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I made some knives (FINALLY!!!)

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by JAGknives, Oct 9, 2012.

  1. JAGknives


    Jun 12, 2012
    Good evening. I am looking for some feedback on a few different designs that I have made. I have been lurking and slowly gathering the necessary equipment to make knives and have finally found myself at the point that I can make a knife that I'm not embarassed to show to people. None of these are perfect, I am not overly concerned about small amounts of scale still showing or completely getting rid of my temper colors because I am abusing them and asking other people to do the same to see how my heat treat is holding and the overall toughness of the blade. These are all 1/4", 1095 steel. I intend them primarily as a survival blade at this thickness but will consider making some that are EDC out of 3/16" or possibly 1/8" stock if I end up seeing a need and potential profit (I'm about 250 knives away from profit, if my calculations are correct).

    These are the first 2 that I made. I had friends test them. One is still out. The other was used heavily by one friend with no problems that he encountered other than the wrap coming loose and some suggested modifications to the grip to prevent slippage onto the blade. It was then passed to another friend who, with a lot of effort, was able to bend the knife. I have since straightened it back out, did another heat treat, and began testing the edge.

    This is the 3rd blade that I made. I rotated the blade slightly forward and lengthened it as well. It felt a lot better in my hand and seemed to have a more natural thrust to it. My grinding was much better on this one with very little scale still left, although the evidence of the heat treat is clearly visible.

    The last blade that I made has received very positive feedback so far from friends. I tested the edge for a while on some hard wood yesterday evening and found that it seems to be up to the task of chopping if needed. Due to being designed as survival blades, I did not put a razor edge on them, opting for a slightly more dull (will cut leather, paracord easily, will not always cut paper and not shave-your-arm ready) edge that I feel is better suited to what this type of knife may be used for.

    I would greatly appreciate any feedback anyone may have for me. I am looking to continue to improve and possibly begin selling knives by the end of the year if everything continues going well.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2012
  2. mgysgthath


    Dec 15, 2009
    Not seeing the pictures yet.. How did you HT the 1095? It's a tricky one to do. If you don't have a digital kiln or access to one, I'd suggest trying some 1084 from Aldo (njsteelbaron.com) on your next batch of knives. It's very reasonably priced and very easy to HT properly. Aldo is very good to deal with as well. And welcome to Shop Talk!
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2012
  3. 1066vik

    1066vik Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 28, 2009
    pictures not showing - are you sure your settings on the other forum are set for all viewers and not just folks who are loged onto that site?
  4. thegeek574


    Sep 3, 2010
    You are going to have to get a picture link that ends with .JPG or a similar extension, and then use the image extension. Try uploading them to a site like Photobucket and then using the link with the IMG codes around them.
  5. JAGknives


    Jun 12, 2012
    Crap!!! Anything yet? I had the pics on a gun website and had the album on private, just changed it to public. Hopefully that works until I can upgrade my membership here.
  6. JAGknives


    Jun 12, 2012
    Thanks for the welcome.

    I used an oxyacetylene torch, heated the edge to critical, and quenched it in vegetable oil that I preheated to about 200 degrees. Seems to be working so far, although that is the most difficult part of the process to me. Tough to tell if it took until someone breaks a knife or tells you that it won't hold any edge. I then tempered using a propane torch for the first 3 knives (had a little bleed-over of my purple/blue coloring towards the blade on the belly of the knife) but used my oxy torch on the last one while keeping the edge submerged in water. That seemed to work very well but again, until I break it, which I will do to all of them soon, I can't be certain how well it will hold up.
  7. JiffyPark


    Aug 9, 2010
    Look good JAG!
  8. fumbler


    May 19, 2009
    They look pretty good. After a few more they aught to look professional quality as long as you're willing to work at it.

    I've got two questions.
    Why are you tempering with a torch? You can easily stick them in a kitchen oven for a more controlled tempering process.

    The second is how thick are the edges before you sharpen them?
    It's hard to tell through pics, but the wide edge bevels make me think the edges are thick or you sharpen the knives at a very acute angle. IMO edges are best at 0.02" or less (I like 0.01-0.015") in thickness before you sharpen. If it's a hard use knife then thicker is ok but cutting performance suffers. Just something to think about...
  9. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

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

    Aug 20, 2004
    Glad you got them done. Good work.

