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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Mon 21 Apr, 2008 10:00 am    Post subject: Bye-Knife by Aaron Schnatterly         Reply with quote

I thought I would post some photo's of a nice little bye-knife that I picked up recently via the kind offices of Chris Last, made by our contributor Aaron Schnatterly. Nice little knife, we've nicknamed it "The Little Black Dress" as its simple, slim, and elegant. I certainly enjoyed giving the little knife as a gift to my wife, since when I first looked at it and showed it to her she said "My, that's lovely! I like that! But DON'T buy it for me!" Big Grin

I hope you enjoy the pics.

Cheers!

Gordon



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"After God, we owe our victory to our Horses"
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Mon 21 Apr, 2008 11:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's beautiful! I've never seen the bolsters done that way. Is it historical? If so, I may have to steal that technique.
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Mon 21 Apr, 2008 12:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not sure if it's historical or not, as I don't recall seeing them this way, but hopefully Aaron will chime in and give us some info on them. But I'm sure he won't mind if you steal the idea either way. Big Grin

Cheers!

Gordon

"After God, we owe our victory to our Horses"
Gonsalo Jimenez de Quesada
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http://historypundit.blogspot.com/
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Mon 21 Apr, 2008 3:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I find that interesting, and attractive, but, don't have a clue what it would have been utilized for. Is this for stabbing through openings in armour, plus unarmoured grappling? I can't tell for sure, but would bet that the scabbard/ sheath? is worth showing off some close up photos (finial tip?, stiching?...Aaron has consistently achieved solid quality, even on first time projects.)

have seen quite a few modern knife makers do handles this way for fixed blades. I am guessing here, but, the availability of brass and copper rod as well as belt grinding apparatus were all readily available in14th-15th century. So, the technique would have to at least be considered historically plausible. Evidence of surviving tangs with the through holes would be really convincing though.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Allen Andrews




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PostPosted: Mon 21 Apr, 2008 4:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very nice! It would make a great table/utility knife.
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Mon 21 Apr, 2008 4:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for posting this, Gordon!

Knives (along with some other historical projects) have become a bit of a palate cleanser for me - a very, very welcome departure from scabbard work. I have done a number of them. I'm quite pleased and honored that this particular knife wound up in Gordon's hands, and doubly so that it was gifted to his beloved wife. I only wish I could have delivered it in person...

Sean Flynt wrote:
It's beautiful! I've never seen the bolsters done that way. Is it historical? If so, I may have to steal that technique.


Historical? Absolutely is... all day long in the Museum of London book Knives and Scabbards from the mid to late 13th forward. This knife was based primarily on one documented in that book, which is nearly intact and is dated from early to mid 15th C. None of the grip remains, so that part is totally speculative. The filework is the departure, thinking a simpler, more discrete filework with the two simple lines across the butt were much nicer than the busy mess that was the first one, which was also noted in another find from the same book, but only the hilt remained of that particular piece. Being so sleek, the piece just seemed to be dressed up in black and silver. Who was I to deny it? I still owe Gordon the scans of the two reference pics from the book, and can post them here with the proper citation credit, if that's cool to do.

Neat thing about a lot of these knives... they are pretty timeless. This, or any other of the ones I've done, are still as usable as they were, and most don't even look out of place. This example is dated early to mid 15th C, but is it out of place at any time between then and now? There are examples of similar in the mid-late 14th, too...

This knife possibly would have been carried as a side knife, and would definitely have been a wicked go-to weapon if necessary. More likely, though, is that it would be either a part of a case of carving knives, a fillet-type knife, or some such.

The sheath I made is pseudo-historical. It covers only the blade, and sheaths of the day were usually a bit longer, coming up to cover part of the grip as well. It is a leather over a leather core, with the inner core seamed 180 degrees from the back seam. I wanted to provide a safe cover for the knife, in case someone were to wish to carry it or put it in a pouch. The tip end is simply folded over and tucked inside, to give a trumpet-shaped, clean end to the sheath. Stitching up the back is a simple whip-stitch.


I've got a few other historically-based knives in the works right now to fill some commission work, but will be doing more historically-based or historically-inspired knives if anyone might be interested. Primarily, I'm looking at knives that usually don't get done - the everyday utility pieces - rather than the fighting knives. They are really pretty sweet knives, and take that kit to the next level.
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Ken Speed





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PostPosted: Mon 21 Apr, 2008 4:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Gordon,


You gave your wife THAT knife? Well, for your sake I hope you two are getting along! Does your wife moonlight as a Ninja? Just kidding! You, your wife and Aaron should all be justly proud. It is a beautiful knife.

