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What size bar stock should I get

Discussion in 'Hammer & Tongs' started by Justin Schmidt, Jan 3, 2018.

  1. Justin Schmidt

    Justin Schmidt Schmidt Forge Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 18, 2016
    Just started forging and I'm not too sure on what size bar stock to order. I got some .250x1in cruforge V and some .148x1.5 80crv2. I tried forging the CFV today and it didn't turn out very well. Couldn't seem to spread the steel out for the bevels.
     
  2. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

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

    Aug 20, 2004
    I like .25X1 and .25X1.25 They will draw out to about 50% wider once you get some experience. In the begining, shoot for a 25% draw. Using the right hammer makes all the difference. Use a cross peen to move metal, and a flat faced hamer for smoothing it out. A cross peen with a vertical peen on one end and a horizontal peen on the other end is invaluable. A hammer with a beat up face and edges will leave a beat up blade surface. Sand them smooth to 400 grit.

    The number one reason new forgers can't get the steel to do what they want is heat ... or to be more exact, lack of it. The blade should be around 2000F when starting to draw the blade. Stop at 1600-1700F and heat it up again. If you are still pounding on the metal at dull red or black you have gone 300-600 degrees too cool. Metals like Cru-frge and 80CrV at the right heat move easily under the hammer.
     
    Mecha likes this.
  3. Justin Schmidt

    Justin Schmidt Schmidt Forge Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 18, 2016
    Thanks Stacy. I had a hard time drawing the bevel out. Ended up looking more like a deformed spear. I didn't realize my heat was too low until the end of the forging session. It's something I will keep a better eye on. I was using a 3lb crosspein but just got a 2lb ball peen that's much more comfortable. Trying to forge on a piece of 3in diam 4140 is pretty tough.
    What are some good how toos on forging? Stickys mainly talk about stock removal and most of the video links don't work.
     
  4. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

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

    Aug 20, 2004
    Forging is a very hands-on learning thing. One way to practice is get a can of Play-doh and make a wooden hammer. Roll the clay out to the shape of your starter bar and "forge" it with the hammer. You will learn how to make the clay move the direction you want. Try different shapes to the wooden hammer head ( make several). Each will move the material differently.

    The biggest error in starting to forge is the thinking that hitting it harder will move the metal better. Controlled and well placed blows will do far better than pounding randomly. Learn to "push" and "pull" the metal by how you deliver the blow.

    As said before, get it hot enough before wasting energy on hitting it. Five short heats between 2000 and 1600 will move more steel than 20 minutes of pounding on 1500F steel.

    Work smarter, not harder. I know there are purists who say only forging should be done to shape a blade, but in reality, the blade will get its final shaping on a grinder. If the tip is at an angle, cut the bar at an angle to start with. If the blade will have a hidden tang, cut that out from the bar after forging the blade. Leave extra metal for shaping and flattening on the grinder. The old addage is "Forge to thick shape, grind thin to finish." Details like choils, deeply recessed ricassos ( bowies), etc. are better only roughly marked in the forging, and the shape refined on the grinder.

    Until you get as much control as Sam Salvetti, don't wail at the billet with all your might. You will almost surely create divots and marks that will be too deep to grind out. Leaving a blade with dents and pock marks isn't the same as deliberately creating a blade with even brut-de-forge. Don't fall into the trap of saying, "It is so rough looking because I wanted it to be a primative knife." Knives have been well defined for centuries. Bad forging has not ever been an excuse for the final look in a blade.

    Forget most of what you see on Forged in Fire. It is a constrained time competition, and the blades made have noting to do with a good finished blade and the best forging techniques. However, you can clearly see the difference when a peson who really knows how to forge is there with a person who is not. The final surface and shape are far superior.

    I don't recomend making "practice" knives from mild steel, but I do recommend doing forging practice on it. Practice on drawing a bar wider, longer, tapering, upsetting, and fullering ( as in a smaller tang) can be done just fine on $10 worth of Home Depot steel. It is also good enough to practice your first forge welds on.
    I used to give a student several 4X1X1/2" bars of mild steel. I would have them forge them into 2" wide bars, 8" long bars, and square bars. The first attempts were usually a dissaster. ... but once they learned to use the right heat, the right hammer, and the right tehnique, they came out pretty good. What they learned was drawing and upsetting. Those two forging techniques are all you need to master makig knives. Forge welding is a good additional skill.

    Finally, practice, practice, practice! No one walks up to an anvil and forges a great blade the first time. A search on my first knife will show you how bad an inexperienced smith can make a knife look. Hopefully, I have improved a bit in the subsequent 57 years.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2018
  5. Justin Schmidt

    Justin Schmidt Schmidt Forge Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 18, 2016
    I always appreciate your detailed responses. You've helped me out a lot the last year or so. "Forge it thick grind it thin" seems to be the best way to go about it from what I've read. I will try these and thanks again for the help.
    Different question. Do you thing a hardened piece of 4340 would make a good post anvil? Or should I just stick with what the guys at old world anvils offer for roughly the same price?
     
  6. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

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

    Aug 20, 2004
    A large hardened block of 4340/4140 would make a good anvil. It offers six forging surfaces, and some of the edges can be radiused for different sizes. A 1" hole drilled in it will allow 3/4" hardy tools to be used. You probably can get the hole drilled by the seller or the HTer. It would be best if you can swing a piece that weighs 70-100 pounds, but that gets pricy.

    Ebay is often a good place to fine deals on blocks of steel. Some are pre-hardened.
    A suitable equivalent of the OWA 4X4X4, which sells for $100 plus shipping, is this -
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/4340-CR-NI...048017?hash=item43f938a591:g:haUAAOSw5cNYK6Qu

    By far the best way to get a deal on a block anvil is to find a scrap yard that receives lots of cut-offs from government shops. My 400# vertical post anvil (36X7") cost me around $100. I bought a 48" long piece of 4340/4140 7" round for $0.30 a pound. It weighed a bit over 500# and they charged me $150 even. I cut a 5" and a 7" short anvil from it ( 50# and 75#), leaving a 36" section. I welded it in the middle of a 24" disc of 1/4" mild steel. I added some gussets for strength. To move it I tilt it and roll the disc, or slip 1" roller bars under it and push it across the smithy floor. The biggest challenge was getting it out of the van after the fork lift put it in. It took three big guys and some use of physics.
     
    Justin Schmidt likes this.
  7. Justin Schmidt

    Justin Schmidt Schmidt Forge Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 18, 2016
    That's actually the exact piece I was looking at. But after shipping it's basically the same price as the OWA. I talked to the guys at OWA and they have a 5x5x5 for 190 wasn't sure the extra inch would be worth almost double the price
     
  8. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

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

    Aug 20, 2004
    valknut,
    Let me take a look out in the shop after the snow melts some (I have 10-12" blocking my way right now). I may still have a few spare anvils that will work for you. I might be able to stick one in a flat rate box. I'll see what I can dig up.
     
    Justin Schmidt likes this.
  9. Justin Schmidt

    Justin Schmidt Schmidt Forge Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 18, 2016
    Alright I really appreciate it. Sounds like this winter storm did a number on y'all up there
     
  10. Justin Schmidt

    Justin Schmidt Schmidt Forge Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 18, 2016
  11. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

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

    Aug 20, 2004
    Thanks, Ill get on it in a day or two. I shoveled snow that was drifted 6 feet deep today to get to some folks trapped in their condos.
     
    Justin Schmidt likes this.

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