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How far have you travelled on the Journey?


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Not counting the two I mention in my profile from ages ago, one of which was just a kit and the other is a mild steel "sword shaped object", my first was a month ago today.  I got some ribbing about my choice of Christmas presents, with doubt expressed about my ability to not cut myself with my own creations given that I am a bit prone to bleeding on nearby sharp edges...

 

So my first completed knife, the day after Christmas, was, of course...

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A hand-forged, hardened, tempered butter knife!  Not a drop of blood was shed.

 

Most recent is the still not quite finished yet clip-point recurve "slightly more difficult than I can manage" bowie-like knife.

 

bowie.jpg

 

 

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I took my first blacksmithing class 22 years ago this month, October of 1998.  Did a lot of ornamental stuff before trying blades.  Here's #1 (the little one with sheath) and #3: You

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This'd by one of my earliest ones Rob (1970's) made entirely with an angle grinder froma piece of burst sawmill bandsaw blade so most likely 15N20. Did a lot of work with it and if it was the only kni

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Sorry to bump an older topic, but I gotta say I really love this. I'm just starting out right now (just joined the forums today!), and it's really encouraging seeing people's progress. I know my first blade is going to be absolutely   u g l y   so it's nice to see this so that I'm not completely disheartened after my first try haha. The progress that I've seen here in this topic is absolutely staggering.

 

You guys have all made some positively beautiful blades - keep it up!

 

Edit: I now realize that this topic is pinned, I guess I don't have to feel bad about a topic bump!

Edited by David Kleinfeldt
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3 hours ago, David Kleinfeldt said:

I know my first blade is going to be absolutely   u g l y  

Welcome, David.  If I can be so bold as to make a suggestion:  If you think this way, it will most probably be ugly, but if you start with the idea to make a perfect blade, then you'll be in a much better place to succeed.  It all depends on how much time you are willing to take to get there.

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14 minutes ago, billyO said:

Welcome, David.  If I can be so bold as to make a suggestion:  If you think this way, it will most probably be ugly, but if you start with the idea to make a perfect blade, then you'll be in a much better place to succeed.  It all depends on how much time you are willing to take to get there.

 

Fair enough, thanks for the advice! I was always a perfectionist with my cabinetry and woodworking, I just figured since I don't have much any experience, and my anvil is... well... Let's just say it's not very flat... I wasn't planning on expecting much from my first blade haha.

 

Guess I'll aim for perfection!

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5 hours ago, David Kleinfeldt said:

 

Fair enough, thanks for the advice! I was always a perfectionist with my cabinetry and woodworking, I just figured since I don't have much any experience, and my anvil is... well... Let's just say it's not very flat... I wasn't planning on expecting much from my first blade haha.

 

Guess I'll aim for perfection!

A cabnetry background and having an eye and a hand for doing it right is a good place and mindset to start with. Getting the feel for the new tools and techniques may take a try or two but you will be amazed at the progress as you gain familiarity with them and how to get to what you see in your minds eye (or on paper) before you start. Dont be afraid to change tack if the steel is not playing ball with your plans as that is all in the learning of the use of heat and hammer and even playing with some mild steel to start just to see how these react at the different heats or hammer blows before starting in on your good steel.

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1st knife is kind of embarrassing.  I just winged it and it wasn't attractive to say the least.  The last one I did was posted by the owner on face book.  It wasn't perfect but sure was better than my first.  Just goes to show that nothing can take the place of practice and experience.  Sorry the second pic has some odd shadows.  I copied it off Facebook.

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My first "knife" was a piece of mystery steel, ground to a sword-ish shape with an angle grinder. I was 18yrs old.

 

Now, I'm 48- and working on getting better at pattern welding damascus... slowly.

 

My last three blades- my first hand hammered damascus, and an over sized "straight razor" grind requested by my little brother. My first hollow grind.

The cu mai was my first try at that too.

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I started in 2019 and I think this was actually my third attempt, but I don't have photos of the previous attempts. It is just mild steel with scales made from guava wood. I have just started making my first blade from decent steel (5160).

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Hi Everybody!!

 

I'm brand new here and also brand new to bladesmithing and blacksmithing, so please forgive me as I learn the ropes of this forum and also if I ask what sound like dumb questions.

First Blade - Push Dagger.jpg

 

Here is my very first attempt at making a blade. This was originally a rusty railroad spike and I just put the handle scales on about a week ago. (I'm aware that because of the low carbon content in railroad spikes, this blade won't hold much of an edge. It wasn't really about that as much as it was about seeing if I could actually do it.)

 

Anyway, with that said, I do have a couple of questions if I may. 

 

1) I'd like to polish the steel even more and try to eliminate all grinding marks, so that I'm left with a really smooth and shiny blade. What is the best way to achieve this?

 

2) I'd like to then protect the blade and handle from corrosion, rust on the steel, and weather, sweat, oils on the handle. 

 

My neighbor suggested a spray on polyurethane to protect both the wood and steel. Would this work or is there a better way? (Please bear in mind that this blade is more a display piece and won't actually be used as a tool.)

 

Thanks so much to all of you!! I've learned a lot from you in the short time I've been here, but that's a different topic!

 

:-)  

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Jerry- the trick to getting a "mirror" or chrome looking polish is successively finer grits of sandpaper.

Hand sanding with a backer board, go up to finer grits as you go, making sure to get out all the deep scratches from the previous rough grit.

 

Wet sanding with water, windex, or even wd40... with a good sandpaper will make it better.

