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Mini Dagger Mini WIP - Pro Pics added

Jun 11, 2010
So I didn't start off taking pictures with the intent of doing a WIP thread, but I thought I had enough at various stages of the process to make for an interesting follow-along. This is going to be a little bitty dagger. OAL is about 10.5 inches. The blade was rough ground and heat treated probably 4 years ago with a batch of much larger dagger blades. This one simply used up the scrap piece of CPM 154CM left over from the larger blades. I originally flat ground it, but reground just prior to starting the complete project with a 1.5" wheel.

What triggered the completion of this blade was the acquisition of the right material for the handle. I LOVE blue, particularly the color of lapis, so I went hunting. Joe McNeely sent me a couple of large blocks of lapis TruStone composite, so I had to do something with it. For those who aren't aware of it, TruStone is a composite product made of 85% stone and 15% resin. It's REALLY hard, but seemed just right for this. Of course I had to iterate a few times. Here's an early sketch:


I'd already ground the blade and it needed polishing, of course. There's a reason I don't do hollow grinds much, and this was a good reminder of why that is. Here it is mid polish. I took it to 600grit:

It was time to turn the handle. I center drilled my piece on the lathe (wood lathe) and turned between centers. It sucked. A lot. I ended up running my lathe while rounding the blank with an angle grinder like the lapidary folks do. The details I cut in with a file, then polished like you normally would a pen. IT turned out (pun intended) like this:


Note that the tang is threaded. I did that before heat treat to hold the pommel. No in progress shots of that, but I turned it and the quillons with a handheld drill against a belt on my 2x72 grinder. Not ideal, but you gotta work with what you got. Here's a pic of the pommel and the handle on the knife, with the first iteration of the quillons laying by for scale. I didn't like this look, and ended up making larger ones. The keen eye will note that this side of the blade wasn't polished yet. I got ahead of myself and finished that later:


Here's a bass, just for fun:


I got the guard fitted and tapped for the quillons, and thought the quillons were too long. I shortened them. Here's a pic pre-shortening:


About this time I thought it was looking pretty good, but then I'm a glutton for punishment and decided to flute the handle. YEAH! So I made up this little jig that I saw on a Kyle Royer YouTube video and laid out the fluting pattern. Here's the jig. The toolrest on the lathe serves to keep the lines straight:


Draw those lines, then evenly spaced lines around the circumference, then connect the corners:


Looking good. Now the easy part is over. I cut the grooves in with a file. Tons of fun, but not as bad as it looks. I went with 16 of them. Here's the start:


And the finish before truing up the ends and polishing everything again:


And here's where we are today. I did a bunch of test pieces with fluting for the pommel and quillons, but I wasn't happy with those. I'm going to make the guard center piece narrower (almost round), maybe fiddle with the quillons a little more, and then I'll be done.


I'm gonna do a pretty ridiculous sheath too. I like the fancy ones with a metal throat and chape with leather around a maple core. I've done exactly one of those, and I was pretty happy with it so why not?

It may be a week or more until I update this again, but in the meantime, enjoy! And let me know what you think. I can still make changes if someone has a good idea.
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Nothing beats a good dagger project. Well, my first thought was perhaps some fluting on the guard and pommel, but you already tried that...
That's great. I'm a sucker for lapis. Only thing I could think to add is a few lab grown sapphires. Could even set them in reverse to keep the lines of the pommel and quillions.
Sweet little dagger Travis. From a design perspective the guard wings look a bit too thick/long in relation to that narrow blade IMHO :)
That's great. I'm a sucker for lapis. Only thing I could think to add is a few lab grown sapphires. Could even set them in reverse to keep the lines of the pommel and quillions.
rover rover , I LOVE the idea of setting stones in the tips, and even little ones in bands around all the metal bits near the end. Alas, I've never set stones, and from what I've read, stainless is probably not the place to start. Neither are sapphires, but spinels would also work and be more affordable. I think I have most of the tooling I need to do it, however, and will definitely add that kind of bling to future works. Perhaps Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith can chime in with some feedback about methods and time commitment.

Sweet little dagger Travis. From a design perspective the guard wings look a bit too thick/long in relation to that narrow blade IMHO :)

TK Steingass TK Steingass , I think I agree. I'm planning to shorten them a little more. Plus the center part of the guard will be narrower when I'm done, so that'll help too.

