made my first knife...

Joined
Jul 6, 2006
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1,562
It was a spur of the moment thing using that mystery steel at home depot, 2" x 36" x 1/8" for $7. I had no measurements or anything, just started drawing on the steel then cut it out with the carbide blade on the reciprocal saw, then sanded with the $30 harbor freight belt sander and drilled out a choil.

The arched spine was easier than I thought. The choil was a pain.

Questions:
1) Anyone know what type of steel they sold me or where I can send a sample to find out?

2) Worth trying to harden the edge myself? Can I use a torch and ice water or do I really have to get a cinder block, blow drier, and bucket of oil?

3) What would it cost to send to someone else for treating?

4) In the event you want to drill through hardened steel, what drill bit?


Pictures:
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SBuzek

KnifeMaker
Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
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Dec 7, 2006
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Not bad for a first try.The mild steel from the big box stores won't harden,not enough carbon in it. But good practice none the less.
 
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May 17, 2006
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Yeah, mild steel is great for practicing and it is readily available all over the place. I used it a lot for practice before I started making knife steel blades.
 
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Oct 30, 2002
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1080 will be somewhat harder to machine than the mild steel (but no problem), and it will be very hard to drill through after heat treating. Make sure you've got it ground near completion and all of your holes drilled prior to heat treating.

Good looking practice there. It won't harden to make a servicable knife, but it looks good.

--nathan
 
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Jan 13, 2006
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You don't know it but knife-making is like,crack, your hooked after that first time.
Nice work , by the way
 
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Jan 8, 2008
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Looks pretty good!

Like has been said, most of that mild steel won't harden to anything respectable for a knife. That being said, it will harden up a little bit. I've used it to make screwdrivers before and it will noticeably harden. Before HT the tool would twist from softness, afterwards it would not with out much more force. I would go ahead and heat treat it, one for practice and two because it would make a good machete type object.

For HT you would not be able to use an open air flame from a torch. You would need something to concentrate the heat in hold it in. Thats where a forge comes in. They're pretty simple in design and easy to build.
 
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Jul 6, 2006
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can i just try to leave it on the glowing coals in my firepit for twenty minutes, maybe with a mini fan blowing on it?
 
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Oct 27, 2005
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That's a very nice first knife.

I would suggest that you read through all the stickies at the top of the threads list. You'll know exactly what you want to do to move forward. Good liuck.
 
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What would you use a cinder block for ??

Are you thinking of using a cinder block to concentrate heat? If so, you might reconsider. Use soft refractory bricks (search for the one-brick forge, or just stack several together to make a small chamber). You'll need to set the torch up to blow into the chamber where it swirls around. You have to use the soft bricks (usually rated to 2300 degrees) as they're the only ones that will effectively radiate the heat back into the chamber. Cinder blocks or regular, even hard refractory bricks won't cut it.

Oh, and don't even think of quenching a steel in ice water!! The most aggressive thing I've heard of is quenching in room temperature water. This greatly stresses the steel and you will most likely end up with a cracked or snapped blade. Even experienced smiths cringe at the thought of water quenching. Work with a known steel, look up the heat treating processes for that particular steel (or ask here), and follow those guidelines. There's very little guess work in heat treating if done right. You've just got to do your homework first if you want to be successful. And you can use pretty basic methods for heat treating if you are using simple carbon steels like 1080.

--nathan
 
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Oh, and don't even think of quenching a steel in ice water!!

crap. i just got back from heating it in my fire pit glowing red for about 25 minutes. i quenched it in cold water.

i'll just hope that since it's mild steel, and it wouldn't have made a serviceable knife anyway, it'll be no big deal if it breaks.
 
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Oct 30, 2002
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Since it's likely mild steel, it is probably fine. When heating, you're shooting for a temperature that is just above non-magnetic. When you are heating the steel, check it with a magnet as it glows. At a certain point, carbon steels will become non-magnetic (curie point). If you are only using the most basic setups with more simple steels (1080/1085), the magnet will help you be able to get in the neighborhood of the correct temperature. Make sure the whole blade is evenly up to that temperature. You have to be careful, depending on the temperature of your fire, about over-heating the steel if you just leave it for X amount of minutes and then come back. Too much heat above critical temperature cause something called "grain growth" where the boundaries dividing individual "grains" begins to break down and the grains combine to form larger grains. This happens quickly and will produce a blade that will not liley hold up to any abuse. It's a good deal more complex than just heating a blade until it glows and then dunking it in something. Do yourself a big favor and read up on heat treating so you'll have all the ammunition you need to have success.

Of course, I'll disclaimer myself by saying the best way to heat treat is to use a forge or kiln with pyrometer to KNOW what your actual temperature is, or to send out the blade to someone for heat treating. But, I know where I started, and it's not far from what you're using, and smiths years ago only had their eye and instinct to go on. It's all about a learning process, and experimentation is a great way to learn. I would caution you about trying to sell or give away blades until you have a good idea what you are doing and what your results are. This will make sure you only have the best of your ability leaving your shop and protect your future reputation if this knife-making bug becomes a permanent fixture of your life.

--nathan
 
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Mar 2, 2006
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Nice work.
One sugestion, for a chopper a bit more butt on the handle can help prevend the knife slipping from you hands while swinging it.
(so it kind of hooks behind your little finger)
 
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Jul 6, 2006
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i think the firing was a success. not world class or anything, but it's holding the edge. i gave it a few chops and only got one tiny roll in the edge. my gut told me it wasn't the hardening, but the edge was way too thin. i did a little sanding to make it slightly more obtuse, still thin and shaves, and didn't dent this time after chopping. i even went for some knots, it's fine. may be brittle, but i don't intend to find out.

thanks for all the help, guys. i'll be sure to read those stickies before my next knife.
 
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