Greg A
This topic has probably been covered a bunch, but it's a big question. I've been gathering supplies to build a furnace for a while, and I'm just about to pull the trigger and make the thing. I'm pretty excited, so much so that I'm buying steel blanks.

I was wondering what anyone thought of the different methods of blade making. Obviously forging is the way to go when your steel isn't already blade shaped, but if you're working with bar stock it seems stock removal would be the easiest. Does anyone have an opinion on what method they like better? Does anyone have a steel preference?

I'll probably get some steel and get to filing. I'm no stranger to projects that take forever, and if I get the blade done and still don't have a furnace, I'll just send it out to heat treat. Since I don't have any real projects to share, here is a picture of a "knife" I made out of a piece of steel I found in the road. I cut it out with a drill and cold punch, and I shaped it with a 3 lbs sledge and a 25 lbs hex weight. 

Hopefully I start making stuff soon. This place is great for seeing everyone's projects, and it reminds me I need to quit being lazy and get some work done.

the hunted.jpg
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Anthony San Miguel
I've made a few knives by stock removal and forging. While I enjoy stock removal I much prefer forging them. Either way, you end up at the grinder or using files in the end, but there are things you can do to the blank by forging that you can't do using stock removal, like widen or lengthen the blade.

1084 is the most recommended steel for beginners, followed by probably 5160, but I have access to a lot of O1 so that's what I'm using right now.
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jmccustomknives
Even if you forge there will be grinding involved. Like Anthony I prefer to forge but realistically I only use it for things that aren't knife shaped already.

If you are planning to file your billets get 1084 from New Jersey steel baron. It is already annealed. I use admiral steel for my forging since it is cheaper.

It's always best to get one type of steel and master the heat treat before moving to other alloys.

Rule #10;  "I can make that" translates to; "I'm to cheap to buy it new."

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Hank Rearden
Hi Greg A, Anthony San Miguel and JMCcustomknives can help you out with advice with blades and any techniques to make them. I however want to acknowledge your comment on the forum. It helps keep me focused and kicks me in the butt when I let everything else distract me from getting out and doing something rewarding. Thanks for your comments.
code[Maglio.gif]  Keep the fires burning hot!
2020 ABANA Conference in Sarasota New York. June 3rd. through June 6th. Plan now!
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Greg A
Thanks for the information. I wasn't sure which steel to go with.

Any recommendations for the size of the first knife I heat treat? What is a good test to see if I messed it up?

Also, would having an IR thermometer make things a lot easier? are there any other gadgets I should have? I see a lot of people want to test rockwell hardness.

More also, the oven I have varies by about 25 degrees during operation. Is that a deal breaker for oven tempering? Even more also, with the blade covered in oil and scale, will tempering create a lot of smoke? That might cause my girlfriend to kill me, but I'm willing to take the chance.
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Dustin Stephens
Greg, as far as testing the blade, look at my post about leaf springs, JMC explains in detail how to test it.  Some one makes files with the different grades of hardness, get those and start with the highest rockwell file and go down till you have one that makes a scratch, that will give you a ball park on your hardness and its alot cheaper than using the hardness gadgets they have.
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jmccustomknives
The knife in the photo is a good size for basic testing.  If you start with a known steel it will make heat treating much easier as you will know what you are dealing with and it will have the recommended heat treating instructions.  If you are going to do stock removal go with 1084 from New Jersey Steel Baron.  If you are going to learn to forge a stick from Admiral Steel will make a lot of knives. 

You'll need to get an oven that can maintain a good even heat.  I have a toaster oven (2 really) that were purchased at yard sales that work well.  25 deg can make a big difference in the quality of the heat treat.  Uneven heat can ruin a blade.

Rule #10;  "I can make that" translates to; "I'm to cheap to buy it new."

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Anthony San Miguel
Unless the IR thermometer can read over 1400 F it won't be of much use to you. A magnet and learning to see the different shades of orange heat will help you more.

After quench do wipe off the oil or it probably will get a little smokey for a little while when the blade is tempering.
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Greg A
Thanks for the info guys. I've just ordered some 1084 from NJSB. I was reading about the vanadium and chromium, and that sounds pretty good.

I've got a toaster oven, so I'm going to see how well it holds it's temp. Once you use a toaster oven to temper, can you still use it for food, or does it pretty much become your temper oven?

The IR Thermometer I'm looking at can read temps up to 1900 F. I sell tools and industrial supplies to the governement, so I get pretty good pricing on most stuff. The main thing between me and metal working is having a space to do it. I live in an apartment, and my neighbors might think i'm gonna burn everything down. Either way, I understand what you mean about learning what the colors look like at different temps.

Ima get that steel and start removing. Hopefully by the time i'm finished roughing out some knives, I'll have a spot to get that stuff red hot.

Thanks for all the help
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jmccustomknives
When it comes to colors and temp you can use that IR, but all you really need is a magnet.  When the magnet stops sticking on the way up, that's your cue to quench.  I say on the way up because the steel will stay nonmagnetic on the way back down almost to black.

You can use the kitchen oven, but the burning oil stinks.  It keeps the peace in the house.

Rule #10;  "I can make that" translates to; "I'm to cheap to buy it new."

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Anthony San Miguel
An IR thermometer that reads that high can be useful. If you can get it at a good price I say go for it.
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