Making knives at home has become a popular pastime, thanks in part to reality TV and the free time and idle hands that lockdowns provide. Depending on how advanced the hobby is, builds can range from assembling and finishing a kit with pre-forged parts to blacksmithing with a hammer and anvil. But almost every build includes steel from a commercial supplier.
Not this one. Rather than buying its metal from the usual sources, [Thoisoi]The first stop was an iron mine in the Italian Alps, where he picked up a piece of iron ore – magnetite, to be precise. Smelting your own iron from raw ore and alloying it into steel isn’t usually a backyard project thanks to the high temperatures needed, a problem [Thoisoi] resolved with thermite magic. The iron oxide and aluminum in the thermite mixture react exceptionally exothermically to generate elemental iron which, under controlled conditions, can be captured as a more or less pure ingot, ready to be forged.
After a test with commercially obtained iron oxide, [Thoisoi] tried his pulverized lodestone. And with the addition of goodies like graphite, manganese, nickel, silicon, and chromium, he was finally able to create a large piece of 402 stainless steel. He took the metal to a real blacksmith for rough forging ; it seemed to act like steel on the anvil. The finished knife looks good and works well, and the blade has the characteristic look of stainless steel. Not a bad result, and all for the cost of a few clay flowerpots.
Thanks to [Keith Olson] for this tip.