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Bladesmithing questions

Posted: Wed Jul 19, 2017 2:06 pm
by ZachC
To preface, yes I have been watching Forged in Fire.
  1. What are some of the most common steel ratings to use for knife making?
  2. Are some easier to work with than others (more forgiving if mistakes are made)?
  3. When the guys on the show are making something in the final round, I have seen many times they just throw the steel away and start new, is the time crunch the reason or is the metal they were working on really shot at that point? I assume they could reuse it for something else (smaller) later?
  4. What is a good calculation to use for knowing how much metal is needed to make a blade of a certain size? Example: a 9-13" kukri, or a 12-15" drop point camp knife
  5. Why don't more people on FiF do a differential heat treat instead of a full blade heat treat for single edged knives?

Re: Bladesmithing questions

Posted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 10:04 am
by Jim Moenck
Hi Zach, you ask some good questions and I'll try to answer them without getting too deep into the subject.

Types of steel used in knife making are many. The "high tech" stainless steels require a much more rigid heat treatment, i.e. higher temps to harden, stainless steel envelopes, quench plates, and liquid nitrogen for cryo treatment. If you are beginning, stick with the simple carbon steels. I suggest ones like 1095, 1084/1080, or 5160. Heat treat on these can be fairly simple, or more stringent if you have the equipment.

I have cable so I have only seen a few episodes of FiF, but bear in mind, it is a reality show. They want failures to make it more interesting. They edit the filming to make it as interesting as they can. They try to set contestants up for failure. It just makes for a better show. I don't know why people don't do a differential heat treat. They must certainly know of it. But again, a red hot sword going into oil with lots of flash is the attention getter. In the few shows I've seen, no one has been show to temper their blade - which is essential.

If you will be at the August meeting, I'll be demonstrating some heat treat techniques and principles. I won't have time to go into a lot of detail, but I will have some examples and show a couple of methods as well as explain a few things that I have learned the hard way.

Hope to see you in August.

Re: Bladesmithing questions

Posted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 1:16 pm
by ZachC
Another question that came to mind after I posted: They seem to quench in oil, but what kind of oil? Is it something as simple as motor oil (such as 10w40)? Or something more specialized?

I do agree with your points about it being a reality show and the flashy/pseudo-intensity is there. It's still interesting to see how they handle the challenges, or how spectacularly they fail at them some times, haha.

I'm not sure on the August meeting at this point, but what time would the demonstration be planned for? Unfortunately for me I live on the opposite side of the city (over an hour drive from the meeting) and have 2 young kids at home, one of which will only be 3 months old at that point. So getting the family there won't happen and leaving her alone with them all night probably won't go over too well. But I'll still try to swing by, even if that means cutting out of work a bit early and out of the meeting early.

Re: Bladesmithing questions

Posted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 5:48 pm
by Jim Moenck
the demo usually starts after supper, the meeting and show and tell. So, approximately 8:00.
Hope to see you there.