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I Forge Iron

Intro, and a question on swedge grinding


SlimW

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Hi all - I'm SlimW, and I like knives. I've been reading threads here for a few months, and just made an account.

I've made a few knife-shaped objects so far, but nothing I've wanted to stick my name on yet. Now, I'd like to do a little better.

My next project is a "skinner-ish" thing that I intend as a gift for someone who did me a favor, if this all works out and doesn't look hideous, that is. This is a stock removal knife.

I'd like to grind a swedge along the top of the blade, since this is fairly thick steel (15/16"  7/32"), and I've made myself a jig from angle iron to clamp the knife onto.

My question is this: is it better to grind the main bevel first, or the swedge first? Does it make any difference?

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Here's a few of my previous attempts, before I decided to actually research how knives were made. No hiding my shame!

The knife with the wooden sheath was one I made from an edger blade and scrap I had laying around the garage. It's ugly, it's awkward, but I made it for my son, it mysteriously seems to hold an edge, and he really loves it, so I guess it turned out ok.

The folding knife was my attempt to make a liner lock. I didn't know how to grind a bevel, the body was way too thick, and the lock surfaces weren't angled so it doesn't lock tight.

The knife with the aluminum hilt I made for my nephew as a Christmas exchange gift. As you can see, I didn't know how to grind a bevel or sand a blade here, either. This was also my first attempt at leatherwork, using an old belt for a sheath. Hey, he likes it, so I guess it's ok.

The last knife was another scrap knife I cut out of steel from a set of garden shears. This one is shiny, at least, and I think the handle is interesting. I will probably try to make an improved version of this one at some point.

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knife1.jpg

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Swedge? Do you mean a "fuller?" Long semi circular "groove" along the blade's length? 

A swedge or swage is a tool you drive hot steel into to forge a curve of known radius and width. The tool "Fuller" is a long round edged tool think chisel with a round edge for a general idea. A fuller is used to forge a semi circular groove or other similar processes. A cross pein hammer's Pein is a fuller. 

I know it can be confusing either tool forges the shape of the other. Fullers for swage shapes and a swage forms a fuller shape. 

Of course I could be wrong, if so. . . . nevermind.

Frosty The Lucky. 

 

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A swedge is an additional unsharpened bevel ground down the spine of a knife. It's not a fuller. More of a "false edge" on the back of the knife + some aesthetic flair. I think the purpose is to reduce the thickness of the tip by having two flat grinds converge.

Slim, I'm not a knifemaker so I don't know if there is a preferred order to the grinds. I don't see why it couldn't be done either way, but I'll defer to those who have more experience with such things. Anyway, welcome aboard!

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Generally, you want to grind the swedge in first, like grinding the clip on a bowie. But with you grinding it completely out, you may want to at least rough in your bevels before grinding the swedge in. I usually grind a little more material off than what I want to end up with, then chase everything up the blade to where I want it as I grind the bevels. But, I forge my stuff really close to done so I don't have to grid so much, and this changes the approach by a lot.

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Thanks for that, Bob. If you look at my very first pic, you can see that I have a very long swedge, almost the entire length of the blade. Will this thin the point out too much? The peak (if that's what it's called) of the swedge will be centered on the drop in the point. I see that usually knives are only made with a swedge about 1/3 of the blade, is there a reason for that, or is that just style?

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Just a heads up.. A swedge, even unsharped, the  entire lenght of the spine  "might"  change your Skinner into a dagger in the eyes of the law in your state, and daggers are illegal in some states. 

Personally,  I'm not a fan of full length swedges, particularly  on skinners or hunters. I always end up choking up on the blade and that false edge digs into the fingers. 

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Also there may be more stress applied to a blade as you get back towards the guard and so having a bit more steel there can help. (Yes they are not supposed to be used for prying; but I have seen a number of failures due to that!)

However; your blade, your design!   (I would watch out for the possible dagger laws or zombie knife laws if the blade is in the UK! )

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Here in the US, in Pennsylvania, most knives are ok, provided that the knife has a "common lawful purpose", unless you're in Philadelphia. They make up their own laws for some reason.

 

Quote

As it is applied to the broad category of knives, § 908 Prohibited offensive weapons, provides the following definition:

‘Offensive Weapons’   Any, . . . dagger, knife, razor or cutting instrument, the blade of which is exposed in an automatic way by switch, push-button, spring mechanism, or otherwise, . . .  or other implement for the infliction of serious bodily injury which serves no common lawful purpose.

