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Ideal Steel Width/Thickness for Knives


Kurt

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I was just about to order some steel today. Then it hit me: Maybe 1/4" is too thick? Maybe 2 1/2" is too wide? So here I am, one last time, asking for help before I actually start doing something.

 

Here's some things I'll probably make (especially the machetes):

http://www.bladesmithsforum.com/index.php?showtopic=13529

 

Also, I plan on making some EDC knives and Bowies. So the lengths of the knives definitely vary. What thickness of steel and width of steel do you recommend for something like these?

So above and beyond I imagine, drawn beyond the lines of reason. Push the envelope, watch it bend.

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1/4" is fine, it's mostly what I use. I like 1" up to 1.75" for most pieces. Forging a tip or a tang on 2 inch kicks my butt. It's a lot harder than 1.5 inch, and it's much harder to draw a taper on as well.

 

Just my .02

 

Geoff

"The worst day smithing is better than the best day working for someone else."

 

I said that.

 

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

- - -G. K. Chesterton

 

So, just for the record: the fact that it does work still should not be taken as definitive proof that you are not crazy.

 

Grant Sarver

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1/4" is fine, it's mostly what I use. I like 1" up to 1.75" for most pieces. Forging a tip or a tang on 2 inch kicks my butt. It's a lot harder than 1.5 inch, and it's much harder to draw a taper on as well.

 

Just my .02

 

Geoff

 

 

2" stock may kick your but, but I bet it's easier taking it down than trying to build it back up, when you realize you need more.

 

I did a project back in high school that at first glance looked like I would need stock, that was not as wide, but I then realized that a minute at the band-saw with wider stock would save me about 30 min of effort of trying to build up the width of the material.

Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy.

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I reccomend starting small. Small order, small stock. Get your feet wet, and then move up when you really need something that big.

 

You can forge a katana out of 1x1/4 stock.

 

You can forge a lot of great using knives from that, or less. If you learn how to draw steel well, you can forge a 2 inch wide blade from the stuff... it's all about hammer control.

 

 

 

The biggest thing to remember, is that the more metal you have in one place, the more time it spends in the forge heating up, the more grain growth you get, and the more work you end up doing to get it where you want it.

 

Have fun, and good luck!

The Tidewater Forge

Christopher Price, Bladesmith

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1x1/4 is just fine for the average EDC. 1 1/4x1/4 is great for Bowies, I've found. If you want to do less hammering, you can get 1 1/2x3/16, and that's just fine, too.

MacGyver is my patron saint.

 

"There's nothing in the universe cold steel won't cut." -Conan of Cimmeria-

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Thanks for the input. It's always appreciated.

 

I'm trying to minimize hammering time, since my neighbours will probably get pissed if I hammer too long and too often.

 

3/16" x 2" sounds like it would work nicely for me. To me, 1 1/2" stock sounds a little thin. I know I have no actual experience with this stuff, but it's easier to cut off the extra $5-10 of material the first time and buy thinner stock afterwards than buying thin stock and having no use for it.

 

Now, about these larger knives.

 

Let's say the blade is 3" at its thickest point, probably drawn out from a 2" stock. It is 18 inches long, not including the tang. What kind of thickness should I be looking at? Thinner is lighter, more flexible, cheaper, and easier to work with, but too thin and it might break, right? (This blade is purely hypothetical)

So above and beyond I imagine, drawn beyond the lines of reason. Push the envelope, watch it bend.

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I am personally of the opinion that for choppers, you don't necessarily want a springy/flexible blade, but one that is tough/strong.

 

A springy/flexible blade absorbs some of the energy expended by bending/flexing, so to a degree "less is more".

 

One of my personal pet peeves are so called machetes, that are stamped from 1/8th stock and whip around like a car antenna.

Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy.

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Let's say the blade is 3" at its thickest point, probably drawn out from a 2" stock. It is 18 inches long, not including the tang. What kind of thickness should I be looking at? Thinner is lighter, more flexible, cheaper, and easier to work with, but too thin and it might break, right? (This blade is purely hypothetical)

 

To forge from 2 inches to 3? I wouldn't go less than 1/4 inch for that. And be prepared for quite a bit of hammering.

MacGyver is my patron saint.

 

"There's nothing in the universe cold steel won't cut." -Conan of Cimmeria-

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If you are concerned about what your neighbors will think, go and talk to them first. Make sure that they understand that you are aware that it might be a bit noisy for them. Tell them that you plan to quit by a certain time every day. Offer to make them a knife, or to sharpen their kitchen knives. Try to get on their good side BEFORE you start making noise, rather than afterwards. Most people are pretty reasonable if you talk to them up front, I've found. You might get lucky and find someone who can help you, or who has an anvil rusting in the shed.

