12 Jul

Making a San Mai Kukri – Part 3

Today I’m posting a follow up to Part 1 and Part 2 of my san mai kukri commission. I was teaching a knife making class this weekend with two teenagers, one of which was my son, so I didn’t have all the time in the world to work on it but there were a few moments when I got to demonstrate a few things and I took advantage of them. Struck while the iron was hot, as we say. Anyway, I got the heat treatments done, polish and the first etching. Also, not pictured, I got the handle roughed out and ready for attachment. I’m going to be casting some pewter for the bolsters and for the cap – hopefully tomorrow. Here’s the new pictures, enjoy!

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Hand polishing. I like to use a push stick to make the job a little easier.

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This is the blade prior to the first etch in ferric chloride. I cleaned and degreased before putting it into the acid.

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After a few light sandings with 400 grit during the etching process.

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A close up of the broad section of the kukri. The 15N20 is the bright, silvery layer and the 1084 is the darker layer. Later, after the handle work, I’ll put the final edge on it and give it another round in the ferric chloride.

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A shot of the reverse side. I still love the randomness I get when making san mai, and after all, I do it purely for artistic reasons.

06 Jul

Making a San Mai Kukri – Part 2

Had the chance to jump back in the shop this afternoon and made a little more progress on the San Mai kukri. Update: If you missed it, here’s Parts 1 and 3.

Ready for normalization, clay coat and heat treat in the morning.

Ready for normalization, clay coat and heat treat in the morning.

Rough ground, taking off the scale.

Rough ground, taking off the scale.

Cleaned up the tang, hammered the edge.

Cleaned up the tang, hammered the edge.

06 Jul

The Making of a San Mai Kukri – Part 1

 

Over the past 2 days I’ve been working on a new custom order and I thought it might put some insight into how I forge blades by doing a little photo documentation. I’ll post more pictures as I work on this kukri more over the next few days. Update Part 2 and Part 3.

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Two pieces of 2.5″x6″ 15N20 and a piece of 0.1875″ 1084 – Cleaned and ready to weld.

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Clamped for tack welding. It’s important to clamp both ends because of how thin the 15N20 is, otherwise we’ll end up with warping which may cause problems during welding.

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Just a few quick tacks, 6 in total, just enough to hold the stock together for welding into a billet.

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Flat dies in the hydraulic press for setting the initial weld.

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After a little preheating, the tacked stock is fluxed with borax and ready to be brought to welding heat.

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Setting the initial weld in the press.

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During the process, I reflux the seams several times just to ensure a solid weld.

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After setting the weld in my press, I draw it out on the rolling mill to 0.1875″ With a 6″ starting length, this means the billet will be 11″ long when at the correct thickness.

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The billet welded. Because of how the rolling mill works, it only draws out the length of the billet, leaving us with 2.5″x11″. I then use my plasma cutter to trim the billet to 2.25″x10.85″ – this eliminates any possibility of cold shuts around the edge of the billet.

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Notching using the sharp edge of the anvil where the tang will be drawn out.

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It’s a lot of working back and forth on two sides to start drawing the tang down.

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Once I get it to a decent length and width, I can now hold it in my blade tongs to start working on the main body of the kukri.

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I begin by upsetting and rounding the tip. This eliminates any rolling that would cause a cold shut.

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Then, using a slightly round faced hammer, I start narrowing the blade down in the center.

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Roughed out shape. Still have some forging today for the tip and for the mid-section of the blade. I need to narrow it down a little more towards the ricasso.