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Kiridashi Project Question

Pat Masterson

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Good morning all. So I wanted to have a go at forging a Kiridashi knife and it just so happens that I was given a piece of damascus as a gift so I’d like to make it from that. I don’t know the quality of the Damascus- I believe it’s one of those you see on Amazon or something advertised for knife making. I considered laying the shape out, cutting it out and then just doing some minor forging for final shape and the blade but my problem is the thickness of piece - it’s 1/8” (2”x10” HxL)The Kiridashi’s I see online look thin but not that thin so I would need to try to upset a good portion of the damascus, at least enough so the handle section is thicker than 1/8”. I have a gas forge though so usually I’m using selective cooling if I want to upset a certain section of stock- but I’m assuming since this stuff is advertised for knife making it’s some kind of high carbon steel so if I quench it off will it be too brittle to start beating on the quenched part? If that’s the case and I shouldn’t quench will I be able to upset forging it horizontally? Or do you think that will just make the piece longer? First time trying to make any kind of blade and first time working with anything other than mild steel. Thanks. 



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1/8" is difficult to upset evenly, the sides upset and the center tries to buckle so you just have to keep going back and forth between upsetting and flattening. I have never used the stuff from Amazon myself, but I have seen some comments that some bars have delaminations and/or a tendency to delaminate so be careful if you try upsetting it. The constant bending and flattening might be hard on any imperfections that may (or may not be) in the bar.

I definitely wouldn't recommend selectively cooling any sections.  More likely to cause problems than anything.

I did this recently on with some 1/8x2" (mild steel, totally different project) and while I didn't take final measurements of what I ended up with, I had to bring the width down to ~1.25" to get ~3/16" of thickness. Obviously the bar lengthens substantially as a result. 

I'm not a knife maker, but if it were me I would keep the 1/8" thickness and add scales or something to make the handle a little thicker.  If you want to go the upsetting route and you're worried about ruining the material on your first go, grab some mild steel bar in the same size and see what you're able to upset it to. It's not a perfect analog since mild steel isn't the same under the hammer, but at least it will give you an idea of what thickness you can expect to get out of a bar that size.

Good luck

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The other thing you will need to be cautious about is that some of the "Damascus" being sold online is not suitable for making blades out of.  Unfortunately there is a lot of "scrapmascus" out there that has been made from random steel that may not have sufficient carbon content to harden effectively.  Unfortunately the advertisements are sometimes misleading (I'm being generous there).  A good touchmark is price.  If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.  Before putting a lot of effort into your kiridashi project I would suggest you cut off a small section and snap test it.

Also, there is no reason a carpenter's marking knife shouldn't be 1/8" thick.  I have made several kiridashi in that thickness and they work very effectively.

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After some more research it looks like you’re right - there’s no reason 1/8” is too thin. I actually saw some that had a 3mm width. So do you think my best bet is just cutting out a rough shape then grinding/sanding in my final shapes and blade edge? No forging? I was looking forward to trying to forge this stuff but I want to go with whatever has the best chance of creating a nice usable piece. 

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I would say that's a matter of preference. One benefit of stock removal (among other things) is there will be little to no distortion of the pattern you have in the bar now. One benefit to forging is the possibility of using a little less material by moving the mass around rather than grinding it away, plus it's fun :D

Personal bias aside, you have enough material there to make more than one with some to spare for other projects, yes? You could try it both ways and see how it goes? 

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