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Home forging and Heat Treat...

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by Battle Creek Knives, Apr 22, 2011.

  1. Battle Creek Knives

    Battle Creek Knives

    Feb 23, 2010
    Obvious Newbie here guys so bare with me.. ;)

    I looked at the sticky's and there is a ton of info there that I will check out later, for now I have a couple questions..

    I'm looking to make my first knife:eek:

    I'm using 1095 and 5160 as my first attempt, should I try another steel first? something easier to play with?? less expensive etc, say a file for example??

    I've done some research on making a home made forge, some like a bbq, fireblock, and even a paint can.. I'm looking for something functional and effective that will last while, because if my first couple knives go okay I can see this feeding my addiction...:p

    also after forging, can I use my home oven to temper? how many times do I temper, how long, what temp?

    I have many questions but will follow the sticky's before I slam you guys with a newbie question rant:D
  2. AttilaTheHun


    Apr 10, 2011
    Instead of measuring the temperature you can just use a magnet. 1095 becomes non-magnetic when hot enough to temper.
  3. Battle Creek Knives

    Battle Creek Knives

    Feb 23, 2010
    perhaps I don't quite understand the process, I thought you forged the steel, quenched it, then later temper it for X amount of time at maybe 375F ??
  4. Southclaw


    Nov 30, 2009
    1 Forge to basic shape. 2 Grind or file to shape. 3 Heat to hardening temperature and quench. 4 Temper at desired temperature for X amount of time. It depends on what you are going to be using the knife for, on what temerature you temper the blade at.
  5. Will Leavitt

    Will Leavitt

    Jul 28, 2006
    Use 1084 from Aldo.... it's pretty much bulletproof for beginning heat treating. 1095 and O1 require fairly precise temperatures and holding times to get the best performance. 1084, heat to non-magnetic, count to 30 then quench, heated canola or peanut oil will work for starters until you can decide if you want to switch to a "real" heat treat oil. I'd recommend buying a small toaster oven from a yard sale/flea market and an oven thermometer to nail the temps, the dial is just a manufacturer's hope. Momma will get pretty upset with you for tempering in the kitchen, the smell isn't all that wonderful.

    I just made a charcoal forge for my student for less than $35. It's a junk grille, some black pipe, a junk hair dryer and a forge lining made of 1/3 perlite (Lowes has it back with the orchids) 1/3 sand and 1/3 cheap cat litter (for the clay, pre-soak it so it's softened into clay.) I used 4" piece of 1 1/4" black pipe with a cap drilled with a lot of 1/4" holes, 1 1/4" Tee, 4" 1 1/4" coupling with a cap on the end and a piece of 16"x1 1/4" black pipe. The piece with the drilled cap is in the bottom of the forge body, the tee screws in below the forge body, the 16" piece tees off to connect the hair dryer to and the last part goes to the underside of the tee, it's a cinder trap, just unscrew the cap (AFTER IT COOLS) to clear out the cinders. This is for a square or round shaped grille, it makes a "duck's nest forge" if you find a rectangular grille then just use one long piece of pipe with a cap on one end to clear cinders, tape the hair dryer to the other end and drill a series of 1/4" holes down the pipe. You can use the forge clay to clog up any holes you don't want to use and just pop them out if you need a longer forge.

    Use hardwood lump charcoal, Wal-mart carries it. I like to break it up into golf ball sized pieces. DO NOT USE MATCH LIGHT OR SOME OTHER TYPE OF LIGHTER IN THE CHARCOAL MATERIAL. You won't like the results unless you're into being hairless. You can use regular charcoal but the results aren't as good, the fillers will trash up the forge.
  6. Battle Creek Knives

    Battle Creek Knives

    Feb 23, 2010
    wow, thanks Will.. Awesome write up, sounds like just what I need. I'm following along but if you happen to have any pictures I'd be set..

    guys I was also reading that you have to anneal the steel?? heat it first let it cool very slowly then you can work with it etc, or is this just for certain metals..........

    its definitely got my juices going and I'll have to say I'm appreciating the art of knife making the more I learn..

    I'll google Aldo..
  7. Will Leavitt

    Will Leavitt

    Jul 28, 2006
    A full anneal is important after forging or before stock removal if you are using hand tools like files to shape and finish your blade. It's a good habit to get into but there are other ways to reduce stresses in a blade.

    To do a simple anneal, buy some more perlite and get a metal container, I use one of those oval shaped metal bucket things. Heat a piece of scrap steel and use it to make a trench in the perlite, leave it in the trench. Heat the steel to non-magnetic, then bury it in the trench with the hot steel. It will still be hot the next day so be careful digging it out.

    Most of us do a stress relief cycle after forging, heat the blade to non-magnetic then let it air cool to a solid black (900ish.) Repeat this 3 times to remove the stresses of beating the hell out of innocent steel.

    I'll try to get some pictures posted tomorrow. Google "ducks nest forge" to get an idea but to be honest with you, you can dig a trench in the ground, stick some drilled black pipe in there with a flex pipe to an air source and there's a forge body. Tim Lively forges in a ground forge. I think the hole is 8" deep, 10" wide and 24" long, something like that anyways.

