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The Newbies Arena Are you new to knife making? Here is all the help you will need.

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  #1  
Old 07-21-2017, 10:10 AM
RantNRave RantNRave is offline
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First Knife - finally!

After much gnashing of teeth and a bin full of mistakes, I have finally completed my first knife! It's far from perfect, and the handle is shorter than intended, but it does feel good in my hand. Choosing a chef knife for the first to complete was NOT my brightest of ideas, for sure, but I wanted to give my girlfriend a nice birthday gift, and decided to jump in the deep end, so to speak.

It's 52100 steel. It has a 7" blade and is 11 1/2" overall. It also has a tapered tang has I chose a thicker piece (5/32" at it's thickest). I heat treated it myself in an oven I built and also recently finished. Overall, I'm pretty happy with it.

 
 
 
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  #2  
Old 07-21-2017, 10:48 AM
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Ray Rogers Ray Rogers is offline
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A decent first effort to be sure but that you built your own oven may be even more impressive. FWIW, doing a high polish on a chef's knife is not usually a good idea as it tends to adhere strongly to wet veggies like tomatoes.

Don't forget to do the tough part and test your heat treat process. Abuse a knife shaving 2x4's and chopping (I hammer mine lengthwise through a 4" piece of firewood), slice cardboard and hemp rope, and finally put the blade in a vise and break it to see the grain. Without that you won't know if its really a knife or just looks like one ...


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Old 07-25-2017, 06:36 AM
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52100 thermal cycling for best performance is not a simple issue. What were your temps and times, and what quench process did you use?
I agree with Ray, you will never know if you got it right unless you test the blade. It's always best to make up a couple of blades from the same steel to do your testing. That way you can make adjustments as needed before doing all the non-fun finish work.
The knife does look pretty good for a first. With Hi-carb steels like 52100 the mirror polish won't last long if it's getting used, so kind of a waste of time to polish. I seldom go past 600 grit on kit. knives.


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  #4  
Old 07-25-2017, 09:11 AM
RantNRave RantNRave is offline
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Yes, it was a quick lesson for me after the first use. It did stain rather quickly and was a bit of a surprise for me, resulting in more research. I will no longer be going for this finish in the future. I'm looking into different finishes right now.

As for the HT process, I ramped them to 1575 deg Fahrenheit and let it soak for 5 minutes before quenching in warmed canola oil. I followed with a 400 deg temper for two hours, twice.
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Old 07-26-2017, 06:28 AM
dtec1 dtec1 is offline
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Awesome first knife it really looks great! better than my first that's for sure

Ok First I would LOVE to see some pics of the oven that is a huge feat in its own.

Second I would agree with the 2 men above testing is the first thing to do....when I went through that process first ray told me to break some knives to check the grain .....BREAK THEM I thought he was crazy! after the grain was good then the wood chopping and rope and cardboard cutting....Now looking back it made perfect sense if I am going to give someone a knife I want to perform and how do you know unless you push it to its limit... Allthough I do get wanting to give your girl a really nice gift that's cool just start testing now that's all.
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Old 07-26-2017, 08:07 AM
RantNRave RantNRave is offline
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Oh boy, I've read that before and now that I'm finally here (I've been lurking for a while...), the thought of breaking my knife makes me cringe... That said, I have a perfect sample of a blade to use. I heat treated two other knives of the same design and steel, but did a noob thing and forgot to drill the pin holes in the tang! Seems to me like a perfect set to test.

As for the oven, I took a bunch of pictures during the construction and was pondering a thread devoted to the build. For a sample, here's a front and back before final grinding, clean up, and first test fire.

 
 
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Old 07-26-2017, 10:59 AM
WNC Goater WNC Goater is offline
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Don't let the "need to test" talk be a discouragement about this knife. This is a fantastic first effort. Yes, there are some things you did which made it more difficult, you know what they are. 1. Chef's knife 2. 52100 steel 3. Tapered tang 4. Polished blade. In spite of that, I'll say again, fantastic first effort.

This being what it is, don't worry about it. You don't need much out of the steel to be a very effective knife in the kitchen. Chopping vegetables isn't exactly a chore that demands the most performance from the steel and unless it is a very knowledgeable professional chef, it is unlikely anyone will exactly wring all of the performance out of this knife it is capable of. Heck, I suspect you could use mild steel from Lowes and make a knife that will meet a lot of the demands of chef-type knives. ( No, I'm not suggesting that.) It may however, need sharpening a bit more often!

Having said that, like the others above, I would suggest doing a bit of testing before making more blades to make sure you have your HT down-pat. They aren't trying to discourage and will do everything to help you succeed. Perhaps choose an easier steel, and a little easier knife design and go from there. I can tell by the detail and care you took in this first knife that you have an eye for detail and a craftsman's touch and thus, likely one who wants to get the most out of the steel.

