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First(ish) Knife


Ryan Hobbs

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Long story short, I've been on the site for almost 10 years now, but due to my job making me work (terrible, I know) and moving me every 3 or so years, I have never actually made a knife. I've had a few half way completed projects and have put handles on a few blades bought off of here, but that's about it, and all that was about 7 years ago. 
I'm finally stationed somewhere that I have time and space to blacksmith again for the first time in 7 years, and I've now got a second shop and have the forge going! I've been mainly making little artsy do-dads and stuff for neighbors the past 6 months, but now I have the itch. So here we go, this will be the first knife I've made from start to finish. There are also several other firsts in here for me.
I wanted to make a utility knife for my late-medieval reenactment group, so I decided to go with a a small multi-bar design. Thanks @Alan Longmire and @Aiden CC for helping me find some historical resources for medieval knife construction, and thanks again to Alan for help with some question I had for my weld quality.
 
I started off with a small piece of mild and a piece of of 1075 that were tac welded together. I later used an angle grinder to cut an angle into the end of the mild bar. I've never used a welder before and it shows, but I DID stick two pieces of metal together.
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Then I threw it into the fire and forge welded it up. This is one of the first forge welds I've ever done. My previous experience has just been making like 2 chain links and some bloomery iron.
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It probably took me more heats than it should but finally got it kinda stuck together.
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Went at it again the next day, got the knife welded up and kind of forged to shape. My main issue was trying to get the bottom part of the weld to stay together. Every time I tried to work on the tang it decided to pop open. After getting angry at it and forge welding it "aggressively" the weld finally took.
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And there it is after some initial filing and grinding.  There were some weld lines that had me worried, but they largely disappeared as I kept grinding.
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And there it is, ready to go into the quench.  I still have some profiling to do with the tang, and I'm not entirely happy with the profile of the spine, but that's for later. 
Most of the material removal was done with files and sandpaper, just didn't feel super confident with the bench grinder I have in my shop, and it was nice to do most of the work by hand.
 
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I normalized it for two sessions, and then set it up for the quench! Dunked it in Parks 50 (totally forgot to preheat it, got too excited), and then tempered it for 2 sessions at 350-360F.  I was fully expecting a visit from the tink fairy, having a weld pop open, having a nasty warp, or just the whole shop exploding when I dunked it, but it turned out straight and hard!  I have no idea why the 1075 came out looking shiny while the mild stayed dark. Did the 1075 just react differently to the quench and blasted off the little bit of scale on there, or is that what martensite looks like? 
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And there we go, that's where I am right now. next step is working the tang down, and maybe profiling the spine a little. I don't know if I want to polish the whole blade or just the edge; it is pretty cool how you can see the 1075 so plainly.
In any case, I would love to get some advice from any of y'all, or any main points that I can focus on improving. Thanks y'all!
Edited by Ryan Hobbs
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Congrats on getting the weld to work!  Yep, the scale will blast off hardened steel, but won't off unhardenable steel. 

 

And don't worry about not preheating Parks 50, it's not recommended to preheat that anyway.  I mean, you can, but the instructions say "room temperature."  Only preheat if you're trying to prevent nosedive in the quench because of blade geometry. Thick spine/thin edge blades in shallow-hardening steels tend to do this.  If you 've got a thin blade it doesn't do much.

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Yes, congratulations. I'm glad you're thinking about doing it again. The advice I have is to taper the back end of the 1075. This shows the taper I grind in both width and thickness. This is 1075 welded to 1018.

 

Without the taper, the 1075 acts like a shear and cuts into the softer 1018. After I set the weld, blending in the tapered end is my first priority. It can take multiple heats because it cools so quickly.

20220925_103932~2.jpg

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On 8/12/2023 at 9:32 AM, Alan Longmire said:

Congrats on getting the weld to work!  Yep, the scale will blast off hardened steel, but won't off unhardenable steel. 

 

And don't worry about not preheating Parks 50, it's not recommended to preheat that anyway.  I mean, you can, but the instructions say "room temperature."  Only preheat if you're trying to prevent nosedive in the quench because of blade geometry. Thick spine/thin edge blades in shallow-hardening steels tend to do this.  If you 've got a thin blade it doesn't do much.

 

Sweet, effect looked cool, was almost sad to sand it off.

 

And weird, the jug that the parks 50 came in said to heat up a little, like 95-120 if I remember correctly. I'll double check. It was Mr. Volcano brand. Maybe they're just trying to be fancy, haha. 

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On 8/13/2023 at 8:43 AM, Jeff Amundson said:

 

 

Without the taper, the 1075 acts like a shear and cuts into the softer 1018. After I set the weld, blending in the tapered end is my first priority. It can take multiple heats because it cools so quickly.

 

Thanks! Do you think that might be what was going on with my weld? I definitely didn't take enough time to blend in that part of the weld. I can definitely see how the 1075 could end up cutting into the mild. I have another billet tac welded up, I'll grind down the 1075 before I stick into the forge. 

I eventually want to make the spine out of wrought iron, so that will probably come even more into play then.

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Looks good, Ryan! As Jeff mentioned, it’s important to avoid sharp transitions like that with the welds, either by making the two bars the same length or by scarfing the end of the edge bar. I like to use the process of forging the shoulder to really blend the weld there.
 

I always like to cut in the tip like you did here, it makes things look a lot better in the end. One trick is to forge a  longer bar and do a number of diagonal cuts in the middle. For each cut, one side can become a tip and the other a tang. I mostly do that with hearth steel to save material, but it’s always nice to be thrifty.

 

I look forward to seeing where this goes!

Edited by Aiden CC
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I can remember how my first forge weld made me feel……. So now you are hooked …..Congrats !!!!!!!! It’s a life long pursuit of fun……I hope you can find more time to play

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