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Thread: Drilling for a long, thin tang

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Drilling for a long, thin tang

    Hello again! I've just gotten a little Norwegian blade; it's got a tang 1/16 inch thick, 1/4 inch wide where it meets the blade, and over three inches long. I also have a small block of red oak for the grip. If I start with a 1/16-inch drill bit, it'll be less than half the tang's length.

    I've thought of several options, and I think the least likely to screw up would be to either:
    1. Drill partway into the block, cut off most of the drilled segment, and repeat, winding up with three pieces with holes drilled in alignment. But I figure this could make the grip weaker, and could make continued shaping difficult.
    2. Cut the tang down to no longer than a drill bit and go for pinned-tang construction. It seems like it would tricky to line up the grip and tang holes perfectly, although I understand the technique using a drill press and clamp.

    There are several other methods I know of but these are the ones I'm most seriously considering. So are my suppositions right? Any recommendations?
    They groan'd, they stirr'd, they all uprose,
    Ne spake, ne mov'd their eyes:
    It had been strange, even in a dream
    To have seen those dead men rise.

    -- Coleridge

    Please, all you need for zombies is like 300ft of piano wire and a bus.
    -- Dana Price

    Join the Horde! - http://xerxesmillion.blogspot.com/

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Since it is wood, you could make a longer bit with a coat hanger. Just go slow and sure. Or, drill from both ends. Or find a longer bit, even if a little wider. You can always fill the void with epoxy. s the tang widens towards the blade, small round rasps are the way to go.

  3. #3
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    I've done drilling from both ends before, but the holes tend to turn out crooked and misaligned. I do have access to a drill press this semester, so I might be able to do it properly.

    I've never heard of making a drill bit from a coat hanger. I imagine it would be on the soft side.
    They groan'd, they stirr'd, they all uprose,
    Ne spake, ne mov'd their eyes:
    It had been strange, even in a dream
    To have seen those dead men rise.

    -- Coleridge

    Please, all you need for zombies is like 300ft of piano wire and a bus.
    -- Dana Price

    Join the Horde! - http://xerxesmillion.blogspot.com/

  4. #4
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    Coat hanger is harder than the wood. Even just nipped at a diagonal, it will be pretty sharp. All coat hangers are not equal. It was just an example of possibility.. Go slow! You could also use a hanger or other rod and burn the hole through.. Since the tang widens as much as you indicate, driling from both ends would be fine, as one end is going to have to be enlarged anyway.

    If you set up a cradle/jig (like a floor and baseboard in a corner), you can use most drills in a precise straight line horizontally. As always, allow me to confuse you further

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
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    Kingston area, Ontario Canada
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    If it's a flat and tapered tang and you want a professional fit then make a replica tang of mild steel. Make the dimensions about 1/16 inch smaller and leave added length to hold in a vice.

    Take a cold chisel and at about a 45 degree angle and cut on the edges just enough to create a tooth as on a saw. Do this on all four edges making multiple teeth every 1/8th of an inch or so all in the same direction.

    Drill the tang through using a proper length drill the diameter of the narrow end of the tang, long drills are available.

    Once your tool is in a vice with narrow end upwards start to push the wooden grip into the tool allowing it to gradually cut the tang profile. This results in a well fitted tang.

    If you're not that handy with tools a machinist could whip one up in no time, possibly you or a friend knows a machinist?

  6. #6
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    Well, I screwed up drilling the oak. It was too small and I couldn't hold it steady, so the hole slanted out the side. The only other thing I could find in the scrap bin that looks like a decent size and grain alignment is a piece of poplar, though who knows, maybe I'll find something nicer in the coming weeks. Meantime I might use it to try burning out.

    My main concern about the softness of most wire hangers is that given my track record, I'm sure I'd manage to warp it while trying to drill with it. Some of the heavier, chromed ones would probably work. Unfortunately, we threw out a ton of hangers about a month ago.

    The saw idea is interesting, but to be perfectly honest, it sounds like more effort than I'd like to invest for a one-time project, and I don't have any spare 16ga steel around.
    They groan'd, they stirr'd, they all uprose,
    Ne spake, ne mov'd their eyes:
    It had been strange, even in a dream
    To have seen those dead men rise.

    -- Coleridge

    Please, all you need for zombies is like 300ft of piano wire and a bus.
    -- Dana Price

    Join the Horde! - http://xerxesmillion.blogspot.com/

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Southern Maryland, for the last 350+ years; previously of the Danelaw.
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    I have been known to rough out a couple of over-sized wooden blanks for the grip, then drill the hole(s) for the tang (parallel holes for where it broadens) and then carve and/or turn the grip to final form with knives, rasps and sometimes a lathe. Failures are re-purposed as file handles of firewood, depending on the level of disgust with my attempts; but I do frequently end up with a good grip out of a couple of tries. With experience comes greater success and efficiency.

    Also, are you familiar with "burning-in" a grip with the blade wrapped at the ricasso with a wet rag so as not to draw the temper, and the tang at a black heat? Tricky, and not all done at once, but very nice and tight when successful.



    "As a woodworker, I'm a pretty good blacksmith."
    Retired civil servant, part time blacksmith, seasonal Viking ship captain.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Bucks County, Pennsylvania
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    Not going good... will post more once it is...
    They groan'd, they stirr'd, they all uprose,
    Ne spake, ne mov'd their eyes:
    It had been strange, even in a dream
    To have seen those dead men rise.

    -- Coleridge

    Please, all you need for zombies is like 300ft of piano wire and a bus.
    -- Dana Price

    Join the Horde! - http://xerxesmillion.blogspot.com/

  9. #9
    I realize this is an old thread, but just in case you are still having problems with this... There are places to buy longer drill bits, my local Lowe's has 6" long bits, but the smallest diameter they have is 1/8". Try a search for 'aircraft drills' and you will find them as small as 1/16" in 6" lengths.

    That said, if the knife is to have a guard or guard-plate of some sort, the hole in the handle material does not have to fit the tang exactly, it only needs to be snug and not allow the tang to turn in the handle. Therefore, if you are going to use a guard-plate or guard, I'd suggest drilling a 1/8" hole, then taking a sawsall blade and grinding it thin enough to go into a 1/8" hole, and using that to enlarge the hole enough for the tang to fit. This photo shows one modified saw I made awhile back, along with a few needle files which also come in handy for this sort of thing:
    Name:  Yyg090.jpg
Views: 53
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    I hope that was helpful.
    141. Not allowed to use a broadsword to disprove ‘The Pen is Mightier than the sword’.
    Some of my blades

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