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Hi everyone. Just wanted to say hi and introduce myself. I recently became interested in bladesmithing and armorsmithing and stumbled upon this forum and it is just full of information and helpful members! I have yet to forge my first piece of steel, but am not in the dark. My step dad, who is a decent blacksmith and ferrier, has been working a forge for years so I have someone to help with a lot of my noobishness.

 

we are building my moms house and i will be playing with the forge after we get done working on the house on my weekends (tues and wed) and figured it would be a fun project to make a sword. nothing fancy, and not even expecting it to be fully functional, but any ideas on what would be a good starter type? i know there is a progression that learning needs to take from knives to shorts to long blades etc. just want to have a fun project to get started before i get into the serious work.

 

the few questions i have would be should i plan to oil quench, since most of the steel i will be working with is scrap and unknown type, to stay on the safe side? my understanding of normalization is i could use a household oven, set at the proper temp, bake it for 2 hours, remove and let air cool, and repeat 3x. just wanted to know if i understand that. and lastly, when i forge the blade, how close to the end result should i forge it, and rely on grinding to complete the shaping?

 

my general plan is to get the scrap metal, forge to shape, normalize, straighten the blade if neccesary, grind to final shape, harden, then sharpen.

 

is this the right sequence? my step-dad is not a bladesmith, so he is not familiar with bladesmithing techniques, and it will be a learning experience for us both.

 

anyways, love the site, and yall have already been a huge help getting my bearings on this craft. now to start the wobbly road of learning:)

 

thanks,

KC

Edited by KC Jones
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Well hello there.

Normalization is bringing the piece up to critical(roughly 1450 F) then letting slowly air cool till all the colors gone.I normally do 3 normalization cycles after all the grindings done just prior to heat treat.

Swords are a monsterous undertaking for a first try,knives are hard enough on their own.

Read the forums till you understand...............then read some more.

Scrap steels another unknown in a sea of confusion,I strongly suggest using a known steel, as it'll help eliminate some of the many,many further questions that always come up.

Good luck on yer research,this place is a veritable goldmine of info and assistance.

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a true gold mine it is. the only reason i'm thinking of doing a sword is for the fun of it. also to just scratch the itch so i don't feel like i'm rushing to make a sword and not spending time to learn and practice. i'm of the attitude, do it, most likely will fail, then set on the course to build knowledge to make the attempt on my first sword at a later date. but like i said, its an itch scratcher. will probably be something hanging on the wall in the shop to chop down brush and whatnots.

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i was reading someone elses post, and had a change of heart. i love to cook, and i hate nothing more in the kitchen then my santoku knife........... never wants to stay sharp, and its walmart stuff, cause i can't drop $100 on a kitchen knife. so maybe a simple, single edged santoku with a wooden handle would be a nice place to start.

 

the only question i have on that would be the handle. would doing a rivited handle be the easier way? i have seen vids of others who burn the handle to the tang, then after finishing and ht the blade place the handle and knock it on. i'm thinking this would be an easier, more motivating project since i would be using my own creation on a normal basis:)

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going with the santoku first is a good idea, and will be plenty challenging enogh for a first knife. even for the very experienced among us, heat-treating anything over about 14" without a dedicated heat treating forge is a real challenge, coupled with the fact that a sword is far more difficult to grind, and an extremely annoying ammount of steel to polish.

 

a santoku sized blade will let you learn about moving the steel under the hammer (high carbon is a different beast from mild), grinding, hardening, polishing etc, without having to spend days or weeks on each step. you can practise forging to shape on scrap, but i strongly reccomend you get a piece of high carbon for the actual knife. i'd recommend 1080 - it's pretty forgiving to work and h-t, can be oil quenched, will produce a hamon in oil if that's what you're into, and it's easy to get hold of - admiral steel will sell you 5 feet of 1/4" x 1" 1080 for $15, which'll make you a good few knives. there may be other places to get smaller ammounts - i just use admiral cause they ship internationally.

 

as for the handle, i think you should burn it on. there's no real need to secure it further for a slicer, but if you want to be sure, you can epoxy or pin it too.

 

good luck and let us know houw you get on.

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when burning a handle on, whats a quick rundown of the process? my assumption is you drill a hole a touch smaller than the width of the tang, heat the tang, then push it in. would i need to file down the inside of the handle to the shape of the tang before hand? and i'm assuming that when you burn the handle on it either sticks by itself or you notch the tang so it goes in and grabs the wood to prevent it from releasing.

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when burning a handle on, whats a quick rundown of the process? my assumption is you drill a hole a touch smaller than the width of the tang, heat the tang, then push it in.

You could do that, but I don't find it necessary. I first press the tang in until it's in far enough it finds its direction. Then I place the blade with the tip against the side of the wooden anvil block, and hit the back of the wood. The number of heats necessary depend on the density of the wood, and the shape of the tang. Sometimes it's just one heat for the initial burn, and the next I can hammer the tang all the way in. The nice thing is that the burning of the wood heats up the tang, so you can hammer a long time before the tang is cooled down. Generally I soak the wood in water for a short time, so the wood doesn't burn too much at the front. With a dense wood, I go much slower, as the burning takes more time. Going to quick will split the wood. I generally also burn the tang in about half a cm further, and cut that off at the front of the hilt. The end result if done right is a very thight fit, with only about 1mm of black line around the hole at most.

 

would i need to file down the inside of the handle to the shape of the tang before hand? and i'm assuming that when you burn the handle on it either sticks by itself or you notch the tang so it goes in and grabs the wood to prevent it from releasing.

