An Insight into Making Handmade Knives: The Forging Process - HandCraft Damascus Art

Handmade knives have been in use since the beginning of knives and cutting edges. Man has been making knives and swords identically through the process of forging. Modern handmade knives are popular because of the numerous benefits they offer to top chefs.

Authentic handmade knives are expensive to acquire due to the effort put into making them. Unlike machine-made knives, handmade knives involve a lot of heating, hitting, and cooling.

Many of us know little about making some of the most durable and robust knives. In this informative blog, we explain the forging process that makes foundation of the impeccable handmade knives.

How to Forge a Handmade Knife?

1. Selecting suitable metal

This is probably the most influential element in the decision to make before forging the blade. The truth is, there are different types of metals available but everyone of them is not suitable for creating a knife. Steel is the ideal metal for knife production due to its hardness, strength and the feature to hold an edge longer than other metals.

Steel scraps are ideal for this process. They include railroad spikes, coil springs or leaf spring. Made from quality steel, they can help making a high-quality knife. There are also steel bars available in stores. There are three main types of steel that used for forging knives.

• Carbon steel
• Tool steel
• Stainless steel

These steel types have their pros and cons. Carbon steel is steel infused with carbon to improve steel strength and hardness. However, during the process, the steel loses some of its corrosion resistance, which means it may catch rust easily.

Tool steel is similar to carbon steel. The difference is that tool steel contains added alloys for improved resistance to corrosion.

Basically, tool steel is an upgrade version to carbon steel. IT is more strong, corrosion-resistant, and holds an edge longer. However, the addition of alloys tend to lose its toughness. Resultantly, the knife is less tough.

Stainless steel is steel infused with chromium and other alloys to make it shiny and corrosion-resistant. It is one of the most used material for knives due to its durability.

2. Choosing Suitable Fuel

After dealing with different forms of steel to make handmade knives, the nest step involves heating the steel. The fuel used depends its availability, forge setup, and location. Nevertheless, there are three significant fuels used for forging;

• Charcoal
• Propane
• Coal

Charcoal is an inexpensive source of fuel obtained from burning wood. It might not be as stronger form of fuel for best forging experience. The reasons is that forging with charcoal is hard to obtain because of difficulty in maintaining ideal temperatures for the forging process. Forging demands running and maintaining a high temperature.

Propane is a clean source of fuel. Easily available, it creates enormous heat. A propane torch heats steel to make it malleable. Since propane heats steel faster, buying a forge with an integrated propane heat source makes forging easier.
Coal produces huge amount of smoke and an efficient source of fuel.

3. Gather forging tools

The tools required for forging includes;

• Forge
• Forging hammer
• Forging table or anvil
• Oven or brick box

After selecting fuel type, comes the stage to choose a suitable forge that works with the fuel type selected. Deciding to go with propane needs forges prebuilt and fitted with a propane tank.

A forge can be built from scratch with a system that ensures sustained airflow to ensure heat is constant.

The best tools are forging hammer and anvil to pound on the steel. These materials should be heatproof. They also need to be strong to be able to shape the steel properly.

An Oven or brick box toughens the steel by reducing fragility and removing internal stress, producing a tough knife.

Forging

Steel is heated in the first stage. Forge should have a thermostat to manage steel temperature, like a color guide. Steel is heated to around 2,2000F.
Above this heat, steel becomes malleable. Then steel is transferred to the pounding area with the hammer and anvil. While hitting one side to facilitate the development of an edge, few inches are left for the tang. The tang makes the steel easier to handle and flip. The blade is flipped over to ensure it does not wrap towards a particular side.

Annealing the steel comes next. It softens the steel and gives knife a better appearance.

Annealing is done by heating the edge until it becomes red, letting it air cool, and repeating the process two or three times.

Quenching

The steel is heated to high temperatures. Then it is dipped in cool water to quickly reduce temperature. Quenching aims to harden the steel by locking its molecules.

Tempering

It decreases the hardness of the steel and brings it to the consistency required to become a knife. It involves heating the knife in an oven at 3000F for about two hours. Then the blades are cooled down in water after two hours.

Apply Finishing Touches

A knife needs a handle which can be attached by drilling holes and mounting wooden or rubber handle grips to the tang area.

Sharpening the Blade

To improve your handmade knife's ability to cut through things, the knife is sharpen by using a whetstone. There are other easier and faster methods of sharpening handmade knives.

