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I Forge Iron

New Knife Comission: Fantasy-Inspired Cake Knife

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I've been silent for a while due to the moves (second move this year), but I'm easing my way back into things. Sorry for not being around, but glad to be (partially) back!

Before my most recent move, an old student of mine announced she was getting married. As I knew I couldn't make it to the wedding due to conflicts (buying a house is time consuming), I offered to make her a knife that she could use as a cake knife as well as a decorative (but practical) piece afterward. Her immediate reaction was to send me this, an image of Orcrist from the Lord of the Rings movies.

I haven't made anything like it before, so I decided to take the challenge. I started working on this in late May, and had it shipped out early July, with the blade arriving the day before her wedding.

I won't bore you all with the step-by-step details, but here's the finished product and related details.


Made from W-2 from Aldo, starting dimensions were about 6.5"x1.5"x0.18", the wood was about 6" of a 2" square chunk of bubinga, and the guard was made from a .5" square chunk of mild steel I had nearby.


The finished product measured at 14.5" long, with the blade itself measuring about 8" of it.


I forgot to get a full weight at the end, but it balanced almost perfectly on the guard.


Not a good shot, but it shows something that I was trying to experiment with and learn from. I forged the guard a bit bigger than needed, and then used an angle grinder to get it to shape. I then borrowed a friend's belt grinder to flatten the bottom of it, drilled a hole into the guard, drifted the hole to be a bit larger, then did a hot fit (with a few taps on the sides) to ensure a snug fit.

The guard design did call for the guard to encroach upon the blade a bit. I don't think I quite got it right, though. I think next time I'll cut a better slot for this.

Doing so did heat up this part of the blade (I actually burned the wet cloth and wet leather glove I used to act as a heat sink), which did ruin the finish. I attempted to fix it with some sandpaper and a soft wheel and rouge, but as you can see, it didn't work out as well as I had hoped.


I didn't quite get a mirror on this, but I think I made some progress. Due to constraints, I couldn't make this ideal. After forging, I used an angle grinder to make a small profile tweak (mostly to smooth the curve and straighten the back), take out a few minor pockmarks, and promote the shape of bevel/blade profile. I then filed it to ensure the blade bevel was there and to promote the curve of the blade, then sanded it to 1000 grit.

After getting to the 1000 grit, I used a set of polishing wheels I picked up at HF, which really gave it a shine. I ended up catching a wheel on the edge at one point, so I couldn't get it back to a mirror when I was done. 

As I haven't gotten a mirror yet, I was pretty proud of this progress.

Also, note that the blade hasn't been truly sharpened. It'll cut into things and is a great stabbing knife, but I purposely left it unsharpened for a few reasons. The first is shipping; I didn't want it to cut into any packaging. The second is a nod Japanese tradition: if you give a friend a knife, leave it unsharpened to represent that you are not cutting them from your life. As this was not a paid piece (not even a penny, as per German tradition), I didn't want to risk it (call me superstitious if you wish).

Oh, and if anyone is curious for the heat treatment/tempering process: heated to orange, quenched in 200~ish degree canola oil, tempered in the oven at 450 degrees for three hours.


Back to the handle. This is a hidden/stick tang knife. I did some minor drilling for the hole, then burned the tang in to ensure a snug fit, with just enough wiggle room for the epoxy to expand. Once the handle was properly shaped, I used epoxy to ensure it was in place before cleaning it up.

Again, the wood is a chunk of bubinga. I did the entire process of making this with an angle grinder (stone wheel then flap wheel), then sandpaper to get it to shape. After it was finished, I cleaned it and gave it three coats of semi-gloss polyurethane, sanding and cleaning it between coats. This is the end result.


Just another shot of the overall profile. 


This photo does mean quite a bit to me. The top photo is this knife, created this spring into summer (May-July 2016) in what free time I had after work; there's probably about 40 hours of work into it with my current tool setup revolving around small, portable tools. This is also my first time doing a blade with a hidden tang (made one for a sword, but that involved a pommel), as well as making my own guard (again, made one for the sword, but that also involved a milling machine and our instructor's help). 

