Thursday, May 14, 2015

Daggers pt. 1

After finishing my dagger (Another Knife Project: Dagger) 

I bought these two Western Boot Daggers. They are left-overs from when the Western Knife Factory in Longmont, Colorado closed down a few years back.
One is 8.25" long the other is 6.75" long.

They are stainless steel and made in the USA. Now I need to find some worthy scales to put on them.

 The factory finished knives looked like this:
The handles have "palm swells" and bulbous ends, it will be a challenge to duplicate

I also bought this dagger blank. It is also stainless (440C). it is 7 5/8" long with a 3 1/2" blade. I was quite surprised by the quality, very nice.

Here are the three daggers on my bench

I started with the coffin handle one, I decided to use Purple Heart on this one. Here is the wood being glued on with high strength epoxy resin.
After trying a few different brands of instant epoxy, I came across the JB weld brand. Called "Clear Weld", it cures quickly, makes a very tight bond and dries clear. Just what we want when attaching handles to knives.
 I decided I wanted to use pins on this handle, so I found some aluminum pins at the hardware store (wraps for chain link fences) and I drilled the side already glued on
 I then drilled two holes on the other side, drove the pins in and epoxied the second scale on.
I was impressed with how tough Purple Heart is, I broke two drill bits drilling through the wood.
The pins did not want to go in either, I may need to drill the holes slightly larger

I got the shape roughed out using a rasp, it goes faster if you go against the grain.

 Getting closer, I now used the 120 grit belt on the sander to get the metal and wood at the same level. Two words of caution:
#1. Purple Heart wood contains an element that is known to be a respiratory irritant, wear a good fitting dust mask and clean up everything with the shop vac when done
#2. Purple Heart, like Oak is very tough, so it resists sanding, this means you have to go slow or you will burn the wood and leave a stain, this is especially true when sanding against the grain
 Then I drilled the remaining holes, being careful not to break another drill bit.

Almost there

 Then I tried to drive in the remaining pins, I ended up using the vice to press them in. No need for epoxy, these aren't going anywhere
Here it is completed, I wanted to bring out the color of the purple heart wood, so I did some research.

It seams that if you heat purple heart, it brings out the "sap" in the wood that is responsible for the purple color, so I took my torch and let the flames lick the surface.
The sap left some sticky residue, so a light sanding with 1000 grit paper cleaned it up. It is now ready for the urethane
Here it is completed

In part two I will put matching handles on the Western boot the mean time I will be searching for some nice cocobolo or pau farro wood