    It would help you a lot to read the stickies on HT and the thread "Working with Three Steels".
    The HT you did may have made the edge somewhat harder, but you can't imagine how much better it could be.
    For starters, 200F is way to hot for the oil. 100-120F is the max.
    HT with a torch for 1095 is not going to fully austenitize the steel, because there is extra carbon that needs time to go into solution.
    Also, 1095 is pretty temperature sensitive, and needs a more exact temp control.
    Tempering with a torch is about the worst temper for a knife you can do. It is the tempering equivalent of wiping your hands on the seat of your pants to get them clean.

    To let you know what the HT for 1095 should be, here is the standard HT for 1095:
    1) Cycle the steel to normalize it. At the minimum, heat to 1550F for five minutes and air cool.
    2) Austenitize by heating to 1475F and soak for 10 minutes. ( this requires a controlled HT oven)
    3) Quench in a fast oil ( Parks #50 or equivalent). The oil can be room temp or heated to 100-120F max. Canola will work so-so, but really is not the right oil for 1095.
    4) After the blade cools to the oil temp, remove and inspect. Clean gently and place in an oven ( kitchen oven is fine) at 450F to temper for two hours. Remove and rinse under running water to cool down to room temp. Replace in the oven for another two hour temper. Remove and cool down.

    This should give you a fine grain blade with about Rc 59-60 hardness.
    After the HT, the blade needs to have the entire surface sanded/ground down to remove the thin layer of decarb coating it. Below this shallow soft layer is the truly hard steel.

    If you want to draw the spine down even softer after the above HT, place the edge in a shallow pan of water ( cookie sheet with 1/4" of water) and while keeping the edge cool, use the torch to draw the spine to blue. The blue should not get closer than 1/2" from the edge. Constantly rock the edge in the water to keep the tip cool, too.

    After the blade is finished and sanded to the desired grit, if you want a darker or mottled look, there are many etching and patina methods that will give it the look you like.
  10. Bufford

    Bufford Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 13, 2006
    Good work. I started out much the same way using a torch for doing HT. Later I bought a Paragon HT oven. However, some of the early knives I heat treated with the torch hold an excellent edge and I still use them in the kitchen 25 years later.
  11. knife to a gunfight

    knife to a gunfight

    Oct 17, 2007
    Nice designs... I'm really liking the overall profile.

    For your next batch, I'd recommend some 1080/1084 if you plan on heating with a torch. You may even try building a small "one brick" forge to stick your torch head into. This may help you get a little more consistency when heating the blade to critical temp.

    Stacy (bladsmth) already covered the basics of heat treating 1095. It's essentially the same for 1080/1084, but this particular steel is a little more forgiving than 1095, and you're really not sacrificing anything as far as cutting performance/hardness will be concerned. In fact, you'll likely see an improvement due to the complexity of 1095 and trying to HT with a torch.
  12. knife to a gunfight

    knife to a gunfight

    Oct 17, 2007
    BTW, I might have missed it, but what are you using to bevel and profile your blades?
  13. JAGknives


    Jun 12, 2012
    Thank you all for the kind replies and ideas on improving my heat treating. What I heard is, "this will make your knives better and make it easier on you.". My wife will hear, "I need to spend more money.". I'm already addicted to knife making and could use any help I can find to improve my process.

    As for using a torch, that is how I was taught by Steve Rollert (keenedgeknives.com) when I visited him in May to take lessons. While an oven would be nice, it is not in my budget yet so I will need to improvise as much as possible until I can save some more money.

    My edges have been overly thick to start with. I am intending this both for the purpose of the knife (survival) as well as to lesson the financial blow that mistakes cost in terms of altering a knife severely due to grinding mistakes and having it turn out as unusable which a few early prototypes turned out.

    I am using a KMG grinder which I picked up thanks to quietly lurking around here for a while. I have a grizzly motor attached to it from my
  14. JAGknives


    Jun 12, 2012
    Sorry, using my phone to reply and encountering problems. The motor was from a grizzly grinder that wouldn't be bad to use to sharpen a blade but proved lacking in a flat grind due to a cheap platen.

    I will try the oven to temper a few blades tomorrow and start shopping around for a heat treat oven when the regular computer returns home. I will also probably purchase a cheap toaster oven for tempering to save myself from the repercussions of cooking knives in the kitchen.

