Project Badgermascus – Interlude 2 – Practice Makes Perfect (Allegedly)

I want this knife to be special because the blade deserves it. That means not only patined fittings but also decorations. So I have decided to do some filework – definitively on the tang spine and possibly the belly too.

However, I did not do a lot of filework yet. I did some, but that was twenty years ago and not only was it rubbish, but I have also already forgotten everything I learned back then.

So I am in this conundrum – I really want to make something I know I am not good at making. So I have decided to do today a practice day. I took a piece of mild steel, ground it to roughly the thickness of the tang, straightened it and I went on to figure out the hows and whats.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

What you can see here from top to bottom is a progression both in time and (I hope it can be also seen) in quality. The top one took me over two hours, the last one under one hour. Whilst the photo magnifies all the little imperfections to an unreasonable degree, there is still definitively a lot of space for improvement, some issues are still visible even at arms-length viewing distance.

I am bloody nervous about doing this because if a file slips, there is no way back. It was a huge problem for the first three patterns actually – establishing the first cut was the biggest issue I had. Files have angled teeth and they cut best when drawn perpendicularly to the edge. When you run a file at an angle, not only has it a tendency to slip and wander off, it also behaves differently when used left-handed as opposed to right-handed. Once the cut is established, all these problems are a lot less pronounced, but establishing that first cut precisely where you need it to be and at the right angle is a major PITA.

For the fourth pattern, I have finally found out how to best establish that initial cut. I have a beat-up knife made from an old saw blade in my workshop, that gets used for all those jobs a knife is good for but simultaneously not advised for. Like putting the edge on a piece of steel and hitting the spine with a hammer, to establish a cut line in the metal surface. Which is what I did here. Essentially like a center-punch for drilling. And just like center-punching prevents drill bits from wandering, line-punching prevents files from doing the same.

Now to beat my anxiety and to convince myself that I can do this…


  1. kestrel says

    OMG this will be amazing… yes, as you were talking about this, I was thinking of a center punch. I use a jeweler’s file for such things as this but what you are going to do I think will definitely work. So excting!

  2. says

    Well, you just showed us that you can do this…
    It looks amazing, even with its imperfections. My first idea was “fabric stamps”

  3. says

    @Giliell, mild steel is only a poor approximation of the real deal, plus there was no stress involved -- you mess it up, no biggie. With the knife itself, it was stressful, and a bit more difficult, because that material is harder.
    But I have managed it and the results are not to be ashamed of. It took me six hours, including some more polishing and re-etching and patining and so forth.

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