Dagger Forging


A quick note on E-book launch...


I hope you enjoyed last week's chapter freebie! 

As of today we're one week out from book launch; plans are coming along for a paperback version sometime in the future, but next week: Tuesday November 8, is for the E-book. 

I'm doing some last editing on the PDF version and as soon as that's done, I'll be doing a pre-launch giveaway on Instagram, so don't miss it! 

Now, forging dagger bevels

A few months ago I decided to try an ambitious dagger project, one that I completed only a few weeks ago and turned out much better than I had expected. Not only was it a dagger (which is hard enough on it's own; I'll get to that in a second), it was also a "takedown" style; built so that the entire knife can be completely disassembled, something I've only fooled around with before. 

Why did I try that project? My main motive was trying something "big", and new, to push my skills a little further, just to see if I could do it. A badge of confirmation, if you will. It got more philosophical than that but that's a subject for another day. 

But I digress. 

Before I get into the specifics of dagger forging, we have to lay down some terms real quick. Dagger is kind of loose as far as definition goes. Merriam-Webster defines it as this:

"a short knife with a pointed and edged blade, used as a weapon".

Kind of ambiguous right? In the knife world it tends to get more specific. My personal definition is this:

"a symmetrical two-edged knife, ideal as a stabbing weapon"

So why is it so hard to forge? The problem lies in the symmetry and double edge. In forging a bowie, you have two bevels and one edge. If you've done any amount of knife forging, you know that forging on the bevels will cause the steel to spread out, resulting in the knife arching backwards. This can be corrected easily by placing the blade edge up on the anvil and forging gently on said edge, taking it back down and straightening the spine. 

It doesn't work that way on a dagger. Daggers aren't two bowies stuck back to back. I did some research and tried it out. 

I started out forging out the two dimensional profile of the dagger; just getting the shape down and ignoring the bevels. Made sure for a good taper into the tip, uniform thickness, no weird uneven spots. Then I started with the bevels, working on the tip. When you bevel, take your time, make even, precise strokes. I was in no hurry and wanted to get it done right. 

The dagger has four bevel surfaces. If you're looking straight at the dagger, there's the left side, right side. Flip it over, and there's the other left side, and the other right side. Make sense? 
The trick is to forge one bevel a certain number of strokes, which will curve the blade to the opposite bevel, then forge on the opposite bevel the same number of strokes in the same placement, which restraightens the blade. Once this is done, flip over the blade and do the same on the opposite side. 

What I used to do was forge on the bevel nearest to me, then flip it over and forge the new bevel nearest to me. Because these are completely opposite bevels, this would turn the dagger into one long corkscrew, a twist that's insanely hard to get out. 

If done carefully and evenly, the blade shouldn't ever have to be placed edge-up and forged on edge. 

Because the only video I took is on Instagram, you'll have to view it there, but I think you'll find it very interesting and insightful. This dagger build was eye opening and a huge learning experience; I'll be doing more for sure! 

Caleb Harris

I’ve always fooled around with tools and hardware, but I think my passion with blades started far back in my childhood: wooden swordfights with the neighborhood kids. I became the neighborhood “blacksmith”, using my grandfather’s tools to hammer little crossguards onto wooden sticks. I always tried to find the best scrap wood: lightest, strongest, trying to get the perfect length and shape for each “customer”. This started my passion with blades.
When I was ten years old, I joined a local rock and gem club, learning stonecutting and cabbing, and through that came to take silversmithing lessons from a local jeweler. It wasn’t until around the age of 13, that I turned my attention to bladesmithing, which has captured my heart. 
 My personal obsession with bladesmithing, as I’m sure you can relate, isn’t just the joy and passion of the making: the musical clang of the hammer on steel, the shower of sparks on the grinder, the whisk of the blade over the sharpening stone, but also of the fulfillment in creating something that is twofold: that of beauty, and that of function. It’s trying to make something that is as much an art piece, as a tool that you can trust your life with. That’s what caught my heart, and the pursuit of that perfect combination still drives me.