Made a Knife... now w/ a Completed Sheath & Firesteel!

Other provisions not covered above that may make survival easier if your life is tossed out of the norm. This section is for discussing everything from arc welders to underwear.

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Made a Knife... now w/ a Completed Sheath & Firesteel!

Post by elkhills » Sun May 16, 2010 4:57 pm

I want to try my hand at making a knife. A general purpose field knife, maybe a 4 or 5" cutting edge, straight backed and simple. A place to start seems to be selecting a proper material. The interweb claims that old saw blades make for good knife stock, and I have a few I will likely never attach to my table saw...
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3 of them are identical save the tooth patern- Craftsman Chrome Nickel Molybneum. I have no idea what the others are made of, one says it is a "recycled" saw blade.
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This is the extent of my knife making experiance, a 10th Grade Metal Shop project. Well, this and one I hacked out in an hour from a worn out recip hacksaw machine.
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The big chopper there is from thick 3/16" bar stock, the saw blades on the other hand measure under an eighth- is that okay for a general purpose blade?
Last edited by elkhills on Wed Nov 17, 2010 11:33 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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Re: Knife Makers: Seeking Advice

Post by jamoni » Sun May 16, 2010 5:12 pm

You'll have a hard time getting a long blade out of those sawblades. Other than that, they should work. Be sure not to heat them much when cutting, or the temper will be ruined. I'd dip them in water every couple passes on the grinder or with the cutoff wheel.
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Re: Knife Makers: Seeking Advice

Post by maddmatt » Sun May 16, 2010 5:26 pm

Some of the carbide tipped blades have a low carbon steel main body.
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Re: Knife Makers: Seeking Advice

Post by Veritas » Mon May 17, 2010 4:14 pm

Wish I could help ya, but I am an extreme novice. I used old files for mine. Storm Crow said that older files marked "Made in USA" are better than the "Made in India" or Pakistan ones. Something about the metal being too brittle, and can break when you try to harden it.
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Re: Knife Makers: Seeking Advice

Post by Wastelander » Mon May 17, 2010 5:43 pm

Veritas wrote:Wish I could help ya, but I am an extreme novice. I used old files for mine. Storm Crow said that older files marked "Made in USA" are better than the "Made in India" or Pakistan ones. Something about the metal being too brittle, and can break when you try to harden it.
That advise pertains to forging.

I assume you are planning on making this knife using stock removal? Those blades may work, but they could be case hardened, carbide tipped, or stainless. Any of those will give you grief. When people say they use old saw blades, they usually mean "old saw MILL blades". You know, those 2ft diameter ones that get rusty if they aren't used often enough.

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Re: Knife Makers: Seeking Advice

Post by maddmatt » Mon May 17, 2010 6:18 pm

Cross cut saw blade are also great.
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Re: Knife Makers: Seeking Advice

Post by elkhills » Sat May 22, 2010 11:32 am

The project has begun... Watched a couple youtube videos, yeah I've got this!
Drew out a pattern I liked (ripping off the Rat RC5 heavily :? ) and marked w/ a Sharpie.
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Scored a deep line w/ my angle grinder... I am out of my element, not sure, but can this metal be too hard? This process took a long time- probably an hour. Granted, I stopped every other pass to cool the cut with water.
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A little sawzall work for that last little bit at the end, and snapped the waste away.
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...and likewise on the other side.
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Smoothed out the outside curves on the bench grinder. Did you know it's OSHA law that your tool rest be adjusted to 1/4" or less to the wheel, and the top guard to 1/8"? Yep, I'm a safety guy who just went through his refresher course.
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Used the belt sander for the inside curve of the handle. This was not an easy shot to get one handed!
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This is where it went horribly wrong. Remember, I'm a woodworker- we don't clamp our work down! First hole went okay, second hole grabbed on the way through and spun on me, putting a nice gash in my left thumb. I will now respect this cutting tool for what it is- and clamp every time I can!
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Started in on the tight inner curves with my tiniest drum sanders, but the dinner bell rang so this is where I leave it for now. I'm happy with the profile so far. You can see my left thumb has been there :lol:
I may not fool with it again for a while, got other things to do, but I may update when I get back to it.
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Re: Knife Makers: Seeking Advice

Post by Veritas » Sun May 23, 2010 10:21 am

Very cool! I hardly ever complete a project without injuring myself in some manner....
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Re: Knife Makers: Seeking Advice

Post by Storm Crow » Sun May 23, 2010 11:28 am

Looks good so far. It does look like you used a grinding disk on your angle grinder instead of a cutting disk. The cutting disks are thin. It shouldn't have taken an hour to get that.

