View Full Version : Commando Dagger Project

Les George
10-01-2010, 06:34 PM
As with all things commando, the origins of me getting started in the project are a secret (for now).

Long story short, is I am gonna make some old school commando daggers. Marine Raider, Fairbairn / Sykes, V42 kinda old school.

In fact I am gonna start the proto work on the tracer lathe at school on Monday.

I am pretty stoked about this little project. I only had a passing interest in these daggers until this was brought to me a few weeks ago.

Now that I have been studying these knives more, I have a better appreciation for where we have come with military knives over the last 75 years. I imagine I will have even more after I have made a few.

I have some serious knife project ADD and I think all my plotting is starting to annoy the Wife. I think that she wants me to actually finish a project before I start another. Weird, must be an Austrian thing?




10-01-2010, 10:45 PM
I was wondering when you were gonna get around to discussing this.

Les George
10-01-2010, 10:56 PM
What about the ADD? :)

10-02-2010, 04:40 AM
LOL, no the dagger. The ADD is obvious.

Les George
10-02-2010, 06:50 AM
Oh, yeah the dagger! :)

Denny Eller
10-02-2010, 08:26 AM
Great idea, Les! I bought a Fairbairn-Sykes from a A/N surplus catalog in the late 50's. It was my favorite thrower with great balance. Then one day it just snapped in two. I remember the metal looking real grainy inside, sort of like pot metal. The design, however, was fantastic. Side note: I also bought a 1917 Enfield Bayonet with scabbard that I still have today. It is built like a tank and weighs about the same. I think I paid around $5 or $6 for it (from my lawn mowing money). The surplus company was P&S Sales, if any of you old timers remember them. I always found their ads in the back of my Dad's hunting magazines.

Les George
10-02-2010, 01:56 PM
I hear ya Denny! :)

The Marine Raider's knife and the F/S are very similar. The Raider's knives handles where cast outta some kinda zinc junk that likes to eat it's self and fall apart. As a result most of them are in poor shape these days.

I have been reading the book that Wilkinsons Swords of UK fame put about about their work on the F/S daggers. They talk about the Shanghai Knives that inspired the F/S designs and according to this book W.E. Fairbairn received a knife from Yeaton and Moore, both United States Marines in 1933.

Lt.Col. Yeaton was the Commanding Officer of 3rd Marine Raiders Bn in 1943.

From Wickipedia:


The U.S. Marine Raider Stiletto was designed for one purpose: killing the enemy, and its design was not compromised. The stiletto was a finely designed, almost delicate, single-purpose weapon, which did not include a variety of other tasks normally associated with a machete (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machete) or utility knife (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utility_knife).
The KA-BAR (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KA-BAR) was and still is an excellent all around, multi-purpose utility and fighting knife, but when it comes to the thrust to a vital portion of the human body (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_body), the slender straight blade design of the stiletto is more efficient, concentrating more force than a broad bellied blade, such as a bowie knife (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bowie_knife).
Marine Raiders were instructed not to use their stiletto for throwing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knife_throwing) because once the knife was thrown; the Raider would no longer have a knife to use in combat (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combat).
USMC Major General (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_General) Oscar F. Peatross (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Oscar_F._Peatross&action=edit&redlink=1) a veteran of the famous, Makin Island raid (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Makin_Island_raid) and author of the book, Bless 'em All: The Raider Marines of World War II ISBN 0965232506 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:BookSources/0965232506) recalled about the stiletto:
“ "It was pointed out that it should never be thrown (Denny), as it was designed as a hand-held weapon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weapon) to be used only in combat. It was also pointed out that it was brittle and would break even if just dropped, particularly the point." ”
— M.G. Oscar F. Peatross, USMC retired
Due to the thin tip, even thinner than the tip of the Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife, the stiletto was not designed to be used for opening ration cans (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_military_ration) or as a pry bar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crowbar_%28tool%29) to open cases.
The Marine Raiders found they could fit the sheath (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scabbard) behind the standard issue M1911 pistol (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M1911_pistol) holster (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holster) by inserting the sheath body between the holster body and belt attachment flap and tying the tip of the sheath and holster together with the tie-down thong. This gave them more room on their web belt and made the pistol and stiletto available to the right hand (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right-handed).

