How to Forge a Knife? Exclusive Tips for Beginners

You might face a situation where you need to make your knife and forge it. Forging a knife doesn’t require you to be a blacksmith. If you can somehow manage things that are necessary for forging a metal, you are good to go without anyone’s help.

To forge a knife, all you need to do is to take a piece of steel and give shape to it and form it on an anvil after heating in a forge. Does that sound difficult to you? I guess not.

In this article, I’m going to show you how to forge a knife providing step by step process.

Safety Is A Must

You are about to deal with fire, iron, hammer sharp and hot steel. Therefore, do not underestimate the necessity of taking precautions. Safety gears you will need are, a pair of good quality gloves and eyewear to protect the eyes from flames and spark of fire.

Tools you will need:

  • Forge
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    Anvil
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    Hammer
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    Fire tools
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    Tongs or big pliers
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    Hot cutter
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    Quench tub (emergency first aid in case of burning)
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    File
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    Grinder
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    Fuel for forge
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    And decent quality steel of course

Let’s Begin The Blacksmithing

Before proceeding, once again I'm warning you to play safely with the hot metal. It causes third-degree burns even before you can react. So, be very careful.

1. Heat Your Steel Piece

Now, light the forge. Inside the forge, you will see a hot red/orange area. You need to put the steel in that particular area to heat it faster.

Since you are about to make a knife, you will need a piece of steel of course. If you manage a straight piece of steel, the initial things will be a lot easier for you.

However, if you have come with a spring piece of metal, first you need to make it straight. Put the metal inside the forge. The heat inside the forge should be around 2200 °F. When it turns into orange or yellow color, take it out from the forge and put on an anvil.

2. Shape it Straight

When the metal is hot, you can shape it straight by hammering. If you see the metal turns to red or cools down, you need to put the metal back in the fire. Keep hammering the metal until you give the desired shape.

When you are done with giving shape to the metal, then the real game begins. Keep in mind that, forging a knife is a slow process and you can’t just finish off one part of the knife at once.

3. Prepare the Handle

Don't forget; you need to make a space about two to three inches or more for the handle. So, decide which part is for the blade and which part is for the handle.

You will need to forge the blade in such a way that the flat side will be the blade edge and the curved side will be the spine.

Put the metal inside the forge and bring it out when it's ready for hammering, put the area of the handle on the edge of the anvil and hit in that area with a hammer by half on and off the anvil. When you establish the shape of the handle, it will start to look like a knife.

4. Cut off the Extra Part

Now, it’s time to cut off the extended part of the metal. You can let the metal cool down and cut it with a hacksaw or angle grinder. However, you can also cut it off by using the edge of an anvil and dent it.

Take a piece of flat and sharped spring and held it in the vice. Now, line up the border you want to cut and hit there with the hammer. Hammer it part way through then rotate and then hammer it part way through again. Now, grab it with tongs and twist it until it breaks off.

5. Harden and Shape the Knife

When you are done with the handle, focus on the blade. Hammer out the flat edge of the metal for making bevels. Note that, it will cause the blade to bend on its spine.

Now for hardening the knife, you need to get the whole blade orange. You can test the blade whether it is ready to harden or not. Test the blade using a magnet.

If you find the blade becoming non-magnetic, it means the blade is ready to harden and you can quench it.

When the blade is rough enough, you can anneal it three times by bringing to the red-hot temperature and let it air cool till there is no reddish color. When you are finished heating for the third time, let it cool overnight close to the fire.

The more it gets cooler slowly, the more it will be easier to file. Now, file blade to shape it and any uneven spots. Quickly pass it on the grinder. Take only a second or two for doing the whole edge.

Dip the blade in a mixture of oil and water. If you dip only the cutting edge, it will make a hard and durable edge while leaving the back flexible. It will also increase the overall durability of the blade. Carefully dip the metal vertically.

If other angles are dipped in the mixture, it will create bubbles around the blade, and you will have to reforge again.

6. Temper and Finish 

After hardening, it’s time for temper the steel. Put the steel in an oven at 250-350 degrees °F. Although it will take some of the hardness, some flexibility will be put back in. 

Now, create a pointy tang and put a block of wood in the file to shape it. Or, you can customize the handle the way you want.

For the finishing touch, sharpen the knife with a whetstone followed by a fine file. You can use a leather strop to remove any burr and the razor sharp.

To conclude, when you learn how to forge a knife, you also learn how to forge any metal thing. I must say, dealing with forge, hot steel is a risky task to do. If you can make it to the end, without a doubt, you are not less than a professional blacksmith.

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