Old 7" Butcher's knife

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cotedupy

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I found this very cheaply in a second hand shop the other day, and bought to practice my skills re-sharpening and restoring old very rusty carbon. It's pretty damn sharp now, and I put a mustard patina on it to experiment, which is kinda funky but I'm not sure I'd do again. I'll also re-make it's handle sometime, as this one seems to be just two abritrarily-sized pieces of wood sandwiching the knife with odd pins, and I imagine is probably a homemade replacement of some kind.

Anyway I had a question: It's incredibly thin, and wouldn't really go through anything but the flimsiest of bones, less than 2mm across the spine at the heel. I suspect it's probably quite old, is the thinness something that might have been more common in these knives back in the day? Or is it more likely just an old not-great quality knife skimping on the raw materials...?

I don't mind at all either way, as it barely cost anything. (And sorry I don't have any pictures of it before, tho it was a right state!)
 

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McMan

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Common pattern for butchery on both sides of the pond. It's not meant to go through bone, hence the thinness. It's meant to break down proteins--to turn big pieces of meat into smaller pieces of meat :)
These old ones can take a tremendous edge (though they don't hold it too long). Any markings? Sheffield?

Here's a contemporary version:
 

cotedupy

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Ah cheers! I clearly misunderstood and thought they were meant to be quite hefty (have just measured this one and it's actually around 1mm).

No markings that I could see, certainly not stamped ones, tho I did have to sand quite a lot of rust off. It could be Sheffield, there do seem to be quite a lot of newer Sheffield knives in charity shops around here. Tho I got this in a rural town in South Australia with quite a lot of cattle and sheep farming around, so imagine could possibly be local as well.

And yep- I got the impression when sharpening it that it might not hold that edge for a great length of time.
 

tgfencer

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Most butchery knives are not meant to go through bone, but rather turn big meat into small meat, take meat away from bone, or remove undesirable elements from meat (like silverskin). The ones that are meant to cut bone are quite obvious, such as cleavers, and the edges are generally more similar to convex axe edges than the usual kitchen knife edges.

If you don't think you could split a small piece of kindling or firewood with a knife and have it survive, it probably won't break bone effectively.
 

cotedupy

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Ha, yes this is certainly not cut out for splitting wood or similar!

My father-in-law is a cattle farmer, so will have to see if I can get in on the action next time he's taking apart a cow for the freezer...
 

cotedupy

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And sorry- another question: I took the handles off. Which took *a lot* of work as I didn't have any tools so sanded all the rust between the tang and the handles and then got a cutlery knife through (yeah... I might try another way next time!)

Do tangs often have this kind of random assortment of different sized holes drilled?

Also- Any tips for what to do next? I may just clean it all up and pin the same handles back in, but any suggestions or guidance appreciated...
 

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cotedupy

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And a final update... After a few vinegar baths and quite a lot of work I gave up at this stage (pic 837). Sanded down the insides of the handles, and went off to the hardware store to buy replacement pins. Which obviously they didn't have. So I tried to hammer straight the old ones, borrowed a peening hammer from someone and gave them a go.

Which worked surprisingly well with a bit of adhesive. And because the tang was a fair bit thinner with all the rust removed the pins now went all the way through so I could hammer both sides.

It was never going to be much of a looker, but I was fairly pleased with a first attempt at this kind of thing, especially considering I had basically no equipment. (pic 825 is from before I took the handle off, but it shows the way the patina catches the light nicely.)
 

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Benuser

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Have seen this kind of pins with all kind of Sheffields, up to in the '40s.German makers introduced rivets much earlier. No idea about American makers, though.
 

blorp

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And a final update... After a few vinegar baths and quite a lot of work I gave up at this stage (pic 837). Sanded down the insides of the handles, and went off to the hardware store to buy replacement pins. Which obviously they didn't have. So I tried to hammer straight the old ones, borrowed a peening hammer from someone and gave them a go.

Which worked surprisingly well with a bit of adhesive. And because the tang was a fair bit thinner with all the rust removed the pins now went all the way through so I could hammer both sides.

It was never going to be much of a looker, but I was fairly pleased with a first attempt at this kind of thing, especially considering I had basically no equipment. (pic 825 is from before I took the handle off, but it shows the way the patina catches the light nicely.)
We're you able to apply any finishing oil?
 
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