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Alex Melton

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Posts posted by Alex Melton

  1. Hello,


    I am very new to knifemaking and bladesmithing and I am confused about hammering techniques and more specifically which side of the hammer to use for what.

    My hammer that I use is a 2lb engineer's hammer found at harbor freight that I modified into a rounding hammer on one side. I don't know if I made the "round" part well. I just ground off the edges until the face of one side of the hammer was dome-shaped.

    My understanding is that the rounding hammer is used to upset the metal in order to move it around quickly. This is because the force of the impact is concentrated into a smaller area when using a round hammer rather than a flat-faced hammer.

    So from this, I believe it wound be best to use the rounding hammer when forming the tang of the blade and forming the rough shape.

    Bevels are where I become confused. I'm not sure if I should use the rounding hammer or the flat side.

    Does anyone have a list of when/where to use the round and flat side of the hammer? Or is there another thread I can read?

  2. Hello,

    Currently, I am making my knives using a 4x36" belt sander. Although it works for many applications, I want something more. I can't really make the convex or concave bevels I want by using it, so I've set out to try and fabricate my own 2x72" belt grinder. The first step I am taking in the fabrication process is making aluminum wheels for the belt to run on. I cast the aluminum into old green bean cans. After taking apart the cans and getting the aluminum block out, the next step is to machine the aluminum into a perfect cylinder, make sure the sides are flat and can hold the bearings, and then round off the sides to allow proper tracking. One problem, though. I don't have a lathe to do this on. I've seen YouTube videos showing how to turn your drill press into a makeshift lathe, so that's what I was planning to do. The thing that troubles me is this:

    What tool should I use to machine the aluminum on my makeshift lathe? Should I use a cold chisel, or is aluminum soft enough that a woodworking chisel could work?

  3. You're right, it is a bit boxy to my eyes too. If/When I make another one, I am certainly going to make it more slender and longer.

    I've had the 1095 for a while, so I don't know or remember where it came from. However, I do know that it is 1095 because I labeled the billet.

    Because I wasn't sure if the steel had already been annealed, before I started grinding I placed it into my forge to anneal. I raised it to about orange heat and turned off the forge and covered the openings with bricks so it would slow cool. (My forge construction keeps heat for a long while after it's off and I didn't have any hot sand on hand to shove the blade into.)

    I don't know if my one attempt to soften the steel worked well enough to allow it to quench, but we will soon see.

    Thanks for the advice on the hamon! I will be extra careful with the machi.

  4. Alright, here it is! The tip is still a bit blunt but much less so than it was before. I think it will do fine.

    I proceeded to use 120 grit sandpaper backed by a strip of some 440C I had lying around and removed all of the file marks on the blade. I also refined the tang shape.

    Tell me what you think! Right now the clay for the hamon is drying. Hopefully, I will be able to quench and temper tonight.


  5. Thanks, guys!

    I've filed down the tip so that it has a much more gentle curve to it. The edge thickness has been refined also.

    Since the tanto is pretty short and thick, I don't think that there will be much of a curvature--but are you saying that the curvature would be toward the blade side? I thought it would only curve toward the spine as long as the clay is along that side...

  6. Hello,

    Recently, I have been trying to make my own tanto-style knife in the traditional form. Yesterday, I cut out the basic shape of the blade from 12" 1095 steel that is 1/4" thick. Then I refined the blank using an angle grinder and a 12" bastard file. Next, I marked my center line on the edge of the blank and proceeded to my rookie 4"x36" belt grinder. I started by grinding down to just above the thickness of the edge I want and then pulling that grind angle back until the bevel would touch the spine. At least, that was my plan when I ran out of grinder belts. Not wanting to give up, I headed over to my workbench and began to work with the 12" file. Man that is tiring work!

    Today, I finished (or at least I think) filing the bevels down to almost proper hira zukuri geometry. I also filed the spine of the blade to the pointed geometry it has.

    Some questions still remain though. How do I make sure that the convex geometry (the niku I think it's called) I filed is the same on both sides? Also, do you have any tips for the heat treat? I plan on doing a hamon (my first :D) and quenching the steel in some warm/hot canola oil.

    I know you experts might cringe at my rookie work, but I strongly support any criticism. If this turns out to be a failure it will most certainly be a learning experience.





  7. Hello, I've heard people describe steel as "white hot" before, but I have never been able to get my steel that hot. Is it referred to as "White" hot because that's the color it is on camera? While doing some forging practice this morning, I took out my phone camera and the steel appeared white on the screen even though it was only a bright orange to my eyes. Can y'all help clear up my confusion?

