How I Forge A Blade

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]It’s important to know from the start that I haven’t forged many blades. I have, however, forged a few, and I’ve read about it a lot, and I recently had the opportunity to get some good instruction on my technique and process. That said, I thought I should document my process as it stands so that I don’t forget how to do it. I also would like a reminder of what my process is like at the beginning so that I can have a point of reference from which to document my improvement.

I start with a piece of steel at least 1/16 inch thicker than what I want the finished blade to be. You’ll lose a lot more to scale and cleanup than you’d think, and of course you can always remove stuff but can’t add it back . It’s easier if I have a long bar and can thus avoid using tongs, but having done both, tongs aren’t all that much different in function. However, if I have access to a welder, I’ll tack a handle onto a smaller piece of blade steel rather than use tongs in order to avoid overheating my tongs.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”STEP ONE” title_align=”separator_align_center” color=”grey” font_size=”24px” style=”border”][vc_single_image image=”445″ alignment=”center” border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][vc_column_text]At Ed Caffrey’s suggestion, I often grind the corners off the end that will be the blade in order to mitigate the risk of “fish lips” or cold shuts. I’ve hammered in the corners before, and as long as you’re careful to keep the flats relatively flat at this time, fish lips don’t have to be a problem.[/vc_column_text][vc_text_separator title=”STEP TWO” title_align=”separator_align_center” color=”grey” font_size=”24px” style=”border”][vc_single_image image=”446″ alignment=”center” border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][vc_column_text]Next I concentrate on getting my pre-form in the right shape. For a drop point blade I’m going for something like a wharncliffe shape to start. The flat part will end up being the edge, and it’ll curl back up when I hammer in the bevels. When hammering the spine to get this shape, I don’t worry too much about the blade thickening. It will, but as long as you avoid fish lips, you can hammer the flats back to an even thickness once the profile looks right. At this point, I’d guess that 90% of my hammer blows are working the profile, and the rest are correcting thickness. I don’t worry about getting the point too sharp, because if it gets too thin it may burn off in the forge. I can always fix it later on the grinder.[/vc_column_text][vc_text_separator title=”STEP THREE” title_align=”separator_align_center” color=”grey” font_size=”24px” style=”border”][vc_single_image image=”447″ alignment=”center” border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][vc_column_text]Once the pre-form profile is right, I draw out the tip until the thickness of the whole blade is uniform. When it is, I then start to forge in the distal taper. When the taper is nice and even from the ricasso to the tip, I refine the profile if necessary before setting my plunges and forging in the bevels.[/vc_column_text][vc_text_separator title=”STEP FOUR” title_align=”separator_align_center” color=”grey” font_size=”24px” style=”border”][vc_single_image image=”444″ alignment=”center” border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][vc_column_text]To set the plunges, I take a good heat and set the blade flat on the anvil with the plunge-to-be right on the anvil’s edge. With the hammer, I strike a few well-aimed blows on each side, being careful to keep the plunges as even as possible. This is also a good time to start thinking about keep your edge centered and working toward that goal.[/vc_column_text][vc_text_separator title=”STEP FIVE” title_align=”separator_align_center” color=”grey” font_size=”24px” style=”border”][vc_column_text]Forging the bevels is better shown than described, but I start with the edge and forge it close to my final thickness. I work my way up the flat from there until the bevels are forged in. Ed convinced me not to try to forge too thin, because much will be lost when grinding out scale and hammer divots. I do some final refining of the profile and plunges, and focus especially on making sure the edge is centered and straight.[/vc_column_text][vc_text_separator title=”STEP SIX” title_align=”separator_align_center” color=”grey” font_size=”24px” style=”border”][vc_column_text]The blade is now mostly done, and it’s time to forge out the tang. If I’m using a bar, I cut off the blade from the rest of the bar, leaving material for the ricasso and tang. It’s much easer to set the shoulders with a hydraulic press, but it isn’t too hard to do it on the edge of the anvil. Drawing out the tang is likewise pretty easy with a power hammer. The process is the same without one, but it takes more time and sweat. When the tang is drawn out to length and tapered in both dimensions, I curve the tang by carefully placing the blade on the corner of the anvil, edge down, and strike downward on the tang to bend it. The curve can be refined on the anvil horn.[/vc_column_text][vc_text_separator title=”STEP SEVEN” title_align=”separator_align_center” color=”grey” font_size=”24px” style=”border”][vc_column_text]Finally, with a pair of tongs that allow me to see the whole blade, I pick up my knife and look down it from all four possible directions to make sure it is straight. I heat as necessary and correct with light blows until I am satisfied. I’m now done forging, but will put the blade back in the forge, heat it past critical, and let it slow cool in vermiculite, ashes, or my kiln (depends on where I am and what’s handy) to anneal and relieve stress induced by the forging process. After this, the process is essentially the same as it would be if I were making a stock removal blade.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

By | 2014-12-11T19:42:01+00:00 February 15th, 2014|Knife Making|0 Comments

Leave A Comment