Quick easy Hamon

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Tom Lewis

Well-Known Member
Some knifemakers make really beautiful hamon's. The problem I have is most of my knives sell for around $200.00 so I don't want to spend a lot of time etching and polishing.
So is there a way to get a hamon quick and easy?
mSl3S7F.jpg

One like this. I know there are better hamon's but they take a lot of etching and polishing.
Here's how I get mine.
kazfwhB.jpg

I partially grind my bevels. Then I put the clay on.
nUzPLuN.jpg

What I have learned is that it doesn't really matter how thick the clay is but if you want the hamon to follow the clay then the clay needs to be the same on each side of the blade.
So I put painters tape on both sides of a piece of wax paper, draw the profile, then draw how I want the hamon. I like curves. Then I cut the pattern out.
ElJEI0H.jpg

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I take the painters tape off and put it on both sides of the knife. Now the clay pattern will be the same.
I also put some ATP on the flats to prevent fire scale. I am not sure this does any good.
fVRz9D4.jpg

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I use this for fire clay. I clamp the blade ,
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And use the calk gun to apply the clay.
1olaKp5.jpg

Then I pull the tape off and my clay pattern is the same on both sides of the blade. I have put the wet clay in the heat treat oven but it seems to me that I get a better pattern if I let the clay dry overnight.
Next, the heat treat.
 

Tom Lewis

Well-Known Member
Alden, to answer your question, my bevels are 36 grit when I heat treat. I have heard others go up in grits before heat treatment, but I don't and it works for me.
I quench in parks 50 and have no trouble with cracking. I do grind the edge longways before the heat treatment. Cross scratches on the blade edge may cause cracking. On the thicker back I don't grind longways.
To heat treat, and I am using 26c3 steel, I put in the Paragon oven at 1475 for ten minutes, quench in Parks 50 for a count of 30, take out, knock the clay off, wipe the blade off and put between two large pieces of steel to go to room temperature. This I think prevents warping. After the blades are room temperature I temper them at 400 degrees for two hours and I do this twice.
DpH78vA.jpg

In this picture I have tapered the tangs but the rest is how it looks after heat treat.
I start grinding with 36 grit blaze belt. I get the bevels shaped the way I want them. Then its 60,220, 400 and 22 Norax. The 22 Norax is amazing.
Next I hand sand starting with 500 grit, 600, 800, 1200 grit.
0QhW9Oq.jpg

I use a sanding block like this.
I don't use any lubrication. I sand dry. The paper clogs up faster, but I like to see where I am sanding. Also when I finish with the 1200 grit I just wipe the dust off the blade and put it in the acid.
I etch in FeCl one part FeCl to three parts distilled water. My acid is 6 years old and still seems to work good.
I put the blade in the acid for 27 seconds, take out, dip in water and with 0000 steel wool wipe the blade about five quick times on each side then it's back in the acid. I do this maybe 6 times.
After the sixth time I take the blade to the sink, spray with windex and sprinkle some baking soda on the blade, wash the blade off, dry with a paper towel and its ready to polish.
okw9SBW.jpg

For polish I use 15oo silicon carbide grit. The last I got was from Amazon. I mix 3 in one oil in it to make a paste. I squirt some green flitz in. I don't think the mixture needs to be exact.
KFzrlBK.jpg

To polish I use a 2x4 block with this padding.
d2tM6Nr.jpg

xZNNFLp.jpg

I clamp the blade down and polish with the 2x4 block. I polish the whole blade but pay attention to the edge. When it is shiny I turn the blade over and do the other side. It takes less than 30 seconds for each side.
IR4yEN6.jpg

That's all there is to it.
09B8azJ.jpg

That's the finished product.
This is a simple easy way to get a hamon. There are better methods but they take a lot of etching and polishing.
 

Tom Lewis

Well-Known Member
I think there is a lot of misinformation out about hamons. One is that the clay needs to be thin. From my experience and I have done a lot, the thickness of clay doesn't matter. What matters is that the clay pattern should be the same on both sides of the blade. I have put clay on close to one inch thick and still got a good pattern.
Another piece of information I have heard is that 36 grit will cause stress risers Well, I have done hundreds of blades with 36 grit and have never had any problem. This is my 41 year of selling knives. Going up in grits before heat treat is in my opinion just a waste of time. I will start with 36 grit after the tempering so I see no need to go to a higher grit before the heat treat.
Daniel, I don't mean to be rude, but do you have actual experience with problems caused by heat treating 36 grit blades, or is this just something you have heard.
 

Daniel Macina

Well-Known Member
Daniel, I don't mean to be rude, but do you have actual experience with problems caused by heat treating 36 grit blades, or is this just something you have heard.
Both. I’ve done a lot of testing on my heat treats and heat treated three pieces at 60 grit two of them cracked One was pretty major and the other was slightly lesser surface problems. Didn’t happen once I got above that I have also researched what people with PhD‘s in metallurgy have to say they also say it is a bad idea to heat treat with a finish that rough. If it works for you that’s great I wasn’t sure what kind of experience you had and was trying to help you out wasn’t sure if you were aware it could be a problem or not.
 
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Tom Lewis

Well-Known Member
Daniel, thanks for your answer, I am glad your conclusions have come from testing.
I do think it necessary to have vertical grinds on the thin knife edge before heat treating.
Everyone can have different experiences.
I haven't had a cracked blade since I have started using Parks 50.
 
