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Wesley Alberson

First KITH Knife WIP

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Ok, well I haven't done anything yet except wire brush the heck out of the bandsaw material, but here is what I plan to make:

 

I want to make a simple twist "sammich mai" bowie knife. I will take alternating layers of bandsaw and thin mild (I will find the mild at Lowes or Home Depot) to make the jacket material, cut it in half, and do opposing twists so the pattern is mirrored on both sides, and forge weld that kobalt file in the middle. The shape that I am going for is debatable and might not be accepted, so I want to make sure it qualifies. I want the thickest part of the knife to be at the point where the clip starts, with a taper going both ways from it (to give it a chopper feel). It will essentially be a seax with a less dramatic taper, a clip point, and an edge that is like that of a regular bowie knife; it stays straight and then curves up at the tip (so I guess it's not really a seax at all at that point). I'll probably need to draw a picture. I'll have a copper (that I melted down from pipe and wire) guard with a bright red oxide finish or a simple dark patina (depending on the contrast with the Ipe wood for the handle), as well as some spacers. I have a brass key that would make a nice spacer. I really like the "take-apart" construction that Islandblacksmith does, and I have made some knives with that, so it will depend on if the Ipe wants to cooperate. I have no leatherworking experience because it is just so expensive to buy, so I will make a wooden sheath for it if I have enough time.

 

So that's my plan so far, tell me what you think!

 

Wesley A.

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I say a seaxy kind of bowie would be pretty sweet! And the rest of what your are describing for handle and spacers sounds amazing! Can't wait to see it all come together!

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Show me a drawing and I'll understand what you are planning a whole lot easier. I'm a visual kind of fellow and I am not following your description........

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This should clear things up:

LdD0rJo.jpg

 

The proportions are off in respect to the thickness and relation between the size of the handle and blade, but it is the general idea. The view from the top is under the side view to get a better idea of the taper. Here is a couple of photos of a seax WIP to get a comparison/contrast between the two:

gPOBkAx.jpg

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Ah, OK, I got it now.

Looks like a good design. Go for it!

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I have the bandsaw billet that I will forge weld all stacked up and ready to go for the most part, but I'm unsure about a couple things. All the steel is similar, so I am concerned about it all sticking together. I stacked 2 different types of bandsaw (one with larger teeth and one with smaller) in hopes of the steel being slightly different and creating a pattern. Also, if the steels are all similar, how distinct would the weld boundaries be? I am okay with a subtle pattern, as long as it's there. I will grind the teeth down once I get it all welded together, or I will just hammer the teeth in at a welding heat. I think i prefer the former. This will be the jacket portion of the knife. a file will be forge-welded between it.

 

h6vzhUI.jpg

Edited by Wesley Alberson

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Wait! Two important items:

1. Most bandsaw blades have a coating on the metal that acts as a lubricant. This could jack up your welds and cause major delamination. Remove all that before attempting to weld.

2. Reverse the blade teeth every other blade. Do not stack all the teeth on the same edge or you will increase the chance of voids in the welds. The teeth have a "kerf" that makes them wider than the blade backer metal. You need to alternate teeth from edge to edge to minimize the spaces between blades. Let the teeth hang over the edge of the blade backer next to it so the faces are tight against each other. Grind them off after the welding.

 

As for the pattern, you can see what it will probably look like here: http://www.bladesmithsforum.com/index.php?showtopic=32899

Edited by Joshua States

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Yeah, I figured that I would do something wrong here, so I just posted that and waited! Thanks for the advice! I have already ground the coating off and re-stacked it the proper way as you said. Ready to weld!

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So I welded up that stack of bandsaw today. It was somewhat a success! I had some trouble welding it up, though. I didn't weld a handle to it or anything, so it was all by tongs. My previous experience with forge welding was with hammer faces, so I was getting it screaming white hot and hitting it as hard as I could. This ended up making some of the metal crumble off, but thankfully I only did this on the ends. I have ground most of the imperfections off, but there are still tiny lines in some places. I will forge this out thinner and prepare it for welding a file in between it. I will chisel a mark in the middle and fold the bandsaw around the file. I am wondering about using wire to secure the pieces. I have never used wire to forge weld because I am afraid that it might stick to the billet when I hammer the pieces together.

