Steve Sells

Knife Making Log Class 101: Getting started

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Rich Hale
With tonight’s knife lessons we will give you the best ways we can to help you make forged blades. This will take a lot of time and that will prevent us from doing some of the things that will be left to you for the weeks homework if you need it...
We cannot teach you to swing a hammer or how to heat steel. The parts of the knife we mention,,if you need google can fill in the blanks.. Those items alone would take up so much time we would never do wot we would like to.

steve sells
OK guys you have been asking us for a while, and finally its time for the knife chat to come back, we will do out best to help you get to making blades, starting with tools and skills needed to get it done we do not need a 5 year apprenticeship but we do need to know a few basic smithing skills before you can make blades. Starting with fire management, If you do not know how to maintain a good fire, and not have too much air flow, you will ruin many blade steels, so we will assume you can build and manage a good reducing fire, either coal or gas, whatever you use is your choice.
Next is hammer control, I can not swing the hammer for you, Proper anvil height is up to you, but you should be able to get clean hammer strokes, not leaving indentations in the steel
Example standing at your anvil, if your hammers leaves marks at the top, ie 12 o clock, then your anvil is too low for you so raise it the anvil up a little higher. If marks are low at 6 o clock its too high. There may be marks left or right, this is bad hammer control only you can correct by taking time to practice and not hold the hammer to tightly its a tool not a snake. Rich Hale has some information about dressing the hammer face, to leave little or no marks in your work, after all , I dont want to spend a lot of time removing hammer marks either, Rich.... you have photos I believe ?

Rich Hale
I do have a few http://i.imgur.com/NFci4.jpg?1 I geared my part of this for those of you that simply do not have the nice things we have for this work,,,I put a piece in teh tools section of the forums about the hammer for this,,harbor frieght cost under six bucks,,look at what i did to make it work http://www.iforgeiro...ht-hammer-mods/ The anvil is a 20lb piece of steel i got for $20 It is on a mequite stump and worked amazingly well. It is about four inches in diameter and for thinning the steel out worked well Kinda like the horn on an anvil http://i.imgur.com/ZubvW.jpg I cut a notch in the stump with chain saw
I built this coal forge years back and think i have about twenty bucks in it..including a blower i fouind at yard sale for seven fifty http://i.imgur.com/5nXK1.jpg?1 I used about one gal of coal for this blade,,takes more when you stop to take pics I put a note in forum about the steel for this blade,,and old coil spring from a bug station wagon rear. http://www.iforgeiro...peration-piece/ I tested it to see if it would air harden and it did not,,,a file would still cut it. Then i heated to non magnetic and quenched in atf heated to 120f A file would not cut it at all after i cleaned scale off, So I know it will harden and how to do that
Then i used proper protection and with it forged to blade thickness I broke it in half, The grain was really nice and fine sized,,wot i want for a blade, You can over heat a piece and quench,,break and see large grain that you do not want. I heated a half coil of this spring that i cut off with a hf side grinder,,and cut off wheel,,,under thirty bucks on sale including eye protection and a fliip down face shield

Steve Sells
Rich and I have decided for the first blade, Rich will use primitive tooling, while I will use the power tools. I wish to point out that power tools are not needed to make a good blade, its just nicer to have a Ferrari then a roller skates. I will be using my brick side draft forge in my shop, but all you really need is a place to hold and control your fire, if we felt like it we could use a hole in the ground
I am using a new bar of Crucible L-6. from the mill. This only comes in rounds, so I have a 1 inch diameter bar I cut a section from. I am going to make a chopper for the kitchen. L-6 is not easy to work, and like O-1 it can air harden, causing a problem if it does so while I am working on it so I must watch the temps and never hit it below 1550F, L6 when compared to 1075 had additions of Chrome in the same amount as 5160 would have, plus nickel and moly, these additions assist in hardening, and keep the grain small. A standard 10XX series can be used as well, the additions to this steel add to cost, and difficulty forging, but will present a tougher blade. Not for the beginner, but this first blade lesson Rich and I wanted contrast in tools and materials and methods

steve sells
At home we would like you all to try to follow along in your own shops, and next session tell us what happened, what changed from the old way, did the new information help., or confuse I posted a few things I use in the forum for drawing out I modified a hammer I got at a yard sale http://www.iforgeiro...er-pien-shapes/ notice the shapes of the pein, I dont like them too sharp. I want to draw the metal, not cut it or crease it. Using the hammer with the anvil horn I have fullering to draw out the steel. I would like to point out again Rich is primitive and I am high tech in this chapter, but we both of will use use files, the number one knife making friend.

Rich Hale
To move steel from rounds to flat i like a rounded fuller on bottom and top fuller for this is diagonal pein http://i.imgur.com/ZubvW.jpg I start a rod stock p;ice into a blade from the tang end,,gives me something to grab with tongs, http://i.imgur.com/kTOWL.jpg?1

Steve Sells
Also here is a jig I use to use to help keep the bevel of the blade even. I hate having the grind lines not even side to side, or not square to the edges, http://www.iforgeiro...9903-bevel-jig/ I can now use my machine to get good bevels but it took a while to learn and I used up a lot of steel getting the feel for the grinder, and even with 20 years experience I still use files to get the clean lines for the transition of knife bevel to the choil, I also tend to use over long steel so I can use my hand as long as I can.

