All knife enthusiasts out there must have thought of forging their own knife at a certain point in their life. Now I am sharing what I learned from my knife forging experience. So, you have taken your desire one step further. You have seen the knife being forged in fire and now you want to make your own.
But, will you be succeeded? Will your knife cut? Well, forging knives is not that easy. People spend years to be skilled in this properly. The knife forging culture is million years old. At that time metal was not used for manufacturing blades.
Bladesmiths used to use bone, rock, or flint to make the forged blades. However, these materials were not strong enough. Instead, they often got fractured because of their brittleness. So, in the thought process, people invented stronger materials. Copper, iron, and other metals are the result of them.
So, you can predict, that forging knives require immense perseverance. But for beginners, of course, there are easy ways to pursue blacksmithing initially.
Things I Have Learned from My Knife Forging
In today’s era, knife forging is done with modern tools. The long time-consuming procedures are now also changed.
Tools Required for Forging Knife
- High carbon steel
- Quenching oil
- Metal storage container
Steps in Forging a Knife
Forging a knife always has to be done following a certain procedure. You cannot skip any of the steps. The steps are given below.
Step 1: Heat Your Steel
This is the first step in bladesmithing. However, the best blades come out of high carbon steel. Many well-known brands also use Damascus steel to keep up the ancient look and efficiency of a knife. With the help of your tong heat the steel by grasping it in a forge.
Heat it to a point where the steel color turns yellow. Generally, a temperature between 2100 to 2200 degrees Fahrenheit is enough to complete this step.
Step 2: Distribute the Steel
Using your tongs let the blade out of your forge. Now, take the anvil and set your steel. Then start hammering. Keep hammering the corners and bring the shape of a knife. Here, you need to focus on tapering. Taper both sides of the steel blade. This way, make sure the steel is tapered and distributed evenly.
Step 3: Flatten Your Blade
Bevels come from the same steel you are using for the blade. So, keep hammering until a flat edge comes and eventually shape the bevels as well. Beveling the steel creates a sharp edge on both sides of your knife.
Many times, to make the knife more contemporary people use a belt sander for creating bevels.
Step 4: Time to Heat and Then Cool
The toughest thing is to forge your steel to bring in the shape of your knife. However, when you are done doing that, it is time to heat and cool. To bring the forged steel to a normal state, keep it at a non-magnetic temperature.
Nonetheless, different steel type requires different temperature to come in a normal state. If you are using simple carbon steel initially then it will require 1420 degrees Fahrenheit temperature. At a point, the metal steel will turn red.
Then let the steel cool down by lowering the temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This cooling session will remove the red color from the steel. Keep doing this heating and cooling thing about three times.
Step 5: Sand the Steel
When you are done with cooling and heating the blade, start sanding. Take sandpaper with the right grit and sand the blade till it gets smooth.
Step 6: Sharpen the Blade
Again, heat the blade for preparing the surface to sharpen. After heating, dip the blade in oil. After some time, the blade will come to room temperature. This process is called quenching. It hardens and strengthens the steel.
However, you have to make the process quick while transferring the blade to the quenching process from fire. Being even a bit slow can ruin the process. It won’t strengthen the blade.
Step 7: Reheat and Create the Handle
At a low temperature reheat the quenched blade. It helps to reduce the stress and brittleness of the blade.
When you are done, make a handle. The handle can also be forged from the steel you have used for the blade. Or, you can just add a woody handle. Just add the handle with two or three rivets to securely place it.
Step 8: Final Sharpening
When you are done adding the handle to your knife, it is time for the final sharpening of the knife. Use a whetstone to sharpen the knife. Or, you can also use a fine file.
After the final sharpening, your knife is ready to cut things!
Any smithing requires safety first. Especially when you are forging a knife, you invite a constant risk. So, you have to ensure protective gear.
- You have to protect your eye first since you may have to play with fire. Safety goggles might help. for better protection wear a face shield instead.
- Ear protection is also a must. Get foam earplugs. Or, you can get earmuffs.
- Or, wear a disposable mask. However, a respirator might also help.
- Wear simple clothes. Do not wear clothes made of synthetic fibers.
- Wear a pair of gloves. Leather gloves are good to protect your hands from heat. However, many bladesmiths wear welding gloves for better protection.
- You might also need a fire extinguisher.
So, initially, you can make a knife that legit can be cut from your forging experience. However, becoming a professional bladesmith requires skill, a degree, and an apprenticeship. Again, practice makes a man perfect.
Therefore, you know what you need to do. Forging knives requires patience, practice, and perseverance. Thus, do not lose hope if your first attempt fails. You certainly have time to keep going with methods and steps.
You can be your own greatest teacher. Teach yourself till you make the best knife. Hope, our experience helps you a bit.