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Outdoorsman, Bladesmith
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Discussion Starter #21
Smithy, that looks A LOT like my favorite skinning knives!
Looks like excellent work, and from the way you write, you really seem to know your stuff!
Thank you. Each knife I make these days represents the culmination of 10 years of learning, and usually some experimentation that drives my craft forward.

There are a LOT of truly great 'Amateur' blade makers out there....
(and I use the word 'Amateur' simply because they don't make a living making custom blades, not because they aren't as gifted and educated as the 'Professional' knife makers!)
I prefer the term "Professional Hobbyist", or "Semi-Professional Bladesmith", as I think it accurately captures the part-time nature of a serious undertaking.

I never bother making 'Custom' blades, I make 'Working' tools...
I strive to make mine fit both definitions at the same time. I don't disdain art blades or collector knives, but I want my work to be well-used. Reported back on some time later is great, too, so I get a working understanding of how my blades hold up under different circumstances.

I like wrist lanyards.
Most people in North America HATE them and make fun of you if you use one!
The ABS tests require you to wear one, so a majority of ABS Smiths tend to equip their knives with a lanyard-capable design. I get your point completely, but usually leave it to customer request whether they want a lanyard hole or not.
 

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Outdoorsman, Bladesmith
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105 Posts
Discussion Starter #22
Smithy,
I don't know the technical terms for it,
But do you treat your thinner blades with two heat/quench zones?
Harder edges with more flexible spines?

If so, do you use clay slurry for it?

I've been trying different ways of doing that from time to time, everything from dropping point/edge in the quinch quickly and first, and then slowing down the quench for the backsides of the blades,
To using clay based slurry on the back of the blades to slow the quench...

How would you do it if you were going to give your blades two quench/hardness zones?
If you look at the elk-bone knife I posted, you'll see the quench line running from just behind the edge near the guard, up and left to a spot about 2 inches back from the tip. For most carbon steels (except the simple 10-series ones as well as homemade Shear steel and Tamahagane) clay is not required. I use a hot oil quench, Goddard's Goop actually, and quench edge-first, with the tip down. Once the cutting edge is below the Banite nose, I pull the blade out of the oil, then dip again for 3-5 seconds, remove, dip, repeat until the spine is well into black heat. The spine, for the most part, never gets quenched at all (except the tip), neither does the tang or hopefully, the complete tang/blade junction.

Without hardening these parts, there is far lower risk of breakage in an extreme-use situation... at worst, the cutting edge may crack, but the blade as a whole will not fail. In a survival situation, this is critical, as the remainder of the blade may still be of use even if the tip is lost, or a crack develops somewhere along the edge.

The use of clay is usually limited to low-hardenability steels, like 1095 and the homegrown stuff, where very low amounts of alloying material are present. The clay, applied thinly, actually speeds up the quench by providing more surface area, and disturbing the vapor jacket, than insulating anything. Cross-section alone will retain enough heat to create a difference between edge and spine. In Japanese blades, the curve is achieved by the edge cooling rapidly, pulling the blade forward, then the spine cooling, pulling the blade back again (which puts the edge under extreme tension). That's why a water quench is so risky, and must be done with a steel that won't over-harden in the first place. Some hand-crafted steels are so difficult to harden at all, that the clay is used to really push the material into a usable state for swords and such. I would never suggest it for most factory steels, such as the one I posted.
 

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Outdoorsman, Bladesmith
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Discussion Starter #23
One more thought for now about recycled materials as fodder for blades...

I don't like it, for 2 major reasons. First, I don't know for certain what it's made out of, and that affects how I heat treat the material. And I believe that Heat Treat is the most important part of making any blade, ever. Mystery steels may act like known steels, but unless you get it analyzed, there can be sneaker elements in there that just waste your time and energy trying to figure it out.

Second, and this goes especially for springs, I find more flaws in recycled steel than I do in factory-fresh. A truck spring is flexed how many times over its life? All those microfractures just waiting for a chance to come out and say "gotcha" at the most inopportune time, usually after I've spent time and fuel forging it out, grinding it clean, and even heat treating it, before I discover a flaw that makes the blade unsafe to use.

There is so much clean steel available, at a cheap price, that there is no good reason for a knifemaker to use scrap. That elk knife has maybe $2 of steel in it. I went through another $5 worth making sure my HT was up to snuff before finishing and selling the knife... something I do with all new steels, as they all have different characteristics. This stuff, the 1084, came with a data sheet, though, which greatly enhanced my ability to test and discover the correct method quickly and efficiently, and have confidence in my finished work.

Would I forge a blade out of leaf spring to whack shrubbery in the yard with? Sure. Would I take it into the wilderness, where my reliance on it is amplified, no. If it's going to matter, "stick with the good stuff" would be my advice.
 

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I saw where you had your post about the heat treating, that's why I asked.
I'm by no means an expert in the theory, but I do pretty well in the practice...

My grandpa was a black smith & welder for many years, but what he taught me is WAY outdated now, but still serves me pretty well...

