I've only tried to make 2 knives since I've been blacksmithing and neither turned out acceptable. One was made out of a railroad spike and could be considered a "work in progress" since it wasn't completed and could be salvaged I guess. The other I made at the California Blacksmith Association Spring Conference. It was an Iron Age Knife (Kvinde Kniv) taught by Beth Holmberg (California Blacksmith Association 6/2015 newsletter; Indiana Blacksmithing Association newsletter 6/2015). While the knife I made is essentially a good guide to what not to do, it makes a good project since it isn't complicated and can be done by a beginner (other than me). Most valuable tip I took away from the project was peening out the blade vs grinding it down and leaving a slightly thicker edge. The thicker edge helps keep the blade from warping, and is easily ground/filed down in finishing. Also found out that peining out the edge can cause the top of the blade to curl upwards, so you have to watch out for that and straighten as necessary.

Damascus Knife Workshop

Grizzly Iron Works, Phoenix, AZ

What a weekend! It started Friday afternoon. Roger and his son Jason had the billets put together, welded, and with handles attached to save time on what proved to be a FULL weekend's work. We started with 21 layers in our billets. First up dipping the billet into kerosene for a few minutes. The kerosene helps get any pockets of air/etc. out of the billet. Now we were all expecting a massive display when we took the kerosene soaked billets out of the can and stuck them into the forge. Thankfully, and sort of disappointedly, we didn't get any pyrotechnic displays. After the first heat we fluxed and then reheated to let the flux get into the billet and start its job of displacing air and cleaning out slagg. Then came the power hammer to begin the forge welding process. More flux, heat, forge, reflux, reheat, reforge. Once we were convinced the billet was successfully forge welded, we drew it out to 2-3 times the original length, then we cut it almost all the way through with an angle grinder and cutting wheel. Back into the forge, then we folded it over on the anvil and forged the two parts into one. Reflux, heat, reforge multiple times and then draw out and cut again. After folding back and reforging we ended up with 84 layer billets. Some in the class took it farther and folded again. All total there were 14 billets forged. Not only were knives made, but also an interesting feather and several bracelets (bribes for the home front for being gone all weekend). Participants were: Ingrid Donaldson, Brock Phalen, Ronald Wicklund, Ken Webb, Jim Dunning, R. J. Sereni, Johnathan Thiel, Tyler Adams, Steve Miller, Jason LaBrash,and Roger "GRIZZ" LaBrash and his watch dog, Swage!

Billet formation

stack metal pieces
Stack of 21 layers of cut & deburred steel
weld together
Then the layers are welded together
weld on handle
Next a handle is welded onto the billet to allow
handling in the forge and power hammer
all of the classes billets ready to go
All the class billets ready to go


Forge Weld the Billets

billets loaded into forge and heating
Our team's billets being heated
one billet being fluxed another being cut
While Jonathan Thiele is fluxing his billet,
Ingrid Donaldson is cutting her billet before
folding it over and reforging
billet being drawn out
Steve Miller drawing
out his billet on the
power hammer
(with Grizz looking on)

dunk tanks for etching
Into the tanks for etching. One tank
contained ferric chloride (the acid)
and the other two TSP (trisodium
phosphate) to neutralize the acid

From Billet to Knife

tang formed
First I shaped the tang
blank blade after pressing pattern
Then I used the hydraulic press and pressing plates
to press a pattern into the blade
blade after first cleaning/grinding
My blade after the initial cleaning/grinding
blade after final shaping and grinding
Then I used the horizontal grinder to grind scale off
blade with handle
Grizz didn't tell us beforehand that the handle
is the hardest part. He's right! It's a bitch!
Since the class I've been reading Jim Hrisoulas's
book and it gives a much easier way to attach
the handle.

Basically you:

Finished Products

The class members produced all this in only one weekend!

    Gee Mom, look what else I've found!

Wisdom of my father: "It takes more of a man to walk away from a fight than to stay and fight." Hit counter