HP500

Check out my amazing beginner blacksmithing skills

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As a beginner blacksmith, one of the things that attracted me to blacksmithing is that you develop the ability to make tools. I needed a draw knife but didn't have one. I attempted to make one out of an old file I had. It was my first attempt, and I must say, it came out much better than expected. I got the angle I wanted on the tangs, the blade was pretty symmetrical, the lines were straight, I had the blade shape I was looking for, etc. I must have spent about 4 or 5 hours on it between forging and grinding. After annealing, most of the shaping was done by hand with a file since I don't have the best equipment yet as far as grinders/sanders go, so it was a lot of work.

The only steps I had left was to harden the blade by quenching in oil and to the the final sharpening and tempering. I quenched in canola oil, since that is what I had available. I did the file test after quenching and it seemed to bite in just a little. I quenched again, but things didn't seem any better. I decided to try it one more time to see if I could get any improvement. Here is the result:

 

draw knife.jpg

I took my eye off of the forge for only about 10 seconds. It was enough to ruin hours of labor. I was bummed about it, but I'll chalk this up to lessons learned. My "two piece draw knife" will be given a prominent place near my forge as a reminder to pay more attention to what I'm doing.

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Working with high carbon steel is not a good "beginner" project.  You know that multiple quenches don't harden more right---unless you change some of the factors!

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I always tried to do everything right the first time. Took me a lot of years to realize that the only way to learn is to make mistakes. Now I look at mistakes as a positive opportunity.

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1 minute ago, John in Oly, WA said:

Took me a lot of years to realize that the only way to learn is to make mistakes. 

That's why I try to make as many as possible!

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Not if you are wasting your time making the mistakes that are well known; the idea is to skip those and go on to make new and unusual mistakes!

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Of course, you don't want to make all those common mistakes, and the unusual mistakes tend to be the more exciting mistakes to make. As long as you survive, you're learning! And if you don't survive, hopefully someone else learns from it, so it's all good. :o

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I encourage my students to skip the "grab hot steel in your bare hand" one; It's been done before...

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Now that you have completed your practice piece, I have several questions that may help prevent other issues for the next attempt (questions listed for your benefit as well as for anyone else who may follow this thread). 

You said you used an "old" file. A files presumed age provides little assurance that you have a hardenable piece of steel. Did you first cut off a small piece, heat it and water quench then put it in the vise and whack it with a hammer? (If hardenable, it should break off, if just a case hardened file it should bend rather than break).

Did you grind off the file teeth before hammering, in order to remove any weak spots / cold shuts that could develop while you're shaping the draw knife?

Were you careful to not overheat the steel while you were working it? Did you normalize the piece after all the forging was done, before the quench? (My first thought was that it had cracked during the third quench, but looking again, it appears it may have burnt apart during that 10 seconds you took your eyes off it.) I've lost more steel to distractions than I care to admit. If your focus isn't on the steel/fire, pull the piece out of the heat, especially if not using a gas forge.

The failure is frustrating. It looks like you had a nice tool well under way. Use the opportunity to make slight changes to your process to make an even better part the next time. I look forward to seeing the pictures of the success.

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Thanks JME1149, this is very helpful. It looks like I made many mistakes with this project using my new coal forge. The file was an old Nicholson file that I had, but I did not test it for hardness before the project. I did not grind the teeth off first. I did anneal it by putting it in ashes overnight after forging, but I did not normalize it first. I did not notice any cracks after quenching, but on my third attempt the middle of the blade was in the hottest part of my fire so I'm almost positive I burned it in half because I didn't pay attention.

I will definitely follow your suggestions for my next attempt. Thank you very much!

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On 7/5/2017 at 8:57 AM, John in Oly, WA said:

I always tried to do everything right the first time. Took me a lot of years to realize that the only way to learn is to make mistakes. Now I look at mistakes as a positive opportunity.

I must be learning like crazy!

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On 7/4/2017 at 8:30 AM, HP500 said:

I took my eye off of the forge for only about 10 seconds. It was enough to ruin hours of labor. I was bummed about it, but I'll chalk this up to lessons learned. My "two piece draw knife" will be given a prominent place near my forge as a reminder to pay more attention to what I'm doing.

It took to me 3 attempts to make mi first drawknife the first end like yours, the second crack at quenching it an the third is in the photo. if you don`t give up in a few days you will have a lot o shaving coming from it, good luck in the next!

DSC_2353.JPG

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Quite small once you trim the damage back to good metal---so make scribing knives from them! (you could even round the tang ends off and have then stick out of the handle as a round scribe as well.  Or  make a set of dividers!

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On 7/5/2017 at 11:05 AM, ThomasPowers said:

I encourage my students to skip the "grab hot steel in your bare hand" one; It's been done before...

I would think that one would not need to be explained..... 

Even I didnt make that mistake and I make ALL the normal mistakes... 

 

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Many folks don't realize that "black steel" can be anywhere between ambient and 800+ degF and in bright sunlight even higher!

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True.... 

its probably just best to assume " If there is a forge with a fire in it, consider all metal around it to hot to touch with bare hands " 

I will probably try that rule out with my oldest. he likes to come out and strike for me, but im always nervous he might decide to try touching something he shouldnt. But I have watched him jump right out of the way as a hot piece of metal fell from the anvil to the ground ( how does that saying go, " If the earth wants an up close and personal look at your work, dont get in its way ? " 

 

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