I always burn before finishing the blade, and after the blade and handle are finished, I glue the tang into the hilt.
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so i wouldn't even have to drill the wood. just heat the tang, and it will create the hole that it needs in the wood correct?

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Welcome, I use both new and recycled steel. I scrounged a lot of steel when I started and I had to stop. New steel is nice because you know what it is and what's been done to it. That's just my opinion, let us know how you make out, post a picture when you have something. Jim

Edited by Jim P
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so i wouldn't even have to drill the wood. just heat the tang, and it will create the hole that it needs in the wood correct?

Yep. A hole can make it easier. But the tangs I burn in are generally thin and wide, where a pre-drilled hole would be too small to be able to guide the tang.

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KC,

welcome to the madnessbiggrin.gif what's you first name? It's to know the people we talk with ... Sounds like you are a bit of time away from when you are actually going to have the time do this ... while you are waiting go thru all the archives on this site... it will answer all the questions you have and plant thousands more in you head... But you will have a better understanding of what you are doing when you do get to start...

That is cool you are going to do this with your Father... He's welcome here too... anytime...

 

I have a different take on learning...If you haven't done any forging I would suggest using some scrap steel to practice forging a blade... Most of us have burned our first pieces up in the fire before they ever got to a blade shapelaugh.gif using a known steel is the best way to learn heat heat treating... But before you get to heat treating your going to need to learn how to forge it first ... Practicing with some junk steel is a cheap way to learn how to forge ... I think when you are first starting out it is easier on the beginner to trash a free piece of scrap steel than it is to trash a piece of steel you paid money for... once you get your chops down and can forge you can get to the heat treating... the scrap metal can be heat treated so you can fool with it ... for unknown stuff it is best to quench in oil.. It will harden and will make a good user knife fine... it's when you go for the best you can get that you need to know the kind of steel and the directions to heat treat it...Don't try to make perfect blade on you first try... relax have fun with it... you need the long term attitude that if you don't get it this time you will next.. or the next.. or maybe the next...laugh.gif. Most of us know we can do better after each blade we do... it's a life long quest of madness..laugh.gif

Dick

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my first name is kenneth, but my initials are kc which is what i go by. i will be starting this project either tonight or tomorrow. gonna build the house for 8 hours, then play with the forge.

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I've been burning the tangs in on a few japanese style kitchen knives and have learned a bit doing it.

Ive seen some take the finish forged blade and heat up the tang and jab it in the handle.

 

Doing this I got a fairly sloppy fit.

 

What I've been doing, it takes a little more time, but gets great results.

 

Narrower tang is easier to do than a wider one.

I'll put taper and distal taper into the tang either by grinding or forging.

Drill a pilot hole in your wood that is close to the thickness of the tang end.

I'll then take the tang end and put a rounded point on the end. Sorta like a spade shape.

I'll then heat up the end of the tang and start burning in the tang, when it won't really slide in more due to the taper, I'll feather the heat up the blade a bit more, but still primarily just on the tip of the tang. Keep at it until it's in as far as I want it.

 

One of the last kitchen knives I did I just gave it a whack to set it in the handle, and It's stayed pretty good. Epoxy would just hold it that much better. The advantage is the hole meets very closely to the tang and has little gap.

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turns out we didn't have any high carbon steel, so i took some mild steel and just played with it and made a simple knife shape and tang to practice. i'll post pics of what i did later today when i get home. turns out there is a blacksmith up the road from my parents. he's been doing this for about 40 years, name is jerry darnell, and he does a lot of 18th century lighting work, and has an amazing shop.

 

great guy, gave me some free steel, showed me how to shape a tang and upset the bottom of the blade, how to shape spades beans and hearts for ornamental work, how to forge a good starter set of tongs and stuff. great guy. spent about 5 hours just hanging out with me and my step dad and letting me watch him work and giving me tips on how to get started. it was great, the highlght of my weekend:)

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yeah. from a noobie perspective, just happening to be near someone with such great talent, who is more than happy to share his knowledge, is just pure awesomness........... even more than is contained within chuck norris.... LOL

 

i live at minimum 4 hours from any place such as the john c campbell folk school, which jerry teaches a class there on 18th century lighting. my step dads shop only has a naturally aspirated gas forge right now, which is good for shaping metal, but learing to forge weld is impossible because it can't have a reducing fire. so next weekend, we are cleaning out everything in the shop, putting the woodstove in so we can stay warm, finish bricking the coal forge, cutting out the base of our firepot, claying it, and building the exhaust:-p gonna be a project but will be fun.

 

the shop is about 10x20 or so, we will have the coal forge in the back corner, gas forge beside it, and the woodstove in the other corner on the same wall, have 2 anvils centered up, one for gas and one for coal, have a work bench with a bench grinder, and drill press. we have an extra bench grinder, and can't afford to get a belt sanding system for blades, so going to take the extra bench grinder and wire in a variable speed switch, make a pully system, and turn an extra bench grinder into a knife/sword grinder:) for the coal forge we have a buffalo hand crank forge blower, and going to hook up a squirrel cage blower on a variable switch blowing into the buffalo( jerry's suggestion) so we can have some constant air and still be able to have that high pressure low volume air you need for a good reducing fire.

 

well i'll stop ranting. great weekend. looking forward to the next one! first project scheduled is a pot rack for the new house.my mom has had the same one for 25 years, and she wants to try to use it in a brand new house.

 

tc guys:)

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