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close this bookBasic Techiques of Blacksmithing: A Manual for Trainers (Peace Corps, 1982, 102 p.)
close this folderDay 5
View the documentSession: 16. Forging a Cross-peen hammer
View the documentSession: 17. Forging cutting tools: the wrapped-handle knife

Session: 17. Forging cutting tools: the wrapped-handle knife

Total Time: 4 hours


* To practice basic blacksmithing skills involved in making common agricultural cutting tools
* To make a wrapped-handle knife
* To practice working effectively in groups
* To identity and use techniques for the dissemination of blacksmithing skills
* To discuss the feasibility of producing agricultural cutting tools in local forges

Resources: Andrews, pages 91-93.

Materials: Newsprint, felt-tip pens, one 3/16" piece of leaf spring steel per participant (10"x1-1/3"), assorted examples of scrap steel suitable for making knives or machetes, one 30" strip of 3/4" innertube per participant, two or three examples of completed, locally-made, wrapped-handle and tang-type knives (and machetes, if possible).

Trainer Notes

Prior to this session, an effort should be made to make or purchase two or three examples of locally-forges knives and machetes (see Step 2).


Step 1. (10 minutes)
Explain the session objectives and outline the procedures.

Trainer Notes

* Explain that the techniques involved in making machetes and other chopping or cutting tools are essentially the same as those involved in making a knife. Variations which exist relate primarily to the length of time needed to forge and the complications encountered in tempering a longer cutting edge.

* Point out that the knife to be made during this session will provide participants with practice in the basic skills necessary to experiment further at their work sites with designs of other locally appropriate and acceptable cutting tools.

Step 2. (10 minutes)
Distribute among the group one wrapped-handle knife and one tang-type knife, and ask participants to examine them carefully.

Trainer Notes

If examples of machetes are available, distribute them also.

Step 3. (15 minutes)
Have the participants identify and discuss the procedures and techniques involved in making the knives.

Trainer Notes

Some points which should be mentioned include:

- making a template
- type of steel used
- shape of the tang
- proper heating of steel
- forming the tang
- cutting the materials
- forming the blade
- annealing the blade
- tempering (oil vs. water)
- sharpening
- grinding

* As participants correctly identify the procedures involved, list them on posted newsprint.

* Provide assistance by adding and explaining any new procedures or variations of old techniques which may be involved.

Step 4. (10 minutes)
When the list is complete, ask participants to identify those procedures or techniques which they would like to see demonstrated.

Trainer Notes

Refer to the posted list and circle their responses.

Step 5. (10 minutes)
Introduce and explain the guidelines for the knife-making activity.

Trainer Notes

* Explain that the teams should work among themselves with minimal dependence on the trainer.

* Point out that the making of the knife involves using many of the basic skills practiced earlier in the training, and will also serve as an opportunity:

- to practice working effectively in groups
- to use techniques involved in sharing blacksmithing skills with others, and
- to simulate the condition of working at their sites with local blacksmiths.

* Remind participants of the importance of using the posted list of procedures as a guide while they are working.

Step 6. (2 hours, 15 minutes)
Have the participants form their work teams and make wrapped-handle knives.

Trainer Notes

* Throughout the activity, encourage teams to seek advice and solutions from their fellow participants as an alternative to relying on trainer interventions.

* Observe carefully and offer assistance as teams approach those procedures and techniques which were identified as needing demonstration.

* If some of the teams do not complete their knives in the time allotted, explain that time will be provided for the completion of unfinished projects on Day 6.

Step 7. (10 minutes)
When the group finishes, ask participants to discuss the feasibility of producing knives, machetes, and other similar cutting tools in local forges.

Trainer Notes

* Stimulate discussion by asking:

- What locally available materials would be most suitable for making quality cutting tools?
- What are the procedural differences between making a knife and making a machete?
- How long would it take a skilled blacksmith to make a quality machete? Knife?
- How much would the blacksmith have to charge for the tool?
- How does this compare with factory made models?

Step 8. (40 minutes)
Have participants return to the hammers which they forged during the morning activity and perform the tempering process,