An introduction to the making of narrow tang knives using hand forging techniques with a minimum of equipment, translated from the successful German edition. Ring bound so it lays flat when open.
In this book Ernst G. Siebeneicher-Hellwig and Jürgen Rosinski show the simplest and least expensive ways to construct a simple forge, make all necessary tools yourself, forge a stub tang blade from an old automobile coil spring, and make it into a complete knife. Included are sections on heat treatment, marking techniques, guard and handle construction, polishing and sharpening.
Each step is presented in text and superb full color pictures, with a special focus on forging the blade. Clear lists of tools and materials help you through the process. Practical tips, explanations of terms, and sketches round out the volume.
Reviewed by Knife World Staff
This new book is aimed at aspiring knifemakers who have never before attempted to make a knife, and are interested in the hand forging technique. It details the construction of a stub-tang (better known as a “stick tang” or “buried tang”) fixed blade knife using an assortment of inexpensive equipment built or adapted for the job.
Basic Knife Making first shows how to obtain some basic tools by explaining how to build a simple charcoal-fueled forge, either a temporary brick forge or a different style made from a small barbeque grill. To this is added a makeshift anvil, tongs made from large nippers, and a modified cross pein hammer, and you’re ready to forge.
The next step is forging an actual blade, and the necessary steps are made clear first with a steel blade and then repeated in modeling clay, to better show the sequence of hammer blows. Grinding is the next step, done with a modified belt sander, followed by finishing the blade by hand rubbing. Heat treating is well covered, even including a section on clay tempering in the Japanese style. Blade stamping and etching techniques are also addressed.
Handle making is next, which includes making and fitting the guard, then techniques for attaching, shaping and polishing the handle. Sharpening the finished blade is the final step that’s covered.
Aside from the excellent color photography, perhaps the book’s strongest point is its resourcefulness; using readily available tools and including plans for useful jigs & fixtures like a filing jig, a spring fuller, and a blade holder. At the very end of the book is a gallery of knife designs and finished knives.
My one complaint about the book is that the German-English translation was obviously done by someone unfamiliar with knifemaking. This is not a huge problem, but it throws off a number of the technical words and some things like the German steel designations will sound unfamiliar. Still, I have only found one serious error; try a 1/8” drill bit when drilling around your guard, rather than the recommended ‘1/64”’ bit.
This book is a fine introduction to bladesmithing, and is absolutely the best illustrated of the genre. It may not get you as far as Hrisoulas’ The Complete Bladesmith and it doesn’t have the wide range of Goddard’s $50 Knife Shop, but for taking you from having made zero knives to having made one or a couple dozen by the forging process, this book’s detail and simplicity makes it tough to beat.
Spiral Bound, 112 pp.