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Amra

Iron and Fire (on History Channel)

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Has anyone seen this show? I've watched the first four episodes and already I am really confused.

In episode 2 he claimed that old steel, such as you would find from old leaf springs is "better" than modern steels for knifemaking as they didn't contain alloys and were higher in manganese, etc.

I know they are typically good steel, but "better"? I was under the impression that older steels such as those made from the bessemer process tended to have higher impurities (esp phosphorus), and were often still alloys as they contained things like chromium to help prevent rusting (eg 5160).

In episode 3 he says that railroad spike knives hold a good edge

I thought most railroad spikes were low carbon/wrought iron, which makes them non-harden-able steel. I know there are some high carbon railroad spikes, and maybe he uses those?

In episode 4, he claimed that you have to quench your knifes pointing north to keep them from warping, and also claimed that damascus was originally designed to pierce armor because regular steel wasn't up to the task.

I was under the impression that warping was caused by uneven heating of the metal, and so as some parts contract faster than others during a quench causing a bend, to which the solution is learning to heat the knife more evenly during the heat treat, not pointing it north to that the magnetic pole pulls the knife straight.

I also thought damascus was the same as far as performance for a homogeneous steel knife, and that the reason it was designed was because high carbon steels were extremely difficult and expensive to produce reliably, so it allowed a smith to create higher quality blades using lower quality more readily available steels, at the expense of greater difficulty in forging, to make blades that performed on par with good quality homogeneous steel blades that would have otherwise cost a fortune to make.

Seriously, I thought we let these kinds of myths die decades ago, but maybe I am wrong. I don't want to be unfair, so I thought I might ask, is there any factual basis for any of these claims (not necessarily talking about the railroad spikes here, as it is possible his are high carbon and can be hardened) Given my limitations in knowledge on these subjects, I thought I would ask the more knowledgeable people on this site!

What do you all think about this show? What about these specific claims? Should I just stop watching now, or is he right and I am the one mistaken?

Thanks!

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Television. Enough said.

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Dang. So that's how I'm getting random results with the warps. :D

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I know right! And with all these new steels I've been using, it's no wonder my knives are of such low quality! I best go grab some leaf springs off all the Model T's I see laying around!

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In answer to your questions, the information given is not correct. Your BS detector is working just fine.

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yup whole lot of wrong on that show... to bad as it looks like he does good work

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His knives suck, he doesnt even use black iron pipe for handles.... totes amateur

 

 

 

/sarcasm

 

i would like the show better if i didnt feel like they were trying to reinvent duck dynasty..... trying too hard...

Edited by Gabriel James

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i would like the show better if i didnt feel like they were trying to reinvent duck dynasty..... trying too hard...

Ive had the same thought a couple times every episode. Actually I think that every time that beaded guy with the knit cap shows up.

 

I enjoy watching the process and just ignore anything that doesn't go along with what I know to be true.

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Yeah, He seems nice enough, and while I am not a fan of Duck Dynasty, I have seen a couple episodes and can see the correlations. I was a little sad at how little of the forging and actual metal work they show, but figured maybe since he does the same stuff over and over they decided it would be best to only show a little each time, though I wish they wouldn't fill the rest of the episode with cliches and drama.

Although, is it just me or did that cable damascus blade look pretty rough? It seemed to have a lot of pits/inclusions/voids. Was that because he only uses hand tools? I dunno, I just wasn't that impressed (his bowie had a lot of the same, but figured he did that on purpose to make it look old).

Trying to give it a chance, but just not feeling it yet, between all the misinformation and drama.... *shrug* Anyhow, thanks for the replies!

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Television is just that TV. Producers often take many liberties. As well there are smiths that actually believe in the voodoo! Such as the facing North quench in the urine of a virgin bobcat captured by the light of the full moon, on leap year! :P

 

I am glad to see some shows that are something that peaks my interest, even if they do get most of it wrong!! LOL

 

I see a lot of misconceptions being sold for truths, so if you gonna watch you laugh at those and take in all the other!! The problem with a show that was technically correct is to most it is boring! The true phrase in that sentence was ( show )!! If you have the bug you can't look to such a show for knowledge but if you all ready have some knowledge, then you know what to ignore and pick-up on a few other things!! :ph34r::lol:

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I've watched about the first four or five minutes of two different shows and turned it off as soon as he said something stupid. This show is to entertain people who don't know anything about making knives. It's too bad. Now were going to have even more people coming up to our tables at knife shows telling us how to make knives.

 

Doug

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Thing that pisses me off the most is now i have to send back all my aluminum body armor that i special ordered :(

 

Maybe the producers take what he's saying out of context in the editing ? Idk

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Sigh.... :rolleyes:

 

I was hoping it'd be better after my neighbor called me Saturday afternoon and asked me if I got the History Channel, " 'cause there's this guy who's really good at moving steel with a hammer." He then started waxing rhapsodic about how cool it is to be able to do stuff like that and how he'd love to see it in person (while I'm thinking "Dude! You've watched me forge a pointing trowel from a railroad spike without using a power hammer, I've made you a knife, hooks, a coatrack, and every time I see you I tell you to come on over when you see the smoke rolling and NOW you're telling me about some TV poser?") :lol: What I actually said was simply "Yep, that's why I do it! Come on over when you see smoke."

