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Recommendation? Champagne Saber project help

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by Reuben Kruger, Feb 11, 2020.

  1. Reuben Kruger

    Reuben Kruger

    Jan 14, 2020
    Hi all,

    I recently got an order for a champagne saber. I have only been making knives for about one and a half year now, so this totally blew me away. I accepted the order and decided to do this one by stock removal. I cut the blank out of 14C28N stainless steel, and I have a few questions I would like to ask of more experienced makers than myself.

    Firstly, a bit more info on the blade:
    • Made of 2.5mm (about 3/32 inch I think) thick 14C28N stainless steel.
    • The design is really simple. It literally looks like a huge trailing point knife and is 45 cm (about 17.5 inch) long overall. The blade is 45mm wide (1.7 inch). There is no guard or anything, only a normal full tang handle. This example looks almost exactly like the one that I am making:

    I would like your opinion on the following things:

    1. What type of edge should I grind on? It seems to me that the example above has no grind/bevel at all. What do you think? To saber a champagne bottle successfully, a dull or just square edge must be used, as the glass will damage a sharp and thin edge. I plan to put a distal taper on the blade so that at least the tip is sharp and not square. 2.5mm is quite thick to leave it unground without a bevel, so I think I should maybe put a flat grind on it and leave the edge 1 - 1.5mm thick. (By the way, I have no contact wheels so hollow grinds are not an option.) I could also thin the edge a bit by putting a convex grind on and blending it in so that no plunge line is visible. I would like to hear your thoughts on this.

    2. I do not know how I should heat treat this blade. I have no heat treating ovens or anything, just a forge and a quench tank filled with vegetable oil. I have successfully quenched 14C28N blades before that were smaller and about 4mm thick. I am a bit scared that this thin a blade would warp easily in such a basic quench. I could just not heat treat it at all and leave it soft, as it will not have a sharp edge, but then it would probably bend when used. I know that blades can be straightened in the temper by clamping them to a straight object. I really need your help on this.

    A few bits of stray information:
    • I plan to do all grinding after heat treatment (if it is gonna happen). This way I can leave the blade as thick as possible going into the quench.
    • The blade due date is 28 February, so time is not in excess here!!
    • The blade will have a 800 grit hand sanded finish.

    I look forward to hearing from you! Please respond quickly!

    Thank you in advance,
  2. Ken H>

    Ken H>

    Dec 31, 2011
    Since nobody has chimed in yet I'll toss a couple of ideas out. 14C28N is a very good knife steel. Since you're not putting an edge on it, you don't need the top of line HT, just something to make the blade hard and not "bendy". Here is a couple of ideas, not even thinking they would work for a real blade. Of course, some folks will say anything that looks like a blade MUST be property HT'd with everything done right. That's why I suggest leaving blade flat with no attempt at a bevel. Then there's no mistaking this for a real blade.

    What type of edge? From what you wrote, why put an edge at all. Just leave the blade flat, unless you're wanting a grind line to show to make it look more like a real saber. 3/32" is pretty thin already, only around .090" thick. If I did grind it, I'd only make a couple of passes on each side to create the saber grind look with grind line about halfway up the blade, otherwise I'd just leave it flat.

    How to HT with forge? I'd use a muffler tube in the forge with someway to measure temperature, you need something in the 1900F to 1950F range. I'd wrap in SS foil to protect the metal, then clamp between aluminum (or steel) plates to air cool, and plates will prevent warp. Of course temper around 400F for a couple of hours. Even if the final HT is only 45Rc or so you'll still be good for your use.
    Heli00 and seanj like this.
  3. Reuben Kruger

    Reuben Kruger

    Jan 14, 2020
    Thanks alot for your quick reply!

    I have no experience in doing plate quenches, could you maybe give a bit more info on that I would appreciate it. I was planning initially to just leave it flat, but 2.5mm seemed a bit thick when I had the blank in hand. So maybe I should do the following:

    Grind distal taper so that tip is sharp and not square. Leave the rest of the blade flat and then plate quench it. Hand sand and put a handle on.
    I think no grind at all is the best option, as it looks like in the picture in my first post.

