Tomorrow you will get a break from this project, I promise. But today, the Great Flattening from yesterday has continued.
After some deliberations I have decided to try and go for fully blackened brass fittings. That means that the blade will be dark grey, and the fittings really, really dark gray. What kind of handle material should I use? Marcus has sent me a nice piece of stabilized spalted maple, but I do not think it is the right material for this project. Ditto, any of the dark woods that I have. I think the blade deserves the poshest material I have available – bone. I think it will provide a nice contrast to the dark metal.
Which meant I first had to rough-cut the scales with a hacksaw, which is one hell of a job, let me tell you. Bandsaw or any electrical saw is a big no-no for cutting bone, this has to be done manually. Including pre-cutting he flat sides, before grinding them truly flat.
Thus I had to spend the whole working day with a respirator and my fingers are all sore now. Because the grinding had to be done manually too. Belt sander does work on bone, but it destroys belts way too quickly for my liking and as I learned in the past, these thin flat pieces would have a tendency to be dragged out of my grasp, increasing the risk of injury or bungled work. So flatstone+glue+sandpaper it was. Maybe after I build myself a disk-grinding attachment this work will be easier, but now it is not.
The scales are ever so slightly bigger than the tang and thicker than the bolster now, and they will remain so. I do not intend for a flush fit, but for a proud one ( I have seen English-speaking knife-makers refer to it as “heirloom fit” although I was not able to find anything specific about it, so I am not sure that is the correct term).
The principle is the same in carpentry – whenever two surfaces join, you can make the joint either hidden or visible, but it should not be visible because you failed to hide it. So if you make it visible, it should be apparent that it was intentional. Like gluing in spacers, making the surfaces meet in a groove and not on a flat, etc.
Today’s work ended in the kitchen, where the two rough-ground scales ended in a pot at 60°C for an hour or so with circa a teaspoon of washing soda and one spoon of washing powder in 1 l of water to dissolve and wash out as much of remaining fat as possible. In the end I have added a teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide to whiten the bones a bit, although complete whitening is not possible on these.
Tomorrow when they are dry I shall fill the hollows on the inside (where marrow used to be) with epoxy to make them flat. After that, I can start the remaining works, i.e. fit and polish the pommel, drill all the holes, and finally, the glue-up. We will see how that goes.