In the meantime, proudly present this knife as the gift it was meant to be and I have no doubt it can be used as intended for many years!


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Old 07-26-2017, 01:38 PM
dtec1 dtec1 is offline
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I agree....at least with my comments it wasn't to take away from what you did. I am sure it took a lot of work and came out great as I said better than my first!...... But then again I was the guy that found this forum and said "hey guys want to make a knife and oh yeh want to make my own Damascus for it " ALL a first lol....I made things difficult as well. ...I try to make each knife I do better than the rest There is always something new to learn for you testing and learning to heat treat shuld be at the top of the list...that's all make each one better and experiment till you find what you like to do and what your good at
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Old 07-26-2017, 01:46 PM
RantNRave RantNRave is offline
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Trust me, I have a very thick skin. I WANT to know what I did wrong. That is exactly why I posted to the forum. The only way I will get to where I want to be as a knife maker is to learn from those who are where I want to be.

So, I am not discouraged in the least. I also just completed a Hunter in 1075 steel. I plan on finish sanding another chef's knife tonight (this time to 220 grit) and force patina it with mustard and vinegar. I'll be breaking and chopping the others this weekend as I want to make sure the HT is as I thought.

This is a passion for me now, and I want to be the best I can be. I will not shy from criticism or suggestions in the process.

Thanks for all input!

-Dan
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Old 07-26-2017, 03:38 PM
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Ray Rogers Ray Rogers is offline
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You want your test knives to be as much like your 'finished' knives as possible. That mainly means same grind, same sharpening, same handle shape. I know you won't have a real handle on these because you haven't learned about carbide drills and/or spot annealing yet but keep it in mind on the next ones. Yes, that's what I said: this isn't a one time deal. You need to do this process for each type of steel you use, possibly more than once before you get it right. Many of us will do it any time we get a new batch of steel even if it is one we have used before because no two batches are ever identical.

When you go to break the blade put a couple of pieces of hard wood in your vise, round the edges off the piece that the blade will bend over. Clamp the first quarter of your blade between the pieces of wood. Put a 3ft pipe over the handle for leverage. Now, this next part is extremely important:

Wear safety glasses and, if at all possible, wear a full face shield also. Wear clothing over all your body, i.e., no short sleeves or short pants, gloves are a good idea. If the heat treat is close to correct the blade can shatter like glass and throw tiny shards of metal .

Bend the handle slowly and smoothly. Pay attention to how far it bends before the blade snaps. If it breaks before, say 30 degrees, it was far too hard. If it bends to 90 degrees and still won't break it was far too soft. If it bends but has little tendency to return to straight it is too soft. Depending on the steel somewhere in the middle would be about right.

Get an old Nicholson file and break that. The grain and color in that file is about what you want for your knife ...


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Old 07-26-2017, 06:58 PM
jimmontg jimmontg is offline
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I don't break old Nicholson files, too valuable for making into a knife. I just say the grain should look like grey velvet.lol
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  #12  
Old 07-26-2017, 08:48 PM
RantNRave RantNRave is offline
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I have several old Nicholson files. I think I'd rather break my knife...
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Old 07-26-2017, 10:59 PM
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Ray Rogers Ray Rogers is offline
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Oh, c'mon. It's not like they were touched by the hand of God or anything. And the file should be worn out, nobody is saying to break an otherwise useful tool. As for making knives from them, sure, they're good steel but they aren't magic. You can easily and cheaply buy blade steel that will make as good or better blade. Once you've made your obligatory file knife and left some of the file teeth on it to show how rustic you are you can spare one. Heck, if you break it in the right place you can still make a knife out of it if you feel you must ...


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Old 07-27-2017, 12:35 AM
jimmontg jimmontg is offline
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Of course Ray

But old Nicholsons were made from a W1 or W2 like steel and those steels are being phased out. I have Nicholsons from the early 70s that are still in good shape and still work, they were exceptional. I spoke to a Cincinnati Tool Steel rep (where all W2 comes from) and he told me they will only order a one ton run of W2 from the mill. Only suppliers like Aldo or other big companies can afford that. I also was joking, but if I have a big Black Diamond (and I do) I am not going to bust it in half to look at the grain, a little one maybe. The grey velvet is what the grain should look like. I really don't see the point of busting a Nicholson. Also there are plenty of pictures to observe right here on this Forum and other places. Why break a file?
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  #15  
Old 07-27-2017, 06:00 AM
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Lots of good stuff here RnR (also shows how well we all get along, and we do). Break or not to break.....what a dilemma! If a lesson is learned, I'd say it's worth the break. Besides you can still make a knife or two out of the pieces.

I would recommend a faster quenchant for 52100, Canola is a bit slow for this steel. But, as Jim stated the knife should perform just fine in kitchen environment. Even the high end chefs prefer their blades less in hardness than most hunting/fishing/general purpose blades.


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