Blacksmithing Tools for Knifemaking: A Detailed Overview with Prices

Blacksmithing, an age-old craft, has evolved over the centuries, with tools and techniques being refined to produce intricate and functional pieces. One of the most sought-after products from a blacksmith’s forge is a handcrafted knife. The art of knifemaking requires a unique set of tools, each designed to ensure precision, durability, and beauty in the finished product. In this article, we will give detailed knifemaking tools overview with prices.

Blacksmithing Tools for Knifemaking: An Overview with Prices

1. Hammers and Mallets

At the heart of blacksmithing lies the hammer. For knifemaking, specific types of hammers are preferred:

  • Cross Pein Hammer: Ideal for drawing out steel, its design allows for spreading metal perpendicularly to the blade. Prices range from $25 to $100, depending on the weight and craftsmanship.
  • Rounding Hammer: Used for forging and shaping, its dual-faced design is versatile for both aggressive and delicate tasks. Prices typically range from $30 to $120.

2. Anvils

The anvil is the blacksmith’s workbench. It provides a hard surface against which the smith hammers the metal.

  • London Pattern Anvil: A popular choice for knifemakers, it has a horn for shaping and a flat surface for hammering. Prices can vary widely, from $300 to $2,500, based on size and material.

3. Tongs

Tongs are essential for holding hot metal safely. For knifemaking, specialized tongs are available:

  • Blade Tongs: Designed to grip knife blades securely, they come in various shapes and sizes. Prices generally range from $20 to $60.

4. Forges

The forge heats the metal, making it malleable. There are different types of forges, but gas forges are popular for knifemaking due to their consistent heat.

  • Gas Forges: These are efficient and provide even heating, essential for knifemaking. Prices can range from $300 to $1,500 based on size and features.

5. Grinders and Sanders

After forging, the knife needs refining and sharpening.

  • Belt Grinders: Essential for shaping and sharpening the blade. Prices can range from $500 to $2,500 based on power and features.

6. Drifts and Punches

Used for creating holes and decorative patterns on the knife.

  • Slot Punch: Used to create a slot in the blade, typically priced between $20 and $50.
  • Drift: Helps in enlarging and shaping holes, with prices ranging from $20 to $60.

7. Chisels and Fullers

For adding intricate details and designs to the knife.

  • Chisels: Used for cutting and carving designs, priced between $15 and $50.
  • Fullers: Used to create grooves and indentations, they can cost between $20 and $70.

8. Quenching Oils and Tanks

Quenching is a crucial step in knifemaking, determining the hardness of the blade.

  • Quenching Oils: Specialized oils ensure the blade cools at the right rate. Prices range from $20 to $100 based on the volume and type.
  • Quenching Tanks: Containers for holding quenching oil, they can range from $50 to $200.

Hammers: Blacksmithing fundamental tools

Hammers are fundamental tools in blacksmithing, and when it comes to knifemaking, certain hammers are favored due to their specific design and utility. Here’s a brief overview of the Cross Pein Hammer and the Rounding Hammer in the context of knifemaking:

1. Cross Pein Hammer:

  • Design: This hammer features a flat face on one side and a wedge-like “pein” on the other that runs perpendicular to the handle.
  • Utility in Knifemaking:
    • The flat face is used for general forging tasks.
    • The cross pein is particularly useful for drawing out steel. When forging a knife, the smith often needs to elongate a piece of steel. The cross pein allows for directed force, which can spread the metal more in one direction than the other, making it ideal for shaping the blade’s taper.

2. Rounding Hammer:

  • Design: This hammer has one flat face and one rounded, or convex, face.
  • Utility in Knifemaking:
    • The flat face is used for general forging, similar to the flat face of the cross pein.
    • The rounded face is beneficial for moving metal more aggressively. It can be used to create fuller impressions or to forge bevels on a knife blade. The rounded face allows for more focused force on a smaller area, which can be useful for specific shaping tasks.

Both of these hammers are essential in a knifemaker’s toolkit. The choice of which to use often comes down to the specific task at hand and the blacksmith’s personal preference. Mastery in knifemaking involves not just understanding the metal and the design of the knife but also knowing which tool to use at each stage of the forging process.

