In addition to being a manufacturing engineer that loves spending time with guns, motorcycles (Shovelheads in particular), Porsches, and my family (of course), I'm a very amateur bladesmith. I recently took a week of lessons with Tai Goo, a Tucson master metalsmith who makes some of the coolest knives ever seen in the western hemisphere (IMHO). I thought I might show you what came out of those lessons.
I've included all the pics I have of the process. Some unfortunately were taken on my cellphone cam, and thus aren't of the highest quality (not that any of my pictures are ever of very high quality).
Tai's 40-buck forge--a dead grill, some ash, a Harbor Freight weed burner, a Satanite-and-Inswool-lined coffee can, some propane, and a few fire bricks:
The "banana"--the blade blank gets a curve forged into it so when the edge is drawn down the resulting shape is relatively straight:
Tai showing me how to get those bevels set:
After the first round of forging and descaling:
Low-temp finishing forging to help refine grain size and reduce the amount of filing needed later. Note the top chimney spouting flames; that held a wood splint or 2 for reducing scale buildup during these quick heats:
After finish forging, some drawfiling, and heat treating:
After LOTS and LOTS of filing and sanding, sharpening, edge and flex testing, etching to bring out the quench line, and fitting of the walnut block selected for the handle:
And after my amateurish copper work, wrapping, and sharpening:
Please remember that this was all done with hand tools, time, insufficient patience, and a bit of beer. Tai also had nothing to do with any of the work after the handle was roughed out -- so don't blame him. I'm tickled by the 'pigtail' I came up with for the butt. I also kind of like the integral ferrule/habaki thing, hammer marks and all. She balances nicely as a chopper, but is still thin enough to do some good slicing and pointy enough for a fighter.
Tai and I both beat on the finished blade a bit before doing the etching etc. We chopped partway through a 2x6 and did some flex testing that was pretty satisfying. It was still shaving sharp afterwards. To top it off I accidentally dropped the knife onto my cement garage floor and only bent the tip a tiny bit--it sharpened right out.
After recovering from next week's shoulder surgery, I'll be setting up my own forge to get some serious hammer time in. I'm looking forward to the therapy.
Comments, questions, suggestions, all appreciated. If you want to see some more of Tai's art, he's at www.taigooknives.com. His work is a huge inspiration to me.