after gluing up the handles.

My biggest issue is that I misplaced the brass rod stock that I ordered, so I am dead in the water until I find it!

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