Tapered Tang Tutorial

Discussion in 'WIPs and Tutorials' started by John Barker, Aug 25, 2009.

  1. John Barker

    John Barker SUPERModerator & KNIFE MAKER

    Why should a knifemaker taper the tang on their knife? Well, there are several reasons. First, tapering the tang gives the knife a balance that can't be achieved any other way. Tapering the tang gets rid of unnecessary wieght that you don't need. It also is considered the sign of a seasoned knifemaker by some. Visually, I think it adds another dimension to the knife. Tapering a tang can be a daunting task, but it's really not that hard. The first time I tried it, I was prepared to scrap the blade. But, it turned out pretty good. From that point on, I decided to do it on every knife. Once you do a few, it not only gets easier, but it gets faster. It probably takes me an extra 10 minutes to taper a tang and I'm not even that fast. So, here is the tutorial. I hope it helps.
    -John

    Here are 3 Tosas I have profiled out. I like to draw out where the front of the scale and grind will be so I know where the taper should start. Typically for me, it starts at the ricasso area. Drill the holes to secure your scales then you are ready to start the tang tapering process.
    [​IMG]


    I start by using a 36 grit belt on a 5" wheel for most knives, but I may use a 3" wheel for smaller handles.
    [​IMG]

    Now, here's the fun part. Just hold the tang against the wheel and start grinding out a trough. Make sure you don't go outside the profile. It's not a big deal if you do near the butt of the tang, but it can be up near the front. Just look over the top of the tang at the wheel so you can see what your grinding away. Take your time.
    [​IMG]

    This is what it should look like as you go along.
    Starting
    [​IMG]
    Finished on both sides. Try to make both sides look as similar to each other as possible to ensure the depth is about the same on each side. This will help prevent warpage during the heat treating process.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I hold it up and look at the end to be sure it is equal.
    [​IMG]
     
  2. John Barker

    John Barker SUPERModerator & KNIFE MAKER

    For the next part, the actual tapering process you will need to use your platen and a magnet. I use a ceramic platen liner on my platen. The platen liner makes for a flat surface, reduces the belt bump, reduces heat, and keeps the magnet from causing the blade to stick to the platen and break your belt. And is you've ever had that last one happen, it scares the crap out of you. As you can see the liner I had here had a crack in it. I have since replaced it, because it is not very safe. You can pic up the magnets anywhere. I like the ones with the wood around the magnets. They don't get as hot.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Now, position the knife on the magnet as shown above and push against the platen with more pressure at the bottom. Be careful, because it will really start taking off the steel with that 36 grit belt. I don't go all the way to the bottom of the trough at the butt of the tang with the 36 grit belt. I time it some the next to last belt grinds away the last of the trough at the butt of the tang.
    [​IMG]

    It should look something like this.
    [​IMG]
     
  3. John Barker

    John Barker SUPERModerator & KNIFE MAKER

    Now, you should hit the flats. And go back and forth with sucessive grits tapering the tang and then the flats minding where the taper starts until you have ground away the trough at the butt of the tang. When you get to the finish grit that you desire, hit the flats first and then the tang, and roll the blade forward to blend the transition in. Just take your time. When you are finished it should look like this. Try to make both side lool similar. That will tell you that you've ground away an equal amount of steel on each side. This will help prevent warpage.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The more you do, the thinner your tangs will get and the better you will feel about doing them. So have fun and good luck.
    -John
     
  4. Curtiss Knives

    Curtiss Knives KD Founding Member #1, Knifemaker

    Nice one John. Thanks.
     
  5. Tod Lowe

    Tod Lowe Well-Known Member

    Thanks....I plan on trying this real soon.
     
  6. JAWilliams

    JAWilliams KNIFEMAKER

    That is great. Always wondered how this was done.
     
  7. BossDog

    BossDog KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner

    JOHN!
    Nice, easy, clean.
    We'll be seeing more tapered tangs I'm sure.
     
  8. Scott Jones

    Scott Jones Well-Known Member

    John your the "Tang" master cool 12thumbscool 1

    That is a very good tutorial. Even I understand it.:eek::D
     
  9. Mike Jones

    Mike Jones Google Master

    Can you explain how to drill pins on a tapered tang?
     
  10. John Barker

    John Barker SUPERModerator & KNIFE MAKER

    Drill your holes for your pins in the tang before you taper it. Then, after you taper the tang, drill the holes in your handle material just as you would for a non tapered tang. It will work out. I always use corby bolts and never have a problem doing it this way. Maybe, I'll do a tutorial on attaching scales.
    -John
     
  11. Bill Coye

    Bill Coye Knife Maker

    This is the good stuff John.

    Thank you for the information and insight. When I do it I'll let you know.

    BC
     

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