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Old 3rd May 2015, 08:24 PM   #1
S.Workman
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Default Hunting Knife Restoration Tips Sought

Hello everyone, can someone recommend a guide to restoring old hunting knives and similar blades? I just got 2 Solingen knives, not ancient, but they could use some help. They are stag handled, with modern slotted brass/aluminum pommels. There is a touch of corrosion, and the horn and/or bakelite spacers are all cattywampus. The interwebz contain healthy advice like, "saw the tang off and then use a power wheel to buff any corrosion off the blades". I think I need a gentler touch, what do you say?
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Old 3rd May 2015, 08:38 PM   #2
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WHILE USING A POWER ANYTHING IS LARGELY A POOR CHOICE FOR ANY WORK ON AN ANTIQUE, THE RULES APPLIED TO SOMETHING MORE MODERN ARE SOMETIMES A BIT DIFFERENT. IN EITHER CASE THE GOAL IS TO RESTORE AND FIX THE ITEM NOT TO HARM OR DESTROY IT. IN THE CASE OF HUNTING KNIVES THE REPAIRS ARE USUALLY DONE BY REVERSING THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE ITEM AND THEN REPLACING OR SECURING BAD PARTS WITH THEIR NEWER COUNTERPARTS.
THE BEST ADVICE FOR YOU WOULD COME FROM KNIFE MAKERS AS THEY WILL IMMEDIATELY SEE WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE AND KNOW THE BEST TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES FOR MAKING THE RESTORATION. YOU CAN FIND KNIFE MAKERS AT MOST GUN SHOWS OR IN ADDS IN KNIFE MAGAZINES OR PERHAPS EVEN IN THE LOCAL YELLOW PAGES. THEY ARE USUALLY A FRIENDLY GROUP AND CAN GIVE ADVICE OR FIX IT FOR A PRICE. GOOD LUCK
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Old 3rd May 2015, 09:11 PM   #3
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If you are restoring them for use, then I'd recommend using decreasing grades of emory to clean up the blades, then sharpen them. The guards and pommels can usually be cleaned with Flitz or Never Dull or most any metal polish. Some wax polish with lots of buffing will bring up the stag. Pics would help with giving more suggestions.
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Old 3rd May 2015, 10:17 PM   #4
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OK, here are some pics. I would love to get them cleaned up to carry. I live in a state where you can carry anything you want anywhere, although I usually carry smaller things. I do hunt though, so they may be tasked for that. You can see the marks, the spacers, and the strangely abused pommels.
You can see that the tang is peened within the brass slot, so to replace the spacers I think I would have to grind off the peened over end and thereby shorten the whole thing by some amount. On the hollow ground knife the spacers look to be horn, but they are plastic on the other one, bakelite or something.
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Old 3rd May 2015, 10:22 PM   #5
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If the spacers, and ferules are out of alignment, the handle is probably loose from stag shrinkage. First, see if the pommel will unscrew with just hand pressure. If not, try wrapping in leather, or rubber and use a vice. Don't use too much force, if corroded, you might snap the tang off. If the pommel just turns around the nut, penetrating oil, and a spanner wrench is needed for the nut. Once you get the handle off, clean the blade with whatever method is needed. Really need some pictures to know how rusted the blades are. If not bad, oil, and steel wool will do the trick. Then, clean the handle components of crud, and re-assemble, using a drop of epoxy between them. Screw the pommel back on. It can be a little tricky, keeping them all aligned. They weren't made that way. Handle components were tightened down with the pommel, and final shaping was done after assemblage.
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Old 3rd May 2015, 10:37 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trenchwarfare
If the spacers, and ferules are out of alignment, the handle is probably loose from stag shrinkage. First, see if the pommel will unscrew with just hand pressure. If not, try wrapping in leather, or rubber and use a vice. Don't use too much force, if corroded, you might snap the tang off. If the pommel just turns around the nut, penetrating oil, and a spanner wrench is needed for the nut. Once you get the handle off, clean the blade with whatever method is needed. Really need some pictures to know how rusted the blades are. If not bad, oil, and steel wool will do the trick. Then, clean the handle components of crud, and re-assemble, using a drop of epoxy between them. Screw the pommel back on. It can be a little tricky, keeping them all aligned. They weren't made that way. Handle components were tightened down with the pommel, and final shaping was done after assemblage.

OK, so the end of the tang is threaded in there? I had thought it was peened over, but thats good news. Can you not see the amount of rust on the blades? The only one Im only concerned about is the etching on the one blade, its not too deep so I don't want to get too aggressive with the polishing.
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Old 3rd May 2015, 11:22 PM   #7
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You hadn't posted pictures when I replied. Must have been while I was typing. OOOO steel wool, and oil is all you need for the blades, It won't hurt the etching. The pommels look loose to me. There has been some sort of spanner wrench in the slots.
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Old 3rd May 2015, 11:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trenchwarfare
You hadn't posted pictures when I replied. Must have been while I was typing. OOOO steel wool, and oil is all you need for the blades, It won't hurt the etching. The pommels look loose to me. There has been some sort of spanner wrench in the slots.

