Author Topic: Thinking about making a knife  (Read 634 times)

Offline Dale Halterman

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Thinking about making a knife
« on: June 12, 2019, 08:30:57 PM »
So I bought this old knife at a flea market for fifty cents and figured I will make an antler handle for it.



But I know enough to ask people who are smarter than I before I destroy something old like this. So, first question - does this have any value beyond being a component in my next project?

Assuming the answer is no, should the blade be reshaped or could it be a credible knife from the first half of the 19th century by just changing the handle? Do I even need the change the handle? It appears to be unfinished walnut.

Thanks for any input. As you may have guessed, I really have no idea want I am doing.

Dale H

Offline okieboy

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Re: Thinking about making a knife
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2019, 10:33:03 PM »
 This is a standard pattern butcher knife. They have been made for two or three hundred years or more, so it is credible. They are still being made today. These show up in antique shops and flea markets for $.50- $5.00, so you are not dealing with something precious.
 Your knife is well worn and it is nice that the handle scales are attached with small pins rather than modern big headed cutlers rivets.
 Personal opinion is its nice as is and putting an antler handle on it may end up looking like an old blade with a new antler handle. Although I like stag on certain knives and plenty of true period knives were made up with antler, I think that antler can get a little trite after the first thousand or so that you see.
 If it were mine, I would leave it alone except to sharpen it and give it an oiling or waxing. Then you could put you craft energy into making a nice period styled sheath to carry it in. If you look at the Native American sheaths that were collected (mostly in the late 1800s and early 1900s) you will see that the majority of them have associated with them a knife very similar to yours. 
Okieboy

Offline Mike from OK

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Re: Thinking about making a knife
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2019, 08:16:13 AM »
Nice find. It definitely has an "old timey" look to it... Or "vintage" as the kids say nowadays.

I know as much about knives as you do. So take my suggestion for what it's worth... Not much. I agree with okieboy... Sharpen it and clean it up enough to be usable. But try to retain as much of the patina and overall character as possible.

Make a suitable sheath for it and tote it with pride.

Just my $.02

Mike

Offline hanshi

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Re: Thinking about making a knife
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2019, 09:31:04 PM »
A few years ago I was given a couple of old, identical, carbon steel butcher knives.  I decided to put an antler handle on one and leave the other as is.  Losing all my antler material with our last move I am back at square one.  Maybe some combo of wood & leather might look interesting.
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Young guys should hang out with old guys; old guys know stuff.

Offline tippit

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Re: Thinking about making a knife
« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2019, 03:31:37 AM »
As a bladesmith, I try to make period knives look old.  That knife looks old/great.  Anything you do to it will be noticed as an add on.  Keep as is.

Offline Elnathan

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Re: Thinking about making a knife
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2019, 03:36:19 AM »
IF you were going to make a new handle for it, I'd vote for a five-pin wooden scale handle, not an antler one. The five pin style preceded the three pin style.  I think it would look pretty cheesy with an antler handle, honestly. Antler wasn't as common as folks often think, and when it shows up it is usually on an obviously one-off knife, usually rather crudely made. This, on the other hand, is a standard butcher pattern that was used from about 1800 on, and should have a "factory" type handle on it.

I vote to leave it "as is," for what it is worth. If you are looking for an "old timey" knife it already fits the description, and it you are trying to fit it to a particular period you'd be better off starting from scratch.

Any marks on it?
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying...cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects. -Robert A. Heinlein

Offline Brokennock

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Re: Thinking about making a knife
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2019, 04:27:31 AM »
I'd leave it as is. Sharpen it, smooth out any roughness on the blade for more efficient cutting, make a good center seam sheath, then, enjoy it.
If I were to do anything with the handle scales, antler would be my last option. Bone would look good, and provides a surprising amount of grip traction when wet.

Offline Salkehatchie

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Re: Thinking about making a knife
« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2019, 05:31:20 PM »
I have had good luck making sure the existing pins are tight.  Re-peen them if needed.  Cleaned up a...tad bit.  Do not overdo it.  And, hate to confess to this but I thin some epoxy down a bit and soak into the pin area and along the blade handle and the wood scales.   

Some of these old knives the wood scales are pulled back a bit from the tang.  Not the most sanitary thing in the world.  Just me though.

Maybe clean some rust off.  Light, light sand or a vinegar soak?  Again, just me. 

If I were to enter my grandmother's kitchen [ born late 1800's ] with a janky knife and commence to prepare breakfast.  She would throw me out the door.  This is just personal, not trying to start anything.  But I think especially in vintage items, sometimes we moderns go a bit overboard in rustic-ness. 

Offline Dale Halterman

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Re: Thinking about making a knife
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2019, 01:45:21 PM »
Thank so much to everyone who has replied so far. I have oiled it, sharpened it up and otherwise left it alone.

There are no markings evident. I suppose there could be some under the patina, but I doubt it.

The scales are pulled back a bit, certainly not sanitary as you say but I am not planning on using it for food prep so it should be alright. The scales and pins appear to be tight.

Now I need to get some leather for a sheath. Would rawhide be OK? I am trying to assemble a kit that might have been used by my ancestors who settled in Virginia (now West Virginia) is the early 1800's. Hard to be too rustic for that time and place, I think.

I did find some pieces of spring steel in my scrap box so I think I will try to make something out of them. Not sure if they are hard enough. We'll see.

Thanks again for all your help.

Dale H

Offline D. Taylor Sapergia

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Re: Thinking about making a knife
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2019, 07:16:09 PM »
Go ahead and make a knife out of your spring steel.  You can re-harden it, and draw the temper to make a very good knife from spring steel.

Rawhide makes a good serviceable sheath.  And you could cover it with buckskin and bead it, if that appealed to you.
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Art is not an object.  It is the excitement inspired by the object.