View Full Version : Casting Aluminium knife handles?

Ed Fowler
09-30-2006, 10:45 AM
Have you done it? or Does anyone have an links to check it out?

09-30-2006, 07:55 PM
I have always wanted to try a dip method for cast handles. Just like how you make candles by dipping the wick but dipping the tang instead. Each dip would add a layer of molten metal which would end up looking like a very fat version of the tang. If you quenched it after each dip then you would have very little heat migration into the blade. You could even use the dipping as a tempering for the hardened blade, that is if you could monitor and manage the temps accurately.

One more project to add to my allready lengthy "to do" list.

Robert Mayo
10-01-2006, 07:04 AM
Ed i know nothing about it but you can check out this site, it might help.

Ed Fowler
10-01-2006, 09:44 AM
Thanks Robert: He has a lot of good ideas, simple and looks like they work!

10-01-2006, 11:14 AM
I have been interested in casting some handles also, ala Murphy combat style. Hope this thread turns up some good info. I have melted some pop cans in lead ladle on my charcoal forge. I got a vegetable can full of play sand and stuck a dowel down into it and cast a butt cap. I would like to go further.

10-01-2006, 12:34 PM
I've been casting for while now both sand and investment and have recently started doin ceramic shell casting. I do mostly bronze but if there anything I can help with let me know.

PS don't melt aluminum cans it's not worth it you end up with so much slag.

My Setup

Brad Stilley

Doug Lester
10-04-2006, 08:54 PM
I got a couple of books on metal work and casting and it looks like it would be easy to go cheap on this, ala "$50 Knife Shop". For investment casting, cans with both ends cut out could be used for the flasks (make sure that they are steel) and it looks like one could cobble the copes and drags for sand casting from some scrap mild steel and JB Weld for a lot less than what is sold commercially. Heck, they can even be made out of wood.

My idea is to make a model out of pewter by the wax loss method and then using the sand casting technique to produce the item out of bronze, aluminum, steel or what ever. I just have to make sure that the way that I make the model or position it in the mold won't pull the sand appart when I remove it before casting the piece. Casting sand is not that expensive and the ponce (the powder that is applied to allow one to pull the cope and drag appart and remove the model without wrecking the sand impression) can be nothing more that baby powder wrapped up in a handkerchef to allow you to dust it out over the sand. I just want to get a book that deals with sand casting in a little more depth than anything that I have.

Doug Lester

10-04-2006, 10:04 PM
Doug I have such a book called "Green Sand Casting". We've moved 3 times since I last saw it, but I don't throw anything away. I'll sure try and find it. I did a little Aluminum, bronze, and cast iron (HOT!) casting. My brother in law helped me pour the flask in the cast iron pour. Just as we were done pouring, we looked down and noticed that our shoelaces and tennis shoes were on fire and melting. Everyone said we looked rather odd running around in the front yard looking for a hose that was in the back yard :O)
Finally found one. I need to pull all of that equipment out one of these days, it was a lot of fun, but a bit dangerous to say the least.

Ed Fowler
10-04-2006, 10:44 PM
Thank you gentlemen, this just keeps getting more interesting! Thanks for the thoughts and please keep them coming.

10-04-2006, 11:30 PM
Brad that knife is incredible! Knives like that make me curse being born left brained. I have no artistic talent, my seven year old daughter can allready draw better then I can. That is my biggest impediment in bladesmithing, comming up with artistic designs. All I can do is change or modify something I have allready seen. It seems that if you are artistic that you have allready conquered 90% of bladesmithing.

I have to be at peace with knowing that I can make a blade that cuts and holds an edge aside from being an eyesore.

Great work! Show us more!

10-05-2006, 10:03 PM
Thanks for the compliment. I don't really consider myself artistic. I can't draw worth a bean. But I do have a wife who is really tallented and a huge help in putting down on paper what I have in my head.

Now for my dirty little secret I "carve" a lot of my original models on a cnc machine that I built. I hand carve a lot of stuff but at heart I'm a computer guy so I sit there a lunch with my laptop and "draw" knife designs. I so far hand forge/grind m blade but I did just pickup a Bridgeport Knee mill that I'll convert to CNC and at that point who knows.

Unfortionately I'm just a weekend warrior and will be out of town the next two weekends. But I'll try to at least ram up a sand mold and video/photo it.