  8. Since you have muriatic acid, its really easy to make ferric chloride. All you have to do is add a scrap piece of iron or steel to the muriatic acid (or hydrochloric acid; same thing) and wait for it to dissolve. Then you can either just let the solution be open to air for a few days or add a bit of the hydrogen peroxide and boom, ferric chloride.

    I should mention that this should be done outside since the vapors are stinky and it produces hydrogen gas. I don't know if you need a specific concentration of ferric chloride for etching, but I can explain how to make any concentration of ferric chloride as well.

  9. Oops, my bad. I didn't explain properly. I meant that I would weld the jeweler's anvil to the 4x4 face of the railroad tracks...

    I know it would be easier to go out and just buy an anvil or a block of steel to use, but I strongly prefer making things myself using mostly what I have on hand. I had a jewelers anvil already and go an 8" railroad track for $20. If I could turn that into something that's somewhat comparable to a straight up block of steel, then I will.

    Right now all I'm trying to do forge-wise is trying to practice hammering techniques while making my own set of tongs. That way when I start to get into bladesmithing, I will have the tongs and the basic skills required.

  10. Hello,

    My main question here is "What kind of steel is a jeweler's anvil made from?"

    I had a plan to get a new anvil since the one I have been trying to use is in conjunction to a bench vise. Needless to say, it isn't great. So I looked around for anvils but most of the ones I have come across are cast iron (and cast iron doesn't make a good anvil.) Not wanting to give up, I found an old piece of railroad track on ebay for a good price and free shipping. My plan was to cut the 8" rail into two 4" pieces and grind the bases so that they would fit side by side. Next I would weld the pieces of track together so that they would be one piece and form roughly a 4"x 4" face. Next I was going to use a previously purchased jewelers anvil that my sister got and abandoned years ago.

    So, is the steel used for a jeweler's anvil a hardenable/good steel?

    Do you guys think my setup will work for an anvil?

    Let me know! Thanks!

    (I should mention that the jewelers anvil is just a 4"x4" steel block)

  11. It seems that you guys were right. I changed the orifice to a 0.035" welding tip and added an end nozzel to my burners. I also had to change my burner length to 10" which, I think, allows for better fuel/air mixing and therefore better combustion. All of these together gave me a really nice, working forge. Thank you very much!

  12. Hello, Bladesmiths

    I'm new to this forum and to knifemaking and bladesithing in general. Recently, I went through the process of making my own propane forge, but I'm having some problems with it. It sputters and sounds like the propane is burning inside the burner tubes. I tried turning the pressure up (I only have a 0-10psi regulator) but it still makes that sound and it seemed like the whole forge tube was acting as its own burner since orange flames were shooting out from either side. I thought that maybe there wasn't enough oxygen so I cut out the divets you see in the adapter where the propane injector is held by screws. Then, I did some research and found that there could be back pressure building up in the forge from all of the gas, so I turned the pressure almost all the way down. It stopped sputtering, but the flames were orange and small, so I don't think those will be hot enough. Also they would not hold up well when even the slightest breeze came by (This is all outdoors)

    My burner design is based on Grant Thompson's video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eO8NwseRxSA). Except I didn't use a welding tip for my propane spray, but instead used a 1/16" drill bit to make a hole. I used this design along with his vertical "" video and it worked great (Although I didn't use a reducer coupling but a t adapter instead)

    The burners you see in the pictures use 3/4" black iron pipe and the air intake coupling is a 3/4" to 1 1/4" 

    As you can see, the forge is made inside of a Home Depot bucket which has a ~12 diameter and is ~14" deep. I made the hole in the center by using a 4" PVC pipe which gives the center a 4 1/2" diameter. Each of the holes drilled for the burners is a 1" diameter, but I was planning on filling the gap once I could get the burners to work properly. The burners are placed roughly 5-6 inches away from each other and about 3 inches away from the ends on the tube.

    A few more quick points: The burners do not have an end nozzel on them; I didn't know if it was necessary since the burner I made the "foundry" with did not use one and worker perfectly fine in and outside the walls of the vertical "foundry."

    I realize there is a lot of wood around this "flamethrower" And I'm working on another way to hold up the furnace that doesn't use wood. Also I have made bricks that I can place around the forge to keep in the heat.

    Can you guys help me fix my forge?

    (My images won't load and the double click to edit image options isn't working, so yeah there's that)

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