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I Forge Iron



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  • 2 weeks later...

I made a leatherworking "head" or "round" knive.  It's like an ulu with a tang handle coming out of the middle of the crescent.

Mine was made out of a bit of leaf spring that I arc-welded to a piece of rebar  as a handle.

The leaf spring piece was shaped a bit like a "T" which I tapered into a crescent on the top and a tang at the bottom. 

The interesting thing is that the blade tapers on both sides from the central axis of the crescent out to its perimeter.  Forging it to shape, you kind of end up with the taper automatically.  When I went to grind and polish it, I was struggling at first to follow that bevel.  The solution was to make the central axis of the crescent a pivot with one hand while the other swept the blade about 90 degrees of rotation.  I'd start by witnessing the contact on my belt grinder wheel with the handle perpendicular to the belt.  A "stroke" would rotate the handle downwards until I'd finished that half of one side. 

Initially I was concerned about maintaining a perfect semi-circular shape, but I found that symmetry sort of solved that problem for me as long as I did everything even.  By that I mean, I tried to move both sides equally on each heat.  It may sound silly, but I tried to hit the metal the same number of times.  I did the same thing during grinding. 

I have no idea if a circular saw blade would be any good for an Ulu.  Personally, I'd look into some quality high carbon bar stock and forge it rather than cut and grind.  I think I started off with a 1/4" thick piece that was roughly 1-1/2" wide at the top of the T and maybe 3/4" thick on each "leg" of the T.  Finished size is somewhere near a 4" diameter half circle with a 3" tapered tang on it. 

I have no doubt that a better blacksmith could have taken that material and made a bigger knife with less grinding than I did. 

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My great-grandfather was a missionary in Alaska in the late 19th century. In his memoirs, he mentions throwing away a broken crosscut saw, which was promptly cut up into knives by the villagers. I still have one of those knives, and it works very well.

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