Jun 10, 2001
I mean air tight, squeaky clean fit.
So it looks like there is no seam...
I just am having a real challenge getting it on double guards right now.
Could really use some help in this area. It's the little tricks that sometimes make all the difference in the finished blade.

What sould I be thinking about (RE: fit) or looking for before I even start a blade?

Is there a level of approach to the overall process?:rolleyes:
Robert, I make my slots a little over-sized, slide it in place and press the gap closed. This doesnt work for the new nickel silver we are getting now as it will crack. It sure works good on brass copper and mild steel. It fits so tight that I have to use a hammer to remove it. It will have to be ground straight again but the whole process only takes a couple minutes.
The blade has to be flat and parallel. If the flats at the ricasso/tang area are not flat, then you won't get a slot with parallel sides (in its slot) to fit tight.

Make a press fitting tool out of aluminum or very dense wood that you can pound the guard on, and back off if it doesn't fit right.

A micrometer really helps in determining the proper thickness of your slot.

Don't use dinky files to clean up your slot, grind big files down enough that they'll fit into the slot for better control without flex.

Practice, practice, practice....:)

It starts here...either get one of these or make your own. It is a file guide from Uncle Al's at


Ninety-five bucks may sound expensive until you figure this is squared on four sides, machined then hardened. Believe me, it is worth every penny. This sucker is true!

You have to start with squared, flat shoulders. I try to radius the inside with a round file but the shoulders are flat. This is the starting point for a good fit. Then comes the slot.

C Wilkins
Now I know absolutely nothing about fitting a guard to a blade but there must be some way to make a template that is accurate. What about using a sheet of dead soft material like lead to get a tight slot?
Basic rules include sanding the barstock flat before you begin to grind, avoid grinding a radius in the guard/bolster area, get a tight fit if you are doing a slotted guard or flatten out the backs of the bolsters if using bolsters, After drilling pin holes deburr holes where they meet the mating surface, install pins with gentle taps at first then take a great big hammer and finish the job.

Most bolster or guard fit problems can be cured by dry fitting everything first and filing carefully to achieve a perfect dry fit.
I forgot one point that Craig nailed. Get a filing fixture!

I have that same one...A2 @ 62RC only gets polished a little from the files. It is absolutely square.

As Craig said, a radiused junction of the tang to ricasso is better, as it will be less of a stress point if the shoulders are round instead of square.

All the other advice is great too.

Good luck,
I know you won't like to hear this

I've worked with a couple of machinists and a pile of good model makers, they all say prety much the same thing, "hold the file straight, and practice, practice, practice."

after a couple of weeks(8 hours a day) you'll get the hang of it.

failures are only bad if we fail to learn from them
Flatten every side on you guard stock that needs to be true. Bring the frount side, side closest to the blade to your desired finish.
Spray it with layout die and scribe on the cross section dimentions of the area of the blade you are fitting it to.
Drill and file out the slot so that it just about sides into place but do not go outside your layout marks (guard location to end of tang should have a slight tapper).
Protect the blade with some leather and secure it in your vice and drive the guard into position using a brass bar as a drift, if the guard is brass us a lead drift.
Unless you tilted you file and didn't file square the fit will be air tight.
Great advice:D
Thanks all.
I do have a couple qestions though.
What do you use to squease the gap closed?

You are right I am using skinny little files that flex. Time to make some dedicated tools...

You guys are right on the mark as usual.
I've set it on it's side on the anvil horn, and hit it with a big hammer. If this dosn't work, try moving metal into the hole with a ball pien hammer. you'll have to clean up the marks but you'll have a second chance.