I've never cast a complete handle. Are we talking about those combat style knives with the brass knuckles built in. Show me a pic and I'll try to set up something specific. The only thing I cant figure are the handle cast separately and the blade epoxied/pinned on. Or do I pack the blade into the sand and poor the metal around it. Then heat-treat.

other good casting site for sandcasting

Any body in Southern California let's get together for a hands on.

Attached new celtic design machined in butter board ready to make a mold to cast


10-05-2006, 10:58 PM
Saw a post mentioning how much slag you'll get with beer cans. Did some work years ago for a major beer company and got to know a bit about their can making process. The cans are aluminum, with a thin plastic coating on the inside and some ink on the outside. The TOP of the beer can is an alloy of aluminum and magnesium. Recyclers use chlorine to remove the magnesium - NOT something I'd recommend for the home user. Point is that you can cut out the tops and avoid the magnesium problem.

10-05-2006, 11:50 PM
I didn't realize the tops were a Al/Mg alloy. I may have to collect some tops for some casting experiements. Ground up that would be a great thermite fuel. It would probably light at a lower temp the 3K.

10-06-2006, 03:12 AM

I have done a fair bit of casting at home,bronze ,cast iron and aluminium.a good source for aluminium is the car scrap yard ,Mazda rotory engine blocks melt and cast well.
On the subject of casting books ,there is a book called THE METAL CASTERS BIBLE,AUTHOR C W AMMEN.this is a good book on casting.

I use fine sand mixed with sodium silicate which is then gassed with carbon dioxide {food grade} to harden up the sand.I use this for all metals.


11-21-2006, 05:32 PM
Hey Ed.......Isn't the Ruana shop kinda close to you? They have been doing that as long as anyone.

Ed Fowler
11-21-2006, 07:17 PM
They are in Montana, I plan on visiting their shop one day. I am sure they have worked out the bugs. Thanks for the information.
Take Care

11-21-2006, 10:18 PM
They are in Montana, I plan on visiting their shop one day. I am sure they have worked out the bugs. Thanks for the information.
Take Care
I saw an article on how they do their handles a number of years ago and it was fascinating. They use clay molds and just stick the tang in a slot cut into the molds. All of the aluminum handles have the slots cut out for the handle slabs, so all they have to do is clean up the alumuminum and attach the slabs, snad them down, buff and voila! a completed handle. If I recall correctly, they drill a hole or two like we all do in the tang and the molten aluminum flows into the hole making a "monolithic handle pin" own term....quaint, ain't it? lol. I don't remember how they did the pinning of the slabs., but i would thinkk that you could have pin holes in the mold so you could just peen them over once you got the slabs on. The whole process was really a pretty ingenious technique IMHO and they used it on all of their knives except for the big bowies that got regular round stag handles.

Ed Fowler
11-21-2006, 10:32 PM
I have a theater knife made my Rudy in 1938, double ground and it is one beautiful knife. He case the guard on the blade, then elk antler slabs and a pommel that was cast seperately. Rudy was ahead of his time with this one, he knew very well how to design a great knife. Every aspect of the geometry of the blade speaks to function.

11-22-2006, 07:42 AM
I have a theater knife made my Rudy in 1938, double ground and it is one beautiful knife. He case the guard on the blade, then elk antler slabs and a pommel that was cast seperately. Rudy was ahead of his time with this one, he knew very well how to design a great knife. Every aspect of the geometry of the blade speaks to function.
I have never owned a Ruana, but it is one of the knives that is on my short list. I really like the look of the Lewis and Clark commenmorative that they did recently. Althought Rudy and his descendants never were as popular in the mainstream culture as Randall (I would gues primairluy because they never courted the military market like Bo did) for many a year, when I thought of high quality forged blades, there name was on my short list, along with Randall, Bill Moran and Bill Bagwell. I guess the Rudy and the family have been perfectly happy making th number of knives they make the way they want to make them and that's ok with me too.:)

08-13-2007, 11:12 PM
Dear metal casters,, I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned the book company called, "Lindsay Publications",, they print out a cheapy catalog, about 3 times a year, full of do-it-yourself stuff, lots of metal casting books ect., lots of authors. Do a "google" search, it will come up! -----Jon