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2571

Newbie, very newbie Q

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60 years old & always wanted to forge a knife. Recently found a new shovel with broken handle. Typically, is the steel in a shovel blade worth fooling around with? I realize I can't identify the kind of steel in the blade, but am I totally wasting my time playing with it?

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You're not wasting your time.... Practice is always helpful. It may not make a good knife though.. Find a piece of auto spring (leaf or coil) and you can make a useful knife...

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Others have advised me to start with very small, simple projects. Even my attempted spearhead was a failure, which honestly wasn't a surprise.
Additionally, before I asked for advice, I cut out another semi-spearhead shaped object that I planned to weld into a socket. Since then, I've been advised to not attept that yet.
Having said that, I'm still planning to try it. It was junk scrap steel that I found around for free. Worst case scenario, I screw it up again and it costs me a little bit of charcoal.

Not that I'm ignoring these guys - I appreciate their advice and will follow it. But a guy also never gets anywhere without a little ambition. ;)

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Harold,
Remember that in the old days the low man on the totem pole in a blacksmith's shop had to weld all the scraps together. Once you have the technique down it is not hard. Just save yourself some time and have someone show you how. My own opinion is that people make a big deal out of forge welding when they shouldn't. Just do not expect to be a pro at it any time soon. You should probably start with a different kind of weld than the one you are doing. Also remember that for as many smiths as there are each will probably have is own welding technique.

To start with get some 20 mule team at your local grocery ( it is a laundry detergent enhancer). You will use this for flux.
Build a good fire and keep it clean. No clincker.
Start by making a short taper into the end of a piece of steel.
Bend the piece of round steel back onto itself.
Heat it till it is orange and then apply flux to the seams created by folding it back onto itself.
Heat until the to a bright orange, dull yellow.
At this point time is of the essence. Move quickly but deliberately.
When you pull the steel out of the fire the flux will be smoking like a cigarette if it is at the right temp
Tap lightly but firmly from the bend towards the taper. Hitting hard will not help.
Repeat the flux through weld stage if required to to seal the seem along its full length.

After you get that down make a loop in the steel and weld just the end so you have a handle. Endless possibilities. Good luck.

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60 years old & always wanted to forge a knife. Recently found a new shovel with broken handle. Typically, is the steel in a shovel blade worth fooling around with? I realize I can't identify the kind of steel in the blade, but am I totally wasting my time playing with it?


All the shovels I've ever owned with the sole exception of fireplace shovels have been hardened enough to take an edge. Therefore they are suitable for knifes. They may not make the best knife but should cut. Most shovels are thin enough I wouldn't bother with forging, just cut the shape heat once to flatten then heat treat.

I would expect the shovel to be something like 1080. You'll have to play with the heat treat to know what it takes, I'd start like it was 1080 and if that didn't work adjust as the results dictated.

If you haven't already, look on the ABANA site for an affillate local to you and attend some meetings.


ron

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Well is it a good grade shovel---may be stamped "tempered" on the socket---or is a cheap import? If it is acheap import cut a piece off and try the heat---quench in water AND WEARING PPG break test. If it snaps easily or cracks in the quenching it will make a knife. Remember a high carbon steel should be treated like glass after a heat/quench cycle---you don't want to lose an eye finding out it would have been a great material to use!

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2571, Welcome !!! I suggest that you make some nails to get going. Find some smiths in your area (easy to do here on IFI) to get a nail header from or show you how to make one and then get to it.

Make nails, lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of nails -AND THEN- make some more nails, lots and lots and lots and lots of nails.

It will teach you a lot about hammer control and managing your fire, pacing your work, etc. A good place to start. Cheers!

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Years ago I made a set of woodcarver's knives from an old AMES shovel. As far as I know, the guy is still using them. Having said that, I have to go with what a lot of the smith's have said. Start out with some simple projects in mild steel first, then try knife making.

I infrequently do forging demo's. I have a sign I hang up in front of my setup. It says:

ALL MALES BETWEEN THE AGES OF 10 AND 29 MUST READ THIS.
Concerning the making of knives and swords:

YES, I CAN!

YES, I HAVE!
NO, I WON'T. (Please don't ask!):P

It gets a lot of smiles and chuckles, mostly from the ladies.



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