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The tang is iron that was forge-welded onto the steel blade. This sounds like a lot of work for those of us who have unlimited piles of steel with which to work. The welding of scraps to make bigger pieces was business as usual for the tribal smith who made this knife. Note the branch from a tree that was used for a handle and the crude bolster to keep the handle from splitting. The hole for the tang is the exact shape as the tang and that shows that the tang was burned into the handle. A novice knifemaker who opts to forge a blade does not need a grinding machine, assuming the blade is forged close to the final shape.

Don’t put the torch tip directly in the heat hole, keep it an inch or so from the opening. Experiment with your torch to see where the flame is aimed to get the most heat. The heat chamber doesn’t need to go all the way through the length of the brick if you are forging only small blades. A half-brick that is drilled partway through is positioned at the back end of the forge. With the open end of the half brick against the heat chamber, blades as long as 10 inches can be heated for forging or quenching.

See the photo. The jig is made of copper but could be stainless steel or mild steel. Mild steel will scale away and not have as long a life as copper or stainless steel. The copper sides are 3⁄8-inch-by-1-inch by 5 inches. The gap for the blade is 1⁄4 inch, or as wide as the thickest blade you want to temper with the tempering jig. The tempering jig must be heavy in order to hold enough heat to do an adequate selective temper on larger blades. An extension on the spacer of the blade is necessary as a place pinch with tongs or pliers to take the blade and jig in and out of the forge.

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1980s Through 1990s


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