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How to design a blade Project knife pt1 chat

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from Knife chat Feb-13-90

[steve sells]The subject of what is really needed in a shop applied to blades as well. For a smithing operation, all we really need is heat source, Anvil, hammer and files. So lets talk about what we NEED for a knife. Its easy to see the flashy things ( new wonder steel ZXY ) new 118in grinder with 18 inch platen and 37 Hp reversible motor, Super polish. We have all seen this, but what is a knife really? and what does it need ? its a thing to cut, with out cutting ME, every thing else is extra, just as the shop basics I was talking about
[jeremy k] sharp blade and a handle
[steve sells] For a shop, anvil, hammer, file, and we got that covered, what do we need for the blade it self? OK sharp blade and handler, Flint made a very sharp blade. why use steel? flint wont warp or rust?
[jeremy k] longer life
[steve sells] why jeremy ? why any one really
[jeremy k] under hard use the flint may break
[steve sells] Good and very correct, I am trying to get all to think about what matters for a blade, its so easy to lose focus, and get caught in hype.
[Ted T] You can adjust the malleability of the material, shape it, it is enduring!
[steve sells] Since it started on this note already I would like to follow through, its easy to get lost in hype and myth about things, I would like to clarify, we can all do many wonderful things to embellish a blade, but at its heart: we need it Sharp, long lasting and not break in normal use, what good is a blade with 24K gold trim and molars and a bad blade ? that leads to heat treating knowledge and a suitable steel. If we start with the basics the rest will only make it better.
[Ted T] show and tell

[steve sells] lets make a hypothetical knife, forgetting equipment for now, lets use the basic's of shape and form.
[jeremy k] what Style?
[steve sells] Good question, MANY want to start with steel selection by what sounds good or COOL or NEW, but really the knife purpose and use intended IS the real starting point, we can NOT decide what is best with out knowing what our blade must do. A shaving razor will not use the same criteria as a flillet knife, nor a butchering knife
[m_brothers]never really thought about that steve
[steve sells] this is a class .. so YOU guys decide what IS a typical knife project for starting out?
[m_brothers]bowie or skinner
[JJ] first time i used a store b ought "survival" knife to chop down a 3" sapling, the knife blade broke
[steve sells] do you want to shave? slice, chop, stab ? Any time you combine some of those 4 you have to compromise something to get more , then even more compromise, a chopping blade needs to survive shock. fillet great edge is all, No shock or abrasion encountered to stab, sharp don't mater, but for a fillet it is an issue. A so called hunting knife needs to do all of these, so they do none really well. But we will try.... what can we do to make the best COMPROMISE in a hunter ? what DO YOU define as a hunter? lets start there?
[jeremy k] somewhat shorter for strength
[markb] single edge
[jeremy k] or thicker
[Tinker2] what animal to cut
[steve sells] ok can we all agree a 1/3 inch thick blade , while strong for chopping, will ge rin the way for the other uses of this HUNTING blade?
[JJ] cut hide, whittle sticks, cut meat, slice onions, cut rope...
[steve sells] how thin can ge go to assisting the slicing need, before we remove the ability fo chop ? How thin can we get... IF i had a fillet at 1/16 that a good sharp edge, but if I try to chop with that ...
