Here’s a picture of the forge in use. You can’t tell, but there’s a knife blank in there. It is currently annealing, cooling down slowly in a bucket of pearlite.
By request, here’s a post about the simple fire-brick forge that I made.
First of all, this is not designed to be a blacksmithing forge. I guess you could do some small blacksmithing with it, but I’m really just making it to heat treat knife blades.
The idea is to stack up insulating fire bricks in such a way as to form a small chamber. Inside that chamber, you can heat your steel with a torch, and it will retain its heat better because it’s not losing to the air like it normally would. This allows you to heat an entire knife blank with a simple plumbing torch.
So, first thing was to buy some fire bricks. I went to a wood stove store and bought several of these for three bucks apiece. They’re approximately 8″ x 4″ x 1.5″:
Then, to make things a little slicker, I cut them. This step wasn’t necessary, but it allowed me to make a small forge with only 4 bricks instead of the 7 that I started out with.
To cut them, I mounted up a cut-off wheel into my drill press, and using the tabble, scored a cut around the perimeter of the brick, approximately 0.25″ – 0.5″. Once it was scored, I was able to snap the bricks in half.
Now for the assembly:
Here are all four of the bricks. One is not cut, one is cut along the length, and two along the width.
You end up with an inner chamber just the right size for a medium-sized knife blank, and by moving the bricks around, you can easily make up to 3 openings — 2 on the ends, and one in the top.
Using it is easy — stick the lit torch in one opening, and open up at least one more to get things flowing.
My brother pointed these out to me, so I had to try it myself.
This is a trade point arrowhead that I made from from a flattened out spoon I bought from the dollar store.
This was attempt #3, and the first one that I wasn’t embarassed by.
1. Get spoon.
2. Hammer it flat.
3. Draw out the arrowhead shape.
4. Rough-cut with a hacksaw.
5. Clean up with belt sander, file, and finally sharpening stone.
6. Take pretty picture
We heat our home with two woodburning stoves, and having a working bellows will make it much easier for us to get the fires started in the morning.
So I made this bellows out of a foot pump (probably for an air mattress or something like that) that I picked up at a garage sale and a length of copper tubing. The tubing is so long so that we can stick one end of the tubing right into the fire and blow air into it without even having to bend over.
One thing that I had a really hard time with on the knives I’ve made before was getting a good, even grind on the blade. Here’s a simple jig that makes it much easier. It’s made from a 2×2, and the knife rests in a slot which is cut at a slight angle (this one is nine degrees), and is held in place by thumb screws.
It’s such an elegant solution, I’m embarrassed that I didn’t come up with it myself.
I have been asked for a picture of this jig on the belt sander so you can more easily see how it is used. Here you go:
I’ve played around with knifemaking here and there through the years, but this is the first time I’ve made a knife from start to finish. Two days ago, this knife was nothing more than a board of Oregon oak, a brass rod, an old band saw blade, and some glue.
Not a terribly impressive-looking knife, I know. Wouldn’t want to bring it to a fight. This knife is designed for woodcarving, and thus has a narrow, short blade and a large, comfortable handle.
This is a woodturning tool called an “oland tool” which I made in my shop.
In essence it’s just a little piece of sharpened high-speed steel (HSS) stuck in the end of a metal bar, held in place with screws:
The HSS insert I bought four $4 at Harbor Freight Tools. The rod is 1/2″ cold-rolled steel that I bought at a hardware store and was left over from making my chicken plucker a couple of years ago. The ferrule is made from one of the brass nuts that was with a faucet was being thrown away. The handle is a piece of ash (I’m guessing) that I salvaged from a pallet. The wood wasn’t thick enough, so the handle is flat on both sides at the thickest part. You can still see one of the nail holes from the pallet.
I sometimes really enjoy the recursive nature of making woodworking tools in my woodworking shop. I fluctuate between spending time working in my shop and working on my shop. The first is working on things that are supposed to exit my shop. I did a lot of that during the months leading up to Christmas, so now I’m taking a break spending some time working on my shop.
But it’s not a complete break. Oland tools are mostly used for making bowls, which I’ve barely started playing around with. I’ll surely try out my new tool on a bowl here in the next few days.
Last year I busted in the back window of my pickup while picking up a load of firewood. Ever since, I’ve been really nervous whenever I’ve loaded anything like that, often coming back with less than a full load instead of risking my window again.
So I needed a grate to protect it. I went down to the local metal recycler and go some old metal railing and some expanded metal grating. I cut it to size, painted it, and attached it to my lumber rack.
I kinda felt like I was in an episode of The A-Team, tankifying up my vehicle for the big battle at the end of the episode.
…but it’s getting there.
I don’t know how many times I read through the book Step-By-Step Knifemaking when I was a teen. I even “made” a couple of knives buy buying pre-made blades and then affixing handles onto them.
Then a couple of weeks ago, my dad showed me this video which shows how to make a simple knife using extremely simple methods. I decided that I needed to finally give it a go.
So, yesterday I passed by a used tool store and bought some old files, just like are used in the video. Last night I discovered that, yes, our wood-burning stove gets hot enough to anneal steel, and I spent a good part of today shaping the blade to what you see here.
The next step is to finish gathering all the parts for my brake drum forge so that I can harden this knife. When that’s done, I’ll put a handle on it.