Monday, June 25, 2012

Forge Building: Custom Forge Floor, AKA> "The Chanel"

Greetings everybody.

I feel compelled to talk about aspects of propane forges and how to possibly increase the plyability of your furnace and to protect the work-piece as well.

I forge all of my knives knives very close-to-shape.
This skill was passed down to me by my mentor Tai Goo. This means that about 90% of the blades geometry & shapes are created by the forging process while the steel is hot, using hammer and anvil.

Since I make lots of chef knives, the resulting work-piece can get quite thin at the edges, especially near the end of the forging process. Forging such a blade is a challenge and there are some aspects of creating cutlery like this using a propane powered forge that can be negatives.

I have developed a style that perhaps is all my own in terms of how I create my knives.
The equipment I use is not all that different than what others use, however, in my forge have created something that I think may really be of use to other smiths. I call it the channel.

In my old forge one was created and in my new forge it was a must have.
Basically it is a recess in the floor of the forge that you can either place the blades edge or the spine into, all depending on where you are in the forging process.

The benefits are really apparent when you start forging thin blades very close to shape.

#1 You can "hide" the edge from the main flame-source as you got close to finishing the blade.

#2 You can heat just the spine when a wooden baton is needed to get the tip back in it's proper alignment. Heating just the spine makes it possible to do this without buckling the thin edge.

#3 It work amazingly well for the final normalizing cycle

#4 Since there is an edge to "the channel" you can prop the blade up to selectively heat the area near the choil...which on chef knives (and other blades as well) is one area that takes careful attention since this is where the blade transitions to the handle.

A new refinement to my existing program was gifted to me by David Star of Chile Forge , it was a piece of kiln shelving. David knows his forges very well & had some good intuition about how this  would relate to my idea of "the channel" and the new forge's burner set-up and .

I have included a few images of the forge just coming up to temp with the strip of kiln shelving in place and away from the side of "the channel" so you can see how this helps.

Next I have included two shots of knives in process with the forge up to temp.
In the first image a stick-tang chef knife in a position where I am drawing out the bevels about mid-way down the blade.
In the second image, a full tang chef knife in position to draw out the material near the choil.
Notice how even the heat is in this second image. 
The strip of kind shelving is really doing it's job in conjunction with "the channel".

And finally a quick shot of a small blade being normalized after final forging was done. A small bit of hardwood was placed in the furnace to help keep a very rich atmosphere for this part of the process.

I will continue to take images that illustrate more about this feature in my furnace so please come back and visit!

Thanks for looking:) & do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about "the channel".

A New Forge for My Studio

I have been in the process of building two new furnaces for the last 3-4-months. All has been going well doing much of the work here and there, when I could, at a fellow knifemakers shop that has all the welders and that larger space for lay-out.
However, with my work-flow I just found it difficult to get them finished & I have two shows coming up this year G4 being the first of them, CaliforniaCuston Knife Show being the second.
SO I really had to stay focused on my orders and show schedule.
My custom forge & HT furnace would have to wait until a later date!
Since I generally put anywhere from 40-60-hours in each one of my chef or camp knives I need all the time I can get just creating! Yes I am crazy!

So >>>> I talked to Dave and Stacie Starr of Chile Forge and they did some custom work for me on one of their models.
I have to say that Stacie and Dave are among the best people I have ever worked with.
They are both highly skilled at communication and really delivered AAA+service and built an amazing forge that is performing really well so far!

I will have more images to follow,
but here is a shot of the forge being set up and another one with it with the burners in and waiting to be rolled out to the apron of my studio for firing;
you can see my old forge to the left that I still am using for sub-critical heat treatments.One last shot of the custom floor I had them do for me with a full tang chef knife blade in process.

Other than the custom floor, I had them add a Needle Valve just after the main psi valve.
....and I will most likely make an entirely new post about the performance characteristics possible with amazingly well designed burners (like they create at Chile Forge), and how to optimize performance using a simple valve like this!

So far I am stoked !!! and am now off to my studio to do some more work....
.....but I just had to share this with you all. It represents a pretty big $-investment in my bladesmithing practice and I am really happy with this beauty!
It is much longer than my old forge and has more capacity for creating camp knives and full size chef knives as well.

A BIG THANKS to all of you out there that bought knives & helped make this happen for me!
enjoy the images..more to come.



Second installment of how the forge is doing:

 I have been having fun with the New one though. Slowly working on the adjustments, but I am happy with the few pieces I have forged and heat treated out of it so far.

Below is a quick shot of the first two blades forged in it. You can see that I can get it running pretty clean with minimal scale happening.

 Like I said, I am working on two of my own furnace designs for my shop. one will be a muffle furnace for doing heat treatment, the other will be another main forge.

SO, the cool thing about this new Chilli Forge, is that it's size allows for a muffle-tube to be place into the chamber on stickers to let heat get all the way around it. The advantages are three-fold.
#1 It can isolate the work-piece from the primary flame-source thus diminishing the resulting decarb that is often associated with soaking & final escalation before quench.
#2 Creates a significantly more even heat; which is a must for myself in that I am making lots of chef knives that are forged to shape and are quite thin at time of hardening.
#3 A very rich atmosphere can be obtained by placing a piece of hardwood on the tube to get burning, then slide to the back of the tube. This really rich atmosphere just steps-up the anti-decarb-program to a level that is really amazing and works wonderfully.

A Shot of the tube just place into the forge to see how it fits.
And the very first test-run of the muffle tube to see what is what in terms of length of heat.
Below, running a bit HOT for HT, but I had this large Persian bowie I already had forged & decided to use it to see what was possible..... AND as a result, the blade just got one more normalizing cycle....just for kicks.

 And the first two blades I heat treated came out really clean with no dacarb and arrow-straight!
I Heat treated a few more blades this evening and they all came out amazingly well.
>> Straight and nice.
Thanks for letting me share my excitement with you all.