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Should I buy a Heat treat oven or make a forge?

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by Cardinal Knife, Nov 5, 2014.

  1. Cardinal Knife

    Cardinal Knife

    Nov 25, 2007
    Hey guys, haven't posted in a while but I've been creeping around. I was browsing the net looking for mini forge how to's and am wondering if it would be in my best interest to just buy an oven. I saw the evenheats for about 1k. This would allow me to remove a lot of guesswork out of the process. I initially was going to try and heat treat my 01 in a mini forge and send the 440c out to a local treating company, so ostensibly I am still going to be paying someone even though I have my own forge. Also am considering the fact I will have less failures / defects with an oven and will be able to do more than one blade at a time which will save a lot of time

    Would some of you guys mind providing your opinions as to what direction I should go here.
    Thanks Chris
  2. Jason Fry

    Jason Fry KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 5, 2008
    I got an oven first, then built the forge. I've not specialized in either stainless or carbon steel. If you are more the forging type, build a forge. If you're more the grinding type, or more of a generalist, buy an oven.
  3. jawilder


    Jun 27, 2006
    Build a forge, make knives, learn to heat treat with it by testing your blades, then build an oven to make them even better. There's certain tasks you can't do without an oven and certain things you can't a forge. Get both
  4. Fred.Rowe

    Fred.Rowe Dealer / Materials Provider Dealer / Materials Provider

    May 2, 2004
    I would do forge first also. You will learn a lot heat treating with a forge as well as learning the art of forging itself. Heat treating in a programmed oven is easy but not a whole lot of fun.

    Enjoy the trip, Fred
  5. Cardinal Knife

    Cardinal Knife

    Nov 25, 2007
    Guys please don't fry me for saying this but I have no desire to learn how to forge at this stage of my life I absolutely have no time and no one to teach me. When I am older and have more time I do plan on learning the craft and hopefully becoming ABS certified but for now I have much more fun grinding knives and seeing a finished product without having to spend 8 hours in a blacksmith shop. That being said I would like to say I have the utmost respect for people that do their own forging and the traditions that go along with it . Maybe when the kids are off in college and I have a few more hours to spare I can give it a go. For now I just need opinions on what makes more sense. If you guys hold strong to the fact that I will make better knives in the end by heat treating them myself in a forge then I can take that into consideration
  6. jawilder


    Jun 27, 2006
    Well then ask yourself if you will be using more carbon or SS blades. If carbon get a forge. If SS get an oven.

    By the way, Karl Anderson is in your neck of the woods and certainly worth meeting to learn from if you are serious about it.
  7. C_Claycomb


    Dec 11, 2000
    I built a small gas forge. Wish I had made an oven. Only things stopping me from doing so now are a lack of space, curtailed making, and a back log stock of blades I have had treated professionally.

    I too wasn't planning to learn to forge. I started heat treating with a small torch and one-brick forge, working with O-1 flat stock. I learned, but I sometimes question the value of all that I did, trying to learn to overcome limitations and variability of the tools which were never really going to be a match for an oven. My friend got an oven and did a lot of experiments and testing, but with the oven, he could concentrate on finding the best process, not just working hard to achieve vague consistency.

    Chances are, at some point, you will want to try different steels, maybe not many, but certainly something stainless. I found it put a crimp on my creativity, and slowed my learning, to have to make a bunch of blades to be sent away for treatment. In many cases, my ideas on design had moved on before I got to finish all the knives in a batch (5 to 15 blades at a time). An oven would mean you could treat only the blades for the knives you are interested in today.

    The cost is high, and you could have a lot of blades treated professionally for it, so the question may be more to do with whether it will help you progress your making skills in the direction you want to go better than the forge.