    Aldo is njsteelbaron dart com

    *** you can use perlite or vermiculite interchangably, look at Lowes where the orchids are, it's used to prevent soil compaction in potted plants.
  8. 12345678910


    Jul 13, 2009
    I was eyeballing your 1900 posts, but if you're going Google for Aldo, you haven't seen this yet...

    The Standard Reply to New Knifemakers v13

    The answer to a 13 year old student is different than to a 40 year old engineer.
    We may recommend a local supplier, or you may have a helpful neighbour; but that depends on where you are. We have members worldwide.
    Fill out your profile with your location (Country and State at least), age, education, employment.

    Look at the threads stickied at the top; many are expired, but not all.

    The basic process in the simplest terms
    Absolute Cheapskate Way to Start Making Knives-Printable PDF-Right Click and Save
    Absolute Cheapskate Way to Start Making Knives-Website

    Web Tutorials
    Detailed instructions by Stacy E.Apelt

    The Things I Advise New Knife Makers Against-Printable PDF

    Handle Tutorial - Nick Wheeler-Website


    A list of books and videos

    BladeForums - E-books or Google books

    I like:
    David Boye-Step by Step Knifemaking
    Tim McCreight-Custom Knifemaking: 10 Projects from a Master Craftsman
    These are clear, well organized, widely available and inexpensive too.

    Knife Design:
    See the Google books thread for Lloyd Harding drawings & the Loveless book. Google books thread

    Forging Books:
    Lorelei Sims-The Backyard Blacksmith
    An excellent modern book with colour photos for forging in general - no knifemaking.

    Jim Hrisoulas- has 3 books on forging knives. Check for the cheaper paperback editions.
    The Complete Bladesmith: Forging Your Way to Perfection
    The Pattern-Welded Blade: Artistry in Iron
    The Master Bladesmith: Advanced Studies in Steel

    Machine Shop Basics -Books:
    Elementary Machine Shop Practice-Printable PDF

    The Complete Practical Machinist-Printable -1885-PDF
    It’s being reprinted now, you can get it for $20 ish

    The $50 knife Shop
    It confused me for a long time.
    Forging is NOT necessary; you can just file and grind to create a knife (stock removal)

    The goop quench is total Bull.
    Use commercial quench oil & match oil speed to the steel type; even grocery store canola oil works much better.

    Junkyard steels require skill and experience to identify the steel and heat treat it properly.
    You can buy proper steel like 1084FG from Aldo very cheaply.

    I like cable damascus, but that advanced project has no place in a beginner’s book.

    The grinders are the best thing about this book, but there is a huge amount of info for 2x72” belt grinders on the web, including free plans.


    Heat Treating Basics Video-downloadable
    Right click and save this. Watch it once a day for 10 days.

    Right click and save this. Watch it once a day for 10 days.

    Many specific how to knifemaking videos are available, some are better than others.

    The best overall Knifemaking video I have seen is
    “Steve Johnson-Making a Sub-Hilt Fighter”

    The best video on leather sheath making I have seen is
    “Custom Knife Sheaths -Chuck Burrows - Wild Rose”
    -(Paul Long has 2 new videos, his sheath work is fantastic. I hope the videos are too)

    Green Pete's Free Video
    Making a Mora bushcraft knife, stock removal, hand tools, neo tribal / unplugged heat treat.
    "Green Pete" posted it free using torrent files.
    Be sure to look at the other titles too-The account index has disappeared, but search for LOTS of info.
    Greenpete Knifemaking Basics-on TPB

    How to get that video

    You can see a list of videos and reviews at this rental company; some are worth buying, some renting…

    Draw Filing Demonstration
    YouTube video -Draw Filing-for a flat finish

    The “welding steel” at Home Depot / Lowes… is useless for knives.
    If you send out for heat treating, you can use O1, A2, D2, CM154, ATS34, s30v, 440C, plus many others.

    If you heat treat yourself, find some 1070, 1080, 1084,
    1084 FG sold by Aldo Bruno is formulated for knifemaking.
    Phone # 862-203-8160

    You can find a list of suppliers here

    Heat Treating

    You can send blades out for heat treating at $10 or $15 per blade for perfect results, and avoid buying the equipment.

    This PDF brochure gives a good overview
    http://www.knifemaker.ca/ (Canadian)

    Grinder / Tools

    Hand Tools
    You can do it all by hand with files and abrasive cloth like the Green Pete video.
    Photo of a nice bevel filing jig

    Entry Level Grinders
    Many makers start with the Sears Craftsman 2x42 belt grinder

    Commercial Production 2 x 72” Belt Grinders

    Mapp arm – Grinder Toolrest

    DIY 2 x 72” Belt Grinders

    KMG Clone Free Plans

    NWG No Weld Grinder

    EERF Grinder (EERF =“Free” backwards)

    Buy the kit

    Safety Equipment
    Protect your -Eyes, Ears, Fingers, and Lungs – remove jewelry and put on safety gear.

