The online community of knife collectors, A Knife Family Forged in Steel
I’ve come to really appreciate Osage Orange. It’s a unique wood. The very center is pithy. The outer white wood is as soft as pine. The orange heartwood is so durable it’s legendary .. literally. Documented cases of Osage Orange fence posts surviving 80+ years with little to no rot. It's earned a reputation as bow material .. very desirable bow material.
It’s also very attractive. With continued exposure to UV light .. it just attains a richer & deeper color. And, the pattern of the grain ..is simply.. magnificent.
Some 4~5 yrs ago .. I cut a branch from a local Osage Orange tree. It’s been “curing” in my garage ever since. About a year ago .. I started using it for scale material. It is a beautiful wood.
I’ve used VG-10 core laminated with 420 stainless in the kitchen for 10+ years. Abby purchased me a KIYA while working in Japan .. just shortly after we were married.
When I found a similar material being offered in a folder .. I hesitantly purchased a sample .. just hoping for the best. I’ve since acquired a number of friction folders & lever lock automatics with this blade steel. Great schtuff !!!
Somewhere along the line .. I acquired 4 of the pictured knife blanks .. I caught a sale. As stated .. I’ve found this blade steel phenomenal. I think it’s a powdered metal @ the center. I do know it’s VERY hard. I believe a fairly soft 420 series SS is the laminate. Corrosion resistant & pliable. Well .. pliable in comparison to the center core. I’ve come to enjoy the way it holds an edge ..AND.. looks nice doing it.
For this project .. I’m going to try for a teardrop handled small dagger. Osage Orange for the handle ..&.. laminated blade steel for the blade blank. I milled the “board” of wood from a 6” piece of a branch of an Osage Orange tree.
i.e. I fixed the branch in a vice such that the uppermost orange center wood was .. more or less .. “level”. I then milled the bark & white exterior wood down enough to expose the desired rich orange heartwood. Once I’d established a flat surface .. I flipped it over & milled a parallel flat surface on the opposing side. This provided 2 opposing parallel flat surfaces with which to clamp in the vise .. which I did to attain the other 2 flat & parallel sides of the resultant “board”.
I’ll likely do a very very simple mosaic pin .. consisting of a 1/32” rod inside a 1/16” tube. I’ve found a mix of copper & brass goes well with the Osage Orange wood.
I measured the corner to corner dimension of the tang to be 0.221” & decided on a 15/64 (0.234”) diameter drill bit. The length of the tang measured 1.775” ..so.. I drilled to a depth of 1.8”. I drilled this hole into the center of the butt end of the board.
With the brass washer in place .. I determined the placement of the pin hole by laying the blade blank on top of the wood blank & then butting the blade blank & washer tight up against the wood. I did this in numerous spots along the pictured side profile of the board while marking the resultant center of the pin hole. I did this in enough spots that I could accurately lay out a line on the side of the board. I then used the vernier calipers to identify the center line. i.e. I measured the board width at that point .. divided in half .. set the calipers to that ..&.. scribed a center line. The resultant X identifies the center of the desired pin hole for the hidden tang.
All that work & it didn’t quite line up. Close ..but.. not exact. The brass washer did not sit tight up against the end of the board .. there existed a slight gap. ARGH. Also .. the pin didn’t just slide through. Again ..close, but.. not exact.
The pinning issue .. I corrected by inserting the tang & then “pinning” it in place with the largest diameter drill bit I could get to slide through. I then placed that drill bit in a pin vice & used it as a file while sliding it in & out of the whole arrangement .. i.e. tang of blade blank inserted into wood blank & drill bit inserted simultaneously through all .. then slid back & forth. I repeated this with larger & larger drill bits until I slightly surpassed the pin diameter & could get the pin material to slide in place.
This still left the gap between the brass washer & the wood blank. I cut a thin leather washer to aid in this issue.
I used the existing brass washer to transfer the outside dimensions & the tang hole to the leather. I cut the leather blank out with scissors. I cut the tang hole out by placing the leather blank in the vise such that one edge of the desired hole was positioned at the edge of the vise jaws. Once clamped in place .. I folded the leather over & cut 2 parallel sides of the tang hole with a single edge razor blade & a mallet.
Well .. I used the pictured knife ..but.. would recommend a single edge razor blade to most.
The resulting fit was such that some force was required to compress the blade into the wooden blank before an alignment was attained that facilitated pin placement. There is no longer a gap between the brass washer & the wood .. all good !!!
There is still a bunch to do. I’ll post progress pics in the comments section .. as progress occurs.