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Ray Rogers 02-16-2014 09:57 AM

BEFORE You Heat Treat Your First Knife
The one thing most makers do wrong on their first knife is to put all that work into making it beautiful before they have ever tried to heat treat anything. After they do their heat treat they feel so invested in that first knife they won't use it for anything that might damage it so they really don't know if the HT worked or not. That's bass-ackwards!

The proper testing procedure is to test your blades, i.e., your heat treat process, before you finish them into knives. Make a test blade but skip any super fine finish work, put a plain handle on it and sharpen it up. Then, use the living bejeezus out of it. Shave 2x4's until you have a pile of shavings the size of a house cat, slice lots of cardboard (the clay content is very hard on a knife edge) to see how it holds an edge. Use a wooden mallet or baton (a heavy stick) to hammer the blade through other pieces of wood lengthwise (with the grain). Slice hemp rope. Cut anything and everything that would qualify as abusing a knife because somebody will use your knife that way some day. Do all of this bare handed, no gloves. Why? Because if you get a blister your handle design needs work. After all this is done, put on a face sheild, lock the first inch or two of the blade in a vise between two pieces of hardwood, put a pipe over the handle, and slowly bend the blade until it snaps. Pay attention to how far it bent before it broke....tells you how tough your blade is. Examine the grain, should be very fine and light gray - if not your heat treat needs work.

If all that is good then proceed to make a knife with the exact same HT with the exact same steel and finish it with confidence that you have, in fact, made a knife and not simply something shiny that resembles a knife. When you change the type of steel or even get a new batch of the same steel this whole process starts over ....

Ed Tipton 02-16-2014 04:45 PM

The first knife I ever made was a crude little drop point with a maple handle. I had done all the work on it myself, and as you said ... I was very proud of the fact that I carried and used something that I had made. I used and abused that little knife for a full year...and it never failed to deliver the goods.
After that first year, I finally did a destructive test on it. By that time it had cut through many things, had been sharpened a few times, looked very rough, and was generally in such bad shape that I was no longer proud of it. It had passed every test I had ever given it with flying I fully expected it to pass the bend test as well.
I was wrong. It bent to about thirty degrees before it finally snapped. I was amazed at how much leverage it took to break that little knife. After it broke, I examined the knife closely and found that the knife had been overheated and that it had very coarse grain. In addition, the handle had popped off when I put the pipe over it because I had never pinned the scales onto the tang.
Had I never tested that knife, I would never have known about the scales or the application of too much heat.
What really impressed me was that even with these two faults, the knife had performed very well, and I thought about how much better it might have performed had I done everything correctly.
I have improved my techniques now....and I am making better knives...and I know that because it do test them.

miketheknife 02-16-2014 05:28 PM

Great advice! Thankfully I discovered this wonderful site before I ever made my first knife and I was able to avoing a lot of the pitfalls that some newbs have. I have said this more than once but I will say it again, Thank you to every one on here.


R. Yates 02-18-2014 10:28 AM

Here is My humble Opinion of what you should be shooting for when you are making a knife.
Please Note ***
THE (ABS = AMERICAN BLADESMITH SOCIETY) However , if you will look at these Videos ( over look the few safety issues the forget to have face shields on a few it shows you what you are trying to achieve when forging a hand made knife and heat treating your own knife . so here you go !

Look at the 1 st one it shows a bend test and has the rules for the Master Bladesmith Test , the 2 nd one as well shows the same and the 3 rd shows the Journeyman's test Note ALL three test show the Blades are Bent 90 degrees (without Breaking) if the blade breaks during the test YOU FAIL !

Now I know many of you are saying what does this have to do with me as this has Nothing to do with me as "I am Not Joining the ABS and Never will ! " No may not ! However , it is still the Standard in the Knife Community that you are part of and want to Introduce , your Name , Honor and Most of All Reputation as well as eventually sell your Knives.

( P.S. NO this Does Not Mean that Ray Rogers Post is Wrong Either as many knives are put to the "Destructive Test" every day even a ABS Master it is how we Learn what the Steel we compose is doing)

Good Luck Blessings & Best Regards

Edited for Credit to Ray's comment .

Eddie Mullins 02-18-2014 12:15 PM

I think this is a great thread that makes lots of sense.

I have to wonder though how many makers actually test to destruction, especially for EACH new batch of steel. Its seems a tall enough order to do for each type of steel, destructive testing and refining your HT for each shipment seems like it would really set the standard. I wish I could afford to buy enough at once to last a decade or two LOL.

WBE 02-18-2014 01:51 PM

The 90? test is dependent on the blade being differential hardened, or differential tempered, which not necessary, nor desired for all blades, especially when strength is a concern. In that test, the edge is allowed to crack, just not the blade itself. It has little value in reality, and the real world. It is a test of ones control over the heat, rather than the actual quality of the blade.

Ed Tipton 02-18-2014 05:38 PM

I am an associate member of the ABS. Although I consider myself a member, I have no intention of ever trying to obtain either a JS or MS certification. I belong for the same reason I belong to this forum. I am here because I enjoy the writings of many people and believe that there is much knowledge to be found here.
Although I do occasionally sell a knife, I indulge in this hobby because it is rewarding and I get a sense of satisfaction from being able to do something reasonably well that many others only dream of doing.
In the real world, there is absolutely no need for a knife that will survive a 90 degree bend test. As WBE stated, that test is a means of determining that the maker has achieved control of ... and understands his process. The ABS members do not make every knife to those standards, nor is there a reason to do so. It is enough to know that they can produce such a blade upon demand if need be, but it was never intended to be a standard by which all knives are judged.
I am the final judge of my knives. If I make something that is appreciated by others, then so much the better... but that is not necessary for me to have enjoyed the making of it. My own standards are probably more stringent than some artificial "standard" that some person or group has, it's just that my own standards are not published or recognized by anyone else.
I test my knives periodically to ensure they are meeting my personal standards. I am confident that all of my more recent knives are of good quality, will perform in the intended manner, and will hold up to everyday use.
One more side-note. It is not necessary to make a knife through all stages to do testing on it. Whenever you receive a new batch of steel, take one sacrificial bar or piece of a bar and run it through your heat treatment cycle including both the hardening and tempering phases. If it responds as expected, then you have some assurance that the batch is of similar quality as what you were using previously. If you are trying a new steel for the first time, you should probably test it more often until you gain confidence that the new steel is responding correctly. If you are using "mystery metal", it is advisable to test every piece since you really don't know what you're working with.

smithy 02-18-2014 06:22 PM

The importance of testing cannot be over-stated. I learned that lesson...but don't ask me how. :) I am now using nothing but 1084 and learning THAT steel. When I feel ready to present my work to the world, it will be everything that it should be. Until then I will keep making scrap steel...:)

R. Yates 02-21-2014 02:07 AM

Y'all did miss the Part where I stated in red where Ray was RIGHT as well TOO did y'all not ? or at least I hope so . No I do not build my knives to be Bent 90 * either ! done it once or a few times just for shims and giggles to get it done for a test many many years ago . However I do not make knives for youngens so I do not expect them to be used for pry bars most folks that end up with one of my knives use them as intended or they collect them . any way if I can help with this thread I will .

Best Regards

BattleBorn 05-27-2015 01:53 PM

Very solid advice sir.

twinkle 09-02-2016 01:05 AM

its really a good job

twinkle 09-02-2016 01:08 AM

making knife is a good and enjoyable experience

Robert6666 11-01-2018 06:17 PM

I need a good pre loved knife making grinder in the UK
Any ideas guys?

damon 11-01-2018 08:18 PM

just did search and saw this one.

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