Anvil: how a professional anvil differs from an amateur anvil

The anvil is a primary supporting tool in blacksmithing. Its top horizontal surface is called the face or table. The face of the anvil should be hardened and well polished, as it’s where most of the blacksmithing work is performed. The side edges of the anvil are angled at 90° to the face. The edges of these sides should be fairly sharp, without any chips. These edges are used for drawing out and bending materials.

An important feature of the anvil is the horn. There are hornless anvils and single-horned anvils, but the most versatile is the double-horned anvil with a conical horn and a tail. The conical horn is used for radius bending of rods and strips. It’s also used for rolling and welding workpieces into ring shapes, forging spirals, and performing many other operations. The tail, located opposite the horn, is pyramid-shaped and is used for bending and adjusting closed rectangular workpieces.

On the face, near the horn, there’s a round hole with a diameter of 15-25 mm for punching holes in workpieces. Near the tail on the face, there’s a square hole measuring 35×35 mm. This hole is used to insert various tools that facilitate drawing out, cutting, and shaping workpieces.

To attach the anvil to a base, it has feet on its bottom surface. A base (or stand) for a stationary anvil can be a massive log of hardwood with a diameter of 60-70 cm and of the same height. The anvil is attached to the base using brackets.

A wobbly base can hinder work on the anvil. As per expert advice, it’s best to bury the base in the ground to a depth of at least 0.5 meters and firmly tamp the soil around it. If you can’t find a suitable log, replace it with a wooden or metal barrel tightly packed with sand or soil. Place a thick wooden block on top and attach the anvil to it. For initial familiarization tasks, a piece of rail or a thick metal plate can serve as a makeshift anvil.

Tongs: how to use in blacksmithing

Blacksmiths deal with heated metal. When processing a heated workpiece, it needs to be held in a certain position. If one hand is enough to work with a tool, the workpiece can be held with the other hand using tongs. To tightly fit products of various configurations, the jaws of the tongs are given different shapes. For instance, it’s more convenient to hold a cylindrical workpiece with tongs having semi-circular jaws. Based on the shape of their jaws, tongs are categorized into longitudinal, transverse, longitudinal-transverse, and special. If the size of the tong jaws is slightly larger than the workpiece, a trick is used: the jaws are heated in the forge, grabbed onto the workpiece, and the jaws are shaped to the workpiece with hammer blows. Blacksmith tongs should be light, with long, springy handles. For a firm grip on workpieces during work, the handles of the tongs are tightened with a special clamping ring.

The Essence of a Blacksmith’s Forge

The forge is the heart and soul of blacksmithing. It’s where metal is heated, shaped, and transformed into tools, art, and countless other creations. The ideal forge is a spacious, separate room located a safe distance from living quarters, typically 10-15 meters away. However, for those with space constraints, a covered shed in the yard can serve as a starting point.

Essential Equipment in a Forge

  1. Forge Furnace: This is the primary heating device where metal is heated until it’s malleable.
  2. Anvil: A heavy block on which the blacksmith hammers and shapes the heated metal.
  3. Blacksmithing Table: A sturdy table where various blacksmithing tasks are performed.
  4. Workbench: A space for planning, drawing, and setting out tools and materials.
  5. Stand or Rack: This is for storing forging and locksmithing tools.
  6. Forging and Locksmithing Tools: Hammers, tongs, chisels, and many other tools essential for shaping and refining metal.
  7. Water Tank: A tank filled with cold water used for quenching hot metal to harden it.

Additional Useful Equipment

  • Sharpener: For maintaining the edges of tools and blades.
  • Welding Machine: Useful for joining metal pieces together.
  • Crushing Presses: Machines that use force to shape or cut metal.

The Horn: The Forge’s Foundation

The horn, or forge furnace, is the central piece of equipment in any blacksmith’s workshop. Unlike a regular furnace, the horn has an open furnace design and relies on forced air supply. This air supply intensifies the heat, allowing the metal to reach the high temperatures needed for forging.

Historically, forges were monumental structures. They began with a wooden base filled with materials like burnt earth, sand, or broken stones. At the center was a hollow space, or crucible, into which a thick pipe, known as a tuyere, was inserted. This tuyere was connected to bellows that supplied air to the burning coals in the crucible. The process of supplying this air is known as blowing. The intensity of the air flow directly influenced the temperature within the crucible. Traditional blacksmithing crucibles were also crafted from bricks.

