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Blacksmithing Project: Making a simple knife out of an old file

There are of course many practical purposes for blacksmithing. And one of these purposes (and maybe the most fun and interesting) is the making of bladed weapons like knives and swords. In this tutorial I show you how to take a file and smith it into a knife.



The Above picture shows you the file I am using for this tutorial. It has already undergone step one of the process:

Step 1: Normalizing

Using either a very hot camp fire or your forge place the file in it until it glows red hot. But it has to reach a certain temperature and you probably don't have a blacksmith thermometer so what you do is put a magnet up against it. If the magnet sticks then it needs to get hotter. If the magnet doesn't stick then you have achieved the right temperature. Now you need to very slowly cool this file back down to air temperature. This should take several hours and preferably over night. Just let the fire burn out, leaving the file right inside. Over the course of time the fire goes out and the file cools - very slowly.

This proces is called Normalizing the metal. It softens and stresss relieves the steel so it can be worked on.

Sorry to have disappointed you but you have to wait until tomorrow to work on your knife some more!

Step 2: Rough shaping the blade


Rough forging the shape of the knife

You heat the knife to working temperature and rough hammer it into the desired knife shape. You can use a variety of smithing tools or techniques to get the shape. For instance you may want to hot cut the end to give it the shape of a tanto. Or you could hot cut the tang off the other end of the file. You could also use a technique called Back Face Shearing to trim off the tang or the end of the blade.


grinding the blade

Grinding the blade and tang

You can use a wide variety of tools to get the knife into the shape you want. You can do this rather than the heating on the forge or you can do it in tandem. A variety of grinders and belt sanders will work well for this.



More coming.