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I Forge Iron

Sucker rod knife!


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Here she is shined to a worn 400 grit sand paper. The blade is 4 3/4 inches long and the tang is 2 1/2. The overall length is 7 1/2. (1/2 inch is spent in transition from the blade to the tang.)
Here is a question for the master minds! The tang is 3/8 inch at the widest part, tapers to an 1/8 inch, is 2 1/2 inches long and an 1/8 inch thick. What type of handle and what type of attachment method would be the easiest for a dumbo first timer like me? I would prefer a handle that follows the back of the blade if possible. Here is a picture of the tang.
Question two: The cutting edge is still slightly over 1/32 of an inch thick. Should I sharpen now or heat treat and then finish sharpening? What do I use for sharpening? Tools avaliable: file, 220 & 400 grit s. paper, and a regular diamond knife sharpener.
Will reg. vegetable oil work as a quenchant?
What temper are we looking at for sucker rod? (Blade is 3/4 inch wide at most and 1/8+inch thick along the back.) The knife will be used for general purpose farm work. (Chisel, screwdriver, prybar!) Ha! Just kidding. Hay twine, rope, and maybe a squirrel or two!


All help is greatly appreciated!

Dave Custer

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#1 Ok, personally, I would do a hidden tang with a couple of rivets through it. I know that you want the handle to follow the back of the blade, but a two inch tang makes that slightly impractical seeing how you plan on using the knife. If the tang were longer, and wider I would say slap some scales on the sides and go full tang. But that doesnt seem to be the case. None the less that is a beauty of a knife!

#2 you should HT first, then re polish, then sharpen. Diamond is just fine for sharpening.

#2 1/2 If that blade is made of O1 steel, I would quench it in old motor oil. before Vegi. oil, I have used motor oil plenty of times and like the outcome, just make sure you set up the blade with magnets so you can tell when it has reached non magnetic temps (magnets fall off), then get ready to quench.

#2 3/4 the temper... once again depends on the steel... O1 somewhere around 325 degrees for an hour two times. should work fine. Use an old toaster oven, or oven.

The knife looks really good, nice job! Hope this helped a bit.

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I've always used the edge "thick as a dime before HT" rule of thumb.
Always seems to work for me.

From now on, for a hidden tang, allow for a shoulder at the top of the tang where it meets the blade. You kinda center the tang to the blade. This lets you go through the center of the handle, leaving as much at the top as there is at the bottom.

Pinching the piece with a spring fuller is helpful in setting up a hidden tang.

Listen, the main reason I wanted to chime in here was simplly compliment you on the finish of your blade. Too many folks, particularly young guys, rush their work and don't take the time to finish it. They leave it rough and ugly and then call it "character". You appear to be dedicated to doing your best. Keep it up, and whatever it takes, figure out a way to put the handle on that blade that it deserves.

Good job,


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That's a nice looking blade, sucker rod will make a fairly tough blade, though I doubt it will harden up all that much...should be a bit better than RR spike though.
It will be tough to fit a handle that follows the back of the blade...
I've only done one hidden tang knife, and like Don said, you should center the tang in the with the blade...give or take a bit.
If you really want, you may be able to move the tang down slightly by laying the bottom of the tang on the anvil and top fullering at the transition area with the cross pein...
I've only tried this once, and I buggered up the knife I was working on, not trying to discourage you, just a heads-up...more experience people probably have better solutions.

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This is a spot on the blade: I think I hammered some scale in deep. There is another spot in nearly the same place on the other side of the blade. I could have filed it out but I was afraid I would take too much steel out of the blade. However the spot is so small that it is hardly noticable. Gives it, ummmm, "character"!:D:o Just kiding!!!

Here is something I though about with the handle. Would it be possible to take some leather, lay it on one side of the tang, wrap it around the front of the tang, and lay it on the other side? Then rivit the whole deal to the tang with, say, some 8 penny nails. That would keep it even with the back if the blade. I could even layer the leather.

Another idea is doing a pewter or brass handle. I could drill through the tang, melt the pewter/brass, and pour it around the tang in some sort of mold. This way I could set the blade in the mold so that the handle would be even with the back. I have no idea where to get pewter/brass or how hard it is to melt it and pour it. I also have no idea as to what to use as a mold. I have worked with lead (Molding .58 bullets) so if it is similar to that then I think I could manage.
Or I could just cut a stick and notch the tang and put a wooden handle on as advised!

Dave Custer
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The tang is 3/8 inch at the widest part,

If you think you can trust a 1/4" tang, file 1/8" from the top of the tang. This should set up a 1/8" shoulder at the top of the blade. This way, you could slot your guard and/or handle 1/8" from the top and still have it hidden.

You might need to heat the tang and put a little more bend in it (I'm thinkin' a slightly curved piece of antler). With careful inletting, you can wind up with most of the tang centered in the handle; it would only be a bit shallow where it meets the blade.
Some JB Weld and a single pin should secure it well.

Don Edited by Don A
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Sucker rod comes in different grades and if you have to guess you usually guess it as a medium carbon steel.

As fo quenchant; take your heat treat sample (piece of the original forged down into a coupon about the thickness of your blade) and try quenching it in oil---if you like the hardness you are all to the good. If not clean it off and repeat trying brine as a quenchent.---you did leave a piece of the original material to test right? Pretty much a requirement for unknown steels.

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Nicely done Dave.

I think you've limited your handle options some and may have excluded your first choice. It happens, I try to have contingency plans but don't always foresee what might go wrong.

She'll be a beauty whatever you decide.


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  • 4 weeks later...

Finally got back to working on my knife. I ground the tang down but decided against bending it down. This, I think, will put the handle at a slight angle to the back of the blade. I annealed twice and hardened. Unfortunately, I had no other quenchant than the veg. oil so I used it. I did a blade quench in the oil for a few seconds then dropped the whole thing in for another couple seconds. After that I took it out and chunked it in the quench tub. Don't reckon that was the best way of proceding, but when I tested it with the edge of a file it laughed so I suppose that's good!:D I reshined it with 220 and 400 and it's in the oven at 350 degrees F. now. After I finish with the temper I'm going to rub on it with the old 400 some and then sharpen and attach a handle. Shoot, maybe it'll work!:D

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  • 8 months later...

Well well well! It's been awhile since I started this one! But I FINALLY got it finished up! I'm very pleased with how it has turned out for a first all the way through!




I'm not sure what kind of wood the handle is. It is just some soft brush wood I got off the creek bank. The center was soft like foam and I didn't have to drill for the tang. I just pushed it through the foam center. I glued it in with 3 in 1 apoxy. I particularly like the color contrast on the handle.

In a day or two I'll start another thread with pics of another knife I finished just today!


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Could you give your handle a full tang look on top, maybe wit some file work and a hidden tang on the bottom? Using a block of handle material notching out the top to fit what tang you do have. Pin along the top.

Any one have any experience with or knows what is the best crevice sucker made?
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