Rob Brown Custom Knives
Tapering Tangs
Rob discusses his technique.
Fitting Guards
Rob reveals the secret to a clean fit.
Fitting Bolsters
Rob discusses the method used for his curved bolster design.
Mirror Finishing
Rob has become known for his mirror polish - here's how it is done.
Tapering Tangs by Rob Brown
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Tapered tangs can be terrifying to grind for most new makers, it's only practice that makes perfect - well, almost perfect. I can clearly remember to having to resort to filing them on my first couple of attempts. The fact is they look and feel so good (weight wise) on most contemporary designs that they cannot be ignored.

We start off with a surface ground profiled blank, drilled for the necessary rivets and thong tube, followed by a series of larger holes along the centre line.

You have no doubt marked out the cutting edge at this stage - so use the same markings at the end of the tang.

Image 1
The sketch shows a center line drawn along the handle which angles down towards the end, as the handle drops (common to most designs).

We start our grind on this section of the tang first.
Image 2
Using a 36 grit belt with the back of the knife supported on the rest, and held at the correct angle to grind along this center line, grind the tang down to just short of the scribed lines. I use a champagne cork to supply pressure to the tang right over the area I am grinding.

Contact wheel diameter can be anything from 150mm to 250mm.
Image 3
This little "gizmo" I like using is made from any hardened steel with two small steel pins soldered in place for locating into two corresponding holes drilled into the rest on each side of the contact wheel. The top edge should be rounded and fine sanded and the front should extend just past the edge of the contact wheel. This can be quickly repositioned to either side of the contact wheel and prevents losing the knife between the edge of the rest and the belt, and reduces the beating that your fingers normally take.
Image 4
The angled end of the tang now roughly ground on both sides. If you are unfamiliar with tapered tangs - take a piece of soft wood, taper it and grind out the profile of the handle. Study it to familiarize yourself where the thick and thin sections should be - they can be confusing.
Image 5
The handle has now been sprayed with "marking blue" to hilite the next grind for these pics only, which comprises the main straight section of the handle running out at the back of the guard.
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