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My first knife (from a file)


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This is my first effort at knife making.  Started with a file.  Should have spent more (or any) time on layout but eyeballed the whole thing.  Did some of the shaping with an angle grinder but most of it was done with a 8" bench grinder.   Also used a rotary tool (saw) to add detail to it.  I really must have messed up the tempering because even though it was light purple on the edge after the first hour at 400 degrees F, I could never get a drill (cobalt bit) to even scratch the handle.  I temperd it a second time hope to get at drill through.  The whole blade came out purple but the drill still would not touch it.   Had to use an angle grinder to put a slot in the handle.   Most of the bevel came from using cheap Harbor Freight diamond files because regular files work barely if at all.  Sharpened it with diamond plates and MDF wheels.  The edge is OK sharp but it does not seem to like to hold an edge.  Brittle maybe.  

I did all the shaping before I tempered it.   Would like to know why I could never scratch it with a drill even though it was light purple. 

 

I sanded the handle to 600 grit and the blade to 3000 grit.  There are still a few minor file marks I can't get out, but overall I am OK with the result.  

Any suggestions anyone???

 

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Edited by Rob Davis
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Tempering colors are not reliable at all.  I find it best to ignore them completely.  This is because they are created from an oxide layer being grown, and that is not just dependent on temperature, but also surface and atmosphere chemistry.  What are you using to temper?  If it is a kitchen oven or toaster oven, are you checking the temperature with a thermometer that isn't pre-installed in the unit?  The built in thermometers are notoriously bad.  Also, are you using anything else in the oven for thermal mass?  How long are you tempering?  You should be doing at least 2 cycles of at least 1 hour each.  

 

You should do all your shaping before hardening (including drilling holes).  Then harden and immediately temper.  Then you can go your final clean-up and polishing.  

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To add to what Jerrod said, drilling and filing on a blade (even after tempering) are problematic at best.  In order to do either, if you are using a file as your raw material, you really need to first soften the file by heating it up much hotter than a standard tempering temperature.  This will draw the hardness out of it and hopefully allow you to work it much easier.

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Having used a lot of old files in the past, I would add to the above...

 

If you are doing stock removal, go ahead and normalize the file 3x before you do anything (search this forum; plenty of info).

 

Even so, when drilling 1095/W-1/etc., you need a good drill bit, slow speed, correct pressure, and lubricant (cutting fluid is good; WD-40 will work).

 

If you go at it full speed with a hand drill your bit will be squealing in no time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I did try different speeds with  the drill and used Cobalt bits.  I used regular old 3 in 1 oil.   My biggest concern was (based upon all those youtube videos) after I cooked it twice, the file never seemed to get a good bite.  With a lot of pressure the file would at best scratch the steel.  Sandpaper worked ( using belt sander and rotary tool) and those cheap diamond files worked, but the steel file never seemed to get any bite.    So I have been assuming I did not get the steel soft enough.  

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If you just cooked it in you kitchen oven, you did not come anywhere near hot enough to efficiently soften the file.  The normalizing process requires temps of 1500ish deg. Fahrenheit.  In order to do it correctly you really need a forge, kiln, or heat treat oven.  Come to think of it, you can probably soften a file well enough using a torch in a dark room.  For lack of being too descriptive, turn the lights out, heat the entire file to a bright red color, and then let it cool.  Be warned though, you will have to reheat-treat your blade completely, as this will draw almost all of the hardness out of it.

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