Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Pen Knife and Goose Feather Quills

What is a friar or a monk without a scribal kit right?  Well I wanted mostly for a method to write in my journal.  I like the idea of looking like a period scribe at the event, but journaling was the primary reason.  To write one needs a pen.  To make a pen one needs feathers and a knife.  To make a knife one needs a metal file and some bones.

I bought the following metal file from a flea market for about 75 cents.  Rock on!  The guy laughed at me when I asked for a "bulk" rate.  I bought about 20 files, a couple old hatchets and some other stuff.  He said "you must do a lot of wood work?"   I didn't have the heart to point out that these were metal files.  I told him that I was planning on making medieval knives out of them.  He looked at me like either he was drunk or I was.  We were both happy with our end of the bargain and that made for a good day.



Taking the rusty metal file I put it to the grinder for about 5 minutes to take off the rust and smooth our the metal ridges.

Since the edges are the only part that will show I spent more time assuring that those side had no sign of the prior life as a file.

I sketched out the shape of the knife on the blank and proceeded to cut it and grind it to shape.  Note that I could have worked the piece hot, but the benefit of using metal files is that as long as you keep the piece cool, quence often and don't over work you have a VERY hard piece of metal.  I didn't want to lose the heat treatment so I worked the piece bare handed.  Whenever it got warm to the touch I wet it again.  This was key to keeping the temper.

I cut this with a angle grinder with a cutting bit.  I kept spraying with water while cutting to keep cool.

After cutting I used the bench grinder to bring it to shape.

I then moved to a sander to fine toon the shape and help hone the edge.  I also refocused the bod of the blade to make sure it was semetrical.  I marked the pin placement and began drilling the pin holes.  Note this part was the worst.  The metal IS VERY hard as I have stated.  That makes drilling very tough.  I used a metal bit with diamond chips and it still took about 5 minutes of slow drilling to complete each hole.

Metal done-ish for now.  Move on to the bones.  Ox bone plates cut to shape.  This is the first set.  As you will see later, I broke this set.

Bone plates cut to shape, now to go back and work the blade some more.


Blade cleaned up as much as possible without the hinderance of the bone handle getting in the way of the sander.  I cut a small brass 1/8th inch rod into sections about 1/16th of an inch longer on each side of the handle.

I peened the brass pins down to hold the bones in place.

I first filed the brass pin flat to allow for an easy surface to start peening over.

... AND... here is the fail.  Missed the pin and cracked the bone.  I did the same thing earlier on the paternoster too. 


Two fails in the same day.  I used a cut off bit on my dremel to cut off the head of the pin.  I then used the punch you see below to push the pin out of the knife.


Round two.  Same approach, differant bones.


Cut and ground and sanded and peened.  Better this time.  No cracks.  I haven't finished polishing the blade and yet it is still sharp enough to shave with.  Yeah!  I love a sharp blade.

Now to play with some quills.  These are some feathers I collected with my kids around a local pond.


I sorted them out and cut the following to length.  I took only the largest, straightest ones for quills.  I used my new knife to remove the fletching from the shaft.

I heated up a bucket of clean sand in a cast iron pot and then used that hot sand to cure the quills and harden them. 
 


No detail pics of the cut quills.  I have tried about 1/2 the ones you see below and find that it is much HARDER than I thought.  I plan on taking a class about it during Pennsic.  Not sure if I am doing somethign wrong or if there is an issue with my quills.  They look great when cut, but are way too flexible to write with.   Oh well.... I tried.

Finished penner and quills.