Handmade knives have been in use since the beginning of knives and cutting edges. Man has been making knives and swords identically through the process of forging. Modern handmade knives are popular because of the numerous benefits they offer to top chefs.

Authentic handmade knives are expensive to acquire due to the effort put into making them. Unlike machine-made knives, handmade knives involve a lot of heating, hitting, and cooling.

Many of us know little about making some of the most durable and robust knives. In this informative blog, we explain the forging process that makes foundation of the impeccable handmade knives.

How to Forge a Handmade Knife?

1. Selecting suitable metal

This is probably the most influential element in the decision to make before forging the blade. The truth is, there are different types of metals available but everyone of them is not suitable for creating a knife. Steel is the ideal metal for knife production due to its hardness, strength and the feature to hold an edge longer than other metals.

Steel scraps are ideal for this process. They include railroad spikes, coil springs or leaf spring. Made from quality steel, they can help making a high-quality knife. There are also steel bars available in stores. There are three main types of steel that used for forging knives.

• Carbon steel
• Tool steel
• Stainless steel

These steel types have their pros and cons. Carbon steel is steel infused with carbon to improve steel strength and hardness. However, during the process, the steel loses some of its corrosion resistance, which means it may catch rust easily.

Tool steel is similar to carbon steel. The difference is that tool steel contains added alloys for improved resistance to corrosion.

Basically, tool steel is an upgrade version to carbon steel. IT is more strong, corrosion-resistant, and holds an edge longer. However, the addition of alloys tend to lose its toughness. Resultantly, the knife is less tough.

Stainless steel is steel infused with chromium and other alloys to make it shiny and corrosion-resistant. It is one of the most used material for knives due to its durability.

2. Choosing Suitable Fuel

After dealing with different forms of steel to make handmade knives, the nest step involves heating the steel. The fuel used depends its availability, forge setup, and location. Nevertheless, there are three significant fuels used for forging;

• Charcoal
• Propane
• Coal

Charcoal is an inexpensive source of fuel obtained from burning wood. It might not be as stronger form of fuel for best forging experience. The reasons is that forging with charcoal is hard to obtain because of difficulty in maintaining ideal temperatures for the forging process. Forging demands running and maintaining a high temperature.

Propane is a clean source of fuel. Easily available, it creates enormous heat. A propane torch heats steel to make it malleable. Since propane heats steel faster, buying a forge with an integrated propane heat source makes forging easier.
Coal produces huge amount of smoke and an efficient source of fuel.

3. Gather forging tools

The tools required for forging includes;

• Forge
• Forging hammer
• Forging table or anvil
• Oven or brick box

After selecting fuel type, comes the stage to choose a suitable forge that works with the fuel type selected. Deciding to go with propane needs forges prebuilt and fitted with a propane tank.

A forge can be built from scratch with a system that ensures sustained airflow to ensure heat is constant.

The best tools are forging hammer and anvil to pound on the steel. These materials should be heatproof. They also need to be strong to be able to shape the steel properly.

An Oven or brick box toughens the steel by reducing fragility and removing internal stress, producing a tough knife.

Forging

Steel is heated in the first stage. Forge should have a thermostat to manage steel temperature, like a color guide. Steel is heated to around 2,2000F.
Above this heat, steel becomes malleable. Then steel is transferred to the pounding area with the hammer and anvil. While hitting one side to facilitate the development of an edge, few inches are left for the tang. The tang makes the steel easier to handle and flip. The blade is flipped over to ensure it does not wrap towards a particular side.

Annealing the steel comes next. It softens the steel and gives knife a better appearance.

Annealing is done by heating the edge until it becomes red, letting it air cool, and repeating the process two or three times.

Quenching

The steel is heated to high temperatures. Then it is dipped in cool water to quickly reduce temperature. Quenching aims to harden the steel by locking its molecules.

Tempering

It decreases the hardness of the steel and brings it to the consistency required to become a knife. It involves heating the knife in an oven at 3000F for about two hours. Then the blades are cooled down in water after two hours.

Apply Finishing Touches

A knife needs a handle which can be attached by drilling holes and mounting wooden or rubber handle grips to the tang area.

Sharpening the Blade

To improve your handmade knife's ability to cut through things, the knife is sharpen by using a whetstone. There are other easier and faster methods of sharpening handmade knives.

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