 

Is your handle pinned and glued on already? Its (polishing ) usually done before attaching handles.

Its easier to clamp the blade to a board clamped in a vise, or to a table, or in a knife vise to hold while you sand.

 

Sand progressively up to a 2,000, 2,500 grit paper- you'll be surprised how it shines. I then polish in a buffing wheel with polishing rouge.

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Edited by Welsh joel
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Thanks so much Joel!!!

 

WOW!!! Now THAT is some shiny steel!!! I'll most definitely do what you've suggested!!

 

As for the scales, yes, they're already pinned and glued. (Noobie mistake. D'OH!!) LOL!! No worries though, I'll find a way to hold it securely while I sand and then polish! Thanks so much for your advice!!

 

Do you think the spray poly is a good idea once I'm finished? Do you think it will "freeze the blade in time" and keep it exactly as is once finished?

 

Thanks again Joel!!!

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It can't hurt- but what you'll find is that it might haze or cloud up on a polished blade.

 

One thing I used on some polished pieces I did- was a dupli color ceramic based high temp spray paint from oriellys. They have a clear, and a very light misted first couple coats did the trick.

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speaking from a true beginner... the blade with the red micarta handle is the very first "completed" blade I made.  It was forged late last spring.  The next blade, I just finished last week.  Obviously, I have a long long long ways to go.  But it is forged from my own 220 layers of damascus.  It is the eleventh blade that I have made in almost the year that I have been doing this.  I was one of those guys that tinkered on and off with the forging for about 2 years until last year. Y'all will notice that first blade is super super super rough...it is decently sharp....but my biggest struggle is the wonderful belt grinder...as noticed by the paper thin spine.

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Posted (edited)

Having just finished my last project, it's not a bad time for me to reflect on the journey.

 

This little guy is my first knife, from 01 stock removal, red heart handle, which I made in Nov 2018. This is the knife I still eat with at the table daily.

 

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And this little lady I finished today:

 

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I'm loving the journey! The thing that strikes me the most is that the more I learn, the more I realize how much there is to learn.

Edited by Francis Gastellu
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9 hours ago, Francis Gastellu said:

The thing that strikes me the most is that the more I learn, the more I realize how much there is to learn.

 

Perhaps nowhere is that more true than in bladesmithing.  There are just infinite journeys within journeys available to us, depending on which aspect catches your interest.  The trouble is it can distract you from your original goal.  When I started down this road in 1998, my goal was to be able to make a perfect wrought nail (it's an archaeologist thing, don't ask).  23 years later I can make iron and steel from rocks and charcoal, I can forge axes and swords, engrave after a limited fashion, recreate migration-era pattern-welded blades, and even make stainless folding knives.  I still can't make a half-decent nail. :D

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Alan I also started by making nails.  It is a challenge that I still have not mastered.   Here's my first nail.   Some day I will be a blacksmith....

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Posted (edited)

Back in 2008, I sold my first nail and all 699 that went with it and thankfully, I've never made a nail again. 

Edited by Gerald Boggs
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Hi fellow travelers, I decided to build a home-made forge last fall and burner made from parts bought at Home Depot.  The forge was built from fire brick and works well enough for me to have made three blades:  a railroad spike dagger, a mild steel medieval dagger and just completed a 5160 spring steel kitchen knife.  This foray into a possible hobby has led me to build a shed to house the forge-workshop which previously was in my pool cabana...20210608_174234.jpg20210517_211643.jpg20210503_202611.jpg20210409_163114.jpg20210628_222123.jpg

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On 10/15/2020 at 3:34 AM, Bjorn Gylfason said:

It was actually two years yesterday that I finished my first blade. I had wanted to become a bladesmith for years and had just moved countries to make that become a reality.

 

As you may notice I liked long knives then and that has only grown on me :lol:

 

But I do think there has been some improvements over this time even though I don't have as much time as I would like to practice

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Really attractive swords Bjorn, I like the details in the guard.  I too am leaning towards making swords but am building up my skills on knives first...  Good luck, Alex

 

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On 10/15/2020 at 7:46 AM, Chad J. said:

I'm still in the driveway on the journey.   I started end of June this year when I suddenly had more time than I anticipated and have been going hard since.  I've got 12 or 13 blades forged,  my first was from a coil spring and I've mainly stuck to simple leaf springs and solid wood scales.  I'm even trying for a little short sword but I need to fix the tang on it.  The top is my first knife,  the bottom is my most recent chef's knife.   

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I love the way you brought the handledown into a bolster. That should be a great kitchen knife.

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On 8/21/2021 at 9:36 PM, Canaan Bailie said:

I love the way you brought the handledown into a bolster. That should be a great kitchen knife.

Thanks.   I hate the handle on most kitchen knives.   I like to choke up on them and can be uncomfortable with traditional knife handles.   I have that one to a chef friend who uses it at home for everything from chopping vegetables to making sushi.   The balance point is right where he pinches.

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This one came into my shop today for some sharpening and clean up. I made this knife probably 12 years (?) ago. At the time, this was a standard full tang "elk skinner" in my portfolio. This one was made with elk antler scales and brass bolsters. I was astonished at how big it was. The blade is over 4" long, and about 1.5" wide. Hollow ground O1.  The OAL is about 9 inches. It took a really sharp edge in no time at all. He said he has cleaned quite a few elk with that knife. There were some minor rust spots that I didn't really do anything with, but I polished the blade and blosters.

 

Schwendler's Elk skinner (3).jpg

 

Schwendler's Elk skinner (4).jpg

Edited by Joshua States
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