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The Outpost This forum is dedicated to all who share a love for, and a desire to make good knives, and have fun doing it. We represent a diverse group of smiths and knifemakers who bring numerous methods to their craft.

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  #1  
Old 05-19-2001, 10:07 AM
MaxTheKnife
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Hidden tang knife handle drilling method


While at school I learned (finally!) how to get an accurate hole drilled in your handle material for a hidden tang knife handle.

You can use this on a standard drill press or a blacksmiths post drill. Take a piece of 3/8" all thread and sharpen it to a point on one end. The length will vary with your particular press. Mount the length of all thread in the center hole of your press table using nuts and washers on both sides of the table to secure it.

Now, allign the drilling head with a drill bit in it so the tips of both meet when the drill bit is lowered all the way to the bottom of the press travel. Make sure to lower your table to accomodate the full travel of the drill bit so you can drill as far into the handle as possible on the first go. It's best to locate some long drill bits to make this easier.

Now, lay your blade tang on the material and mark where the tang lies. It's best to outline the tang if possible. If the tang is straight, it's very simple to get a perfectly alligned hole drilled in the handle. Just Draw a center line through the tang that you outlined in the last step. Transfer this line across the ends of the handle material by making a small dot on the end corresponding to the center line you just drew. Then, draw a line on the end from side to side. Draw a line across the ends to make a center point or cross hair for the tang hole to be drilled. Do this procedure on both ends of the handle.

Now, centerpunch the cross hairs you just drew and set the bottom of the handle on the sharpened all thread in the center of your table. Bring the drill bit down to the other centerpunched mark on the top of the handle. Drill the hole as deeply as possible, then reverse the handle and finish drilling from the other end. The drill bit will always follow the same path as long as you have the center point engaged in the punch mark and the drill bit engaged in the punch mark on the other end. It has no choice. Amazing and simple!

For a curved tang, it's a little different and a little more complicated. Follow the same steps as outlined above until you finish drawing the center line through the outlined tang. Find the center of the curve in the tang. Eyeballing is close enough. You don't need to get scientific here. Use a straight edge to draw a line from the center of the curve to the end of the handle on top and bottom of the tang, using the end of the tang as a guide. Draw the lines all the way to both edges and then find the center and draw a line there too. This will set the angle for your second hole drilled from the pommel end of the handle.

Find the centerpunch spot in the top of the handle and center punch both the end and top and there you have it. It's a little more difficult to get this hole drilled because of the angle. Just make your centerpunch mark a little deeper and at the same angle as the hole will be drilled. That way, when you set the handle on the center point to align it, it won't slip out during the drilling procedure. This is where the length of the all thread comes into play. You need to be able to adjust your all thread up or down depending on the need. A 6" - 8" piece should be sufficient. Otherwise, there won't be room to get the handle under the drill bit at that crazy angle. (This is really difficult to describe, I hope I haven't totally cornfused everybody).

You still need to draw the center line of the tang for your first hole in the ricasso end of the handle. Just use the tang outline on the front of the handle as your center reference and draw a straight line from the center of the tang in front to the pommel end of the handle to find your center punch mark on the pommel end. After both holes are drilled, you'll have to hog out some stock with a round file to accomodate the curve in the tang.

The moral of the story is don't use a curved tang if you don't have to. Use large enough stock so your handle can turn out like you want it to by profiling it on the bandsaw and use a straight tang.

Good luck and have fun!


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  #2  
Old 05-19-2001, 11:11 AM
Jeff Sanders
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Thanks for the info Max,

What school did you go too ?.
Also can't wait to try to figure out what your talking about on the drilling in the post.I really need help in this area (pinning and Tangs)
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  #3  
Old 05-19-2001, 01:03 PM
MaxTheKnife
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I went to the Bill Moran School of Bladesmithing in Old Washington, Arkansas. I took the Intro, Damascus and Handles and Guards classes. I was there for a month and just got back last Friday. I'm trying to pass on as much info as I can before it starts to fade from my old noggin.

You may have to read the info above more than once, but I think you'll pick up on it Jeff. I plan to do some actual tutorials with pics in the near future, so maybe that'll help make it more clear.
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  #4  
Old 05-19-2001, 09:09 PM
Jeff Sanders
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awesome Max,

Probably a very good time and expierence for you.
Isnt it awesome to learn cool stuff.
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  #5  
Old 05-20-2001, 12:38 AM
Raymond Richard
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I saw an old vidio that showed Bill Moran making a hidden tang knife. He drilled it most of the way, took a torch and heated the tang up and had it burn itself in the rest of the way.
Sly old fox. It sure works for him.
Ray

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  #6  
Old 05-20-2001, 12:58 AM
MIKE KOLLER
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Drilling is good for round tangs;round hole for round tang; but I leave mine rectangle in shape to avoid it ever wanting to turn in the handle.