[steve sells] so Our blade need to be between 1/3 and 1/16 but where ?
[markb] How tough can you make it?
[garey] 1/8 / 3/32 thick 5" blade with a slight belly at the rise to the point
[jeremy k] depends on the steel?
[steve sells] OK now it seem we have to look at the blade AND steel as a unit . there is no way to do one with out the other, I state that ALL BLADE MAKING is a compromise between that, anyone ability gets better , then another gets poorer, we must achieve a balance for most any hunter
[jeremy k] is there a chart of some sort that has guidelines for length vs. thickness and width?
[steve sells] for the sake of speeding up this topic I will go with 1/8 inch do we agree that is good enough for SOME chopping, and thin enough to skin and fillet ?
[jeremy k] : ok
[Ted T] 1 Here Here
[steve sells] Make one jeremy. Seriously, MY blade may not do what your does. As an example, who here know who Howard Clarke is ?
[jeremy k] yes - seen him this fall
[steve sells] he is a mainly Japanese sword maker, We both have used L-6, both know something about heat treating, both have a few years forging... BUT he can get his L-6 to do amazing things. because he has studied HIS style of blade, HIS methods of heat treating has been tested and modified so many times, HE took the time to learn about HIS things in HIS hands, and their effects.
[steve sells] I am trying to get all of you to learn to listen to others BUT always question, and test, and decide for yourselves what works best FOR YOUR technique. I am not Howard Clark, but I don't have to be that's ok, I can focus on myself and let him be himself, his methods work well for him but I had to discover what works for me, JUST as you need to see what methods work well for what ever you choose to do
[garey] Howard knows Magic
[steve sells] anyway we want a blade 1/8 thick,, how about the cutting edge ? remember this project should be most every things, as its the ONLY blade we have for now. Do we want it 1/4 th way up the blade? or maybe the bevel progressing up to 2/3 up the side of the blade?
[steve sells] how do we decide what is best for this project? a steeper bevel, only climbing 1/4 up will chop well. but what about the need for a fillet ?
[garey] if the blade is 1/8th thin you don't need much taper in the cutting edge
[steve sells] if its a axe head type bevel we wont get a very goof slice,
[jeremy k]: not for filleting tomatoes but some I'd say
[lobodag] havent heat treated yet
[leroyk] if your blade is an inch high make your taper i/2 the distance
[markb] combination
[steve sells] : 1inch blade width ? why not 2? why did you choose a 1 inch blade ?
[leroyk] using that fo a reference
[garey] 1&1/2 wide at the guard , 2" at the belly slope to a point for cutting and skinning
[markb] compromise
[jeremy k] for piercing easier
[garey] I tend to use the front belly and point more for cutting on a knife
[steve sells] We are starting to get specifics for our DO every thing blade.
[steve sells] piercing was mentioned, so about the tip...
[garey] wider blade is stronger and more stable under the shin when skinning a deer
[markb] Clip?
[garey] skin
[steve sells] thats true but it wont peirce as well, so what matters most in this :do every thing knife:?
[jeremy k] what is a "clip"
[markb] 1 I like the looks of a clip
[garey] drop point for a fighter straight spine for a hunter/skinner= just my preference.
[markb] Like a big scagel?
[Rich Hale] 1/2" stag hunter - clip point
[Rich Hale] knife - trailing point
[markb] love that 2nd one Rich
knife015 - Blacksmith Photo Gallery
[Rich Hale] drop point

