Bolsters

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Mar 6, 2022
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I am up to doing some bolsters next. I have a few questions.

1. Do they need to be undercut (dovetail)?
2. Is the scale edge of the bolster the reference, or the pin hole?
3. Do they get tinned and heated or clamped and sweated?
4. Is brass-brass any different process than brass-nickle_silver?
5. Does it need to be solid solder or can I use rosin core?
6. Should the scale material be cut at the same time and mated before attaching?
7. Can I just scratch a line or use tape to align them, or do I need to get/make a file guide first and use that?

Anything I forgot to ask that everyone screws up their first time?
 

Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

ilmarinen - MODERATOR
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1. Do they need to be undercut (dovetail)? - Either way works. Dovetailed bolsters look more professional, but are much harder to get perfect.
2. Is the scale edge of the bolster the reference, or the pin hole? - Not sure what you are asking? I drill the pin holes after soldering.
3. Do they get tinned and heated or clamped and sweated? - Tinning both surfaces works better. Don't clamp too hard or the solder won't flow. The tension of a pair of soldering tweezers is just right. Bend the tweezers so they apply the pressure at the tip, not on the flat parts. This keeps the bolster from lifting on one side.
4. Is brass-brass any different process than brass-nickle_silver? - Nickle-silver is brass AKA white brass, German silver, etc.. They solder together about the same.
5. Does it need to be solid solder or can I use rosin core? - Don't use rosin core. Most folks use a liquid flux to match the type solder they choose. The best solders are the special low temp types like Stay-Brite and TIX. Remember to wash and neutralize the joint well after soldering. Flux has a nasty habit of showing up years later as a rust spot or pit if not completely removes after soldering.
6. Should the scale material be cut at the same time and mated before attaching? - No, finish the bolsters and then do the scales.
7. Can I just scratch a line or use tape to align them, or do I need to get/make a file guide first and use that? - There are many ways to position the bolsters. Some folks use a clamped guide to position the bolster whil soldering.

The biggest thing you didn't ask is about heat control. Use a very small flame torch. Those small handheld butane torches or a Little/Smith torch are good for soldering bolsters and guards. Heat from the back side of teh joint and apply the solder from the front side. let it wick through the joint. Use only as much heat as is needed to melt the solder. More heat will burn the flux and stop the solder from flowing.
 

Horsewright

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Course a guy could do this:

 
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Course a guy could do this:

Wow, Dan, you two have it down to a science. I am pretty sure that for my little folders I should be soldering rather than using epoxy although, I may try epoxying 1 just to try something different. I am doing 6 different folder patterns all at the same time. At some point, I will diverge because for one thing they will be getting different scale material, but also some will be double bolstered, while one will be single bolstered, and another will be shadow-pattern with no bolster at all. All of my bolsters are laid out on paper with the matching position of the pivot pin hole or tail pin hole respectively. So I could certainly use that for alignment if it would make sense.

I do have a plan, but there is always room to change the plan if I come across a better idea. :)
 
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10-4, didnt realize you were working on folders. Thanks
Here they are so far:

The bolsters are glued to their respective Nickel-Silver and Brass bars to be cut out, but they are about 6" outside the photograph :)

46c37e2aa78c3e2de98f4fb6788cfc7d01ceb77c.jpg
 

SBuzek

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Such a great guide, just tried for my first brass bolsters :)
If I would use nickelsilver bolster, I guess I should have a nickelsilver pin/rivet? Or can I use steel with no big visual difference?
 
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SBuzek SBuzek What are the filed slots on some bolsters called? I am trying to find som tips and trix on how to get them nice and smooth, maybe you have some tips on that as well? :)
 

SBuzek

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SBuzek SBuzek What are the filed slots on some bolsters called? I am trying to find som tips and trix on how to get them nice and smooth, maybe you have some tips on that as well? :)
Ringed or fluted, scribe a line across the bolsters where you want the flute, start with a 3 corner file and cut a line relatively deep the follow up with a round file.
Most are done with an 1/8 round file.

Follow with sandpaper on a 3/32 pice of rod to polish. Then a round cratex wheel shaped with a file to get a high shine.
 
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SBuzek SBuzek May I please ask you another NB question? I am riveting my folders with brass liners and without washers, trying to stay as traditional as possible. That means that bladeplay becomes pretty tight if I want the back spring to be flush with the liners. Should I put someting between the blade and the liners while riveting? And if so, how do I get it off once riveted and tight? Will a piece of paper be a good idea? I am thinking it will *desolve it self with some water or oil...
 
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AVigil

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SBuzek SBuzek May I please ask you another NB question? I am riveting my folders with brass liners and without washers, trying to stay as traditional as possible. That means that bladeplay becomes pretty tight if I want the back spring to be flush with the liners. Should I put someting between the blade and the liners while riveting? And if so, how do I get it off once riveted and tight? Will a piece of paper be a good idea? I am thinking it will resolve it self with some water or oil...
Watch this

 
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Watch this

Super helpful Adam, tank you :)
Do you think a aluminum beer can have a good thickness, or is it a bit to thick? I guess I can hammer it down some if needed.
Starting my next little project tomorrow, and will use your trick :)
 

AVigil

Adam Vigil knifemaker working the grind
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A beer can will work.
Just be careful not to over peen or it will lock up and become a nightmare
 
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