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Question re: a Knuckleduster


Obergefreiter
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Recently I acquired a WW1 "knuckleduster" similar to the one in the picture. Mine, however, is minus the wooden hand grip. My knife, I might add, needs a big hug, so I've been soaking it in liquid wrench and working it over with naval jelly to get the rust off. My questions are, is the round pommel at the bottom of the knife threaded onto the round metal spindle that the handle fits over, and if so, how does one get the pommel off? Is there a special tool? Is there some trick to the trade that will help me out? Any information would be greatfully appreciated. Thanks.

Edited by Obergefreiter
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Nick, there seem to be two basic types of this knife... one with a threaded and one a peened tang. Basically the threaded type has a pommel cap that is, after the grip/guard assembly has been installed, screwed/bolted to the end of the tang to hold it all together. However, things that are screwed/bolted can of course come loose over time or come apart. The peen method heats the end of the tang after assembly, and on these I'm assuming a machine would then peen the end of the tang, ie: hammer or more likely in this case use high pressure to form the end of the tang into the pyramidal shaped "cap" which holds it all together. Works great, until you get a situation such as you have where the grip has to be replaced.

If you go here you'll see two examples of this knife, one with a threaded tang/pommel and the other that is peened:

http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/lofiversion/index.php/t65710.html

You'll see they are distinctly different. The example you show in the pic you posted definitely seems to be the peened tang type. Normally, if you didn't have the guard to worry about you could make a repair as shown in the example of a sword here:

http://sbgswordforum.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=swordcustom&action=print&thread=10675

But with the guard involved you cannot afford to lose any of the tang's length.

Here is what I would suggest. Finish your cleaning/rust removal. Then either make (or if you are not good with woodworking get someone who is to make) a new grip for it but in two halves, taking care that once complete they will fit together very well leaving a very small seam. Fit it together on the tang then once the fit is right glue the halves together, sand the seams to make them less noticeable, then finish it out (stain, etc.) and if done well there will be very little of the seam to see.

I would suspect that with these peened types that this is what would have been done when grips were damaged/split, etc., when these were originally issued/used. I'm guessing it would not happen often but must have on occasion over the years they were used. Either that or field repair would have been made, most likely with someone carving out a grip, inserting the halves over the tang, then wrapping the grip with tape, twine or leather in order to hold it together.

If done as I describe and done well, then I think you'll have a great display piece that will still be functional but as it is not being used in combat it won't take heavy punishment... only occasionally being handled and I'm assuming the rest of the time laying in a case or hanging on a framed display. It will maintain the look of the original if the right wood and stain are used and I think will display well.

Of course others may have a better way of doing this, but that's the best I can come up with. I hope you're able to finish the restoration as it's a great piece of history and shows to what level of brutality the trench warfare reached during WW1. :beer:

Dan :cheers:

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Obergefeiter - this looks like a fairly standard trench knife from the 1st WW. I can't access Dan's link so am not sure if he is saying it is an American type made by the military ?

Most of the people fighting had these made in the base workshops - using standard bayonets cut down. This one looks like the point from a French 'needlepoint' bayonet. The Germans cut down Mausers and we used the Enfield bayonet.

I wouldn't try touching it - as Dan says it is a display item . Will be interesting to find out if it was an issue piece ?

Mervyn

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Mervyn, sorry you are not able to pull up the link... I just tried them and they both work so not sure what is causing you to not be able to access it.

I've pulled the pic posted on one of the two links and pray that no one objects to my "borrowing it" from the original site to post here. It's for reference, education and I hope whoever originally posted it won't have a problem with it being here. But if there are any objections I'll of course be happy to remove it.

You can clearly see the difference at the end of the grip/guard... one being the threaded type pommel with the cap screwed on to keep the assembly together, the other being the peened type where the heated/mashed end of the tang forms the small pyramidal shaped end that holds everything together.

Threaded pommel cap type:

Peened type:

Nick, I hope once you get it cleaned up enough that you'll do up some pics and post as that will be of help in determining exactly the type, country of issue, etc. As always if you need help resizing or posting you've but to give me a nudge and I'll be happy to help. :beer:

Dan :cheers:

Edited by Hauptmann
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Obergefreiter

Assuming its all steel, I'd be tempted to cut the peen back to its original diameter so the guard slips off. Three things you can do:

Add some extra length onto the tang. You'll need a welding set and it's not that difficult to do once you have a length of similar sized steel to weld on. Or just take it to a local workshop - they'd only charge a couple of quid and have it done in a jiffy. Solid wood handle - sorted.

I'd go for a tang nut version, just need to thread the end of the tang and make the matching pommel "nut/rivet" so that you can get it off again. You'd only put it on finger tight so easy to get off again and you can get back to the original tang anytime you wanted. Solid wood removable handle - double sorted.

Do what Dan suggests, it's a good idea and saves all that cutting malarky. If you are clever you can make the wooden handle so it parts and is removable by screwing from the "blind side" depending on which way you would want to display.

It'd be nice to see which way you go. Let us see it once you've done.

Cheers

Spaz

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Agreed. I went by the original pic you posted being the peened type which is what go me going on all that. Hopefully someone got something out of it and it was not for naught. But now you just need to get a new grip made. If you have a problem getting the pommel off bring it to our next meeting and we'll see what we can do. :D:beer:

Dan :cheers:

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