I have to go along with another's comments I have never seen bolsters done that way, I find it very elegant and well suited to the design.


regards,



Ken Speed
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Mon 21 Apr, 2008 5:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:
It's beautiful! I've never seen the bolsters done that way. Is it historical? If so, I may have to steal that technique.


Sort of reminds me of liners used on folding knives but in this case extended and bent over into forming the bolsters.

Very nice looking knife by the way. Big Grin Cool

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D. Austin
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PostPosted: Mon 21 Apr, 2008 11:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aaron Schnatterly wrote:


Sean Flynt wrote:
It's beautiful! I've never seen the bolsters done that way. Is it historical? If so, I may have to steal that technique.


Historical? Absolutely is...


Wonderful...

I might have to steal this too. My wife isn't so much into lethal weapons and medieval armour but she's requested that I make her a letter opener. I'm sure I could pretend that a 15th C style knife was merely a letter opener, with a decorative protective cover. She'd see through it of course, but still appreciate it.

Two birds with one stone... woohoo!

Thanks Aaron.
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Tue 22 Apr, 2008 3:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Good work Aaron!

Next time we meet we shall have to dedicate some time to these beauties, shan´t we?
There is a world to explore here!

I think you could really go with this theme, looking at preserved examples and implement the solutions and constructions when recreating knives of various types found in artwork of the period.
You tend to see a greater variation is size and shape depicted in art, than you find in archaeological finds.
The artwork is still specific enough to make out fine details in construction, so it is obvious the same basic construction techniques were used when making anything from small eating knives to serving knives and big hunting knives (as well as those tools used to martyr saints, the poor bastards...)

Art to look at is work by Memling, Bosh, Cranach, Breughel, Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden & Hugo van der Goes &c. There are plenty of sharp beauties hidden in the paintings of those guys. You even see modes of carry and social status of the knives.

I am looking forward to seeing more coming from your workbench!
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Pamela Muir




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PostPosted: Tue 22 Apr, 2008 4:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aaron, That is simply stunning! Wow.
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Tue 22 Apr, 2008 5:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you, everyone, for your very kind words. They are much appreciated, and are very encouraging!

Rereading my own post, I have a correction/clarification to make:
Aaron Schnatterly wrote:
Historical? Absolutely is... all day long in the Museum of London book Knives and Scabbards from the mid to late 13th forward.


The book itself covers early/mid 13th, but scale-tangs don't appear in this book until the mid 14th. Prior to that, they were all whittle tangs or, in one example, a folder! (I so need to make that one!) Now, this doesn't necessarily mean that they didn't exist earlier, as these knives may have been in service for years, and discarded at the end of their useful lives. Dating was done based upon stratification and pottery shards from the archaeological dig sites, and so were dated based on "death" rather than "born", if that makes sense.

Peter Johnsson wrote:
Good work Aaron!

Next time we meet we shall have to dedicate some time to these beauties, shan´t we?
There is a world to explore here!

I think you could really go with this theme, looking at preserved examples and implement the solutions and constructions when recreating knives of various types found in artwork of the period.

Art to look at is work by Memling, Bosh, Cranach, Breughel, Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden & Hugo van der Goes &c. There are plenty of sharp beauties hidden in the paintings of those guys. You even see modes of carry and social status of the knives.

I'd love to dive into this with you, Peter! Absolutely!

Most of those artists have already been "consulted", along with my good man Albrecht Durer. Even if I just used Knives and Scabbards as a reference for grip shapes, the blades and diversity of blades are easily drawn from art. Of course, more sources provide a much greater understanding and inspiration, and I absolutely want to expand greatly! If you, Peter, or anyone else has a little gem from any resources, I'd love to see them!

D. Austin wrote:
I might have to steal this too. My wife isn't so much into lethal weapons and medieval armour but she's requested that I make her a letter opener.

You should! A knife in this vein would be beautifully suited to the task! In fact, I have a sister to this piece, though more subdued in oak and bronze, that I use for just that task.


Since there is interest, I will be glad to post more pieces from my bench, but will do so in a new thread so as to leave this one to Gordon's initial posting. There are a number also in the works... but that cat will stay in the bag for a bit.
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 22 Apr, 2008 6:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You've convinced me to try the folded bolsters on my German "St. Bartholomew" knife project. Seems just right for a large utilitarian knife of the mid-15th c. I'll probably use brass to match the tubular rivets, but I also have a hauswehr/early Bowie mashup project that demands steel. Your black and bright work here is exactly what I've had in mind for that project but I worried that solid bolsters would bring the balance too far back. This will be a great solution!

I don't know how I missed this method when devouring my own copy of K&S (hard to find in the U.S. as of January, but apparently due for reprint--I found a used copy in the U.K.).

