Late last year I was asked to participate in a knifemaking competition on History channel called Forged in Fire. I agreed to participate even though I had never forged a blade in my life. I believed that my stock removal approach could be applied to the competition and as long as I could bring the raw steel to a bar shape, I would be able to compete.
That's when I reached out to Kyle Lucia at Phoenix Handcraft here in Richmond VA. He very graciously allowed me to go to his shop and practice at his forge. He even stayed late to give me invaluable tips on hammer control, forging temperature, and even my stance at the anvil. We practiced on mild steel and then switched to an automotive coil spring which was most likely 5160 high carbon steel. In order to demonstrate for me, Kyle forged a blade as well. I wanted to say thank you for his help, so I went ahead and heat treated and finished his knife.
After annealing in the forge overnight, I brought the newly forged blades back to my shop. I cleaned them up, ground bevels, drilled holes, did file work and a standard high carbon heat treat. I took the blade temperature up to 1550-1600 degrees fahrenheit and quenched in 120 degree oil. I then cleaned the oil off and put them in a 400 degree oven for 2 cycles of 2 hours.
Post heat treat I took them back to the grinder for the final bevel grinding and polishing. I then epoxied the handle wood on and after the epoxy cured, I shaped and polished the handle. The black walnut and maple came out quite nice and the red spacer material gives nice contrast. Kyle's unique take on the half tang handle gave me the opportunity to laminate the handle in a unique way. After making the custom sheath, my wife Blue Stubblefield burned the Phoenix Handcraft logo on the sheath.
I am so fortunate to have great neighbors and I believe it speaks well of the community of makers here in Richmond VA. Now I am itching to get back to the forge! I have already acquired 1080 and 15N20 steel for damascus steel.