TenHagen uses an angle grinder to cut a piece of steel he is going to make into a knife. The process of making a knife is simple, but there is a lot of work that needs to be put into it. “(After cutting the steel) I will weld a handle onto it and then it goes into the forge and then it gets beat on until it’s in shape, then a lot of grinding,” TenHagen said.
TenHagen brushes the slag off of his blade after preliminary heating in the wood furnace. “When it goes in the fire it’s just getting hot and once it gets to a certain temperature, it loses (magnetism), so it won’t stick to a magnet,” TenHagen said. “When it loses (magnetism) that’s when it has the ability to harden. Right now it’s soft, you can hear how dull it sounds. I tried last night to harden it and it didn’t take the harden, so hopefully today it’ll take the harden and do what it’s supposed to do, which is get hard and become a knife.”
On TenHagen’s workbench sit his collection of knives that he has made over the past two years. Some of them he made from scratch, others he polished up. He uses his knives during hunting season. “I enjoy making knives because I use knives,” TenHagen said. “I definitely would prefer to use the knife that I made in November over a knife that I bought from Meijer. I made it. There’s a part of me in it. I know how it was made, I know the ins and outs of the knife, I know it’s going to be a sturdy, stable knife.”


FORGING- the act of making or shaping a metal object by heating it in a fire

NORMALIZING- an essential step in blacksmithing involving heating and cooling cycles to relieve stress in the blade and refine the grain structure

TEMPERING- a heat treatment applied to steel to reduce hardness so it can be shaped

SLAG- stony waste that comes from the furnace and sticks to the blade

TANG- piece of metal attached to the blade that the handle is formed around

TenHagen displays the steel he sculpted into the shape of a knife. Although it isn’t complete, it’s a start to a well-made knife. He started making knives in April 2017. “I was watching that TV show 'Forged in Fire' and I was like ‘Hey, I want to do that,’” TenHagen said. “The knives that I’ve made the most, they’re different shapes and styles but they’re mainly just utility bushcraft hunting knives.”

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