I drill a hole slightly oversized for the stock that I am using and then I take a wood chisel that I have ground down to fit and square the hole up.It works good, but I am curious what the rest of you do for the same situation.I am always wanting to learn new tricks.
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  #7  
Old 05-20-2001, 05:42 AM
MaxTheKnife
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Hey Mike, I use a small round 1/4" wood rasp. It really rips the wood out of the hole quick. For stag, I carefully 'hog out' the hole with the same bit I drilled it with. When I'm lucky I can make a pretty close fit to the tang this way. You just have to be careful because the bit tends to walk into the cut, so you have to turn the stag to allow for that. Kind of tricky, but it works for me.

I tried heating the tang and burning the stag out and didn't have any luck. It was real solid stag though. It would probably work better on stag or antler with a soft center.
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  #8  
Old 05-20-2001, 07:57 PM
foxcreek
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I very rarely do anything but a hidden tang knife. The tangs taper in width and thickness, and I aim for a tight fit. Its tough to do, and sometimes I do it first try and sometimes I dont. I was trying to drill a little block of oak for a skeen a couple of day ago, 3.25 x 1 x .875 and ended up doing it several times until I got it right. Thank heaven it was from salvaged wood and nothing prcious. I rely on careful layout on the blank, outlineing the tang like you said Max. and paying careful attention to it being "square" in two planes, securing the wood in a vise. Its awful easy to get it right one way but off the other way. After I get a couple of holes drilled I got to the chisels, and eventually burn the tangs in. A coarse grained ood like Oak is the hardest to drill neatly, and I discovered after much frustration that part of my problem the other night was that my drill bits were dull! Thats easy to over look, but they need to be sharp to grab and cut true and not veer off with the grain.
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  #9  
Old 05-20-2001, 08:28 PM
MaxTheKnife
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That's very true Richard. Nothing ever goes according to plan when you plan something. Even though the drill bit should make a nice, straight hole, it might not if it's dull. And the grain of the wood can play havoc on your best laid plans too. In the end, we just have to do what works.

In the handles and guards class, the instructor asked me how I drilled out a handle for a hidden tang knife. I answered "with my best educated wild ass guess". That's the truth most of the time. Other times I just get lucky. Life just deals us a hand and we have to play it how we see it. There's the way things are, and the way they ought to be. Making knives introduces us to that little fact of life. We just have to deal with it and make the best of a bad situation. After all, success doesn't come until you fix a bunch of little failures. Heh, I love making knives. But sometimes it makes me doubt my hold on sanity. I ain't crazy, I just make knives for a living. Can you spell that without any R's?
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  #10  
Old 05-20-2001, 09:56 PM
Sandspur
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Max,thanks for the tip.I think that this would also work well for drilling accurate holes for the pivot pin on friction folders,something that has given me a lot of trouble.
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  #11  
Old 05-20-2001, 10:07 PM
MaxTheKnife
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Yeah, you're right Sandspur. Nothing worse than a crooked hole for the pivot pin. It should work fine for that too.
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  #12  
Old 05-20-2001, 10:33 PM
Glenn forty7
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Many thanks for neat idea,your sharing with us what cost you time and $ is very much appreciated--Glenn--
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  #13  
Old 05-21-2001, 08:33 AM
MaxTheKnife
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Well Glenn, there's several ways to look at that. I'm sure that some folks are going to think I'm violating a trust and giving away secrets learned at the ABS School. Others, like you and most of the folks who post here just see it as a sharing of information and generally being helpful.

Here's how I see it. Back when Bill Moran first came up with the concept of the ABS, his sole purpose was to promote the art of forging/bladesmithing in order to keep the craft alive. His second big step was the school. Now, he's really serious about his committment to further the craft of forging/bladesmithing. I had several conversations with him during my damascus class and he's a genuine human being with no hidden agendas.

My sharing of helpful information is just helping Bill further the craft of bladesmithing. The school is a central point for distribution of information. The school makes teachers from students. Those student teachers go out into the world and share what they learn in order to further the craft. And at the same time, the quality of bladesmithing gets better and better through shared information.

Sure, the school gets alot of money from the students they teach. But, not everybody can afford to go to the school. The time or the money. I just firmly believe it's my responsibility to share what I know in order to further the craft of bladesmithing. And the really cool thing about it is that all of the instructors are Master Bladesmiths. They take turns teaching, so you never know who's tricks you're going to learn. None of the things taught at school are trademarked or pattented or protected by law from sharing with others.

That's my take on it. Sure, I'm out of pocket about $3,000.00 and lost a month of knifemaking time. But, that's about me. It has nothing to do with you guys. I just hope I'm conveying these little tidbits to the greatest advantage for your learning. The written word is by no means the best way to get my points across. I'll have to do better with pics and such. I'm working on a video type of coverage so you won't miss a trick. I just need more equipment to do it. I'm working on it.
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  #14  
Old 05-21-2001, 04:59 PM
MIKE KOLLER
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Thank you Max!

The ABS does seem to carry on the tradition that Mr.Moran started.And is one of the reasons that makes it so appealing to new makers that can find the way to afford it.The Hammer-In is an excellent investment and I would advise everyone to go,I sure am glad I did.WAS TAUGHT ALOT IN TWO DAYS and it is awesome to watch a pro do his/her thing.

Master Smiths they are.Mr.Crowell(sp)made it look effortlessly even with his back bothering him.Toatally awesome to watch!!!!
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