How To Forge a Knife [Guide to Forging Knives for Beginners]

Hobbies are rewarding. They offer a great way to spend a lazy afternoon while exercising creativity. Forging a knife may be a risky hobby, but the results are very satisfying.

Forging knives fall under the broad art of bladesmithing, the art of cutting and shaping blades using forges. It dates way back to when humans made blades from rocks, bones, and flints. Later, more robust materials like copper and iron replaced the brittle stones and bones. And the search for solid materials to forge blades continued up to today, where steel rules.

Professional bladesmithing requires skills in metalworking, woodworking, and leatherworking. Sounds like a lot of work? Yeah! But not that much. The process below shows you everything you need to know to forge a knife at home.

Why Forging

Thousands of knife brands exist in the market but forging one has some advantages. To start, with the needed tools, the process is cheaper than buying a ready-made knife. The cost goes down to your time only.

Additionally, customization can get you as far as you want. Your room for creativity is vast, and the blade gets a story in the process. Usually, getting a manufacturer to custom-make a knife to your taste is very costly. Convinced you want to add a custom blade to your cutlery set?  Let’s dig deeper.

Take a look at: How To Sharpen A Knife With A Whetstone

Materials and Tools Needed

To forge a knife, you will need a variety of materials and tools. The most important materials are the steel for the blade and the handle material. Common types of steel used for knife forging include 1095, 5160, and O1. Handle materials can include wood, bone, horn, or synthetic materials.

In terms of tools, you will need a forge, hammer, tongs, and various files and grinders for shaping and finishing the blade. You can purchase these materials and tools from various online retailers or from blacksmithing supply companies.

Also, you can use the following tools:

  • Protective wear(gloves, goggles, and an apron)
  • Hammer
  • Anvil
  • Tongs or big pliers
  • Vice
  • Chisels, Punches, and Drifts
  • Forge
  • Fuel for forge
  • Sandpaper
  • Magnet
  • Quenching Oil and Metal Storage Container

Choose your metal

Modern-day bladesmithing uses steel. The hardness, strength, and edge retention ability sets steel apart from other metal options. There are two options for acquiring quality steel for your blade:

Buying a steel bar

For preciseness and better quality forges, there are steel bars you can order from manufacturers. Of course, a shaped bar is easier to work with but comes at a cost. And you are sure of the steel type and the resulting blade characteristics. 

Re-use scrap or junkyard steel pieces:

If you are the thrifty type, venture into a junkyard. They are all viable raw materials from railroad spikes, coil, and leaf springs to car suspension springs. They are made with wear-resistant steel that needs more annealing work, but you’re sure to get a good blade out of them.

Read also: How To Sharpen A Kitchen Knife

Types of steel You’ll Need

The steel options you got are carbon, tool, and stainless steel types. Each has pros and cons and varying degrees of handling difficulty.

Carbon steel has excellent strength and hardness due to its high carbon content. The resultant blades have good impact endurance but lose an edge fast. The most popular carbon steel for forging knives is the C1045, but the options are numerous.

Tool steel produces excellent all-season blades. This steel has added alloys that make it robust, corrosion-resistant, and retain an edge for a long. However, there is a property trade-off for different types of tool steel. For instance, A2 trade-offs rust resistance to toughness, and D2 retains an edge well but is not tough enough for high-impact works.

Stainless steel is the favorite steel type for kitchen appliances and silverware. And can also be used for forging blades. The Chromium and other alloys improve the stainless steel’s corrosion resistance, though not as tough and edge-retaining as tool steel. Some types like 440 can make a pretty good blade.

Choose your fuel

Once you have settled on your forging steel, it’s time to decide on fuel for the forge. Most fuel types are ideal, but their favourability largely depends on your forge setup, availability, and sourcing location. Popular forge fuels: 


This fuel gives a clean and incredibly hot flame and is readily available too. You can get a forge with an integrated propane burner or exercise your DIY skills by making a propane torch.


Many forges fit coal easily, and this fuel burns to very high temperatures. It would be best to have good ventilation in your workshop as coal can smoke you out quickly. The resulting smoke is thick and may get you heavily fined by local authorities. Check if local laws allow the use of coal at home and ventilate your workshop well.


