Rojo Pedro

Dirk build - step by step

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My brother in law is competing at the world championship of the Scottish Highland games this year in sunny Tucson and I want to forge a dirk to present to him at the games for luck. 

I have a rough plan as shown below and will update this post as I progress. I need to have it and a scabbard done by the 1st weekend November. 

Any and all advise and/or criticism is welcome for I know not what I do - Wish me luck and thanks for looking

1C8FC78A-2210-4CB9-8E85-FCA93E432F18.jpeg.2dc8486522a8a2095190f2dfc66dccd1.jpeg

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Cool project. One word of advice (and not bladesmithing advice, which I'm not really qualified to give): check with the organizers about whether or not blades are allowed. You don't want the impact of a meaningful gift to be undercut by having it confiscated before he has to compete.

That said, I like both the idea and your sketch.

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Not a lot of time to forge but made a bit of progress.  Lot of material in these rasps

I left the bulge in the tang for my favorite tongs to grab. Should be able get some work in this weekend. 17642CD4-ED87-4F2D-BC78-C8A46143CD2C.jpeg.682ddb7d58bbe4b7131f5f9834ffaa37.jpeg

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Promising start.  A couple of suggestions:

  1. Make sure you grind away or carefully forge in (with no cold shunts) any file teeth near the edge, spine or perimeter of the tang of your dirk.  These stress risers will be deadly in the quench.
  2. Save the excess steel from the tang to test your heat treatment process
  3. From the little research I've done, a typical dirk maximum thickness would be on the order of  at least 1/4".  I'm not sure if you can get that from your file as it stands.
  4. If your drawing is proportional your handle looks a bit long for a traditional dirk (7 1/2" is a very long handle), of course you are certainly free to "modernize" the design to your liking.
  5. If you are going to hot punch the wrought for the tang opening, be careful to work it very hot.  It has a real tendency to split.
  6. Strongly recommend making two at a time so you have a backup in case something goes south.  Have you made many long knives?
  7. A little filework on the spine is traditional and pretty easy to add.
  8. How are you planning on adding the narrow fuller?
  9. You might consider having a fallback plan for a small sgian-dubh.  Lots easier to make a shorter blade and might be more acceptable to the event organizers.

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Re #5: Wrought drills and files easily, so that may be both faster and safer.

Re #9: Bladesmiths don't make mistakes; they just make smaller knives.

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Thanks for the suggestions Latticino,

1. Will do   2. Very good idea and will do   3. It is right at a 1/4” now, I may try to upset it a bit in my vise.  4. My BIL has hams for hands but it is a bit long   5. Drill for sure, my few experiments with WI have had mixed results   6. Next time   7. Will do     8. I was thinking carefully with a cut off wheel but I might try hot chisel   9. Back up plan is Laphroig :-)

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I second the warning about the teeth. Grind deeper then you first intend to get down below them.

As to heat treating. The materials guy at Nicholson told me that the best files were their machinist's files and the wood files and rasps were a lower grade of steel due to wood and hooves not being that hard. When I asked about heat treating he just said, treating it like W-1 would be a good plan.

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Got a bit of forge time this afternoon. Real close to the profile I'm looking for. 

977AA98B-55D3-42B5-91CE-F3DF803C3938.thumb.jpeg.1821e67ff286de46d59563dcf429551e.jpeg

the spine is just under a 1/4” and the edge is at 1/8”

E2B7E72C-BD9F-48D2-B860-B99BC6C8E2FD.jpeg.c6f93271623ddfd4e96e0b8596b92106.jpeg

i tried to flatten my WI bolt head but it started to crack. Should be enough for the end

60195BF2-3AA1-4D5C-9682-762F206F31B7.thumb.jpeg.92b174bed29c9a64207e6c7cdb423195.jpeg

hope to get the forging done this weekend and do some grinding. So far so good. Thanks for looking

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Thanks Chris,

got the forging done and I’m pretty happy with it so far. 

85000103-71E0-49DB-BD55-484D05E2E52D.thumb.jpeg.266f7fa6f2f73f0a30c34b2c3c0ef259.jpeg

had a little mishap at the forge. 

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the spine is a hair under 1/4” so I want to be careful with my grinder.