 

After forge welding and before hot filing and fixing delaminations

 

ppQQmFi.jpg

 

This is after hot filing the sides and cutting off the loose ends. It is still enough to make the knife I'm going for.

 

PIvWO6w.jpg

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White hot for high carbon steel is not a good idea. Chances are good that permanent and unrepairable damage has resulted. Most HC steel will weld in the bright orange to dull yellow range (+/- 2500*F).

 

If I can quote Kevin Cashen:

"Sparklers is definitely a dividing line, if you get that, you have permanently damaged the steel. Often the atmosphere in the gas forge will not give you the sparks and it is much worse when there is no sparks and the steel just crumbles without warning. In light of this I would say that it is never a good idea to take a high carbon steel to "white" hot. But then I don't know why that would be necessary. Even when making damascus a light yellow should be more than enough. The greater the carbon content, the lower the melting temperature of the steel and the easier it is to harm it with high temperatures.

This is why steel has those recommended forging temperatures, heat properly matched to the rate of deformation keeps things balanced. But hand forging is going to result in all kinds of inhomogeneity anyhow since we can’t hammer as evenly as say a rolling mill could deform steel, and this is why normalizing is so useful; enlarged grain, uneven grain etc… it can all be fixed with a couple of controlled cycles… unless you burn it. A note on "burning". For years I have heard folks refer to it as "burning the carbon out" but this is not an accurate description at all, it is much more complex and serious than that. What burning actually is is very aggressive and destructive oxidation that eats its way into the steel at the grain boundaries, compromising them so that the integrity of the steel is also compromised. This is why the steel often crumbles or comes apart on the anvil, there is little left holding it together. You may be able to hammer the steel back to shape if you only had a little sparking but under the microscope it really looks cruddy and is not the same."

 

There is still hope for your knife though. Treat that file carefully and you will still end up with a good piece of steel in the business area of the blade.

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Well, crap. From what Cashen said, there is no hope for the billet, therefore there is no hope for the knife. Even if I forge weld this junk to the sides of a file would it (the jacket) not crumble or crack in quench? I know that people can weld nasty wrought to the sides of their knives, but the properties of that are somewhat known. I will try anyways, and this time with a proper heat, though I felt that even a light yellow wasn't enough to fuse the stuff. Perhaps I need to hit it hard like I did when it was white hot, but instead at a light yellow to smack the faces up against each other.

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idk if this trick might help but i used a 3/16 mild steel rod when i did my forge welding attempts as soon as it would get sticky on my billet i would ramp the heat just a tiny bit more uniformly and pull it out and whack it. I had success with it anyway

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Laminating billets doesn't necessarily need you to smash it to weld. It just needs a solid hit repeatedly and straight on so the layers do not slide against one another. This is where welding the ends or tying the billet with wire helps keep everything in line. When I weld in my press, I get very little compression across a 6 inch long and 2 inch wide stack. It's not the compression depth that controls a good weld, it's the uniform pressure across the face. Don't worry about the wire welding to the billet either. I have used rebar tie wire and it usually pealed right out of the grooves it made in the stack. When it didn't, a little grinding removed what was left.

 

If I read Cashen correctly, you can forge that billet back into usable stock, it just won't look great under a microscope, which none of us is going to do. I don't know how it will respond to a quench, but it shouldn't crumble. The crumbling happens during the over heating when the steel is so hot it starts to come apart. If you plan on using that billet as a jacket, just make sure the mating surfaces are very clean and smooth. You don't want any voids to trap air or flux and cause a delamination.

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Also, If you're worried about the quench do a San mai attempt with your core steel and clay the sides so you can avoid that problem all together. Go for a deep hamon or-- i mean even a very small temper line close to the blades edge.

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Thanks, guys! This advice really means a lot to me. I will definitely use wire next time, and I will try some clay, too.

