The Art and Science of Forging Blades

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The Art and Science of Forging Blades

Post  Gentleman Jack on Sat Mar 26, 2016 11:15 pm

I have always been attracted, no, fascinated by the ancient Japanese society of warriors and scholars, often one and the same. A man of war, trained from a very young man in the way of the sword, yet grateful for the chance to work with tiny trees grown in pots. As astute in making pottery, soils, and the seasons as he was in martial arts. so, with that introduction, I too began to work with bonsai's and later, decided to teach myself how to forge knives and swords. I killed many trees before I gained enough expertise to learn how to collect trees successfully; likewise, I ruined tons of perfectly good steel until I had surety and mastery of forging.

This thread is intended as an on-going conversation into both subjects, although my intent (if you folks are interested) is to dwell on forging blades. My real name isn't Gentleman jack, that's what I like to drink, I am David Stifle, and I have been making swords and knives for 15 years.  As this goes on, I will introduce you to some of the best sword makers on the planet, many of whom are my friends. As an opening, however, I show you one of my own humble work products. A Chinese style Jian. More will come if you wish.

Gentleman Jack
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Re: The Art and Science of Forging Blades

Post  ironhorse on Sat Mar 26, 2016 11:48 pm

That is an impressive creation - yes please, I would like to see more!

Dave

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Re: The Art and Science of Forging Blades

Post  Gentleman Jack on Sun Mar 27, 2016 12:00 am

ironhorse wrote:That is an impressive creation - yes please, I would like to see more!

Dave
I'm happy you are interested. Hopefully there will be other folks as well as we move on. This won't be a slam bang type of thread, though, rather one I will post in as the opportunity arises.

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Re: The Art and Science of Forging Blades

Post  Dave Leppo on Sun Mar 27, 2016 1:35 am

I really dig that sword, David

I have dabbled with bladesmithing off and on for years. I have a few old works on the Bladesmith's Forum

I would like to make a pattern-welded Bonsai knife, like maybe a draw knife, someday.

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Re: The Art and Science of Forging Blades

Post  Gentleman Jack on Sun Mar 27, 2016 1:54 am

The Bladesmith Forum is a fine forum, Dave. It was established by Don Fogg, a bladesmith legend and one of the few men in the world who consistently got outstanding hamon's. A hamon is the tempering line one sees on Samurai swords. It is achieved by artistically applying a very thin layer of clay to the blade prior to the heat treatment. The smith has to exactly get the exact temperature for this to work. He usually either works in a dim workspace, or at night because he has to watch the color of the blade. When the temperature is just right, the colors will wash over the blade like a sheen of water. At that point, he plunges the sword into water. This is the make or break moment. If the blade is too hot, or too thin, it will crack. This happens frequently even to the very best smiths. Also, when the blade enters the water it is straight, but due to the tremendous stress upon the blade it curves upward, this is known as sori, the traditional curvature of a samurai sword. Making a pattern wielded blade is difficult at first, but once you learn a few tricks it makes it much easier. When you do decide to make your blade, I'll be happy to answer your questions, as will all the guys on Bladesmith forum. In the meantime, here is the Cloudcutter, perhaps, Mr. fogg's most famous collaborative with his friend and fellow mastersmith, Jimmy Fikes.

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Re: The Art and Science of Forging Blades

Post  Bruce Winter on Sun Mar 27, 2016 3:40 am

Netflix has a great PBS documentary on the making of katana. Lethal beauty.

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Re: The Art and Science of Forging Blades

Post  Gentleman Jack on Sun Mar 27, 2016 3:44 am

Bruce Winter wrote:Netflix has a great PBS documentary on the making of katana. Lethal beauty.
I don't have Netflix...yet. It's something I intend to rectify. Sounds good. Smile I've seen several documentaries on making a katana. Some good, others not so much.

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Re: The Art and Science of Forging Blades

Post  Dave Leppo on Sun Mar 27, 2016 3:54 am

here's my hamon knife
http://www.bladesmithsforum.com/index.php?showtopic=22352&hl=%2Beast+%2Bmeets+%2Bwest

David, what do you think of "Forged in Fire" on the so-called History channel?

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Re: The Art and Science of Forging Blades

Post  Gentleman Jack on Sun Mar 27, 2016 4:03 am

Dave Leppo wrote:here's my hamon knife
http://www.bladesmithsforum.com/index.php?showtopic=22352&hl=%2Beast+%2Bmeets+%2Bwest

David, what do you think of "Forged in Fire" on the so-called History channel?
You made a darned nice little utility knife, Dave. I bet it's come it handy in a hundred different ways. As for Forged in Fire, I have certain criticisms, but in general I think it's a good show and I admire the nerve of the smiths. It takes a lot of courage to go on national TV and either be a hero or a failed contestant. I personally would not do it, I work too slowly.

