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Time for a new BBQ Challenge - The Camp Sword

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith, Apr 7, 2012.

  1. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

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

    Aug 20, 2004
    Well, it is spring, and summer will soon be here. Camping and time in the woods will be a part of many of our lives.

    A good way to have all the folks here on Shop talk get involved in a Virtual BBQ/Hammer-in Get Together is to have a simple challenge build.

    In response to some recent inquiries, it seems that small swords/choppers are always popular. A camp sword is not out of the range of most makers with even the most basic equipment.

    Lets all make a camp sword with the following specs range:
    Blade Material - anything you have around. Simple 1075/1084 steels work very well for these.
    Blade Shape - Whatever trips your trigger. Simple shapes cut as well as fancy, though. It is hard to beat the classic Bolo shape.
    Size - Again, your needs will vary, but a blade from 12-18" long, 1/5-2.5" wide, and from 3/16 to 1/4" thick will be a good size for a camp sword.
    A sheath would be nice,too.

    Tools for such a build can range from files to CNC mills. HT can range from a fire pit to sending it to a HT specialist. Finish can rage from Brute-de-Forge to a full Japanese togi.
    It's all up to you!

    Lets see some camp swords built. Post them in this thread. If this sounds good, chime in now. No prize, now winner...everyone have fun.

    If there are enough participants, I'll make it a sticky for a while.
  2. Sam Salvati

    Sam Salvati

    Aug 6, 2007
    Been done, smatchet LOLOLOL!!!!!!!!!!!
  3. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

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

    Aug 20, 2004
    Below is exerpts from a post I made for a recent similar project. It might help a newer maker decide to do this build .

    Look at some of the Bolo and Smachete shaped chopper/machete blades for ideas. A 16" blade with a 6" handle made from a 24X2X.25" bar of 1075/1084 is a good project.

    Forget any fancy hooks, saw teeth, or doo-dads. Just a straight blade with a square or rounded tip and solid back are what you want.
    A full flat grind, or slightly convex bevel are the best starter choices. Leave the edge at .040 before HT. Tapering the blade (distal taper) will make it lighter feeling and add better control. If you make the blade flare toward the tip, as in most Bolo machetes, don't make the ricasso less than 1.5". You want a good 6" handle. Again, forget the fancy stuff, and go for a plain palm grip shape. Finger choils, and large bird-head butts are not going to make for a better camp sword/chopper. A guard is not really useful on a camp sword. A metal bolster is nice, but not necessary, either. Canvas Micarta can't be beat for low price and durability on a chopper. All the suppliers sell it in many colors, including camo. A simple kydex or concealex sheath will really finish this project off, but that may be a bit above your level. Noting wrong with an Neatsfoot oiled leather sheath.

    For best results,use a simple carbon steel ( 1075 or 1084) and do a basic HT with a oil quench ( canola or parks #50). Your fire pit will work, but you will be far better off using a forge, or even better with an oven. Sending the blade to Peters for HT might be a good alternative to the fire pit. It will come back at exactly Rc 57-58 if that is what you ask for.
    Either way, have it fully hardened and then draw the temper to Rc57-58. If doing it yourself, do it in your kitchen oven by tempering twice at 450F for two hours each time.

    To draw the spine -
    First clean the blade off a bit with 120 grit paper to make the surface shiny metal. You need to watch the colors change as you draw the temper. You will finish the blade later, but for now, just make the surface metallic.
    Take a shallow baking pan and put 1/4" to 3/8" of water in it. Use a torch to draw the spine to a blue color, while keeping the edge rocking back and forth under the water. Start at the tang, just above the ricasso. The temper colors will roll down the bevels toward the water, and should stop near the surface. As the straw color ( sort of yellowish/bronzy/brown) gets near the water surface, move the flame down the spine.
    Go slow and walk the colors down the bevels, and move down the spine in a smooth process. Don't rush it, and use just enough heat to do the job. This isn't the place for a cutting flame. A brazing or Presto-lite torch is perfect, and a simple propane plumbers torch will work fine.
    This will give you a softer and tough spine and bevel, with a hard and sharp edge. Once the entire spine length is drawn to within 1-2" of the tip, just lay the blade over in the pan to cool it off.Don't lift it from the pan until the blade is cooled off. Wrap the blade in a wet cloth, and draw the tang with the torch, starting from the butt. Work down the tang, and when the yellow/brownish color gets to the ricasso, dunk the tang in a bucket of water to stop the temper from going any farther. This will help prevent the blade from snapping at the tang in rough use.