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Well, I tried forging the billet on its side, and it had some major, irreparable flaws which went really deep, so no grinding it out! I tried to get it to a bright yellow with some borax, but it seems like the welds never took again. I really learned a lot from that, so next time It will hopefully go smoother. I don't have any more bandsaw left unfortunately, so I'll have to use something else. Thankfully my plan B is to use a dull nicholson file I had laying around. It won't be as thick as bowie knives usually are, but I'm not going for a historically accurate shape anyways. I will mainly focus on the file bowie and try to get a nice hamon and polish. It was disappointing that I wasn't able to get the billet to weld right. Something inside me is saying that it is still fixable. I might try the sugar and borax method as a last effort...

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No dice. The billet is a failure, but I learned a lot from it at least. I forged down the nicholson file into a 10 inch bowie. It isn't as thick as some of the bowies I've seen, but it feels like an excellent chopper.

 

All draw filed down:

FDFe20E.jpg

 

And clayed up:

 

BQ7S2PX.jpg

 

I mix my own clay instead of doing it the easier, smarter way. It's really fun to do, I mix clay from an eroded area on the farm, blue rock from the well we had drilled, ash from the wood stove, and powdered scale. I have to tweak the mixture sometimes, but I think I have it down for the most part. Wish me luck! Or don't, depending on the bad smithing voodoo it might bring!

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Well, it warped a bit. I think I caught it on something during quench. The clay worked well, though! It stayed on even after I had quenched it. Time to normalize, straighten, clay, repeat.

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Finally! I quenched the blade and it came out straight. I failed quenching the second try. I decided that I didn't want to do the whole clay process again, so I just normalized, straightened, and heated up the edge. I haven't polished it up yet, but I have a vague idea of where the hamon is from the area that I heated up.

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I got this up to 120 grit, I love the look and feel of the blade. Maybe I'm just predisposed to bowie knives because I'm American! :lol: I have always wanted to make a peaked spine on a bowie knife, like you see on Japanese weapons. It looked weird when I put it on paper, but I love the way the grind on this turned out. All of the spine lines converge and meet at the point where the clip starts. The clip also spans the full length of the blade, meeting at the top of the start of the spine. It really doesn't look like any of my original plans, but I like the direction this has taken. You might be able to see the hamon on the first few inches of the blade from the base.

 

5HBHgXJ.jpg

 

 

eCa2x4s.jpg

Edited by Wesley Alberson

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Making good progress Wesley.

What's the handle plan?

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I'm going to forge out a straight, contoured copper guard from the copper I melted (used to be wire and pipe), and spacer made from a big, flat brass key (if I can find it in my mess). The copper would be quenched multiple times in borax-rich water to give it a bright red color. The wood will be either Ipe or Thermory Ash from a deck and pergola job. I will try to make an iron fuchi just to see if I can, I feel that it would look better as a transition into the handle, rather than butting up to a spacer. I am tempted to make a semi-functional habaki because it acts as a shroud for the other fittings. Making the holes in everything would be much easier because they won't have to be perfectly filed. The habaki itself would be thicker than the knife, but not as wide because the knife tapers back towards the handle. This means that if I made a sheath, it wouldn't really make a seal, but it would have enough friction on either side to keep it in. I am concerned that it would look bad to have a copper habaki and a copper guard, though. And, of course the whole thing will be a take-apart with the wood/bamboo peg and all. I am torn between having a completely flat guard, like a tsuba, or one that transitions into the handle. Any thoughts?

 

Edit: I just realized that I would need to make the fuchi out of something that I could find in a hardware store... it might turn out to be interesting. Like steel pipe, a nut, etc.

Edited by Wesley Alberson

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Man, I don't sneeze on my knife without posting it! :P I just made a few things for the knife. The habaki would have went well if I used solder that was actually fit for the job :angry: . Anyways I ordered some hard silver solder online, I hope that can be forgiven because it is not, to my knowledge at least, a common store-bought thing. I made a flat guard out of some copper that I melted down from pipe and wire, and added a brass key spacer.

 

w5ZmaJY.jpg

 

 

 

Ya2STPz.jpg

 

Here are pictures of the copper I poured a while ago:

 

U7zBm5O.jpg

 

Cut in half and forged out a little:

 

aRf5JSb.jpg

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Nice!

 

I have taken a shine to steel & copper myself... ;)

 

Love the key spacer!

 

-Gabriel

Edited by grpaavola

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