Mountain Men: Forging an Ozark Steel Blade (Season 8) | History


NARRATOR: It’s a landmark day
at Jason Hawk’s mountain forge. JASON HAWK: I’m
working on something that I’ve dreamed
about for a long time, the first knife that
is from start to finish from ore that I gathered. It’s a 100% Ozark-steel blade. NARRATOR: The first step is
to fuse together the three pieces into a single block using
a process called forge welding. So we’re going
to go ahead and get that in, add a little
bit more charcoal, and bring it up to heat. NARRATOR: Homemade steel
is more unpredictable than factory made. Finding the right
temperature for the weld is a guessing game. JASON HAWK: Working
with this ore, it’s like being a newbie again. You gotta rethink everything. NARRATOR: Not hot enough
and the metal won’t bond. Too hot and it could
burn up the entire batch. JASON HAWK: All right,
things are looking good. The design of this
knife is just my version of an early Saxon knife. It’s really an
all-purpose steel. I mean, when you go back
to knives of this age, it was your hunting knife. It was your chef knife. It was your dagger for battle. Since I’m working
with ore, it just seems like it’s
right that I start with an older-style pattern. So we’re going to start
by forming the tip, working the heel area,
drawing this thing out. Yeah, it’s starting to
look kind of like a knife. I’m going to go ahead and
set up the grinder here. I’m going to cut through
and see, just making sure that everything’s
welded together before I really start thinning it down. Looks like we got it. Nice. It’s nice we forge welded
all the way through. Now it’s just a matter
of drawing everything out, getting everything
shaped, and letting the blade come to form. This early Saxon knife,
looking at the angle, it’s basically similar
to what we would refer to as a drop point now. It’s a lot of hammer. NARRATOR: A drop point
is a design commonly used by hunters, preferred for
its strong spine that slopes from the handle to the tip. All right, she’s
looking pretty good. So now it’s just time
to move the oil on over. NARRATOR: The final step is to
quench the blade in an oil bath to permanently harden the steel. But since Jason’s never quenched
home-forged steel before, he can’t be sure what
temperature is best. A lot of things can
go wrong in the quench. Warpage can be significant,
or flaws that are in the blade can blow out. With this, quenching this
new blade, it’s much work. Yeah, there’s a little bit
more apprehension than usual. Well, it’s in one piece. We did pretty good. I’m pleased, real pleased. NARRATOR: Jason’s season-long
gamble is finally paying off with the first proof
that he can mine, smelt, and forge his own
steel straight from the land. JASON HAWK: Throw a
quick sharpen on her and give her a test. This knife itself
is a field knife. So what I’m looking
for is something that can handle some mishandling. So we’ve got some
pork bone here. We’re going to do some hacking. We’ll see. That’s a pretty thick
piece of bone right there. Looks like the edge is
holding up pretty good. It’s not chipping. It’s not rolling. It’s holding. So next thing, I got a quarter. Let’s see how that
tip’s going to hold up. Yep. Tip is stout. It’s one of the weakest places. It cut through the pork
shank, damn near a quarter. It’s not what I’d recommend
doing with a knife, but she’ll hold up. Yeah, everything’s looking good. Now it’s just time to
finish this thing out. Oh, I am pleased. It’s turned out really nice. That steel is very
different– just real subtle, the different layers. For me, this knife
symbolizes sheer will. It has been very dangerous. I’ve had broken kilns– [BLEEP] Not what I wanted to do. –a lot of trial and error– This one’s a bit overcooked. –but this is success. That’s the beginning of
a new world of blades. Finishing this knife, using
the ore from the mountains, and being able to provide for my
family, and I’ll tell you what. That’s worth more than anything. Oh, that’s cool. This is a relief. This is how we keep in the game,
and that’s how we keep moving forward in the mountains.

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