    The above should give you a blade that will cut well and do simple chopping, too. The edge angle should be kept a bit high, to avoid chipping. Start with 30° ( 15° per side) and see how that works. Re-sharpen to a different angle as your testing indicates
  4. cbr900son


    Mar 3, 2011
    OH Ive got a perfect piece of steel Ive been trying to figure out what I was gonna do with it!
  5. OTK


    Feb 10, 2010
    Im in! This will be fun! I've had camp swords on the brain for a while now...time to make a couple!

    Thanks Stacy
  6. thegeek574


    Sep 3, 2010
    I will as soon as I get my forge up and running.
  7. Carl_First_Timer


    Dec 6, 2010
    I'm in. Do I make a separate thread and link here?

    Camp sword, does that mean resembling more a sword than machete?
  8. Bruce Culberson

    Bruce Culberson KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 6, 2007
    I'm finished mine and here it is:


    Actually I finished it last weekend and finished the sheath yesterday:


    Blade is 17" from guard to tip, forged from 5/16" L-6 with distal taper (Thanks for the help Darcy, he did most of the forging on this one as a demo for me), handle is 7" micarta, guard and spacer are micarta.

    PLease don't enter this one in the challenge as it was built before this thread started, plus it wasn't built entirely built by me. Just thought I would post pics....
  9. Salem Straub

    Salem Straub KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 20, 2008
    Nice example Bruce.

    One of my next orders is for a bush sword, I'll probably do a WIP with it, then.
  10. fast14riot

    fast14riot Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 27, 2010
    I have been wanting to do one, maybe I'll order a big piece of steel or this. Or I'll do a salvaged steel one from a leaf spring.

    Don't know when I'll do it, but it will get done.

  11. Daniel Fairly Knives

    Daniel Fairly Knives Full Time Knifemaker Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 9, 2011
    This sounds way cool!
  12. Ed Braun

    Ed Braun

    Jan 14, 2012
    I'd planned to order some 3/16x2" 1075 to practice forging, and I've been kinda beating myself up for chickening out of the mini-KITH.

    I am making ONE small request then Apelt Sensei...I ask you give me a theme for mine. Something you think will match my style and would add a creative element to help spur on the muse. The main reason I'd ask is because the Mini-KITH I'd considered was a mini Yanagi-ba in honor of your last WIP. Since I've talked myself out of that, this might be a horse of a different color.
  13. Mike Turner

    Mike Turner

    Dec 8, 2005
    I will play Stacy but I won't be able to start anything till after the OKCA show ;). This should be fun :D.
  14. lunadam


    Jan 10, 2012
    Hey Bladsmth-
    Newbie question here. Won't drawing the spine negate the HT previously done? I thought once you heat the blade up after you HT negates the HT.

  15. Matt Brook

    Matt Brook

    Dec 22, 2009
    Nope, you need to be careful with drawing the spine, but you keep an eye on your steel and you can see the colours. That way you have a soft back and a hard edge.
  16. KyKaMo


    Mar 31, 2012
    I'm new here and a novice, but I'm in. I'll have something done by beginning or mid summer :)
  17. Daniel Fairly Knives

    Daniel Fairly Knives Full Time Knifemaker Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 9, 2011
    I have been working on something all day and have it in the oven as we speak!

    Wish me luck on the quench guys, it's a big one!
  18. GTH11


    Feb 21, 2011
    Well heck, i like making this kinda stuff, Im in.
  19. cbr900son


    Mar 3, 2011
    5$ for whoever makes the bush sword folder! LOL
  20. oldanvilyoungsmith


    Feb 7, 2011

    I just gotta move some of my other unfinished projects off my bench.

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