Yes, some kind of tool has gnarled the bejeezus out of the brass. I think I can dress it with a very fine file and then use automotive sand paper the polish it back up. I don't know how much time I will spend on them, but they are nice little knives. Its funny, normally I can find some kind of particular collectors website on any variety of knife, but not these. One thing is, Im given to understand that the "RJ Richter" is the importer, not the manufacturer.
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Old 3rd May 2015, 11:52 PM   #9
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Are the grips all loosey goosey ?

If everything is still tight then you might consider just shaping the spacers back to match the grip contours .

Here's an old Othello that has been cleaned up .

Moved to Miscellania .
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Old 4th May 2015, 12:00 AM   #10
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Hi,

Those knives bring back memories, I had some myself....

Their restoration is a job for a professional knife maker.

Cheers
Chris
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Old 4th May 2015, 12:40 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
Are the grips all loosey goosey ?

If everything is still tight then you might consider just shaping the spacers back to match the grip contours .

Here's an old Othello that has been cleaned up .

Moved to Miscellania .

Not terribly loose, just not tight…loose enough that the spacers are all at different positions and can be pushed about with ease.
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Old 4th May 2015, 12:54 AM   #12
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It looks like some of the spacers have been possibly replaced which is probably why the pommels and brass nuts look a bit marred, although I would bet these are no newer than mid 20th century .
Maybe the leather dried out at some point .

Chris, it would be nice if the value of these hunters was worth having a pro restore them; but here in the US I think professional restoration would be more a labor of love .
I like the patina they have; it would be a shame to remove that .

The example I posted was a trade incentive item from a shirt company .

As an observation; I think we are treading more on a modern blade forum's territory here .

Last edited by Rick : 4th May 2015 at 01:15 AM.
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Old 4th May 2015, 01:55 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
... although I would bet these are no newer than mid 20th century .
Maybe the leather dried out at some point .


I bought mine in the 1950s.... Sigh....

Quote:
Chris, it would be nice if the value of these hunters was worth having a pro restore them; but here in the US I think professional restoration would be more a labor of love .


Financially speaking, I do not think that they would be worth the money involved, but as a memento of yesteryear, well, that is a personal decision to make.

Cheers
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Old 4th May 2015, 02:28 AM   #14
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You need a screwdriver that fits the brass pommel nut. Grind a "U"shaped groove in the center deep enough to fully engage the slots on either side of the tang and unscrew. When you grind this, make sure the screwdriver blade is kept cool or you'll lose the temper!

I would take note of the fiber, brass, horn, (or whatever), spacers and use some CA cement (superglue) to fix them into alignment. Do this away from the antler grip. Make sure alignment is perfect and let the glue wick in between the layers. Once it has set this can be handled like a single unit and glued to the antler.

After the blade has been cleaned and polished to whatever degree you prefer, stack everything back as before and screw the brass nut down snugly enough to where the pommel won't turn.

This type of restoration does not involve any real tricks or technique, just forethought and a bit of elbow grease. Work slower rather than faster and constantly check your progress.

Oh, and use hot wax on the whole piece...

Then,

You're done!

Last edited by Shakethetrees : 4th May 2015 at 03:19 AM.
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Old 4th May 2015, 03:21 AM   #15
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A lot of good advice has already been given for restoration of this knife, what I can add is really only fine tuning.

Disassemble by unscrewing the retaining nut in the pommel, it is really essential to disassemble the knife because you need to clamp the blade into a vice to effectively polish it.

Use abrasive paper to restore the blade surfaces; I would start with 1200 wet & dry paper and see if this has an effect or not, if no effect you work backwards through the grades until you get a result, then you go back through the grades and finish with worn 1200 W&D paper. There are other specialist metal finishing papers that can be used, but if I were doing this job I'd leave it at worn 1200 W&D.

The basic principle in using abrasives to polish metal is that you use each decrease in abrasion to remove the marks of the previous grit, and you finish the polish along the length of the object.

This means that in something that is in pretty crappy condition you might begin with say, a 120 grit along the length, then you reduce grit to 240, or maybe only 180 and you sand across the marks left by the previous grit, then you might go down to something like 300 grit and sand along the length of the blade, and so on until you get down to 1200 used along the length, followed by worn 1200 along the length.

You use the paper on a rubbing stick for flat surfaces, you use your fingers or a pencil eraser shaped to the curve for curved surfaces, such as in the hollow ground blade.

A rubbing stick is a piece of perfectly flat wood about an inch wide and half inch thick and long enough to hold in both hands, you cut the paper so it comes up the side of the stick.

