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I Forge Iron

New to blacksmithing / knife making - new some tips

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Hey everyone,

As I'm in lockdown here down under for another month I recently decided to give blacksmithing a crack! Something I've always wanted to do but never had the time to. I've run into a lot of setbacks in my first 2 weeks or so and was hoping to get some advice on what I could do better / how to do things.

I tried forging a knife from a billet of 1075 steel I purchased (dimensions 3.2 x 38 x 200mm (0.125 x 1.5 x 8″)). It is quite a thin piece and the idea was that I try draw out a tang and then go on to shape the rest of the blade (was aiming for a Tanto style blade). I'll provide pictures of what it ended up like but I initially began by just hitting a hammer directly downwards onto the metal and I believe that I created 'cold shuts' as the sides folded onto itself.

I removed as much as I could with a file and read that to draw out metal, the hammer should hit the metal at an angle, so I started doing that (hitting the edge and then switching to the flat of the metal to prevent cold shuts). While I managed to draw the blade out a bit for the tang, the end is now completely destroyed. The edge of the bar where I worked it is quite thick but tapers to an extremely thin edge and an even thinner mid section (about 0.5mm /0.019685 inches or less). It was so thin I actually lost about 3cm of the bar as it was so thin I just snapped it off as it kept warping and folding whenever I struck the bar. I heated the bar up until orange however it would become a dull red in about 3-4 hits and I would have to put it back in the forge.

Is the bar too thin to work with at 3.2mm or 0.125 inches? I currently am using a 3lbs machinist hammer / cross-peen hammer and my anvil is currently a flat mild steel bar attached securely to a roughly 20-25 kilo (44-55lbs) tree stump (proper anvil coming soon). I tried using both the flat face of the hammer and the cross-peen but it felt quite awkward to use the cross-peen, probably due to me doing it wrong.

I'm guessing this bar is now a right off and I've got one more bar left and don't even want to touch it without having a bit more knowledge and practice. I would love any tips, advice or even how ya'll would work with the bar.

Thanks in advance! :)







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Welcome aboard. Your first sentence tells us where in the world you are, but unfortunately we will not remember. One of the reason we strongly suggest filling out the header and give us a location. Dont have to be exact general area is fine. There are several members here from down under and one may be quite close to you and willing to help. If you have not yet done so also go to the thread titled 'READ THIS FIRST" it will tell you about etiquette and how to stay off the mods radar. 

I am not exactly sure how to answer your question but someone will be along shortly that will be able to give better advice than i can. 

You may also want to check out the "improvised anvil thread". 

Anyway welcome again, keep it safe and fun. 

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Welcome aboard Nguyen Hoang, glad to have you. As Billy suggests including your general location in the header really improves your ability to interact with the gang. 

I'm not a bladesmith but as a blacksmith can say I'd NEVER give a newcomer to the craft stock that thin to forge. I wouldn't suggest forging blades as a beginner level project anyway. 

I highly suggest you turn the other piece of stock into a stock removal knife. Stock removal is a necessary skill for a knife maker anyway, combining it with forging just increases the probability a mistake will wipe out a lot of work. Make sense?

Next time you buy stock to forge a blade buy narrower and thicker. It will hold heat longer and small mistakes will be correctable. 

I also recommend you start practicing basic forging skills on less expensive and skills critical projects. Drive, S hooks and wall hooks are good for leaning basics of drawing lengthways and widthways. Drawing a leaf involves the same skill sets as forging a blade but mild steel isn't nearly as temperature sensitive and you don't need to worry about heat treatment. 

Lots of guys start learning blacksmithing with knives or (SHUDDER) swords. It's doable but it puts you on several learning curves at the same time. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Thanks for the reply guys :) I’ll make sure I add my location from now on!

I definitely got too excited after watching some videos and thought “hey making a knife looks easy” ( boy I was wrong). I made one pair of tongs and immediately thought a knife was the next step.

a stock removal knife is definitely what I will do with the other billet. I will however wait until I feel a bit more comfortable with blacksmithing overall. With the destroyed piece, would it be possible/recommended to try fold it and forge weld it into a thicker billet and restart from there?



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If you've made a pair of tongs, you already have some good basic skills going! Keep it up, you'll get better fast.

Sure you can salvage what's left of the original stock. Welding it in a billet isn't really a beginner process. However, oil it and put it somewhere and it'll be waiting for you when you're ready.

When I'm showing folks what I know of the craft I usually have them do a forge weld first session to get the mystery out of the process. A billet is a step up from basic forge welds so I let someone good at it to show them. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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They aren’t pretty but they work!

I’ve put some 3 in 1 oil on it, wrapped it in paper and stored it away for a more experienced me in the future.