Thus, there are two categories of knives considered to be offensive weapons:

  1. Blade exposed ‘in an automatic way’, or;
  2. Implement for infliction of bodily injury with no common lawful purpose.

Thank you for the thoughts on swedges. I will reconsider.

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the trashheap file jig works pretty well! it took me a little over an hour, on and off, to file this bevel. its a lot neater than my previous attempts with my 1x30 delta grinder.

IMG_20210901_221610.jpg

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I rarely do false edges on the spine, but when I do they are less than half the length of the spine and I grind them after the bevel for the cutting edge.  I have no particular reason why.  It's just the way I do it and any way that safely gives you the result you want is the right way.

Your bevel in the picture above looks pretty darn good to me.  I like that you gave yourself a lot of options for changing the bevel angle slightly in your jig.  Well done IMHO.

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those metal uprights with all the holes in them are from computer racks, they used to hold a set of battery backup units that got junked. it's pretty easy to change angles by moving up, down, forward, and backward. the rows of holes are offset so that makes it even easier to get very fine changes in angle.

A lucky coincidence, this is because I'm a borderline-needing-an-intervention hoarder :D

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45 minutes ago, SlimW said:

I'm a borderline-needing-an-intervention hoarder

All you have to do is put word out and a bunch of us pack rats will come over and help go through your hoard. Then we'll go out and help replenish it with you.

We're an awesome support group, honest we are. :)

Frosty The Lucky.

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Yes, I plan to file a sharpening choil in. right now, i'm trying to get the file marks out. next time, I will switch to a less coarse file as I approach the final shape. I think that will make the initial sanding a lot easier.

I'm debating on how to blend in the back of the swedge now, I don't want to leave those sharp corners.

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Nice. I'm a fan of a good sharpening choil. After I put an edge on most of my maintenance is done with a ceramic or steel rod. Without a choil I can't access the whole edge.

A smooth file will leave you with a less to do, but there is just no way around hand sanding if you want a nice satin finish.. I got into blacksmithing thinking I wanted to make knives. Then I realized that time at the bench far outweighed time at the anvil so now I only make them on occasion as gifts or side projects.

I'm sure you'll decide what you want to do with the back of the swage. 

What are you thinking for the handle?

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Frazer: I am making this knife for a guy I know who gave me a 9'x9"x4" plank of walnut, so I am planning on making scales from that.

ThomasPowers: There is no taper on the blade. I am debating a taper on the tang, it's pretty thick. I'm not sure I currently have the setup to taper it evenly on a grinder, and I'm not sure I'm up to a filing session to taper that whole tang :D

I will probably drill lots of holes in it, but I'm still thinking about it.

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My personal Opinions:   Tapers are one of the signs of a blacksmith having forged a blade. Machinists tend to have an unfortunate tendency to not tape things as tapers are a pain to machine; but easy to smith!  One reason medieval European swords were so light was the use of tapers, (the other is fullers!).  A blade with no distal taper in blade or tang is a lot heavier than it needs to be and tends not to be carried as much.

Some commercial blades made a big thing about being "full thickness" but that is more advertising hype than increasing the usability of a blade.  

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i agree, a taper would be best. I want the forward end of the scale at an angle, so I imagine the taper needs to be perpendicular to that line. Thats the tricky part.

Still sanding, lots of time to think about it. Maybe it would be better as a hidden tang? That would lose lots of weight.

 

IMG_20210903_120253.jpg

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Well you do have a taper from from the swage/bevel intersection to the tip. It's a rather short taper, but it is there. You could extend it by decreasing the angle of either one of the grinds, but I like the aesthetic you have going on there.. A hidden tang might throw off the balance depending on how much material you remove, but it is an option..

For the balance I will take some masking tape, stick one piece on the tang and a second piece on the wood scale and super glue (just a couple small dots will do) the two together (do the same thing on the other side). Then I shape the handles while they are stuck to the knife temporarily. When I check the balance more often than not it is too far down the handle. So I remove the scales and drill out the tang until the balance moves up to to where I want it.

Nice. Walnut is one of my favorite woods.. It takes a long time to stabilize under vacuum, but fortunately it's pretty stable on it's own. All of the knives I made for my kitchen set have walnut handles and most of them were sealed without stabilizing them first.

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Well, i screwed up. I was trying to feather in the swedge and scored too deep and ruined the top profile. my only recourse was to reprofile the top.  I guess trying to reprofile a bevel is a bad idea. I think I rescued it, though.

IMG_20210903_230428.jpg

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