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Upsetting 1/8 steel flat bar


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Hello,

I am very new to blacksmithing.  I have only shaped a few things with a hammer and have made a stock removal knife.  I am curious about how difficult it would be to upset 1/8 flat stock.  I have an 11.6 inch by 1.5 inch by 1/8 inch piece of flat stock to learn to make knives with.  I decided to make some small knives first to get the hang of it and to save money.  I made a knife that I am fairly happy with but wanted to try to give a bit more handle to the next knife.  With limited supply I thought making 2 knives from each piece of steel saves money and gives me more practice.  So I have a 6 inch piece leftover from the last knife but wanted to try to give it a slightly longer handle.  There is plenty of steel for an experienced blacksmith. I think :).  
 

So here is my question.  Is it possible for a complete newb to try upsetting the 1/8 Inch steel to thicken it and then draw it out a bit longer for a newb?  Since the steel is so thin I could see it being difficult to not fold it over and end up just making a mess.  Is this a skill a newb should attempt or should I wait for more experience first? Or is it just too difficult period?

 

I know I could just do a hidden tang but like the idea of a full tang.  Eventually I will try other styles but was curious if this was worth pursuing.

 

I hope this makes sense. 
 

Thanks for any advice or tips!

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First off, 1/8 inch thick material will be a bit tricky to upset well.  They call it "upsetting" for a reason.  That's the effect it frequently has on the person attempting it. 

Secondly, I'm not sure what dimension you're wanting to increase.  If you just want to make the piece longer but retain the width and thickness then this idea will not serve you well.  You will not be able to exceed the current length, thickness, and width you have now. At least one of those dimensions must decrease in order to increase either or both of the other two.  If you want a longer, but narrower tang you can just draw out some length by decreasing (with heat and hammer of course) the width and/or thickness.  At 1/8 inch thickness you really don't have much wiggle room there unless it's a fairly small knife.  

Keep in mind that you will lose some material due to scaling as well.  How much you lose depends on several things, but the atmosphere in your forge (oxidizing, neutral, or reducing) will play a part as will the number of times you need to reheat and beat the stock to reach your desired dimensions.

As a side note, there's nothing wrong with adding some more steel to the tang end with an electric welder and then forging that to the shape you want.  Since the tang doesn't need to hold a cutting edge it doesn't have to be high carbon steel.  If you do weld more steel on you need to make sure you get full penetration welds and you also need to heat the weld and surrounding area up at least once to glowing temperatures to relieve the stress in the heat affected zone   When I do this I weld from both sides, clean up the welds a little and then forge to shape.  Unless it's etched you can't distinguish the weld seam after it's been forged and ground smooth.

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Well it looks like it would be very difficult.  I wanted to take from the width and lengthen it.  I assumed it could be frustrating which is why I asked so I will aim on a different task first. Maybe I will just skip to trying a hidden tang.  It is a small knife so it should still be durable. 
 

Thanks for the response.  And thanks for saving me some material an frustration! :)

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Upsetting your stock then drawing it out is redundant. 

A tapered full tang adds other problems. Fitting your handle will be a challenge.

Taper the blade end might be easier. 

The easiest solution is in Steve's pic above. Don't do a full tang. Do a hidden tang. That leaves more material for the blade and a long enough tang for a comfortable handle. A hidden tang can be tapered or straight sided. It just needs to be wide enough to rivit it to the handle. You can even make a bolster at the end of the handle with a square hole thru it. Then have your tang pass thru it and peen it over like a tenon. Thus no rivits thru the handle are needed 

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18 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

Now for another weirder one:  forge it out to the length you want which will make it less wide.  Then hot cut down the middle of the tang and drift it out so it appears to be a full tang with the interior hole hidden in the handle.

Interesting, another good idea.  I may just have to try them all!

1 hour ago, anvil said:

Upsetting your stock then drawing it out is redundant. 

I think a hidden tang will be my first go since the tang is almost long enough for a full tang.  No problem putting pins in since there will be plenty of space.  I only need to add like 1/2 inch.   This would save a lot of weight too as my first knife was quite a beast for a small knife.

The next idea sound like drifting it would be a neat idea since I could lose weight and have a full tang.

One of the reasons I wanted to make a bunch of small knives first.  Lots of practice with different techniques and designs.  

Thanks, everyone for the very helpful tips!  This has given me lots of ideas.  Off to draw some :)

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Agreed.  I put distal tapers on full tang knives for balance reasons frequently and as long as the surfaces are flat it doesn't really matter that they are tapered.  You compensate for whatever minor change in thickness exists as you remove the scale material to get the desired feel in the hand.

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As a new blacksmith you should not try anything too complicated. Save the pieces of 1/8 stock for a later project when you have  more experience.

I suggest you find a local shop that makes fences, railings, gates, etc and ask them for a few "drops".    "drops" are great material to practice on, and the price is right.

"Drops" are odd and end leftover pieces too short for their jobs. Most shops throw away lots of 1/2   new square bars. Be polite, tell them what you are doing and be prepared for a pleasant surprise.

Edited by dickb
Accidently submitted the post before I had finished composing it
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following on what dickb said buy some small stock i can pick up a 20' 3/8 square mild steel for CAD 0.08 an inch and then make fire pokers and hooks to practice twists and hammer techniques. i know where you stand "i want to build a Knife", been there, done that, failed, learned from my mistakes. wait if i learned from it was it a real fail?  what i mean to say is make a starters plan that is grasp able if you go "for my first time starting the forge up im making a 3' sword your gonna fail because you haven't done any hammer work. but if you go and make hook the first few times you get practice hammering and you also have Christmas gifts.

just my two cents;)

hit hard and forge on

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1 hour ago, M.J.Lampert said:

just my two cents;)

How much steel can I buy with that?  :)

 

Joking aside I do plan on doing that as I get more into it.  Right now I was just doing a little stock removal hoping to incorporate a little hammer work as I go.  Just because it is fun! Goals help me succeed and I was thinking that this was beyond me me to upset that thin steel but I thought I would ask.

Anyway I have done a little hammering but need to find just the right thing to start making that motivates me.  I think I want to try making some leaf bottle openers to practice my hammer work.  Saw that on Alex Steele :)

 

Thabks for the input.

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