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Cutting Out the Blanks

Next was to coat the steel with some layout dye, and scribe in the cuts I wanted to make using a printout of the pattern above as a template and an awl to do the scribing.

Not much to tell here, its just sawing with a hack saw - helps a lot if to have a machinist's vise to hold the blank while cutting it.  One good tip is to use a good hacksaw, one that provides adequate tension on the blade - another is to use a good hacksaw blade.  You can really tell the difference between a good and a bad blade.  The Lawson brand has been suggested to me, but I couldn't find it locally,  Nicholson brand blades seems passable in quality - but I wasn't impressed with the Buck Brothers brand blades.  Get a coarse blade, between 16 and 20 tpi.  The ones I used were 18 tpi.

For cutting out the long angle, start the cut at about 90 degrees to the blank, then turn the saw to the proper angle as it gets started:

Then saw out the tang following the lines that were scribed into the layout dye:

The tangs taper a bit from back to front - at the end of the tang they are about 1/4", and taper to about 3/8" thick on the tool side.  This can be ground down later, if preferred, to a smaller tang to fit in a smaller handle, or left as is for use in a larger one.  Before I mount these permanently in a handle, I'll rough up the tang a bit so when I epoxy it into a handle the epoxy will have something to grab on to.  I plan on turning some handles for these out of hickory, and using ferrules for the handles like the ones available from Lee Valley for minimal cost.


After I got the blanks cut out, the edges were pretty rough, and needed to be trued.  First, I scribed a new line just below the angle I just cut to get a new reference line for the following step:

Then, using a grinder, I ground the edge of the blank back as close as I could to the line I just scribed (I apologize for the wonderful focus quality of the picture, but I think you get the idea):

A tip here - use a pair of gloves, and keep a jar of water handy next to the grinder to frequently dip the blank into, as it gets hot.  You don't want to 'blue' the steel here, same as with grinding any tool.  Another tip: don't use the same jar for the water that you previously used for thinner or alcohol - the thinner you left in the jar will dissolve the layout dye.  DAMHIKT.

Back at the vise, keep those gloves on, cuz it's time to finish truing the edge using a large mill file, like the one shown sitting on the right of the vise:

Another tip here - don't expect every file you pick up at the hardware store to be flat.  Since the files are usually near the straightedges, grab one of them and check the file you're thinking about buying to make sure it's dead flat.  

It's not critical this edge of the blank be perfectly true - I won't be cutting teeth into this edge.  But I still wanted it as close as possible.

When done with one, it's on to the next until all four blanks are ready for the next step: