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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 10-03-2017, 01:29 PM
danjmath danjmath is offline
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Newbie Shop, Anvil, and forge questions.

I've been doing stock removal the 4 months, have 4 decent-ish knives under my belt, ran out of acetylene which I have been using to heat treat, and decided it was time to get more efficient, and just built a propane burner- T-style venturi (which seems to be working pretty good).

I will mostly use the forge for heat treating at first- I have another 3 knifes with initial grinding done waiting to be treated, but want to learn how to forge knives eventually.

So now to all my questions.

First, for the forge it-self, I have an old 10-gallon-ish steel milk jug I picked up for cheap. Dimensions are 16' x 13' exterior(16' at the 13' diameter, then it gets narrower, but I would probably just cut it off at 16', then kaowool and firebrick on the interior). Would this make a decent forge, or is it too big for 1 burner.
I also have a bunch of heavy duty fire brick left over from a pizza oven I built, so I could do a temporary brick forge while I am using it for heat treat only.

Also, I am going to buy my propane tank today. Should I just start out with a little 5 gallon, or is it worth it to go big to start. Checking my budget and local suppliers, I could go up to a 100 pound tank(25 gallon).

Second, I am looking for an anvil, and as of yet have not found any at a decent price, or any pieces of scrap metal worth large enough. Would it be worth getting a HF 55lb anvil for ~$55, or would that money be better spent elsewhere?

Finally, I am building a workshop currently- really just a shed. I plan on it being 8x12. Is there anything specific I should consider while building it, and how much clearance will a gas forge need?

Thanks for helping a new guy out!

Last edited by danjmath; 10-03-2017 at 01:32 PM.
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  #2  
Old 10-03-2017, 04:43 PM
dtec1 dtec1 is offline
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Ok where to start....First let me say I started with a 10x12 shed as my shop....just gota say it. space is going to fill up quickly!! but it can be done.

Ok as far as a forge I think the size you have is a lil to big for 1 venturi burner you MAY be able to get by heat treating in it but to much space not enough heat (with 1 burner) to do any forging efficiently, I started with a piece of vent pipe from home depot (the kind that has a seam down the legth of it ) hammer that closed then put koa wool and satinite. It was great for heat treating... I eventually got a oven to heat treat as I started to work with stainless (oh yeh most of my work is and always has been stock removal I have forged knives but not a lot) however I just recently got a press for making Damascus and had to build a new forge and I made it from a 11 gallon air tank so its probilly very close to what you have....with the new forge I need 2 venturi burners to get it going maybe 1 burner if I used my forced air burners. so that is why I say you might want to build a slightly smaller forge than what you described OR make another burner either or.....

as far as the propane tank is concerned get what you can get to be honest I still have a few small grill tanks that I use however if I was going to forge everyday then I would get the biggest I could...you have already done stock removal. my PERSONAL opinion forging takes a lot of work just to end up in front of the grinder anyway that is why I do things stock removal UNLESS I cant like a integral guard or something along those lines. In the beginning I wanted to forge once I did it a little went right back to stock removal. best advice strart small dont spend a whole lot of money just to decide you don't really like doing it.

Ok Anvil...I have heard over the past couple years every one and their mothers opinion on this in short what it boils down to the cheap ones are GARBAGE too soft. My bro in law works for the rail road he got me a 13in long piece of rail track anchored it to a large stump and it works absolutely great. Point is get creative if you can come across rail track snatch it up (the top of the track is slightly curved I flattened half with a angle grinder and left half curved for drawing things out....I have always heard of some things you wouldn't think of all it needs to be is hard flat and heavy...I have heard of guys going to a metal supply and getting a bar 4x4x4 and then welding it to the top of a I beam and putting that I beam in the ground...something like that would be better than a very cheap anvil.

Hope some of that helps keep in mind its not the only way just one way...by the way I am sure Ray will chime in here sooner or later he has a awesome DVD video and it goes over every tiny detail of how to make forges and burners very cheaply...talk to him and get that video before you build a forge it helped me a lot when I built my first forge

Oh also since you have limited space in a shed try and make your forge movable put it on a rolling cart that way when you want to use it roll it right outside the shed and get to work I did this when I had stuff in the shed and it makes things a lot easier and less chance of burning down the shed I still do this everything is in the garage and basement now but the forge gets rolled outside when in use
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  #3  
Old 10-03-2017, 04:53 PM
dtec1 dtec1 is offline
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Danjmath- By the way just sent you a welcome message in your private message box. like I said I started in a shed to so I may be able to help with how to conserve space I think I still have pics of how I had stuff set up in the shed that may help
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  #4  
Old 10-03-2017, 05:10 PM
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Ray Rogers Ray Rogers is offline
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There is virtually no way to have a forge under a shed without having a very high risk of burning it down unless maybe the shed is two stories high. I got around that by very carefully placing sheets of steel roof paneling above my forge in such a way as to guide the hot air out from under the shed roof, around the plastic roofing on the shed, and out into the open air. This is tricky to accomplish but it is possible. However, if you have a forge that is hot enough to actually use for blade forging then it is more than hot enough to light a wood roof that might be 4 ft above it....


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  #5  
Old 10-03-2017, 08:42 PM
danjmath danjmath is offline
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Thanks for all the replies. So far I have done all my work in the open air, but with winter coming, I will not be able to do that all year round, plus, I hate having to haul out all my tools, then haul them back into the tiny storage shed I use now. Maybe a metal roof, plus a portable forge would work for now?

How much clearance do you need around the forge as well?
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  #6  
Old 10-04-2017, 04:24 AM
dtec1 dtec1 is offline
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AS much as possible....look I had a shed with metal roof and walls you just cant do it safely inside the shed. especially if you have anything else in the shed EVEN if you don't burn it down.....if you try and stand in that shed for more than a minute or 2 while the forge is going you will probily die from the heat and not being able to breathe. before I put it on a cart and rolled it in and out I tried just putting it right at the door of the shed trust me NOT a good idea!!!! you can not stand the heat for more than a minute just do what I did put it on a rolling cart and move it outside then you don't have to worry about any of this.....you could make a extended roof off the shed with no walls that may help you still gota give it a lot of clearance and make it from metal....it dosent take much effort to push a cart in and out
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  #7  
Old 10-04-2017, 06:40 AM
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Crex Crex is offline
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Lot of reasonably good advice here, but really you should do a little more serious study and investigation before proceding. Talking some pretty serious safety issues with having a forge in a small confined space. Good thing is you will probably be expired before the flames get to you so you won't feel anything. Forges require oxygen to work....so do you, guess which one will win that?!
Secondly, if you are serious about producing quality heattreatment results, even with forgable steels, (based on the experience you project in your post) forget about doing it in a gas forge until you have a good bit more experience with just operating the forge and learning reasonably precise temp control. Otherwise you are just adding guess work to guess work on top of inexperience....that seldom produces consistent quality results.
Anvils - hard surface to set work on while it is shaped/moved with a hammer or other tools. Lots of better "hard spots" than the HF 55# chunk of cast iron (it's ok if you want to work copper or other soft thin metal, just not steel or iron). My first anvil was actually half of a reject granite headstone, worked great if you stayed off the corners. RxR coupling knuckle, fork lift tine on end, "drops" large steel cut-offs from a steel yard, yes even RxR track (not a favorite of mine, but works). In short use what you can find or acquire until you can up grade. ABANA has a great thread on how to test used/old anvils for quality of service, not hard once you learn how. You can "blame" Forged in Fire for the jump in prices/pound if you want, wasn't their intent just a side product of entertainment. Anvils are the king of tools and good ones will always be pricey (unless you get lucky - happens all the time).

Your best bet all round is to find some locals that have some experience and get a little hands-in/hands-on experience even if you have to pay a little. This will save you a lot of guessing, backtracking and frustration.
Little research and you will find there are several smiths and knifemakers closer than you might think. They aren't standing at the end of their driveways with signs and seldom go out looking for conscripts, but almost everyone of them I know are willing to share what they know, just like here.

