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How to Make a subhilt knife part 8: Heat treating the blade: Tempering it

In this part of the tutorial we soften up the blade a little bit in a process called tempering. This is where we heat it up gently to about 450-500 degrees fahrenheit and quench it.


Part 1 of this tutorial is here



Clean the knife

We need to heat the blade only a bit (450-500) and we can't use the magnet test for this. We need to do it by the color of the steel. We are looking for it to get wheat colored. That means it is at the right temperature. So, clean all the dirt and slag off the knife with a piece of emory paper. It is easy to clean.


Re heating the blade

We heat it up less by not putting it so close to the fire. This is how I do it. This way it is a few inches away from the fire.

As in the first heating, watch it closely, move it around and turn it over often. You want it to slowly get an even heat.


reheat to wheat

And here it is, almost there. Part of it is wheat color (on the left) the tip and right still need a little more heat. You will know you are overheating it because it will go past wheat and turn plum color.

That's it. Once it is wheat color you can quench it again. And you are done with the hardening and tempering.


emory the blade

Ok, once it cools we can polish the blade. This takes some time but is worth the effort. You go through a series of grits of emory paper. Start out with the rougher grits and work your way to finer and finer grits. I usually start around 80-120 then progress through 220, 400 and 600. Occasionally I will go to 800 and 1200 to get it a really shiny mirror like finish.

polishing the guards

And don't forget to emory the guards both large and small. I didn't go through a full progression of grits with mine. Most of the guards don't show at all. I just did the first two grits on them.



A rondel

Forge a Rondel from a Railroad Spike

A rondel is a medieval sticking weapon that was used in the middle ages. Interesting little project and easy to make from a railroad spike. How to forge a medieval Rondel.


Railroad spike knife

Make a Railroad Spike Knife

This is a great little project if you are just beginning in blacksmithing. RR spikes are so easy to work with and you can whip up a nice little knife in no time. Practically can't do wrong with a project like this and it will help you to develop a feel for hammering hot metal. Make a railroad spike knife.