Heat treating is one of the most important parts of making a knife. Keys to keeping it easy is being able to use a kiln or a salt bath which there are many out there. Evenheat provides both of these. This allows you to control the temp which is a lot more precise than looking for a color in the forge. Using alloys like 5160 are very forgiving but using a 1095 or higher carbon steel you are asking for trouble. A lot of steels like 1095, 52100, 1084, will get you into the mid 60s for Rockwell hardness but you dont want to leave it that hard unless you are making kitchen knives so you must temper and make the blade edge more durable which now comes with the tempering process....
The next way to help in forging knives and getting that harden and temper you want is to know what alloy you are using. If you don't know then you would not know what temp to get to before heat treat.... Once you know this info getting a professional oil quench is very helpful as well and sets you up for success right off the bat. Quench oil like Parks 50 and AAA work for most steels you will use. I get all my Quench from Kelly Couples. He is full of knowledge!
Get your steel from a reputable place...... I personally buy most of my steel from New Jersey Steel from Aldo and Pete! Great guys to work with!
I like Frontier Style knives so I like the forged scale left on the blade! So I have to forge to get that awesome texture so many desire on a knife. I am not much of a chrome polished shiny knife guy. You will commonly see knives forged by people who are into bushcraft, period style, woodsman, mountian men.
So knowing some info on heat treating and tempering is always helpful!
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