I said all this not to dissuade you from moving forward, but to instill an awareness of the journey ahead. Most of the makers you respect have thousands of knives under their belts and more than a few years learning and developing their approach to this craft.

Side note - fill out your profile, including you general location. You might be living right down the road from someone on here.


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  #8  
Old 10-04-2017, 07:15 AM
danjmath danjmath is offline
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No forging in the shed. Check
HF iron is a waste. Check

Current plan is to do a portable forge ala dtec1's suggestion, and keep scrounging for an anvil-like piece of metal.

My uncle's-friends-brother is a bladesmith who works mostly with D2, and I will pay him to do the heat-treatment for a D2 kitchen knife I am making for my parents for Christmas, but currently I am just making knives for my own use, and honestly doing the heat-treat has been one of the more enjoyable parts of the creation process for me.

I am sure they are not the highest quality, but they skate a file, and my edges have held up better than the $30 gerber/buck knives I own, though maybe not as nice as my $40 kershaw.

My current WIP is a 200mm Yangiba on which I am going to attempt to make a Hamon. Probably a little beyond my skill level, but again, its for personal use, I enjoy the work, and whatever the outcome, I consider it a learning experience.

Thanks again for the input. This is why I asked before I even built the shed.

Also-I will update my profile. I have looked at blacksmithing classes locally, but what I have found is either prohibitively expensive, or focused on using coal-forges doing decorative iron-work, which I am sure I would learn a lot from, but making knives is what interests me most.

Last edited by danjmath; 10-04-2017 at 07:19 AM.
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  #9  
Old 10-04-2017, 03:58 PM
epicfail48 epicfail48 is offline
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Originally Posted by danjmath View Post
No forging in the shed. Check
HF iron is a waste. Check

Current plan is to do a portable forge ala dtec1's suggestion, and keep scrounging for an anvil-like piece of metal.

My uncle's-friends-brother is a bladesmith who works mostly with D2, and I will pay him to do the heat-treatment for a D2 kitchen knife I am making for my parents for Christmas, but currently I am just making knives for my own use, and honestly doing the heat-treat has been one of the more enjoyable parts of the creation process for me.

I am sure they are not the highest quality, but they skate a file, and my edges have held up better than the $30 gerber/buck knives I own, though maybe not as nice as my $40 kershaw.

My current WIP is a 200mm Yangiba on which I am going to attempt to make a Hamon. Probably a little beyond my skill level, but again, its for personal use, I enjoy the work, and whatever the outcome, I consider it a learning experience.

Thanks again for the input. This is why I asked before I even built the shed.

Also-I will update my profile. I have looked at blacksmithing classes locally, but what I have found is either prohibitively expensive, or focused on using coal-forges doing decorative iron-work, which I am sure I would learn a lot from, but making knives is what interests me most.
Putting a hamon on a blade isn't quite as complicated as people make it seem. Don't get me wrong, its still bloody complicated, but the way that some people describe it would make you think Hephaestus himself would struggle with it. All you really need is a clay-like coating that'll handle the heat and a shallow hardening steel. My personal favorites are 1095 and Rutland's Furnace cement. Thin the cement a bit with water, put a layer on the blade about 1/8" thick (works for me, more or less may be needed), and make sure to stay away from the edge by at least 1/4". Heat to critical, 1450-1500f, then quench in a relatively fast quenchant. I like Parks 50, brine can be used but is risky, heated canola oil might work but doesn't give much activity in the hamon.

