View Full Version : newbie guard question
31-07-05, 04:30 AM
Hi I've been forging for years but have only recently wanted to make knives so what is the best way to fit a guard on a hidden tang blade. I've made one with a slight step down just behind the ricasso so the guard looks cleanly joined but its time consuming to get every thing exactly square. What is the way that other people out there are fitting guards.
I think that method gives the cleanest look.
I dont know if you used one, but a file guide makes life easier. Basically two pieces of steel, drilled, tapped and hardened to clamp the blade. There are various methods of making them but the object is to provide a square guide surface either side of the blade, which can be clamped into a vice (you could use the hardened jaws of a vice in a pinch). You can then attack it with your files. You just file down to the guide and the files skate off the hard surface of the guide but bite into the steel of the knife. It will give you a square, level step on the ricasso for fitting the guard.
Here's some pics of a file guide...
You can also use the guide for filing the slot in the guard.
If you have a forge I think you could make a guide like this easily enough from a couple of pieces of tool steel - probably quenching in brine would get em hard enough. Alternatively, you can buy them - the ones in the pic above are from koval knives (http://www.kovalknives.com/home.htm) in the US (look under Arbors/Spindles (http://www.kovalknives.com/arbors.htm)) and are around $20. Uncle Al's (http://www.riversidemachine.net/index2.ivnu) also sell a posher (and quite a bit more expensive) version here (http://www.riversidemachine.net/item349582.ctlg).
31-07-05, 01:26 PM
Martyn has given you good advice on shaping the ricasso/tang junction. Unfortunately I don't know a quick way to fit the guard up to the blade. Even if you're going to solder it the fit has to be close, and the transition from ricasso to tang should be rounded (to avoid creating a stress point) which makes this even more tricky.
I just sit in front of the TV with my needle files and file it try the fit and repeat until happy.
The only good thing is that it's points like this which will make your hand made blade much nicer than a cheap mass produced one :D
Martyn has hit the nail on a head....a file guard helps a lot (an understatement!).....
As for filing shoulders around the tang /ricasso.....this is a very popular method and one that I have used in the past.It is an easier way to get an almost perfect seamless fit.
However, there is a draw back...... The junction needs to be the strongest part of the knife.
If the knife is forged/ground with tapers in the blade and tang, then some makers will argue that undercutting around the tang leaves a potential weakness /failure point, especialy if its a knife made to be used.......
I have seen undercuts done on tangs which are just too deep...If you use this method, then it really needs to me minimal.
It can be a toss up between what looks better and what has more integrity.. its possible to get both ..but it does take time.
This is how I now fit my guards...
I use a file guard to square my shoulders off and round off the inside corners with a chain saw file. If I did a full harden quench then I will go back and re draw the temper on the tang at the shoulders to relieve any stress.
I file the slot in the guard just under size, and because the tang is tapered, I keep doing multiple fits and keep making adjustments till it slides up to within an 1/8th of an inch or so from the shoulders. Final fit can be done either two ways.
One is to use slotted piece of wood over the tang and hit it with the hammer to drift the guard down. If its too tight then I remove it and file a bit more and try again until it fits snugly onto the shoulders...it can take mutiple fits.
Another way is to press fit the guard with this....
Available from Riverside Machine, other wise known as Uncle Al.
With the clamp in place on the tang, I can screw down on the bolts which pushes the guard into place, and holds it securely in place while I solder....
I am looking for a press fit on both methods.
If you use nickel silver for guard material and solder, then even if you did have a hairline gap, the solder should fill and it all blends in well.....
I clean up the solder joint with copper chisels to shave excess solder off.... the joint can be made flush with the join and barely visible if you get it right......Maybe not quite so invisible as cutting all the way around the ricasso, but close, and in my opinion, retains the strength and integrity of the knife at this most important junction.
There is another way to get an easier fit. Thats is to make a small thin plate which fits in front of the guard. Being smaller and thinner its easier to get a more precise fit, and it wouldnt matter too much if the guard slot was a bit over sized as the plate fit is all thats seen ....This method is used quite a lot.
I was going to add, there is no quick fix way to fit guards that I know of. ....They do take time and test my patience. It can sometimes take me longer to fit a guard than forge and grind the knife!!!
I find tapering the thickness of the tang also helps to keep the fit tight, tapering just 1-5/100mm would do the trick with the last 10-15mm full thickness.
02-08-05, 09:59 AM
I've made my blades by necking in the material behind the ricasso down to about 3/4 of the blade width for about 1/2" then going down to the tang thickness this should take care of any stress risers
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