    Chronic lung disease and cancer really suck the joy out of life.
    The minimum I would consider are the 3M 7500 and North 7700 silicone half masks with a P100 Filter.
    Use a VOC & P100 combo cartridge for protection against acetone and solvents.


    V13 Edited dead links
  9. lonepine


    May 7, 2010
    I'm going to assume that you plan to do stock removal to make the blade. The answer is "it depends". Where did you get it and what shape is it in? 1095 and O1 that I've bought from Jantz is annealed already. However, I've gotten different steel from other places that had been hot rolled to thickness but never annealed after that. As a result the core was too hard to drill through or cut with a hacksaw, even a high tension hacksaw. I tried all sorts of home style annealing processes with limited success.

    Can you work it with a file? Can you drill a hole it it with a normal drill bit? If you can then I don't see a need to attempt to anneal it further. It could backfire on you. Test it first on a piece of your steel other than your knife if you think you need to do something to it.

    The science of metallurgy is one of the biggest challenges for me. You can easily find conflicting recommendations from different sources. I've heat treated my knives using a coffee can forge burning home made charcoal. It's not a way to get the best performance out of your steel but it's what I can afford. I find that it's not all that difficult to harden steel (1095, O1) so that a file slides off it. I have no idea what my crude setup does to the grain structure when I'm done with it though.

    Immediately after hardening I wash the blades with Dawn dish washing detergent then sand all the crud and slag off the blade before tempering it in the kitchen oven at 400 deg F for an hour, air cool it, then another hour at 400 degrees and air cool again. You must sand the surface of the blade clean before tempering it in your kitchen oven. As good as Dawn is at cutting oil it can't pull it out of the surface slag. That has to be sanded off. You may be surprised at all the bumps and surface disturbances that form on 1095 when heated in a charcoal fired forge. I make a tent over the blades in the oven with a piece of aluminum foil so that the top heating elements don't over heat the metal when it cycles on and off the keep the heat level in the oven where it should be.

    Have fun. You can do it.

    - Paul Meske
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2011
  10. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    Attila might be a Hun, but he sure isn't a metallurgist. Steel ( all types) become non-magnetic at 1414F.

    You said you looked at the stickies and would read them later. All the info you asked is in them.

    Tempering is a part of HT done after quench ( detailed explanation found in the stickies) and the kitchen oven is the tool of choice for many of us.
  11. Kevin R. Cashen

    Kevin R. Cashen

    Sep 9, 2003
    :thumbup: Stacy you addressed every point that stood out to me, and in three short sentences! Obvious more efficient than I may have done;).
  12. Battle Creek Knives

    Battle Creek Knives

    Feb 23, 2010
    thanks guys I appreciate it.. I have the David Boye- step by step knife making book and have had it for years (but only skimmed the surface.), I was reading it yesterday and that's what prompted me to make this thread..

    now all I have to do is find some free time to make my knife, that will be the biggest challenge at the moment as I have a lot of projects ahead of this...
  13. Remyrw


    Jun 17, 2010
    Another steel option is 1080 from Kelly Cupples. I'm using a batch I got from him and loving it. The cold rolled in particular, extremely clean and easy to work, with great results. I temper in a fancy toaster oven that has a tray AND a grate between the heating elements and the knives to be tempered, it keeps the temp very consistent. My temp DIAL is a bit off, but I have checked it at a few points and know what to set to get the actual temp I want. Somehow I don't think precision settings were a priority when kitchenaid designed the thing.

    Questions that come to mind are:
    1. Are you forging to shape or do you just mean using a forge for heat treating?
    2. Preferred fuel source for the forge? Budget?
    3. Planned knife designs, specifically size range? Some improvised forges work great on small knives but don't scale up well for longer or larger blades.

    Other than that, the details are specific to your choice of steel, so the exact HT recipe will depend on your final choice of steel and to some extent the knife's design. I'll add a +100000000 for reading all the stickies by Stacy and Kevin in particular, the amount of information and advice on the science side of knife making is immense and invaluable. Read it through, think about it, think about your specific situation and reread it a few more times.... Every time I go through some of their posts on the thermal processes used I learn something else that helps me do a better job. It might be a tiny improvement since I took the excellent advice early on and started with 1080 as a very forgiving and easily heat treated steel, but the knowledge has definitely made my life easier and improved my results. As I graduate to more complex steels it will serve me well.
  14. Battle Creek Knives

    Battle Creek Knives

    Feb 23, 2010
    1.Well initially I was thinking both, but for now maybe just to HT
    2.It could be propane, or other?? budget, well lets say I think I'm gonna sell some knives to buy a few Items so I'd like something worth while but not to expensive if not necessary, as I've been wanting to make blades now for a very long time and think this is right up my alley.. I'm a musician and a contractor, so kinda like an artist that works with his hands.. Isn't that what a knife maker is :D
    3.Well, I'm really intending to start with bush craft knives I have a few designs in my head, along with handle treatments.. with that said I'd also like to make some chete style choppers, not khuks but say a junglas on crack !!!

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