Forging steel!

I don't have the chance to do much forging at the moment - I'm currently without a forge which is the main limiting factor!

However, this last weekend I had the opportunity to meet up with some other knifemakers to do some forging.

The venue was in the grounds of Sennowe Park, which was quite simply stunning! We were tucked out the back in the woods but I did have the opportunity to go up the bell tower (and wind the clock!).

You can see the tower in the picture here. 360 degrees view of a lovely landscape but noisy when the seven bells rang while we were still up there!!

Interestingly, the grounds and house were owned by Thomas Cook and still owned by the family. Now, I always assumed the travel firm Thomas Cook was named after an explorer but doing some reading up after I got home, he was actually someone who founded a travel company, starting his first venture in 1841! For anyone who is interested, a bit of history:

So any how, onto what I forged....

I was quite bad at taking any pictures while there so these are a follow up with some work started on Monday night.

Top to bottom:
- Silver steel round bar integral
- W2 full tang - first time I've tried to forge a tang out to be a full tang and more importantly my first water quenched knife!
- A square file
- A stacked bit of forge welded material. At a previous meet a friend twisted two lengths of opposing wrought iron and forge welded them together with an edge weld of a carbon steel (I can't remember the steel) and I started to shape it though much more hitting to go!
- 5160 integral from a square bar.

As is quite apparent, my forging isn't too great yet but it's something I can see improvements on each time I do any.

This is one of the few pictures I took at the weekend that shows the square file before I started hitting it. (That looks a perfect size anvil for me! I have a forklift tine to utilise as an anvil but a 'real' anvil just seems more proper)

The idea of this one was just a bit of fun. I decided that the file itself was meaty enough to use as a handle so the plan was to have an integral blade and nothing added to the tang for use - a barbecue knife!

The forging has rotated the edge relative to the corners of the file but I don't think it'll matter too much with this piece.

I couldn't resist running a grinder over the bevels just to see what it was looking like under there. Not too bad! A bit of recurve in the blade which I would have preferred not to have but never mind!

I love integral knives. Each time I forge I try to attempt one (or more!) If I'm grinding a blade with stock removal I take a bar of steel and chop and grind it to shape. To do an integral with stock removal would mean starting with a very large bit of steel. Forging means you can spread and manipulate the steel around in different directions.

On this piece, the round bar of silver steel started with the whole length the same diamter as the centre 'collar'.

I am extremely happy with the blade shape on this one, though the tang is extremely ropey! I hope I have left enough material to grind to shape and clean it up. I have yet to finish an integral!

This piece of W2 started as a flat bar, approximately the width and thickness of the area where the front of the handle curve is.

I decided to attempt a few firsts with this.

The first of those was to try spread the tang into a full tang. I would always previously thin the tang down to a stick tang which would then be hidden in the handle. By doing a forged full tang, I needed to keep it as flat as possible to minimise grinding later!!!

The second new thing I tried was a water quench. the W in the steel designation stands for Water but there is still a chance that it will crack in such a quick quench. I had to wait until no one else was around before going for it in case it cracked but it survived!!


Starting a quick clean up of the tang.

Thicker at the front and the rear:

I had a think as to how I was to tackle this and decided to go for another first - taper the tang!! A tapered tang has it thicker at the blade end, thinning to the rear.

First job is to run the tang down my contact wheel to put a concave channel down the length.

From this.....

to this....

At this point I thought I should get the holes drilled while it was still vaguely parallel!

I then extended the tang hollow further up.

A 40 grit ceramic belt makes wire wool out of the steel!!

So back to the tang, a fresh disc of the sander ( I suspect it's going to take a few!!!)

I then start to taper and flatten, pushing the back end in more than the front.
This picture shows why the hollow is put in - the edges are flattened but the centre untouched which means there is less work to do (but still plenty!)

I decided to switch to doing some work on the blade, employing some tools from two other knifemakers.

A solid carbide faced filing jig made by Bruce Bump:

A bubble jig from Fred Rowe

So using the bubble jig I can set an angle and have a visual guide for freehanding the bevels.

A quick pass at 15 degrees:

Hopping through a few angles and at 5 degrees it's looking like this:

Quite different each side but hoping that it starts to even out!

Four degrees and getting better but will certainly change the blade shape!

Plenty more to go!


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