After reading a request by a customer for information on how to fit these blades I remembered that I haven’t ever shown how to fit small straight blades so put this together today. As it was spur of the moment thing whilst waiting for some Twca Cams to anneal I didn’t have my camera with me or a finished detail blade but used my phone and found a blank that had been used for hardness testing after heat treat- hence the small impressions on one face.
I used some birch for this handle, it wasn’t fully dry but had been in the workshop for a few weeks in a 1″x 2″ section which is turned out well, dry enough so that it will take a good finish but still enough moisture that it didn’t crack and will tighten onto the tang as it dries later. Ash is also good as is elm, harder woods such as yew seem to be prone to splitting.
I took the pictures for this sequence as I did it, it was all by eye, not marked out on a table. This really can a very quick process. If when you get the handle on it doesn’t line up well split it off and have another go, you may only be 10 minutes in.
As I general rule I make a handle one finger width wider than my palm. So I cut the birch to length and shaped one end, leaving the other end largely untouched. Then lined up where I wanted the blade to be.
I then marked where I wanted to drill the hole for the tang.
Rather than drill immediately I then used a bradawl to start the hole to be certain the drill wouldn’t wander. I chose a drill bit to give a hole slightly undersize.
The hole was drilled in a press but you could do it freehand, main thing is to be certain that the orientation is good left to right, up and down there is more leeway for error in this blank. Make sure you drill the slightly deeper that the length of the tang. I then put the drill bit in the hole and used this as a guide to see how well it all lined up. As I have done it this many times is was fine, but if it wasn’t the idea is that you have left enough excess wood in the butt end of the handle to bring everything back into line.
If you are using a cordless drill after drilling you can put it in a vice, put the handle back onto the drill bit and spin the handle slowly whilst holding a marker to the other end, it should scribe a circle with the middle being your centre. This trick works well for lots of instances where you need to drill dead central. As it was all I needed to do was mark the centre on the butt and draw on the rough outline of the handle.
I shaped the handle, including cutting the face that the tang was going into, I left the butt unfinished. The blade was then put in the vice protected by a wrap of cardboard and then it was tapped gently into place.
When I was happy with that is had gone in OK I cleaned up the Butt, no point getting it perfect then marring it by hammering on it.
Finally I gave the handle a coat of oil and as I wanted to use it for something ground the point to a pyramid to make a bradawl.