 

Geoff

"The worst day smithing is better than the best day working for someone else."

 

I said that.

 

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

- - -G. K. Chesterton

 

So, just for the record: the fact that it does work still should not be taken as definitive proof that you are not crazy.

 

Grant Sarver

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You might get lucky and find someone who can help you, or who has an anvil rusting in the shed.

 

Geoff ~

i feel a new adage born to the bladesmithing world ...

"when life hands you neighbours ... try to make them suppliers" ;)

 

i was lucky at my old place ... nothing in the area but retired couples...near DEAF retired couples ...

 

when i told my neighbours that they didnt have to worry and i might be moving soon and wouldnt have to put up with the noise anymore ... they all looked at me weird and told me that i was as quiet as a mouse ...

lol

geez ... darn big mice around i guess.

^_^

 

as for steel thickness ... i think it might be an idea to go a little thicker anyhow .. afterall, if you havent actually put hammer to steel before .. you might end up wanting a little extra bit of metal that you can cut off or use as a buffer to your designs.

 

though time consuming and labour intensive ... its still a lot easier to remove metal than have to try to put it on.

but it all depends on your design you are working on .. hammer control .. and i guess to a point - fire control, too.

 

i mostly use round stock ... and when i started out at the beginning i didnt have very confident hammer control .. so i didnt bother trying to work to a design to start with ... i just made a knife roughly to what i thought the steel would allow.

...and from there i worked up to designs and patterns after i knew i could get reliable results.

so .. i guess it also depends on whether or not you just want to make a knife and hit steel and learn how to forge ... or if you are trying to work to a set design that needs specific rules and prerequisites met.

 

afterall .... You are the maker.

and if you arent working to a customers orders .... then it doesnt matter if you change your designs to suit the material you have at hand ... rather than ordering in the materials to suit your designs.

 

but thats just my own random thoughts and comments.

^_^

deeDWF4.jpg

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go make a knife, thats it.

 

if you cant get your gas forge running, dig a hole in the ground burn some charcoal blow on it get some steel hot then shape it into a knife. You will learn alot more from trying (whether or not its a failure doesnt evenn matter) than you will questioning ever single part of the process.

 

"Here's a secret that is not often articulated: There is a conversation between the bladesmith and his materials. You can only enter that conversation by entering the fray and actually crafting a blade. All we do on this forum is tell others about the conversations we are having with our various projects. You can learn some by talking to us, but you will learn vastly more by starting your own conversation with steel." so sayeth a very smart man

 

those of us here that are rank amateurs like myself get alot from seeing and hearing what other much more experienced people are doing and thinking about, however this is not a process you can begin to understand until you get a blister, get some dirt under your nails, burn some hair off your arms, just go try.

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So what would you suggest?

 

It's actually your call.

 

I have seen some nice chopper types made from old leaf springs off of trucks ( and all they did was harden just the edge ) - the mass of metal was enough to keep them from being 'springy'/ 'flimsy' and they would literally have to put the blade on a couple of supports and then step on it to get any flex out of it.

 

Given the cost of old leaf springs, I would start there - in fact I intend to when I try my hand at making a bolo.

 

 

In many ways choppers are more closely related to axes and hatches that a blade to fillet a fish, where you want a fair degree of flexing.

Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy.

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About 80% of what I make starts out as either 1x3/16", 1 1/4x1/4", or round stock... Leaf springs are great for the occasional really big blade or cleaver. I like to keep a stock of 1 1/2"x1/4" handy for bigger bowies and saxes, too. Round stock sizes range from 1/2" diameter to 1" diameter... if I owned a power hammer or press it wouldn't matter so much what size I started with. I like to have some 1"x1/8" (or thinner) for patternwelding, and occasionally forge blades from 1/8" stock, but this requires good hammer control for forging bevels and points.

 

My favorite machete is a Collins with a blade well under 1/8" thick, but a machete and a chopping knife are two very different breeds of cat. My favorite chopper is 3/8" thick at the ricasso B)

George Ezell, bladesmith

" How much useful knowledge is lost by the scattered forms in which it is ushered to the world! How many solitary students spend half their lives in making discoveries which had been perfected a century before their time, for want of a condensed exhibition of what is known."
Buffon


view some of my work

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I live next to an old mill and find tons of steel left over in my woods.Most of it`s good quality and as long as its thick enough for what I need I use it.

The extraordinary has never been achieved without the sacrifice of security. Take your chances thin, and take them often.

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