Modern Alternatives

While the traditional crucible holds historical and functional significance, modern blacksmiths have alternatives. If constructing a crucible isn’t feasible, portable propane burners are available. These burners are efficient, easy to use, and perfect for those looking to explore blacksmithing without setting up a full-fledged forge.

Gas Forges

Propane forges are popular in the blacksmithing community, especially for those who practice the craft at home. They offer a clean and efficient way to heat metal, making them ideal for various projects, from knife-making to artistic endeavors.

 

Nelyrho Propane Forges

Nelyrho is a manufacturer known for producing reliable and efficient propane forges. Their products are designed to cater to a range of blacksmithing needs, from hobbyists to professionals. Nelyrho’s commitment to quality and innovation has made them a favorite choice among blacksmiths.

Models of Nelyrho Propane Forges:

While I don’t have real-time data on all the models Nelyrho offers, they typically provide a range of forges to cater to different needs, such as:

  1. Single burner units for smaller projects or beginners.
  2. Double or multiple burner units for larger projects or professional use.
  3. Portable units for those who need mobility.
  4. Specialized units for specific tasks, such as knife-making or artistic work.

Nelyrho NY50 Propane Forge Kit Single Burner Stainless Steel Portable Smelting Furnace:

This particular model is designed with both the beginner and the hobbyist in mind. Here’s a detailed overview:

  • Single Burner: The NY50 comes with a single propane burner, making it ideal for smaller projects or for those just starting out in blacksmithing. The burner provides consistent and even heat, ensuring the metal reaches the desired temperature.
  • Stainless Steel Construction: The use of stainless steel ensures durability and longevity. It’s resistant to rust and can handle the high temperatures inside the forge without warping or deteriorating.
  • Portable: One of the standout features of the NY50 is its portability. Whether you’re moving around your workshop or taking it to a different location, this forge is designed to be mobile.
  • Smelting Furnace: Apart from blacksmithing, this forge can also be used for smelting, making it versatile for various metalworking tasks.
  • Beginner Friendly: The NY50 is designed to be user-friendly. Its straightforward operation makes it an excellent choice for those new to blacksmithing.
  • Applications: While it’s perfect for hobbyists and beginners, the NY50 is also suitable for more specialized tasks like knife-making, tool-making, and even farrier work.
  • DIY Friendly: For those who love DIY projects, this forge is a dream come true. Its design and functionality make it perfect for those who want to experiment and create their own tools or art pieces.

The Nelyrho NY50 Propane Forge Kit stands out as a versatile and reliable choice for those looking to delve into the world of blacksmithing. Whether you’re a beginner, a hobbyist, or someone looking for a portable forge solution, the NY50 has got you covered. With its robust construction and user-friendly design, it’s a worthy addition to any workshop.

Drifts and Punches

Punches are designed for making holes and various indentations in thin workpieces. The working part of a punch is called the “bit” or “tip”. These bits can have round, oval, square, rectangular, or custom shapes. The choice of punch depends on the shape required for the hole or indentation. For the same purposes, but for bulkier workpieces, drifts or special chisels are used. Chisels differ from punches in that they don’t have handles and are held with tongs.

Smoothing tools (Flatters): After forging, the surface of the product is far from perfectly smooth. To even it out, smoothers or flatters are used. For leveling large flat surfaces, it’s more convenient to use flat smoothers with a working surface of 10×10 cm. For smaller flat surfaces, a flat smoother with a working surface of 5×5 cm is sufficient. For leveling curved surfaces, smoothers with a cylindrical working surface are used.

Bottom tools: These are set in the square hole on the anvil’s face. For this purpose, they are equipped with a square-shaped tang that easily fits into the hole.

Blacksmith chisels

Blacksmith chisels are used by blacksmiths in many operations and can be differentiated based on several characteristics.

Firstly, they are categorized based on whether they are used for cutting heated or cold workpieces. Chisels for cutting cold workpieces are more robust, with a blade sharpening angle of 60°. For cutting hot workpieces, chisels with a thinner blade are used, and the sharpening angle is 30°.