Quite an education it's been.... I'm already thinking about some M1918 Trench Knives.... :):)

10-02-2010, 04:34 PM
The F/S is one of my all time favorite designs. Time and time again I have debated over purchasing a repro, but have always steered clear of them. Of course, I'd love to have an original but the price is just more than I can afford for a look pretty that I would never use.

So, when are they going into the inventory Les. I'd probably buy a George interpretation.

Les George
10-02-2010, 04:58 PM
probably in the spring

Denny Eller
10-02-2010, 09:57 PM
Les, try telling a 12 year old boy not to throw a knife that sticks almost every time. I was doing fine throwing it into an old dead elm tree with no bark. But when I threw it at a telephone pole it broke about an inch in front of the guard. My heart broke shortly thereafter. I really liked that knife. I've been looking at the WWI "Pigsticker" trench knives lately, too.

Les George
10-04-2010, 03:21 PM
Did a little rockin on the old lathe today. Lathe is probably old enough to have turned the very first F/S dagger, if it would have been on the right continent. Heck the thing is probably older than Denny! :)

Aluminum trial #1 - Aluminum is too light for the real deal.

10-06-2010, 09:19 AM
Very Kewl.

Les George
10-06-2010, 02:38 PM
It looks way cooler in gun blued steel! :)

10-06-2010, 03:03 PM
I'll follow this with unabated excitement, Les.

Curtiss Knives
10-06-2010, 03:06 PM
If your not gonna use the aluminum part, it would make a great handle on your grinder.

10-06-2010, 05:23 PM
Looks good but i think you are missing a design point you can take advantage of with the Al handle. The handle can be weighted precisely with the use of carbide inserts it is a lot better then the pot metal used in WWII and post.

Les George
10-06-2010, 07:26 PM
according to Wilkinson Sword they made the ones in WW2 out of brass.

10-07-2010, 02:33 PM
Looks good Les...can't wait to see the finished dagger!

Denny Eller
10-08-2010, 04:56 PM
Perfect handle for leather washers if you have the patience. They look good with great grip.

Les George
04-27-2011, 01:06 PM
Here we go!

OK, few min to go, time for a little breakfast! :)


Time stamp and some materials...



Get that CPM 154 up in the mill and get some machining in progress! :)




So here, I'm a jackass. I wanted to machine the fullers in and thought it would be cool if I ran it up one side then stepped over .005 inches and down the other, so I could get a nice clean cut on both sides.

This is what happens with a fancy pants CAD program when you put the mill bit on the wrong side of the line....



So, I get to start over....


But now we are back on track!




Now some steel for the guard... Fist I cut the inside pocket for the blade.



Then the outside..



I was thinking about going thicker, now Im glad that I didnt. I will end up thinning this out quite a bit.


I need a nap, but it's back to work for me! :)

04-27-2011, 01:17 PM
Looks sweet so far.... And damn I wish I had a mill like that... :(

Les George
04-27-2011, 01:40 PM
I wish I had a mill like that... :(

Me too!

04-27-2011, 02:23 PM
Me too!

Ok, I wish I knew anyone or had ANY access to use a mill like that... ;) More appropriate? haha...

Les George
04-27-2011, 02:30 PM
Yes! :D:D

04-27-2011, 02:50 PM
Lookin good Les.

Les George
04-28-2011, 01:29 PM
One of the problems with sharing a shop is sometimes other people leave their junk in "my machines!" ;)


Now we are ready



Scientific measuring, using an aluminum test piece I did a few months ago..


This is called a tracer lathe, it works a lot like a pantograph does in that it follows a pattern and reproduces it to the work piece.


