Knifemaking is a centuries-old craft. Numerous techniques have been employed throughout history to create robust, high-quality blades, but today's amateur and professional blacksmiths use one of two processes: stock removal or forging. This article will look at how the stock removal technique is carried out with its pros and cons.
What is knife stock removal?
Stock removal is the process of removing material from a steel workpiece via saws, belt sanders, and abrasives. Unlike forging, the blade's length, breadth, and thickness are produced by eliminating material, not by reshaping it with heat. In many respects, stock removal is a more efficient procedure that enables the creation of conventional blade forms more quickly.
What is the procedure for stock removal?
There are many ways to accomplish a goal in creative form, and this is just one of many. Stock removal begins with sketching the blade's silhouette on paper, cutting it out, putting it on your metal sheet, and outlining the shape with a pen. Following that, you may do the following steps:
Construct the shape: Cut off the blade form using an angle grinder equipped with a cut-off wheel. Then, using the grinding wheel, smooth off the edges. To avoid chattering, attach the grinder to your workstation. If you want to use a belt grinder instead, hold the metal securely to a level surface and sand the piece along the belt while rotating the item.
Shape further: Continue to shape the piece by grinding down the edges with a coarser-grit abrasive using a belt sander. Continue until the marker outline is no longer visible.
Bevel: The standard V bevel is preferred by certain knife makers because it shapes the blade at the same angle on both sides. Others like a chisel bevel, in which stock is removed from one end of the device until it reaches the other side. Both techniques rely on the use of a belt sander to provide clean and uniform strokes. Assure that you are grinding toward the blade's spine but never the other way around.
Heat treatment: Following drilling holes and slicing pins to secure the handle, choose a kiln or forge to fire the blade to brilliant orange color. After a few minutes of gently moving the blazing metal back and forth heat, quench it in warm motor oil.
Reheat and temper: Preheat oven to 400°F and let two hours for the piece to heat. Allow it to cool to ambient temperature before heating for another two hours. After it has cooled, use your belt sander to remove any irregularities produced by the heat treatments.
Bevel again: Once the handle is attached, use a more acceptable abrasion on the belt sander to gently create a second bevel at the appropriate angle.
Sharpen: Finish sharpening and polishing the blade with fine grit.
Which Is Better, Stock Removal or Forging?
Forging is a time-honored practice that brings an air of exclusivity with it. Stock removal is a more recent method that has become possible due to advancements in technology and innovation. When it comes to the knifemaking process, forging loses little or no material. Stock removal would have resulted in the wastage of much too much valuable steel in earlier times. Not only do you have sophisticated grinding wheels that make material removal much more straightforward. But it is also much easier to locate materials that are the right size, reducing the quantity of material that must be removed significantly.
There are supporters on both sides and all sides. Forging can produce blades of remarkable strength and durability, but such a masterpiece is rare and demands a high level of expertise. Several things may go wrong during the forging process, which is why it is something to appreciate when an exceptionally high-quality blade is produced via forging—a masterpiece of unadulterated craft.
This does not, however, imply that stock removal is simple. Carving a superb knife with a grinder takes a tremendous deal of time and accuracy. Many believe it is much simpler to produce a good knife via stock removal than through other methods. Some, however, believe it is a better option for manufacturers who want to create knives consistently. Or knife makers keener to develop art knives (this is not to suggest that you cannot produce excellent quality forged art knives).
Also, most people believe that forging maintains more strength from the steel than other processes because of this disparity. This is because the milling process produces a structure for the metal called a "grain." Stock removal maintains the uniformity of this grain independent of shape, giving it a somewhat lower strength. Since forging distorts the material's original form, the grain follows the bends and twists.
While some may argue that a knife should never be subjected to such abuse as a cutting instrument, many hunting knives are handled roughly and may benefit from this kind of toughness.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Stock Removal
The issue of stock removal vs. forging is entirely subjective. While some knifemakers believe natural beauty can only be produced via time-honored techniques like forging, others prefer the beautiful lines and exact proportions obtained using contemporary technology. The following are some of the advantages and disadvantages of each method.
- Easier to master and learn
- Relatively less costly
- It is compatible with all types of steel.
- Reduces the amount of equipment required
- Produces a great deal of dust and debris
- It may take a little longer for more elaborate designs.
- Can waste more steel than forging
The Stock Removal Method of Knifemaking is one of the most effective methods for producing a high-quality knife. This implies that it is one of the best methods that is affordable and does not need a large number of tools. Thus, it is one of the most acceptable methods for a novice who lacks the necessary tools but wants to create a high-quality knife.