Remember, it's not a blade until it's tasted blood. The corollary is that they all become blades sooner or later... :(

Check out this guy's process:

http://phoenix1967.webs.com/index.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

If you're going to be trying to maintain the factory temper by keeping it cool, I'd check out its edge holding before you put your handle slabs on to see if you need to re-heat treat it.

Veritas - I think I said the Indian/Pakistani files had a good chance of being case hardened, where only a thin layer of metal on the outside had high enough carbon to harden, instead of all the way through like a better quality file. Or maybe that was part where I talked about how some alloys need cooling at a slower rate than others and can actually crack in the quench when cooled too quickly.
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Re: Knife Makers: Seeking Advice

Post by elkhills » Mon May 24, 2010 10:14 pm

Storm Crow, you're right- I was using the wrong wheel :oops: . Oh well, live and learn. This thread is about successes and failures. Hopefully some more good tips to minimize those failures!
So I couldn't help myself- went out and fooled with it some more today while the kids were in school. Drilled 1/4" holes for the handle, because I already have some 1/4" brass rod laying around for the pins.
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The 2 holes at the bottom are where I wanted a slot, but I don't have a saw blade small enough to fit in a 1/4" hole! Any suggestions? Maybe a Dremmil bit?
Sanded some rust off with the orbital sander.
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The part I've been dreading- grinding the bevel. This could make or break it, and I don't have the right tool (2" belt sander). Figured my best bet was the 4" belt sander, but after the drill press thumb whack I aint taking any chances. Built a jig to keep my fingers clear out of some old bunk bed parts. It went better & faster than I expected.
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Starting to look like a knife! My grinding strategy was to keep about as small a space between the back of the blade and the belt as possible. For the most part it worked. Once I got a bevel started, it kind of naturally wanted to follow it just by holding the work flat to the belt. I started with a new 80 grit belt which seemed a little too aggressive for me, so switched to a 120 grit, which was maybe still a bit more than I needed. About halfway in it was going so well I tried it without the jig just wearing gloves. After catching my glove thumb twice, switched back to the jig. Less control but more safety. My fingers are more important to me than this knifes bevel.
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More sanding to get rid of the belt scratches. Got most, but not all of them. The sanding took away the sharp line halfway up the blade where the bevel starts/stops, too :evil: . I wanted that to show, but oh well.
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Polished up the turd with some jewelers rouge, pretty dang shiney! Still some pit marks from the rust, but I think it adds character. I'll just pretend those scratch marks aren't there. Went inside and spent 15 minutes with the whet stone. The big curve of the blade is razor sharp, the very tip and base of the blade need a little more work- it's getting there! I would guess the difficulty sharpening would mean the steel is still pretty hard?
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So this is where I leave it for now. I'm thinking of using a piece of Cherry for the grips, though I have some Oak, Mahagony and Maple laying around. What I'd really like is Micarta- but I have no idea where to find it.

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Re: Knife Makers: Seeking Advice

Post by congochris » Mon May 24, 2010 10:58 pm

elkhills wrote: I'm thinking of using a piece of Cherry for the grips, though I have some Oak, Mahagony and Maple laying around. What I'd really like is Micarta- but I have no idea where to find it.
Make your own?Such as in this thread from Kyle.

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Re: Knife Makers: Seeking Advice

Post by Storm Crow » Mon May 24, 2010 11:17 pm

Well, you've done darn well. Remember, though, that you can screw it up at pretty much any point in the process. :lol: Not to be discouraging. Just stay vigilant.

A Dremel or a jeweller's saw would be my guess for making a slot. You can use your drill press somewhat as a milling machine (somewhat) if you have a cross-slide vise. I've found those for pretty cheap at Harbor Freight.

Cleaning the grinding marks up can be an incredibly long and frustrating process.

It's fairly typical to have the tips and the bases of the blades come out a bit thicker than the rest as you're filing or grinding the edge. I always start sharpening a newly-heat treated knife with a somewhat coarse stone before going to a fine Arkansas and following up with about six strokes on a leather strop with some Simichrome brand polish on it. Shaves. Difficulty in sharpening would make it seem like maybe your steel is still hardened. Edge holding will tell you more.

