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Sashimi knife how to

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Finally got off my lazy duff and got around to photoing a how to. This is how I do things, others may have they're own way but this is my way, results may vary :D. It is a tutorial on how to forge, grind, and mount a sashimi knife, which is a knife made for slicing sushi, but is also VERY handy for slicing anything else also. The chisel type geometry (flat on one side and flat ground on the other makes it possible for VERY thin slices. Enjoy!


PS, I figured it was long overdue I gave back to the community which has given me so much, thank you everyone!

Edited by Sam Salvati
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First off I start with my steel, in this case I will start with Adlo's 1084, a very excellent plain carbon steel sold by a gentleman of gentlemen. It is said to be the best beginner steel, as it requires little to no soak time when heat treating, and can be quenched in oil or better yet automatic transmission fluid either heated to 120F (or for best results a PROPER quench oil) I start with a 7 inch piece.



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Here is my hot cut, and my anvil. I made this hot cut from a section of leaf spring, it is a double 45 degree hardy :D, meaning it orients in my hardy hole at 45 degree angles, as well as the edge being ground to give a flat or 45 degree cut depending on how you have it. I use this anvil and my big anvil to work on.





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I use my hardy to put a notch at the 7 inch mark, you can just slightly see it in the next couple of photos. I only put a notch FIRST as I want to be able to hang onto the bar of steel instead of using tongs which can be clumsy. I work down the tip first.





And work down the tip



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Now I will hot cut the profile tapered blank from the parent bar. When you do this is your own personal choice, I should have waited until I was ready to forge down the tang but oh well.


Getting ready to hot cut



Cut almost, ALMOST all the way through, then twist off the rest, this way you will not ruin your hardy's edge or mar your hammer face.



The cut off blank


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Next you will start and draw out your tang. "Drawing out" simply means stretching and squishing the metal out in length. I take a heat on the end of the bar, then set the amount of material I want to turn into the tang over the face, and leave the rest hanging out over the edge. I will hammer down angling the piece so I get a nice smooth transition, I use the part of my anvil's corner that is rounded so there is not a sharp corner which could be a stress area.


Set it over the edge and face



Then HAMMER! Hit it good, but be careful not to go too far or you will end up with a needle for a tang :D.


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Next draw out the tang. It should be widest at the shoulder, tapering in thickness and width towards the end.


Back into the forge first



The blank so far, profile taper but no thickness taper yet, the tang is drawn out.



So far from the original stock size I started with the blade has grown from it's 7 inches out to 12 inches, mostly from drawing out the tang but from profile tapering as well. I let this growth happen on it's own, though there is ways to calculate how much stock you will need, which you will need to know if working to a specific design or size you want in the end.

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Now we will go back into the forge and add some distal taper. Distal taper means thickness taper, the blade will go from thickest at the shoulder area to thinnest at the tip.


Back into the forge



Then forge down on the flats all over to taper the knife. You will start with only a few hits on the base of the blade then move out to the tip where you will hammer more. The more you hammer one area the thinner it will get, so logic says hammer the tip more than the shoulder area. Here is the blank tapered (looks like not much but the shadow didn't help).



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Now we begin our bevels. I took two shots to illustrate (as well as finally have a picture on hand of this) the way you would do it if you wanted to form a bevel on both sides of the blade or on one.


Here is how you would hit it if you wanted the bevel on both sides, both the piece and hammer are angled. You will get the feel of this better with practice, but you should and will be able to hold both at the same angle intuitively to attain the same bevel on both sides. But the action itself will also assist in getting both even.


Double bevel



but for a sashimi knife where the geometry will be a chisel grind (flat on one side and beveled on the other) I will hit like this, with the piece flat on the anvil and the hammer angled only.



Here is the bevel beginning to form, I start with a small one on just the very edge then work it back towards the spine angling the hammer less and less.



And here is the blank with the bevels rough formed so far, looks like a sick banana!


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We are going to have to straighten before we go any further or will end up with a skinner :D . My method of straightening is I will form the bevels, then straighten. Some will straighten as they go along, but I find it easier to do it this way. I use a 2x4 to straighten by hammering it onto the edge, it is wood so it does not mar the edge you just worked down. I got this idea from watching an excellent smith by the name of Mace Vitale at Ashokan using an old baseball bat to do this (thanks Mace!).


Here I am banging away



Here is the straightened blank, I then worked the bevels again to refine them further then straightened with the 2x4 again and here we are



Here is the flat side



And and overall shot of the blank so far



The blank has grown now into a blade, and also grown even more in length. What started as a 7 inch bar of steel is now 13 3/8ths long, almost doubled in length.

