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Rich Hale Lets start with materials and quality of work. Keeping in mind that it is your shop, and you make the rules and can change them whenever you wish. If you make cheap knives, you will sell cheap knives,,, That simple; Excellence is a decision. Talent is not necessary for excellence; Persistence is necessary for excellence. If you wish to make real nice knives, decide at some point wot is the worst thing you will allow to leave your shop, and if you do that, look at each piece before it leaves and see if it meets your expectations. A knife is an assembly of pieces.Hopefully each part will complement the others. I like to have a plan in my head or on paper before I make a blade... We covered forging to a pattern in 101 I believe. If you grind,,same thing,,,make a blade that will be nice to use and look at. Lots of questions on here lately about using this steel or that steel and how would they work in a knife... We will cover that, but I know the questions will keep coming. Mystery steel is just that. You can do many things to it,,like the hardening testing methods we covered in 101,,,,That will not tell you the steel type,,but as we did then, we knew it was a piece of a coil spring, and we could harden it... Those told us we could make a blade from it. I see a lot on here about spark testing. I never tell new folks to try that as it is not a method you learn fast....by the time you learn to do it well, you likely already have found out wot we will cover next. Now let us think about mystery steel some more.. What does it cost you to go find steel that may in fact not work for a blade? How far will you drive and wot does that cost, for that two way trip? I gave that up years back. I can dial a number, and in less than a couple of days, have steel sent to my house and I will know exactly wot it is and exactly wot it takes to heat treat it. I can also select the right steel for wot I intend to make with it. I recently bought a 6 ft bar of the finest SS I can find; wonderful stuff...5/32" x 1 ½". I paid over eighty bucks for it. Not only that, I have to send it to a heat treater for that part. For all of this money, I make blades that sell for a lot of money and I get notes each spring on how a lot of them did in the fall hunts. They are marvelous blades. And so are blades made from high carbon steel, and so we do not forget it, the last two or three numbers of the four or five numbers in a steel is the carbon content. Like 1084 is .84 carbon. 5160 is .60 52100 is 1.0. Anything less than .55 or up is needed for a knife blade And rr spikes are not high carbon. They are at most .30 for the HC labels. Guard and handle materials; you can use mild steel for a guard,,,cheap and easy to work. You can use ss; little harder and and may cost more. Copper and brass look good at first. Then they oxidize and look bad,,,,if the new owner knows this, they may maintain them and look great. Nickel is nice, and I feel it has a warmer color than SS,,,I cannot explain that.. Handle materials: I do not put a piece together with anything I do not think will last along time....no matter wot it does in its new life. Sheep horn looks great,,,,,makes a great handle. It is made from the same thing as hair. If you set sheep horns outside for a time, they go bad fast. If that horn is stabilized, it lasts forever. Same thing with ivory.. Most woods need to be stabilized. The process they use it is to put material in a chamber and vacuum all the air out. Then they add a product, and then after a time, compressed air. When you cut a piece in half, the product is all the way through.... When it is finished on a knife, it does not need a coating,,,Sand and buff. oldtimer Can you stabilize Deere antler? steve sells yup all horn is the same stuff really hair Rich Hale nope, too sense .. stay with a couple of the woods like desert ironwood steve sells OK. Lets clarify; I do stabilize white tail deer antler. Not all is as porous, but its all made from the same material in nature. OK. People have been talking about RR spike knives and other non blade material to fashion blade like objects.. So rich and I have decided that if you insist on using RR spikes to make a blade, we will show you how to make one that WILL hold an edge. First off HC marking does NOT mean High Carbon steel. At best its .30 carbon; not enough to get hard. Sorry. Even your super duper quench cant change physics. So ya cant get a good edge from rr spike alone. BUT we can cheat. We are smiths, so we forge weld a real high carbon steel bit to where we want our cutting edge to be; simple as that. IF you insist on using them, at least make them a Real quality blade. They will look the same, but having the 1080 or higher section for the cutting part, it will hold that edge. Next is a BP of sorts explaining how I go about forge welding. Don't worry about patterns yet; Just get the part of joining 2 metals together at first. http://fenrisforge.c...ke Damascus.htm It's already on my web site, so I see no reason to re type it all here. Plus http://www.iforgeiro...-forge-weld-r35 The main thing to remember is clean the steel. I use 40 grit, leaving the scratches across the bar; not along with it, to allow crud to exit when welding. I wire them into one unit and heat to red, then flux at dull red, Return to fire and get it HOTTER. How hot; that all depends on the steels used, and YOUR shop. I call it orange for welding. Others say cherry red. A few call it yellow. We all see color a bit differently than others do. If you never forge welded before, start using scrap mild steel to itself. After you get good at that, then higher carbon is easier and lower temps. In the past, the apprentice started by cleaning the masters shop, AND forge welding the scraps from other jobs into ONE bar for use in future jobs Welding is NOT advanced skill, but a basic smithing skill. Pattern welding, where I manipulate the layers into controlled patterns is advanced, but there is no reason a person cant learn to forge weld metal into one bar. I covered cleaning, so now... flux. I don’t care how many don’t use flux. As a beginner, USE it til ya get good. Then mess around with dif things. Why make your life harder than it is already? DRoberts rebar too poor quality to practice with? steve sells 20 mule team borax from the store in laundry Isle. Not the soap, but the borax laundry booster is great and cheap. Rebar isnt good to learn. Its junk to start with, and not consistent. You will never know what your mistake and what its caused by the junk in the rebar.