How to forge a knife in 9 steps
Our main Bladesmithing instructor, Jeff Pringle, has worked with The Crucible team to document the nine steps every student must take when forging a knife to ensure a strong, sharp blade. This is a step-by-step guide to forging a knife, for a bladesmithing overview for a beginning student, review our Beginners Guide to Becoming a Bladesmith.
Step 1: Heat until yellow
Using your tongs, grasp the steel and heat it in a forge to the point where the color turns yellow (around 2,100 to 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit).
Step 2: Determine the Mass Distribution
Remove your steel from the forge with your tongs. Set the stock flat on your anvil and hammer the corner into the shape of a knife point, focusing on tapering both sides of the steel.
Step 3: Flatten the Blade
Hammer out the flat edge of your steel to shape the bevels. Beveling creates the edge on either side of the cutting edge on your knife. Flip your blade on the anvil and hammer the opposite side. Continue until both sides are even. You can also create your bevels on a belt sander for a more modern approach.
Step 4: Heat and cool
Once you have the shape of your knife established, normalize it by bringing it up to non-magnetic temperature (about 1420 degrees Fahrenheit for simple carbon steel). Let it cool off in the air, bringing the temperature of the steel down to 400 degrees Fahrenheit between heating. Once all the red color has left the steel, you can place it back in the forge. Repeat this process three times.
Step 5: Sanding
Sand the blade to smooth out the edges.
Step 6: Strengthen and Sharpen the Knife
Reheat the steel and dip it in oil until it reaches room temperature. This is known as quenching. It hardens the steel. Make sure you transfer the blade from the fire to the quenching as quickly as possible. If you are too slow it won’t harden.
Step 7: Reheat
Slowly reheat your quenched blade to a lower temperature to relax the brittleness and stress induced by the quenching process.
Step 8: Create the handle
Add a handle to your knife. There are many ways to add a handle to your knife, the most common being a wooden handle secured with glue and pinning.
Step 9: Sharpen
With a fine file and whetstone carefully sharpen your blade.