They say that most of the steels we use in about everything now weren't even invented 30 years ago, so that should make for some interesting results if I try and use 30's & 40's mainstream technology on current steels! :eek:

Anyway, I've done just fine with hardening 'Homemade' blades (rather than 'Custom' blades!)...
But I have to double quench or actually use a clay and now I'm messing with a ceramic based compound, to make thinner blades somewhat flexible so they don't snap when I'm prying on something...

I'm SERIOUS about using mine for everything from driving nails (although I usually use the shovel for that when I'm in camp! :p ),
Prying on things, chopping on anything and everything!
I'm a military trained 'Heavy Use' person! :D

You mentioned 'Goddard', do you mean 'Wayne Goddard'?
I have a book he wrote called, "The $50 Knife Shop".
I already did a lot of the things he recommended in there, but I had picked them up from grandpa and didn't know why I was doing them...
Just knew if you did 'A', then result would be 'B' & 'C'...
Explained a lot and gave me ideas for projects I would have never come up with on my own.

I usually run up to about 1,400°F or until the blade edge looses all magnetic attraction,
Then quench in Oil (with carbon steel, a mixture of Automatic transmission fluid and mineral oil) heated to about 100°F or so,
Point and edge first,

Then for a draw back, I go in to about 500-700°F, just starting to show good color,
Then quench in the same warm oil, point and edge first,

Then over to a room temp water quench on the point edge only...
I usually use a pan only filled far enough the first 1/2 or so of the blade can get into the pan...
And that works pretty well for me.

Good hard edges, with reasonably flexibility on the spine of the blades without being too soft or too hard...

I also don't 'Hollow Grind' anything.
When I was younger, I was the only guy around that could get a Buck 110 to sharpen, and ALL the military guys carried Buck 110's around...
That odd ball hollow ground blade and strange angle edge they used was REAL hard to sharpen correctly if you didn't know what you were doing...
And I vowed NEVER to use that on anything I made!
....................

Anyway, looks like you do good, practical work that is useful and sturdy!
I don't have ANY use for those fancy 'Fantasy' kinves or 'Rambo' knives that aren't practical in any sense of the word...

--------------------
For anyone thinking of trying to hammer forge steel, hammer weld steel or iron, or make ANY steel tool,
YOU NEED THIS BOOK! And it's cheap, under $20!
"The $50 Knife Shop" by Wayne Goddard,
ISBN#: 9780896892958

-------------------
 

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...Would I forge a blade out of leaf spring to whack shrubbery in the yard with? Sure. Would I take it into the wilderness, where my reliance on it is amplified, no. If it's going to matter, "stick with the good stuff" would be my advice.
I agree.

Not to put too fine a point on it, I have two addendums,

1. I use more coil springs than leaf springs.
Coil springs have MUCH better steel in them for my purposes.

2. I don't take just ONE knife into the field, so if I drag one of my 'Home made brush cutters' into the field and it fails (haven't had a 'field' failure yet, but anything is possible!)
I'm not stuck!

And to a lesser point,

3. I don't make smaller, finer work knives.
I buy them, and usually for relatively good prices!

I make hatchets, utility tools, and heavy use tools, like brush hooks and such, so failures are more unlikely since I have LOTS of metal in the blade!
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So, tell me more of how the clay works...
I always though it helped slow the heating & quench down so the metal covered by the clay was not as hard.

I didn't know anything about the gasses, ect...
Anything I can read on that subject?
 

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Outdoorsman, Bladesmith
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105 Posts
Discussion Starter #26
Some books I'd reccomend would be Goddard's "Joy of Knifemaking", "how to make Knives" by Loveless, and Alex Bealer's "Art of Blacksmithing" for starters. For more advanced treatment of the clay method for low-alloy steels, Walter Sorrells has produced a video for hamon-making on Japanese blades here: HOME ABOUT WALTER which I highly reccomend.

For clay, remember that it is used to harden that which doesn't want to harden... not to keep soft that which one doesn't want hard. Blade thickness and edge quenching, followed by a total tempering cycle (in an oven, multiple times) will give you the flexibility you seek better than an edge-quench and quick flame temper, or any application of clay.
 

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Outdoorsman, Bladesmith
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Discussion Starter #28
Off the top of my head, no. I think most will warranty against defects in materials or manufacture, but if you want significant repairs, you'll likely end up paying something for it. Many factories will offer a sharpening service for a few bucks, but if you broke the clip, for instance, by trying to hang from it while scaling El Capitan, I doubt you can expect a freebie. :p

If you mean repair to the blade itself, in the case of chipping or tips coming off, I would send it to a craftsman who can deal with one-off problems like that. The manufacturers are really set up for mass production and marketing, not unique repairs.
 

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Does anyone know what knife companies will repair your knife if you send it back to them?
If you break a Becker for any reason, they will warranty the blade for life.
They have even warrantied blades that were struck by bullets in Iraq and Afghanistan!

The scales will be replaced at their discretion, but new scales are cheap even if you have to buy them.

Cold Steel used to have a life time warranty, but I don't know about any more...
 
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