There's a feeling of satisfaction when you are holding your custom-made knife in your hand. There is a true connection if you are the one that fabricated the knife that you are holding.
It is said that you "become one with the knife" when you have carefully crafted the knife with your own hands. From designing and shaping the blade, heat treating it, to polishing and fitting the handle, it becomes part of you.
If you have the desire to "become one with the knife" and craft your own custom knife, then there are some tools and supplies that you will need to acquire first. Once you have the required tools and supplies in hand, you will also need to acquire the skills necessary to begin work on your own custom creation. Knowledge of knife steels, heat treating and production of a fine quality knife can be found in our book, "Knife Steel Simplified"
There are two common custom knife production methods. First, there is the age old method of forging , like a blacksmith. In the forging method, your heat up a piece of knife steel and hammer it to the desired shape. The second method is the stock removal method, where you begin with a flat piece of knife steel and cut and grind to the desired shape. First let's delve into the tools required to begin forging a knife blade.
Many knifemakers choose to forge their knives, because it feels more primitive, gives them greater control and flexibility with their artistic side. Some may choose this method to take out the day's frustrations. Either way, forging has regained some of its' appeal during the last couple of decades.
Regardless, forging your own knife requires few tools to get started.
This is the most important piece of equipment used by custom knifemakers. The forge is used to heat the blade steel in order to facilitate the shaping process. Having the proper size forge helps to ensure the quality of the knife blade. This forge offers dual propane burners to provide even heat throughout the chamber and a full 19" length for production of long knife blades. It can heat up to 2300 degree F and uses a 20 pound propane tank as its' heating source. The Hell's Forge is produced in the USA, assuring that it will provide the quality that you require.
Equally as important as the heat source, is the anvil. This is where the shaping of the metal takes place. A high-quality anvil is often overlooked, until you begin the forging process and discover that a cheap model doesn't perform as you had hoped. Don't skimp on the size of the anvil. You will learn to use all of the space on its' surface, and wish that you had more. This Vevor 66 pound anvil is set for the job. It is drop forged and hardened to RC 50. It provides a large flat surface for flattening of your blade, with various rounding and flattening horns.
Of course, you are going to be doing some metal bashing, so you will need a big enough hammer. No little 1 or 2 pound hammer is going to provide enough force to shape the steel into your desired shape. This 4 pound forged steel hammer will get the work done. It features a broad flat face on one side and a wide peening surface one the opposite end.
You are going to need a way to get your hot metal out of the forge and onto your anvil. You will need a set of tongs, not thongs (but if you are interested you can find them here.) These tongs will assist you in doing that and to manipulate your blade on the anvil as you shape it.
When playing with fire you are going to need some heat protection. Your hands are the most vulnerable to heat exposure, after all the forge is producing temperatures of 1800F + degrees. These gloves provide protection from heat through the use of Kevlar double reinforced leather padding and an insulation layer sandwiched between a comfortable interior.
Now with a general understanding of the tools required to tackle your new interest in custom knifemaking, it's time to pick up your copy of "Knife Steel Simplified" and gather the necessary tools to begin pounding away. It has become such a satisfying hobby for many people.
If you are interested in the stock removal method of custom knifemaking, you can find the information in our next newsletter which you can sign up for below. Just enter you email address to receive our next mailing.