Knife making 101 - Lesson 8...Annealing the blade

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    We've hardened the blade, tempered it, and now we will anneal the backbone of the knife so it doesn't break the first time we pry something with it.

    The idea is to soften the backbone and make it flexible while retaining the tempered hardness in the edge. We must keep the edge cool during this process so the desirable hardness and edge holding ability are not lost.

    Here's the rigging I use. A bucket is filled almost to the top with water. I put a piece of angle iron across the top of the bucket and clamp the knife blade side down to the angle iron. Adjust the blade so the cutting edge of the knife is suspended in the water.

    Start heating the backbone near the rear of the blade with sweeping motions towards the tip. The blade should start turning a deep metallic blue that spreads with the heat towards the waters edge. The trick is to quit before the edge turns blue. Depend on the heat spreading  for the final blue penetration, go light with the torch. Anneal the entire handle area. Keep an eye on the water level as the heat will boil it away and leave portions of the edge exposed to the heat. 

    When you are done, the area about a quarter inch up from the cutting edge should be straw colored, fading to deep blue. Leave the knife in the water until it cools, then remove. heat treating is complete.  

    Now is a good time to add the detail file work that makes your knife more functional, more personalized, and really cool looking. Go to Lesson 8A - Fancy Filework. Or, if you could care less, onward to Lesson 9.

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