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I am a jeweler by trade, but enjoy collecting knives and guns. A couple of years ago I decided to try using one of the tools (a laser welder) in my shop to do something a bit unconventional: replacing a 1/4" chunk of the main blade missing from the point of a rusty, long-neglected WW2 Camillus Navy Utility knife. I had once considered using a regular welder to attempt this but found that pocket knife blade metal was too small and thin for a conventional welding machine (or maybe simply exceeded my welding prowess) plus I was warned (by somebody smarter than me) that excessive heat generated by the welder would radically change the temper of a knife blade. But I figured the laser welder may change all this because A) it was designed for smaller work and B) it localized heat to a tiny (sub 1mm) area directly at the weld; in fact you can hold the blade in your hand while working on it! Before attempting this on my rusted-shut-basket-case Camillus, I decided to first attempt to fix another slightly less collectible knife, a Schrade Old Timer with about 1/8" broken off a secondary blade. After some trial and error this knife came out well so I moved on to the Camillus. I replaced the missing 1/4" piece with success and now carry this knife daily. Even I cannot tell you exactly where the blade was broken! Replacing the missing piece was far preferable to me than grinding the blade down to the point of the break. Can't say the knife looks new or anything, but it looks darn good and 1000% better than the rusted hunk of metal destined for the trash it was when I got it. Also, it allowed me to retain the original tang stamp- not a huge deal on a mass-produced military utility knife but would be consideration for a more collectible piece. Since then I've done a couple more blade tips for local customers and am interested in offering the service to a wider audience. If anybody has a knife with this issue, before grinding it down to the point of the broken tip, please contact me first. Include photos if possible.

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If you have before and after photos Andy, I'm sure many others than just me would really like to see how it looks now. That sounds like a really good technique, and likely a service some would like to have available.

Allan, Thanks...I actually took better before/after photos of the Old Timer that I did first.  It came out pretty well but was my guinea pig so there was room for improvement.  Still, I'd say it came out much preferable to a broken, jagged blade tip.   

And here is my beloved WW2 Camillus.  Sorry I don't have any "before" photos, but believe me when I say it was really bad, actually much worse than the Old Timer in the series of photos above.  Looking at it now after I refinished it and had it sharpened, you'd probably never know that over 1/4" of the tip was missing from the main blade.  Now I carry it and use it virtually every day and yes I use it....carved up a nice thick ribeye with it Sunday as a matter of fact.  In addition to the broken point, it was very rusty and pitted so I refinished the blade which is probably a no-no for a more valuable knife, but since I was going to actually use it, and since it was in such a sad, non-collectable state anyway, I decided to make it look presentable where I could enjoy it more.  

Thanks Andy, that looks really good. With the Camillus, I would not even now you had worked on it.

Looking at the Old Timer first try, that's good too - and looking at the final photo in your series I can see the new material, but that mainly because I know it is there. You did a good job

I have an old Victorinox Swiss Army knife from my days in the army - 1978 to 1980, that has a broken tip but over the years I (or my dad helping me) just sanded/sharpened that to a rounded slightly shorter edge. Another case of foolish abuse of the tip of a knife for something it was never intended for! :-)

Allan, you are correct on the Old Timer knife, I was a bit reluctant to use it as an example as there is a visible difference shown in the photo due to finishing (or lack thereof).  I never did an entire blade refinish on this blade which would have better blended the two areas, so it is easily noticeable at the point of transition between the new and the old.  I used the Old Timer only because the before and after photos were more demonstrative.  As for your Victorinox, depending on how the tip was sanded off, it might could be re-established to look newer (and closer to the proper length).  Also, is your knife stainless steel?  Thus far I've only done carbon steel but stainless might be possible.  I've had good luck refinishing stainless steel Rolex watch cases, although that's an entirely different process typically dealing more with nicks and gouges rather than abruptly broken appendages...The laser does seem to be effective with stainless nonetheless.  I'd be happy to take a look at some photos if you have some. 