The chisels also vary based on the shape of their blade. Chisels with a straight blade are used for both cross-cutting and longitudinal cutting. For cross-cutting, the blade of the chisel is aligned parallel to the handle’s axis, while for longitudinal cutting, it’s perpendicular. Straight blades can have either a single-sided or double-sided sharpening. Single-sided sharpened chisels produce cuts with strictly perpendicular ends. In contrast, cuts with slanted ends are made using double-sided sharpened chisels. Sometimes, the blade of the chisel is left blunt. Such chisels are used for decorating the surface of a product with ornamentation.

For carving out decorative elements from metal sheets, chisels with a specific curvature of the blade in the horizontal plane are used. If the decorative element is carved from a metal block or another voluminous workpiece, shaped chisels with a double curvature of the blade are employed.

Fullers: The primary role of fullers is to expedite the drawing out (lengthening) of heated metal both longitudinally and transversely in relation to the workpiece’s axis. Additionally, they are used for making cylindrical grooves in workpieces. Fullers can also be used for imprinting patterns.

Chisels (Undercuts): One of the methods for cutting workpieces involves using chisels or undercuts. The sharpening angle of the chisel blade is 60°. The workpiece is placed on the chisel blade, and by striking it with a hand tool, the required part is cut off.

Other Blacksmithing Tools

Tapered Mandrels and Forks: For expanding holes in a workpiece and drawing out rings, tapered mandrels and forks are used during bending operations. An experienced blacksmith accumulates an arsenal of various mandrels over time, simplifying tasks like forging tapers, blacksmith welding, and bending complex profiles. Beginners won’t need them right away. As you gain experience, you’ll determine which ones you need and can make them yourself. In general, don’t be intimidated by the extensive set of tools. Not all of them will be necessary from the very first moments of working as a blacksmith. To master the basic techniques of blacksmithing, a limited list of tools is sufficient.

Another category is the paired bottom tools. They are called “paired” because they include a bottom tool, which, like a regular bottom tool, is inserted into the square hole on the anvil’s face, and a top tool, which is placed on top of the workpiece and held by its handle (like a regular top tool). This category includes swages and fullering tools.

Swages and Fullering Tools: These tools help give an already forged workpiece the correct cylindrical, rectangular, or polygonal shape. The workpiece is placed between them. Fullering tools are used for longitudinal and transverse drawing out of metal.

Nail Plate: This is used to make nails, bolts, and rivets for connecting parts of products. The plate is essentially a block with specialized holes of various sizes. Remember, connections made with bolts and rivets, crafted from the same metal as the main product, look much neater.

Forming Plate: A steel forming plate can be a great aid to a blacksmith. It has recesses of various configurations and sizes on its four side edges. On the end surfaces of the plate, there are through holes of standard shapes (round, square, triangular, etc.) and custom holes. The length of the plate’s side edges can reach 40 cm, with a thickness of 15-20 cm. The holes on the end surfaces are used for punching holes of the same shape in the workpieces being processed. The plate is placed under the workpiece, which is worked on with punches or chisels. The recesses on the side edges of the plate are used for forging various shaped elements and successfully replace a whole set of bottom stamps.

Vise: For working with tools, both of a blacksmith’s hands need to be free, so heated workpieces are clamped using bench vises. Such vises are attached with massive bolts or screws to the main support of a workbench. A workbench is essential in any forge, as the finished forged product often requires some finishing with hand tools. You would have gradually become familiar with the main hand tools during the study of the first chapter. An addition would be a grinder. It’s best to drill holes for connecting thick, hard forged workpieces not manually, but on a drilling machine. It’s most convenient to position the vise so that the distance between the floor and the top level of the jaws is 90-100 cm.

Conclusion

Blacksmithing, as an art, requires a combination of skill, passion, and the right tools. If you are new to knifemaking – we advise you to read our review Knifemaking Beginners Tools Guide – Where Should I Start?

For aspiring knifemakers, investing in quality tools is paramount to producing exceptional knives. While the prices mentioned are approximate and can vary based on brand, craftsmanship, and region, they offer a ballpark figure for those looking to set up or upgrade their workshop.

 

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