Today was very stressful, although I did not, in fact, do too much work. But I was agitated about it so I procrastinated a lot, putting off each step for fear of mangling the work and losing a lot of progress. That will also be the case tomorrow.
Today was the day of gluing the scales to the tang. And because I wanted to peen the pins from the beginning, I also had to prepare for that.
For I lack proper ball-peen hammer for this kind of job. I have a wide variety of cross-peen hammers, but only one, big, ball-peen hammer. And that is way too big and chunky for 3 mm brass pins. They are not sold in any stone shop around here, and ordering one online would again put me in the age-old problem – is it worth buying something if the shipping costs more than the product?
So I have to make do with my smallest cross-peen hammer and a few thingamajigs that I have made myself to make the job easier and, hopefully, better.
Peening pins in bone is kinda dangerous. Bone is hard, but not particularly strong and it can easily split. To try and reduce the risk of splitting I have therefore pre-peened one side of each pin before assembly, so the pins are shorter and thus less likely to bend when I am peening the other side. To make a better job of this I have taken a piece of mild steel from a failed attempt at burner diffuser and I drilled in it 3 mm hole, chamfered to about 5 mm recess on one side. Then I held the pins in a vice and peened one end into this recess.
The second tool that I have made is from an old hook-nail. It is very old and therefore good medium carbon steel, hardenable, although not to the highest degree, and very tough. If the tool works, I am going to carburize the surface and quench it.
First I have cut off the hook and the tip. Then I have center-punched the center of the square where the tip used to be and dished it out first with a 3 mm bit and then 7 mm bit in a hand-held cordless drill. Then I put a big diameter ball burr for die-grinder into the drill and rounded the inside of the dish and I ground the edges round with a file. I have tried it and it seems to work well when used after the hammer for the final touches on the edges. So I hope to get nice round peened pins tomorrow.
With that done, I have also repaired one of the scales – two holes were a few tenths of a millimeter off so I could not put the pins comfortably through all holes. Not a big problem, I have filled the two holes with quick-curing epoxy mixed with bone dust and drilled them new. You would not notice there was a mistake there if I did not tell you about it.
Then I was ready for the job that I was putting off – the glue-up.
I have used slow curing epoxy, with work-time 1,5 hours, instead of the 10-minute one that I have used previously for kitchen knives. The reason for this was not only to reduce stress and the possibility of a complete fuck-up, but also the fact that this simply could not be done quickly. Mixing the epoxy, slathering it over the tang and attaching the pins and the scales was simple enough, but after that came the difficult part – to clean all the squeezed-out epoxy from the fileworks. I have used first small pieces of kitchen towels soaked up in denatured alcohol to wipe out the biggest excesses and then a toothbrush soaked in the same to tease-out glue from al the nooks and crannies. I do hope I have made a good job because there is no way back now except either take it as it is or to drill out the pins, smash and grind out the bone and start with the handle scales all over again, which would not be fun at all.