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I Forge Iron

Clayton M.

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  • Location
    Idaho Falls, ID
  • Interests
    Leatherworking,blacksmithing,backpacking,and writing when I'm not sleeping.

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  1. I got into bladesmithing because I use knives on a daily basis and was always looking something that would be better than the knife I had. I've bought a lot of knives that looked good and then turned out to be just nice knives that weren't very useful. That's when I started making knives (without any prior experience) and I was tripping over myself at nearly everything I was doing. I was trying to decide what solid fuel forge design I liked best, what temperatures to forge at, how to forge the steel, how to heat treat, etc. I didn't read any books. Looking back, I could have saved myself a lot of stupid mistakes by before ever picking up a hammer going and buying a bunch of books on blacksmithing and bladesmithing. After my first knife I set down the hammer and bought many books and read them, then I fired up the forge. A big part of why so many people are into knifemaking is because of the "cool" factor, because it's the trend to make knives. It's already been said about Forged in Fire. I'll admit I am part of that bandwagon two years back, but I wandered off that path. I made a sword to test my skills and learn more about bladesmithing. It was very challenging but rewarding and the sword turned out pretty good, but after that I realized that I enjoyed making everyday things more than I did things that just sit around as a wall decoration in someone's house. I made a Damascus buckle for the scabbard belt, because I wanted to, and to me that is the center of the whole setup, it isn't the sword or the leather scabbard that catches the eye, it's the buckle. I haven't made a knife since instead I've focused on making tools and other practical things and branching out into different areas so I have a better feel for being a blacksmith. Besides I have a whole box of knives and I can't use them all everyday, might as well make something that I or someone else will use regularly.
  2. The best method for a DYIer is the one you can achieve good results with, repeatedly. I usually do three normalizing cycles as a rule of thumb. I place my work pieces on a a wire rack so they cool more evenly. I've placed a few pieces on concrete before just to see what would happen and they warped pretty badly on me during the heat treat, so my recommendation is a wire rack of some sort. I also let my pieces soak in the forge the duration depends on the thickness and what the piece is for. I don't think there is a best way to do it yourself, if you want perfection.
  3. 5160 is the steel I primarily work with when making knives. I've had some knives that warp ( the degree varies) and others that don't. There can be a good deal of stress introduced to the steel when you grind, and so I take each knife through several normalizing heats once it's be worked and ground to the final shape. How much you grind both sides really matters. When I forge I try to count hammer strikes on each side to keep the number even. The same gen idea can be applied to grinding. If you remove more material on one side and unintentionally leave the other side thicker, you are setting the knife up to warp. If the edge gets wavy and not straight then you ground the edge too thin so you'll have to grind the edge back a bit to thicken it up. When I do my heat treating I like to let the blades "dwell" in the forge and really soak up the heat. If the steel is more evenly heated, I would say it would be less likely to warp. Another thing that I have found to affect warpage is how you quench the steel. I only move my steel up and down in the quenchant, to me it seems to warp less. I definitely agree with Frosty on normalizing again. If the blade warped then there is still stress that needs to be worked out. I'd recommend when you normalize a blade put it on a wire rack or something, because you want all the surfaces to be exposed to the air so it cools evenly. I put mine on some old wire rabbit cages. I made a batch of 15 knives recently and wasn't thinking when I normalized them and put them on the ground by my forge. When I heat treated them, only 5 came out without warps. How you normalize and and grind effects warpage. I don't make a lot of knives but I've made enough mistakes to start figuring it out.
  4. I'd imagine that would work. I've never tried putting refractory cement over the wool. The wool is very good insulator and if you're careful then damaging the wool shouldn't be a problem. The cement even in small layers like that may act like a heat sink until the layer reaches temp. What I do is just put a cut firebrick, a soft one, in the bottom of the forge to lay the work piece on. Then I try to be careful and not bang the lining up at all. If you makes knives or something like that you shouldn't have too big of a problem with injuring the lining.
  5. I would assume you are making a gas forge, so here's my two bits. I use Kaowool to line my forge. For a coating to protect the lining I use ITC-100 HT. It works pretty good though I had a interesting time to try to apply it. Some people say to use a spray bottle, that didn't work so well I ended up using a foam brush and dabbing it on. You can find it on Anvil fire or High Temp Tools.
  6. I like it. It may look simple but, there is beauty in simplicity. I like to make things myself. They may not look very authentic but I made them so they're special in that way.
  7. We're all family here. We argue and fight a little but when someone needs help, everybody is there for them.
  8. I felt really stupid last night at about 10, I realized that I never tempered any of my knives at 200 F. I always tempered them between 400 to 425 F. I don't know why I thought 200 F was the correct temperature. I tempered it at 400 F and it looks a lot better with a deep straw throughout the knife's surface.
  9. I quenched the knife in oil at the non-magnetic point. The file test worked well as it skidded over the blade without taking much with it, and it sounded pretty good. It was the tempering that got me I think. I'll try tempering at 400 F right now. Hope this works. :(
  10. The new beet knives are made of 1095 steel, I don't know if the knife I've got is made of the same steel. Supposedly the knife is about 90 years old. If more pictures are needed just say so and I'll put them up.
  11. A friend of mine found an old beet knife in the rubble of his garage when his family tore it down. It was bent pretty good and so he asked me to straighten it for him. I took out the bend with a torch and a hammer. I was trying to keep the temper but I failed when I let the heat run through the blade. I hardened it today and then I tempered it at 200 F for about 20 minutes. Then I went to sharpen it and that is where I ran into my problems. I barely started putting the edge on when a a sizable piece came off as I ran the stone over the blade( I do all my sharpening by hand). The only thing I can think of is I didn't temper the knife long enough or at a high enough temperature to draw back the hardness in the blade. The knife is slightly less than 1/8 inch, I thought if it soaked in the oven for 20 minutes it would be good to go. In my mind it didn't need long to temper. What do you guys think?
  12. Thanks NJ. Reload will be my new best friend(next to my hammer). I'll see if the admins can get rid of the duplicates.
  13. I like the idea of a coat hook. It will have a rustic look with spike head. Or you could make a stick man. Cut the spike head off and weld one of the pieces to the head to form the body, and cut the other one into four pieces for arms and legs. Don't forget a face for the little man.
  14. I like the look of the knives. The patterning turned out great, I love how defined the circles are. I love the look of the handles, the color of the wood goes together great with the blades. I am going to have to try this at some point. Loving it, keeping up the good work TJ.
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