I was watching a television show where blacksmith Forge things In Fire and they were challenged to make a leaf shaped sword. I really liked the design and shape of the sword and figured I would make a "mini" version of my own to use as a letter opener. Since this is not a real cutting blade I used mild steel for the blade and didn't have to worry about heat treating the steel. I modified the profile of a fireplace poker handle to make it more comfortable to hold and also to slim down the shape. This is my entry for the "Before and After" Contest, if you want to see how I did it please keep reading.
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I bought these fire place tools at a thrift store for $4 because I really liked the handles and thought I could make something from them. I had no clue what I wanted to make with them I just thought they looked interesting and for $4 I really didn't have much to lose. I wasn't sure the handles where solid brass but turns out I got lucky and they were indeed solid brass. The first thing I did was unscrew one of the handles from the tool.
Brass is relatively soft and this was my first time working with it so I used my hammer to give it a few taps to see how it moved. My plan was to flatten the screw hole section as this is where I would insert the tang of the blade. I wanted to flare it out a bit to give it the look of a hilt. After some more banging and tapping the hilt was formed.
In its current state the handle wasn't too comfortable to hold and it didn't really look like a sword handle so I used an angle grinder fitted with a cut off disc to remove some of the bulk. Then I used a file to round over the edges of my cuts. I didn't have an actual profile in mind I just designed on the fly.
Next I used my 1x30 belt grinder to shape the handle some more. It took quite a while to sand the profile I wanted. To do this I would focus on one section at a time and grind away the material as I turned the handle. I had to keep turning the handle so that I wouldn't get any flat spots I wanted the handle to be nice and round. Once I got the rough shaping done with the 80 grit belt I worked my way through the grits up to 320 grit.
Once the handle was done I started to work on the blade. I found an image online of a leaf sword shape that I liked and scaled it to what I felt was the right dimension. I used adobe photoshop to scale the image to the correct size and then printed it out to make a template. I printed out the template and taped it on to a piece of 1/8 inch thick mild steel and traced out the shape.
Here again I used my angle grinder to cut out the rough shape and then used my 1x30 belt sander to refine the shape of the blade.
To further refine the shape I used some hand files on the blade while it was clamped in my vise.
I measured and marked the centerline and had originally hoped to add a nice double bevel that would meet at the center of the blade but alas my skill set was not up to the challenge. I used my belt grinder to add the bevels and my file to flatten the blade. The bevels weren't as high as I would have liked but I am still pleased with the overall look.
Since the handle was so narrow the tang would have to be slimed down so it was time for some more file work and more belt grinder action. I got the tang down to about where I thought it would fit in the handle before moving on to the next step.
Next I chucked up the handle in a vise and drilled out the hole for the tang using a 1/8 inch drill bit. I then used my mini files to clean up the hole. I would periodically check the fitment of the tang to make sure it would fit eventually through the process of trial and error I got it to fit.
Finally it was time to assemble the letter opener. I mixed up some 5 minute epoxy and slathered it on to the tang and in the hole of the handle. The tang was a little loose in the handle so I used my hammer to lightly tap it and close up the hole. I made sure to wipe away any excess epoxy before it set. Once the epoxy cured I polished up the entire piece using a wire brush and sandpaper up to 1000 grit.
Overall I am very happy with how it turned out. It was a fun project and I learned quite a bit about working with brass. I hope you found this instructable helpful. Also I will be entering this into the "Before and After" contest if you are so inclined to do so please take the time to vote for my Instructable. Thank you!
Link to build video:
Second Prize in the
Before and After Contest 2017