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Testing blades

Craig Cook
New Member Apprentice Bladesmith (1yr)

Being a newer smith I have tried to stick to using just 5160 spring steel for my knives. A continuous issue I’ve had is how to properly test the heat treat and temper to see if they will hold up. I am wondering what do you all do, or recommend I do to test my blades? Thank you for any recommendations 



Topic starter Posted : 19/09/2021 8:21 pm
Ed Caffrey

Testing of blades can be a very subjective thing.  What's good?  What's not so good?  It really boils down to each Bladesmith creating and using tests that are logical, realistic, and repeatable.   Speaking for myself, I depend on the Brass Rod test to determine the correct working hardness for any given blade.


  There are any number of other tests that you can come up with.  Whatever those might be, I think as long as the test(s) are logical, realistic, and repeatable, for the type/style of blade being tested. EDC blades should be tested in day to day situations, Hunters tested through being used on game animals, and Camp type blades tested through chopping, and other camp type chores....and so on.   Although it's not always easy, actual use is one of the best feedback mechanisms.  

  There was a time that I would literally give knives to hunting guides in my area, with the caveat being that I wanted honest feedback on how the knives worked, and what needed improvement.  Until I became fully confident in my knives, I would also carry/use anything new to validate it, prior to ever offering it to the public.  Both of those were invaluable feedback sources.       

Posted : 20/09/2021 8:22 am
Craig Cook
New Member Apprentice Bladesmith (1yr)

Thank you for the great response. I am definitely going to try the brass rod test after I get my current project heat treated. So far I have been just giving my knives to friends and having them tell me how they hold up. It’s good to have a repeatable test I can use to test blades before finishing them.

Topic starter Posted : 20/09/2021 8:01 pm
Dylan Harding
Eminent Member Apprentice Bladesmith (5yr)

Once in a while I do a destructive test on a blade. Usually one that I have made a grinding mistake on.

It does give you an idea as to grain size, and overall flexibility. 

Posted : 22/09/2021 5:15 pm