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With the collar and handle assemblies complete, the length from ricasso to butt is set exactly, and the bow can be bent.
The bending jig is one of several I've made out of 1/8th mild steel plate, and sized to drawings of each D-guard knife. Once the bow is bent, it'll be re-annealed, and final adjustments can be made by hand, before the guard is hardened and spring tempered.
The bend is made using the jig and a couple polished steel pads.
One of the pads, with a curved top, is super-glued to the front of the ricasso, being careful to align it so the thumb rest doesn't twist when bent.
A second pad is glued to the back of the ricasso. The polished surfaces of the pads prevent gouging the finish on the bow.
The pads are clamped in the vise with the thumb rest sticking up,
And the thumb rest heated with a torch, and the tip bent using a wooden mallet, again to reduce damage to the pre-sanded fitting.
Next, the bow is bolted to the front of the bending jig, through the first pad, using a 1/4-20 bolt, with the sides ground to fit through the tang slot.
Very careful alignment is necessary, to spot the "Flat" behind the ricasso, and allow the bow to bend without twist.
The jig is clamped in the vise, with a Vise-grip gripping that extra 1/2 inch of bow,
And the bow heated and bent around the jig.
The trouble spots are at the"corners" where hammering with bronze and steel hammers is necessary. The start, center, and end will usually bend easily.
The hammered areas will have to be re-filed and re-sanded, but some parts are still clean, or just fire-scaled.
Here you can see the whole bending set-up, and the newly bent bow.
Re-annealing the bent bow is necessary, so the final adjustments to the handle can be made, so the re-filing and sanding can proceed, and so the bow can be hardened and spring tempered with less chance of warping.
I use Brownell's 641 Anti-scale for all final heat-treating of finished fittings. I've found it absolutely necessary to allow the anti-scale to dry at least 12 hours before operation. There are still some minute spotting , and I'll have to go back to 400 grit on some parts.
Steve Culver has put an Argon injector on his oven, but still has much precise adjustments, and a learning curve. Nothing's easy here, I guess.
After re-sanding, I'll sooth my jangled nerves by filing the "Lion's Paw" on the thumb rest. (That's really why there's almost always some file-work somewhere on my knives. Have to get my head straight somehow.
Thanks for taking the time to do this tutorial John, I'm pretty sure it is more work than making the knife itself. Beautiful piece.
With the handle assembly sanded to 6000 grit, a major project can be started, the domed Sterling silver pins.
It's of real interest to handle one of these Dogbones before and after the high domed pins are installed.
Before, the "hot edges" of all those crisp bevels make the handle quite uncomfortable in the hand.
After the pins are installed, the sizable domes fill the hand, and the Dogbone becomes an extremely smooth and comfortable grip which is easily indexed.
Those guys back in history knew what they were up to.
Pin installation begins by punching out 5/16ths discs from .020 silver sheet.
Half of the discs for the 18 pins get a #51 hole drilled before punching. Center the hole before you punch, and make a few extra.
Dome the discs with a Dapping block and dap punch.
Cut some 1/16th silver pin stock, make a bunch of little half-circle solder rings, and get the soldering stuff ready.
Set a dome upside down in a wire holder, flux a pin and a solder ring, and use a "third hand" soldering fixture to hold the pin upright. Centering and holding the pin vertical is the trick.
Heat the dome from underneath til the solder just begins to flow, and then draw the flame up the pin quickly, and the solder will reach up the base of the pin to form a strong joint, looking like a tiny volcano holding the pin.
It's best to melt a couple pins when you first try this . It'll help expand your vocabulary!
The soldered domes are "pickled" in "Rio Pickle" to remove flux and fire-scale, and can then be polished with a "Sunshine " polishing cloth.
Since three of the pins on each side are set "on the flat" and six are set on the bevels, a little steel fixture with a flat and a bevel like the handle is used to set the domed heads at the correct angle.
One hole in the flat, one in the bevel: drop the pin in the one you need, and tap it with a wooden mallet.
Push the pin in from one side, bend it to 90 degrees off the bevel on the other, drop a "dome with a hole" over it, back up the pin with a wooden block, and peen the pin with a dead-blow ball-pien hammer.
The idea is that you not be able to see the peened thru-pin in the dome. The trick for me is to peen it high enough to require filing down to shape, and sanding out, then polishing.
The trick is also to drill, remove and re-do if you can see the pin.
No shots of the peening process, but here's my high-tech back-up block.
Here's another look at the result.
Finial and sheath stud are turned on an 18 volt drill, with chainsaw files, mill file, and sandpaper over brass strips with rubber faces.
Collars are grooved with a slitting saw and a steel block on the drill press.
There's an escutcheon plate, a butt cap plate, file-work on the silver liners, and after all that, the bow, frames, and all other damascus fittings are hardened, spring tempered, re-sanded and etched.
I'll have about 120 hours in one of these puppies when I send it out to Paul Long and Buddy Thomason to do their part.
Is all this business worth the time? By this time in the afternoon, after another day in the shop, I'm never sure.
Come on by table 3-Q at Blade next month, take a look at this one and a couple other knives, and let me know what you think.