Currently I am working on a whole page about the forging process of the knife with pictures, but at the moment, do not have everything put together well enough to pull the page off. So I thought a post on forging would be nice.
Forging, what is it? Forging, put simply is the shaping and moving of a metal (in this case steel) in its heated state. It is generally excepted that to skillfully forge a knife one will start at the steel’s high spectrum of tolerable heat, and as the blade progresses in shape and size, move down to the lowest forge-able heat for final shaping and straightening. After the blade has been straightened it must be normalized at least three times, then it is usually annealed to soften it for working. The normalizing and annealing processes are called thermal cycling, and are usually done to decrease grain size in the steel.
Why forge a blade? Is a forged blade batter? I enjoy making knives that showcase my skill (not that I have a lot of it). Forging is a way to do that. I believe a craftsman should work in a way that reflects and displays his skill in a humble, yet obvious way. making a knife in the ancient style of forging does just this. There is a great bit of controversy on if forging a blade makes a better knife. After doing some research and just from using some common sense I can say that, no, forging does not make the knife preform better. Some things give slight advantages, such as the forge finish, which provides protection from rust as well as displaying the maker’s ability to forge the blade to almost the exact right dimensions. Forged blades are also less wasteful than blades made by stock removal, since you are moving the steel instead of cutting and grinding it. Usually a forged blade takes more skill and time to make than a normal stock removal blade. Basically owning a forged blade is a pride to the owner and to the maker, but has no physical performance advantages over other making styles.
I thought I would take a moment to talk about the forge finish. It is what is left on the blade after the heating of the steel, that is the black scale on the blade. Forge marks come either from the hammer, or from the scale being pounded into the blade. Together, the marks and black scale provide the ”forge finish” I enjoy leaving it on, they provide depth to the blade instead of one solid piece of silver colored steel. As stated they protect it from rust as well as prove the makers ability to forge to close dimensions. Some people think the forge finish is an excuse for the maker to skip some work on the blade. But actually it takes more skill, time and effort to retain forge finish than to remove it. Above, is a Western style chef knife covered in forge scale and marks after it has been wet forged and profiled.
To conclude, forging a blade is a wonderful experience for the maker, and to own a forged knife is to own a piece of work that has had lots of labor and time put into it.
I hope that you found my little rambling about forging helpful, please let me know if there is anything I should add to this post.