Sadness And Despair, or The Tale of the Broken Blade

Ho all! Sorry for not posting last week. I was procrastinating. But I’m back! Here’s what I did for two weeks:
First, I finished bevelling and grinding my knife.
Then, I finished finishing… No, let’s try that again. I finished polishing my knife. I went up to 1200 grit before realizing that I had to paint it anyway (it being 01 carbon steel) or it would rust. *sigh*…

Then, I did diddly-squat for some time. Now, this was not because I was being lazy. It was because I didn’t have the facillities to heat-treat (harden) my knife. Fortunately, my friend and mentor, Alex Dyas, did. As fortune had it, I only had to wait a day or so to visit. There, we fired up the charcoal forge (I may make a post on this) and got to work.


Some points about this forge:

  1. It’s not that complex. It’s basically a car wheel filled with concrete with a hole in.
  2. The stand is an old barbecue.
  3. The blower is an old vacuum cleaner.

We started by just lighting the charcoal. Then we put the knives in. I say “knives” because we had some other experiments in the works here, as well as some chunks of suspension spring from a car. I do not know how Mr. Alex finds all these things. Please do not ask.


Here, from left to right, you see the three experimental welded reciprocating saw blades, and the chunks of spring.


Here you see Mr. Alex placing the blades in the forge, then a shot of the blades. We hit these really hard with hammers for the better part of two hours, but it’s really hard to photograph yourself when you’re holding a largish hammer in one hand and a red hot chunk of steel (held with channel-locks) in the other. After this came the climax, though. The heat treating. But first, what is heat treating? Well, you basically heat the steel up to “critical temp”, or about 1500 degrees F, then plunge it into a container of oil or water, rapidly cooling it. This does something to the steel, and it becomes super hard and brittle. To make it less brittle, you bake it at the temperature and for the duration that corresponds to your desired final hardness. But enough about that! Let’s go!


Here it goes into the forge…


And here it goes into the oil. Besides looking really cool, it also makes everything smell like your car broke down if you use motor oil, like we did. Here is the knife after hardening.



And now we come to the sad part. Being the impulsive idiot that I am, and seeing that the blade was slightly warped, I decided to try to straighten it. You can imagine what happened…


Tah dah! Anyway, I had to leave around this point, so the ever-indulgent Mr. Alex agreed to try and weld it back together. True to his word, he gave it back to me on Wednesday, two days later. Thank you again, Mr. Alex!


Naturally,  I had to clean up the weld, so I started at it with my file…


And made no progress. So, I brought out the big guns.


This is my hacksaw, with a 24 tpi blade. It was a lot easier.


Next, I tried to do what I could, and decided to try drilling holes for handle pins. Unfortunately, the steel was too hard, seeing as I had just hardened it. So I tried to temper it with my super high tech knifemaking equipment:


My oven, at 500 degrees F, for 2 hours. After two hours, I took the blade out and tried to drill it.


No such luck. 2 hours had not been near enough.


So now, I’m waiting for another opportunity to go to Home or Reno Depot to get a canister of propane.

See you then, and God bless!

Tim

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