Two days intensive class
on Fyn, Denmark
Three weeks ago I participated in a two days intensive knife forging class on Fyn, Denmark, with my good friend Flemming who is an artist (painter), but also a tool nerd like my self.
It was blacksmithing by a coal fired forge and then the technique of shaping, hardening and tempering the blades.
Jørgen are a wonderful teacher, he throws you into the fire, no time to ask questions or feel doubt, just do it and so we did.
(I took a class there in 2007, learning the process of making a knife handle and a leather sheath for a knife the traditional Scandinavian way, so it was about time I came back to learn how to make the blades, this because I have Norwegian family and they have a strong tradition in knife making and I at that time was having seriously stress and pains, so I needed a way to let my thoughts get away from this).
I will not give a class here, just show some impressions and few words on what I learned.
Here the knife blades I made, I also made a swan neck bowl gauge and a small spoon knife, this will come further down.
From top down:
1. Blade forged by fresh piece of 0,9 carbon iron.
2. Blade from a old Öberg Sweden file.
3. Hand forged blade from a old Norwegian sled runner (The runner was a gift from my Norwegian Uncle).
4. Blade from a old Öberg Sweden file.
We took of on Friday and even had time for a coffee on the way, I had brought my Jetboil and Handspresso so it was a wonderful moment in a small forest on Fyen.
It was a two days class so we got a fine little room there.
Fist part was theory class, then time to go and fire up the forges.
Once the smoke settles, the fire burns hot due to the air flow and the smell of burned coal were thick there.
Our teacher Jørgen in the center teaching us the basics on firering and building up the coal.
My friend Flemming on the left behind him.
Here he shows how the color should be and showed us how to use a hammer correctly.
Then it was just to go to our forges and get going.
There are something special about a open fire.
Here my friend Flemming hammering away.
Strike while the iron is hot as they say, from now this will have a new meaning to me.
Here I am, MaFe by the fire.
While you keep an eye on the iron to make sure it don’t get too hot, you plan your next moves by the anvil since you have to work when thee temperature are right. It’s a job with focus, no time to talk or let the thoughts wander.
Kind of meditative.
Here by the the anvil, it took a little time to find a rhythm with hammer.
At 23.00 it was time to stop for the day and have a goodnight beer.
My arm was quite tired and my head needed silence after listening to air flow motors and people hammering all afternoon.
Evening in the workshop.
Breakfast gathering before we go on.
This was what I managed to make on the first day by the forge, hammering away and of course finding time to enjoy a good tobacco that melts into the smell of coal on fire.
On top a blade for a narrow spoon knife from 0,9 carbon steel.
Two knifes from old file and one from a fresh piece of 0,9 carbon.
With a belt sander the shape are finished up and the tang are adjusted, kind of here the knife gets it’s lines, where the forge gave it life.
Here the blade has got it’s form.
My friend Flemming by the belt sander.
Edge are established simply by holding the blade in place and feeling my way on the curve and steepness.
Time for cake (a guy had his birthday). ;-)
Jørgen teaching us the process of hardening and tempering, this is a critical phase, since if you don’t do it right, you will end up with a blade that are brittle or can’t hold an edge.
You heat the blade until it is not magnetic any more.
(Read here Sandvik guide to tempering: http://smt.sandvik.com/en/products/strip-steel/strip-products/knife-steel/hardening-guide/purpose-of-hardening-and-tempering/ ).
Then dip it in oil to cool it quickly.
Tempering is in a normal oven at 200 degrees C for half an hour.
If you dont temper the blade after hardening it will be brittle and brake.
Blades after hardening, I simply love the roughness and the color so I will go gentle when finishing and preparing the blades for a sharpening.
Old tractor rage tooth on top (app 70 cm total) and Norwegian sled runner to the right (app 150 cm total), these two old pieces of metal have the right carbon content to work for cutting edge tools.
Jørgen showing how to clean up and polish if wanted also a quick class in sharpening on a belt sander and buffing wheel.
Once the class were over, it was time to head back to Copenhagen.
Again we made a stop for some Espresso and tobacco.
Blade forged by fresh piece of 0,9 carbon iron.
Hand forged blade from a old Norwegian sled runner.
The runner was a gift from my Norwegian Uncle, I send him the photo and he approved my work.
Hand forged blade from a old file, left the old logo and a part of the teeth’s to show the origin.
Hollow grinded blade.
Öberg Sweden file.
Hand forged Öberg Sweden file blade from a old file.
The long neck bowl gauge from tractor rage tooth.
Basically just bend rod. It will get a wood handle later.
The hard part was to hammer out the gauge and shape it properly.
I finished up the outside of the edge, but the inside of the cutting edge will be finished later with a honing until a mirror finish also.
This is how it’s used. To reach into deep areas of bowls when hollowing out. It’s a task that no other tool can do better and since I could not buy a long neck version, I was happy to be able to make my own.
As you saw, I also made a hook for a narrow curved spoon knife, this hook were welded on to a rod and shaped before the hardening, some how this is the work I was most proud of, it needed a lot of precision and would easily burn away in the forge due to the small size. (Yes metal burn away when it gets really hot).
Narrow curved spoon knife blade.
The way the blade is used.
This knife will also get wood a handle.
The types I could get online were all quite wide so I am really happy to now be able to work on small spoons or details also.
After taking this class I am going to invest in a forge, since I live in a city it will be a gas forge.
It was surprisingly simple and quite easy to learn the basics so I kind of regret I did not do this long time ago, probably made around 50 knifes by now but never forged my own blades before.
I will make some follow ups on this blog showing how I finish the blades and tools as I do it.
Hope this post can inspire others to jump to the forge.
-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.