Rich Hale
After squaring the end on bottom fuller and diag pein i flatten it a bit on end of little anvil http://i.imgur.com/S2mqH.jpg The i move down the blade towards the tip http://i.imgur.com/TMELT.jpg?1 I want this blade flatter and wider so i use the fullers like in pic

steve sells
I work the other way around. I start with the tip turning the square end into a slight point and work back, I do not get it 100% now rather only about 1/3 thickness because if I get it too thin now, the thin areas will over heat while I try yo get the thick sections heated

Rich Hale
This is a pic of how to waste energy when forging http://i.imgur.com/qOx4u.jpg?1 The steel is on a flat surface not a bottom fuller,,that even with a diag p;ein will take more effort to thin it down This is again top and bottom fuller movin metal http://i.imgur.com/TMELT.jpg?1

http://i.imgur.com/zieQi.jpg?1 i will continue the length of the blade in this fashion to widen this out a bit

Do we have any comments or questions so far?

stewartthesmith
Seems easier for a newbie to fuller with rich's anvil on edge like he pictures than on a tapered london pattern horn, the tapered horn takes more skill and practice to use as a fuller

mike-hr
Re: grain size, touched on earlier, If we soak at just above non-magnetic for a longer while, will the grain stay small?

steve sells
the longer the metal is at or above AC3 the longer the grain grows. How much depends on the alloy and how hot and how long, we will get to HT in a latter installment

BigCotton89
I'm pretty new to blacksmithing in general. If we have a hammer with a much smaller fuller on the back would a ball pein work better

steve sells
Please dont use a ball pein for general forging, Fix the forging hammers pein and use that.

Rich Hale
Did anyone in the first pic i showed notice i had made a metal pattern to use as a guide for this blade Scale or touching with hot blade will not light it pattern was laying on the stump

Rich Hale
From wot I have done I will flatten the blade out a lot with the modified flair face of the cheap hammer.

steve sells
One thing to remember when fullering a blade for width is to not go too far, if we go to deep we have hammer marks that are a pian o deal with. When forging I switch to a lighter hammer as I get close to finish profiles to move less metal but leave a smoother finish. Is too easy to leave marks we cant remove so lighter blows and a lighter hammer as we near the end of forging help, also remember to take our time, do not rush.

Rich Hale
I will use the flat face of hammer and flat end of anvil, if you noticed I did take the sharp edges off of that piece of steel, however i did not take the saw marks off of where they cut it. A small radius fuller leaves marks you do not want to try and remove with a file. One of the biggest mistakes i see is hammer marks on the ricasso. Simply put if you do not put them there they are not a problem. Try this: if you hold your blade with tongs over the ricasso it is harder to dent it there http://i.imgur.com/TMELT.jpg?1

Rich Hale
Same when we flatten the blade with flat faces on both sides, tongs protect that area. The Tong jaws also hit the edge of your anvil and if you put them in same place when you do bevels, both sides will have ricasso bevel junction at same place

Rich Hale
Next week i will take this same blade to the bench and file it, remember I tested to see if it would air harden? it did not so i did not have to anneal

steve sells
Rich and I are just sharing what others have taken the time to show us, we are passing it on I will have blade photos to show what I get to do with my blade also

Rich Hale
send us pics of your work pvt or post in forum if you wouls like our comments

steve sells
we will not share your work with others with out your permission, so you do not have to be embarrassed, get some steel hot, and start hammering guys

Rich Hale
I know for some of you this is like watching paint dry,,stick around it may get better

steve sells
we are trying to cover everything because some are good blade makers already some have never done it at all

mike-hr
What spine thickness are you shooting for?

steve sells
filet knife 1/16 cleaver 1/4 inch others shall be with in the that range

garey
weight of your round solid "anvil " Rich ?

Rich Hale
mine is now ready for heat treat and it is a little over one eighth i believe, but that is a guess twenty lbs Garey, I am impressed that with a light anvil on a solid stump it worked great. It was a tool steel drop and two bucks a lb

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Edited by Moderator54
Change 51650 to 5160

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Perhaps a diagram of a knife blade and a finished knife with the terminology so those who might not know what these names of parts can go to at a glance and refresh their memory --- ie, .ricasso , choil , etc.

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Mike we spent time on doing just that, however at the onset of our talks about this we included the issue of homework. and hope that we would spur some interest in folks doing a bit of research on their own for those items that would take alot of our short time alloted for this project. It also meant that we wouild bly pass body mechanics, how to swing a hammer. wot kind of tongs are those? and those items that if this was an in shop class we could offer suggestions and terminology.

We are more or less breaking new grouind on this and are not locked in. Meaning that if this becomes a stumbling block and gets in the way of letting folks move along we will back up and do just that.

Thanks to you and the others for your thoughts.

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I see things plain, just a little pointer makes such a difference. Thanks

I think I need to make a pair or 3 tongs first. My spring will cut with a file after normal air cooling.Would add photos but don't know how. Mike

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Hello, This is my first time on this website chat area.  I'm a novice knifemaker. Do you know of any knifemaking classes around Knoxville, TN?  I'd go as far as Eastern NC if there were a week long knifemaking class.

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Buy the book Introduction to Knifemaking by Steve Sells.

This project started as a request for a rewrite of the knife chat series from 2009 through 2013.  The result is "Introduction to Knifemaking"  A 6 x 9 inch format soft bound book, with 209 pages and over 100 black and white illustrations and photo's.  The list price for this book is $29.99. Hard cover is available for $47.99 plus postage. 

This will explain how to make your own knife and sheath. It will answer most of your questions and when you do find a class, you have some idea about what is going.

 

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