A friend of mine had an old bayonet blade off of an Italian Carcano rifle that he wanted cleaned up. He also asked that I put some kind of handle on it as well. I managed to get it done this weekend.
Here’s the bayonet blade as given to me. It’s rusty and the front couple of inches of it were coated in paint.
As always, all rusty things end up in the electrolysis tub. This is a picture from before I turned it on. The rust in the water is from the cast iron pan I covered a few posts back. You can reuse the same water in the tub multiple times and it works well.
While the blade was soaking, I rouged out some material to use for a handle from the Water Oak I have around. Since the bayonet won’t be used for stabbing anymore I decided to skip putting a guard between the blade and handle. The first thing to do was put a flat side on the pieces. The best way I have to accomplish this is to clamp the pieces in the leg vise on my bench and use my #5 Stanley plane.
Next, I outlined the tang of the blade and chiseled out the area to a depth of half the tang thickness.
Once the blade fit snugly in the halves, I placed the blade in one half of the handle and drilled the screw hole. I then put the other half of the handle on, flipped the whole thing over, and drilled through the other handle half. This way the holes are aligned with the holes in the tang. If your table is perpendicular to your drill bit, then you’ll have a straight hole through the handle halves.
With the holes drilled, I turned my attention to shaping the handle. Below shows a picture of the handle clamped in the leg vise so I can quickly remove material using the plane.
I put some temporary screws in to hold it all together and then clamped it in the vise. Note that I’m using some scrap wood to pad the blade between the vise jaws. With it firmly held, I worked it over using a rasp until I was happy. Later on I used sand paper to smooth the surface.
Once I was happy with the overall shape, I counter sunk some holes in the handle for the screw heads. For the nuts on the other side, I drilled a hole slightly smaller than the nut and then pressed them into the wood with the arbor press. I chose to use some boiled linseed oil as a finish with the Oak.
Here’s how it turned out. The handle is pretty simple and the design quite plain, but it does feel good in the hand. It functioned well test chopping some small twigs. In retrospect I might have gone with a handle that was a little longer and had a more sweeping shape. Lesson learned for next time.