I have been asked about knife making by a couple of members here. I usually tell them the same thing when they ask about building a knife. ďItís cheaper to go buy oneĒ and that is usually followed up by them stating the price of what they want, and me saying, yup still a lot cheaper to buy it.
Well one of my friends stated he wanted to build a knife. I gave him the usual spiel. In turn he responded with,Ē itís not about the money, itís about me knowing how itís done.Ē Well if that ainít the magic words then nothing isÖ..
After discussing all the options, tools, skills, and time he would need to build a knife he decided on a simple skinning knife. Since we also figured out he was broke, and to keep cost low he went with reclaimed steel. Using only hand tools he was able to make a decent little skinner. The only item he needed help with was the hardening of the blade. He did all the rest himself on the cheap.
This got me thinking, I should post up a little something about very basic knife making. This is nothing too creepy or fancy, just cutting out and shaping a blade. I will recreate the process he used on his knife using only common hand tools and stuff that can be found in most garages. For the scales, thatís just a fancy name for handles, will be some wood from the yard. The material cost should be nothing. Just so you know why I say itís cheaper to buy vs build, I will post a time total on this project. (time will be the total time spent)
First thing, find steel to reclaim. In this case itís an old machete dug up when we were clearing cedar out back. (5m)
Next, figure out what shape you want the blade, use a marker and draw it on the metal then cut it out. Now put on heavy leather gloves. I used a cutoff wheel in a dermal tool. (Notice the blade has been polished up a bit, Sorry I could not resist using the belt sander as the metal looked so yucky) (55 min)
Shaping the blade. File work gets tedious and boring and that leads to mistakes. Mistakes with even a semi-shaped blade will require stiches, so wear thick leather gloves while being attentive. I have found the easiest way to shape a blade by hand is to mount it to the bench and file length ways. This keeps the bevel even and looks better when finished.(7h45m)
Sometimes you get lucky. The balance is going to be about perfect on this one.
After you have the shape you want and it looks right, itís time to start the finishing. This is done by sanding it with 220grit until the finish is uniform, if you like the brushed look that is what most knifes have. I hope you still have your gloves on at this point. (11h5m)
If you like your blades super shinny you will need to polish progressively with 220 to 400 to 800 to 1500 to 2000 grit, bla bla bla its hard work, and if you are doing this by hand add about 30 hours to your job cost.
Alright, all we have left is to harden the steel, tempering the blade, and attaching scales. This will have to wait for a few weeks as I have been told that I need to paint the house and build a cabinet before I ďplay with my toys.Ē Not only that the FD gets uppity when I fire up the forge while we are under a burn ban.
Thanks for looking,