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First tries at knifes (in the order of first to most recent

Matthew Shead

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So im very green and new to the bladesmithing community. Im currently teaching myself with the aides of " The Complete Bladesmith" by Jim Hrisoulas (very helpful), this EXCELLENT FORUM, youtube (of course) and by trial and error. I wanted to just share a few items that I've forged. I haven't completely finished any pieces yet as I have been practicing forging blades. Ive done some grinding and filing and am now starting to focus on that as well as the heat treating process. So I've been trying to learn in stages (not sure if thats the best way to do it or not so I welcome the correction if thats the case). These two are the same knife. After a few throwaway railroad spike attempts i got this and then grinded the heck out of it with tiny harbor freight belt sander.



Another railroad spike knife



I was messing around with a piece of rebar and forged this



I got very ambitious and tried my hand at damascus just to see if i could do it. With the help of a couple of volunteer strikers (poor man's power hammer) I came out with a somewhat successful piece and learned a lot. So I forged a mjolnir pendant.



This is a knife I'm working on at the moment and filing alot. I will make my first attempts at heat treating with this blade. IMG_0956.jpg


These are my most recent endeavors. Once again I may be getting ahead of myself but I started working on a short sword as well.



Im learning slowly and my challenges right now are grinding/filing with uniformity ( which will be my biggest challenge with that short sword and welcome any tips that would be given). I also need to learn some techniques on grinding/filing with uniformity. Also if there are any tips on heat treating and also what sort of thickness I need to forge to. There's no way to adjust the environment of the forge I have that I can figure (I purchased a ck forge. if that rings any bells and know of any modifications that would be most helpful) and Im sure it shows in my work with all of the pitting of scale in the blades. I've been searching the forum as best I can, when I can but if there can be any quick tips given I'd greatly appreciate it. Ive only been at it for a few months so I need all of the help I can muster. I'm sure this will not be the last time I ask questions. :)


Thank you very much! Also this is my setup...


Edited by Matthew Shead
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your pretty well equipped for a beginner! NICE anvil and gas forge too. Looks like your off to a great start ! Wave when you pass me this week LOL. Seriously looks to me like your doing real good. You do however need a better belt sander. I have one of those 1x30 HF jobs too and its nice for tapering pins rounding handle corners, but itr's very poor at trying grind bevels. If you have'nt spent your limit on that anvil, get you a GOOD 2x72 grinder


Isa 54:16 Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.Lu 22:36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. Mr 8:36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
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Looks to me like you're well on your way. Better forging techniques will come with time and practice, as do many other processes involved in bladesmithing. Ours is a craft with a wide learning curve, and much of it is learning by doing. I think the items you've shown us here are pretty impressive for someone who's only been working for a few short months. I would suggest you move up to a monosteel like 1084 and get yourself aquainted with the heat treating process. This is where I struggled for some time, but I am using a coal forge which is hard to get up to a precise temperature and hold there. You have a gas forge, which gives you several advantages both in the size of stock you can work, and in temperature control.


On the matter of filing and grinding, I only use my belt sander to hog off extra material, and then once it's close to where I want it, I take it to the bench for filing. There are several ways you can mount a blade to file it, depending on what surface of the blade you are working on. For profiling and working the top and bottom of a blade, I put it in my table vise with a piece of 6 oz. leather on both jaws for a better grip, and so I don't mar the work. To work the body down to a smooth and even surface, I clamp it down flat to a 1/4 in. plank that fits in the jaws of my table vise horizontally, again with a piece of leather between the blade and the clamp. Then, I use the draw filing technique, using very little pressure and keeping the flat of the file even with the flat of the blade. It takes time and practice, but you'll get a feel for it eventually,and then it's just like breathing. It's important to have your work secured so that it doesn't rock or move in any direction while you're filing. I also recomend you try laying out the geometry of your knife with a fine tip Sharpie if you're having trouble keeping both sides of your blade even.


As for pitting/fire scale getting into the surface of your work, I recomend wet forging. Even if you have a very rich enviroment inside your forge, once you remove the steel and expose it to oxygen, it's going to scale. Wet forging blows the scale right off of your work so that it doesn't get driven into the surface of the steel. You can do this by applying a liberal amount of water to the face of your anvil, and while bringing your hammer to the work, dip the head of the hammer into water as well. As you work, the water will evaporate, and you will have to get a rythmn going with dipping your hammer every few strikes. Don't worry about the water having some undesireable effect on your blade, you aren't quenching the steel, you're just using the same principal they employ in steel mills to blow the scale off the stock material. Japanese swordsmiths use this technique to great effect, and there are several videos up on Youtube that can illustrate this for you.


Hope this helped and good luck to you. We look forward to seeing some mounted blades from your smithy soon :D

I love the smell of Anthracite in the mornin'!

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The only thing I can add at this point is please resize your photos to about 1/4 the current size, I can't see 'em all! ;)


Good work for where you are in the game, and welcome aboard!

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Oops! I forgot to mention one critical thing. If you try your hand at wet forging, please remember to wear full eye protection! This is very important. The scale comes off of the steel in a miniature explosion and the fragments of hot scale can fly in any direction. I learned the hard way earlier this summer and got a nasty little burn on my eyelid because I forgot to put my goggles on :o Dressing like a pirate is fun for parties, but nobody wants to wear an eyepatch for the rest of their lives! Please be safe, goggles save eyeballs B)

I love the smell of Anthracite in the mornin'!

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Good start, and I love the Mini knives you made . yet I love them also .



Robert D. Yates , 13 & On Forge

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Looks great.


The only thing that gives me pause is the hose feeding the forge. Propane hose that close to an open flame is just a recipe for bad times. Maybe it's not as close as it looks, but I'd be really tempted to run some copper line for a few feet just to get the hose clear of any potential problems.

When reason fails...

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Thanks for all of the encouraging words. I hope that I'll have some fully finished blades to post in the near future.


Speaking of a 2x72 belt sander. I am very close to being able to purchase one soon and have been looking at Pheer grinders. Any word on whether or not that would be a good investment? Haven't found much on the forum (unless I just haven't searched well).


Thanks for the welcome and encouragement Alan. I'll figure out how to size those pictures down. :)

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