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Joshua States

Forging vs. Stock Removal

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So, I was thinking it's about time to revive this old argument about which method is better for making knives and I couldn't think of a better place to have a senseless discussion than this.

 

I have spent the better part of the last ten years doing exhaustive research into this subject and I think I have the indisputable proof that forging is better than stock removal. Here is the list of quantifiable and repeatable reasons:

 

1. Buying steel in large bulky chunks is slightly less expensive than buying precision ground steel.

2. When we were young, our parents told us we should never play with fire or hit things. Forging allows us to do both. (if you do it right, you can even get paid to)

3. You are not constrained in size, shape or design by what size or shape steel bars come in. You are only constrained by your ability to convince or coerce the steel to assume the shape you intend for it.

4. You get really cool, hard and black boogers that scare children.

5. Pattern welding!

6. Bad knives can always be reforged into something useful.

7. You need more tools to forge stuff. (yes, this is a benefit)

8. You can make the tools you can't or don't want to buy. (hey why buy something for $10 when you can make it for $20?)

9. You get cool burn scars that impress members of the opposite sex.

10. You get to tell funny stories at social events about how you accidentally set yourself on fire.

 

Did I miss anything?

 

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Might aswell ask it in this thread. I've heard talk about grain flow, or how forging something makes the grains directions go in line the item's shape. Is this complete bull?
Like, if you make a crank handle vaguely in the shape of "z" the forged handle will have grains going in the shape of "z", while a ground or cut one will have all the grains going in the same direction.
I hope someone get's what I mean, not really sure how to explain this.

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It is good to finally see some undeniable proof...

I should add:-

 

Grinding does not help you get the frizzles 1000 yard start that gazing into a forge does.

 

Forging almost certainly leads to more interesting conversations, have you ever heard anyone discussing the point at which you grind the "soul" into the blade?.........NO I didnt think so.

 

Plus and I think this is probably the biggest all round winner:-

 

If you forge you have to grind as well, so you are getting all of the moral benefits that come from grinding as well as the scared hands and spark burned holes in your trousers.

 

Also grinding forged blades is often a lot harder than grinding from ground flat stock, no Jigs or the like, its got to be freehand. Therefore forging makes you into a better grinder!

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Excellent points, gentlemen!

 

 

 

 

Might aswell ask it in this thread. I've heard talk about grain flow, or how forging something makes the grains directions go in line the item's shape. Is this complete bull?

Like, if you make a crank handle vaguely in the shape of "z" the forged handle will have grains going in the shape of "z", while a ground or cut one will have all the grains going in the same direction.

I hope someone get's what I mean, not really sure how to explain this.

I know what you mean, and the old books all say this. When they were written they were correct, because they are talking about forging wrought iron. Wrought iron grain, in the sense they are using, is the wood-like arrangement of slag fibers that run the length of a bar of iron. Not modern steel. The grain we talk about in steel is the size of the crystalline structure of the metal itself.

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Sorry, typing from my phone and it won't let me edit that, so: if you have wrought iron, it is stronger if forged to shape. With modern steel it does not matter, leaving out heat treatment and other technical things that can creep in.

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I know what you mean, and the old books all say this. When they were written they were correct, because they are talking about forging wrought iron. Wrought iron grain, in the sense they are using, is the wood-like arrangement of slag fibers that run the length of a bar of iron. Not modern steel. The grain we talk about in steel is the size of the crystalline structure of the metal itself.

Thank you! I wish there was some collection of semi-sensible things people say to do to your steel that doesn't really work as advertised, like this and edge packing.

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Thank you! I wish there was some collection of semi-sensible things people say to do to your steel that doesn't really work as advertised, like this and edge packing.

 

Is "edge packing" the thing where the muscles in your arms are actually enhanced with zero-point energy and you can hammer the iron and carbon atoms closer together, creating small singularities on the edge that consume any and all matter that comes near it? :P

Edited by Wesley Alberson

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Excellent points, gentlemen!

 

 

 

 

 

I know what you mean, and the old books all say this. When they were written they were correct, because they are talking about forging wrought iron. Wrought iron grain, in the sense they are using, is the wood-like arrangement of slag fibers that run the length of a bar of iron. Not modern steel. The grain we talk about in steel is the size of the crystalline structure of the metal itself.

 

Actually there's truth to that in modern steels as well, though I can only speculate (unless I get of my lazy butt an do research) what is the cause, but in modern steel or other metal plates and bars, the allowable stress in out of plane direction (ST) is always significantly less then the metal in longitudinal (L) and transverse (LT) directions (which often also differ, but not as much). If that is due to the grain deformation caused by the (hot) rolling process, or other internal defects that get stretched during the rolling process I don't know. But the result does have significant strength variation depending on direction. Check the MMPDS material properties handbook f.e. (or the superceeded MIL-Handbook-5) if you can find a download.