With the hollow ground blade you do not touch the etching with anything more than oil and steel wool.

The red fibre washers should be replaced, here in Australia I can buy this fibre from a motor parts supplier.

Do not glue the separate handle parts together before assembly, most especially do not use Superglue:- Superglue dries too quickly and does not compress. When you reassemble the handle a tiny spot of slow drying Araldite between the loose parts of the handle can be acceptable, but it is really the pressure of the nut that will keep the handle together.

Re-shape and finish the replaced handle after assembly, again you can use abrasive papers and descending grades of steel wool, be careful not to damage the patina of the antler.

I have restored a few of these knives, and have made a few with the same construction; I was a member of the Australian Knifemakers Guild for a number of years --- no longer am, differences of opinion --- I mostly did bladesmith work for other makers, but also made more than a few complete knives myself, as well as doing restoration jobs.

Edit: sometimes the screw thread was peened over the nut to keep it from coming loose, so if the nut does not screw off and just jams, take a couple of passes with a file over it and it should screw off OK.

Last edited by A. G. Maisey : 4th May 2015 at 05:17 AM. Reason: afterthought
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Old 4th May 2015, 09:13 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shakethetrees
You need a screwdriver that fits the brass pommel nut. Grind a "U"shaped groove in the center deep enough to fully engage the slots on either side of the tang and unscrew. When you grind this, make sure the screwdriver blade is kept cool or you'll lose the temper!

I would take note of the fiber, brass, horn, (or whatever), spacers and use some CA cement (superglue) to fix them into alignment. Do this away from the antler grip. Make sure alignment is perfect and let the glue wick in between the layers. Once it has set this can be handled like a single unit and glued to the antler.

After the blade has been cleaned and polished to whatever degree you prefer, stack everything back as before and screw the brass nut down snugly enough to where the pommel won't turn.

This type of restoration does not involve any real tricks or technique, just forethought and a bit of elbow grease. Work slower rather than faster and constantly check your progress.

Oh, and use hot wax on the whole piece...

Then,

You're done!

Thank you for that process. I'm thinking about replacing the spacers since many are chipped at the edges which contributes to them not lining up properly. Jantz supply, here. I come. I'll probably end up making new sheaths since the originals are so tattered. These are another example of what happens when someone who does not esteem blades has them in their possession.
Btw, I think that someone tried to get rotation on the nut by tapping in with a nail set or something, it would explain why the pommels are loose and the nut is chewed up.

Last edited by S.Workman : 4th May 2015 at 09:25 AM.
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Old 4th May 2015, 09:22 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
A lot of good advice has already been given for restoration of this knife, what I can add is really only fine tuning.

Disassemble by unscrewing the retaining nut in the pommel, it is really essential to disassemble the knife because you need to clamp the blade into a vice to effectively polish it.

Use abrasive paper to restore the blade surfaces; I would start with 1200 wet & dry paper and see if this has an effect or not, if no effect you work backwards through the grades until you get a result, then you go back through the grades and finish with worn 1200 W&D paper. There are other specialist metal finishing papers that can be used, but if I were doing this job I'd leave it at worn 1200 W&D.

The basic principle in using abrasives to polish metal is that you use each decrease in abrasion to remove the marks of the previous grit, and you finish the polish along the length of the object.

This means that in something that is in pretty crappy condition you might begin with say, a 120 grit along the length, then you reduce grit to 240, or maybe only 180 and you sand across the marks left by the previous grit, then you might go down to something like 300 grit and sand along the length of the blade, and so on until you get down to 1200 used along the length, followed by worn 1200 along the length.

You use the paper on a rubbing stick for flat surfaces, you use your fingers or a pencil eraser shaped to the curve for curved surfaces, such as in the hollow ground blade.

A rubbing stick is a piece of perfectly flat wood about an inch wide and half inch thick and long enough to hold in both hands, you cut the paper so it comes up the side of the stick.

With the hollow ground blade you do not touch the etching with anything more than oil and steel wool.

The red fibre washers should be replaced, here in Australia I can buy this fibre from a motor parts supplier.

Do not glue the separate handle parts together before assembly, most especially do not use Superglue:- Superglue dries too quickly and does not compress. When you reassemble the handle a tiny spot of slow drying Araldite between the loose parts of the handle can be acceptable, but it is really the pressure of the nut that will keep the handle together.

Re-shape and finish the replaced handle after assembly, again you can use abrasive papers and descending grades of steel wool, be careful not to damage the patina of the antler.

I have restored a few of these knives, and have made a few with the same construction; I was a member of the Australian Knifemakers Guild for a number of years --- no longer am, differences of opinion --- I mostly did bladesmith work for other makers, but also made more than a few complete knives myself, as well as doing restoration jobs.