Edited by Sam Salvati
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WHEW what a long day!!!!! Now we have our forged knife, it is forged to shape, tapered, and beveled. Hopefully you kept a careful eye not to work your steel too cold or too hot, but hey **** happens :D . Right now there are all kinds of stresses built up from the forging process in our steel, and we need to fix that. We fix this by normalizing the blade. Normalization is where you take your blade and heat it up evenly to non magnetic (where a magnet will not stick to the steel anymore), also known as the critical temperature, then go a little hotter then pull the blade from the fire and let it air cool. This brings all the carbon and alloys into solution with the iron, then let's it all relax back into they're separate places. I do 2 normalization cycles, some smith's rule of thumb is 3 but since I will do one more before heat treat and I was careful with my working temperatures I will only do 2 now.





then air cool






And let it air cool again




And we are all done for part 1 which included the forging process, part 2 which will include grinding and polishing, heat treating and mounting and final sharpening will continue soon.

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Sam, your skill in forging bevels is unbeliaveble. I will try in the way you show, but I've never made a bevel as sharp as that you do only by hammering.

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Thanks everyone! Don thank you very much for the sticky I am honored.


Bob, part two is on the way, sorry for taking so long :D .......


Guiseppe, the bevels on this one are very extra crisp due to them being hammered in on only the one side. Go slow and hit HARD, keeping the same angle. Start with a very steep micro bevel (as if you were grinding) then just angle the hammer less and less to bring the bevel up more towards the spine.


Thanks Dee :)

Edited by Sam Salvati
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OK here we go with part two! There will be a few more parts than I originally wanted, because I need to get some things so I can do this properly like drill bits and maybe a piece of horn or darkwood for the bolster.


Last time I left off we had finish forged our blade, and normalized it a couple times and it was ready to be ground. So there we start. Here is the forged and normalized blade. I ran it on my scotch brite belt to take off all the loose scale and smooth things over a bit.


Bevel side



Flat side





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So now we are ready to grind. there are many MANY ways to grind a blade, as many as there is to forge a blade so again, this is just my way of doing it. There are also many different grinders to use, I use my KMG, but draw filing would be a great way to do this also. I put a fresh 60 grit belt on my grinder. First step is to profile the blade, I forge very close to final shape so all I have to really do is profile the edge.


Also on a personal note, I like to show the hammer work in the finished product, so I will not grind the spine or anywhere I don't need to, so all of the outline/profile of the piece except for the edge is shaped from the hammer.


fresh 60 grit on the grinder



start grinding on the edge profile, go careful and smoothly, you want your edge to be a nice smooth radius with no flat spots. You should be able to rock your edge on a flat surface and not have it go clunk clunk clunk when it hits the corners on a flat spot.



The start on the edge, I wish I could give some more insight into how to do this well but I kind of go by the seat of my pants. My only advice I can give is to go slow, go carefully, feel the angles, grind edge up, take as much time as you need and watch what you are doing.



Here in the next 3 pictures you can see how I hold my hands when grinding the bevel, note the position of my thumbs and index fingers. With more pressure on my thumbs I will grind more of the edge away, with more pressure on my index fingers I will grind the bevel line up towards the spine more, all at the same time keeping even pressure on the blade against the platen, that is as best as I can explain how I grind.







And no that is not my fat gut, I like to stick my stomach out a bit to ummmmm.............help me balance, yeah.....that's it....help me balance :D .

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With this type of knife the flat side is just that, flat. The technique I use for this was taught to me by Kurt Meerdink, it's relatively simple. Hold the knife by the tang vertically on the platen then press it evenly to the platen. This could also be used to flaten the back bevel on the bevel side (if I wasn't gonna leave it hammer finish).






Here is the bevel side



and here is the flat side


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As you are grinding, especially on a forged piece, you will see it will not grind evenly (atleast for me). This is due to some dents and uneveness in how flat the piece is from the forging. The high spots will grind first and leave scale in the low spots. You have to grind away the high spots until the whole thing is nice and smooth and even. Just keep going back to the platen (or keep filing) until all the scale is all gone. Here is a picture illustrating this.


The blue circles show the high spots


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An important thing for me to remember in knifemaking is both to follow tradition yet show some individuality and develop your own style. So here I add my choil arch. I am going VERY softly on the aluminum idler wheel as that is not really meant to be used as a contact wheel.









And the end result with the chef's knife




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