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Conner Michaux

Blade steels

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Ask 10 knifemakers this, and you'll probably get 11 opinions.  However I would suggest two things.  (Neither of which I did well)

Start with smaller knives. - You will spend far less time in the hand finishing stage, and be able to move on to the next project much more quickly.  Your first knives are going to have mistakes, and it is a enthusiasm killer to spend hours putting  a proper level of finish on a knife when you have to stare at the mistakes the whole time.  I can hand sand a 3" EDC sort of knife in a few hours, get it out of my life, and move on to the next thing.  A 10" bowie will take me a couple of days to hand sand.  Whatever you do, don't lie to yourself, and tell yourself. "That's good enough, I like it rough looking anyway."  Finish the knife properly, or don't finish it at all.

Draw the knife you want to make before trying to forge it. - At first the metal will seem to go where it wants to, and not necessarily where you intended it to.  It is better practice to keep at it trying to make the blade look like what you intended rather than just hammering on it until you think it looks like a knife.  Give yourself some leeway on this, because it isn't likely you will be able to forge 100% to shape right out of the box.  However, try to always forge to a shape that you predetermine.

I don't mean for this to sound harsh, but they are just two of the things I wish I had done earlier on.

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Okay thanks :) the forge i'm building is only big enough for a small knife so I wont be doing anything big anytime soon. I'm trying to convince myself that my first knives are not going to be perfect...

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2 minutes ago, Conner Michaux said:

Okay thanks :) the forge i'm building is only big enough for a small knife so I wont be doing anything big anytime soon. I'm trying to convince myself that my first knives are not going to be perfect...

Ha!  The knives will convince you of that on their own.  It's the optimism that "My next knife will be perfect" that will keep you going :)

 

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My hope is Ill have 1 piece of steel at the end rather that hundreds.

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17 hours ago, Zeb Camper said:

Where's Joël when you need him lol! He posted a video of a guy making one a while ago. I'll see if I can find it. 

I was taking master finitiob courses. Here's the link

His jig is a bit small for anything bigger than a hunting knife. I built mine bigger. Also, if you want it to run more silently, put tie wraps around the eye bolt and oil the rod.

Edited by Joël Mercier

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The biggest thing i always recommend to new makers is to TAKE YOUR TIME! Cannot be stressed enough. When i started i tried to pump them right out, and they turned out... less than ideal (to put it gently lol.) At the beginning stages, you should move slowly and deliberately. If it takes you three weeks to make a decent blade, thats a lot better than making a piece of scrap in a day. Speed comes with experience. 

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That jig looks so helpful and accurate I am going have to put that together.

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It takes a whole lot less trouble to avoid a mistake than to fix one.

In the words of an old gunfighter,

" "Fast" is slow, Smooth is fast."

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Also enjoy yourself... If you don't like the piece you're making, or you make a dumb mistake, etc, don't worry about it... Just smack it with a hammer some more. And personally, starting out I wouldn't worry so much about trying for particular blade shapes or following patterns, so much as make a knife-shaped thingy. Then do it again, using the stuff you learn from knife-shaped thingy #1. Rinse and repeat. You'll find your own style real quick that way :D

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It depends on the knife.  For a big bowie it might be just right.  For an every day carry knife it would be too thick.  For that I'd look for 3/32" or maybe even 1/8" if you are doing stock removal.

Doug

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Im going to be doing a 5 inch seax blade with a 3 and a half inch handle so I hope it will be around 8 inches long.. But its going to be a first knife so ill hope to win and expect to lose. :)

Edited by Conner Michaux

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1/4" stock is a great place to start. Thick enough that you don't have to be super careful with your shaping to preserve thickness (starting with 1/8" stock and trying to end with an 1/8" thick knife is tough, esp at first). Its also thin enough that you can work it down to a thinner knife. Also, getting bar stock in addition to some flat wouldn't be too bad an idea. Gives you a bit more play room with thicknesses and such. Easier to upset a round bar then draw out than it is to upset flat stock, at least for me. Also you'll get a ton more drawing out practice, turning round stuff square, getting even edges, etc.

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You can research seaxs on the knife making sites.  Try googling them up.  From what I understand from what I have read, seax blades tend to be a little on the thicker side.  Seaxs tend to have a bit longer handles too.  If you are going to go for historically accurate you might want to go for a 5" handle.  It might not go with modern accepted ratios for knife/handle ratios but with no guards it could help keep your fingers off the edge of the blade.

Doug

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