Monday, January 23, 2006

Making Scales 106

Once you have both sides of the liner roughed up a little, it's time to check some fits. Most important is the relationship of the blade to the liner. Most 6/8 and smaller razors will fit within the confines of just about any razor scale silhouette. But, once you get to 7/8 and 8/8, there is a whole new program going on. You need a tad more length and a little more width. Keep what has worked for you around in the form of templates. You can use something as simple as paper or something a little more durable, like plastic or metal. Don't forget to mark them.

In the following picture you will see the blade, a third-pin bead and the liner in its tenative size. Here is where you see if everything is going to work together.

Take a measurement from another razor to kinda give you a starting point for the pivot pin hole. Put the hole in the tang over the that portion of the liner. Don't mark it yet. Move it around til it looks right. Liner too small? MAKE ANOTHER ONE! If not, continue by placing the bead in the crook of the blade and tang. This is what will keep the blade from swinging too far into the scales and exposing a sharp edge on the other side.

Ideally, the bead should wind up along the centerline of the liner. Take the blade off temporarily to see where it is at. Anything more than a 32nd of an inch off line, and you should probably move the bead toward the pivot pin so it is close to the centerline. Or, get or make a larger diameter bead. The tolerances in this project are very close because I am making scales for a Henckels 8/8 blade.

If things look good, mark the pivot pin location and the third pin hole location with a permanent marker. No, it doesn't have to be a permanent marker. It can be a pencil. Before moving anything yet, also mark the limits of the swing of the blade on the butt of the liner. When that is done, mark the line where the spacer will be attached about a 16th from the blade swing line. Ignore the dot for the hole in the spacer for now.

Make your spacer a tad less than half of the thickness of the blade. Then sand it with the slightest bit of a taper from flat side to the round side. A couple of degrees is fine. It does not have to be measured. Remember, do what looks good. Make the outline fatter than what it needs to be, but sand it close to the lines of the profile.

Now I want you to drill the pivot pin hole and the third pin hole on this one liner only. Once you get the hang of this stuff, you won't want to drill any holes until you are about ready to put the scales on a razor. We are doing it here because it is important that you don't lose the relationship between the holes. Just for a reference, the line next to the third pin on the liner is about 3/8 of an inch away. This distance can vary, depending upon the size of the materials you have available. Most look the best and are most functional, though, between 3/8 and 1/2 inches away. Mark and drill the hole next to the third pin. Leave the spacer pin hole in the butt of the liner out of it for now.

OK, guys... It's here that you need to participate a little. I only know if you are interested in this info by the comments that are left. They don't have to be long, but it would be nice to have some feedback. Something as simple as "Cool, right on, more detail please, less detail, thanks... etc" I also want to know if I am giving too much info, or not enough. I want to be thorough, but don't want to put you to sleep either. I am doing this for your benefit, not mine... I already know how to do this stuff. I'm thinkin' I may withhold the last session or two and email them to those who have at least taken the time to leave a single comment.


Blogger lukehead said...

Great stuff Bill, I'm lapping it up like you wouldn't believe. I check back here every couple of hours to see if there's been an update. Today I went out and bought a couple of blades for my saw and some timber I reckon might come up well.

Keep it up


4:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The line by the middle hole is the division between the 2 scale materials?

Is it possible to make multiple pinning holes to hold that materials?

8:32 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

Be careful with your choices in materials. If the wood has not been stabilized, only use the very dense woods like ironwood and cocobolo. If you use anything else, make sure that you use a really good sealer on the inside.

9:24 AM  
Blogger Bill said...


Yes, the line is the division. You can put as many pinning holes as you want. Sometimes, less is better. If you are concerned with strength, you can drill patterns through the scales and liners and use small wire to fill them. You could do flower patterns, zodiac patterns, or anything your imagination comes up with. Make sure your drill bit is the same size as the wire. Epoxy them in, not worrying about overhang. Sand them down to meet the surface after the epoxy has cured. Don't do this with mother of pearl until you know how to work that material. Without some experience, you will only be connecting the dots with the cracks you create with improper drilling.

9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Bill,

great lessons so far...
I wanted to ask you do you use blade washers between the blade and the scales? Also, is the third pin really blade rest, or it is there to put some aditional tension on the scales when they open?? I have two razors with third pins, and the blade does not touch the scales on either.


10:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill, what do you use for pins and washers? do you get stock sets or make them yourself? I was thinking of getting some brass nails and cut them to size...


10:17 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

Yes on the blade washers if you leave the metal liners bare. If you line the "liners" with another material as we will be doing with this set of scales, then it's an option and not totally necessary. More on that when we get to it.

2:44 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Pin sets? I hate saying anything bad about another product. So let me just say that I prefer 1/16 aluminum/brass/stainless rod and washers from
You can also use the small 16 and 17 guage nails from the hardware store. I used to make all my washers. Instruction on making them are in my CD on razor restoration.
In the meantime, Vladimir Schneider over at in the restoration section improved upon my idea and has simplified the process. Check it out if you can.

2:55 PM  
Blogger Bill said...


The second part of your question regarding third pins...

The main purpose is to keep the blade from swinging through to the other side. It also gives stability to scales that may need some support.

It will also create the apex for the radically tapered tangs on larger blades, thus allowing smooth closure of the blade into the scales.

3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill,we miss you at work. Just in clothing

10:28 PM  
Blogger Marc said...

Wow, what a superb resource! Thank you!

7:39 PM  
Blogger Mike Layne said...

Thanks for the incredibly generous material. I recently got interested in SER's and being me I immediately had to know how to do everything but forge the steel. Then I found this blog thru your website and here I am up half the night reading the whole thing. Its great.

Hope your move went well and you're sorta settled in to the new place. I'm looking forward to the section on pinning. I just ordered a sander from Sears ;-) that I'm sure I can shoehorn into my shop somehow. But Honey, ya know those spoons I drop down the garbage disposal... Well this fine tool will allow us to save money by refinishing them just like new....Better even....

Thanks again and keep up the good work. You'll see my order on your site soon. Mike

1:17 AM  
Blogger Preston McConkie said...

Loving this information. It's certainly removed the "scales" of ignorance from my eyes. I really hope to receive the other sessions by email.

4:10 AM  
Blogger Craig A. said...

I'm a late comer to your blog, but catching up. Really appreciate the info.

10:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice scales I have some burly maple and a nice bengal wedge just waiting to be piced together becuase of your instructions.

8:45 PM  
Anonymous Washers Wanda said...

This is some really great information on how to upkeep and design the blades. Are lock washers used for the hinge or is another type of hinge better suited?

3:42 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

No lock washers. Simple compression dictates tension.

6:35 PM  

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