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Just finished a 3-day knife making class


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This is Not an advertisement for the tool company, but a report on a good experience. 

Ive been dabbling in smithing and making knives for about a year now, and my father became interested when I gave him my first piece of Damascus i mangled into a knife. 

Since then He has been tooling up to get started, and found a class put on by Pieh (pronounced like pie) tool for knife making. The class runs a few times a year, Fri-Sun. He signed us both up and I just got back.

The best part was the Master Smith Ray Rybar who taught the class. Luckily I have a studious approach to any endeavor i get into, and much of my self-taught and researched process was exactly as Ray taught the course. But I learned an INCREDIBLE amount of new information, techniques, and approaches to knife making and steel work in general. If anyone lives near northern Arizona, or wants to make a nice little road trip I highly recommend it. 

I took some pictures of a few of his pieces. Look him up. Its simply amazing. I learned that there is so much more that I didn’t even know I didn’t know. This man forges entire biblical scriptures (fully legible), skulls, crosses, etc... in damascus and puts it in a knife, thats already damascus to begin with. If you flip the knife over, the letters & pictures are backwards. Its so cool.

And its not a simple mosaic technique in a can either.








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I will have him send me a pic, and I can add one of mine when I get home to take a pic of it. one of Ray's main talking points was about the quality (or lack thereof) of steel nowadays. He grew up in Pittsburgh and started smiting as a farrier assistant at 10 years old. He remembers the glory days of US steel, where the stated specs of the steel were exactly what came in the steel, not so much anymore with the majority of US steel mills gone the way of the dodo and being imported.

We had a perfect example in this class. He ordered 5160 bar stock because he was out of the stuff he makes himself... yes, he collects ore, and reduces it down and makes his own steel adding in other trace elements, then has a buddy of his spectral analyse it,  because he cant trust what others sell anymore. I had started making my second knife, cut from a new bar, since I was a little more adept than most in the class and got ahead. However while grinding the first knife I discovered a crack. He was puzzled and said he watched me do most all of my work and was surprised to see a crack since I never overheated it, nor hit it too cold. Then a second crack, in a second blade, we were able to grind through it, but it made it a little thin.We broke the first blade all the way to check the grain structure. I will add a pic later that shows a perfect transition from Martensite on the edge, to an Austenite transition zone, with Pearlite towards the spine (we did an edge quench method in this class). 

Then another student cooked his blade into cottage cheese and had to start over. He cut another piece from the same bar I was using to make my knives  and forged away (pictured below). Upon heating it up to temper it, Ray wanted to look at it on a hunch. The chrome in the steel was not evenly distributed, and there were chrome carbides all throughout the blade that had pooled in streaks/lines.  Some of these lines even inhibited heat transfer (read: essentially a crack). The tempering colors being halted in their run can be seen by the spine close to the tang, and right in the belly of the blade too. So Ray said with confidence that I did nothing wrong to cause it to crack, and it was probably a carbide line that was brittle and the slightest bump once hardened caused a split. 


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I tried, but he said you will never find him on a forum, and he also said if he hears one of ‘them cell phones’ go off he will pull a hillary on it. Lol

An honary crumudgen at heart?


pic of the broken blade. Interesting how the middle transition layer is blue/purple-ish



The wife just corrected me, its ‘lavender’. 



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Pics of completed (mostly) knives from the class.  


Mine is the thinner one. Thinner because I decided to to salvage it by grinding out the crack. The handle is 100+ year old oak basketball court flooring. I have a memory of pulling nails out of the wood as my grandfather wanted to keep the wood. I think i was about 5? at the time. Floor was installed in 1915

We wanted to make matching-ish blades. His handle is canvavas micarta.


Also my broken first blade. 


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