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Better quality knife, forging or stock removal

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by mattd, Jan 16, 2004.

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  1. mattd


    Oct 6, 2003
    Being very new, I am afraid this might be a stupid question but by correctly forging a blade, I'm guessing that includes compacting the steel at the edge, do you produce a better knife than using the stock removal method. I have never forged anything but will begin as soon as I can find an anvil. Thanks for reading.

    Matt deClercq
  2. Matt Shade

    Matt Shade

    Nov 24, 1999
    Both methods can make a very good knife. This is a can of worms that you might not want to open :)

    Proper forging can probably bring more out of some steel than stock removal can but there's no set rule. Some steels benefit from having the edge packed, and some steels like the CPM steels are supposed to be at 100% compression in the bar stock you buy.

    Edge geometry and heat treat make the real difference in performance and can be done right or wrong with either method.
  3. etp777


    Aug 12, 2002
    As Matt said, and I agree, heat treat and edge geometry have way more effect on how "good" a knife is than whether it's forged or made through stock removal.
  4. mete

    mete Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 10, 2003
    Matt, "100% compression " ??? Wish you would explain that one to me .When we are talking about powder metals we can refer to % of theoretical density. When we have wrought or forged metal we have 100%. The benefit of CPM steels is that the carbides are smaller and more evenly distributed.....Mattd,what you have heard about compacting the steel at the edge or edge packing is pure BS, it doesn't happen. In fact when you start hammering metal it actually gets bigger , that is a metallurgical fact..I know edge packing is talked about and written about but it is pure myth.
  5. Matt Shade

    Matt Shade

    Nov 24, 1999
    Well there ya go turning things upside down on me again mete!
    I know I read a thread about forging CPM steels in the past, and the general consensus was that there would be no benefit as it was already completely compressed/compacted/as close to theoretical density as possible! Whether there's any truth to it or not I don't know, I know there were some pretty knowledgable guys involved in the discussion.
    I have trouble sayin stuff sometimes, but you damn scientists are to blame! You make up the goofiest way of sayin something possible, I might as well go try and learn french ;)
  6. berettaman12000

    berettaman12000 Banned by Moderators

    Jul 26, 2003
    What Matt said!
  7. tself.us


    Nov 6, 2003
    Everything I have read about this in over 2 years has started out:
    "What if everything is equal for both knives"

    Then it invariably sways to the forged blade being differentially HT'd and the stock removal being fully hardened etc... Which is obviously not equal treatment.

    I think if I forge a blade of 01 and use stock removal for an equal blade of 01 and do everything the same from there on out I will have equally well performing blades.

    How could I not?
  8. mattd


    Oct 6, 2003
    I forgetr what video it was but a guy used spring steel to forge a blade and he spent a good while "compacting the edge with a slightly lower heat". I have now freak'n clue if it is important or not but for someone who knows very little about forging, it made sinse.

    Mete, you should add smiley faces to your posts so you don't seem pissed off.:)
  9. NickWheeler


    Dec 3, 1999

    When you forge a blade to shape, you are pushing the steel to your desired shape, but you are not compacting it. The thermal cycles that the blade may go through with this awful term "edge packing" can be of benefit, but it's due to times and temperatures.

    I would rather throw that term out completely, as mete stated it's a myth.

    You will be much better off to forge the blade and then put it through very precise thermal cylces to refine the grain. The "magic" is always in time and temperature, not hitting it with a hammer.

    The reason I forge most of my blades, is because I love it, and feel it is an art. It allows much more freedom during the knifemaking process. That's not some condesending, supreme attitude speaking....it's just how it is. If I have a blade going and don't like it, I can forge it into a different shape, I forge all my own damascus, and I can forge down an integral and not have to mill the whole thing out of a block of steel. With my stock removal blades, once they're shaped, I can either cut them down more, or leave them as is...I can't reprofile them or stretch them in one direction or another. T

    To me, those are the reasons to forge...not because of making a better blade or not.

    I hate to say it, but there are many guys making knives worse because of their forging...they are blowing the grain up in a hot fire and not getting it cycled back down to what it was from the mill, let alone finer than it came from the mill.

    Most importantly, the steel should be heat-treated to it's fullest, the blade should be ground as thinly as possible (for its intended cutting medium) as evenly as possible, and should have a comfortable handle.