Alden, to answer your question, my bevels are 36 grit when I heat treat. I have heard others go up in grits before heat treatment, but I don't and it works for me.
I quench in parks 50 and have no trouble with cracking. I do grind the edge longways before the heat treatment. Cross scratches on the blade edge may cause cracking. On the thicker back I don't grind longways.
To heat treat, and I am using 26c3 steel, I put in the Paragon oven at 1475 for ten minutes, quench in Parks 50 for a count of 30, take out, knock the clay off, wipe the blade off and put between two large pieces of steel to go to room temperature. This I think prevents warping. After the blades are room temperature I temper them at 400 degrees for two hours and I do this twice.
DpH78vA.jpg

In this picture I have tapered the tangs but the rest is how it looks after heat treat.
I start grinding with 36 grit blaze belt. I get the bevels shaped the way I want them. Then its 60,220, 400 and 22 Norax. The 22 Norax is amazing.
Next I hand sand starting with 500 grit, 600, 800, 1200 grit.
0QhW9Oq.jpg

I use a sanding block like this.
I don't use any lubrication. I sand dry. The paper clogs up faster, but I like to see where I am sanding. Also when I finish with the 1200 grit I just wipe the dust off the blade and put it in the acid.
I etch in FeCl one part FeCl to three parts distilled water. My acid is 6 years old and still seems to work good.
I put the blade in the acid for 27 seconds, take out, dip in water and with 0000 steel wool wipe the blade about five quick times on each side then it's back in the acid. I do this maybe 6 times.
After the sixth time I take the blade to the sink, spray with windex and sprinkle some baking soda on the blade, wash the blade off, dry with a paper towel and its ready to polish.
okw9SBW.jpg

For polish I use 15oo silicon carbide grit. The last I got was from Amazon. I mix 3 in one oil in it to make a paste. I squirt some green flitz in. I don't think the mixture needs to be exact.
KFzrlBK.jpg

To polish I use a 2x4 block with this padding.
d2tM6Nr.jpg

xZNNFLp.jpg

I clamp the blade down and polish with the 2x4 block. I polish the whole blade but pay attention to the edge. When it is shiny I turn the blade over and do the other side. It takes less than 30 seconds for each side.
IR4yEN6.jpg

That's all there is to it.
09B8azJ.jpg

That's the finished product.
This is a simple easy way to get a hamon. There are better methods but they take a lot of etching and polishing.
Excellent, excellent post with tons of pictures. The is the best hamon post I have ever seen. Thanks so much!
 

Tom Lewis

Well-Known Member
There have been questions and concern about heat treating 36 grit bevels. I have thought of something that I feel I should mention
I don't grind bevels with a NEW 36 grit belt. I first use the new 36 grit belts to taper tangs. When the belt starts to loose it's cut on tapering tangs, I then use it to grind bevels.
The 36 grit belt still does a fast job on the bevels, but the scratches may not be as deep as they would be with a new belt.
Maybe this makes a difference when it comes to heat treating.
 

J. Doyle

Dealer - Purveyor
I think there is a lot of misinformation out about hamons. One is that the clay needs to be thin. From my experience and I have done a lot, the thickness of clay doesn't matter. What matters is that the clay pattern should be the same on both sides of the blade. I have put clay on close to one inch thick and still got a good pattern.
Another piece of information I have heard is that 36 grit will cause stress risers Well, I have done hundreds of blades with 36 grit and have never had any problem. This is my 41 year of selling knives. Going up in grits before heat treat is in my opinion just a waste of time. I will start with 36 grit after the tempering so I see no need to go to a higher grit before the heat treat.
Daniel, I don't mean to be rude, but do you have actual experience with problems caused by heat treating 36 grit blades, or is this just something you have heard.
With due respect, I personally think there's a fair bit of misinformation in this post....most of it, in fact.

But if your methods satisfy you, I guess that's all that matters.
 
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Bruce McLeish

Well-Known Member
OK , John
Spill it.

Please 'splain it to me. I thought that an Hamon was the result of differential heat treating - the edge being harder than the spine. If that is true , then the trying for the hamon for looks is just that - cosmetics. So it really doesn't matter how you get it. Right? What I mean is that it probably matters a great deal in true differential heat treating but not so much if you're just going for effect. Please correct me if I'm out of place here but this is a genuine question.
 

J. Doyle

Dealer - Purveyor
OK , John
Spill it.

Please 'splain it to me. I thought that an Hamon was the result of differential heat treating - the edge being harder than the spine. If that is true , then the trying for the hamon for looks is just that - cosmetics. So it really doesn't matter how you get it. Right? What I mean is that it probably matters a great deal in true differential heat treating but not so much if you're just going for effect. Please correct me if I'm out of place here but this is a genuine question.
I'm not entirely certain what your question is?
 

Bruce McLeish

Well-Known Member
? is: If an Hamon is just for looks, does it matter how you obtain it? Conversely, if you are attempting a real Hamon , then the method matters a great deal. am I correct?
 

J. Doyle

Dealer - Purveyor
? is: If an Hamon is just for looks, does it matter how you obtain it? Conversely, if you are attempting a real Hamon , then the method matters a great deal. am I correct?
I guess you would need to define terms. What is hamon just for looks vs. "real" hamon?

Still not sure I understand or where you're going? Sorry, don't mean to be obtuse.
 

Smallshop

KNIFE MAKER
I guess you would need to define terms. What is hamon just for looks vs. "real" hamon?

Still not sure I understand or where you're going? Sorry, don't mean to be obtuse.
I think Bruce is comparing differential hardening that produces a hamon to anything done cosmetically that achieves the same look as differential hardening from HT. I believe his question is...if done merely for cosmetic reasons...would the OP's methods really be misinformation?

Correct me if I'm off here bruce....just what I got from your post..
 

Alden Cole

Well-Known Member
Mr. Lewis was kind enough to share his process with us. If it works for him, it works for him. I honestly don't know whether his techniques are the best in theory or not, but let's not butt ourselves into someplace we have no business being. (What I mean to say is, let's keep it respectful, which has been the case so far, but I could see this going downhill fast)!
 
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