Jump to content

Starting a project

ETX Chartaine

Recommended Posts

So, I decided today to give my first newbie post and ask a question that has been gnawing at me reading all of the working forums.


How does everyone start their project off (clarifying - when NOT working on a commission)?


Do you have a certain ritual you start off with?


Do you pray to the bladesmithing gods for luck and few problems?


Do you sketch out a pattern and find materials that will suit?


Do you just grab the first piece of decent steel and go to hammering?





Personally, while learning the forging process, I have been grabbing whatever piece of steel will be big enough for a knife (the crocodile dundee style, the bigger the better) and hammer away. This led to many overheated blades and a few cracked pieces thrown into a scrap pile, not to mention the hours of frustration for wasting a day with nothing to show.


Here lately, I have been doing more sketching and planning so as not to waste effort or time (more of those to be posted later). Since I am not near as much of an artist with a pen and paper, I tend to just draw vague outlines and then use whatever inspiration strikes me at the time of working to complete the project.



Edited by ETX Chartaine
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is coming from an experienced blacksmith who is only recently breaking into bladesmithing, so take what I say as you will.


I also draw only the most vague outlines on paper. My skills with a drawing pencil are shamed by the skills of a baby with a diaper. :unsure:


I've found that it's usually a good idea to have, if nothing else, a fairly clear picture in your mind's eye as to what the finished product should look like. I'm sure there are people out there that can hammer on metal with absolutely no plan and come out with an awesome result, but I'm not one of them. That said, don't be afraid to change strides. I'm sure there are plenty out there who will disagree, but it's not the end of the world if you change your design somewhat during the working process. Locking yourself completely into a single hard-lined design crushes adaptability, which is a bad thing as far as I'm concerned.

MacGyver is my patron saint.


"There's nothing in the universe cold steel won't cut." -Conan of Cimmeria-

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can't draw; stick figures are a challange for me. I have to go from a vision in my head to trying to produce it in steel. If I'm lucky, I end up with something that look like what I was thinking about making; sometimes I add to my collection of paperweights.


Doug Lester

HELP...I'm a twenty year old trapped in the body of an old man!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can't draw well either, but try to have a vision of what i want to accomplish. I also not a blacksmith and only a fair to decent bladesmith (but improving). frustration can be part of the game, but if you learn from the mistakes and learn not to repeat them you will get past that too. for me its an idea that starts and lots of thought as to how to make the metal at least close to what i thought it would be. if it doesn't go that way then i will figure where it could go from where it is at that point. have fun/learn/practice. azmike

Theres so much i don't know, i could write a book about it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I figure out what I am going to make before hand.


If it is a commision with set parameters, I will draw it up, and measure as I forge and grind.


If it is just something that I want to make to sell, I let it dwell inside for a while.


I try to draw it out the same day as I see it in my mind, and get the lines as close to what is in my mind as I can.


(I am not very good at sketching, but it is something that I am trying to improve on every day.)


I will not look at that drawing again untill a few days after.


I then sketch out the same blade every day without looking at the original drawing, just going off of what is in my head.


after a few days of doing this, I compaire all of the drawings, and I look how it has changed, and I mesh all of the ideas that flow together well into one drawing.


If i like it, I will then choose the right peice of metal (I go by weight) and I start forging it out.


I try not to stop forging untill I have it right.


for a long blade it takes me 4-8 hours to forge it out, depending on the cross section and length.


I used to just pick up a piece of metal and think about what I could get out of it and do that, but there is a point at which you have to dictate what the metal can do, and not let the metal dictate you.


Mike Lambiase

Mike Lambiase

Burning Man Forge


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

I'm BRAND new to the bladesmithing scene, but I'll offer my $.02 on this topic since I have a background in "creative projects".


My first question to a customer in the software world is "what does it have to do when it's done?". Define the capabilities requirement. So in bladesmithing terms, "what will the blade be used for?"


Are you making a vegetable knife, a skinner, covert carry weapon or an axe? Have some idea of it's purpose before choosing materials. From there, I just let the creative juices flow keeping the goal in mind.


Off topic (this being my first post here) -

Just wanted to offer my thanks to the wealth of knowledge being share here. I've been reading all over the internet on bladesmithing for several weeks now and believe this is one of best forums I've come across.


Thanks for passing on the knowledge!


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is what I do. Not all the time. Sometimes I go to the forge with an idea and just forge. Usually that idea changes as I forge and ends up as what ever. If I want to make a a certain type of knife, first I sketch out what I want until I'm happy with it. Then I take thin cardboard, I use the back of writing pads if they are big enough for what I want since I use writing pads at work and save the backs, but anything will work, and transfer the design to that, cut it out, and see how the handle fits in my hand. Then I make mods to the handle as needed. Then I will make a template of the blade out of thin aluminum, with the type of tang on it that I want. Then get the steel I want to use and get to forging, periodically checking my progress to the template. Otherwise I usually end up with something a little other then I had pictured. I am getting better, but if its something that I might want to make again, then I will make a template to work from. Sound like a lot of work, but I think its all fun.


Tony G

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...