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Art Lawrence

Vocabulary Section

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The only terms I have learned so far are the ones that follow the hammer hitting the thumb. I cant really repeat them here though :)

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Thanks Jake. Would you use the same term for the following scenario:


I want to forge a small camp axe or hatchet, and in my limited knowledge I don't know how to make and enlarge an eye hole for the handle to go in. I was planning on starting with a piece of stock around 1 inch thick where the eye would be, and then using a custom made punch, or a set of them, to drive into the center of this and expand it. Is this considered drifting, or something else?

yep drifting


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Well, I'm glad to see that my rambling is actually od use for once.


charred; I did a quick search, and couldn't find a diagram of a blade on its own, but if you don't mind a bit of reading(which I'm assuming you don't, since you're bothering to listen to me) check out this link, I've had it bookmarked for a while. probably the best compiled resource of information on japanese blade terminology I've found.


Art; glad to help. I know how hard it is to understand all of these things, I had no technical background before starting to try to do this myself, as I was born an inner city kid. But, enough about me.


Harrison; I'd be happy to. it'll be in this post unless it get's too long again, then I'll chuck it on to the next one.


Knife making terms, part 2


Moving up the knife from to guard/bolster; we have the ricasso. This is the space between the guard and the actual blade of the knife. Usually, this is where the maker's mark ends up, either via a stamp or an etching machine and stencil. A ricasso isn't seen on every example of a knife, but they are a consistently on most knives. They serve a few purposes, one of which is to give you some room to put a guard on your knife so you're not working right next to the blade. They also give a knife user the ability to choke up on the knife for increased stability and control.


A quick pitstop before the blade, we have the choil. Some people swear by these, others swear at them. The choil is a small notch at the base of a knife's edge, usually a semicircle, though some of the Spanish Notch's you can find on bowie knives are highly elaborate.


I've gone into blade shapes, so now I'm going to go into blade/blacksmithing terminology. By the way, if any one, Anyone who has noticed me screwing up on something so far, please feel free to chime in and correct me, even if it's just to correct my spelling.


I'll start with the basics of the basics here. We have a few main kinds of hammers that are used, though I'm sure there are others that I've either forgotten or never heard of. First off, I use two general classifications of hammers, sledges and peins. A sledge has two faces, of identical shape and size. A pein hammer also has two faces, but the shape of each one is different; and there are three main shapes for the off-face, cross, straight, and ball. (All descriptions of hammer faces from here on out are based on the flat face sitting down, with the handle towards you)

A ball pein is a round, mushroomed dome, it will spread material in all directions equally. A cross pein is quite possibly the most common “blacksmith's hammer”, and it looks like a rounded wedge, perpendicular to the orientation of the handle. A straight pein is almost identical, but the rounded wedge is in line with the handle. The benefit of these peins is that the will draw material out in th exact opposite direction as the orientation of the wedge. If that makes no sense, think of a cheap piece of play-dough, or get one if you need an actual visual, and then push your finger into it. You'll notice that it thins where you push your finger, and spreads on the left and right of your finger. Your finger just did the same thing a pein does to hot steel. Note, you can us play-dough as a great modeling material before you try making your first knife; I recommend it. I didn't, and I've had to go back and essentially relearn how I thought the material would work; don't do it, it's time consuming and not exactly cheap, either; play-dough, on the other hand is both quick and cheap.


Anvils; you may have a “real” one or you may not. Never fear, you can work none the less. If it's heavy and flat, or even heavy and mostly flat, you can make a perfectly good knife on it. About the only thing you want is something you can hold your basic anvil tooling, called hardies(sing. hardy) in. These tools can be a great help, especially before you can afford a lot of the more expensive tools. The two most use tools, for me, are a cutoff hardy, and a bottom pein. A cutoff hardy is essentially a chisel, my personal one is just that, a cement chisel that I was able to get to wedge still in my hardy holder. I bought a second one, and dulled it massively, and it became my bottom pein. A note about hardies; never, ever hit the hardy itself; you'll wreck your hammer, and the tool, and if you're working with an improvised one like mine, you may cause it to break and hurt you.


This reminds me; ALWAYS WEAR SAFETY EQUIMPENT. ALL OF IT. It may seem overly paranoid, but you must respect your tools, and your materials, and know that any one of them can hurt you. Never do anything in your shop without safety glasses and a respirator mask, at the least. Even the cheapest of either can guarantee you so much protection that you can't afford not to have, it's mind boggling. Never go lax on your equipment, because the shop environment certainly won't be forgiving.


Back to hardies. My bottom pein gets used as I draw out my tang, and pretty much no where else. Some makers, with the tools and equipment to do so, have made what I believe are called guillotine fullers, and they are a lot nicer than the set up I have, giving a mot more consistent force on the steel. Hopefully one of them might chime in to put up a picture, or I may bug one of them for permission to put a picture up myself.


I think that's all I've got there for now. I'll come back later, and see if I can actually get to trying to define heat-treating terms themselves.



I'm really happy to see that this can be a contribution to the knifemaking community for beginners; if you're new here and reading this, trust me, this is one of the coolest, friendliest groups of people I've ever seen.

Have fun, all.

in the motorcycling world we have an acronym; ATGATT all the gear all the time. it keeps your skin pretty, and your brains where they belong.

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