F423FEFF-ABB1-4C14-9F34-D1C7CD3C830B.jpeg.ba9557418bbba2a4a78ee391b4f63150.jpeg

more to come. Thanks for looking

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Thanks rhitee

did some grinding and filing this weekend but didnt post. Also cut a piece of white oak for the handle. So far so good

06116721-5B1D-4C15-AF67-FB502A967A32.jpeg.a683172fde41d9361580fe7f1b51feb5.jpeg

Spent a couple hours after work the last couple nights drilling, burning and filing. 
EC5BA502-02D6-4785-849F-EEC093D30EAB.jpeg.574357a4aee5676694db9f8953f86416.jpeg
 

its going well except the tang is wider in the middle than at the blade and I over filed it which made these gaps that I dont like. I may do some more grinding and forge another one this weekend but I might live with it due to time

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thanks for looking

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Before you resort to reforging the guard, if it is truly made of wrought, or even mild steel, you may be able to carefully chase the opening back in using hand held chisels and butchers.  The top and bottom surface will  get irregular, but that can be incorporated into the design on one side and hidden by the handle on the other.  This can even be done with the guard in-place, using a post vise (work from back first), but unless your blade is completely finished, I would fix the taper on the tang first so you can get it off.

Another option, after you have your tang ground to a proper taper, would be to heat the guard up and hit it on end to squeeze in the opening.  Then you can hot fit the guard to the blade tang (blade point down in a post vise, held tightly at the ricasso.  Heat guard up and force down onto tang using a steel pipe of the correct diameter and hammer.  Needless to say, work fast to avoid ruining the blade heat treatment).  See this Nick Rossi video for details: 

 

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One thing to note is the various ways tsuba were fitted to differing blades in Japan. I have seen examples of chasing and even inlaying of metal to make them fit; so not an unknown proplem/process.  For that big a gap I would probably heat the piece and squeeze in in a large postvise or screw press with a rounded top and bottom die to focus the pressure, then reheat and drift. Perhaps a large masonry nail could be formed into a proper sized drift. 

Masonry nails can also be used to make chasing tools.  For softer metals I might go around the slot with a small chisel to mark a line and then repeat with a rounded end one to push the material inward.

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Or make some brass inserts to fill the gaps.  Could also silver solder the guard to the blade and let the silver fill the gaps.

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Solder does not tend to work as a filler unless you can put a backing on the piece and melt a puddle into that space.   Real, "hard", silver solder is pretty expensive. The low temp silver bearing solders like Stay-Brite, which is over 95% tin are much cheaper to work with but not as strong as well.

When you get down to it; just remaking a simple the guard might be easiest!

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Good ideas but I think i will do a little grinding and make another guard
 

Finished shaping and threading the end and am real happy with how tight it clamps everything together. 

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also started shaping the handle. Happy so far. 
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Got a bit of work in on saturday

FD744058-D7F7-488C-A315-4FEFA473FAE3.jpeg.bc9322e2bf3245200e6d0826a1622309.jpeg
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Got lot done today including some last grinding

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Happy with the handle and put a first coat of linseed oil. Pretty much just need to heat treat, come up with some kind of nut for the end and a sheath. Times ticking away

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getting close. A little scared to heat treat. The coupons you see are from the tang. One quenched in water and one in oil. The water quenched one is harder for sure. Im going to put them in the toaster oven now. See what happens. Am not going to put a blood groove. Thanks for looking

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Mr. R. Pedro,

Has said,

  "...come up with some kind of nut for the end... ).

Have you considered and acorn nut for that purpose?

Just  a stray thought,

SLAG. 

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I have for last resort. I really want to make one. Thinking of using a piece if 1/2” coil spring to make a blunt cone, drill tap and grind some flats

As always, Thanks for your thoughts

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I feel a successful test of my heat treat.
I tempered at 400 for 2 hours and it only really got light straw which I find interesting because other steels I have done the same temp in same oven get dark straw even peacocky purple.

The water quenched one broke easily with a couple blows, the oil quenched one would not break until I hit it very hard and then it broke where it was clamped in the vise. 

I will  quench in oil

900ADE11-3D59-44C7-A60A-9E6739ACB58C.jpeg.b5d306fe93500b5cc2e09f13e3345cdb.jpeg

water quenched on top

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FE03A052-4E9B-4137-B08A-8D952E86FB90.thumb.jpeg.4f084dd76dfafea281c1e5cfb7f4ca37.jpeg

Interesting grain structure. Water quenched looks a lot tighter than oil. 

maybe water with a higher temper?

 

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A higher temper temperature is a good idea, the steel is expected to be brittle after a good quenching, the temper relaxes the steel

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