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Gabriele Becattini





Joined: 21 Aug 2007

Posts: 709

PostPosted: Mon 26 Mar, 2018 1:21 pm    Post subject: windlass dirk         Reply with quote

i have just got a windlass primitive scottish dirk,

i have to say i'm impressed with the overall quality, robust, well made, good balance

but it is also extremely shiny and modern looking,

the hilt is a strange mix between a rondel dagger, an irish skean, and a late "Thistle head" dirk

if you had to mnodify the hilt to make it look more historical, what would you do?



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Lin Robinson




Location: NC
Joined: 15 Jun 2006
Likes: 6 pages
Reading list: 6 books

Posts: 1,193

PostPosted: Mon 26 Mar, 2018 3:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would take it off and build an entire new handle. The proportions and the shape are all wrong. It is plain, when most wooden dirk handles were carved, some profusely. The pommel lacks grace and the disk is too thick. In general it just looks bad and not very Scottish. Take a look at some reference books for ideas.

The blade is not too spiffy either. Nor is the sheath.

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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Dan D'Silva





Joined: 28 Apr 2007

Posts: 102

PostPosted: Mon 26 Mar, 2018 4:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I second that, if you have the tools for it (you don't strictly need anything more than a drill, small files, a woodcarving knife and sandpaper, though freestanding woodshop power tools such as a belt sander will make it all go a lot faster). Trying to modify an existing part severely limits your possibilities and in this case, I can't see turning out something that either looks good or is historically accurate, to say nothing of creative freedom. You could maybe get a skinny ballock dagger hilt out of that grip, but for a classic Scottish dirk, you'll want to start from a good-sized block of wood.

The only problem I can think of is that it's not easy to get off-the-shelf metal fittings. Of course not all dirks had metal fittings, at least up through the '45, but if you can't make them yourself or afford custom-made ones, then again you run into limits.
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Mark Moore




Location: East backwoods-assed Texas
Joined: 01 Oct 2003
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PostPosted: Tue 27 Mar, 2018 2:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not a bad looking dirk overall....I've thought about getting one several times. It would benefit from some carving on the handle...just to dress it up a bit. Wink ......McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Gabriele Becattini





Joined: 21 Aug 2007

Posts: 709

PostPosted: Tue 27 Mar, 2018 5:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

the blade is pretty good, thick at the spine and well made, with a bit of antiquing and may be a running wolf mark, could pass for a cut down back sword

the biggest problem with the scabbard, as every windlass scabbards i have seen, it the laquering and the very shiny look of all the components, but it is well made anf the blade fit inside very snugly, the suspension system is completely wrong, a loop of leather riveted on the back of the chape, but i can live with it

looking at "the scottish dirk" by J.D Forman i have seen two post-jacobite era dirks with a similar hilt, broadly speaking;

one on page 15, apparently from the 1760s and one with ivory hilt on page 21, from the late XVIIIth century

anyway, i think that replacing the hilt would be the best solution,

this replica, featuring a dirk shown in "Swords and Blades of the American Revolution" is particularly inspiring, i wish i had the skills to transform the windlass dirk in something similar....



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Gabriele Becattini





Joined: 21 Aug 2007

Posts: 709

PostPosted: Thu 29 Mar, 2018 2:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

how can i take the hilt apart without destroy it? i can see the glue between a little gap in the handle,
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Dan D'Silva





Joined: 28 Apr 2007

Posts: 102

PostPosted: Thu 29 Mar, 2018 2:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

KoA lists this model as having a threaded pommel. First soften the epoxy by heating it -- a low oven around 175F for half an hour should do, and of course handle it with oven mitts when it comes out. Then wrap the pommel in something grippy (I usually wrap a rubber band around and around the pommel button, but a larger piece of rubber around the main pommel might be better, especially if you have to work with mitts on) and twist it off with a pair of pliers. You should get the rest of the pommel parts off before it cools too. What I tend to do is put the end of the tang against a solid surface, hold the blade in one hand so as to keep it pointing away from me so it won't jab me if the hilt pieces pop off suddenly, and with my other hand, push the hilt parts toward the solid surface. Alternately, you could clamp the blade in a padded vise and pull the hilt off.
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Gabriele Becattini





Joined: 21 Aug 2007

Posts: 709

PostPosted: Thu 29 Mar, 2018 4:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

quick update, actually it is not glued,

the grease left inside a gap of the thick plate between the blade and the grip has tricked me,

it is necessary only to unscrew the pommel nut, the whole grip is kept together only by compression.

i have to say that the grip is so thick that there is much more material to work with than it looks from the photos,

at the moment i'm not sure the direction i'll take, but the hilt can be really turned in a early XVIIItn century dirk, but it is not suitable for a later period style.

i have flattened the haunces and i'm making the grip cilindrical, the only drawback, the wood is hard as hell, without power tools, it ia a painful task...
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Arne G.





Joined: 31 Jul 2014

Posts: 46

PostPosted: Fri 30 Mar, 2018 11:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gabriele Becattini wrote:
quick update, actually it is not glued,

the grease left inside a gap of the thick plate between the blade and the grip has tricked me,

it is necessary only to unscrew the pommel nut, the whole grip is kept together only by compression.

i have to say that the grip is so thick that there is much more material to work with than it looks from the photos,

at the moment i'm not sure the direction i'll take, but the hilt can be really turned in a early XVIIItn century dirk, but it is not suitable for a later period style.

i have flattened the haunces and i'm making the grip cilindrical, the only drawback, the wood is hard as hell, without power tools, it ia a painful task...


Can you show progress pix? Very curious to see what this Dirk looks like dismounted, and the work you've done to improve it.
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Gabriele Becattini





Joined: 21 Aug 2007

Posts: 709

PostPosted: Sun 01 Apr, 2018 2:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sure, i'll take some pics in the next days,

as already said, the wood is very hard, i'm doing everything by hands using only a rasp, so the progress are very slow....

probably for someone more crafty than me or with more tools it would be easier to start a new handle,
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