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The Newbies Arena Are you new to knife making? Here is all the help you will need.

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  #1  
Old 04-28-2017, 01:55 PM
KevBooth KevBooth is offline
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Talk to me about taper??

Talk to me about tapers... Distal? Tang? What's the point? Is there a good reason to do this? Is it hard to do? Just seems like a lot of the top makers either taper the tang or use distal taper. I have never tried to do either, but it does not appear exceedingly difficult, if not laborious. Drilling the handle holes to match the tang may prove tricky, but I might be overthinking it too.
Just trying to learn.
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Old 04-28-2017, 03:31 PM
Lee Barnhill Lee Barnhill is offline
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Not hard to do,lightens the knife,better balance,looks kinda cool.


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Old 04-28-2017, 05:55 PM
jimmontg jimmontg is offline
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Drilling holes in handle and tang is easy, just tape both scales together the way you want them on the knife on one side and drill them out.
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Old 04-28-2017, 06:10 PM
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Ray Rogers Ray Rogers is offline
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QUOTE: What's the point?

Distal tapers can be used to make a blade more flexible, a fillet knife could be an example. They can also improve the balance of long bladed knives like Bowies. They probably don't accomplish much on short blades such as hunters.

Tapered tangs can reduce weight a little and help to improve the balance on short heavy knives like full tang hunters. In my opinion, tapering a tang for this purpose is a half measure attempt at solving a bad design issue. That issue is that short, heavy full tang knives have a terrible handle heavy balance to them. To me, it makes much more sense to use a stub tang design on such knives. That way, you get a real improvement in balance along with a bonus from the fact that if you are using an attractive handle material like a burl wood you will get a much better display of the wood's beauty.

Just my point of view on the subject ...


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Old 04-28-2017, 08:11 PM
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Ed Caffrey Ed Caffrey is offline
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To go a bit beyond what Ray mentioned, and add my reasoning.....

A full distal taper includes both the blade, and the tang. The thickest portion of the blade would be right in front of the handle scales or the guard, with the blade tapering to the point from there, and to the end of the handle.
A proper distal taper not only lightens, and makes a knife feel more balanced, it also increases overall strength of a blade. How? When a blade has proper distal taper, and you apply a lateral force to the blade, it forms an arch. What is the strongest structural design? An arch.

For example, if a lateral force is applied to a blade that is a single, given thickness throughout it's length, the force applied will seek out, and concentrate itself in/at the weakest point, generally causing breakage with much less force, and much less resilience then a blade of similar design that includes distal tapers.

When lateral force is applied to a blade with a proper distal taper, the blade forms an arch, and because of this, the force seeks to distribute itself evenly/equally along the length of the arch/blade, meaning even though the blade is generally significantly thinner and lighter then a single thickness blade of the same design, the one with the distal taper will withstand a greater force without being damaged. Of course that doesn't make is indestructible, it simply means that it will tolerate more lateral stress, and do it in a lighter weight, better balanced package then can be achieved with a blade that is a single thickness through out it's length.

Another reason I use distal tapers in nearly ever blade I produce is the fact that IF a blade/knife includes proper distal tapers, it's difficult for it to finish out "unbalanced"....that's assuming the maker doesn't do something silly like hang a huge buttcap on it.

And to be really honest, any knife that does not include distal tapers feels really "clunky" and heavy to me.


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Last edited by Ed Caffrey; 04-29-2017 at 07:41 AM.
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Old 04-28-2017, 08:33 PM
KevBooth KevBooth is offline
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All good advice. I never considered the flexibility thing. Good thing I asked, a filet knife is on my list of knives to try someday.

Good to know about the balance issue. I must admit, I personally like full tang knives, but that is quite possibly because I haven't made many hidden tang knives, perhaps when I make more my perspective will change.

But so long as we are talking about balance, where is a good spot for the blade to balance? Or how do you determine "good balance"?

Thanks again.
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Old 04-28-2017, 09:58 PM
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Ray Rogers Ray Rogers is offline
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You'll get different opinions on balance according to the type of knife and the user. Generally though, for many uses if a knife balances on the guard or near that point it will feel well balanced. Even a heavy knife will feel much lighter and move faster if it balances in that area. On larger knives that taper can help greatly with achieving that balance....


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Old 04-29-2017, 12:53 PM
jimmontg jimmontg is offline
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I am with Ray on the stub tang, or hidden tang. It makes putting spacers in like recon stone easier, not to mention if you want to use two different woods. I will usually run a full length hidden tang or weld a threaded bolt for a pommel. It all depends on the type of knife and it's purpose. Do not worry about the strength of a stub tang as Japanese Katanas are stub tangs, just remember to pin the stub tang in place. I pin all my hidden tangs whether or not they have a threaded on pommel or not.

On top of all that a stub tang uses less material. I made a billet of Damascus and was able to get 4 medium (4" blades +- 1/2") knives out of it by making them all hidden tangs. If I had made them full tangs I would have only got 2 medium sized skinners and one small knife out of it, if that.

Another trick some makers use to lighten and balance the knife is to drill out some large holes on a full tang.
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Old 04-29-2017, 08:54 PM
KevBooth KevBooth is offline
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Some very good information, thank you to all. I'd never considered the redistribution of forces, laterally, but it makes sense.
I'm always strived to have the blade balance on my pointer finger, wherever that would be under normal use. I can definitely see how reducing weight would help out with that cause and allow you to correct issues with more style.
I've never been concerned with the strength of hidden tangs being inferior, I know that is simply not the case. There are far too many factors concerning "strength" to paint the issue with that wide of a brush.
I'll admit I'd never considered the nesting issue. My next batch of steel will be wider than I've been buying and that will definitely come into play, in attempting to be more efficient. May have to try a few more hidden tangs.
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Old 05-01-2017, 08:49 AM
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Andrew Garrett Andrew Garrett is offline
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I was going to say what Ed said--probably because I learned it from him years ago in one of his videos.

Bob Loveless always used a tapered tang on his knives, regardless of size.

I consider a tapered tang on full tang knives, to be the mark of a handmade blade (because I've never seen one on a factory knife).

Drill the holes in both the tang and the scales before the taper, then reverse taper each scale while in the rough. When the pins line up easily, you have achieved the correct angles. That's how I do it.


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