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Thread: Knife from scratch?

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    Member byrd_hntr's Avatar
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    Default Knife from scratch?

    Last night I watched the movie "The Hunted" with Tommy Lee Jones. I know the story is loosely based on Tom Brown. And it totally full of BS, but....

    Afterwords I got to thinking it is possible to take raw materials and make/forge a knife? If so what kind of steal should I start with? Is there a book out there that explains this? I have access to a pretty good machine shop and know I could make one using modern tools, but what if I wanted to do it at home in the balmy +30 F weather we are having in Fairbanks.
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    Member sayak's Avatar
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    I have made them from files: anneal, shape, retemper, haft, sharpen

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    Member Gerberman's Avatar
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    Check out a book by Wayne Goddard, The Wonder of Knife Making, just type in Wayne Goddard in google search, He lives in Eugene, Oregon. He has a lot of books that are very helpful when making knives. (His table is right behind mine at the Oregon Knife Collectors Show in April in Eugene.)

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    This is kind of off topic, but does the university in Fairbanks have a machine shop for the public to use for something like this? I know that people can use UAA's here in town.

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    Member byrd_hntr's Avatar
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    Thanks gerberman, Ill look into that book. I bet thats a fun show to go to, lots of shaved arm hair patches around all bet.

    rhubard, There is a machine shop at UAF, but Im not sure it open to the public.
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    Friend of mine up in Minnesota uses old circular saw & sawmill blades or car leaf springs to make his knives. Cuts out the rough shape with a plasma torch.
    I have one of the knives he made on special order for me. Got it with a 5" blade, gut hook, and Osage Orange wood handle.

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    Member GrassLakeRon's Avatar
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    The backwoodsman magazine had an online article on no temper knife making. I works great, I have made several, including two for my boys. Check out the archived feature articles from this past spring.

    Ron

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    Member pacific23's Avatar
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    If you can score some old machine hacksaw blades that are tempered all the way through [ Back to Teeth] you will have a good start just don't over heat the stock while working it , keep it cool .
    The newer blades are only tempered at the tooth edge and you can see it , they make good fillet knives. I like resin handles and use gunny sacks or levies for the material to resin then Rasp, file , buff down to fit your hand.

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    I'll second Wayne Goddards book, and also recomend his $50 knifeshop book. Over the years I've been piecing together the tools for a knife shop, but asside from grinding out some blades, I've yet to forge one.

    For small blades, you can make a great little forge out of a coffee can, kaowool insultion and power it with a propane torch, you can get info on google. For a bit bigger forge, look up the freon tank miniforge, and designs for propane burners. The real key is a good anvil and blacksmiths hammer, which I'm lacking. I've tried to make a railroad track anvil, but it is sorely lacking. There are plenty of sources of steel, old automotive leaf springs are good. The real key is to get a good preform, and have the steel as close as possible to the design size, as you'll spend less time working the blade. If you want an 1/8" thick blade, don't start with 1/4" thick steel. Honestly it's worth just buying some high carbon knife stock, you'll have a known quantity to work with and once you've got your technique down, you can order more and you'll know what to expect when you work it.

    Probably the best resource for what you are after is the neotribal metalsmiths. Some of the guys are work with what would appear to be very primative tools, but do amazing work. To me Tai Goo epitimizes that ethos, and his knives are amazing.

  10. #10

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    I went to knifemaking school with the first MASTER knifemakers. Bill Moran, Bill Bagwell, Don Hastings, Lile, and Goddard. A finer group of knifemakers has never existed, these gentlemen were at the top of the heap both proffessionally and as human beings.
    The list is now narrowed down to Bill Bagwell and Wayne Goddard as all the others have passed into history; tho Don Hastings has a smith that still makes Hasting knives.
    Paul H is correct an anvil made from RR iron will not produce a quality hunting knife. To make a quality forged knife the anvil MUST have a flat face as must the hammer. Sometimes in order to get hammers like I need I buy new hammers and send them to the machine shop and have them milled flat, shorten the handles as needed. AND DON"T beat the hammer on the anvil face it sounds cool but it distorts the anvil face slightly every strike; When your forging the hot steel acts as a shock absorber and cushions the blow. When setting an anvil up to use, the appoximate heigth is to close the fist and stand beside the stump the anvil face should just touch the knuckles on the forging hand.
    Many steels are available and you could get 100's of which is best answers, I'll leave that to your research abilities. Most steels which you will encounter in saw blades, springs, wire rope, files are pre heat treated and will be much harder to work than steels which are maleable and need heat treating after forging.
    When forging coal is the best option as it imparts some of it's carbon in the steel it heats. As steel is heated to near/past the forging point you'll see little sparke jump from the blade these are called the "fleas of hell" and are carbon leaving the blade, the metal is getting TOO hot. Don't forge on a blade a too long as it will cool while forging and you can crack the blade, when it's cold. HINT; the metal isn't going to move when struck by a hammer if it's too cold and you can hear the difference in the anvils ring.
    After you forge a blade to your desired shape and are ready to temper is where all the tricks come in and where the quality and longivety of the knife will be made.

