Knife making steps


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  1. #1

    Knife making steps

    I have been sent a buch of PM's asking questions about how somebody would go about making their own knife. Here is how I make a knife from a table saw blade.

    I went through my stash of saw blades. I don’t have a shortage of them. I use the ones without carbide teeth so I know the whole blade is made of hard steel.

    This is going to be a drop point skinner blade out of a .08 think 10 inch circular saw blade. A file told me it was good and hard

    I used the Dremmel tool to cut the knife out of the saw blade.

    With a little grinding and polishing, it cleans up well.

    To add a little bit of style to the knife, I used a round chainsaw file on the backbone of the blade. I didn’t go very deep.

    I then used gun bluing on the file work and then polished away everything but what was in the grooves. I think it adds a nice touch to the look of the blade.

    In order to drill the pin holes, I needed to soften the steel. I used a MAP gas tourch and slowly heated the tang.

    Then I drilled the holes.

    I cleaned up the blade again and added the bevel.

    At this point you can either put a handle on the knife or heat threat it to get the knife even harder than it already is. If the steel is already good and hard, I may leave it alone. On some knives I will heat treat. The most common question I have been getting is "How to you hold the wood to the handle of the knife. I use 2 part epoxy. Use the slowest cure (12 hour) that you can find at any hardware store.

    I like to use exotic woods or antler for the handles. This wood is called bloodwood.

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  3. #2
    This is a knife made from O1 tool steel, 1/8 thick 1 1/2 wide. The wrapper even came with the recipe instructions on the label.

    The antler was a little long so I cut about an inch off the end but I will have a use for that as well.

    I can see a blank slate here. I can't leave it that way.

    First I removed as much of the core as I needed.

    Then I started working on the blade.

    Then I roughed out a finger guard.

    Time to bevel.

    Beveling completed. Time to heat treat. The label said to use light oil so I did.

    I used the burner from my range in the "Man Room" as well as a MAP gas torch to get the blade hot enough that a magnet would not stick to it.

    Then it hit the oil.

    Next, It sat in the oven for one hour at around 500F

    During that time, I worked on the finger guard and the antler to get it ready to assemble.

    After tempering, I cleaned it up a bit.

    Then I assembled it.

    And let it sit over night.

    After unwrapping and a bit of buffing, it;s starting to take shape.

    I filled in the blank slate as well.

    Here is how I used the cut off end of the antler. I cut a slot in it to display the knife.

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  5. #3
    I will attempt to show some of the steps I have left out in previous knives. Namely the grinding or stock removal steps. Again. I am a shadetree knife maker so I don't have any special tools that I own specifically for knife making. These are just your everyday shop tools. This knife will have elk slab sides. The blade comes from the same 1/8" thick rusty old concrete saw blade. Recently I cut a few small pieces from this blade and heat treated them and took them to work and used a hardness tester to see how effective my heat treat really is. The untouched blade material came in at Rockwell 35. The heat treated material came in at RC55 for hardness. A file is RC60. These will hold an edge nicely.

    For the first step in stock removal, I use a 6 inch bench grinder. I don't care if the blade gets hot and turns blue because I will be heat treating it later. I simply clamp a metal stop on the tool rest to keep things consistent.

    I move it once to get closer to the tip after removing material from higher up on the blade. The tape is to keep me from grinding away the finger guard

    I follow up with a belt sander to smooth out the grind marks.

    This leaves more of a straight or convex grind which is slightly stronger than the conventional concave grind.

    With all the stock removal done and the blade heat treated, I give the blade a going over with 120 grit sandpaper on on orbital sander.

    I will use elk antler for the scales.

    I split the section in half and sanded them to shape.

    I added the antler scales to the knife blade. I used slow cure epoxy and brass pins. I turned out fairly well.

    That rusty old blade sure cleans up nice. It was pretty much like a mirror.

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  7. #4
    this time I am adding metal bolsters to each side of the blade. I used aluminum with brass pins. I will use Cocobolo wood for the scales. And mosaic pins

    I used hollow pins to attach the cocobolo scales to the knife. I want to make mosaic pins so I am using small diameter aluminum tubes and epoxy to fill the hollow brass tubes. It should dress up the pins a bit.

    I do not want a glossy finish so I rubbed the tung oil in. I will give it a few more coats over the next few days. I only have a 2 Mega Pixel camera so the quality of the pics is low. I am trying to take better pics but until I get a better camera, this is about as good as it gets.

    All the knives I have made from this saw blade finish out at RC55 to 58 for hardness. I heat until non magnetic and then quench in oil.

