Guard fit up tutorial with simple tools.

Tony Mont

Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Joined
Apr 15, 2018
Messages
966
Good evening my friends!

Since I used to strugle a lot with my guards in the past, I decided to do a small tutorial with every step I take to fit up a guard. This process requires common tools that more likely will exist in a knife shop already.
I will try to keep it short and simple, the complete tutorial will be in three posts due to the 10 image limit per post.

The fit up begins by proper preparation, the tang has to taper in both directions otherwise the guard will not slide.
1.jpg

With the tang ready to accept the guard, it's time to mark our material.
Roughly 25mm-1" wide is enough.
2.jpg
3.jpg

Mark the height of the tang and the center line. I like to scribe my center line deep to make my center punch easier to line up later on.
4.jpg 5.jpg

This knife has a 6.5mm-0.255" thick ricasso, therefore I will use a 6mm-0.236" drill bit. Using the drill bit, I mark where I should center punch. The better job you do center punching now, the easier filing will be later on.
6.jpg

Once the holes are drilled, I use a larger drill bit to drill a recess on the back side. A drill bit that is 1.5mm-2mm (0.05"-0.07") larger is plenty enough
7.jpg

Use the depth stop on the drill press to roughly stop 2.5mm-0.10" prior going through. This recess has a double purpose, firstly, it makes the fit up later on much easier (specially on a thicker guard stock). Secondly, once the glue up is done, the recess will fill up with epoxy and create a healthy barrier from moisture/water etc.
8.jpg

Since my main holes were tighly grouped, I couldn't drill a recess on all of them.
9.jpg

To be continued...
 

Tony Mont

Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Joined
Apr 15, 2018
Messages
966
With a rotary tool and a carbide insert, I connect the holes on the recess. Good quality carbide tools are very expensive, my 10 piece set came from bangood for 17$. Is it as awesome as good quality set? obviously not. Are they cheap and do a quick job? yes! I've done more than 20 guards on this insert alone.

10.jpg 11.jpg

Connect the dots on the face of the guard.
12.jpg

This is where the elbow grease starts. Use a file that fits the current slot and start filling the width of the slot.
13.jpg

Test fit the guard, once it reaches half way, I square up the slot with a modified file. This is not a special file, just a cheap file with the sides ground. This ensures that I will not file the sides of the slots while making the slot square.
14.jpg
15.jpg
16.jpg

With the slot squared up, it's time to start hammering the guard on. Instead of filing all the way to size, I file a bit less and hammer the guard in place.
Grab a couple of thick pieces of leather, mount the knife on the vice tighly (don't be scared to tighten the vice up). Use a steel spacer to protect your guard (specially on softer materials like copper) and by using a pipe, hammer away. If the guard does not move with hammering, more filing is required. File a little bit and try the fit up again. Take it slow to avoid removing more material than you should. The video is from another knife but the process was the same on this one.

17.jpg

ALWAYS WEAR PROTECTION WHILE DOING THIS, PIECES OF THE PIPE CAN FLY AWAY AND THE SHRAPNEL CAN DO SOME DAMAGE!
18.jpg
This happened by a tiny piece of pipe flying my way.

To be continued...
 

Tony Mont

Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Joined
Apr 15, 2018
Messages
966
The guard will not reach its place yet, the shoulders will have a tiny gap which has to be removed.
19.jpg

To remove these gaps, take off the guard and with a needle file, file at 45 degrees on the guard.
20.jpg 21.jpg

With the 45's filed, check the fit up again, this step takes some back and forth. Sand the face of the guard a bit to make it easier to spot any gaps.
Once the guard has reached its final home, there should be no gaps all around it.
22.jpg 23.jpg

That's my process to fit up a guard. I hope it's helpfull!
Any feedback or questions are welcome.

Have a beautiful day!
 

FredyCro

Basic Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2019
Messages
1,242
Great work on the tutorial, many thanks for your write up! While most of us know or have seen the steps, this is a real reference on how to. I usually quit on the patience part and fu** up on the way. I will use your tutorial and final fit up as a reference point for my builds. Especially since I also don't have a milling machine. Carbide inserts and grinding off the faces on the files it is!
 

Tony Mont

Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Joined
Apr 15, 2018
Messages
966
It's my pleasure to be of help!

One thing I forgot to mention, it's possible to remove small gaps from the guard. I'm going to do a follow up post later on with some pictures.
 
Joined
Jun 29, 2014
Messages
270
Beautiful write up!

I know this usually isn't a problem on big bowie knives and similar style guards, but I use the same process as OP for fitting bolsters on chef knives with hidden tangs, which creates a problem where even a needle file is too big to fit into the drilled holes. To remedy this, you can simply drill holes the same thickness of your tang, then connect the dots with a jewelers saw. This will give you enough room to fit a flat needle file and clean up the hole. The rest of the process remains the same as OP showed.
 
Joined
Nov 7, 2012
Messages
4,437
I do the same process except use a mill for the guard slot. Of course the mill makes short work of this task.
When using softer material like silicon bronze I machine the slot .002" undersize for a press fit.
If it's stainless material, I believe I used .001" undersized.
 

tinfoil hat timmy

Gold Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2014
Messages
13,943
I hope your face gets better.

thanks for the tutorial. that stuff takes time.

Very much appriciated.
 
Joined
Sep 17, 2020
Messages
38
Thank you for the great write up. I learned a few things that will definitely help.
 
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