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Thread: A little about Gaffs

  1. #1
    Senior Member MAD MAX's Avatar
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    A little about Gaffs

    I have always been interested in Gaffs and their making, So I have really been busy looking into the history of their making and such.

    It seems that some folks believe that all Gaffs are made by welding the blade to the Socket, This simply is not true. the welded Gaffs really werent made much untill about the late fifties or early sixties. Before that they were made just like the ads say "In one piece". The Socket is acually part of the blade, And were acually kind of a Blacksmith type item. It is also believed that the sockets cant be made by you and me , this is also false, as mant have made their own sockets.

    I am currently experimenting with making a pair for art purposes only, Ill let you know what I learn . Dont ask for pictures though I havent been able to do that on here.

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    Senior Member gaff's Avatar
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    Re: A little about Gaffs

    I bought the nite owl method. Ive made some sets. It takes a bit of practice and experimentation but I got it right. He explains it very nicely.
    I just make them for fun, just wish I had more time.

    Good luck with making yours.

  4. #3
    Member youngcocker17's Avatar
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    Re: A little about Gaffs

    Do you need any kind of special tools with Nite owls method.

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    Senior Member gaff's Avatar
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    Re: A little about Gaffs

    You need a brazing torch. You need to make the jigs or templates to bend them and you need to make a device to hold them when welding. You need a drill and a bench grinder.

    It needs an oven to harden them and a buffing wheel. I used someone else's oven.

    It's not rocket science but it's quite involved. IMO you got to buy the sockets. It wouldnt be easy to make the sockets.

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    Senior Member MAD MAX's Avatar
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    Re: A little about Gaffs

    Quote Originally Posted by youngcocker17 View Post
    Do you need any kind of special tools with Nite owls method.
    I will tell you this about what I have allready learned. The more tools you have the easier it will be. I am making them entirley by hand, But I have made hunting type knives like this so I know what goes into it.

    I have allready decided on some tools that I will aquire as soon as I can afford it. Mine will be one piece Gaffs, Socket and blade made together , No welding. Then Ill try the other way.

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    Senior Member MAD MAX's Avatar
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    Re: A little about Gaffs

    Quote Originally Posted by gaff View Post
    You need a brazing torch. You need to make the jigs or templates to bend them and you need to make a device to hold them when welding. You need a drill and a bench grinder.

    It needs an oven to harden them and a buffing wheel. I used someone else's oven.

    It's not rocket science but it's quite involved. IMO you got to buy the sockets. It wouldnt be easy to make the sockets.
    I have an old old publication by Tom Spurrior, Who made One piece Gaffs and he kind of tells how to make a Socket. You gotta have a Forge and you need to make a type of jig to shape them . It can be done but it is kind of involved . I am going to try to make such a jig , I will let you know about my sucess and failure.

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    Senior Member Outlaw greys's Avatar
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    Re: A little about Gaffs

    Tl orr use to heat his up with a torch and hammered them out of one solid peice of steel and he only used springs from plymouth cars as his material

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    Senior Member gaff's Avatar
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    Re: A little about Gaffs

    Good luck Max. You sound pretty handy and I'm sure you will succeed. You are challenging yourself. I did it the " easy " way lol.

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    Senior Member GamerGreys's Avatar
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    Re: A little about Gaffs

    Quote Originally Posted by Outlaw greys View Post
    Tl orr use to heat his up with a torch and hammered them out of one solid peice of steel and he only used springs from plymouth cars as his material
    TL Orr use to make the best 1 piece light and keen split sockets anywhere. His son use to make me a special design as well which won us alot of derbys. Wish I still had some for collecting. Best Quality anywhere.
    Burkeys were my favorite for regulations though
    I got a feeling this is going to be a lost art before long.

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    Re: A little about Gaffs

    am wondering orr is still making gaff?? the last time my friend trying to get some from him was one year back up order. i always heard good thing about his one piece. mine are most from ray allen death ray pattern and charlie ibele.

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    Senior Member Mike Everett's Avatar
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    Re: A little about Gaffs

    Max I watched George Killingsworth make a pair. He took a piece of square stock, about six inches. He then cut it out like a inverted tee. The center post was to become the socket and flange, the branches the blades. He then used a drill press to drill the center of the post vertically, this was the beginning of the flange. He then drilled horizontally to create the socket holes. He then cut the tee into along the middle of the drilled vertical hole., now he had two L shaped pieces with the flange and socket holes. He then worked and formed the two Ls into the gaff. He had a place that tempered the finished pieces in a vacuum. They had to be perfectly formed before tempering.

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    Senior Member PeterJBen's Avatar
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    Re: A little about Gaffs

    Can anyone post a video or link to a video on how to make gaffs?

  17. #13
    Senior Member MAD MAX's Avatar
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    Re: A little about Gaffs

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Everett View Post
    Max I watched George Killingsworth make a pair. He took a piece of square stock, about six inches. He then cut it out like a inverted tee. The center post was to become the socket and flange, the branches the blades. He then used a drill press to drill the center of the post vertically, this was the beginning of the flange. He then drilled horizontally to create the socket holes. He then cut the tee into along the middle of the drilled vertical hole., now he had two L shaped pieces with the flange and socket holes. He then worked and formed the two Ls into the gaff. He had a place that tempered the finished pieces in a vacuum. They had to be perfectly formed before tempering.
    This is kind of like what I am doing, Except I started with Two separate pieces. It will take me a while as I am limeted on tools so lots of hand work. But I have allready learned alot . I may not have any Fowl but I will keep this alive If I possibly Can. I started with a Mobile Home Leaf spring.

