My first self forged knife

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Suffolkrafter

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Dec 25, 2019
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Suffolk
Hi all. I was lucky enough to spend a day forging a knife, and thought I'd share the result. It's not often I get to work on a proper project in this way, and this was a completely new, rewarding (and exhausting) experience. It's not perfect, but it's handmade and unique, if nothing else.

Here's a picture:
IMG-20210812-171941.jpg


The end result is a blade length of 13 cm, 5.5 mm thick at the spine and 227 g in weight. It currently has something approximating a scandi grind that needs finishing off. It is currently at 20 degrees total.

One thing I did wrong was the alignment of the tang - the point of the knife sits too high relative to the plane of the tang. Not sure how I managed this. I was meant to correct this when grinding but somehow I didn't. So my first job now will be to file down the end portion of the spine to bring the point down a little - if I can.

Second job will be to finish the edge off. I already have a couple of scandi knives so my plan is to put a microbevel on to make it that bit more robust.

Third job is to somehow fashion a handle. I may wrap it, otherwise, I may try and fashion one out of wood using the rivet holes. Depending on how I align handles, I may be able to correct for the position of the point to some degree.

As you can see I am by no means a knife expert! Any comments, criticisms, ideas on next steps etc will be greatly welcome.
 
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Toddy

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Jan 21, 2005
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There's something incredibly satisfying in using a tool you made yourself, and knowing it's good :)

It's a great learning process getting there too :cool:
 

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
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You are not the same person as when you started, are you?
Make several handles. This is a magnificent learning experiment.
I do not have the striking accuracy to do what you did. I've tried in copper.

Palm up, fist grip, the tips of your second and third fingers should just touch the fat ball part of your thumb. Kind of like sizing the handle on a tennis racquet.
I don't need a death grip on any wood carving tool handle which is a basic diameter of 7/8". 3/4" - 1" is my range.
 
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Suffolkrafter

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Dec 25, 2019
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Suffolk
It is indeed very satisfying.
I have striking accuracy but lacked sufficient strength in my hammering arm. Fortunately I had guidance and help on hand. I came away with a profound respect for blacksmiths, and how incredible that prior to automation of these things, everything single tool was forged this way through sheer skill and strength.
 
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JonathanD

Ophiological Genius
Sep 3, 2004
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The first, and only one I did looked nothing near as workable as that. So keep on forging. And update us on the progress. It’s always fascinating to see ‘the making of’ things.

Fixed your pic.921292D6-50E8-4701-B7F0-5C206398CA06.jpeg
 

Suffolkrafter

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Dec 25, 2019
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Suffolk
Well it took a while, but I finally finished the knife. I added a handle in teak; two old peices that fully enclose the tang (grooves cut using a router), sanded into shape and held with two dowels through the rivet holes. I areldited the whole lot together. Finally, I put a shaving sharp edge on using my DC4 stone (as usual I got nowhere with my bench top stones and resorted to the dc4).

This is my first carbon steel knife and I absolutely love it. It was a pleasure to sharpen and work with compared to stainless steel. My other knives are all scandi and I loved not having to worry about conforming to a pre-existing bevel. I'm a happy camper!


 
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TLM

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Nov 16, 2019
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Vantaa, Finland
I can see a few things where some changes could be made but if you succeeded in your heat treatment that'll work. Not bad, not bad.
 

Suffolkrafter

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Dec 25, 2019
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Suffolk
Thanks TLM. I'd be interested to know what changes you'd make, it's always good to get insight from others. I'm fairly confident on the heat treatment. If I did anything wrong it was hammering the steel when a bit too cold. I've considered lowering the point to be in line with the tang. But then again, that would make it the same as my other knives.
 

TLM

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Nov 16, 2019
2,139
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Vantaa, Finland
Thanks TLM. I'd be interested to know what changes you'd make, it's always good to get insight from others.
The handle: I prefer to have an oval cross section for max strength grip when whittling also the oval section lets one know by touch which way the knife is in hand. I also like the handle to be as close to the cutting edge as possible to again get the max force if needed.

The edge: slightly difficult to see how the edge is sharpened but I prefer a very slightly convex edge, in my experience that is the best compromise in a general use knife, strong and lets one control the cutting better than some other alternatives. It is also somewhat tedious to keep sharp and takes some trial and error.

All this of course depends how and where the knife is mainly going to be used and a lot also on personal preferences. On the third hand I see no reason why the knife wouldn't work in a satisfactory way as it is. :thumbsup:
 

Suffolkrafter

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Dec 25, 2019
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Suffolk
Some good points :) I will put it through its paces and see how the handle feels with proper work. The nice thing is I can change its shape easily at any point, just through sanding and re-buffing.
As for the grind, I'm not too sure how to describe it - a sort of vaguely convex bevel with a secondary bevel of around a milimetre or two. I reckon it'll find its use as a chopper of sorts. It's a big and heavy beast.
 

Ch@rlie

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Apr 14, 2011
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Nice work, wonder how many hours you've put it on the side then just stared at it, during different stages of the build process.
 

Suffolkrafter

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Dec 25, 2019
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Suffolk
I've done a lot of staring at it. I've even used it. It handles fairly well, if a little on the heavy side. It's very thick so at some point I'll taper the grind a little more. There's a lot of metal that gets in the way somewhat.
I also made a sheath out of milk bottle plastic which it turns out is an effective poor persons kydex. I softened it with boiling water, moulded it and covered it with cordura. I superglued it and stitched it with a strand of bank line. Looks not too shabby.
 
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Laurentius

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Aug 13, 2009
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For me that is something still on my bucket list. My brother however has been spending his time trying to cold forge a knife! It is impossible to convince him that it is not going to be the finest blade in the land :) I am sure you are going to be both happy to have made something with your own hands, but at the same time going to be dissatisfied with your first endeavor and will want to improve on it over time as I expect you will.
 

Suffolkrafter

Forager
Dec 25, 2019
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Suffolk
My brother however has been spending his time trying to cold forge a knife
That's my next project. I quite fancy making a knife from an old saw but not sure what I need to cut out the initial shape. Angle grinder I guess. After that I want to make a flint knife but I've never knapped flint so that might take a while. I found a nice bit of ash for a bow stave recently. It's currently drying and straightening in the garage. Doubtless I will be posting asking for advice when the time comes. Too many projects, too little time, that's my problem at the moment. Making that knife has made me completely re-evaluate how I sharpen things. I've learnt a lot and completely changed my approach. It's one thing sharpening a factory made bit of steel, it's another thing thing sharpening a slightly wavy, hammered out bit of steel.
 

Everything Mac

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Nov 30, 2009
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I don’t post much on this forum these days. I’ve actually spent the last five years or so building my little blacksmithing hobby into a business.

A big part of it is actually teaching blacksmithing to members of the public.

To me the blade looks fine. Where you’ve forged down the tang you’ve bulged out the material on the sides. Not a huge issue but if you flattened this off by forging it you might have straightened everything relative to the blade.

Not a big deal but worth remembering next time.

The most common mistake I see is people seem to just have at it willynilly with the hammer, whereas if you take your time and overlap the hammer blows it will produce a cleaner finish.

Best of luck with the next one.

Cheers
Andy
 

Suffolkrafter

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Dec 25, 2019
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Suffolk
Thanks for the tips Andy. I was surprised at how physically demanding smithing was, particularly on the hammering arm. I started off going at it willy nilly but I petered out fairly quick... I clearly need to eat more spinach.
 

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