You can get Micarta and many other handle materials from suppliers such as Texas Knifemakers Supply, Jantz, Knifekits.com, and others. If you're going with Micarta, you'll need to wear a respirator. Not a dust mask. A respirator with changeable filter cartridges.
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Re: Knife Makers: Seeking Advice

Post by elkhills » Tue May 25, 2010 9:41 pm

congochris wrote:Make your own?Such as in this thread from Kyle.
Awesome! Thank you, thank you! I think I may try this- maybe with an old woodland camo shirt I have? That could be all kids of cool 8)
Storm Crow wrote:Well, you've done darn well.
:oops: Thank you!
Storm Crow wrote:Remember, though, that you can screw it up at pretty much any point in the process. :lol: Not to be discouraging. Just stay vigilant.
:? :)
Storm Crow wrote:Cleaning the grinding marks up can be an incredibly long and frustrating process.
Is it just a matter of sand, sand & sand some more? Is there some trick I don't know about?
Storm Crow wrote:It's fairly typical to have the tips and the bases of the blades come out a bit thicker than the rest as you're filing or grinding the edge.

Thank you, I'm glad you mentioned that, makes me feel better. A friend at work says he has a mechanized sharpener from cheaperthandirt that will make anything shaving sharp in minutes... I'm gonna let him take a shot at it.
Storm Crow wrote:You can get Micarta and many other handle materials from suppliers such as Texas Knifemakers Supply, Jantz, Knifekits.com, and others. If you're going with Micarta, you'll need to wear a respirator. Not a dust mask. A respirator with changeable filter cartridges.
Thanks, I might go this route. Either way, I'll wear my 3M 1/2 mask (borrowed from work) when working the plastic. Do you know off hand what the hazard is (HEPA or VOCs)?

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Re: Knife Makers: Seeking Advice- Now a WIP

Post by Storm Crow » Wed May 26, 2010 1:06 am

elkhills wrote:Storm Crow wrote:
Cleaning the grinding marks up can be an incredibly long and frustrating process.

Is it just a matter of sand, sand & sand some more? Is there some trick I don't know about?
Back up your sandpaper with some kind of inflexible support. A lot of times I use one of those sandpaper flapwheels with a shaft that lets it be chucked up in a drill, but those can have their own issues, such as getting waves in the steel if you let it sit too long in one spot, rolling the tip, and wreaking havok if you use it the wrong way and catch the edge or tip of the blade.
elkhills wrote:Do you know off hand what the hazard is (HEPA or VOCs)?
Well, part of it is made with formaldehyde. It's a composite using paper, cloth, or fiberglass (G10) impregnated with thermoset phenolic resin. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phenolic_resin

Whatcha doing for a sheath? If you're doing Kydex, might make sense to just order your Kydex and Micarta from the same place at once and save on shipping.
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Re: Knife Makers: Seeking Advice- Now a WIP

Post by Big and Daft » Fri May 28, 2010 2:28 pm

Is there any way to test if a saw blade will make a suitable knife blank?
My Dad has a couple of old ones in the garage and I have a day off tomorrow with nothing better to do...

Also, elkhills awesome job, that looks very cool and fun to do too.

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Re: Knife Makers: Seeking Advice- Now a WIP

Post by elkhills » Fri May 28, 2010 9:10 pm

Storm Crow wrote:Whatcha doing for a sheath? If you're doing Kydex, might make sense to just order your Kydex and Micarta from the same place at once and save on shipping.
Not sure yet, I was thinking maybe a tacticool MOLLE pouch something or other- but this sweet mama from MadMatt has caught my eye... good idea on getting a plan together and ordering all my stuff at the same time.
Big and Daft wrote:Is there any way to test if a saw blade will make a suitable knife blank?
My Dad has a couple of old ones in the garage and I have a day off tomorrow with nothing better to do...
I can't answer that, hopefully somebody with some knowledge will let us know. My Great Gramps used to say "if a knife don't rust it ain't worth shit". Maybe a little old school, but he knew some stuff. And I did use the rustiest of my blade stock, for that reason.
Big and Daft wrote: Also, elkhills awesome job, that looks very cool and fun to do too.
Thanks man, it was! Anybody can totally do this, just be slow and carefull- and clamp down EVERYTHING!!! Check out this guys youtube tutorial, very helpfull: http://www.youtube.com/user/MasterKnifemaker" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Knife Makers: Seeking Advice- Now a WIP