Even though visible Andy, you did a good job. I'll bet most people would never notice much if you had not told us what you did, but it was really nice to see the progress.

For my Victorinox, it is stainless steel -possibly a 440 type, I'm not sure what they use now, or what they used back in the 70s. We literally ground the tip round so the break was removed, while being careful not to overheat and harm the tempering. I really would not bother with that one right now - as an 18 - 20 year old, I thought of that knife just as a tool, and even used a piece of hot wired heated in a little gas cooker to burn my initials into the scales.

It only has sentimental, and actually still pure functional value now, definitely no collector value being damaged as it is. But then, having discovered the groups here maybe a year ago - I have seen others replacing scales so maybe I'll consider that one day. It would bring new life into an old knife.

Honestly, that lives in a kitchen drawer and sees most use opening cans (yes, I'm serious, we really like the can opener which still works well after nearly 40 years - wow, I didn't even realize it is that old until now) and also cutting open packing tape on boxes from amazon and other online vendors.

As with the Old Timer (and really the Camillus too), the Victorinox may not justify the time involved to restore it if looking at it from a financial standpoint, but there are knives out there which certainly would justify it...Imagine that $1500 collector's dream knife you found at a flea market for $20....if it were not for the broken tip.  Or what about that knife grandpa bought in the 1920's and passed down through the generations, but in 1982 your dad broke it trying to open the back on a watch? Even though it's not worth a lot of actual money, it's got value to you and your father and your son perhaps..so it still may be worth having things done to it.  When it comes to broken blades, a lot of folks would probably spring for a new blade, but tang stamps are important to collectors.  That's where this procedure has an advantage.      

Interestng experiences.  Questions: I assume you had retained and used the broken piece for both knives.  If not, what kind of steel did you use, and how did you heat-treat it?  Also, would you share the name of the laser welder, so I can look it up on the internet?  I buy lots of old knives, repair or rehab them, and give them as gifts to US military personnel.  I've been grinding blades to solve the "broken tip" problem, but of course this makes them much shorter than the handle.  Full-size blades would be better.  Thanks, Bryan OShaughnessy  <bryanoshaughnessy@yahoo.com>

Bryan, I did not have the broken tips.  I used old sawblades for the replacement material and built them up to achieve the new part of the blade.  My guess is that the knife's heat treating at this point would pretty much extend only to the area where the break occurred.  All I can say is that the heat treatment of the remaining original part of the blade should retain intact.  I haven't used these blades to do any serious prying and have warned those who I've done them for to be mindful that they may not be as strong as they were originally.  This is good for light use, however, as I've used one for opening packages and slicing steak.

As far as the laser welder, mine is a German brand called NVision but I don't think they operate in the states anymore.  The two biggest laser welder companies in the US are probably LaserStar and Rofin.  A decent laser welder for a small shop starts around $20,000 for a stationary benchtop model and the really nice floor models with upgraded optics can run $40,000.  They are also expensive to maintain, as few companies work on them, so they tend to name their price for repair parts and service.   

As I was telling Allan above, sometimes the knife doesn't justify the hours spent from a monetary perspective.  It usually has to have some collector value to warrant the hours of work and the wear and tear on the equipment OR it needs to be something with a lot of sentimental value. 

I was also curious how the heat treat would survive. I could be wrong, but I would think that welding an already treated blade would mess things up big time...unless you removed the blade and completely redid the heat treatment from scratch. Neat idea, though! Looks great!

Hello Steve, if you're unfamiliar with laser welding please try to toss out any pre-conceived notions of welding as you may know it....Here's why:  With laser welding, the blade is held in your hand as you work; the heat is localized to a tiny pinpoint where the laser actually strikes the metal, so I seriously doubt that the heat treatment on the original portion of the blade is greatly affected.  Now as far as the weld seam itself, who knows, but you're talking about 1/2" or less of the blade length in the case of most tip breaks.  From a purist's standpoint, that may be enough to matter, but from another purist's standpoint, they might prefer to retain an original tang stamp, which as you know may be extremely difficult if not impossible to re-create. 

Andy,

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