    Thank you for your advice!!
  4. FredyCro


    Jan 11, 2019
    If you have a paying order why wouldn't you outsource your heat treat and be done with it? Temper it down to a lower range of hardness/optimal point of toughness for your steel. It wouldn't be impressive if the first bottle they opened with it left the blade marked or crooked.
  5. Reuben Kruger

    Reuben Kruger

    Jan 14, 2020
    It is 16 days till my due date, so outsourcing is not an option. I would like your opinion on the options for beveling the blade as mentioned in th above posts.
  6. Ken H>

    Ken H>

    Dec 31, 2011
    Plate quench is simply taking two metal bars (aluminum best, iron ok) and clamping the blade between the two plates. Remember, for 14C28N all you have to do for quench is get temp below 1100F or so in 2 minutes, air cooling will almost do that. The advantage of plate quench is preventing warps. Ideal is aluminum bar 1" thick by 3" wide and as long as the blade. BUT, for your project a 1/4" thick iron bar would work just fine, as soon as clamped, spray a water mist from hose over plates to help with cooling. I'm talking ONLY for this project, NOT a "real" knife blade.

    "IF" I did a distal taper it would be a very slight taper, 3/32" is pretty thin already.
  7. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    Make the bevels as normal and end with an edge about 1.5mm wide. Have it flat with crisp 90 degree edges. That should break the ring easily.
    Reuben Kruger likes this.
  8. Ken H>

    Ken H>

    Dec 31, 2011
    Since the blade is only 2.5mm (.094") thick, putting 1/2mm (.020") bevel on each side should be enough to make the bevel actually show if a saber grind is used. That would look good.
  9. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    You can make it like a funny looking chef's knife like the ones in the images, or make it with a sword type handle and a blade about 14-16" (35-40cm) long.

    I saw one done like a skort wakizashi that looked really cool. It had the tassel cord and all the koshirae. Someday I will make one like it.
    WValtakis likes this.
  10. Reuben Kruger

    Reuben Kruger

    Jan 14, 2020
    Thanks all for your advice. I decided to make it look like the pictures, because that is what I promised the client. So I am grinding a concave bevel of 0.5mm. I'm now busy handsanding to 400 grit before heat treating. Will send pictures of the process.
  11. Rhinoknives1

    Rhinoknives1 KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jul 1, 2013
    Rule No 1 if you want to make & sell your handmade knives. The knife is ready when you are done with it!:) .. Don’t make unreasonable deadlines for yourself. Your quality will suffer & so will you! The saying goes, Under promise, & over deliver! Well I know I said 6 months mr customer but I’ve got it ready for you now at 3 Months. Grind it out.. Send it to Buck Knives “Paul Bos” ..That usually takes 3 weeks or less for me.. Stay safe, Have fun!
  12. 3fifty7

    3fifty7 Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 24, 2016
    Best of luck to you, sounds like you will need a lot of it.
  13. Ken H>

    Ken H>

    Dec 31, 2011
    Laurence, the OP is in South Africa so Paul Bos might be a problem with HT'ing, time wise anyway. Seems like the customer came to OP wanting a quick order done, perhaps only 3 or 4 wks ahead of time.

    Reuben, Those photos you have in your first post, are they actual champagne sabers? OR, is that something the custom came to you saying he wanted? Remember, as I said in first response I have NO idea what champagne sabers should look like, never seen one, and had never heard of them until a yr or so ago when the topic came up and Stacy educated us on them and how they were used.

    Reuben, good luck and have fun :)

    Rhinoknives1 likes this.
  14. Reuben Kruger

    Reuben Kruger

    Jan 14, 2020
    The pictures are of champagne sabers. I showed them to the client and she approved that that is what she wanted. She placd the order in the first week of feb, and their wedding anniversary is 6 March, so it wasnt me who set the deadline. I will post a picture of the finished poduct when I'm done.

    I will still have fun, although I am juggling schoolwork, handsanding till 1 in the morning and living a 15 year old's life. LOL
    Ken H> likes this.

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