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Start of my first bladesmithing project


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My local historical society does blacksmith classes that my brother and I have started, this is the beginning of my first project, it is hopefully going to be a cleaver style fixed blade ( similar blade profile to the Spyderco Roc, but flat ground since I don't have access to a reliable way to hollow grind yet. We only had a couple of hours this week, but I will try to update weekly on progress, and as my brother and I go overboard in trying to get our own forges going! 

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Just now, Jon Cook said:

Looks like a good start. No deep hammer marks, unlike my first attempts at forging. What's the hole near the spine?

i think thats the signature cleaver hole...

 

nice work! my first knife looks like a prison shank... :lol:

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10 minutes ago, Simonet said:

i think thats the signature cleaver hole...

 I guess I mentally block out designs that can be improved with a zip tie :D

Edited by Jon Cook
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3 hours ago, Nflanders said:

No worries haha, just a design that stuck with me, and gave me a design to aim for.

Hey, nothing wrong with that. Every artist copies on their way to finding their own style.

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Much better start than my first blade.

For what its worth here are some points that may be worth considering along your way.

Good luck and look forward to seeing your work,

Rob

  • Keep inspired
  • Don't ever give up.
  • Learn how to use what tools you have to the best of your ability.  You don't need expensive gear to make good work. Many great blades have been made with a basic forge hammer, files , sandpaper and an inspired smith.
  • Failing is part of it, I have made my best progress from learning from my mistakes and others who have been humble enough to share theirs...there is no shame....unless you keep making the same mistake, then there is some shame there
  • Do your own research.
  •  Ask lots of questions and listen to advice, even if it is not what you want to hear. This forum is full of people more than willing to help.
  • Respect the fire and sharp things.
  • Get the best eye protection you can and always use it.
  • Try not to get caught up comparing you work to others, rather compare it to your own. If you can look back on the last blade you made and see improvements then you are moving forward.  When I look back on my first works I can see how far I have come and get excited on how far I may yet go.  This is a journey with no end date.  Every improvement, no matter how small is a great personal win and a step forward.
  • Don't forge if you are tired, grumpy or in a rush. The steel knows it and will make you pay.
  • Have a First Aid kit handy and know how to use it.
  • Don't take short cuts. Some things just take hard or monotonous work.  You know what needs to be done so just take a deep breath and "Just Do It!" 
  • Get a dog,  
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so, a fair amount of progress on the second day working on the knife, but I have run into some issues with grinding... mainly that I have no clue what I'm doing, I am primarily using an angle grinder, and files at the moment, but I may switch over to sandpaper. Any recommendations (but I am happy that my edge is straight, and of a consistent width)

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Also working on inlaying wire into the handle out of (practicing with copper, but final product will be silver)

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Obligatory shop helper..

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Now that looks like it will be better when finished than my old hickory that I use regularly while cooking. And I love to cook. 

Robert

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when inlaying wire into wood, if you flood the channel with superglue as you work the wire into place, it will help stabilise the surrounding wood against expansion and contraction with changes in moisture and temperature, as well as swelling the wood slightly to better grip the wire, and it will also be glued in place...

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The copper wire is my practice wire ( it is a fair bit thicker than the silver I have for the final product ) and I actually sharpened/ roughed up the bottom edge of it with the dremel. It worked alright, but I need to make a bit finer chisel to use. I will definitely try the superglue trick on the next run. 

Also just ordered everything to make kydex sheaths as well.

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Freshly quenched

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Getting that scale off...

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Into the oven...

 So, I'm new to all of this, but the guy that has been teaching my brother and I told me to preheat the oven to 425F put the knife in, then shut the oven off and leave it in for an hour as the oven slowly cools... (I believe that I'm working with 1095)

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Initials inlayed into (I believe mahogany or teak grips) in silver.

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Stabilized with superglue...

 

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Roughing up the inside of the grips for epoxy

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Making sure that the pins line up, and cutting to length...

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All epoxied and peened and clamped, now for the waiting game, then finally shaping the handles, polishing, and putting an edge on it...

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Looks like it will be a heck of a chopper!

Two things for future consideration: 

1. Sounds like the guy you're learning from is into old school superstitious-type heat treating.  The general recommendation is to choose your target hardness from a chart for the steel you're using, preheat to the recommended temperature on said chart (preferably with a few bricks or a pan of sand in the oven to stabilize the inevitable temperature swings) in an oven you have previously tested with an independent thermometer so you know how wide the cycling is (most kitchen ovens swing from 50 degrees cooler to 50 degrees hotter between cycling the element, the bricks or sand help minimize the overall effect on the blade), then bake the blade for two or three 1-hour cycles.  You get okay performance with a single cycle, and the way you did it should have made a usable blade, but some steels prefer more than that to convert all retained austenite to tempered martensite.  You can temper with a propane torch if you're careful, and I have done that often, but if you have an oven why not use it to get the steel's full potential?  Ignore that if you want, this statement is coming from a best possible performance versus "good enough" performance perspective.  Sometimes the difference isn't large enough to worry about that much, and a lot depends on the intended use of the blade.

2. I find it much safer to do the wire inlay as the last step between shaping the handle and doing the final finish.  Much less risk of tearing it out with an accidental sandpaper grab that way, even with superglue.

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If I may chime in...

Learn everything you possibly can about metallurgy. Alloying elements, what temperatures and other contributing factors affect the structure of the steel, TTT, etc. Find out what books are used in bachelor's degrees, and later masters degrees in metallurgy, and read them. There is more to knife making than almost any other career (or hobby), if you take the time to learn it correctly. Practicing the art is only part of it. You will never regret knowing the technical aspects. From steel you make from the ground yourself, to the latest high alloy particle steel, learn it.

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So this is pretty much the final write up for the knife, I feel that I have learned a lot from building this knife ( whether through luck, or some roll of fate the heat treat seems to have worked out, knife took a 3 foot fall off the bench onto concrete tip first, and no chipping or bending) 

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Got this guy for $30, hoping it holds up for awhile, plenty of torque for what I need for the time being. 

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Down to 800 grit, and a couple of coats of Tung oil ( I believe the handle is mahogany, but not 100% )

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That wire snagging issue that was mentioned ( inlaid the wire before shaping/ sanding ) Had to cut and replace a 3/32 x 1/16 piece.

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Homemade kydex press ( definitely need a softer foam )

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polished up and sharp, this is about the point that I decided I was finished...

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after 5 tries, and finding out my rivets were too short the sheath is semi done, just waiting on the clips, and chicago screws...

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