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Super Blades - really?

Getting ready to pull back and retire, I'm finding renewed interest is a few things I've thought about for years (decades, actually).

Cryogenetic treatment - Reports are that it makes a significant improvement in the steel. So I'm sending off a dozen of my finished blades. I should complete testing and report back here sometime in 2024.

OK, here is something kinda crazy - It is pretty well accepted that large grain growth (from overheating the steel) is not good for tool edge holding. Maybe orientation of the crystalline structure is also very important but never utilized because how could you align crystals one way or the other just by hammering or heat treating. What if blades were quenched (when red hot, when the structure is most quickly changed) in a strong magnetic field to orient the crystals? I’ve got a field coil from a large diesel generator, big enough to put a pot of hardening oil inside. Don’t know the best way to wire the coil (DC, AC, voltage???) but am looking into it...

Posted 3/18/24:    I've sent off a dozen SN-M blades for cryogenic treatment. They were given my regular full heat treatment first, and will be post tempered to 300F after cryogenic to ensure against brittleness. Will be testing them compared to my standard knives in a few weeks. Really looking forward to this!

Posted 4/2/24:    Just got the SN-M blades back! Will be doing the final sharpening and hafting onto handles this week, then testing against untreated blades. Posting the results here soon.

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My Rant

Very few blades are forged at all these days. With modern steels readily available in flat sheets, they are quickly cut to the shape of the desired blade. High powered electric grinders finish by shaping the bevels. That's not how I do it.
Although I have always forged all my blades from round bars of high carbon steel, they have required a fair bit of stock removal (grinding) to shape the bevels. For many years I wondered about forging the bevels all the way to a wire edge, to seriously pack the steel there (and to avoid all that grinding). The few attempts I made failed miserably because I couldn't control the edge, which would weave all over. Then one evening a few years ago, an idea struck me that should solve that problem. After a lot of refinments, I finally got it to work, and it has transformed the way I make my blades. The final forging is done so precisely that no major stock removal is needed. This keeps the full benefits of the forging. I am enjoying the thought that I've possibly taken a big step backwards to the time when precise forging of blades was needed because a lot of shaping by grinding was not an option, so bladesmiths had to be very good to make the best blades.

"Hand forged" can mean a lot of different things. Usually, the bevels are started to be forged but with plenty of metal left so that the heavy grinding will correct all the irregularities, to finally give a nice, uniform, clean bevel. It's easy to tell by looking - the bevels have no scale or forging marks. For decades I thought that was the only way, that it wasn't possible to forge the bevels all the way to a uniform and fine edge. So that is what I used to do. Done well and with good steel (and heat treatment!) - it produces good blades. It's the reason a very old argument in bladesmithing has gone on for so long without a clear "winner" - Is a forged blade any better than one cut from flat stock? Well, when the bevels are not very thoroughly forged, the difference is not very great. THAT is where my new blades differ. The bevels are forged all the way to a fine edge, the entire length. The proof that this is true is easy to see - there are no grinding marks on my blades, there are forging marks. I continue to strive to do things that other knife makers can't or won't do.

My carving knives are intended for serious wood carvers. They are razor sharp and can be very dangerous if used improperly. Please be careful and don't allow young people to use them unsupervised.

Your satisfaction is fully guaranteed. If you have a problem of any kind with one of my knives, please let me know. I will make it right with you.

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