As far as the D2 kitchen knife goes, you may want to reconsider the choice of steel. Can't say I've tried it personally, but general experience seems to suggest that D2 gets a little chippy with thin edges, something about large chromium carbides. I'd recommend either 1084 or O1 for a blade like that, both are exceedingly easy to heat treat and take a wicked edge.
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Old 10-05-2017, 12:23 AM
danjmath danjmath is offline
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D2 was chosen because there is a local blade smith who works exclusively with D2 and will do the heat-treatment for a good price and I don't have to pay shipping, plus its for my mother, who does not wipe her kitchen knifes off as often as she should.
I don't want it to be stainless, because I want her to get in the habit of not leaving knives wet, but I also wanted it to be a little more stain resistant. Also, I hear it holds an edge well, because she never sharpens her knives. I usually do it once a year when I can no longer cut warm butter with them.
I will see how it goes, if I don't like the results I wont use it after the 36" piece I got is gone.

As for Parks 50, I have been agonizing over the $150 for 5 gallons of it shipped here, or investing that $150 into a better belt grinder than my HF 1x30 PoC. Open for advice on which to get first.
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  #11  
Old 10-05-2017, 01:21 AM
epicfail48 epicfail48 is offline
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Originally Posted by danjmath View Post
As for Parks 50, I have been agonizing over the $150 for 5 gallons of it shipped here, or investing that $150 into a better belt grinder than my HF 1x30 PoC. Open for advice on which to get first.
Depends, do you plan on doing a lot of work with shallow hardening steels like 1095? Or hamon work, for that matter. If you do, get the oil first. You can make knives with the grinder you have now, its just slower, but if you cant heat-treat them you're kinda boned. Now, I'm not saying that parks is the only way to quench the faster steels, but I will say that I think its the best. Its right up there with water in terms of quench speed, so the blades will actually harden, but I've yet to have a blade crack or snap in the parks. If you want to see a grown man sob, ask me about the blades I've lost to a brine quench...

Of course, the Parks is only a necessity, in my opinion at least, for the steels that require fast quenches like the mentioned 1095, w1/2 and the like. Steels like 1084 or O1 don't require as fast a quench, so Parks would be overkill for those. Warm peanut or canola oil make a great quenchant for those. Of course, warm peanut or canola oil can work for 1095 as well, but you have to be extremely careful about oil temperature. How careful? Well, 120f oil will harden knife blade thicknesses, 80-90 will fail to harden. Old oil will fail to harden. And have you ever tried heating 3 gallons of oil to 120f? Pain in the bloody neck, that. Parks 50 has a working temp range of 60-180f, if memory serves, and I've never had a blade fail to harden in it

And for what its worth, unless you're going for something that requires 1095, like hamon work, 1084 may be the better pick. Performance of the blades will be near identical, but the easier heat-treatment of the 1084 makes it a lot easier to work with.
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Old 10-05-2017, 05:02 AM
dtec1 dtec1 is offline
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If I were you I would get some canola...I always used 5 gal (when I used canola) simple get a large piece of scrap steel get it red hot and stir it in keep doing that till the canola is heated the biger the scrap steel the less amount of times you would need to do it. and just use 1084 and learn that well first....put that money away and save much more to get a good grinder if you can save the money ideally a 2x72 is the best but because of price a lot go for a 2x48 or something like that but most eventually end up with a 2x72 personally I skipped the smaller grinders and went right to the 2x72 less money spent in the entire scheme of things

Oh a problem I had with the hammon when I first did them is I would scrape the edge of the clay off with a popsicle stick but it always left a tiny bit of clay where I didn't want it and left a blury hammon line. after you scrape the excess off I go back with a wet q tip and clean up the edge so its a nice sharpe edge...if you do that it should come out good
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Old 10-05-2017, 08:46 AM
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Ray Rogers Ray Rogers is offline
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BTW, 1084 will take a hamon also, maybe not quite as well as 1095 but good just the same. Also, a hamon has more effect on a blade than just looks. Depending on the thickness of the clay the area above the hamon can come out very soft. If you have a very soft back and you let the hamon get close to the edge that means most of the blade is soft and that's not good for durability. My rule is not to let the clay cover more than half the blade width. The actual hamon won't form on the border of the clay, it will form ahead of that so the hamon will still be more than half way down the blade. I like the clay thickness to equal the thickness of the blade stock, that usually leaves some hardness in the blade's spine....


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