My thoughts so far, besides as mentioned above, are to get this one wrapped up so I can move on. Even if I basically call it good, I still have a couple more hours to go on the knife, plus probably 8-10 on the sheath. I have another project in mind (Art Deco, anyone?) that's been keeping me awake, plus a batch of hunters that just need a few more hours before they're sellable. I'm not really in this for the money, but it IS nice to have money to spend, especially when there are TOOLS to buy...
Call it good? I missed that chapter of Next Level Knifemaking ( by some guy named Fry).
I can see some ambitious looking sketches on your pad, looking forward to what you tackle next.
Call it good? I missed that chapter of Next Level Knifemaking ( by some guy named Fry).
I can see some ambitious looking sketches on your pad, looking forward to what you tackle next.

That was my brother, and he didn't give me a copy ;).

In all seriousness, we all have to find a balance between effort and return, and between the current project and the next one. In this case, I learned a lot. I did some things I've never done, some of which I'll do again, some I won't, and some I'll do better. Call it a next-level experiment that was successful.

I'm tooling up for some new things like gem setting and relief carving, and working toward a general change in creative direction from the last 10 years or so of knifemaking that might make it look as much like gold/silversmithing as knifemaking. I'm looking at a lot of knives I used to see and think, "I could never do that," and now I'm thinking, "What do I need to learn to make that happen?" But this one? I took it on a path that seemed right but might or might not have been the best one, and now it's near the end of that path and backtracking doesn't make sense.

I appreciate all of the feedback!
After some weekends of swim meets and a diversion starting 6 gallons of port wine from the wild Mustang Grapes that are having a banner year around these parts, I took a day off work and got some stuff done on the dagger. It doesn't look like a lot, but looks are deceiving. I got the center part of the guard shaped and polished, and everything dry fit. All that's left is etching my maker's mark and final glue up. Here she is in final form.


I also got some work done on the sheath. No pics of the poplar core (didn't end up having maple on hand, and poplar is at least as good and maybe better anyway), unfortunately--I got kinda into what I was doing and forgot. I will say that my new Foredom made this a whole lot faster, easier, and cleaner than the last time. Not sure how I did without it for so long. Anyway, here's a shot of of the sewn up seam. I like to get the leather stretched and glued with contact cement with the edges overlapping, then cut through both layers for a perfect meet up. Some folks make a pucker and sew with all of the stitches running parallel to the plane of the side of the core, but that makes a tall ridge that I don't like and leaves the edges of the leather exposed. Bleh. My preference is to baseball stitch it so the edges meet in the middle. I think it looks cleaner, adds an interesting visual element, and definitely lays flatter. Flatter is better because it's way easier to fit up the chape and throat. This is some of the same goat leather I bought in Tanzania that I used on the sheath for the Memories of Tanzania Dagger. Gonna be sad when all that is gone.


And here's a shot showing the fit up. It also gives an idea of the scale--this dagger is a little under 11" tip to tail. I realized that I don't have the stainless sheet I need to make the chape and throat, and I'm out of flux for my solder, so a supply order is required before completion. I could use nickel silver, which I have on hand and would be easier to work with, but it wouldn't match and that just wouldn't do. I'll post more pics as I make more progress.

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Turns out my little scrap of stainless sheet was big enough. I mocked up all of the sheath parts with paper, glued them to the metal, and bandsawed them. Forming and bending is next. The chape bits are kinda tough since they're so small, but the first one went ok. And the throat parts are a lot simpler, so it's mostly downhill from here. The steel is 304, which is a little harder to work with, but it'll polish up nice. Still trying to decide if I'm going to bother with a frog. Probably will...

It was hot yesterday, so this is all I got done. I did also order some more flux and other stuff to finish this, so I'm hoping I can wrap it up this weekend while the wife and kid are out of town.

Progress pic:

Sorry for the delay. I got most of the sheath done when I said I would, then never got around to taking many pictures. Here's one before the frog and the tip of the chape. Soldering all these stupid pieces sucked. So I think I'll do it again :):

Next, the glue up. G-Flex is the stuff!


And finally...it's DONE:




Got it in the mail today to Caleb Royer for "real" photos, so it'll be up for sale once it's back. Already on to the next project though. A hint...