 

To play devil's advocate about the steel choices, Ford Model T springs are actually really good stuff. :o By the mid 1910s Ford had such market clout he specified proprietary steels for all parts of the Model T. This was about the time the industry had discovered vanadium and the good it can do. One of Ford's ads for the T showed a front axle tied in a knot around a tree to show how tough the steel is, and the formula he specified for springs and bumpers is extremely similar to 80CrV2 :blink: . Of course, there's the 90 to 100 years of fatigue cracks to deal with now... ;)

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That "HT pointing north" concept was being circulated online quite a bit, some years back...I kind of thought it had been well-disproved, and abandoned by most backyard knifemakers (but I guess not all!). Personally, eventually I figured out that gravity was way, way stronger than the earth's magnetic polarity :lol: , so I started normalizing with blades pointed straight down...much better results, IMHO.

 

I haven't watched the show; I've now seen so many glaring technical errors in this type of TV show, I don't even try anymore... :unsure:

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Those of us that are knowledgeable about forging & blade construction can see and hear the fallacies that are in the show. I guess what bothers me most about shows like this is that the average viewer believes that this guy is telling the truth. Also, I have caught him more than once taking credit for doing something that he obviously has not.

 

Many things that he is passing off for truths are either "old wives tales" or facts that at one time were thought to be true but have since been disproven. I guess that it makes for good tv for some but those of us that understand usually pass on shows like this. I watched a couple of episodes out of curiosity that that was enough for me. I'm got tired of saying to myself, "Now that's wrong or that just doesn't work".

 

Gary

Edited by Gary Mulkey

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Thanks for the responses, and appreciate all the really great information. I suppose my biggest concern is similar to Gary's, in that non-smiths will watch the show and believe what he says, which unfortunately perpetuates these old wives tales for yet another generation. Then, of course, these same people will go to the fair (or a faire), and meet some real smiths, then offer to share some tips and tricks or let them know some of the things they are doing "wrong"; all the things they they learned on shows like this one.

I suppose there is the slight possibility that hes spreading misinformation on purpose. So that when people fail using his tips and tricks, they will just call and have him do it instead... though its more likely he actually believes what he is saying.

I only do this as a hobby and I am still pretty green, but can't imagine buying and take the risk using unknown leaf spring steel when I could just buy 1095 or 5160 from Aldo. Of course, Alan has a great point that a lot of them really were good steels, but to me as a beginner they are, and I think should be, really old mystery steel, lol.

Edited by Amra
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As the politicions say, "any exposure is good exposure."

y wife is tired of hearing me say, "I just can't believe the crap he is putting out." then she says, "You said that last week!."

I have promoted TV exposure to ABANA, before and when I was on the board of directors. I wish that blacksmithing and bladesmithing had the exposure that the other crafts have on PBS and other stations (WoodCraft, Ruff Cut, This Old House, Ask this Old House, etc.) sewing, painting, etc. I am very disapointed in both of the present History Channel shows (Iron in Fire and Forged in Fire), however, I do believe that they both spark interest in our crafts and either encourage others to become involved or make them know that there are actually people out here who really forge high quality knives and other useful items that they need and want.

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You just can't kill off stupid. If you hunt for it there's a video on Ytube by a bladesmith that has his own proprietary method of knife making complete with edge packing, multiple quenches, and putting the blade into the deep freeze for cryotreatment. There is also a rather respected knifes smith that put out two videos and I think that both of them mention normalizing the blade in a north-south orientation. And not long ago we had someone on one of these boards tell us that we were burning the carbon out of our steel by heating it to non-magnetic. He knew it was true because a couple of old blacksmiths told him so.

 

Doug

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Fire and Iron never peaked my interest for the simple fact that it's just another reality tv show. Can't stand emm!!! I've watched a few episodes, and I agree with most of you. The way that he says those things (pointing north) as facts is what irritates me. If he would just say they're wive's tale I'd be ok with it. To me at least, wives tales can be fun and entertaining...which is probably why it works well on tv, now that I say it. :P

Edited by Austin_Lyles

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The one thing that had me wondering is on the cable Damascus blades he made, he ecthed in muriatic acid. But, he had the acid boiling, is this something smart to try? I've never read anything about getting it that hot. Seemed like it ecthed a lot better then I normally get just warmed up.

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I have a friend tell me she watched this and informed me the quenching pointing north was an interesting thing. Every time she watches this or forged in fire or anything else she'll text me what she 'learned' and I got back and tell her what's misunderstood on her part and what's actually falsehood perpetuated by the tv. I don't know everything but I do know enough to do some readin if I see or hear somethin that don't seem right.

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