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Forging the tang first (my process)


Bob Ouellette

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Hey all, I know everyone has their own preferred way of shaping their blades, but I figured I'd share the way that I do things in case it can help anyone out.  

 

What I have here is a series of pictures documenting the forging of a 6" honesuki I made for a chef in England a while back. On my first attempt, I ended up not having enough mass to make the blade wide enough at the heel and there was too much mass at the tip. On the second try, I decided to upset a small area just ahead of the material I allocated for the tang.  On both of the blades, I started with .25 x 1 x 6" of 1084. Here is the final forging laying next to the drawing I made up for the customer.

 

IMG_20200806_194744_copy_1612x1209.jpg

 

IMG_20200806_194833_copy_1612x1209.jpg

 

A small area towards one end of the bar is upset.

 

IMG_20200806_170003_copy_1612x2149.jpg

 

The tang is shouldered and drawn out, followed by cross peening the heel of the blade to achieve the desired width.

 

IMG_20200806_172541_copy_1612x1209.jpg

 

Next, I turn the blade around and begin drawing the point down over the horn of the anvil to avoid the dreaded fish-mouth.

 

IMG_20200806_172845_copy_1612x1209.jpg

 

After getting the blade thinned out and the point refined, I use my cross peen to achieve the width I need throughout the rest of the blade.

 

IMG_20200806_173932_copy_1612x1209.jpg

 

Working to thin the blade and achieve the profile.

 

IMG_20200806_174445_copy_1612x1209.jpg

 

The thickness is evened out and the profile is refined as close as possible before taking it to the grinder.

 

IMG_20200806_175430_copy_1612x1209.jpg

 

 

I like to leave a little extra on the blade and grind the shoulders in for the tang. I've found this to be the best way to avoid a weak transition.

 

IMG_20200807_182459_copy_1612x1209.jpg

Edited by Bob Ouellette
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Bob O

 

"When I raise my flashing sword, and my hand takes hold on judgment, I will take vengeance upon mine enemies, and I will repay those who haze me. Oh, Lord, raise me to Thy right hand and count me among Thy saints."

 

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I'm in the "blade first, tang last" camp. I figure I can always weld on a bit more material to make a tang, if I fall short.

However, this bit:

4 hours ago, Bob Ouellette said:

I like to leave a little extra on the blade

and using the template, is the most important thing any of us can do. A little over-forging and grinding away the excess is just good practice. That's really good forging for 1x.25 stock. I tend to make bars 1x.375 to forge blades from.

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“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

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I like calculating how much mass I'll need to achieve any given shape and thickness, then add a bit more just in case.

 

The biggest reason I forge the tang first is that I like to upset the shoulder to ensure I have enough material for the heel.

 

PXL_20201205_141937130_copy_1612x1209.jpg

 

PXL_20201205_141945316_copy_1612x1209.jpg

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Bob O

 

"When I raise my flashing sword, and my hand takes hold on judgment, I will take vengeance upon mine enemies, and I will repay those who haze me. Oh, Lord, raise me to Thy right hand and count me among Thy saints."

 

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i like to at least isolate the tang and get it started, i dont have a problem with welded tangs done right but i dont weld enough to do it myself yet. i tend to taper my hidden tangs a lot so ill end up with long tangs more often than not. on most of my blades i want the heel to be the widest part with the blade and the spine flaring out a bit and also quite a bit thicker because i like a complex taper in thickness, similar to a regular distal taper but with more material at the shoulders and the base of the blade to keep that part from flexing at all. 

 

if forge the tip first, then the tang, that means i have to make sure the heel is going to be wide enough or else i will have to grind down everything else. if i isolate the tang and then draw out the heel then i will know how wide and thick its going to be and i can forge everything thinner and narrower from that.

 

if you are doing simple tapers i dont think it matters as much if at all. but with a complex tapering blade and tang if you have to move your blade shoulders forward or backwards a bit you are going to loose out on a lot of thickness. the first inch on some of my blades tapers about 1mm or more. 

 

 

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For kitchen type knives, or knives with no ricasso, this makes total sense:

On 12/11/2020 at 8:36 PM, Bob Ouellette said:

I forge the tang first is that I like to upset the shoulder to ensure I have enough material for the heel.

 

For me, on a ricasso/plunge cut design, I like forging the blade out first so i know I'll get what I am aiming for. As far as getting the heel width and location right, I forge that out either at a slight angle across the plunge location, or slightly in front of it.

 

All good ways to approach the challenge. Bob's forgings are clean and precise. I cannot argue with a process when it has results like that!

So, I think I'll adopt that the next time I do some chef's knives.

Edited by Joshua States
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“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

J.States Bladesmith | Facebook

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10 hours ago, Joshua States said:

All good ways to approach the challenge. Bob's forgings are clean and precise. I cannot argue with a process when it has results like that!

So, I think I'll adopt that the next time I do some chef's knives.

 

Thanks! I'd like to see how it goes for you. Also, try forging the same blade twice, but make notes as you do to see how you can improve on your process.

 

When I did plunge cuts/ricasso style blades, I think I used a process similar to the one you described. I usually ended up with an uneven ricasso.

 

Thinking about doing the same style now, I'd go about it in a similar way. Isolated upsets where you know you'll need more material. It would be nice to forge your plunge lines in with some extra thickness. I can't help thinking back on my school days learning how to forge well. The final shape was always last and the intermediate steps didn't always look like they belonged in the process.

Bob O

 

"When I raise my flashing sword, and my hand takes hold on judgment, I will take vengeance upon mine enemies, and I will repay those who haze me. Oh, Lord, raise me to Thy right hand and count me among Thy saints."

 

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Here's a great video demonstrating what I'm trying to convey. Jay Close is a master blacksmith and probably the most influential instructor/teacher I've ever had.

Bob O

 

"When I raise my flashing sword, and my hand takes hold on judgment, I will take vengeance upon mine enemies, and I will repay those who haze me. Oh, Lord, raise me to Thy right hand and count me among Thy saints."

 

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8 hours ago, Bob Ouellette said:

I usually ended up with an uneven ricasso.

You mean the plunge lines not being in the same place? 

“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

J.States Bladesmith | Facebook

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50 minutes ago, Joshua States said:

You mean the plunge lines not being in the same place? 

 

No, I mean where the ricasso isn't the same thickness. I'll see if I can find any examples when I get home from work tonight.

Bob O

 

"When I raise my flashing sword, and my hand takes hold on judgment, I will take vengeance upon mine enemies, and I will repay those who haze me. Oh, Lord, raise me to Thy right hand and count me among Thy saints."

 

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I got it now. That's where having some sort of press comes in really handy to flatten and straighten the ricasso/spine.

Edited by Joshua States

“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

J.States Bladesmith | Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/dos.gatos.71

https://www.etsy.com/shop/JStatesBladesmith

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I'm glad you understand because I haven't been able to find an example. I think my forging has improved since I've done a blade with a ricasso.

Bob O

 

"When I raise my flashing sword, and my hand takes hold on judgment, I will take vengeance upon mine enemies, and I will repay those who haze me. Oh, Lord, raise me to Thy right hand and count me among Thy saints."

 

My Website

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