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Stock Removal Method - A moment to learn, a lifetime to master. Part 1 of 2

Knife making is an art for many who are interested in designing and making knives. Many people wonder why anyone has to go into the trouble of making a knife when many different styles and designs are readily available on the shelves of departmental stores. Knives have been part of the human life and civilization from old times, and have been used in many different kinds of applications. Over the last centuries, knife making was a specialist job and experts made the special kinds of knives that people came to look at as personal pieces of property, so much so that some knives are even part of heirlooms. That kind of urge still continues and is practiced by some, for whom making a custom knife for use or for collection is a recreation of the urge to bend and design steel for own use. Some of these blade smiths consider themselves artists and are experts on the properties of steel and how to shape it.

If you are interested in making knives, there are different ways of making your special one. Casting knives using a mould is a practice that is mostly used by companies and is not very suitable for individuals who want to custom make each piece. For those who want to start at the beginning there are four ways of making knives.

The most simple of them is the restoration method. Taking an old knife and restoring it to the original splendor and beauty helps a person develop a deep understanding of the different types of knives, their purposes and an understanding of the metal and how to handle it. Knife customization is the second simple way of making knives. Here you can take a factory produced or custom made knife that you had purchased and can customize it a little to suit you or to enhance its personality. For e.g. you can change the grip shape, add flexible support to the grid, add groves, and revamp the false edge. Many kinds of customization are possible to personalize a knife.

Stock removal and forging are the other two types of knife making. These need a lot of practice and a good feel of the knife and metal to bring out the best out of the steel. Further these are also advanced methods of making a knife that allows you to shape and reshape a blade to perfection. In the stock removal method, the knife maker designs the knife style and crafts it slowly to shape from available bar stock of carbon steel or stainless steel. Bladesmith or "forgers" takes a piece of steel and heats it in the forge to malleable temperature. The hot steel is placed on the anvil and the bladesmith shapes it with a hammer step by step. Most of the blade is shaped on the anvil and then they are refilled and cleaned up.

The stock removal method is one of the easiest ways to make knives and shape them. This process is a time consuming one and needs a lot of patience and determination. The grinding and shaping should be done in slow and meticulous manner, but requires simple tools. To begin with find a good piece of flat bar stock. This can be made of carbon steel (or O1 steel) or stainless steel. Stainless steel is more malleable and is easy to treat by heat and will yield a superior blade. The best way would be to start with an annealed piece of steel which can be easily cut or drilled. These are sometimes imported and as these are available in soft condition they are workable using hand tools themselves.

Pick a bar stock of the correct thickness based on the pattern and size of the knife. A very thick or whippy blade spoils the knife. Generally rule of thumb is to select a blade with less than 1/8 of an inch thickness, if the blade length is five inches or less. Draw the pattern of the knife on a stiff cardboard and cut it out. Check on the size in your hand, trying to imagine holding the knife. Once you are fine with the pattern, transfer it to your bar stock using a scriber or a sharp piece of steel.

Secure the stock to the vise and cut with a hacksaw as close to the line without running over it. Take a file and file to the last little bit to yield a smooth surface. The blade should now be ready to layout bevels. Mark the bevels carefully and also mark out the ridge line on either side symmetrically. Filing the bevels is a type of work that builds character and using a sharp file helps avoid bending the stock and is much easier to control than a dull file. Once you get your shape and finish, mark out, punch out the centers and drill the handle holes. Once the blade is ready, heat treat the blade and apply your favorite handles.

Continue to Stock Removal Method Part 2

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