One of the things I like most about this method (apart from the elegant simplicity) is the decorative stepped design it adds to the tang. Very, very attractive.

I'll second the call for a view of the sheath back. I think I know how to stitch the seam (thanks to K&S) but I'd like to see how you've done it. Center or side?

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)


Last edited by Sean Flynt on Tue 22 Apr, 2008 6:56 am; edited 1 time in total
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 22 Apr, 2008 6:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
I find that interesting, and attractive, but, don't have a clue what it would have been utilized for. Is this for stabbing through openings in armour, plus unarmoured grappling?


It's a light, everyday knife, sort of like a pocketknife and often made and carried en suite with a larger blade such as a hauswehr, messer or hunting sword (sometimes with a longsword as well). You'll often find these bundled with a matching skewer in slender pockets in the larger scabbard. They're not really meant for fighting, although they could certainly serve in an emergency. Knives and Scabbards is a wonderful reference for them.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Richard Hare




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PostPosted: Tue 22 Apr, 2008 6:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very nice, clean and attractive knife, Aaron!

I think I would have called it "the Black Widow"................But that name might sound a bit ominous to the Gentleman who gave it to his wife!!

Lovely work!!

R.
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Tue 22 Apr, 2008 6:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:
You've convinced me to try the folded bolsters...

... One of the things I like most about this method (apart from the elegant simplicity) is the decorative stepped design it adds to the tang. Very, very attractive.

Good, Sean! They aren't awful to do - a little tricky to get everything to line up evenly - but it is a pretty simple way to really add a little something to the piece. It also adds some durability to the grip scales, since the metal will take a lot more abuse than the bare grain of the wood.

... yet another example of just how good and practical that these masters of the craft were back then.

Looking forward to seeing it!
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 23 Apr, 2008 11:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I went back to school with Knives and Scabbards. Although it's difficult to read the relevant technical drawings of excavated examples, the text about "shoulder plates" is clear enough after seeing the spine of Aaron's knife. Here's the sequence of construction as I understand it:

A shoulder plate is applied to the tang and either soldered in place or fixed by the scale rivet. With the scales riveted, the plate is trimmed in place to its final dimension and shape. It's not clear from the text how much much oversized the plate should be before trimming or whether or not the plate should be bent before or after the scales are in place.

I would guess that it makes sense to start with a very slightly oversized, unshaped plate, leave the plate flat during mounting of the scales, then bend it to fit it flush against the shoulder of the scale. Theoretically, that would give you a neat bend and perfect fit against the shoulder of the scale in one go--an important consideration when working with such thin stock. Then any overlap could be trimmed or filed flush with the edges of the scales and tang.

Does that sound about right, Aaron?

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Wed 23 Apr, 2008 12:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:
Does that sound about right, Aaron?


"You COULD do it that way..."

... but that's not the method I used. I'm in no way claiming that my method is the only one that was done... yours could work, but it sounds unnecessarily harder to manage.

I ground the bevel and the inset into the scales first. Either method would require that...

Next, I cut the metal to be used for the bolster, and bent it to match the bevel of the scale, and trimmed it off to fit the inset. Then and now, scales are glued on, so I first glued the bolster to the scale, then affixed and pinned the scales to the tang. Since the glue is very thin and can't really be seen at all, I'm opting for epoxy, which is very easy to manage, readily available, and quite strong. Since it forms a polymer, any little gaps or whatnot get filed and remains stable during shaping, which is all done by hand.

Shaping is then done simultaneously, so they have the same contour.

Studying the book, Sean, you'll notice that some of these bolsters are pinned with the scale, and some aren't, which would necessitate solder, glue, or something, since there would be nothing to hold them otherwise.

Hopefully that helps...
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 23 Apr, 2008 12:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the tips!

When I looked at K&S last night, knowing what I was looking for/at, I could see the solder lines on some of the tangs with missing plates and scales. I'll most likely use the epoxy/rivet combo.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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D. Austin
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PostPosted: Wed 23 Apr, 2008 3:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:
I would guess that it makes sense to start with a very slightly oversized, unshaped plate, leave the plate flat during mounting of the scales, then bend it to fit it flush against the shoulder of the scale. Theoretically, that would give you a neat bend and perfect fit against the shoulder of the scale in one go--an important consideration when working with such thin stock. Then any overlap could be trimmed or filed flush with the edges of the scales and tang.


Hi Sean,

Keep in mind, that when you bend the plate, it will spring back a little. Bending it in place will most likely result in a gap between the plate and the scale as the presence of the scale would prevent you from bending the plate further, then allowing it to spring back to the correct angle.

I'm looking forward to seeing your St. Bartholomew knife. How far along are you on the project?

Darren.
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