  8. #5

    I cut a chunk of it away with a angle grinder.

    This will be a hunting knife with a drop point and a finger guard.

    This is a very thick blade.

    Next, I heated the blade cherry red and let it cool very slowly to soften the steel. so I could drill hole and grind a bevel and do some file work.

    this time I am going to do a "W" pattern on the backbone of the blade. I marked off the spacing with a sharpie.

    Then I used a small square file on one side of the blade.

    Then turned the blade around and did the other side.

    I added a little bluing to bring out the details.

    With all the file work done, I heat treated the blade by heating it until it was non magnetic (around 1500F) and then quenched it in 130F salt water. Next I temper it at 400F for one hour. Finally I polish the blade to a mirror finish.

    I used curly maple and aluminum pins. I'm calling it "Blonde"

    The last step is to make a sheath. I use 7 Ox. Veg. tanned leather and then dye it to the color I want after I sew it.

  9. #6
    I love making things out of crap laying around the shop (plus I'm cheap) I get blade seconds from the Chicago Cutlery store for a very good price. The blades are a bit thinner than they should be so I guess that's why they are seconds. This will be a sort of Puukko style knife. They always have big beefy handles.This knife handle will be made from birch bark and other garbage I have in the shop.

    This will be lucky blank.

    I want a smallish blade, around 4 inches long.

    After a little cutting, shaping and polishing, it's taking shape nicely.

    I want brass bolsters and I had a piece of an old brass bed laying around. I cut a chunk off and hammered it flat.

    The handle will be made from birch bark that I came across a few years ago and saved for just such a purpose.

    I will stack layers of the bark on top of one another and finish it with another brass bolster and a pin.

    I polished the front brass plate and decided to add a little color. I found a broken red window ice scrapper and a piece of white plastic to put on at the beginning and end of the birch bark. I cut out all the birch bark squares then I cut the tang hole in them.

    I then placed piece of white and red plastic from a broken window ice scrapper and two pieces of brass on the end of the stack. Then I did a rough sanding job just to get everything even so I can sketch an outline on the surface.

    I then added more brass to the end of the stack and sanded it to shape.

    After I finished sanding and polishing the brass, I applied a coat of Tung oil to the handle. 4 more coats and a little polishing and it will be done.

    After 5 days and 5 coats of tung oil (it really soaked in) The finished Birch Bark knife project.

    Last edited by Rancid Crabtree; July 14th, 2008 at 08:39 AM.

  10. #7
    I've had a 420 stainless blade with a gut hook laying around for a while. I acquired it in a trade. Because of the Tang design, It could only be attached to a hollow handle (hidden Tang)

    Now that I got my hands on a bunch of elk antler, I was ready to assemble this knife. I made a trade with a fellow to get the elk antlers, I got two real nice sheds and all I had to trade was 60 pieces of green paper with pictures of George Washington on them. (That fellow must be new at trading because that paper makes a lousy knife handle but I wasn't going to tell him that.)

    I found a section of one of the antlers that had a handle in it and cut it out with a hand saw..

    In order to fit the tang into the elk antler, I drilled a hole in the center but not completely through the other side. I then drilled 2 holes through the side of the antler for a pair of 3/16 inch brass pins.

    I made a brass finger guard and pommel from some 1/8 inch bar stock and then did a little polishing on the base of the blade and the guard because it will be harder to polish later when the knife is assembled. The pommel (end cap) will be held in place with 2 brass pins.

    In order to protect all the surfaces while assembling the knife, I covered the important areas with painters tape. I then mixed up some industrial epoxy with a holding strength of 3500 psi. It was a very messy job as I had to fill the hole in the antler to the top with the epoxy while it kept spilling out the side holes where the pins would go. After putting in a couple plugs, I was very happy I covered everything with the blue tape.

    After a 24 hour cure time, I will unwrap the knife and begin shaping the handle by removing some brass and beveling the ends of the antler. Then I'll give everything a good buff/polish.

    Here it is after polishing.

    With the knife finished, I made a sheath. I used 8 Oz. leather.

    I did a little pattern work on it and got it ready for stitching.

    Then I applied a coat of dark brown stain.

    After drying overnight, I rubbed in mink oil to water proof and give a shine. Another project complete.

  11. #8
    This is a project in which I wanted to make a multi-colored wooden handle knife. I used a Chicago Cutlery blank which was a kitchen/utility knife that I will turn it into a hunting knife.

    This is a fairly thick blank. The back is at least an 1/8 of an inch thick. It is very stiff. I had to ad a top edge bevel to this blade as well

    I cut out the shape for a 4 inch drop point blade with the Dremmel tool.

