Knife making 101 - Lesson 7...Tempering the blade

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Lesson 1   Lesson 2  Lesson 3  Lesson 4   Lesson 5  Lesson 6  Lesson 7  Lesson 8  Lesson 9 Lesson 10 Lesson 11 Lesson 12 Lesson 13

    Now that we've hardened it, we will temper the knife to reduce the brittleness and give a good working edge. First refinish the blade with 220 grit paper until it shines. We will be judging the amount of tempering by the color of the steel so a shiny finish is a must.  

    Preheat the kitchen stove to 480F. Put the knife blade on a glass pyrex dish and place on the middle shelf. Keep an eye on it. In approximately 15-30 minutes the blade will start to turn colors. We want to remove the knife when it turns a dark yellow (approximately 60 RC). This is the optimum tempering for a good working knife edge. (see Table 1 for temperatures, colors, and hardness values for high carbon steels)

    If the oven is a little too hot, the tempering will continue past this point, so check the knife frequently while it is in the oven. If the knife will only get a pale straw, and will not progress further, increase the heat slightly. Remember all ovens heat and cool differently, so keep an eye on it. If the knife stays in too long, you will lose the hardness, and Lesson 6 will have to be repeated.

    One famous knife maker  swears by repeating this step three times for the very best knife. I don't have the patience myself. If you do you'll have to buff the blade after each tempering so you can see the color change.

    After the knife cools. proceed to Lesson 8 - annealing the blade. 

Lesson 1   Lesson 2  Lesson 3  Lesson 4   Lesson 5  Lesson 6  Lesson 8

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