Hand crafting knives
Flat or round bar stock is heated in the forge to the appropriate temperature (1500-1800 degrees Fahrenheit ) and then the metal is carefully shaped on the anvil with hammers. The overall shape and the bevels are forged as close as possible to that of the desired finished blade.
The newly forged blade is heated to critical temperature and allowed to cool in still air 1 to 3 times. This is a critical step in determining the performance of the blade in that it helps to relieve the internal stresses that develop in the metal during the forging process which will help prevent warpage later during the heat treatment.
The forged blade is again heated to just past non-magnetic and is buried in a bucket of vermiculite to slowly cool over 8-12 hours. This step reduces the grain size within the steel and gets the steel to its “softest” state to make it easier to hand file and sand.
PROFILING AND COARSE GRINDING:
The overall shape and bevels are refined with hand files and an electric grinder. The surface of the blade is then smoothed and the bevels improved using a sen (drawknife), hand files and sandpaper. This is carried up to 220 grit sandpaper to remove larger scratches and reduce potential stress risers that can encourage cracking of the blade during the quenching process.
STAMP BLADE WITH
The blade is heated and stamped with my “maker’s mark”.
The blade is heated to about 1300 degrees and allowed to cool to black three times. This step is to help ensure a fine and tight grain structure in the metal of the blade.
The blade is again heated to critical temperature and is rapidly cooled in the appropriate quench oil to harden the steel to its maximum hardness. All my blades are differentially quenched by using a “limiter plate” in the quench tank or by using a special clay placed along the spine and tang before quenching. This allows the edge to have maximum hardness for edge retention, but allows some “flexibility” to remain in the spine and tang.
The blade is placed in a special oven at temperatures between 325-450 degrees for 3 cycles of 2 hours each with a water “temper quench” in between each cycle. This step takes away some of the hardness and brittleness from the metal that is produced by quenching. By varying the temperature you can achieve the desired Rockwell hardness for each metal.
FINAL HAND FILING AND SANDING:
The blade shape and surface is further refined and smoothed by using hand files and progressively finer grit sand paper (up to 2000 grit) to remove scratches and polish the blade. If desired, hand filework along the spine of the blade can be added. Once the desired finish has been achieved, the blade can be etched in ferric chloride to bring out the pattern of damascus, reveal a quench line or Hamon Line or to give the high carbon steel a grey patina.
Shaping and fitting the guards, end caps and handles is a meticulous process to obtain a good look and good feel of the knife in the hand. Most handles are affixed to the tang with a combination of Acraglas and peened pins and/or tang. This is followed by multiple applications of Tung oil to the handle followed by buffing and waxing.
The final step is hand sharpening. For field knives the primary edge is 20 degrees (40 comprehensive) and for kitchen knives 15 degrees (30 degrees comprehensive). Each Field Knife comes with a custom leather sheath made by hand for that specific knife by leathersmith Bud Siniard, Upland Custom Leather, also of Watkinsville
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My hope is that you will say: "This is the best knife I've ever owned".