    With a little grinding and polishing, it is starting to take shape.

    I picked up some Maple veneer at the Home Depot and cut it into strips that are just slightly larger than the knife's tang.

    I want each layer to be a different color so I am using Rit dye to stain the wood.

    I decided to use camo colors. Black, Brown, Green and tan.

    The three batches that I dyed curled so I dried them with a rag and then pressed between two boards to dry.

    I glued up the layers with carpenter glue and let them sit overnight.

    I cut them down to the rough size in order to get them ready to mount them to the knife tang.

    I added the laminated handle sides to the knife with epoxy and brass pins I also did some rough sanding as well. So far, Im getting the results I had hoped for.

    What is a knife without a sheath? I used a thick dark piece of tanned buffalo shoulder. It's stiff and strong and it has a nice color.

    I cut out a rough shape for the sheath, the welt and a belt loop.

    Next I stitched the belt loop in place because it would be hard to do after the sheath is folded. I am using a waxed sinew.

    To make stitching easier. I use rubber contact cement to hold all the layers in place and to keep them from shifting.

    After gluing all the sides together, I took the sheath to the belt sander to get rid of the glue that squeezed out along the edge.

    I then used a forked punch to equally space the holes for the stitching.

    I stitched the sheath and added brass rivets. In order to shape the sheath to the handle, I soaked it in rubbing alcohol because it evaporates quickly.

    The last step is to dip the whole thing into a pot of melted wax and mink oil but I need it to be completely dry first.

    It's looking pretty good so far.

    To waterproof the sheath I heated neats foot oil and paraffin wax to the point that it began to smoke. I then placed the sheath in and when the bubbles stopped I removed it and drained it.

    When it finally cooled, I gave it a good rubdown/polish. The sheath is done. A few more coats of tung oil on the knife handle and this project will be done. The sheath is sitting on the same piece of leather it was cut from. It got much darker from the waterproofing.

    the laminated handle knife and sheath is finally finished.

  12. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Marshallville, OH


    This is a great post. Thanks for taking the time to put this together.

  13. #10
    Wow!! You are one hell of a knife maker there Rancid Crabtree. Thanx for sharing and for the great illustrations. This should be a sticky.

  14. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Finger Lakes, NY

    Quite a talent you have there.....

    Great work....thanks for sharing!

  15. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Asheville, NC
    Absolutely magnificent craftsmanship. Thank you for sharing!

  16. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Hixson, TN
    Great thread. Love custom knifes.

  17. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Gonna be alot of folk grinding away on sawblades now I'm thinkin!
    What a great post!
    Well done Rancid!
    Galatians 4:16

  18. #15
    Thank you Rancid! I just started to make my own knives as well, and this has answered a lot of questions I had. This is a very informative post! BTW Your Moniker wouldn't have anything to do with the character in the writings of Pat Mcmanus would it?

  19. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Babooze View Post
    Thank you Rancid! I just started to make my own knives as well, and this has answered a lot of questions I had. This is a very informative post! BTW Your Moniker wouldn't have anything to do with the character in the writings of Pat Mcmanus would it?
    Why whatever do you mean?

  20. #17
    Is this TR?

  21. #18
    Unbelievable!! You have a real talent.
    USUALLY THE HUNTERS THAT WERE NEVER ANY GOOD AT HUNTING WILL SHOOT A SPIKE.they just dont know any better and never will amount to anything .......sproulman
    I think meat hunters is another name for "Bad Hunter" or "Low Patience Hunter"....grfox
    Meat hunter=Don't have time/and or patience to hold out for mature buck.....173BC

  22. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by BigPappa View Post
    Is this TR?
    I dont know about TR, this fellow seems to go with a K for his trademark, me thinks it stands for "Knife"
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  23. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    A few miles north of Biloxi, Mississippi. In the heart of Katrina Country.
    Wow!! Amazing!! Outstanding post. Thanks!!

  24. #21
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Seneca Illinois
    Wow great post Rancid you do some nice knifes. Makes me whant to start making one my self.

  25. #22
    A couple other saw balde knives. All from 10 inch table saw blades.

    With an Ipe handle

    With an antler and wlanut handle

    With a Cocobolo handle

  26. #23
    We should start a Rancid Crabtree forum.

    Once again Great Job.

  27. #24
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    A few miles north of Biloxi, Mississippi. In the heart of Katrina Country.
    Can you show some detail pics of how you do the pins??

  28. #25
    Simply amazing. You are one talented individual.

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