ABOUT MY KNIVES
Hello, and thanks for visiting Ed Clarke Knives. One of the primary reasons I started making knives was because it was so difficult to find a "Great" knife. Sure, there are plenty of "Good" knives on the market that function well, but I was looking for a "Great" knife - something special, unique, hand-made, and a knife that could out-perform other knives. My search for what makes a "Great" knife led me to the American Bladesmith Society, where all of my questions were answered, and more. Questions like: "What standard can a properly forged and heat treated knife perform to?"; "Why forge a knife? Does forging make a better knife?"; "Does it really matter whether a knife is made on a production line or hand-forged and heat treated one-at-a-time?"; "What type of steel makes the best blade?": "What's 'grain size', and who cares?". The questions go on and on, and I thank the ABS for providing the real answers (no B.S.), guidance, and support to help me on my journey. In this page, I will provide a few pictures and some explaination as to what makes an Ed Clarke Knife special...
I currently use "10" series simple high-carbon steels, 15N20, 5160, 80CrV2, W-2 tool steel, and my own Damascus (1084,1095, 15N20, meteorite). I use these steels because I have found they provide the properties that allow me to create a "Great" knife. They forge well and provide controllable, consistent, repeatable results. With these steels I can make a very tough knife that will hold a great edge.
My Design Process begins when you (the client) contact me and requests a knife. Once all of the particulars are discussed, I create a detailed sketch of the knife and send it to you for your consideration. It is at that time that we work together to ensure the knife you receive is the knife you requested, revising the deign if necessary.
Next I create a metal and a plastic template of the design to ensure accuracy. I will forge the knife to the proportions of the metal template, and the plastic template i used to mark or locate placement of mechanical features (pins, guard, bolsters, etc.).
The Forging begins with choosing the appropriate size bar of steel and gettin' it hot! I will then forge in the point of the blade, the taper, the plunge area and the actual blade bevels. The handle and / or tang is forged in last. Close attention is paid throughout the forging to ensure the steel is not overheated, with the highest forging temperatures used in the beginning stge, reducing heats as the final blade shape is approached. I normally forge my blades to 85% of the final design.
After forging is completed, the stresses in the steel must be reduced. This is accomplished by Normalizing the blade. To Normalize, the blade is heated to slightly above critical temperature and allowed to cool completed. This proces is performed three times to ensure all the stresses are relieved. Once completed, I then Anneal the blade (take the steel to it's most machinable state) by heated to sub-critical and allowing it to cool completely. This is done three times as well, but on the third cycle, the blade is placed in a container of wood ashes to allow it to cool very slowly.
Time to make some sparks! During Rough Grinding, I will use a template to mark the final shape of the blade on the forging and then, starting with a 36 grit belt, I grind out the profile. Next I grind the flats of the ricasso, the blade bevels, and finish with the tang / handle. These steps are repeated using increasingly finer grits until the blade is finished to 120 grit. At this point I Normlize the blade three more times to remove the stresses caused by grinding, and it's on to the Quench!
This is where it all happens, where the knife is born. The blade is heated to slightly above critical temperature and then plunged into a quenchant to quickly cool it. This process causes the carbon to become trapped in the body of the iron molecules (body centered) which is what makes the steel very hard. At this time the blade is very hard, too hard to be functional knife - it can actually be shattered by impacting on a hard object - which brings us to the next step: Tempering.
During the Tempering process, the brittleness is removed and the hardness of the steel brought to a state where a functional blade can be made. The blade is placed in a temperature controlled oven for 2 hours and then allowed to cool. This cycle is repeated 3 times to ensure a complete temper is acheived. The correct tempering temperature for each type of steel is different, and slight adjustments in that temperature can be used to control the final hardness precisely.
Now it's back to the grinder for the Finish Grinding, to complete the final shape and finish on the knife. Starting with a 60 grit belt, grit sizes are reduced until the required finish is achieved. But it doesn't end here, because all of my blades are Hand Finished.
Hand Finishing starts by increasing abrasive to a slightly coarser grit and sanding by hand.