Suggestions for short bladed historic dagger types?

I am asking for suggestions to help with defining my next DIY project. I am slowly working up my blade making and heat treating skills, within my space/equipment limitations.
I think I can go up to 6" long blade at this point but no more. And I would like to try for some grooves in the blade design for this project.
And I want it to be a relatively wide dagger blade with cutting edge(s), NOT a stiletto type and NOT a utility knife.

So far I am thinking about something like a scaled down version of Schweizerdolch like the attached (found on some threads at this forum). These appear to have at least 8" long blades in all examples I have found. Has anybody seen images of shorter Schweizerdolch?

Any suggestions/examples for other historic dagger types that could plausibly have a 6" blade, relatively broad and sharp, with groove(s)?


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What are you using for heat treating? You don't need to harden the tang, and 2" isn't that much more to aim for. Maybe you can supplement your method with a torch? A temporary firebrick hut to extend make your volume bigger?
The original that my Crusade-era dagger is based on has a blade about 6 inches long. It's not that wide nor is it grooved. :)

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The whole dagger is a little over 9 inches. The replica I own is actually sized up a bit, with a 7.75 inch blade.

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I am using a "coffee can forge" with a torch as heat source so even 6" is kind of pushing the boundaries. The longest I have done so far was a 5" stiletto (after I lengthened the forge for last project).
It is possible that with some tricks like what you mentioned a couple inches more could be done. But I want to take it step by step and build up my skills, rather than risk screwing the work up.
BTW, I feel that the first inch or so of tang should be hardened as well (just tempered to lower hardness than the blade), to prevent bending at the junction of tang and blade. Isn't it normally done?


I actually considered this dagger but the blade shape is too simple, doesn't generate enough of an interest for me to take it up as a project.

Just a few thoughts. You don't necessarily need to have all of the blade "inside" the forge to heat treat. If there's a slot in the back you can move the blade in and out through the hot area to heat the whole blade. The forte of the blade will heat faster than the tip anyway so having some way of pushing more heat into the thicker part of the blade is nice. Same idea as heating a blade using a torch by itself. It's quite possible to HT a smallish blade with an acetylene torch by waving the torch up and down the blade.

Re the tang - plenty of knives are made with unhardened tangs. Look at the typical edge-quenched ABS stick-tanged bowie.

That all said -- the proof is in the pudding. If your methods work for you then that's what matters. I've seen some of your stiletto threads. Pretty cool stuff.
Actually I did start with just a torch years back, worked for blades under 3". But with the can forge, 3-4" blades were much easier and more consistent to heat. By moving in and out a lot, I managed a rather beefy 5" blade, but I could see from surface structure after quench that some local spots got overheated (the blade still came out more than strong enough but it did tell me that I am not doing things right). I now understand that my torch was partly to blame as I was using a small oxigen-Mapp gas torch, producing very hot but relatively narrow flame, and hard to adjust. So I got a pure Mapp gas torch with higher flame output and at the same time lengthened my can forge. With the new setup I was able to do that 5" stiletto practically without moving it, and it quenched absolutely even along the whole length as far as I can tell.
I am confident I can do 6", and may even stretch it another inch if I decide to take a little risk. Especially if I won't care about making sure the junction of tang and blade hardens. You are right about all those big edge quenched blades, if it works for them why not for a small dagger. I will be using 3/16" stock and can make tang as wide as 3/4" there. Should be strong enough even if it stays unhardened, right?

So now I leaning towards a 7" blade Schweizerdolch, wide at base, with central groove for about a third to half the blade length. I am thinking handle/guards not as wide as the typical examples, more like on Todd's repro of this type. And of course that cool metal frame on scabbard. May go for prettying up the handle and scabbard a little with some form of decoration. The design is starting to take shape!

Still open to other ideas, though.

Just thought I will post an update - I moved ahead with this project. Decided not to try a fuller this time though, a relatively long double edged blade is enough of a new thing for me to experiment with.
I went with hexagonal cross section at the base, which seems to be also historically correct for some of these early baselards.
Will try fullers in some later project, and probably on a flat of a single edged blade rather than on a ridge of a double edged blade, to start with something simpler.

Thanks for the encouragement to try for a 7" blade - it worked! I was rather nervous as it was hard to keep the whole length heated to non-magnetic, tip was losing hit very fast. But the blade came out straight and feels hardened all the way, even the first inch of tang. I tempered the blade to golden-straw color and then heated the tang-blade junction to blue to make it tough and springy, you should be able to see the color on the middle flat area in the attached picture (which was taken after tempering and correcting the tang, but before blade polishing started).

There was a little bend in the tang, about where hardened area ended. I was able to bend it back after tempering and that took me pushing on the blade with practically my full weight, with the blade itself bending quite far and springing back. So I am satisfied the blade is tough enough. After I took it down to the edge with 150 grit, point easily makes deep scratches in unhardened steel, so hardness seems good as well.
I am hand polishing the blade now and got one side to 220 grit without ruining the geometry, so there is a good chance I will be able to finish it with reasonably straignt and crisp lines.

Overall, I am very happy with how this project is going so far! This is the first double edged dagger blade I ever made, and the longest blade ever for me, too!


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