Edited by Jeroen Zuiderwijk

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Ah, there you go, it is the grain deformation that is the cause:

 

http://www.stressebook.com/mmpds-mechanical-properties-table/

 

Though note that if you work with stock, that difference is already present. And secondly, while the difference is quite significant for when you are designing high strength, light weight structures, you're not likely going to notice 5-10% difference in a knife anyway, plus a knife is always stressed in the strongest direction of the material. So, you can pretty much forget about the effect of forging in terms of influencing strength due to grain deformation.

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I can add one:

 

Forging blades has additional avenues for selling them than just grinding. Or at least it does for those of us who use propane. Occasionally you get a visit from a local law enforcement office who wants to know why you have all those propane tanks lying around. When you explain that you are making knives and not drugs, they get interested. Then, they and their buddies buy knives from you.

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See now, that's those other technical things that can creep in! :lol: Leave it to an aerospace engineer to point that out. ;) For the stuff we do, and the way we get our steel (except in the case of unknown scrap or when we make it ourselves of course) the effect of rolling on grain doesn't make that much difference since we do heat treatment that rearranges said grain anyway.

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Is "edge packing" the thing where the muscles in your arms are actually enhanced with zero-point energy and you can hammer the iron and carbon atoms closer together, creating small singularities on the edge that consume any and all matter that comes near it? :P

Something like that. I think edge packing is where magical means are employed using arcane and mystical methods to actually affect the molecular structure of steel. The resulting energy that is released through this molecular manipulation is then captured in the fire and pounded back into the steel with a hammer. The forged knife edge is so full of this atomic energy that it makes a simple ground edge pale in comparison.......... :ph34r:

 

Of course the phase of the moon has to be right and the forge pointed due east and a whole host of other secret knowledge that is too copious to share here......... :blink:

 

 

Ah, there you go, it is the grain deformation that is the cause:

 

http://www.stressebook.com/mmpds-mechanical-properties-table/

 

Though note that if you work with stock, that difference is already present. And secondly, while the difference is quite significant for when you are designing high strength, light weight structures, you're not likely going to notice 5-10% difference in a knife anyway, plus a knife is always stressed in the strongest direction of the material. So, you can pretty much forget about the effect of forging in terms of influencing strength due to grain deformation.

About that "effect of forging in terms of influencing strength due to grain deformation", isn't any deformation of grain through forging negated upon normalization? I thought the derivation of the term "normalization" was because it returned the material to a "normal" state, with uniform grain.

 

Wait a minute, what? Did I just get serious for a moment?

Edited by Joshua States

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Burned trousers.. yep

singed hair... yep

playing with 1700 C pieces of metal that could burn many parts of you... yep

feel like an epic beast??.. yep!

 

There just isn't as much fin in simply grinding a blade as there is in the forging of it. Who can claim that they ground some of their life and soul into a blade? Or that it has withstood trial by fire?? Not any that I know of xD Besides, how else are we going to get paid for playing with tools that could decapitate, explode, incinerate, maul, amputate, shred, scar, tear apart, or mangle us?? And then the beer too ;) That is another upside! You can't drink beer when standing over a grinder all day!

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Who says you can't drink beer while standing over a grinder?! I moved my belt sander into the corner of my shop, the wall gives me something to lean on! Of course, if I wasn't drinking beer while I was forging, I probably wouldn't have to stand over the grinder all day. :P The common sense solution to the problem would be to cut out the beer...

 

Wait, did I just type that? Must have been a temporary moment of insanity!

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I'm not sure about the beer argument. You see, the stock removal folks take the same system they use for water cooling the belt and just raise it and fill with their favorite draught

 

However my dancing skills from dropping hot steel are on point

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Cold beer in the summer for cooling and lubing the hammer arm.

Vodka in the winter for warming and lubing it, and of course watching the iron in the fire and

seeing the beautiful blade being hammered out of it's prison............. B)

Edited by Clifford Brewer

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You guys are all braver or manlier than I. If I mixed adult beverages with forging, I'd end up with my hammer in the fire, a knife blade at the bottom of a slack tub, and my junk in a press...

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The feeling of Thor the thunder god when hitting forgeweld temp steel whit my hammer makes my day!

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When I purchase big lumps of die steel, from the big boys, they specify the grain flow direction so you can machine it in the correct orientation. I don't know enough to discredit this - I think they know enough to back it up :)

 

http://www.somersforge.com/assets/public/pdfs/Somers%20Forge%20Die%20Steels%20Handbook.pdf

 

Another special case, but cool! With that gonzo big-assed mill they have they could easily knock out an anvil or three... B) Wonder what that would cost?

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B=Fe2 !

 

You can forge w/o mask on and can haz beer.

 

You should never can haz beer when grinding because respirator. For safety.

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B=Fe2 !

 

You can forge w/o mask on and can haz beer.

 

You should never can haz beer when grinding because respirator. For safety.

 

Put beer in covered straw cup when grinding cuz straw fits under mask....... ;)

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Put beer in covered straw cup when grinding cuz straw fits under mask....... ;)

 

Another reason against grinding then: drinking beer through a straw :wacko: I draw file, so I can drink beer whenever I want :)

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