This is the hydraulic X and Z feed control


First drill out the middle for the tang. It's a little undersized, I am gonna have to grind the corners of the tang down to make it fit.


Getting a start on the profile




Chopped off!




Now to turn down a but cap


not bad for free handing both wheels! :)


Flip, drill and tap!


Heat treat!




so much left to do! :D

James Terrio
04-28-2011, 06:20 PM
This is gonna be cool! Are you signed up for the KITH in July? (hint hint)

Ground to the bone
04-28-2011, 07:16 PM
Im working on a v-42 for a friend right now. the blade is a little less than 3/4'' wide, and hollow ground.

Denny Eller
04-28-2011, 07:36 PM
I'm liking this a lot, Les. Show us more!

Les George
04-28-2011, 07:54 PM
Im working on a v-42 for a friend right now. the blade is a little less than 3/4'' wide, and hollow ground.

Let's see it! :)

Les George
04-29-2011, 02:20 PM
Dagger blades are hard.....



3 inch wheel for the hollow grind... :)






does this look dangerous? :)


It's hard to get a good pic of this grind...


04-29-2011, 02:49 PM
Pics look good to me!

Gary B
04-29-2011, 07:50 PM
Out freakin standing bub. Great job on the grinds and the pics.:thumbup1::thumbup1::jawdrop:

Les George
04-30-2011, 11:04 AM
OK getting close to the end now! It's cool to see this come together, since I have never held anything close to one of these daggers before...

Anyway, start out with a little protection...


Now to fit the guard





Look it fits! holy crap, it worked! :)



I left a lot of meat on the but cap when I turned it on the lathe. Now I have to chuck it up in the drill and grind it down. Before I had no idea what I wanted it too look like, now, I'm just gonna grind it till I like it or get scared I am gonna screw it up... :)


I dig it...


Assemble and grind flush..


groovy.... ;)


Gonna cold blue the guard and but cap.


My bluing rig...


Did I mention what the handle is made out of?


Stainless damascus! :)


Thanks for looking! Almost there!

04-30-2011, 01:41 PM
this is absolutely one of my favorite designs.. looking forward to seeing yours..

Les George
04-30-2011, 02:00 PM
Time stamp!


final hand sanding


finished pics tomorrow afternoon, I hope!



Justin King
04-30-2011, 02:57 PM
Very sneaky with that damascus handle, there! That adds a lot of appeal.

04-30-2011, 06:59 PM
And Les throws in thw "WOW Factor" once again and leaves the audience speechless!

04-30-2011, 08:47 PM
Killer work Les!

Ground to the bone
04-30-2011, 08:48 PM
Let's see it! :)

It's not finished, but its getting there. Your knife is beutiful by the way.

Les George
05-01-2011, 07:02 AM
THAT is solid clean lookin work right there! Most impressive, I want to see it when it's done!

Youre not gonna bring it to Blade show by chance are you? :)

Les George
05-01-2011, 07:07 AM
This dagger is one of the hardest knives I have ever tried to make. There is not much to it, but there is very little wiggle room. Pretty much one shot to get it right at any given step.

Hard enough to be a real challange, but I think I am close enough on this first one to go ahead and start planning a small batch of them. Maybe if I can learn to grind these blades, I will have some real grinding skillz...

05-01-2011, 09:05 AM
Truly amazing work Les. I guess it's a good thing I'm almost broke, otherwise I would be coming to BLADE and sprinting to your table as soon as the doors opened. Then I'd be hitch hiking back to Arkansas.

Les George
05-01-2011, 09:29 AM
Thanks man, if it makes you feel better, this one will be there only as a delivery.

I do take credit/debit cards there at the table and AR is not that far away really.... I'm just sayin.... ;)

05-01-2011, 10:36 AM
LOL, unfortunately I'll be recouperating from my trip to the Mojave while you guys are partying in Atlanta. I have been contemplating a new folder though. I'm trying to decide which line I want to wait in, the "Rockeye", "FM-1", or "VECP".

