The Vorpal Blade

When one is a bladesmith it is a constant walk on the fine edge between art and war

This was one of the first successful knives that I forged, and it was the first damascus knife I ever made. It started with a trip up to Port Townsend, where I met with a professional blacksmith named Jim Moore, who I owe most, if not all, of this blade’s creation to. It is cable damascus, which I was incapable of making before Jim supplied me with the material to make this knife. I also picked up the cocobolo wood for the handle at a local wood shop while it was on sale. When I got home I was ready to start the forge up and go, but first I had to order anhydrous (dehydrated) borax to make the forge welds stick. I was waiting with anticipation to do the project for several days while I waited for the borax to arrive, and when it did I immediately jumped into the project with some of my friends. I knew very little of actual damascus smithing, but I had done my research and thus applied it as best I could. The project had its difficulties. For example, getting the metal all consolidated took two days of on-and-off smithing, as I had no accurate way of telling if the weld had taken. I also had to fold the metal to be thick enough to make a knife. Once I had created the knife blank, I had no time to work on it again until weeks later when I started actually forging a blade out of it. The forging of the blade went swimmingly and soon I was grinding it down to shape. After hours of work, I went into the heat treat. This was a step I was worried about because I didn’t quite know the composition of the metal, so tons of things could have gone wrong with the blade if I was incorrect about the temperatures. I went with the traditional- heat the blade to 1550 F, then quench into oil. This worked amazingly well, and in addition I tempered it to keep a razor edge for extended periods of time. I finally got to the handle, which was surprisingly very simple after the making of the knife itself- it took only an hour or two. I finally went to etch the blade and got a ghostly pattern that can barely be seen. All in all I very much enjoyed the process of making this knife, and hope to make more like it.



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