Fighter WIP, Part I: The Blade

This is a “Bowie Fighter” commission I’m working on for a customer. I started out with leaf spring steel, which is normally, or at least very close to, 5160. After drawing up a design, I used a metal cutting disc on a miter saw to cut a leaf spring section in half, lengthwise. Then I began forging out the steel, from about three eighths of an inch to a little over one eighth of an inch. This both widened and lengthened the blade. Once I made good headway there and got close to the thickness I wanted, I started to draw out the tang a little bit, which I returned to later. I then began working on the tip, switching between putting the steel on edge on the anvil, and laying it flat to straighten and flatten every once in a while.

Once the tip was well formed, I switched to the lighter hammer and began working on the blade, lengthening it and widening it to match my design. After I was satisfied, I finished drawing out the tang.

I then straightened and normalized (heated to critical and let cool) thrice, and the forging was complete. On the belt grinder I used a 36 grit belt to profile the blade; get it to exact shape.

Then began grinding the bevels, or the flat of the blade where it slopes down to the cutting edge. After getting very close to where I wanted it, I switched to a 220 belt, to smooth it all and take out the scratches from the 36. I brought the edge down to about a millimeter or two thickness (if it’s too thin it would lose heat too fast later in heat treating).

Once this was all complete, I heat treated, by heating up to critical temperature (where a magnet will not longer stick) and quenching in warm motor oil to harden. Once it had cooled I placed it in the oven at 375 for about six hours to temper. I finished hand sanding and polishing one side of the blade and will begin the other side soon, and the blade will be completed. After that it is on to handling.

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