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I Forge Iron

got a small problem


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Actually a fairly not so small problem now... you have gotten the steps out of sequence. You should have drilled the holes BEFORE hardening the steel! You might be able to spot soften it just where you need the holes by using a red hot rod repeatedly applied to the desired hole location (after you drill through the softened layer reheat and continue drilling). This is a slow method and very hard on drill bits. Alternatively you could back up by normalizing your steel, drilling and then hardening and tempering again. Time consuming, risky, and frustrating... but guaranteed to help you remember the preferred order of the steps in the future!

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As a bladesmith, decide if the tang had to be as hard as the blade. If yes then anneal it then drill your holes and re-heat treat.

If no then as a blacksmith, wrap the blade in a wet rag and use a torch to soften the tang in the areas of the holes. This will leave a differential hardening area between the blade and the tang that you will have to deal with. Or a blacksmith with a shop full of tools could fire up his plasma torch and just drop a hole in the tang. (grin) YMMV

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It generally makes a better knife if the tang is *not* hardened as much as the blade; so if it's a fairly easy steel to heat treat you may be able to draw the temper on the tang way back while keeping the blade cool and be able to drill with a top grade industrial drill bit in a good drill press. (over at a sword forum I was recently reading how Wilkinson swords were made in the 19th century where they mentioned forge welding a mild steel tang to the high carbon steel blade---for *using* in *battle* blades!)

If that is not a possibility then a solid carbide drillbit in a good drillpress with all the proper procedures---speed, lubrication, rigidity, feed, etc will work. Also carbide burrs in a dremel may work with great care and sloppy holes.

All in all the simplest way would be to epoxy the handle on with no pins and go on to the next one!

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