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    Re: A little about Gaffs

    Quote Originally Posted by MAD MAX View Post
    This is kind of like what I am doing, Except I started with Two separate pieces. It will take me a while as I am limeted on tools so lots of hand work. But I have allready learned alot . I may not have any Fowl but I will keep this alive If I possibly Can. I started with a Mobile Home Leaf spring.
    An old timer has been helping me out and my jig that i made is a two foot piece of spring steel, with a 5/8 steel handle welded on it with a 5/8 hole drilled in it,this old timer has three jigs one for bayonets,one for fulldrops and one for jaggers or regulations or any other gaff.He uses 1/2 inch round bar tool steel,they are cut into six inch pieces and three inches of it is ground down for the gaff part.Then it is placed in the forge to a red hot then it is placed in the jig point down into the littlest hole in the anvil then it is pounded out,after you get it where you want them you can drill out the center hole either 1/2 or 5/8.

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    Senior Member gaff's Avatar
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    Re: A little about Gaffs

    I made a few experimental sets. I ruined them in the tempering process. I've done it about five or so times and got them right every time. I'm not sure what went wrong.
    I spoke to a retired gaff maker he said that as I had made several failed attempts that I had ruined the steel.
    all the carbon was gone and they could ever harden again.

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  22. #16
    Senior Member gaff's Avatar
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    Re: A little about Gaffs

    I bent and broke a few sets to see how hard the steel was. It wasn't up o standard.
    The last few I did were rock hard with a little flex. These ones I just got too hot for too long I think.
    the temp gauge was busted so I was firing blind.
    i bought mY own kiln now for next time.
    Last edited by gaff; March 24th, 2014 at 02:24 AM.

  23. #17
    Senior Member gaff's Avatar
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    Re: A little about Gaffs


    Here is my kiln. It gets to the right temp and I tested it on a pice of carbon steel and the steel did harden.
    i hope to have some time to fool around soon just busy at the moment.

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    Re: A little about Gaffs

    get you some 45 to 51% silver braze and try it, its much better flowing and a lot stronger than brass. the carbon will never leave a piece of steel, it will get grain growth if you get it to hot and this will make it brittle.you can only break the grain back down by hammer forging, that is why bladesmiths pack the edge of a blade to reduce grain size, this make the steel stronger and can have a finer cutting edge. i have made a few gaffs and knives and am a blacksmith and a machinist in my own shop right now and if i was going to build a one piece set of gaffs i would do it in a 4 jaw chuck on a lathe, you can use a small lathe from harbor freight there only about 500.00 and it would do a nice job at this. you could turn the hub and then off set the chuck to the center line of your gaff. it would be strait and then you would bend it to shape. what i want to do is just right a program for my cnc lathe to cut the hubs and then braze on the gaff but use s5 or s7 air hardening steel so after you braze it, just let it sit and cool then temper it. with the steels we have today and the brazing alloys out there i dont know why you would go through the trouble of one piece now. dont get me wrong one piece are nice and for sure a talent worth keeping alive but a gaff is only about a 1/8 in diameter and if your braze wont hold that before it breaks or bend then your not doing it right

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    Re: A little about Gaffs

    Good luck bud and look forward to seeing the finished article. I would imagine one and a quarter and one and a half regulations would be easier to do, certainly in 'one piece'.

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    Senior Member gaff's Avatar
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    Re: A little about Gaffs

    Quote Originally Posted by johnc2309 View Post
    get you some 45 to 51% silver braze and try it, its much better flowing and a lot stronger than brass. the carbon will never leave a piece of steel, it will get grain growth if you get it to hot and this will make it brittle.you can only break the grain back down by hammer forging, that is why bladesmiths pack the edge of a blade to reduce grain size, this make the steel stronger and can have a finer cutting edge. i have made a few gaffs and knives and am a blacksmith and a machinist in my own shop right now and if i was going to build a one piece set of gaffs i would do it in a 4 jaw chuck on a lathe, you can use a small lathe from harbor freight there only about 500.00 and it would do a nice job at this. you could turn the hub and then off set the chuck to the center line of your gaff. it would be strait and then you would bend it to shape. what i want to do is just right a program for my cnc lathe to cut the hubs and then braze on the gaff but use s5 or s7 air hardening steel so after you braze it, just let it sit and cool then temper it. with the steels we have today and the brazing alloys out there i dont know why you would go through the trouble of one piece now. dont get me wrong one piece are nice and for sure a talent worth keeping alive but a gaff is only about a 1/8 in diameter and if your braze wont hold that before it breaks or bend then your not doing it right
    I have the method tried and tested, but this time the steel just wouldn't harden. I did a sample test on a fresh piece of steel and it did harden. I ruined it by repeated failed efforts. This is the first time that it didn't work out.
    the brazing is nickel silver. It flows ok but its main property is it melts at a very high temp so it doesn't melt in the hardening process.
    i was very surprised that it didn't work as I've done it a few times with good results.

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