Monday, March 7, 2016

Saturday & Sunday, April 2 & 3: Knife Making Class

Sat. & Sun., April 2 & 3, 9-4. Knife Making, $175

This class involves basic blacksmithing techniques. We heat spring steal and cut it using hand tools. The metal is then shaped to a blade and tang through heating and hammering. The blade is then filed and sanded to your satisfaction. We make use of power belt sanders as well. Students will cut brass rivets and fit a hardwood handle to their tang. We heat treat the blade. Student are instructed on the annealing process. Here are some photos of the process of the knife making as recorded by one of our recent students.
This is our side draft forge.

We use propane burning forges, although coal burning forges are also available to use. The reason for this is that it takes some time to master the use of a coal burning forge. Students would be far more likely to overheat their metal and compromise the steel. The propane forge only reaches a particular temperature and will not go beyond that. With a hand crank bellows and a coal fire overheating can occur as air is forced under the coals bring them to even greater temperatures than planned.

Here we see an early 19th century painting of blacksmithing. As you can see many people are involved; blacksmithing isn't always a solitary endeavor. In the case of the spring steel we are using for our knives we are dealing with large pieces of metal. To heat this metal and to juggle the various tools required to hold it steady on an anvil surface, place a hot cut hand tool on the surface of the heated metal, and then strike that hot cut with a very heavy hammer is an impossibility for one person alone. In teams, the metal for each knife is cut. Once this is accomplished students go to their own anvils and continue the work required to achieve a knife blade.

These are billets cut from a steel spring. we do not want to cut our billets larger as it will require a large amount of time to draw out a tang and form a blade, a blade that is larger than we require for our purposes. Much of the hammer activity involves thinning the metal through a drawing out process. We do not want the blade to be too thick.

This a billet that has been drawn and shaped through heating and hammering. At this point the student may begin filing their knife blade and also shaping the tang.
Here we see a blade after scale has been removed. This is a coating that occurs on the metal surface during the process of heating and hammering. We remove the scale by hand using pieces of coarse grinding stones. Then we use a series of files, whetting stones and sandpapers to achieve our shape and finish.
These are examples of other student forged knives.

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