The bottom blade is my first knife, forged during a weekend in a class I took in November 2013, made from 8"x1"x0.18" 1084, with a slab tang, no guard (really useful kitchen knife). I see it as an improvement from 2.5 years ago; not sure if anyone else would, but I'm seeing some progress with what little time I put at the forge.


That sums up the newest knife. I have a few I was experimenting with, but didn't finish. My time is currently taken up with fixing the house so I can then fix the garage into a shop, so I'll be a bit quite for a while still.

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1 hour ago, BlackMetalViking said:

We all have a long way to go. The day you stop learning, should be the day you stop breathing! Keep it up!


I used to say a phrase similar to that to my old students, and still use it to this date.


One thing I forgot to add: I don't have any photos of the knife being used yet. I've asked, but the newlyweds have been busy with a number of things. Hopefully I'll be able to see things soon~ish.

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BTDT and after 15 years in a 100 year old house, the *next* house was one that needed no major repairs for a decade and now the ones that are being done to get it ready for retirement are being done by *other* *people*!   (Steel roof this year, new windows next year,...)

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2 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

BTDT and after 15 years in a 100 year old house, the *next* house was one that needed no major repairs for a decade and now the ones that are being done to get it ready for retirement are being done by *other* *people*!   (Steel roof this year, new windows next year,...)

I figured some of you have done the nightmare of house repairs. Our place is only about 50 years old, but the last person that owned it was a special snowflake with wiring (we found no less than 5 arcing wires, one of which was between a leaking pipe and the gas main), which is really delaying wiring the shop.

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I too live in a older home previously owned by a "handyman". Last year I delightfully discovered that he hard lined the dishwasher with copper, and neglected to install a shut off, needless to say when I acquired a new one, and pulled the old out to do the swap, the kitchen got a little wet...... as did the breaker panel...... which was located directly under. My most recent discovery was all the PVC drainage was only dry fitted. Luckily no mishaps there before it was fixed. my face hurts from all the palming.

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Over half of my non industrial electrical work is fixing DIY projects, way less than half is actually repair to the problem they had in the beginning. 

I need a T shIrt that say I am an Electrician, I can not fix stupid, but I can fix what stupid did

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Steve feel free to delete/move this:

My "fixer-upper" was scarey electrically.  We had knob and tube, BX and Romex all in use and intermarried worse than the small AR hill town I came from.  Place had started as a 1 family home, then during WWII I believe was converted into several apartments and then in the 1960's converted back to a 1 family house.

Day one I found a piece of lamp cord sticking out of a wall with bare ends----nobody could be that dumb right????  So I drug it over a cast iron floor grate---ZAP!!!

When working in the attic I noticed another piece of lamp cord nicely attached to the knob and tube and so old the plastic insulation was falling off----it went down to the hallway receptacle where the vacuum cleaner had always been run from....Down in the basement they had pushed the knob and tube down out of the way to run heat ducts---that had pulled the insulation apart on with wires about an inch from where the metal ducts were resting on them.

Not just the old stuff either.  We remodeled the kitchen and my wife paid a bunch of money to have the dishwasher "professionally installed"; Well they broke the custom colour sink and it had to be remade so the dishwasher couldn't be test run till another month went by.  Finally got everything hooked up and the Dishwasher didn't work.  Called the store and they said it's a warranty issue not their problem.  So I went and started tracing cables in the basement and found that the "Professional Installer" had run to the nearest romex cable and tied into it---which was a 220 line going to the whole house AC unit.  He'd wired it hot---I assume he could have recognized a 220 breaker and it had fried the electronics on the Dishwasher.  Not a warranty issue!  They then said they would send him out to re-do it and I told them I refused to let him on the property as he could have burnt down my house or electrocuted someone. I demanded they send someone licensed and bonded on pain of massive bad PR.  I got their top installer and he did a good job.  (My previous house had been bought from a widow whose late husband had electrocuted himself doing a repair in that kitchen he was a maintenance guy for a phone company central office)  My Father was an EE and he generally thought code was way too lax....

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I can relate to that, Thomas. It's a bear to fix someone's mistakes all the time, but at the very least I have a couple of friends who are good at it and are fellow blacksmiths that are lending a hand (with the goal of turning my shop into a prime hammer-in location).


Back to the topic at hand, though: any input or commentary on the blade? Just curious if anyone has any tips so I can make the next one better.

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