Instructables

This Instructible will take you through the steps and techniques necessary to make your very own medieval letter opener out of some wood, leather, wire and yes ... a bolt. and this will make a great Christmas gift to a medieval enthusiast or a gift for a great Dad for his desk. (who I'm making it for) and as this was a gift this tool engraver would have been cool to engrave his name http://www.craftsman.com/shc/s/p_10155_12602_00961050000P?vName=Power+Tools+%26+Equipment&cName=Power+Tools&sName=Portable+Power+Tools&prdNo=1&blockNo=1&blockType=L1
 
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Step 1: Materials & Tools

Picture of Materials & Tools

Materials:


* Cloth - any kind will work it will only be covered in leather and wont be seen as wide as the grip of your letter opener and about 10 inches long(scrap is just fine).

* Bolt - any kind really but you must think about the shape you want your letter opener to be  (size, width, and thickness must be taken into account) i used a 10 inch long half inch bolt(the best is the kind w/out the threads the whole length. (you can find these at home depot pretty cheap) this is what I used http://www.homedepot.com/Tools-Hardware-Hardware-Fasteners-Fasteners/h_d1/N-5yc1vZ1xg6Zar9h/R-100337973/h_d2/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053 .

* Wire - between 18 and 20 gauge is best you'll want it to be shiny(I'm using some jewelry wire I got at Michael's craft store it is copper core silver plate wire.) you'll need about 2-4 ft.

* Leather - I'm not actually using leather cause I found some nice vinyl at a local fabric store (this is for the handle so whatever size yours is is what you'll need I'm gonna use about a 18" x 1" piece) can be found at any fabric store.

* Sand paper- 100, 250, 400, and 600 grit

* Steel wool-  Kind: #0000 http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1vZ1xg6/R-100212006/h_d2/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053 . for finishing can be found at hardware store .

* Steel Buffing compound- for polishing can be found at a hardware store.


Tools:


* Torch- I used an Mapp-gas torch cause its what I have but a blow torch or a forge would have been better.

* Heavy Mallet- I used a 3 lb. Mallet.

* Files- coarse, medium and fine.

* Pliers or Vice grips- to hold the bolt while striking.

* Ear protection- unless you want a headache (past experience . . . the worst one I've had).

* Heavy duty gloves- I used welders gloves (to protect from burns).

* Anvil- or hard heavy metal surface on which to work the metal.

* Grinder- to rough out surface.

* Buffing wheel- to polish it.

* Vice - to hold letter opener while filing.

I did all my shopping at Homedepot
Qwertyfish29 days ago
I will try anyway, I will try this weekend and post pics. I have already done this with nails but I thought I'd step it up
sdfgeoff3 years ago
For a letter opener you don't need the strength or flexibility provided by tempering, so:
I made on from a large nail, just hammering it flat and then grinding it.

For those cheapo's like me, who don't have anything that can heat up metal hot enough, you don't actually need to, it just takes more work to get it flat.
Oh, and I used a bench grinder instead of files. Takes less time than filing, but leaves a rough finish to sand off.