    Good luck with it!
  10. mete

    mete Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 10, 2003
    The problem with life is that you have to spend so much time separating the wheat from the chaff. I am on this forum and sword forum also to bring some metallurgical facts to permit you to make better blades......To disclaim "edge packing" let me explain it this way; When you start with an annealed piece of steel all the atoms are lined up in nice orderly rows. When you start hammering you create disorder, that is you create dislocations and voids.If you start out with say 1000 atoms in an orderly structure you have a certain volume .If you then introduce voids what happens to the volume ? It increases. So you don't decrease the volume ,you increase it . But that is in a way a moot point because when you heat treat the steel the whole thing changes anyway. As far as forging vs wrought material - when steel is made you start out with a large chunk, you then roll it to ,lets say, 1/8" . That is the equivalent , as far as working the steel to forging it . Edge packing ? I suppose you need that to severe the head of the loch ness monster.
  11. mattd


    Oct 6, 2003
    Thanks Nick,
    your response makes me want to get my act together and get the tools needed.

    I could just picture you typing away with a big huge smile on your face. :D thanks. I must become much more informed about medal before I start punding away. any recomendations for a guy who knows absolutely nothing about steel?
  12. Doc Hollywood

    Doc Hollywood

    Jan 24, 2003
    Build a forge and some steel and start heating. You learn much from watching color, and from the mistakes of over or underheating.

    As far as which is a better blade, both take talent, and steel is steel. The knife is only as good as the steel you start with, and the way you heat treat and temper it. Doesn't matter how you shaped it.

    I think a hammer is more useful as a tool though.......lol.

  13. TimWieneke


    Oct 26, 2003
    Forging is better! You get to play with fire more, get black boogers, and you build bigger, sexier arms from forging than stock removal! :D

    Anyway, I don't buy the forging vs. stock removal, one is better than the other debate. Given the same quality of materials, I think you could make equal quality blades. Beyond that it's personal preference.


    P.S. I should say that I highly suspect there is something to this idea of "edge packing". First of all, if there were nothing to it, steel companies wouldn't invest in hot rolling steel. Second, it's just an aspect of nature that certain elements and compounds can be compacted through certain means into other forms of that element/compound that have different properties (water into ice, carbon into diamonds, etc....). However, I do have my doubts that the human hand can control edge packing the way that some knife afficiandos suggest....
  14. Doc Hollywood

    Doc Hollywood

    Jan 24, 2003
    I just think a hammer is a more useful tool than a knife.....lol

  15. jhiggins


    Jul 11, 2003
    Each process has its own beauty. When I forge, I have a general idea in my head about what I want for a shape and length, and whether or not the blade will be fullered, or flatground - whatever! So I'm not so concerned about any finishing by means of stock-removal at that point. I just use that to complete the blade - to remove the "forge-ness" off it (not really into the n/t look).

    When I go exclusively stock-removal, which is what I do for my folders anyway, I usually take great care and precautions to make it exact. I also feel that stock removal, done right, can produce as fine a blade as forging because the steel hasn't been through all of the heating and cooloing cycles. I will admit, however that I think the constant dowsing in water to keep the blade cool when grinding MAY have some slight effect on the steel, but I haven't yet witnessed anything tangible yet.

    Mete... if yer still listening... you may disagree with some of teh above, and DO feel free to set me straight. I very much appreciate your input to these boards as being very objective. I've always tried to stay secular concerning metals and heat treating and I don;t subscribe to the "thrice this" and "triple-douche that" method of heat treating.
  16. Darrel Ralph

    Darrel Ralph Moderator Moderator

    Dec 14, 1998
    What Doc said!~
  17. Russ Andrews

    Russ Andrews Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Nov 27, 2002
    I'd say the best method is which ever one the

    guy is able AND WILLING to do thoroughly.

  18. Daniel Koster

    Daniel Koster www.kosterknives.com Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 18, 2001
    Let's look at it from a more philosophical view...

    If you can do stock removal, that doesn't necessarily mean you can forge.

    However, if you can forge, more likely than not, you can also do stock removal.


    Read into that what you wish...:p
  19. Greg Covington

    Greg Covington

    Oct 28, 1999
    Edge packing....yes I do it. Why? Well old Bagwell edge packs, told me how to do it, and the knives I have by him seem to cut better than all others that I own.

    Does edge packing work? I don't really know. I do know that it helps refine the smoothness of the edge before going to the grinder...although the lower heat used in the process runs the chance of cracking.

    But like mete said about an edge packed blade cutting off the head of the Loch Ness monster.....as soon as scientists prove or disprove its existence (and there have been alot of sceintist doing that years)....I can guarantee that my Bagwell Bowie would lop old Nessie's head right off:eek:
  20. Dan Gray

    Dan Gray

    Jun 25, 2001
    Greg, I want to be there when it happens:D

    but if you can forge can you hollow grind is my question:D

    see www.cashenblades.com/articles/lowdown/lowdown.html
    By Kevin R. Cashen,
    to sum up,, is forging better than Stock grinding
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