Back story. I am rebuilding a very old knife which I’ve since discovered as having been hand-forged upwards of 50 – 80 years ago.
It has been determined as made from forged steel (and pounded out by hand on an anvil) due to the irregularities in the thickness of the blade.
Newer blades – unless handmade – are cut from thin plate steel; an entirely different proposition yielding an entirely different grade of steel.
Compare the following:
The top blade is made from plate steel while the bottom blade is made from forged steel. You can’t tell that from the photograph but I wanted you, the reader to see the old vs. new.
Both blades were made in Sayula, a pueblo famous in Mexico for their handmade knives. And both blades in this photo have cheap wooden handles because quality hardwoods are not plentiful here, especially in areas like central Mexico.
The first photo shows three minor accomplishments: First, I removed the handles, cleaned up the grime (reference photo #2), and had a friend grind a modest bevel on the cutting edge.
The next step is to make the handle which I hope to finish tomorrow. I had the wood cut to the approximate size today. And as you can see, it is gorgeous with a marvelous grain structure.
Each piece was milled to less than a centimeter thick and comes from a very dense hardwood that grows in Guatemala.
Tomorrow I hope to cut the pieces to fit the blade, with one piece on each side of the tang (the metal part of the handle), drill the three holes in both pieces, then locate the appropriate sized diameter fasteners to fit it all together.
The final steps will be to grind the fasteners down flush with wood, then polish (polish, polish) with an ever increasingly fine grit, before applying a suitable oil to the handle to further enhance the color and grain of the wood.
And of course, then finally put a sharp edge on the finished blade.
Why am I doing all of this you might ask? After all I only paid 50 pesos ($2.50) for that tired, worn out old blade.
I am doing it because I saw the potential. And I am preserving history. And the fact that the blade cleaning confirmed the fact that the steel is of forged, first rate quality steel.
PS – To hold a fine knife in your hand is like handling anything worthy like a piece of well cared for leather, a great book, or a rare cigar that is burning properly. And it is indeed truly an honor to use something carefully made by a man – a craftsman, someone who cared and took pride in his work – a man who is probably long since gone; it honors his spirit while it refreshes mine.