Above, I’ve epoxied the titanium scales into place on the fully heat treated blade, and peened all four of the copper pins into place. While the epoxy is an important part of the holding process, it’s real value is in sealing the titanium scales to the steel tang, not allowing water or other fluids to get in underneath and work their dastardly deeds.
I’ve also done a little grinding and filing to make certain everything matches up for the fit-and-finish I (and my clients!) expect in my work. Also, you might notice I’ve carved and textured the “neck” of the blade, so I’m done with the blade itself, and ready to begin the embellishment process.
Above is a titanium practice piece for the embellishments with designs inspired by European cave paintings. So far, I’ve spent a total of three or four bladesmithing days getting to this point, and I’m figuring the engraving and carving will take another four engraving days. I’m not interested in risking the work I’ve done so far on an untested technique without a test piece first.
I’m going to decorate my titanium scales with a Japanese metal carving technique called shishiaibori. It is a technique that many authorities credit to a Japanese sword furniture maker named Joi, but I also notice it is very similar to certain styles of Egyptian hieroglyphics. So, who came first? I don’t know. I also don’t really care – but whoever figured it out first, I really like the effect it provides. No, I’m not interested in an art history debate, I’m simply pointing out some observations I’ve made about the technique so far
The technique starts out with a very deep outline (takes me three times around with three different gravers to get deep enough, and heavily cutting each time). Then, the inside edges are carefully carved back, rounding them over to achieve a 3D look. Obviously, you need to have steeper sides in some areas, and shallower sides in others to achieve the 3D look.
The main point is there is no background removal, as in normal US and European engraving, and all of the design is at or below the surface, so wear and tear on the engraving should be less of a concern. This particular set of scales for my little knapped push dagger is CP titanium, so I can either ink it in, or darken the whole thing (I think, I have to experiment a bit there), but I haven’t figured out how to selectively darken titanium yet.
Above is a closeup of the technique.
And, here is a view from the side, hopefully showing how flat this technique actually is, and how much of a 3D effect it gives when viewed from above. So far this looks really good, so the actual engraving is now a go.
Thanks for Looking!