Small Italian Stiletto DIY
This my second stiletto project. The first one was of the larger kind, suitable for belt carry rather than concealment (posted a couple years ago ).
This time I decided to make the smallest historically common type (about 5" blade with 4" handle, found a number of these in Bashford Dean and other sources). This is the kind of stiletto that was described as Oakeshott as "tiny weapons with blades like big needles, only some 5 to 6 inches long".
Most of these had solid steel turned handles, but I decided to go with less common wire wrapped handle (cheated a little on core material, used micarta for strength in such a small diameter). Wrap is twisted brass wire, guard and pommel filed out of 1018 steel and blackened.
Blade is 5" long and square in cross section, 3/16" at the base, with a decorative ball section filed near the guard. I made it out of 1084, quenched in oil using my improved homemade can forge, and tempered to what should be around low 50s hardness, softer than normal knife blade to make it less brittle.It is really needle pointed! Was quite a challenge for me to grind and heat treat such a delicate blade, but it came out perfectly even and straight!

Working on scabbard core now and trying to figure out how the scabbard should be constructed.

Any comments or critique are welcome!

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Very nice work, I like the results overall, but I have maybe a structural question about how thin the section of blade looks like in the pics just near the guard does narrow quite a bit ? I can see where there was here an aesthetic reason, and I also assume wanting to match the look of historical stilettos.

Personally purely for strength at the junction from blade to the tang I would have made the decorative ball section area scaled up just a bit so that wouldn't be a weak point ? Heat treat at around 50 rc obviously helps a lot for this part of the blade to not be brittle, and this type of blade would not normally be subject to much bending forces as one would not use such a stiletto for a slash.

Also, just a question again, and a suggestion: Could you have differentially tempered the blade so that the very point be at 60 rc with the blade progressively soften to 40 rc near the guard and maybe even a little softer in the tang ?

I'm just asking these questions out of curiosity, and it's in no way negative criticism of the very attractive stiletto. :idea: :cool:
Good looking stiletto, well done!

Only thing, for a concealed carry blade, wouldn't the crossguard get in the way? I realize this is how the originals were as well, but I don't really understand the design. If I were to design a concealable dagger, I'd make as lean and flat as possible, because the larger the hilt, the harder it is to hide, and especially the crossguard is likely to snag into clothing while drawing from concealment.

Again, I realize that the originals were the same, so maybe you have a different users perspective and can explain why they were designed the way they are.

Could you have differentially tempered the blade so that the very point be at 60 rc with the blade progressively soften to 40 rc near the guard and maybe even a little softer in the tang ?
That's technically certainly possible. You could also harden the whole thing to 55-60 HRC and then temper the tang and the strong of the blade back to 40-50 HRC, even with a gas torch.
Thanks for the comments!


I didn't have any special perspective on the guard design, simply made it the same as on historical examples. But it is very short - when I grab the handle the quillons do not project beyond my knuckles/fingers at all, so shouldn't snag on anything when drawing. And this design is flat enough as there is nothing like a parrying ring, just the quillons which can lay almost flat against a forearm or a leg when concealed.


about the decorative ball near the guard posing a structural issue, the answer is twofold.
Yes, I did this "to match the look of historical stilettos". Many of them look ridiculously weak because of such decorative filework, to the point that some Victorian collectors speculated that this must have been a design feature - for an assassin to intentionally break off the blade after stabbing a victim and leave it in the wound.
I believe that was just a fancy notion, of course. The real reason was that there was simply no need for lateral strength in such a small stiletto blade. It was intended strictly for stabbing, no parrying, no armor to deal with, and no protracted fighting. Just a few quick stabs (if not one) and it would have done its job.
Having said that, I did have a thought that the next time I would rather make the base thicker than rest of the blade (say 1/4" at least).

About differential heat treatment for the blade, I did consider it but couldn't see the point (pun intended :) ).
I mean why would you want a 60rc hardness in a literally needle point like this one? The point with such high hardness would likely break like glass on hitting anything relatively hard. And in any target softer than steel, a 50rc point will penetrate just as well as 60rc. Again, this was a weapon expected to deliver just a few stabs in an emergency situation, edge holding not being a consideration at all.
But the tang is soft, after all I had to peen it to secure the pommel. Only the first inch or so is hardened, so that it won't bend at the junction of blade and handle.

Hi Alex, thanks for the explanation.

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