Working with Stag Questions...

McClellan Made Blades

Well-Known Member
Hey Dogs!
I'm working on my first forged blade, I have fitted it with a very nice piece of Sambar Stag. It's a full tang blade with the handle sweeping back before the ricasso area to form a natural guard for the hand. It's quite large at 12 &1/4 inches. The stag slabs I cut are beautiful, the main problem I'm having is the handles don't want to fit flat to the tang. I've flat sanded the slabs, which they look flat and putting them together there is no light coming through. I flat ground the tang on my KMG, which is pretty close to being flat. Put together you can still see light through the gaps. I have "warmed" the up, although I have not boiled them yet. I was hoping I wouldn't have to boil them, kinda scared they might shrink, expand or deform some other way, as they are all but finished to size. The area that I' most concerned with is at the end of the tang, the slab is bent outward away from the tang, almost a 1/4 inch. Another problem in that area, is the slabs have a natural thickness there that is wider than the rest of the slab, if I was to put that in my vice it could really mess it up if it's warm. Is there away to manipulate the slab short of a full boil? Am I being too careful, worrying about the slabs deforming if I do boil them? I'll post a pics (if I can figure it out) after I get it right.
Thanks Dogs, Your the best mutts in the pound!Rex
 

Bill T

Well-Known Member
Hey Rex , it sounds like the problem is your tang not the slabs. Without seeing it I would assume that your tang has perhaps a bit of a corkscrew or a bow . Sometimes when you use a flat platen to flatten , the belt could cause problems if the tension is too loose , or if the platen is not truly flat , that is , if you used a flat platen.. Could also be 2" fever... Could you post a picture or two ?
 

Rusty McDonald

KNIFE MAKER
One thing I have learned when working with stag and natural bone type materials is to take your time hand sand when ever possible. Heat from a grinder (KMG, disk or other) will cause them to bow and or warp on occasion and stink up the shop. The only time I heat mine is when they are warped and need to be flattened again but all the other work is done cold. And check your tang like Bill said.
 

A.Sharpe

Well-Known Member
I usually take an adhesive sanding disk and stick it on a sheet of glass. I sand the tang by rubbing it on the disk. till it lays flat on the glass. Then do the same with the stag. If the tang and the stag both lay flat they have to fit. ( hypothetically)
 
J

JDB

Guest
Andy's suggestion is similar to what I do...although I'm too impatient to use sand paper. I have a few GOOD 16" mill b*stard files that I keep just for this reason. They are dead flat! I lay the scales on the file and slowly push them over the teeth to flatten them.

I do the same thing with the tang before finishing the blade...just to check it is flat. If not then I use a 6" 220 grit disk to flatten it and then finish the blade.

Forged knives have their own set of problems for sure with full tang designs. Don't do many and I've had similar troubles with all of um. Guess I need more practice. LOL
 

McClellan Made Blades

Well-Known Member
Thanks Dogs!! I'm going to check my tang again to make sure that isn't the problem, then I'll go back to the marble slab (not the ice cream parlor), I use to do my flat sanding on. I think a twist in the tang maybe the answer, but if I did boil the stag horn shouldn't it bend to the tang? Hypothetically, anyway. Rex
 
J

JDB

Guest
Yeah, Rex. If you clamp it to the tang while the stag is still soft, it should stay. But once it cools, it hardens and tries to go back to it's original shape. No all the way back, but there is usually some spring back.

And you are right to be cautious about boiling the bone. It can change it to some degree. Especially if it's been treated in some way. So if you like the way it looks exactly as it is, boiling would be a last resort.
 

John Andrews

Well-Known Member
How I get my antler and wood flat is to cut it flat to start with. It's easier now that I found an easy way to do it.

Round and odd shaped pieces like antler always presented a lot of unneccesary work for me, and dangerous to cut.

So one day, I got a brainstorm. Why not hot glue the piece to the edge of a squared piece of wood and rip it on my tablesaw?

I line up the piece, hot glue it in place.

Then I use my table saw fence or crosscut slide guide and cut the piece.

I use a scrap piece several inches wide so the cut pieces don't get lost and will stay glued to the original piece of wood instead of falling off. Your piece of wood and the antler pieces are still retained/glued on your main piece of wood. In other words, cut antler piece and just SOME the wood, leaving the main piece intact.

Use a large enough piece of wood to safely do the cuts. Do not stand directly behind the pieces being cut.

This also works good for cutting sections to be stacked on a hidden tang. The cuts are parallel and all you have to do is just move the piece over and make another cut.

The fresh cut pieces are pretty smooth and just rough enough to glue up and hold really good. This is my personal fast and accurate way of cutting difficult shaped pieces of material going onto a knife.

The hot glued pieces are easily twisted off the wood. Any glue left on the antler is usually easily cleaned off by just scraping with your finger or thumbnail.
 
J

JDB

Guest
Dang John, I've been doing this stuff for 30 years using complicated, homemade and sometimes comical hold downs and jigs that looked like they were Wiley Coyote hand me downs from the Acme company. And worse, always kept my fingers WAY to close to the blade.

I feel just a little stupid...and amazed that anyone who has been doing it as long as I have and couldn't think of that still has all his fingers!

Man, that's a simple and elegant solution John. Looks like my wife is going to need a new glue gun. LOL

Thanks!
 
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