I have a moral/ethical question on forging.

#1
So as the title suggests I have a question.
How much grinding can a person do and still call a blade forged?
Example and my personal delima: I have forged the blade portion of what will be a puukko'ish style knife. Do I have to draw out the tang to call it forged or can I cut it with a grinder and still be acceptable?
I know that in my heart it should be fully forged. Just looking other opinions.
This knife is a gift for my 7y/o son it isn't being sold.
 

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
#2
This is where you have to decide whether you are a blacksmith or a knifemaker. Blacksmiths think abrasives are the devil. Blacksmiths seem to believe that when you strike it the last time, it’s done. Knifemakers realize that every knife goes on the grinder and it’s the finished product that matters regardless of how you get there.

In my opinion, if you forged the blade, it’s forged.
 
#3
I guess I will give an opinion as a blacksmith (well hobby blacksmith) who also makes knives (forged and stock removal). I agree with John. You forged the blade so its a forged blade. It is harder in my opinion to forge a tang than a blade. So I only forge about 75 to 80% of my tang. The rest is grinder so I can make it perfect. If you were to make a SR blade and simply add hammermarks to make it look forged and then you call it forged I say you have crossed the invisible moral line. If it makes you feel better I have watched videos where the smith advised to cut an angle in the corner of a billet to make it easier to forge the tip. That is sort of the same thing. Just my opinion.
 

Andre Grobler

Well-Known Member
#4
Moral? It is a knife... people deify too many things and ideologies these days...
You are bothered by this because you attach a certain value to forging, and being truthful about your process. nothing wrong with that...
The only thing you can be moral about is your own inner compass.
I believe that it is essentially marketing to call it anything but "a kitchen/outdoors/bushcraft/hunting knife". Just be happy with and conviced by the process... You did it that way because you believed it was the best solution for you at this time. So if you want to call it a certain thing, ask why?
I would have no problem in calling it a forged knife. but i would tongue in cheek call every knife i make or can buy anywhere a knife made of forged steel...
 

J. Doyle

Dealer - Purveyor
#5
Forged, not forged, custom, not custom, handmade, machine made, benchmade, midtech...........whatever else.

It seems that there are FAR more makers that concern themselves with these issues than collectors/buyers. We're living in an age where not that many people care anymore. They buy what they like.

The number of collectors/buyers that care are getting fewer by the day and the majority of those are pretty long in the tooth.

I say do what YOU like. For reasons that make sense to YOU and fit in with YOUR methods and processes.

The flipside of that coin is there does seem to be a resurgence in interest in forged things of all manner so we'll see how that factors in in the future......but I'm betting it won't change things significantly.
 
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J. Doyle

Dealer - Purveyor
#6
I used to concern myself with such things more than I do now. It can get tiresome worrying what everyone else thinks. It adds undue stress and takes the fun out of this craft.

Its just making knives......nobody's life is at stake. Only one person has to be happy with every knife you make. And only two with every knife you sell.

MKEA- Make Knifemaking Enjoyable Again

:)
 
#7
I used to concern myself with such things more than I do now. It can get tiresome worrying what everyone else thinks. It adds undue stress and takes the fun out of this craft.

Its just making knives......nobody's life is at stake. Only one person has to be happy with every knife you make. And only two with every knife you sell.

MKEA- Make Knifemaking Enjoyable Again

:)
Amen and amen. Well said Mr. Doyle.
 
#8
I got no bone to pick with legacy craftsmen....only that they not try to fit me into their "mold"...

I only...ever...ask myself one question..."Is this the very best knife THIS shop can produce?" (usually it's yes...lol!)

Back in the day....even blacksmiths had more tools than a hammer....
 

springer82

Well-Known Member
#9
You forged the blade. Just because the finishing process includes sanding does not mean it was not forged by hand. Did you buy a piece of stock and shape it on a grinder. Did you hot punch the holes for the scales. How did you sharpen it. How far do you want to take this? Enjoy!!
 
#10
I have seen forged knives that still need an awful lot of stock removal to get to finished dimensions. One I think of showed his forged blades after heat treat and the edge was still 3/16 thick. How little or how much you beat on it as long as you take that step is accepted.
 

Drew Riley

Well-Known Member
#12
I believe the cutoff is 37.2% grinding vs 62.8% forging, but then we get into the question whether that's a percentage of time spent doing each process, or material shaped by each process. Or maybe it's a metric of gas/coal volume vs abrasive belt wear?

Now, what if I forge a knife from a piece of flat stock vs. round bar? That's less work right? Is the round bar knife better because I had to hit it with a hammer a thousand more times? What if I use a power hammer? Can I still say "hand forged"?!!

I think transparency is a bigger part of the equation. I've seen guys hammer on "stock removal" blades to make them look forged, and we've all seen forged blades that spent enough time at a grinder that they could have just as easily (perhaps more so) been made via stock removal. It's all a means to an end. At the end of the day, it's not that one process (or product thereof) is better than the other, but it's understood that there's a specific market for each, and some people want a knife that was beaten out, to some extent, over an anvil, more than one that was just "cut out".

Now, you MAY have more exacting requirements set by certain guilds and whatnot, but I think they get a little more specific in their rules as to what constitutes "forged" vs "stock removal", although what those are, I don't know.
 

