Sometimes we get a special request. This one was an intriguing challenge. Make a knife using an old muzzleloading rifle. This rifle was in pretty rough condition - no longer able to be fired but the steel and stock were usable for our purposes. We decided to flatten the barrel and laminate it to the outsides of some 1095 blade steel. Modern rifle barrels are a high alloy steel such as 4140 but the thick muzzleloader barrels tend to be mild steel. This is perfect for making a San Mai blade - which is a Japanese term for blades with some other metal laminated to a hard steel core.
First we cut about 8" off the end of the barrel then split it in half. Then the halves went into the forge to be flattened on the anvil. Once flattened, we ground the slabs to remove scale and further flatten the pieces. Then we tack welded the slabs on either side of some 1095 blade steel. Once our steel sandwich was ready, the billet was forge welded into one solid piece then hammered to the knife shape. The forged blade then went to the grinder for cleanup and after some refinement with hand files was hardened and tempered.
After the heat treat process, the blade went back to the bench for more clean up - hand sanding to about 1200 grit then was etched in ferric chloride to bring out the pattern that the lamination edge creates. We then soldered a brass guard and glued up the handle.
The handle was comprised of wood from the gunstock - probably beech wood or maple. This was stacked with brass and black G-10 spacers and then combined with a white tail deer antler. Once the parts were tightly fit up, everything was epoxied and a pin was driven through a hole in the tang which was drilled before heat treat. Once dry, we ground away the excess, shaping and polishing the handle. Once sharpened, the knife is ready for a sheath and delivery.