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Re: The Art and Science of Forging Blades

Post  Gentleman Jack on Mon Mar 28, 2016 3:22 pm

This is a knife I made at the mid-way point in my knife making career. I will be showing some swords soon, both mine and from my friends. If anyone has any questions, feel free to put them up.
Il

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Re: The Art and Science of Forging Blades

Post  AlainK on Mon Mar 28, 2016 4:37 pm

Very nice work! And I'm no fan at all of any kind of weapon Wink

I saw how a traditional craftsman makes swords in Japan: he used ferruginous sand found only in a very limited area, then built a 3 metres (91/2 feet) high sort of kiln.

What he got at the end was the most resistant iron that can be found (that's what they said!). Then the blade is made of different layers at different parts along the length of the sword (hammering process that I can't remember well), the hardest iron (or rather, steel?) was for the sharpened edge, the other layers giving it more flexibility.

Forging blades is a real art, and to me, you're an artist Wink

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Re: The Art and Science of Forging Blades

Post  Gentleman Jack on Mon Mar 28, 2016 5:35 pm

AlainK wrote:Very nice work! And I'm no fan at all of any kind of weapon Wink

I saw how a traditional craftsman makes swords in Japan: he used ferruginous sand found only in a very limited area, then built a 3 metres (91/2 feet) high sort of kiln.

What he got at the end was the most resistant iron that can be found (that's what they said!). Then the blade is made of different layers at different parts along the length of the sword (hammering process that I can't remember well), the hardest iron (or rather, steel?) was for the sharpened edge, the other layers giving it more flexibility.

Forging blades is a real art, and to me, you're an artist Wink
Thank you, Alain. You stated it correctly. The Japanese smiths were faced with the problem of impure iron ore. In the process of making blades, they discovered they could get rid of the impurities by repeatedly hammering it out, folding it, and repeating the process. Actually watching how the traditional Japanese sword is made is fascinating, and certainly an example of coordinated teamwork. A samurai sword, made by a master, is truly a work of art. I do it for the challenge and creative satisfaction.

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Re: The Art and Science of Forging Blades

Post  Bruce Winter on Mon Mar 28, 2016 10:35 pm

AlainK wrote:Very nice work! And I'm no fan at all of any kind of weapon Wink

I saw how a traditional craftsman makes swords in Japan: he used ferruginous sand found only in a very limited area, then built a 3 metres (91/2 feet) high sort of kiln.

What he got at the end was the most resistant iron that can be found (that's what they said!). Then the blade is made of different layers at different parts along the length of the sword (hammering process that I can't remember well), the hardest iron (or rather, steel?) was for the sharpened edge, the other layers giving it more flexibility.

Forging blades is a real art, and to me, you're an artist Wink

This is what is shown in the film I mentioned. They choose each small piece if iron ore to make tamahagane, crystal steel. I was once talking with a new love interest and said, "I have a thing for sharp blades." She said, "oh?" Laughing

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Re: The Art and Science of Forging Blades

Post  Gentleman Jack on Mon Mar 28, 2016 11:24 pm

Bruce Winter wrote:
AlainK wrote:Very nice work! And I'm no fan at all of any kind of weapon Wink

I saw how a traditional craftsman makes swords in Japan: he used ferruginous sand found only in a very limited area, then built a 3 metres (91/2 feet) high sort of kiln.

What he got at the end was the most resistant iron that can be found (that's what they said!). Then the blade is made of different layers at different parts along the length of the sword (hammering process that I can't remember well), the hardest iron (or rather, steel?) was for the sharpened edge, the other layers giving it more flexibility.

Forging blades is a real art, and to me, you're an artist Wink

This is what is shown in the film I mentioned. They choose each small piece if iron ore to make tamahagane, crystal steel.  I was once talking with a new love interest and said, "I have a thing for sharp blades." She said, "oh?" Laughing
Haha. The question is, Bruce, did she stay? Smile

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Re: The Art and Science of Forging Blades

Post  Bruce Winter on Tue Mar 29, 2016 1:38 am

Yes.....for a while. Crying or Very sad

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Re: The Art and Science of Forging Blades

Post  Gentleman Jack on Tue Mar 29, 2016 1:51 am

Bruce Winter wrote:Yes.....for a while. Crying or Very sad
Lol.

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