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Getting things started - Doug Ayen's Blacksmithing Blog [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Doug Ayen

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Getting things started [May. 2nd, 2002|03:50 pm]
Doug Ayen
This is the start of a blog and journal devoted to blacksmithing, with some life comments, but with a major focus on my favorite activity, bladesmithing and weaponmaking.

To get things started, I guess I should say that what I really enjoy doing is picking a weapon from a period of time, say a 3rd century AD Celtic bronze longsword, doing the research to figure out what materials they used, the alloys, the shape, weight, balance, and so forth for the long-bladed hand tool, and trying to duplicate it. I also do modern work, more creative stuff, and plan to retire from my day job at some point and do this full time.

Right now my right hand is recovering from a broken fifth metacarpal, so I'm just doing some research and design work. My current big project is to design and make a good, handmade chef's knife. I had finished forging out a blank that I wasn't terribly happy with before breaking my hand, so once the Dr. says it's OK to start hammering again, I'll probably just start over.

Stats on this knife:

Steel: L6
Length: 10" blade, 14" overall
Stainless bolsters, blade and tang are tapered, handle will be synthetic as this is just a test blade, differentially heat treated blade. Balance should be in the bolster, which will be silver soldered onto the blade after heat treatment. Finish will be a satin finish (3M scotch bright belt, medium or fine)

I chose the L6 for this one as the user wanted a blade that was at least semi-stainless. This is a bit of an experiment, as we'll have to see if this is stainless enough for an average kitchen.

I'm doing this because I feel that most modern kitchen knives are often crappy stainless (too soft, often too brittle despite the lack of hardness) and in my opinion often badly designed. Sure, the softer metal is easier to sharpen, but you have to sharpen it every day, often multiple times a day that way. A properly hardened knife of L6, O1, or other modern knife steel (which does not include 440C) will keep an edge practically forever unless you're chopping through bone or using a glass cutting board (don't get me started). I've seen big-name knives with loose handles, big gaps between blade and handle, visible scratches, warping, and big old chips in the edge. I can do better than that -- much better. Of course, I expect to be paid for my work . . .

More on the subject of knife design and suchlike tomorrow.