Post by Wastelander » Fri May 28, 2010 9:33 pm

elkhills wrote:
Storm Crow wrote:Whatcha doing for a sheath? If you're doing Kydex, might make sense to just order your Kydex and Micarta from the same place at once and save on shipping.
Not sure yet, I was thinking maybe a tacticool MOLLE pouch something or other- but this sweet mama from MadMatt has caught my eye... good idea on getting a plan together and ordering all my stuff at the same time.
Big and Daft wrote:Is there any way to test if a saw blade will make a suitable knife blank?
My Dad has a couple of old ones in the garage and I have a day off tomorrow with nothing better to do...
I can't answer that, hopefully somebody with some knowledge will let us know. My Great Gramps used to say "if a knife don't rust it ain't worth shit". Maybe a little old school, but he knew some stuff. And I did use the rustiest of my blade stock, for that reason.
Big and Daft wrote: Also, elkhills awesome job, that looks very cool and fun to do too.
Thanks man, it was! Anybody can totally do this, just be slow and carefull- and clamp down EVERYTHING!!! Check out this guys youtube tutorial, very helpfull: http://www.youtube.com/user/MasterKnifemaker" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
You can combine multiple sheath materials, you know--mold some Kydex and then make a cordura or nylon pouch for it, or even leather. Regardless, I can't wait to see what you end up doing. As for the rusting comment--that's because virtually all stainless steels suck, and certainly all of them that your grandfather would have been familiar with. Just because it rusts, though, doesn't necessarily make it good knife steel. I'm curious to hear what your results are with brass rod testing the edge of your knife after you have it all heat treated and sharpened.

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Re: Knife Makers: Seeking Advice- Now a WIP

Post by Storm Crow » Sat May 29, 2010 12:22 am

Big and Daft wrote:Is there any way to test if a saw blade will make a suitable knife blank?
Check out this guy's process:

http://phoenix1967.webs.com/index.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
:D
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Re: Knife Makers: Seeking Advice- Now a WIP

Post by elkhills » Tue Oct 12, 2010 9:45 pm

10-12-10 Update:
I had a down Saturday- not much to do, so I went out to the garage and did some more work on the knife, specifically the handle. Seems this is going to be as detailed a job as making the blade itself- don't know why I wasn't expecting that? Anyway, finally some woodworking!!! Something I know a little about. :)
I had this idea of using a slab from my firewood pile, which is from my Pepperwood Tree; but that wood is very soft, like pine, and really not very interesting to look at grain and color-wise.
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This is a slab after drying, and a pass over the jointer... Meh, went with a piece of Cherry I had leftover from a little table I built years ago, instead.
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First things first- need some cardboard shielding... SAFETY FIRST!!!
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Cut three brass pins w/ a hacksaw and drilled the first hole.
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With that pin in, I know the second hole goes where I want it...
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...and likewise, the third.
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Now with the handle slabs pinned into one unit, I can work the ends- the ends I wont be able to get to once they are glued onto the blade.
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Fast forward 48 hours. I didn't take any pics of the glue up- JB Weld is not something I want near my phone/camera. I just mixed up a batch, applied to the cherry slabs and assembled. I used 2 small screw clamps and 2 spring clamps just to be sure, but the brass pins were probably all I needed.
Here it is as it looked out of the clamps.
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And I couldn't help myself, I sanded down the easy back side to get an idea of how it's going to look when done.
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Looks pretty sick to me! Next task will to slightly round the handles in both directions- along the length of the blade, and circumferentially around the grip.
Plan on finishing with WD40 believe it or not. It's an oil, and what I use to wet the whetstone, so should fit the bill I think. Cherrywood is beautiful with an oil finish, too.

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Re: Knife Makers: Seeking Advice- Now a WIP

Post by Jeriah » Tue Oct 12, 2010 9:52 pm

This is looking fantastic so far.
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Re: Making a Knife... now w/ a Handle, kind of!

Post by Gun_Nut_2k1 » Tue Oct 12, 2010 10:02 pm

I am interested in how this comes out my own self. Thanks for the play by play.
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Re: Making a Knife... now w/ a Handle, kind of!

Post by Wastelander » Tue Oct 12, 2010 10:03 pm

Looks great so far! As far as the handle goes, I wouldn't be too stingy on rounding it--most people make the mistake of just rounding the corners of square scales and that leaves you with a very blocky handle that, personally, I find to be very uncomfortable and tends to have some really bad hot spots. Also, you said you are going to oil the wood scales with WD40? I would stick with Tung Oil or Boiled Linseed Oil for a professional finish, and if you don't want to do that then go with mineral oil--I'm not a woodworker at all, but I've heard of WD40 not being very kind to wood

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Re: Making a Knife... now w/ a Handle, kind of!

Post by maldon007 » Tue Oct 12, 2010 10:40 pm

Damn nice job, cant wait to see the end result!
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