Big Bertha

Big Bertha
Circa 1940, on the streets of Rochester New York, Bertha does her work.
"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

Paul Valery

"You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time."

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Thursday, October 11, 2007

New and Improved Railroad Spike Knife

Everyone knows railroad spike knives are cool.
Even the great Tai Goo, the "Eddie Van Halen of knifemaking" makes them. And his are gorgeous in the extreme.
The problem is that every RRS knife I've seen, while I'm sure a well-crafted unit and perfectly functional as a knife, suffers from the same problem. Their coolness comes from the "Hey, that's made out of a railroad spike" factor. Really, minus the spike-head, it's just a piece of steel. All of which leaves this steel handle. It can be twisted or tricked out in a multitude of ways but it's still a hunk of steel and therefore, uncomfortable, slippery and no fun, especially in cold weather.
To address this problem I offer my "New and Improved" version. The knife pictured is a bit gnarly but that's because It's still in the prototype stage. I'm not entirely happy with the handle yet. More later.
Now, the step-by-step...
First, A VIDEO! Let me beg your indulgence. I'm new at this vid thing so these first two have a rather l o n g period of "nothin' happenin'" in the begining. But, it's worth sitting through...I think.
video
The tool being used here is a "chop-fuller" made by the "Poorboy Blacksmith's Tools" guy on E(vil)-Bay. One of the best 20 buckses I've ever spent although now he'll nail you $25 for one.
Anyway using this guy you fuller down grooves in the shank of the spike to a thickness of 1/4" or so. Do it four times and it'll look like this:
Now the task becomes to even out these corrugations. Because I'm lazy, I call upon the tender touch of the lovely and talented Miss Streisand. Why did I name my power hammer after Barbara Streisand?
Well, she's loud, high-maintenance, not pretty in any conventional sense...and because the first syllable of the word "barbell" is visible between the feet of the anvil.












So, without further adieu, let me introduce, a close personal friend and a wonderful human being - really we can forgive "Yentl" even "A Star is Born" - the lovely and talented....

video
The boy's grown since we saw him last...Now we begin flattening the blade portion. If you hammer from corner-to-corner rather than on the flat, you'll have an easier time squeezing width out of it.From here on it's just a matter of using the cross-peen to widen, working the point down and then thinning the edge. I was trying for a Sheffield style Bowie like my prototype butt didn't quite get there.
Finally, Barbara's curtain call:
video
And here we have the finished product, pictured next to its older brother. The guard is made from the tip of another spike, forged into shape with the idea of completing the whole visual, RRS thing. I cut a slit in it, slipped in onto the blade from the bottom and filled the gap at the top with weld which left a nice surface to texture for a thumb rest.
It seems that it will require some sort of flexible handle material, hence my experimentation, as the pommel/handle interface is a bit awkward.

3 comments:

Kevin said...

Some pics don't show... (I know, everyone is a critic).

Oliver Hart-Parr said...

I'm guessing it's the videos. Probably 'cause you live in the primative "land of the toadeaters"
Just an experiment. If you're curious, e-mail me and I'll send you them. Hell, I'll do it anyway

LittleJoe said...

For a handle, you can try leather wrapping, wire wrapping, or you can do like an eccentric friend of mine... He melts plastic soda bottles down, inserts the hilt or tang into a mold, and pours in the plastic. After cooling, it's hard, durable, and with a little work it has a very pleasing texture. If you're careful, you have a superior handle that is still fairly light.

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