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".


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Tai, It has worked really well all these years in my old furnace, so more than anything is just became part of my program. I think it works great and have not really seen any other forged set up like this.

      It also makes it so you can heat the blade in the vertical position every heat. Which to me makes WAY more sense than laying it flay on the forge floor as far as even-heating is concerned.