Ground to the bone
05-01-2011, 10:40 AM
THAT is solid clean lookin work right there! Most impressive, I want to see it when it's done!

Youre not gonna bring it to Blade show by chance are you? :)
Thanks Les, Im glad you like it. No i will not be able to make it to blade show, I wish I could. The grind was the hardest part, I free handed it on a three inch wheel. I cut the thumb indention out with the corner of the grinding wheel, and I used an engraving chisle to cut the little slots in the thumb indention. It sure was a hard knife to make. But I know you can relate.

Ground to the bone
05-01-2011, 10:43 AM
Hey les, Here is a thread I've got going on the knife.

Les George
05-01-2011, 05:44 PM
Stick a fork in me, details to follow....











Hard to get the damascus to show in the pics...





Steven Janik
05-01-2011, 05:53 PM
Looks very Nice, Les.
You are the Master.

What's going on for a sheath?


05-01-2011, 06:55 PM
Awesome, Les! Awesome Les! Worth the wait.

GroundTTB, your piece is looking great too!

05-01-2011, 07:35 PM
If it's possible for a knife to be sexy, this piece just reached that level. That is freakin outstanding Les!

05-01-2011, 07:39 PM
I'd love to seen it 100% Damascus!

Denny Eller
05-01-2011, 07:47 PM
Wow!!!!!!! That is phenomenal, beautiful and evil all at once. Outstanding, amigo!

Les George
05-01-2011, 09:39 PM
Playing with this knife today against a cardboard box in the shop. It doesnt slice for anything, but it stabs like a bullet.... :)

Gary B
05-02-2011, 04:40 AM
WELL DONE Les. That thing is downright beautiful,

Les George
05-02-2011, 05:30 AM

James Terrio
05-02-2011, 08:14 AM
Playing with this knife today against a cardboard box in the shop. It doesnt slice for anything, but it stabs like a bullet.... :)
Well, that's what they were designed for. Your version is certainly very nice. Cool vid, too!

05-02-2011, 08:55 AM
That knife is beautiful Sir.

05-02-2011, 09:16 AM
Great tribute video, Les. What software did you use to create it?

Les George
05-02-2011, 10:30 AM
I used whatever software came pre installed on my PC (vista), just filled the thing with media and hit "auto movie"

Easy peesy...

05-02-2011, 10:35 AM
Simply Amazing!

05-02-2011, 10:39 AM
Very nice video, and interesting music choice too... :) Dagger looks fantastic, but is it the Raider? or Radder? I think either would work...

John Barker
05-02-2011, 12:17 PM
Looks great. Daggers are tough. I have only done 2. The 3" wheel is the perfect size for them though. Are you up for the Ti handled version now?

Les George
05-02-2011, 12:58 PM
Ti handle would not be any harder to make, but it would defeat the purpose. It needs to be handle heavy to keep the tip fast. ;)

Original ones where cast brass. TO me that is is a loud statement to make knife handles out of brass during WW2. Brass is for bullets in war...

05-02-2011, 02:33 PM
I have always loved these knives. It is hard to find good ones, most of them are made with cheap materials and there are not much custom knife makers that are willing to make one that is worth it.
For me the best design was the one of the Victory 42, I think they were proudly made in the US by Case cutlery.
In good hands that can be the ultimate tool for self defense.

That one you made right there is a work of art.
Congrats to the owner.

Rob Nelson
05-12-2011, 05:46 PM
Wow, nicely done! I believe everyone should own a good dagger at least once in their lives. I've got a no kidding WW2 F/S (brass) that I took diving with me in the Red Sea and proceeded to sheath (in leather) and drop in the dive bag and forget. :sad: I found it (years later) a couple of months ago, green scrubbied it, and shot it with rustoleum. I'm afraid I killed it. :sad: