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How to get a clean bevel line


Noah Tasker

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i have been making knives for four years off and on and found out recently that the bevels are usually forged on. I have tried the edge of the anvil and a piece of railroad rail to put on the bevel with limited success. Is there something that I am doing wrong? Or are there any tips to making a crisp clean bevel? HELP!

The ability to make good decisions is the result of eperience, which comes from making bad decisions.

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I found practice and a hammer face with little 'crowning' (I don't know the ight word, but do you know how the Peddinghaus Swedish hammer has a radius across the entire face? a flatter face like on their german hammers seems to help me). Using the edge of the anvil helps me too, I made a special one with almost no radius to do this job. Sam Salvatis demo on making a kitchen knife, I can't remember where it is though, helped me a ton (thanks Sam!). Hopefully someone else will come along and help you more.

"I have surprised myself with what I can make with simple tools when a definite need arose. I don't think a man knows what he actually can do until he is challenged."- Dick Proennke

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Noah,

 

Do you mean the plunge cut? That's the start of the bevel near the ricasso.

 

If so, I think you've been mis-informed. It's really not possible to simply hammer in a clean plunge cut. Yes, a good smith can forge in bevels that require minimal clean up work with the grinder, but it's certainly not necessary to be a master with the hand hammer to get clean plunge cuts.

 

I forge my bevels in, but set the plunge cut with the grinder, or sometimes with hand files.

 

Do you own any of the classic books on bladesmithing/knifemaking? The Complete Bladesmith covers this pretty well. If you own a copy, read chapter 5 & 7. If you don't own a copy, I highly recommend picking one up.

 

-Dave

-----------------------------------------------

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly." -- Theodore Roosevelt

http://stephensforge.com

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If you're talking about plunge cuts, ya, Dave's definitely right, and I second his recommendation of The Complete Bladesmith; it's a great book.

 

For pounding out my bevels, I really like to use a railroad rail anvil. Then again, I don't have a real anvil. I have some crappy ASO (anvil-shaped-object) and a big hunk of railroad rail. I find that just taking very light hits on the edge works very well, but I've never tried using the edge of my anvil, though that might be a good way to do it. I try to work the steel at the lowest temperature I can, so as not to make any huge changes in one blow, because then I get an edge that isn't very smooth (that is, when you look at the blade with the flat facing you), which then makes me have to grind more. I don't really have a preference on starting at the tip or the guard-end of the edge. I've noticed it doesn't actually matter much. Other than that, the only other tip I can think of is to make blows on either side of the blade, and try to keep everything as even as possible. I've also noticed that since I started, my bevels have been getting thinner and more defined, so the most important thing is really to just forge out blade after blade, in my opinion.

 

Good luck!

 

-Dan

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As usual, Kevin Cashen explains things in a way we can all understand:

 

http://cashenblades.com/info/forging.htm

 

Also angle of the hammer and piece you are forging is important, check out my old WIP:

 

http://www.bladesmithsforum.com/index.php?showtopic=12081&st=0

Let not the swords of good and free men be reforged into plowshares, but may they rest in a place of honor; ready, well oiled and God willing unused. For if the price of peace becomes licking the boots of tyrants, then "To Arms!" I say, and may the fortunes of war smile upon patriots

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As usual, Kevin Cashen explains things in a way we can all understand:

 

http://cashenblades....nfo/forging.htm

 

Also angle of the hammer and piece you are forging is important, check out my old WIP:

 

http://forums.dfoggk...opic=12081&st=0

 

For some reason...I can never make the whole 'pre curve' thing work for me. Probably just lack of practice I suppose.

 

When I forge bevels in I tend to just straighten as I go. It doesn't seem to be a lot of fussing and fighting as Kevin mentioned...but then again, I never let it get out of hand very far. Certainly never far enough to make the edge warp at all when the spine is straightened. You can see what I mean in these videos...no mushrooming and warping. Certainly no more stressful than straightening the distal profile as you go.

 

 

 

You can also see what I do to define and 'crisp' my bevels if you will. It's what Kevin refers to as 'hammer polishing' I think. I also will use this method to refine my profile as I'm forging. You must first keep in mind that the camera doesn't show the color in the steel properly, but I do work the steel well below the point where the color is gone. Note I said 'work' not 'forge'...that is a key difference, you're not MOVING metal, just nudging the skin of it. Once you have the shape of the bevel forged, you can 'tap in' the defining line (the line MUST be there to begin with...you're just refining it), as well as smooth any overt dings in the lower heats, even down into the black range...CAREFULLY. Again...you're not trying to move steel...you're just...well, planishing it I guess. One thing to note...it may seem that my blows do not lessen in force as the heat range drops, and this would be true for the most part (you see I hit more softly the closer to the edge I get). But...the resistance of the steel to deformation is increasing exponentially as the blade cools, thus lessening the amount of work being done to it, and as a function of that...limiting the stress on the steel.

 

Keep in mind also that I'm a relative beginner, so my words only reflect my own limited experiences. This method has seemed to work for me though, and the quality of my forgings increased dramatically with the discovery of it.

 

I hope the videos and my words clearly express what I mean. It's kind of something I just do...without thinking much about the how of it lol.

 

Cris

Slow is smooth, smooth is steady, steady is fast, fast is deadly... Erik R.

http://www.facebook.com/scorpionforge
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Noah,

 

Just to add to all of this, keep the elbow of you hammer hand tucked against you side verses taking full swings with you whole arm... the full arm swings are OK when you are doing heavy forging like on the tip , but when you get to the refining part it helps to keep your arm in close to your side to gain some stability...

 

and like everyone mentioned... Practice...smile.gif

 

Dick

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Thank you all for the replies! I just need to practice and work on my hammer control. I appreciate all of the advice.

The ability to make good decisions is the result of eperience, which comes from making bad decisions.

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