From Broken Drill Bit To Knife: Backyard Forging Basics

One of our tipsters sent in a great video showing how to make knives out of old broken drill bits. It comes from [The Art of Weapons] YouTube channel which is run by a 15 year old from the UK. He’s applying old techniques to modern technology and it’s awesome to see someone young with these skills.

The beauty of this hack is aside from the tools you’ll need, it’s practically free to do. Worn out drill bit or other steel tool? No problem – heat it up and make something new. At the heart of this build is making your own forge. There’s lot of options, from using firebricks, to making a soup can forge like he did. From there, it’s really just a matter of annealing the steel (heating it up to red hot, and letting it cool down slowly in sand), and then heating it up again and forming it with a hammer and anvil.

But he doesn’t stop there: he also shows us his method of making handles for knives out of hardwood — its a pretty cool process and the finished knives are beautiful. The video below is a bit long, but well worth the watch if you’re interested in trying your own hand at forging.

[Thanks Ag!]

21 thoughts on “From Broken Drill Bit To Knife: Backyard Forging Basics

  1. Hi,

    it is by far not that difficult to forge HHS steel or other toolsteel. Compared to other steels the temperature range for forging is just smaller.

    Personally I don’t like the HSS due to it’s large carbides caused by the alloying elements.
    Try using files (not RASPS). They are often made of 1.2008, expecially if you go for the high quality brands.
    You can forge them into damascene, if you like to use them as mono or laminated.
    I found these to give the much better blade, better to sharpen, keeping the edge longer.

    If you are willing to buy steel, try 1.2419, 1.2519, 1.2516 or 1.2562, all tungsten alloy steels. These steels make a real difference when comparing to C70 or 1.2008, the more plain carbon steels.

    Greetings
    Georg

  2. Very cool blowtorch forge. I wonder if you could build an anvil yourself. They always come in the form of a monstrous slab of metal, but the only working part seems to be the striking surface. Maybe you could get by with some plate steel and a sturdy base?

      1. Hello,

        I disagree, you can built an anvil, or at least a replacement.
        Anvils come at 12 Euros per kilo (approx. $7/lb), used starting from about a third.
        You can buy a steel rod 150mm diameter for less, this will often word as an anvil.
        Or you get a shorter rod (say 100mm long) and weld a tube to it. This tube you fill with lead (or concrete and steel scrap). But, as meep meep remarked: it must be solid.

        The anvil should be 20 times heavier then the heaviest hammer used on it.
        An 140kg anvil is already bounces when I use my 10kg sledge hammer on it.

        Greetings
        Georg

    1. On the farm I worked at for a while, we had a three-foot section of a large I-beam we used as an anvil for various purposes. It was scrap from a bridge construction, about a foot tall and eight inches wide, and about an inch thick at it’s thinnest point. It worked fine for hammer-forging.

      1. Sure it worked fine for a machine or tool repair. Now let’s see how tired you get and how well you shape something after 8-9 hours, wasting about 20% of you energy on moving the “anvil” or correcting how much you put into the workpiece because it’s not predictable. A proper anvil also is a tool holder and a die for making holes

    2. Rail road track works pretty decently. But in general, you want your anvil to have mass. a 140-160lb anvil will do about anything you ever need to do. You want an anvil with good sharp face edges . An anvil should, next to a scribe, be the hardest tool you own. The body can be relatively soft steel, but ideally, you should have about a 1/2″ of hardened plate forge welded to the top. I don’t know of any company that makes these anymore, they’re all cast now. I had to check the Oracle of the internet, and found references of anvil faces needing to be around HRC 58-65. You don’t want your anvil to deform, you want what you’re hammering on to conform to the anvil face. The harder your anvil (within reason) the more that will happen. So, if you are able to forge weld plate to a big chunk of whatever. Then go for it. :) I use rail road track myself. But then I never do any large work.

      1. It’s really difficult for a normal person to get a (small) piece of railroad track here in Europe, (we have demented scrappers to thank for that) even when it makes a nice small anvil…

    3. I’ve seen a 1′ section of railroad track nailed with railroad spikes to a large wooden stump. Seemed like a pretty clever way to make an anvil. Judging by googling “railroad track anvil,” it looks like a pretty widely used method, where you can get creative and grind down one side to a point. Looks like you could buy some sections of railroad rails on ebay, or save yourself the work (read: fun) and buy a harbor freight anvil.

    1. All 15 year olds are “awesome” to the B&W TV crowd.

      Just watch YouTube and they’re good to go. Kids have won science fairs and gotten nationwide press coverage for merely cloning stuff off YouTube (like that Braille printer kid)

      The “look at me” generation

      1. Just compared to what I have done at that age or looking at the kids I know. Even if they cloned projects, it’s great to see them using their time for something this productive.

        Meh … maybe I’m feeling just old sometimes ;)

          1. Sorry City Hall had approved this project 6 months ago to install a new cellphone tower on your yard. You could have come to Hall Of Records basement to file a formal complaint 5 1/2 month ago.

            Thanks for all the fish.

        1. Parents in our days were more worried we’d poke out our eye with a fork. Now we aa parents prefer a eye patch kid verse one abused by schoolmates or other adults. As long as they aren’t trying to synth some hypertoxic chem or set a fire we are happy to let them do what make them happy.

          Growing up I got in trouble because I was using a hammer to crush pebbles and nail wood together and the creep next door didn’t like that and told my folks. I was banned from using the household tools.

          I guess the main point is to talk to the ones children and don’t let neighbors talk shit about them. Like. “Oh a DIY lathe/mill? What RPM will is spin at? How hot can the bits get? What is the plan in the event of a cat failure?” “Oh a forge? how hot? what are the emergency shutdown steps?”

          I guess it really cool to see “kids” reaching toward their own goals and projects without parents or retarded neighbors trying to force them to be conform or be copies.

          That kid a few blogrolls ago that built a lathe? That. Was. Amazing.

  3. [The Art of Weapons] I remembered watched him start off with melting Al cans can make a slingshot from a Styrofoam mold.

    I think he has been gathering serious followers, I’m seeing some new tools. Maybe apprenticeship or mentor has been helping him. Either way the dedication of posting the works and DIY are some of the finest explanations that you will NOT find from any of the old bitter or creepy weirdos that work at hardware stores.

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