C. 1900 I Wilson Sheffield Butchers' Knife

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cotedupy

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Another old butchers' knife project I picked up as a project. An I Wilson Butchers' knife from the first decade of the 20th century (I guess). Also stamped with the Melbourne importer: Henry Berry & Co Pty LTD.

The blade itself looks to be in quite good condition, with no serious rust, tho slightly over-sharpened in the middle. But the (five-pinned) handle certainly needs a bit of work, with a fairly hefty crack, and warping around the heel. I'd like to try to get it back in shape and keep the original, but don't know how feasible it'd be trying to fill the gaps? Any thoughts appreciated...
 

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milkbaby

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You could take the scales off and sand them flat. You'll be able to guesstimate how much width you might lose after removing them. A slow curing epoxy will help seal the handle from water infiltration when you reinstall.

An alternative method could be to try clamping the scales flat and use a gap filling cyanoacrylate glue that will flow into the gap. If it's really big gaps you'd probably need epoxy instead tho.
 

cotedupy

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Cheers! I think it sounds like epoxy is the way to go. Have never used it before so will do some research...
 

blorp

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Another old butchers' knife project I picked up as a project. An I Wilson Butchers' knife from the first decade of the 20th century (I guess). Also stamped with the Melbourne importer: Henry Berry & Co Pty LTD.

The blade itself looks to be in quite good condition, with no serious rust, tho slightly over-sharpened in the middle. But the (five-pinned) handle certainly needs a bit of work, with a fairly hefty crack, and warping around the heel. I'd like to try to get it back in shape and keep the original, but don't know how feasible it'd be trying to fill the gaps? Any thoughts appreciated...
I think epoxy would work too, then you just sand the excess off. I don't recommend the super-gel type super glues as they tend not to leave a clear finish when sanded. Could have been my specific brand though

I actually use some stuff called "plastic surgery" but it's super watery and would be hard to work for a gap that big.

Could possibly be worth doing a little hand making project too!
 

cotedupy

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I think epoxy would work too, then you just sand the excess off. I don't recommend the super-gel type super glues as they tend not to leave a clear finish when sanded. Could have been my specific brand though

I actually use some stuff called "plastic surgery" but it's super watery and would be hard to work for a gap that big.

Could possibly be worth doing a little hand making project too!
I did manage to get the scales off take off, get the crap and rust out of the middle, and epoxy back together.

Tho the scales do seem very soft and lots comes off any time I even think about sanding them. So might think about making some more in the future. I've made a couple lately that have gone alright.
 

blorp

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I did manage to get the scales off take off, get the crap and rust out of the middle, and epoxy back together.

Tho the scales do seem very soft and lots comes off any time I even think about sanding them. So might think about making some more in the future. I've made a couple lately that have gone alright.
Got new photos?
 

cotedupy

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A wee update to this... I've decided to make a new handle for it.

But clearly I wasn't really paying attention initially- it has a five pinned scales (which I think is fairly standard for the time).
IMG_1110.jpeg


But only three pins in the tang, i.e. not full tang to the end of the scales. Does that look like someone has sawed through it at some point? Or was that something knifemakers did back in the day...?
IMG_1109.jpeg
 

Noodle Soup

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Looks normal for a Wilson knife. Short tang with the handle scales held together by the last pins. I have several in my collection.
 

Ericfg

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the scales do seem very soft and lots comes off any time I even think about sanding them.
Sounds like dry and/or wet rot. I bought what I think is a 1960s/70s knife with ugly handles recently. The plan was to re-handle it but I wanted to be gentle when taking the original handle off. When I got the handle off the inside, mostly up by the bolster/neck area, was just a mess of rotting wood. Outside it was just an ugly, cracked handle. Inside it was a mess. I might re-use an intact rivet head as a highlight on the new handle but the original wood is just non-functional at this point.
So might think about making some more (new scales?) in the future.
I'd re-handle it for use since restoring it for posterity has gone by the board.
 

cotedupy

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Sounds like dry and/or wet rot. I bought what I think is a 1960s/70s knife with ugly handles recently. The plan was to re-handle it but I wanted to be gentle when taking the original handle off. When I got the handle off the inside, mostly up by the bolster/neck area, was just a mess of rotting wood. Outside it was just an ugly, cracked handle. Inside it was a mess. I might re-use an intact rivet head as a highlight on the new handle but the original wood is just non-functional at this point.
I'd re-handle it for use since restoring it for posterity has gone by the board.
Ah yeah could well have been, wasn't quite as bad yours sounds on the inside, but I think it had been sitting in a shed for quite some decades!

Will post pictures once I'm done...
 

cotedupy

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Sounds like dry and/or wet rot. I bought what I think is a 1960s/70s knife with ugly handles recently. The plan was to re-handle it but I wanted to be gentle when taking the original handle off. When I got the handle off the inside, mostly up by the bolster/neck area, was just a mess of rotting wood. Outside it was just an ugly, cracked handle. Inside it was a mess. I might re-use an intact rivet head as a highlight on the new handle but the original wood is just non-functional at this point.
I'd re-handle it for use since restoring it for posterity has gone by the board.
So this was my attempt at re-handling. Using old winemaking oak, as I've done on a couple of other knives. It was quite a rough piece, and I was worried initially that I'd fecked it up.
IMG_1129.jpeg


But after quite a lot of sanding, oil, and wax I think it turned out alright. I tried to keep the look of the original scales, and also give it a bit of curve to match the spine. It's glued in as I'm not really set up for pinning things, and also pins seems very tricky to come by here. These pics are after cleaning up the blade, but before sharpening, I need to take a bit of metal off at the heel I think...
IMG_1145 (1).jpeg

IMG_1147 (1).jpeg
 

DavidPF

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But after quite a lot of sanding, oil, and wax I think it turned out alright.
It looks great! If it's comfortable to hold, easy to use, and very secure against falling apart, I'd say you're definitely the winner. It's certainly miles better than it was before. I'd tend to prefer an ordinary straight handle even on a curved knife, but the curve you've added is fairly slight anyway, so maybe it just improves the look without really changing the feel very much.
 

DavidPF

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I need to take a bit of metal off at the heel I think...
Is the blade a bit "dished" in the middle from the way a steel was used on it? Or is that the design?

Note: I ask because I don't know; some butcher knives do seem to have a double curve built in from the factory, and I don't know if this is one of them. (I mean a bit of an S curve to the edge, with a tall heel, a narrower area in the back ⅓ of the blade, a lot of belly in the front ⅓, and a high tip. The most I've ever "butchered" is a single chicken once in a while, so take lots of salt with this.)
 
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cotedupy

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It looks great! If it's comfortable to hold, easy to use, and very secure against falling apart, I'd say you're definitely the winner. It's certainly miles better than it was before. I'd tend to prefer an ordinary straight handle even on a curved knife, but the curve you've added is fairly slight anyway, so maybe it just improves the look without really changing the feel very much.
It is pretty comfortable... I don't use it much at all tbh, just occasionally. But it's a pretty cool knife, at some point I might do another handle for it with some pins, but I also quite like atm.

I'm pretty sure you're right that it's had some over-steeling... I shouldn't have thought that was the design. It's notceable but not too bad, so I just plan to gradually even it out over time when sharpening.
 
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