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Conner Michaux

I need a little bit of help.

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If you ask me, the best way to learn knife making is starting with stock removal and moving to forging.

I had some forging skills when I started out, but I started as a stock removal maker and stayed that way for about two years. 

That gave me a very clear picture of exactly what I needed to forge to make the rest of it easier.

Take a look at any of the knives I make and you will quickly understand that the forging process is only about 5% of the work.

Everything else is hand & finish work after the blade is made.

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I remember coming home from school, getting the coal forge going until dark and shutting it off. I never did homework though :rolleyes:

 

That was as far as 8 years ago. And I'm still learning, making mistakes, and asking questions. I'll add that you are already way ahead of me as far as the speed of your advancement. As to weather it will remain that way; it entirely depends on how badly you want it. I believe you got the sauce; it just needs seasoning. 

 

You just gotta use the time you have. Make it fun. You would certainly benefit from following in the footsteps of someone else, but there is more to chew here than you could ever hope to bite off. Dont think you HAVE to take classes if it's not feasible. I've personally never shook the hand of a fellow bladesmith (other than you and a few other beginners). 

 

Joshua makes awesome points. If you put in the elbow grease to finish one right and to a design (stock removal) you are going to be engraining that juicy knowlage into your very brain cells as if through a sensory osmosis. Your maker's OCD will take care of the blades to come. The alternative would be tearing stuff up non stop like I did (do?). 

 

Anyway, sorry for ranting. 

 

~MAJ Monologue

 

 

 

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12 hours ago, Conner Michaux said:

Unfortunately  I don’t have very much time in the day due to schoolwork, when I have fuel and steel I usually try to get a few hours in a week, that’s if I have fuel and steel though. I’m going to do a little bit more modification to my forge, and then I will be able to make some bigger stuff. 

You may not have much time in your days, but you have a lot of time in front of you yet.  Be patient, don't get discouraged, and most of all keep the fun in what you are doing.  If it is fun, you will want to keep doing it.  If you keep doing it, you will improve. 

 

I for one am quite impressed with how far you have come in the last year or two.

 

This is the sort of craft/hobby that takes many years to master.  A lot of the folks on here that post amazing work probably started when your parents were your age.

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14 hours ago, Conner Michaux said:

Unfortunately  I don’t have very much time in the day due to schoolwork

Don't want to be a downer here, but right now you probably have more time for a hobby than the rest of life until retirement (I'm hoping anyway since I haven't retired). I think my favorite graduation speech ever was when the guy stood up there and told the graduating high school class "Congratulations on finishing the easiest part of your life."

 

I really like Josh's advice. I think FIF makes everyone think that the important part of blademaking is the forge and anvil. I disagree, the majority of skill that need to be mastered are in the fit and finish, all of which can be explored without the forging part. Also, having a 15 year old son myself I am much more comfortable with him in my shop after school (when I can't be there) using files, sand paper, drill press, etc. than a fire breathing, CO emitting forge and throwing 2000F steel chunks of metal all over the place. 

 

I do get it... the fun part seems to be the fire breathing, smashing metal part. 

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"Never let your schooling get in the way of your education." - Mark Twain

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Oh I like that one. I got out to the forge tonight and have started forging a big 2 foot long square taper, im going to make some sort of really big hook. I figured a taper of that size will help in some way or another.

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18 hours ago, Conner Michaux said:

a big 2 foot long square taper,

Here's another idea.

Take 3 pieces of either 1/2' or 3/8" square mild steel about 6-8 inches long. Cut them all the same length. Now put them all in the forge and try to make all three of them have identical & even tapers the same length on one end. Maybe the taper is only 2 inches long, maybe a little more. Whatever you choose, try and make all three of them identical.

1. Don't stop until you have 3 identical tapered bars.

2. Fuller a groove around the thick end of the taper. Draw out a section of the square bar to 1/4" square and twice the  length of the taper. This starts at the fuller and moves backward into the square section. Make all three of them the same length.

3. Then turn them around and draw the other end down and round it, until you have three identical bars with the same taper on one end and the same length of skinny round and big round bar on the other end. The big round cross section should be about the same as the original square bar. (1/2" square turned into 1/2" round).

4. Now go back to the taper, and forge it flat on the bias. One of the square corners is on the anvil and the opposite corner you hammer down flat.

 

Do one step each day.

Let us know when you have that much done.

 

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I got to do some forging tonight, but it just led to further frustration of not being able to forge anything the way I want it to look like. Burned a bunch of stuff and melted some. 

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We all have days like that, it's just part of the process.  Still annoying, though.

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Posted (edited)

Dont be too discouraged if people dont want you around their forge. Having poeple around, and sharing the knowledge is a royal PITA, although it can be very rewarding for the person teaching, I do it occastionally when someone shows enough interest, or I owe them a favour.

 

The reality of it is, in simple terms, unless they have more money than they know what to do with it would be better value for them to give you $100 and carry on with what they are doing that loose a couple of hours of their day. Most people I know, my self included, generally have 12 hours work to do in an 8 - 10 hour day. 

 

I learnt forging from the internet, and a bit of guidance from people like Owen Bush & Mick Maxen, who were willing to give lots of hints and tips.

 

Im really good now at patternwelding, I can stick pretty well anything to anything, and have a very high success rate (im shocked if something goes wrong, my expectation is it will go will go perfectly) - The reason Im good at patternwelding is I am a good learner from my own mistakes, there are only so many ways you can get a process wrong. If you remember why it went wrong, and dont repeat that mistake you will improve, and get good at a process.

 

Time at the anvil, even when it is all going wrong is the best teacher. Just etch what went wrong in your memory, and think why and what you can do better next time, and before you know it people will be asking you for advice. (and make sure you have fun doing it, and stay philosophical about the mistakes, they are what make you better :D )

Edited by John N
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Well said, sir John!

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Conner if you lived closer I would donate all kinds of time to you. I know you have it in you. Your young and dedicated. Something I wish my kids had. That's why I've helped you so much and I hope some day you can do the same for someone who shows as much interest as you do!!!

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Posted (edited)

Thanks all, I think this propane forge i'm making will help out a ton, I wont burn things as much and i can heat steel up where i want it to be hot. And i wont keep burning the thin tips off of knives with tapers in them :D

Edited by Conner Michaux

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2 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

Well said, sir John!

Thanks Alan! the crazy thingfor me is the number of people who get in touch via instasgram etc who want to pay me for courses! (i dont do them atm) I still think of myself as a newby at all this, even after 15 years.! I suppose gradually we all move towards the top of the tree without realising properly.

 

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On 3/6/2020 at 4:08 AM, Conner Michaux said:

Oh I like that one. I got out to the forge tonight and have started forging a big 2 foot long square taper, im going to make some sort of really big hook. I figured a taper of that size will help in some way or another.

 

For many years gone by I have been told Im a 'bull at a gate' when it comes to working,  and have only recently understood what they meant. Slow and methodical is good. The old joke holds true;

 

Young bull sees the gate has been left open,.... 'turns to old bull and says 'lets run down the field and ********* one of those cows' - old bull looks at young one and says 'no, lets walk down and **** them all' 

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