Doug Lester

Well-Known Member
#13
Any forged blade is forged AND ground. No way around it unless you want to end up with a blade with a crude forged finished. How much forging and how much grinding depends on the knife maker. Some forge the profile and then grind the rest. I think that this is especially more common when a thin blade is being made to reduce warping. Others may want to forge the blade to 80%-90% before going on to grinding. It what works for you.

Doug
 

C. Killgore

Well-Known Member
#14
There is a whole spectrum of amount forged vs ground. It usually comes down to the maker. I've seen lots of makers that only forge the profile. And others that forge crazy close to shape. I don't see the point in only forging the profile unless it is an extremely thin blade, but that's just me.

The fact that you brought this question up, suggests to me that you want to forge more of the knife than you have been (or at least that's how I interpret it). I have been in that same position. Several years ago I was forging knives really thick and not super close to shape but my skill at forging was a lot lower and I was trying to learn grinding at the same time. The grinding is what makes a knife actually look good and so it seemed to take precedent at the time in order for me to produce good looking knives.

But always in the back of my head I truly wanted to forge closer to shape. I love forging, I don't love grinding. Grinding is just a means to an end and the forging is the part that I really enjoy. I never did the pre-form thing where people cut the corner off the bar. You save yourself a couple heats and waste a chunk of steel. Doesn't make much sense to me. I feel like if you like forging, you might as well forge it as close as your skill allows. I eventually decided it was time to get better at forging and I went out there and forged knives over and over again until I was completely happy with my as-forged shape.

I guess my point is that, if you want to forge it closer to shape, then just practice at forging whatever it is until you're good at it. If you're like me, you won't be satisfied until you do.

On the other hand, if it's just you worrying about what others think, then it truly does not matter. As long as you are happy with what you are doing, then you're doing it the correct way.

I would still call a knife that had been forged but not the tang a forged blade.
 

Doug Lester

Well-Known Member
#16
This is walking a fine edge here but I think that if one forge welds a san-mai billet then does stock removal from there I would think that the blade would be stock removal. If one were to forge the profile and then grinds in the bevels I think it would be close enough to be called a forged blade.

Doug
 

C. Killgore

Well-Known Member
#17
Yeah, I think we could go back and forth on that for eternity. Pretty much any bar of steel has been forged somewhere down the line. A stock removal guy can purchase a san mai billet or a damascus billet then grind the knife out. I highly doubt he would advertise that knife as "forged" even if he bought it from a fellow bladesmith that made that damascus by hand. I have even sold a bar of damascus that I made and the stock removal maker wanted me to forge the point in, which I did. What then?

In many cases with damascus, people try not to forge it too much in order to not distort the pattern more than they want. But they may have spent 10 hours forging a very complex pattern in that damascus. I think that is one particular case where the line is a bit blurry.

Everyone has their own opinion on this topic it seems. For me, a forged knife has forged bevels. And the reason that's my personal criteria is that forging in the bevels makes my life a lot easier on the grinder and I don't like grinding. Having a nice already set bevel that I can lay up against the flat platen and work off of, makes the whole process much easier and reduces the amount of grinding significantly. It is a big reason for me forging in the first place.

Even with that being my criteria, someone could have blanks waterjet/laser cut then forge just the bevels from that point. I think we could go round and round on this topic. There just isn't a single definition that determines whether something has been forged or not. At the end of the day, if the customer is really that interested, he will ask and the maker, hopefully, will be honest and explain the process to him. And that's really all that matters.

Edit: This brought up a memory I had. I was selling some knives a local arts/crafts show and some guy walked up and asked me if I "cheated" forging my knives. I told him I didn't understand what he meant and he said he was sure I did. Eventually he got around to telling me what he meant was if I forged everything by hand or if I used a power hammer at all. In his eyes, using a power hammer was "cheating." :rolleyes:

Cody
 
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springer82

Well-Known Member
#18
Edit: This brought up a memory I had. I was selling some knives a local arts/crafts show and some guy walked up and asked me if I "cheated" forging my knives. I told him I didn't understand what he meant and he said he was sure I did. Eventually he got around to telling me what he meant was if I forged everything by hand or if I used a power hammer at all. In his eyes, using a power hammer was "cheating." :rolleyes:

Cody
How funny! There's always something! Some people just aren't happy unless they have something to complain about.
 

KenH

Well-Known Member
#20
This is walking a fine edge here but I think that if one forge welds a san-mai billet then does stock removal from there I would think that the blade would be stock removal. If one were to forge the profile and then grinds in the bevels I think it would be close enough to be called a forged blade.Doug
Shucks, here I was feeling so proud of myself with having forged a blade of San Mai. Yes, I forge welded the billet, then ground it nice, cut out profile, then ground the bevels and finish in. I now agree this case is more correct saying "I forged the San Mai, then stock removal for blade". Yes, I think I can agree with that. I think I do feel if a person forges the San Mai (or Damascus) billet, then stock removal for blade it's more than just pure "stock removal".

Since I'm dry welding and doing a seal weld all way around the billet I cut off about 1/4" all way around to completely clear all the welding out leaving a nice billet. Perhaps to have a forged blade I could then forge the point and bevels. Do I have to forge the tang? :)

Good points on all sides.
 
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