    Sorry it's a little long winded but, I hope this answers some questions about forging knives.
    " Americans will never need the 2nd Amendment, until the government tries to take it away."

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    Very Interesting Sir!!

    I must admit, my wife got me a knife making kit last year for Christmas and beyond opening the package I have done nothing and reading this is making me feel guilty. The kit is pre-ground and comes with the rivits for the handle but no material to make them. I had thought deer horn or maybe just hard wood, maple or oak from my wood pile. Anyway, I'm getting inspired and thank you for that!!

    Joe

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lowrider View Post
    Very Interesting Sir!!

    I must admit, my wife got me a knife making kit last year for Christmas and beyond opening the package I have done nothing and reading this is making me feel guilty. The kit is pre-ground and comes with the rivits for the handle but no material to make them. I had thought deer horn or maybe just hard wood, maple or oak from my wood pile. Anyway, I'm getting inspired and thank you for that!!

    Joe
    If you use rivits to hold a handle on, peen them slowly on both sides rather than like trying to drive a nail, as the ends expand they can split your chosen handle material. Also clean the inside of the handle material and the tang of the knife with a acetone or other oil/wax removing agent and then apply a slow drying type of epoxy adhesive before installing the handle slabs and clamp, then peen preinstalled rivits before the adhesive sets.
    " Americans will never need the 2nd Amendment, until the government tries to take it away."

    On the road of life..... Pot holes keep things interesting !

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    Thanks Brave one, the epoxy idea should work great. I had an idea of using a stainless steel washer set into the wood a bit to keep the wood tight agains the rivet. Maybe I will try using the epoxy and the washer which should forestall spliting.

    Thanks again!

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    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
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    My FIL does a bit of knife making. I have watched him some - but I have not the required talent to make these kinds of knives:

    http://www.brooksmoulds.com/knives.php

    He uses a propane forge - simply built with a little fan to push extra air into it. He starts with a trip hammer for the first layers then goes to hammer and anvil. It is much more of an artwork making damascus than I ever would have thought.

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    Member byrd_hntr's Avatar
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    I dug around in my scrap pile this weekend and got enough stuff together to build a brake drum forge. Im working on a air source right now. I was eying my girlfriends hair dryer and she gave me the stink eye so I might have to buy my own. I mounted my big ole garage sale anvil to a pig piece of green spruce and now I might just have reason to find some coal. Does anyone know where I pick up a few 5 gal buckets of coal in Fairbanks?
    I'm going to ctrl-alt-delete you so hard your mama's computer is going to reboot.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by byrd_hntr View Post
    I dug around in my scrap pile this weekend and got enough stuff together to build a brake drum forge. Im working on a air source right now. I was eying my girlfriends hair dryer and she gave me the stink eye so I might have to buy my own. I mounted my big ole garage sale anvil to a pig piece of green spruce and now I might just have reason to find some coal. Does anyone know where I pick up a few 5 gal buckets of coal in Fairbanks?
    If you can find a junk car or truck, you can use the heater fan blower (with a DC power source of course) on your forge.

    If you can't find coal, charcoal works great in a forge.

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    Member .338-06's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by byrd_hntr View Post
    Does anyone know where I pick up a few 5 gal buckets of coal in Fairbanks?
    When I went to UAF the power plant there burned coal, I'd guess they still do. Ask nicely, bring some man-flowers and you might get some coal.
    I may be slow, but I get where I'm going!

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by byrd_hntr View Post
    I dug around in my scrap pile this weekend and got enough stuff together to build a brake drum forge. Im working on a air source right now. I was eying my girlfriends hair dryer and she gave me the stink eye so I might have to buy my own. I mounted my big ole garage sale anvil to a pig piece of green spruce and now I might just have reason to find some coal. Does anyone know where I pick up a few 5 gal buckets of coal in Fairbanks?
    Not sure how up you are on coal, but you can't forge with coal! You have to convert it to coke first then it will heat and forge steel. Also after a while at the forge you may notice your fire isn't as hot; check the air entrance on the bottom of the pot for clinkers. Clinkers are a blob of scale type material that accumulates there.
    Charcoal doesn't have to be converted it's ready to use. It is more expensive and doesn't produce the same quality of fire as coal though. Just a tip.
    " Americans will never need the 2nd Amendment, until the government tries to take it away."

    On the road of life..... Pot holes keep things interesting !

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