I appreciate the help Frosty, I think I will tinker around with some wall hooks/ S hooks to practice my hammer skills a bit :)

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When you become a world famous bladesmith you can pull it out and look at it as an excuse for another beer!

It is hard to hammer down thin stock; but you can hot cut the basic tang out!  If you do try to hammer it down you have to use the "two steps forward, one step back" method where you hammer on the edge and then reheat and flatten it to keep cold shuts from forming. Making the transition from the tang to the blade is tricky. I have new smiths use a swing arm fuller to make a nice rounded transition with the top and bottom lined up correctly. (Sharp corners are stress concentrators!)

BTW how is your hammer and anvil dressed?  Sharp edges make cold shuts and so should be rounded.

While you are learning hammer control and heat control and all the grunt work of blacksmithing you may want to start with something like a automotive coil or leaf spring to get you a cheap knifegrade steel that you practice shaping with.  A automotive coil spring if cut down one side or the diameter gives you a lot of "(" pieces all of the same steel to practice forging and heat treating with.  They are generally easy to find too though you would like one with as few miles on it as possible to avoid fatigue cracks.  Leaf springs can be hot cut to a more convient size and worked.  Quench in warm vegetable oil.

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Apologies for the super late reply Thomas, I made another thread and completely forgot about this one. 

I definitely will work with some mild steel before attempting to work with the more expensive knife steels. Before I put the piece away, I did try alternating between the edge and the flat of the steel, so hit the edge once, flip and hit the flat, repeat until I needed to reheat. It definitely helped prevent the edge folding like it did when I first did it but the middle of the bar was so thin it just kept warping. 

I had to google what hammer and anvil dressing were haha. My anvil when I made this post was a very large, flat gate hinge screwed to a log, I now have a small 10kg (22lb) anvil that does have some somewhat sharp edges (it also has no way of securing it to a sturdy surface so that's a problem). The hammer (3lb) doesn't seem to have any sharp edges as far as I can tell. Both the anvil and hammer I have are in the two photos below




Unfortunately I'm in month 2 of a 3 month lockdown so going out and finding metal to work with is tricky. I basically flipped our shed inside out finding any steel that could be worked, soaking it in vinegar and grinding it off to be safe. I did come across a piece of metal I was actually going to ask on the forums about. It was an old spanner, no rust at all despite sitting in the shed for probably a decade and was dark grey in colour or at least coated in something grey. I soaked it in vinegar, sandpapered it, then soaked it again and then decided to just use an angle grinder to grind everything back. It was magnetic and had a decent amount of sparks when I grinded it, I just thought it was cast iron or something and it was a nice thick piece that looked good to practice on.

Upon putting it in the forge today, it took a very long time just to get to a dull red and a green crust formed over the metal (I had a respirator on and was in a open area just in case). This green crust ended up spreading to the charcoal somehow and I had bits of green charcoal in the forge. When the metal cooled, it was black and the crust looked like fried egg stuck to a pan (no joke! I'll put the photos underneath this).


(After the two vinegar soaks and sandpaper but before the grinding, It had what looked to be air bubbles or something all over it so I thought it was just cast iron).





I'd love if anyone could figure out what this metal could be! I checked the website (EziPier) but they had no information on what the spanner was made of :(

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Spanners are not made of cast iron, they generally are a medium carbon steel and often PLATED---if it's not rusting over the entire surface DO NOT PUT IN FORGE!  (Glenn actually sells shirts that say "In Rust We Trust"--- I have *2* of them!).

Vinegar will remove galvanized plating---zinc. It will not remove stuff like Chrome, Nickel, etc. Which are even more toxic!  I have "NON-plated spanners" on my "keep an eye out at the scrapyard for" list.  Keeping a supply on hand helps prevent the temptation of putting a plated one in the forge.

That hammer looks to need dressing to me---the edges of the peen for instance are not ')' like and probably the edges of the face as well.

Run a piece of good sized chain around the waist of that anvil, bolt it together as tight as possible  and then put a  lag bolt through a chain link in the middle of either side into the anvil stand.

I thought y'all were on month 4 of a "2 month lockdown" by now...

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I am guessing the spanner was chromed.. When heated it produced Chromium(III) Oxide which is green in color.

Please do some research on hexavalent chromium.

DO NOT put anything that's plated/galvanized/chromed into the fire. If vinegar doesn't strip it off then you will probably need some nasty other chemicals to do so and it's just not worth the risk. 

Luckily you were wearing a respirator, but still. You are taking a risk when playing with mystery steels and you really need to learn what to watch out for before you toss any old piece of steel into a forge.

Remember: In rust we trust.

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