Show and Tell

Last time I went to Dragonfly Forge, I took along a blade that was a failure, for “show and tell.” I didn’t feel I had anything good enough to show off, because mostly what I had been doing in the last year was gearing up and running experiments.

Now I feel like I’ve got all the experiments sorted, with one exception – I need to nail down the technique for etching a maker’s mark into the blade. I’ve been avoiding it since I hadn’t yet figured out that I could etch the maker’s mark before mounting the handle, which would make the process a lot easier. I have a lovely set of masks made by Tustech of Andreas Avester’s logo design, so I’m all set – I just need to do it.

Up until a few days ago I wasn’t sure if I’d bring anything, but I finally got serious with a surface plate and some sandpaper and polished and mounted this shorter chef’s pwning knife.

The blade is the culmination of a lot of work: that is my high layer-count wrought iron/1095 damascus on the sides, and 1095 on the core. The wrought iron/1095 is about 110 layers on each side; I forged out, cut and stacked, then re-forged the original set of bars a total of 4 times – the last time with the 1095 chunk in the middle to form the edge.

There is so much contrast in the metal, it’s crazy. You can see it clearly even when it’s not etched. The etching just makes it less subtle. To highlight the transitions in the metal I darkened the 1095 by converting the outermost layer to Fe3O4 using a process known as “parkerizing” – you soak it in phosphoric acid and manganese dioxide for a while. Gunsmiths do that process hot; it turns out the reaction is slower and produces more contrast if you leave it cold.

The handle is resin-impregnated spalted maple with bog oak caps. I’ll do a posting about the resin impregnation process, eventually; I have gotten requests. It’s pretty cool.

I wonder if the other attendees of the class will bring awesome knifes for “show and tell” and crush my puny efforts. Well, if that happens, I will deserve it. But I think this piece stands well.


  1. kestrel says


    And of course you are competing with yourself, not with the other students. The idea is to do that to the best of *your* ability, not someone else’s. But I am sure you already know that.

    The future is looking very good if you are already able to produce a knife like that!

  2. lochaber says

    I’d also like to read about the resin-impregnation process when/if you get around to writing about it.

    Parkerizing offers a bit of corrosion resistance, no?

    anyways, that’s a very pretty knife

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