A very affordable and readily available fuel, but not efficient with forging. Maintaining high temperatures with charcoal is not easy, but it’s worth a try if it’s your only option.

How To Forge a Knife Step by Step

You have chosen your steel and forging fuel and all the other tools ready for the work ahead. Let’s forge that blade:

Step 1: Where to Begin

Before you begin forging a knife, it is important to have the right tools and the right environment. To start off your journey, you’ll need an anvil, hammer, tongs, heat source (such as a forge or propane torch), and protective gear such as a leather apron and gloves. It is also important to work in a well-ventilated area, so make sure to open any windows or doors if available.

When everything is ready, you can begin by heating the metal until it reaches a bright orange-yellow. This will make it easier to shape and manipulate the steel. Be sure to keep your distance while heating and wear protective gear for safety reasons.

Step 2: Heat the Metal

In Step 2 of the knife forging process, the metal needs to be heated up to 400℉. This process, known as tempering, can be done by starting a fire and heating the metal until it is red hot.

It is important to be careful when working with red-hot metal as it can cause third degree burns before you can react. Once the metal is hot enough, it needs to be worked with a hammer and anvil to shape it. After this step, the blade profile and tip can be worked on in order to create the desired shape.

Step 3: Hammering the Steel

In Step 3 of forging a knife, it is time to start hammering the steel. Once the metal has been heated until it is a bright orange-yellow color, it is ready to be hammered down flat.

Using a hammer and anvil, the steel can be pounded down until it is flat, thin, and shaped according to the desired profile. During this process, it is important to ensure that the steel is evenly heated and that the finished shape is symmetrical. Hammering the steel correctly will help to create a strong and resilient blade that can stand up to long-term use.

Step 4: Working the Steel

In Step 4 of the knife making process, you will be working the steel to create the desired shape and profile of the blade. This is one of the most important steps, as it will determine the final look and feel of the knife. You will need to use a variety of tools such as hammers, anvils, files and grinders to shape and refine the steel. You should take care to use these tools appropriately and be aware of any potential safety risks.

As you work on the steel, you may need to reheat it periodically in order to maintain the desired temperature for optimal shaping and tempering. With patience and practice, you will be able to create a beautiful knife that is both strong and attractive.

Step 5: Blade Profile and Tip

Step 5: Blade Profile and Tip is an important step in the process of forging a knife. This step involves hammering out the blade’s bevels to create the cutting edge, as well as shaping the grip, cutting it to length and adding holes as needed.

It is essential to work with medium or high carbon steel when forging a knife, as this will help to create a strong and durable blade. During this step it is important to reheat the metal in order to work it flat before shaping the grip and cutting it. Finally, the sharpening and finishing touches can be added to give the knife the perfect edge.

Step 6: Sharpening and Finishing Touches

Once the knife has been forged and shaped, it’s time to sharpen and finish it. Start by heating up the steel and quenching it in oil to reach room temperature. Then use a grinder to sharpen the blade, making sure not to overheat the steel during the process.

Use a whetstone to sharpen the edge of the knife, making sure that each stroke finishes with the tip of the knife touching the bottom of the stone. Finally, use a file or stone to shape and refine the tang/grip area of the blade. Once you are satisfied with its sharpness and shape, your custom-made knife is ready for use!

Precautions and protection gear

Forging a knife involves spark-producing processes, so make sure you protect your eyes. Be careful with cut metal as it’s usually sharp and hot. Don’t be careless even with flat edges, as they have burrs. No one needs deep cuts and burns.

Must-have safety gear includes:

  • Safety goggles
  • Form earplugs 
  • Disposable mask or respirator
  • Leather gloves or welding gloves
  • Cotton clothes
  • Fire extinguisher

Have also a look on this video for more clarification concerning forging a knife:


Forging a knife process is as dangerous as it’s intriguing. Get yourself a set of protective wear before getting that steel hot. Don’t worry if your first forge looks ill and takes longer to do. More practice is what you need for awesome forges in the future.

Knife forging is a fun way to pass time while making special collections. And the blades you can forge are limitless, from daggers to outdoor knives. Happy forging!

1 thought on “How To Forge a Knife [Guide to Forging Knives for Beginners]”

  1. Strong metal will help you to forge a knife effectively. It is great that this article also provided the list of tools needed to achieve the knife that you want. Thank you for sharing this.


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