Picture of my "sword"
cyprian916 (author)  sdfgeoff1 month ago
This is good but the files will give you a more refined look to your bevels. Just utilize some patience.
cyprian916 (author)  sdfgeoff1 month ago
Well yes and no if you don't heat I between hammering the metal at a molecular level will get very dense and hard and will take so much more work than necessary. Heating or annealing the metal will make it easier and better and will prevent brittle ness on edges and cracking.
Qwertyfish1 month ago
Could I make this from an eyebolt? Also what type of hammer did you use as I have a mallet/big hammer but that is my surface to hammer on so I just use a claw hammer? Could I do it with an eye blot and claw hammer?
cyprian916 (author)  Qwertyfish1 month ago
Probably could use the eyebolt but it'd be a lot of work to straighten it out. And a claw hammer in theory would work as it's still a hammer but you need something with weight otherwise you'll be doing a lot more work than needed. As my Father always taught me "use the right tool for the right job". So, make sure you're going about a task the right way using the best tools for the purpose they're meant for and you'll have the best outcome. A claw hammer is meant for driving and removing nails and as such doesn't need to be heavy usually measured in ounces. But a mallet is used for shaping hot metal or to drive much larger tools like a wood splitter(wedge) and is like 3 lbs or more. Hope this helps. I would love to see your outcome, post pics.
kyismaster3 years ago
How do you Burn Steel Lol.
cyprian916 (author)  kyismaster3 years ago
well since steel is comprised of iron and carbon if you heat up the steel to much what happens is the carbon burns out and leaves you with a very brittle useless bit of iron oxide and can no longer be used for a blade. just be careful to heat it moderately and evenly and you have no worries.
iguytheguy3 years ago
Someone should make a broad sword with a similar method.
cyprian916 (author)  iguytheguy3 years ago
yeah someday i will but i don't know how to properly heat treat steel so i could do it but without the heat treating my work would be wasted, but this summer i'm taking a metalworking class at ASU so lets see if i cant do that.
carlpogi_113 years ago
but how did you make the blade smaller ,when u are hammering it is big
cyprian916 (author)  carlpogi_113 years ago
what do you mean by that? to finish the overall shaping process in refining the shape you file the edges down it that what you mean?
crankyjew4 years ago
fine instructable, and very nice results.
a few interjections- that's not an oxy-acetylene torch, looks like a mapp-air setup.
it might be worth adding something about hardening/softening steel. i.e, once heated until orange, the faster steel is cooled (via quenching) the harder and more brittle it become. conversely, if allowed to cool slowly, the more slowly it cools the softer it will become.
He doesn't really need to talk about heat treating it because there is no way you can really harden a cheap mild steel bolt. Now if it was made from a highcarbon steel like leafsprings, files,etc, then it would need to be mentioned. But all the bolts I've ever checked are all mild steel, and even with a superquench you can't get any real hardness out of it.
cyprian916 (author)  crankyjew4 years ago
oh your right it is a map gas torch i just checked thx.
cyprian916 (author)  cyprian9164 years ago
and thanks it was fun to make.
GameV84 years ago
A wonderful gift and a great instructable.
Out of curiosity is that a railroad track anvil you're using?
cyprian916 (author)  GameV84 years ago
yes it is lol thanks.
Where did you get your "anvil?" Do you know of an easy way to obtain one? (I've been looking for a while.)
cyprian916 (author)  Kaiven3 years ago
no this is one my dad had which he got from his father, i think, who worked with railroads and trains so as for getting one like this i dont know but here is a really nice one Anvil
Holy cow, almost $200 bucks! Honestly I don't need the horn or hardy hole. I just need a semi wide, longish flat piece of steel I can hammer on. Anything like 5" x 10" would be fine for me, but I can't find simple small anvils. (well, more like medium?)
Thanks for the link though, I'll have to browse some more.
cyprian916 (author)  Kaiven3 years ago
I thought cast iron sucks though lol.
And I was thinking, if all I need is the flat part of an anvil, couldn't I just buy a steel block from a metal supplier?
The only thing I would need to know is how tall it should be, between 1/2" - 4" or something.
cyprian916 (author)  Kaiven3 years ago
i'd go with heavier so it doesn't move as much. ideally you would affix it to something that absorbs some of the impact . . . say a piece of heavy duty wood.
cyprian916 (author)  cyprian9163 years ago
do you have a renaissance festival where you live?
cyprian916 (author)  cyprian9163 years ago
this is the guy at the one near us where we go every year. blacksmith
mjursic4 years ago
Good instructable. Love it. You have to be careful when heating galvanized steel--zinc fumes can be deadly.
cyprian916 (author)  mjursic4 years ago
thanks im glad you like it. yes i know I've taken several chemistry classes, i looked for fumes but didn't see any and i was in a well ventilated area. garage door open and swamp cooler on. thx though
Welcome. I'll be doing one sometime in the next couple of weeks, that's how much I like it.
cyprian916 (author)  mjursic3 years ago
post pics when you finish it. btw my Dad loved it.
cyprian916 (author)  mjursic4 years ago
sweet yeah tons of fun to make and very rewarding to see the final product. now to see the look on my dads face Christmas day.
joesephshow4 years ago
wow dude amazing instructible love it you are an excellent craftsman i hope you win good luck.
cyprian916 (author)  joesephshow4 years ago
thx glad you liked it. i hope i do too.
gmjhowe4 years ago
Thats a nice little project, perfect to sit on desks.
cyprian916 (author)  gmjhowe4 years ago
thanks very much. yeah it's gonna be an X-mas gift for my Dad for his desk.
EaglesNest4 years ago
Wow, I never would have guessed that came from a crown bolt! Your Dad should be very impressed. How long did the entire process take you?
cyprian916 (author)  EaglesNest4 years ago
about 36 hours spread over 3 days. lol many late nights as this was accompanied by studying for finals. thanks you very much.