Edit: sometimes the screw thread was peened over the nut to keep it from coming loose, so if the nut does not screw off and just jams, take a couple of passes with a file over it and it should screw off OK.

Alan, you can always be relied upon to give us a detailed and informative response, thank you. How essential is it to use the same spacer material as the original? I have some extremely thin pieces of wood used in marquetry, could those be used? Whatever I use, I think the originals are toast, many are battered and no two are the same thickness. I have a feeling that once they are off and no longer under any pressure, they will prove somewhat warped.
Incidentally, I'm pretty impressed by the resistance of the thicker knife. It's sheath was downright rotten, literally the consistency and appearance of an old piece of dug up harness, green and blotchy.
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Old 4th May 2015, 01:01 PM   #18
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You can use other materials for spacers, when I've restored this same type of handle, I've used gasket material from an auto parts store, but I've also used brass shim.

I would not use wood because I can't think of a wood that could be relied upon to take the pressure. Maybe lignum vitae would be OK --- that's the stuff they used to use for bearings in marine engines --- but you probably don't have any of that. Wood would absorb moisture too. Not good. Nope, wouldn't use wood.

The pic is a knife I made maybe 20 years ago, rip - off of one of the old Marbles patterns:-

http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/s...arble-Woodcraft

I think this pattern was maybe the most popular pre-WWII belt knife in USA. Great knife. I had an original for many years, some misbegotten mongrel thought he needed it more than me.

Anyway, look at the Marbles, couple of different coloured materials as spacers.

The knife I did has the handle on in the same way, but it is stacked leather, and includes brass shim.

I like old Solingen knives, I've got a lot of pocket knives, and I never move without one, but probably the one I carry most is a 1930's Dirlam. Excellent design, excellent performance.
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Old 5th May 2015, 04:18 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shakethetrees
You need a screwdriver that fits the brass pommel nut. !

Here's a commercial tang nut tool that fits Marble's and many German knives like yours with a tang nut in the pommel. It gives a good idea of what you need to make to remove the nut.
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Old 6th May 2015, 01:06 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Berkley
Here's a commercial tang nut tool that fits Marble's and many German knives like yours with a tang nut in the pommel. It gives a good idea of what you need to make to remove the nut.

I did indeed make one but it's interesting to see that a multi width tool is or was available. I wish that they had put a hole in the center so you could run something through there and get more leverage/torque.
Does anyone know a professional or trade name for the fiber material that the spacers are made of? Jantz supply has fiberglass spacers, but I don't think it's fiberglass.
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Old 6th May 2015, 01:32 AM   #21
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You have a PM .
Google is your friend (in this case) .
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Old 6th May 2015, 02:54 AM   #22
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Quote:
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You have a PM .
Google is your friend (in this case) .

Nice, thank you.
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Old 6th May 2015, 07:03 AM   #23
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just to expand on AGM's fine info. lignum vitae is/was used in stern tube bearing & seals around the hull penetration of large low speed ship's propeller shafts. the seals used a trickle of water to lubricate and cool the wood bearing. lignum vitae essentially doesn't absorb water and is very hard and wear eresistant in this service. it also is denser than water (it sinks) and is not only expensive, but hard to find any more, the true LV is an endangered species, but small chunks for gun grips and knife handles can be found. wear a dust mask if you DIY (LV has medicinal uses when powdered). i used to see a lot of it around ship yards in sea ports as the wood was installed in dovetailed strips and needed replacement every decade or so. that source has dried up. modern seals are mechanical oil seals. great when they work, but a horror if they leak.

LV also makes nice clubs and walking sticks. and it looks really cool polished up. also traditional for carver's mallets, marlin spikes, gavels, lawn bowls, wooden jars, etc.

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Old 7th May 2015, 10:59 PM   #24
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This is what lignum vitae looks like.
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Old 8th May 2015, 12:21 AM   #25
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I have a good sized LV carver's mallet; you keep it waxed or it will check; it's a heavy bugger .

Good for deadeyes also IIRC .
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Old 8th May 2015, 09:45 AM   #26
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Turns out I have some LV, I have a piece of propeller bearing, I just didn't know what it was. I am a snitcher and hoarder of wood from way back, I have a million pieces of wood from all over. After. Working over the metal on these knives, I doubt I'll use wood, there are just too many irregularities and it seems from inspecting the old examples that the stuff just compresses into form.
Would it be correct to say that the fiber material just replaces leather or other organic material in a very old method of fashioning grips?
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Old 8th May 2015, 11:34 AM   #27
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I reckon that they used the fibre and brass and whatever else simply to make the handle look a bit more attractive. I used the couple of bits of brass shim for the same reason, just to break the monotony of all leather.

I've never seen a really old knife with a compressed leather hilt, probably 1920's or 1930's might be about as old as I've ever seen for one of these sort of hilts. They might have been around earlier, I don't know.
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