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Soap Box - Making a Knife

There are many different kinds of knives. They have different uses. They have different ways to be made. For a consistent, uniform, and reliable knife flat stock with factory steel using known heat treating techniques can be ground to shape and finished into a blade which will perform well. If you make 1000 blades they can all come out exactly the same, consistency.

On the other hand you could start out with raw materials and make your own steel from scratch. Heating the raw ore, beating out all the impurities, and forging your blade. There are many who prefer this method because it shows the craftsmanship involved to come up with a good blade. One could also take advantage of both worlds. You could take advantage of the commercial steel mills and use one of their modern steels and forge it into a blade.

This method uses the consistency of the modern steel with its known properties to start with. Forging uses heat to make the steel pliable so it can be manipulated into shape with a hammer. Temperature is critical in that to much can burn out the beneficial properties and in some steels not enough heat can cause stress cracks which could ruin the blade. These might not be visible in the finished knife but could cause it to break during usage. When a blade is forged from these modern steels using the scientifically known parameters it can come out OOOOOOOOOO so sweet.

First you have to decide what you are going to use your knife for. Remember it’s a tool usually designed for cutting. Large camp knives will be made differently than a small skinning knife. After that one studies all known properties of the steel and puts together a recipe. This would contain all the steps required to complete the knife. Once you decide on this recipe stick to it. Some steels can be unforgiving and if you sway from your recipe it will ruin the knife.

The knife in this recipe happens to be for a fighter. It must be strong enough to handle thrusts and soft enough to handle slashes. It must also stay sharp and cut well. Tapers will determine how well it cuts. Chisel grinds are strong but tend to bind on deep cuts. Hollow grinds cut deep but tend to loose some strength. A taper which works great is one which uses natures golden mean. These tapers start with the thickest part at the top of the spine at the finger guard and get smaller towards the point. They also get smaller towards the edge. This allows the knife to do the work by cutting it’s own path rather than forcing its way through whatever its cutting. A side benefit of this taper is the built in balance it gives to the blade. When finished it will feel as if it is floating in ones hand giving great control.

On to the recipe. First we must have the tools. They are simple, a hammer, an anvil and the steel.



The steel for this will be D2. It has some great qualities but it also has a small window of heat which will allow its forging without damage to the steel. It should only be forged at temperatures from 1800 degrees to 2400 degrees.

The fire will be a gas forge



We first draw the steel to a point. This will give us a starting point where the steel is thin.



Next we draw the point out to the desired length.



Next we draw the width of the blade.



The tapers are forged into the blade through the whole process.



We then cut the steel with enough left of form the tang. This will have a full tang.



The tang is then drawn back to the desired length.



This is the rough forged blade.



The blade profile is then ground in.



The heat treating process allows the edge to be hardened while letting the spine stay soft.
Notice the line showing the difference between hard and soft.



The blade is then buffed and ray skin applied.



This one gets a cord wrap for its finish.


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