Knife and Ax Forging for Beginners: A Comprehensive Guide

How to forge a knife of ax

Bear Heimerl and Steven M Vertz

2/12/20243 min read

man holding gray dagger
man holding gray dagger


Welcome to the world of knife and ax forging! Whether you are a beginner or someone with some experience, this comprehensive guide will provide you with the knowledge and skills to create your own custom-made blades. In this article, we will cover the basics of forging, the necessary tools and equipment, and the step-by-step process to forge a knife or an ax.

Understanding Forging

Forging is the process of shaping and manipulating metal through the application of heat and force. It has been practiced for centuries and is a fundamental skill in blacksmithing. By heating the metal to a high temperature and using various tools, you can shape it into the desired form.

The Importance of Safety

Before we delve into the details of forging, it is crucial to prioritize safety. Always wear appropriate protective gear, such as safety glasses, gloves, and an apron. Make sure you are working in a well-ventilated area and have a fire extinguisher nearby. Safety should be your top priority throughout the entire forging process.

Essential Tools and Equipment

To get started with knife and ax forging, you will need a few essential tools and equipment:

  • Anvils: A sturdy and flat surface for shaping and hammering the metal.
  • Forge: A heat source, such as a propane or coal forge, to heat the metal.
  • Hammer: A forging hammer for shaping and manipulating the metal.
  • Tongs: Used to hold and manipulate the hot metal safely.
  • Grinder or File: For refining and shaping the blade.
  • Quenching Tank: A container filled with oil or water to cool down the metal quickly.

The Forging Process

Now that you have a basic understanding of forging and the necessary tools, let's dive into the step-by-step process of forging a knife or an ax:

Step 1: Design

Start by sketching out the design of your knife or ax. Consider the purpose, size, and shape you want to achieve. This will serve as your guide throughout the forging process.

Step 2: Preparing the Metal

Choose the type of steel you want to work with. High-carbon steels, such as 1095 or 5160, are commonly used for blades due to their durability. Cut the steel to the desired length and shape it into a rough outline using a grinder or file.

Step 3: Heating the Metal

Heat your forge to the appropriate temperature for the type of steel you are using. Place the metal piece in the forge and heat it until it reaches a bright orange or yellow color. Use tongs to carefully remove the metal from the forge.

Step 4: Shaping the Blade

Place the heated metal on the anvil and use a hammer to shape it according to your design. Start by forging the bevels and gradually work your way towards the tip. Remember to reheat the metal as needed to maintain the optimal forging temperature.

Step 5: Quenching

Once the blade is shaped, it's time to quench it. Dip the hot blade into the quenching tank, ensuring that it is fully submerged. Be cautious as the quenching process produces steam and can be hazardous. Allow the blade to cool down completely.

Step 6: Tempering

Tempering is a crucial step to increase the blade's toughness and reduce its brittleness. Place the quenched blade in an oven or use a torch to heat it to the appropriate temperature. Allow it to cool naturally or quench it in oil, depending on the steel type.

Step 7: Refining and Finishing

Once the blade is tempered, use a grinder or file to refine its shape and remove any imperfections. Pay attention to the edge and ensure it is sharp and symmetrical. Polish the blade to give it a smooth and attractive finish.


Knife and ax forging is a rewarding craft that allows you to create functional and personalized blades. By following the step-by-step process outlined in this guide and prioritizing safety, you can develop the skills necessary to forge your own knives and axes. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don't be discouraged if your first attempts are not flawless. With time and dedication, you can become a skilled bladesmith. Happy forging!