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The Folding Knife Forum Materials, techniques and the designing of Folders.

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  #1  
Old 03-05-2007, 08:53 AM
rebglass rebglass is offline
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mammoth ivory scales

I have a beautiful pair of mammoth ivory scales that I picked up at the Arkansas Knifemakers Show in early Feb. I want to use them on a medium to large single blade saddlehorn trapper. The scales need quite a lot of thinning and I'm looking for advice on how best to do this. I have only worked with this material once or twice and haven't had to do this much machining of the material before - I understand that it's very heat sensitive.
Thanks.
Rebecca
  #2  
Old 03-05-2007, 09:04 AM
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Ray Rogers Ray Rogers is offline
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Yes, it is heat sensitive. Work slow and use sharp tools (fresh belts, drills, etc). Obviously, you already know the thickness has to be reduced from the back side to preserve the appearance of the outer surface...


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Old 03-05-2007, 09:07 AM
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Smile Hi, Reb

I'm going to have the same problem. I just received an order for a fancy folder with blue mammoth scales.

The only advise I can give is to make a finger hold on the good side using a folded tape. Use your disk sander with 50 grit disk to rough it down. The rougher the grit the less heat is caused. Never dip it in water to cool it.

I added a foot control made for a jig saw to my disk sander so I can stop and start it with my foot. That allows me to get the part against the disk flat, then start the sander. The same holds true for stopping. Let the disk come to a stop before removing the part.

Another advantage is that you can hold the part with both hands and operate the machine with your foot.
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Old 03-05-2007, 12:55 PM
rebglass rebglass is offline
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Yup, I have my disk sander set up with the foot pedal so I can start and stop with the part flat against the disk. I'm thinking, though that my grinder, which has a variable speed motor, might be better. Provided I use a new 60 grit. I had also considered doing a groove down the middle to take off material - like with tapering a tang - and then flattening on the flat platen and then by hand. Just trying to think of a way to take the most material off and keep the heat down at the same time.
I will move my water bucket to the other side of the shop so I don't dunk the piece from habit.
Rebecca
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Old 03-05-2007, 02:14 PM
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Yes, I agree. Whichever machine you use, by all means flat sand them by hand later.
  #6  
Old 03-05-2007, 05:03 PM
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Bill Vining Bill Vining is offline
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I make many folders with Mammoth Ivory and have to thin almost every piece. I usually take a small block of wood and attach some double sticky back tape to it. I then attach the mammoth piece with the bottom side out. This makes holding the piece a bit easier and keeps your hands away from the belts or disks. Very sharp belts will take of quite a bit of material real fast. If the piece starts to heat up, I use a small plate of aluminum as a quench plate. I just hold the piece down on the aluminum and it draws the heat out. I do this to keep the piece as cool as possible. As with other replies, you don't want the piece to get hot. You will not notice it right away but it will eventually start to stress and crack. Once I get the piece real close to it's final size, I soak it in Nelsonite for a day or two to seal it all up. They use Nelsonite to seal pool cues and Ive always had good luck with it. You can find smaller quantities of it at Ellis Knife Works.
http://refractory.elliscustomknifeworks.com/


Hope this helps

Bill


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Old 03-05-2007, 07:07 PM
rebglass rebglass is offline
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I've never heard of Nelsonite. I will check it out. I bought a set of Paleo Bond stuff tat I thought I would fill the cracks with. Is that a good idea? Suggestions about how to use it?
Rebecca
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Old 03-05-2007, 07:47 PM
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Heat build up from grinding doesn't ruin ivory. It makes it move and so it's hard to get it flat. I use a large piece of aluminum for a heat sink when I have to thin ivory. Grind, set it on the aluminum to draw away heat, grind again, repeat. RB Johnson told me a few years back if it is too hot to touch it to your lips or tip of your nose, it's too hot. I've lots count how many times I've used this as a test. Silly but it works.
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Old 03-05-2007, 07:57 PM
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I never used Paleo bond. I do hear it is what the museums use so I am assuming it is top notch. When I have very small cracks, I sometimes fill them with Super Glue. Sometimes I just leave them. It gives the piece a bit of character.

Tracy,
I use that heat test all time. Somtimes your fingertips are just not sensitive enough.

Bill


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Old 03-05-2007, 08:08 PM
jim graham jim graham is offline
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Don, I'm fairly new and would like you to cover why ivory should not be cooled by water dipping.

Thanks in advance! Jim

P.S. Is it alright to buff . I'v got a blue set and a bark set to work when I gain enough knowledge and nerve.
  #11  
Old 03-05-2007, 08:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jim graham
Don, I'm fairly new and would like you to cover why ivory should not be cooled by water dipping.

Thanks in advance! Jim

P.S. Is it alright to buff . I'v got a blue set and a bark set to work when I gain enough knowledge and nerve.

I understand that it will absorb water. The others can probably give you more good reasons not to cool it in water. They probably have more experience with it than I do. I wouldn't use it if it was my choice. I don't like the look of it. MOP is more to my taste.

i don't believe it will hurt to buff it, but be careful and don't get it hot. Buffing creates heat fast.
  #12  
Old 03-05-2007, 09:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jim graham
Don, I'm fairly new and would like you to cover why ivory should not be cooled by water dipping.

Thanks in advance! Jim

P.S. Is it alright to buff . I'v got a blue set and a bark set to work when I gain enough knowledge and nerve.

ivory moves quite a bit simply sitting in a room with humidity changes. dipping it while grinding is going to swell the ivory so it may be flat when wet but when it dries to room humidity, it will shrink and change shape....
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Old 03-05-2007, 11:48 PM
Frank Niro Frank Niro is offline
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I thin the ivory down some using a NEW 60 grit belt, place it in a jar that has a rubber seal lid, of Min Wax Wood hardener to cover the ivory but with some space left ; place it close to a heater; bring it up to boiling and then tighten the lid. Much care in the heating and bottle handling when closing the lid. I leave this for two days at least. It will be vacuum sealed of course. I start the sizing and fitting as soon as I get it out of the bottle or if you do several sets any time after. You will find it works better doen't move near as much and even gets you a better finish on the ivory. Frank


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Old 03-06-2007, 05:25 AM
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Yes you can buff Mammoth Ivory. Just make sure there are no open pores or tiny cracks. They will fill in with buffing compound. I normally hand sand to 1200 grit then buff with green chrome rouge followed by a blue rouge made for plastics. It comes out looking like glass.

Bill


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Old 03-06-2007, 07:19 AM
rebglass rebglass is offline
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Wow, it's scary to think of subjecting this material to such extremes of heat. Will the stabilizing process not affect the color? I can just see all the pretty blues chipping off and the whole thing turning dark....
I have done quite a bit of pickling, just not of mammoth ivory!
Seriously, though, does this alter the color or increase the vulnerability to fracture along crack lines?
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