Thursday, February 3, 2011

Antlers and Dirks

This is a dirk which is being re-handled. In the above photo, you can see that I have already cut, pierced and shaped the cross guard. The original dirk has been dis-assembled, the cracked and broken handle has been discarded. A fairly robust piece of antler has been found, and the crown has been cut off. I will be using the crown (the part of the antler closest to the stag's head) for this job.
The first step is to pierce the stag. Here you can see how am drilling the length of the antler from the blade side in towards the back.
side view.
3/4 top view.
Then, using a larger bit, I drill down into the crown. Because of the angle, the hole looks like an oval. Thats good, since I can always find an oval stone to fit!

And the rest of the hole is drilled, and filed out to take the tang. At the bottom is an oval piece dyed abalone shell. I think I may use this to cover the back. Or I may use a more traditional Scottish stone. There are plenty out there!

So what is this going to cost? Well, the dirk is a factory made blade, fairly straight forward, cost about 75 dollars for the battered one that I picked up. The antler is a "found" antler, shed by one of the big deer who infest the highways around here. You can usually get those in the flea markets around here for 20 bucks a side. The brass work is just time took about 4 hours to pierce, cut, groove and polish, so we are looking at about a hun right there. The drilling outlined in the above pictures took a solid two hours, when you include the re-sharpening I had to do to the spade bits. So that adds fifty. So just like that, without even finishing it up, we are looking at about 250 semoleons. To finish will take another full hour and there will be the stone which will be epoxied onto the end. So that is why it runs around $300 bucks!

This is just a taste of what goes into knife making. There is so much more to it than just making a blade. In fact it tends to be a bit of a sore point with me...making a blade is straightforward and takes a while, and you have to know what you are doing. However, one bit of steel is much like another, and you only have to know how one material, steel, behaves. Handle making means you have to know how to select antler, or other handle material, be a wood worker, be an antler worker, how to set stones so how to be a jewler, how to work leather. So a blade maker is a fairly simple trade, the complexity and art is in the hilting. Yet somehow the magic of the smith makes the blade maker a much sexier trade! Go figure.

I dunno...would YOU pay 300 bucks for that dirk?

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