Edited by mod07
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[steve sells] dagger
[steve sells]:boot knife
[steve sells]: what is our choice for this project? I feel funny posting a $60 boot knife next to $5000 RH blades LOL
[markb] Rich's first post link
[steve sells] I was kidding abour Rich charging 5k
[Rich Hale] Only in my dreams Steve
[steve sells] ok if all in agreement, we have a clip point 2in wide at middle, and 1.5 at guard ? I did not want people to think they can never get one of your fine blades Rich, as yours are affordable. What about the guard? do we even want one? if so how big?
[markb] Big knife big guard
[Rich Hale] If you stick your hand into dark places to cut stuff you need a guard to keep your hand from sliding forward onto the cutting edge
[steve sells] ok but remember it IS a do everything, I alrge guard may make skinning and filleting fish a problem ...
[garey] how long is blade and overall length?
[steve sells] one more problem with a knife for everything, we HAVE to make a compromise on something here.
[Rich Hale] If your choppin onions a guard gets in the way
[steve sells] that has not been established either, we are designing a knife to do everything, I for one dont like the iodea of living with less than 10 fingers
[garey] a shaped handle with a finger loop at the front?
[steve sells] do we need so wide as to extent over the spine too ?
[steve sells] FINGER!!!!! one thing about a finger thats great is it wont hang up gutting , wont grab in a fillet, wont let you slip over cutting edges
[steve sells] so full loop ( circle) or partial , an open loop or an arch type tab
[garey] good non slip material for the scales with a partial loop
[markb] canvas micarta
[garey] don't want to make it to heavy to be comfortable to carry. Every decision we have made here effected the rest. its fun to hammer a blade, and thats OK, but the purpose of the knife chat is to make the best blades we can. like any other project, we need a plan for what and WHY we are doing a thing Its easier to make a good Skinner its easy to make a gut knife, easy for a fillet knife, BUT to make ONLY ONE blade do all of these takes a LOT of effort to get all done at all.
[markb] Good points I got a butter knife handle on a bowie blade here and none will be as good as only 2 of those choices. I wan you all to think. plane your next blade hammer session,
[steve sells OK its getting late What I wanted to get across tonight is that it is not as simple as firing the forge an hammering away for make a knife, we need to plane these details to the intended purpose, and what ever that job, the more we expect it to do, the less it CAN do really well. I hope thsi has been educational, as I am not here to TELL you how to make your blades, but to shjow you how you can be better. thank you
[jeremy k] thanks for all the choices I have to make
[Rich Hale] When you beat on steel do it to a pattern...make a sheet metal for you wish the blade to resemble and for the hot steel to fit that pattern you will learn alot about how steel moves and increase your skill
[jeremy k] I'll have to give it a try - thank you all
[Ted T] I have been studying about knife making. I am suprised about the style of knife determines what the parts of the knife are called.
[markb] choil recasso
[Tinker2] 1thats why i like a drawing or picture to eliminate the differences of understandings
[steve sells] that too Ted, why I did it this way because some of the photos where it looks like just pound on a bar to give it an edge and thats it, with no thought as to why or how it would be used.
[Rich Hale] Still amazes me that the folks asking all the knife questions in the reg room never show up here...
[JJ] some only want answers via private messages. i tell them i only answer on the open window so it benefits everyone.
[steve sells] I had a guy get mad in forum when I told him read the knife sticky. I get asked some Heat treat question's a lot so I made a sticky that is here to answer even when I aint, but do they read LOL
[Ted T] I plan on making the same knife over and over again and again untill I get it right (forging, Heat treating, scales, and finish) when I get started. That is how I was taught to blacksmith!
[Rich Hale] not any way that is better than that Ted
[LDW] 1Great job Steve I got in late but it was a good show. Beautiful examples as well.
[steve sells] Ted that is a very good way to do it really
[JJ] ted, for grinding, get a b ar of 1/8" x 1" mild steel of 1/8' x 1 1/4" and practice grinding for at least 40 hrs. toward t he end of the 40 hrs you will see marked improvement in holding the lines and angles.
[steve sells] if you did every thing at once NONE would be correct
[Rich Hale] Good tip JJ
[Ted T] JJ will agree with me, he also re-enforced that concept with me.
[JJ] 15 or 16 years ago a kn ife maker from alaska spent 2 weeks with me...he had me grind mild steel in all sorts of configurations for 10 days before he turned me loose on real knife steel.
[steve sells] but some hve been trying to learn but waste so much time all over the place NO plan for their learning, that gave be the idea for the topic of how to design,
[Ted T] It makes sense to me JJ. I will! I find that a lot of these starting smiths want everything "RIGHT NOW" and are now willing to pay the price in study, time, application, and short cuts!
[Rich Hale] And they feel more fancy stuff will be a shortcut
[JJ] there are n o short cuts...that's why blacksmthing (not internetnet chat) weeds out the primadonnas quickly.
[steve sells] most guys find a "appointment they forgot about" at about 2 or 3 hours of hammering, and have to leavem, then never return to the shop,
[jeremy k] you all shed some light in my direction tonight
[Ted T] I love this place. Controlled, uncontrolled, control, that is fun and informative!
[jeremy k] Steve - just with all the possibilities of choices to determine a blade
[steve sells] ONE reason I wanted the hunter, was to also let them all see hunter is not a perfect blade, just average for most things
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Interesting discussion. I am not a knife maker but I am definitely a knife user - having butchered hundreds of animals and fish (both domestic and wild) over the years, and I'm the chef in our kitchen most nights so have spent many hours with knife in hand. I also did a little catering in years past so am accustomed to feeding 50-100 people at a sitting.

One of the best ones I've ever used for all around work is the JA Henckels 6" utility knife (I can see a few smiles in the audience). It functions as a small chef's knife, will also work as a boning blade, skins a deer or a hog in a pinch and would be pretty deadly in a knife fight, if I were so unfortunate as to be forced into one. Obviously, there are better blades specifically made for each of these scenarios but it fits my profile for a universal knife (everyone is probably laughing out loud by now but bear with me).

It's easy to sharpen but will also hold an edge. I admit I can't split wood with it but I have processed entire animals from gutting and skinning through to cutting steaks (did I mention I can also use it at the table?). Although I don't eat sushi, it will filet a fish well and is stainless so will go through the dishwasher just fine. If I made a sheath for it, it is light enough to pack on the trail. Finally, if I happen to break it, I can go to most any upscale department store and buy another one for $35.

That's my basic list for a universal knife from someone who grew up using one - and those would also be some of the things I would want in a custom blade.

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