As I continue my quest to ‘skill up’ and to compliment my natural affinity with hand tools, what could be more essential than discovering an almost lost craft in the dark art of metal forging – Blacksmithing. It wasn’t easy finding someone who was willing to share his knowledge of what seemed a very mysterious craft.
I found Tharwa Valley Forge on the web sporting a beautifully presented website that immediately seduced me into learning the specific skill of Knifesmithing. Run by Karim Haddad and support crew Kevin and Ali his wife (who makes exceptional coffee and muffins).
The course started Friday night with orientation and brainstorming ideas. Saturday and Sunday was full of lots of info and basically getting into it. All four participants designed, forged and crafted their own designs, ending the weekend each with two unique knives. It helps if you are competent with hand tools especially a hammer. I wasn’t really sure of what I wanted in a knife, only having owned and used one utility. First up I knew I wanted a better knife to aid my other new found skill of animal skinning, the second knife I felt would appear as the process went along and it did very nicely.
As I discovered Knife making is a huge culture and publications are produced annually to showcase the latest trends and exquisite handy work of some very dedicated artisans.
Well I’ve got long way to go until I fall into that category, but I actually impressed myself with the knives that I produced and I came away from the course confident that I could at least forge up another knife in the future. The process is as follows:
3. Annealing / Normalising
4. Rough Grind / Profiling
5. Fine Grind
6. Heat Treating / Tempering
7. Soften Back
8. Final Polish
9. Guard & Handle
Here are some images I took along the way and I will add more that Karim took as we were working. The handles of my knives are Casuarina – native She Oak.
Below that are some good links for Blacksmithing.
http://zoellerforge.com/simplegasforge.html – Simple Gas Forge Plans
http://tharwavalleyforge.com/shop/tools – New Anvils
http://www.knifeart.com/hunting.html – Custom Knives and Knife art