    Thanks again for all the suggestions and recommendations. I am heading back out into the shop to keep working and hope to get a step closer to being a professional knife maker
  15. mgysgthath


    Dec 15, 2009
    JAG, we mentioned 1080/1084 because they're relatively inexpensive and easy to heat treat. Easy enough that you can do a halfway decent HT with your torch, although it's not the ideal method of course. That way all you're buying is steel, which is $12.25 from Aldo in 1/8 x 1.25" x 48", very reasonable as you can make at least two knives for 12 bucks, plus a bit of shipping.

    The HT regimen is pretty difficult to do properly without spending a bunch of money, which just illustrates why 108x is such a great steel for beginners, and it's not a bad steel by any means just because it's cheap and easy, it will make a fantastic knife.

    Just an idea, but good luck in your making, and keep us posted on any new knives ;)
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2012
  16. 1066vik

    1066vik Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 28, 2009
    cheap toaster oven is fine - just use a separate oven thermometer to make sure it's at the temp you want for the temper cycle.
    the advice about 1084 is good -- it's easy to work with and very forgiving.

    good luck!
  17. daizee

    daizee KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 30, 2009
    a couple hollowed out firebricks will improve the efficiency of your torch heat-treat. Another vote here for 1084 + canola + toaster oven with thermometer. I believe Stacy posted an extensive article here on how to improve the efficiency of a toaster oven for both heat retention and control.

    Great start!!
    IMO, all knives should shave paper, even the survival ones. If it's a stronger edge per thickness you want, go convex.

  18. JAGknives


    Jun 12, 2012
    Just ordered 8 strips of 1084, :D.

    I am also already using suggestions that I've received here. A new knife that I am making is set to be used by a friend while he goes hunting this weekend so I am making sure I grind the edge down a lot further in order to get a razor edge. I also told him to take another knife as I don't want one of my noob knives to fail him and leave him using a piece of slate that he finds in the woods to try and skin whatever he is planning to kill.
  19. Battle Creek Knives

    Battle Creek Knives

    Feb 23, 2010
    nice knives man, I like your style.. the handles seem full and comfy even with a wrap...

    keep it up !!
  20. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

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

    Aug 20, 2004
    I predict you will do well in knifemaking. The ability to change as well as take advice is a great attribute.

    1084, your torch, and a converted toaster oven will be good. If you wash the knives well, the kitchen oven is fine. My wife sort of gets a kick out of it when I am tempering knives. There is a sticky on converting a toaster oven to PID control. Also, a HT oven is nice, but not necessary. A small forge can heat the blades more evenly than a torch. I still do sword HT in a forge.

    Here is a short tutorial on how to HT 1084 with a torch ( or a forge):
    Get the things you need ready first. Looking around for something when the blade is glowing hot is really a problem.
    The torch type needs to be capable of producing a large and hot flame. A welding setup with a rosebud tip is great. I have also used a Presto-Lite setup with a large tip on smaller blades. Whatever you use, avoid small tips with a pointed hot flame.
    The oil needs to be in a metal container that is at least 4" deeper than the blade. Warm the oil to about 100-120F. About two gallons works for most knives.
    A welding magnet stuck to a vise or nearby table leg is needed to check the steel temperature.
    After the knife is ready for HT - and all handle holes are drilled :) - grip the blade by the tang in tongs, long pliers, or a long nose vice grip.

    Start heating the blade slowly from the spine. Keep the blade or torch moving. A friend to hold or take the torch is helpful, as when it is time to quench the blade, you don't want to be worrying about where the torch is pointing. Some folks just clamp the torch in a vise. As the blade starts to get red, try and keep the color even. The tip will always want to get hot first, so keep the flame farther back. Once the blade is getting to an even dull red, start checking against the magnet. If it attracts/sticks it is still below 1350F. Once the blade becomes non-magnetic, try especially hard to keep the edge and tip from getting too hot. Heat the blade 100F hotter, which is about one shade of red brighter, and when it gets there and is evenly heated, quench point first in the oil. Move the blade up and down and/or in a cutting motion through the oil, but not side to side.

    Leave the blade in the oil for a full minute, letting it drop below 400F at its own rate. Remove the blade and check for straightness. DON'T TRY TO STRAIGHTEN IT! The blade is brittle as glass right now.
    Wash off the oil gently and temper in a good oven ( plain toaster ovens are notoriously bad ) at 450F for two hours. At the end of the time ,remove the blade, and while still hot straighten as needed. If necessary, place back in the oven to re-heat for more straightening. Once the blade is straight, cool it off with running tap water, dry it, and place back in the oven for a second two hour temper at 450F. Additional straightening attempts can be made at 450F as needed.

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