    Good luck

  8. Lu1967


    Oct 20, 2014
    +1 on the above post.This is exactly how it was for me.Could not have said it better.( Paragon KM36 w/gas by the way)
    White Warrior likes this.
  9. Barry Clodfelter

    Barry Clodfelter KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 29, 2007
    With a forge you will only be able to heat treat carbon blades but with an oven your possibilities are all but endless and you will be able to dial in a recipe and reproduce it any time. A good grinder and oven are money well spent if you are at all serious, even hobby serious.
  10. Burton Harruff

    Burton Harruff

    Oct 1, 2007
    If your not going to forge blades then buy an oven.
  11. Cardinal Knife

    Cardinal Knife

    Nov 25, 2007
    Thanks for all the well thought replies. I am serious, after about ten years of tinkering, building kit knives, and a couple one offs ground on a 6x48 I finally bought an AMK 2x72 and am becoming backlogged on blades, as one of the other posters put it.
    My local treater charges a $50 lot fee or $1.60 per pound for 440c so I have been building up a small lot to send in to cut the costs. I have about 9 blades almost ready for treatment, but just wish I had one done so I could finish and play with it in the meantime.
    Barry, what said makes perfect sense. I thermoform acrylic at my place of work with a grieve oven and all I have to do is basically put in a recipe like you said. I'm already invested this far, I think an oven is going to be the right choice for me. Now all I have to do is decide which one.
    Thanks Chris
  12. butcher_block


    Dec 6, 2004
    i got my kiln first and now 10 years later i still have not finished the forge Sam built 99% for me
    to get good fast you need to get rid of as many varibles as you can (how do you know if your blade geometry is right if you have no clue if you nailled HT )
    you dont have to forge to make knives but you do have to HT all knives that are to be used
  13. Cardinal Knife

    Cardinal Knife

    Nov 25, 2007
    Beautiful looking knives butcher block, thanks for the input. Can anyone offer advice on buying one of these. I notice Paragon has 3 key and 12 key and then there are the different depths of course. Evenheat seems to have the same type controls with a rampmaster and a 3 key.
  14. Barry Clodfelter

    Barry Clodfelter KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 29, 2007
    As to which oven is right you...its like buying a truck. They all get the job done. Pick one that you like and learn how to use it. Just because the controller says the temp is 1500 don't assume it is correct, they can vary some. Buy the biggest oven you can. I bought an 18" Evenheat and a few times wish I would have bought the 24".
  15. butcher_block


    Dec 6, 2004
    i have a 3 key even heat 18inch like others now and then i wish i had a 22 or 24 but knowing me i wodul over stuff them also. next kiln i get will be a 27 with full key pad for the extra programs i can save. the 3 key even heat can save 4 at one time and the full key pad model i think is 10 + you can plug into your computer and save the HT per batch to trouble shoot later down the road or tune to the max to get the HT that you want
  16. Josh Mason

    Josh Mason

    Jun 15, 2011
    I got a little Evenheat Artisan 688, and I haven't been happier. It only has an 8in chamber, but I'm only interested in making small/med sized knives anyway. I can comfortably put 6-8 small blades in the little guy and sit back and watch the temp climb and have a drink. Its been very convenient and fun for me. I recommend an oven. Just a cleaner, more efficient and accurate way to go.
  17. Augus7us


    Oct 9, 2014
    I have the 26" evenheat with rampmaster and I love it. Lots of features, easy to program out of the box and enough room to HT the biggest knives I will make. I've spoke to the evenheat folks a few times and they are quick to help with any issues you may have.

    The other thing to note with evenheat kilns are certain models stop at I believe 2200F and some at 2400F. If you want the hotter of the two make sure you get the right model. I was going to go paragon but for the money I was able to get an extra 2" for a little less than their 24" model, if I recall correctly (bought it back in August).
  18. Cardinal Knife

    Cardinal Knife

    Nov 25, 2007
    I'm gonna give even heat a call. I think the largest blade I would ever make would be a full tang bowie so I would think the 14" would suffice, but if it's only $100 more or so for the 18" depth that's kind of a no brainer.
    Couple questions-
    For what steels would I need the 2400degree? 154cm, 01, and 440c all harden at 2000deg or under according to Crucibles chart.
    ..had another question now it's gone
  19. butcher_block


    Dec 6, 2004
    just soem of the realy high alloys cal for 2100+ not most of your normaly used knife steel. i have only ran maybe 5 blades in steels that needed more then 2050f
  20. bluntcut

    bluntcut KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 28, 2012
    Go for 2400F (Evenhead KO model), if you are going to tinker with high alloy & upper range in austenite temperature. Otherwise a 2200F model capable of sustaining aust temp up to 2100F - the last 5% of heat range is on an exponentially slow ramp curve. Highest ht aust temp I ran on my KO is 2250F, in total 9 diff steels at & above 2050F. shhhh, the RA dog is sleeping.

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