So I thought I would try and make a knife!

Discussion in 'Self-made Gear' started by Thortek, Jul 11, 2018.

  1. Thortek

    Thortek Tracker

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    You all have inspired me! I was chatting with my GF about wanting to start making knives. I work at a soul sucking desk job and I want to do some creativity during my free time. She loves to do leather work so I seemed like Knife/sheath making is something we could enjoy together!

    I have a few questions for the veterans here:
    1) I was looking at getting an angle grinder/Belt sander from Harbour freight. I assume they are good enough to start?
    2) What do you folks use to get your angles for the grind the same angle?
    3) For heat treating, I have a firepit, Do you think that would work if I got it nice and hot with a tube and a blow dryer? Should I invest in some sort of forge?
    4) what else am I missing :p
    Thanks!
    Todd
     
  2. halo2

    halo2 Supporter Supporter

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    Hi Thorek,

    I'll offer my 2 cents. What's worked for me -

    1) Angle grinder and a low end belt sander will do the job. So will files and elbow grease. It depends on your abilities with tools and "creative eye." Look at Goddard's book The $50 knife shop for inspiration and ideas.
    2) Various Angle jigs work for setting the bevels. The Gough jig is a great hand filing jig. .

    Even simpler is a 2x4 with the bevel cut into it that, or the jig below.



    3) IMO, heat treating is the magic part. A fire pit with blower will work but you can overheat the blade and ruin it so lots of experimentation is needed. Consider making a micro forge that uses a propane torch for more consistent heat. There was a Youtube created named Green Pete who went over the process pretty well. But watch a few YT videos to get started. Bad heat treat technique can ruin hours of work.
    4) You'll want to know what steel you're playing with since that dictates how to heat treat it. You can pick up scrap but knowing what kind of steel puts you miles ahead.
    5) Find a mentor, even if it's for a few hours. You can learn a lot that way in a short time.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
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  3. Thortek

    Thortek Tracker

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    Thanks for the reply and advice! I will go a head and take a look at some of those YT videos when I am not @ work. I can only slack so much :p
     
  4. Mikewood

    Mikewood Supporter Supporter

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    So how simply do you want to start? I suggest you get your table top belt sander and freehand some edges. Get a handful of long saws all blades from HF or scrap if you can find it. Sand the teeth offwith the belt sander and strip the paint. Keep the steel cool and you will have a serviceable blade. Glue some scales on and sand them down smooth. Repeat a few timed and also buy a few blade blanks and make a kit knife or two. Rehandle and reprofile an old hickory knife. Get a dremel tool for shaping the handles.


    Build on everything slowly. I don’t recommend forging right now or in the near future.
     
  5. crewhead05

    crewhead05 caffeine, nicotine, knives and nature. Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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  6. MrFixIt

    MrFixIt Old Jarhead Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    @Thortek I have an ample supply of lumber mill band saw blade.
    It’s thin and makes a decent small knife. I’ve never beat treated any of it.
    If you would like some PM your address if you are in the US.
    At least it will give you some practice grinding...
     
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  7. Jim L.

    Jim L. Supporter Supporter

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    Everything that's been posted so far is good advice.

    Many tools you will need can be had at HF on the cheap. Just remember that there's a good reason some of those tools are cheap.

    Tools to get at HF:
    - angle grinder. You can spend a couple hundred bucks and up on excellent guality units. I'm cheap and usually broke, so the $20.00 [+/-] (orange) tool is sufficient for your needs. With a cutting blade you can cut a piece out from "stock". A grinding blade can be used to clean up your pattern. It's a good multipurposer.

    - Files. No, their files are not the best, but, they are inexpensive and have a life time warranty which means they will likely replace files that aren't abused. (I bought 3 files that wore out quickly, I took them back after the store manager told me to bring them in and they were replaced. YMMV).

    - CA glues (super glue).

    - Magnets. I prefer to use one on an extension to keep my fingers away from the heat.

    "C" clamps. Get your other clamps there too.

    You don't need to have a belt sander but theirs isn't a bad starter. It is nice to have one, but not necessary. If you do get one, get the extended warranty.

    Things not to get at HF.

    - Abrasives. They don't last to my experience.
    -Epoxy. They dont stock/carry long cure varieties (again, to my experience).

    Bevel angles can be done with a file wether by "eye" or using a jig. I prefer to set my bevels by eye. It's just the way I do. Nothing against using a file jig.

    Find the center line and mark it along the cutting edge, then with a permanent marker, mark the borders of the bevel shoulders on both sides.

    Then start removing the material btween the lines.
    20180531_210816.jpg

    The heat treat can be done in a fire pit with a blow drier. If you're burning wood, make sure you have a good pile of coals, if you use charcoal, it would be better to use the lump (natural) type over briquette.

    Have a good ten inches or so of hot coals with your air pipe stuck in the bottom. Place the work piece into the coals about 1/2 to 2/3 of the depth.

    Don't over heat. Heat it untill the magnet doesn't stick then quench in warmed oil.

    You can use oils from specialty blends for quenching or used vegi oil. Let it stay submerged for a few seconds before removing from the oil. Always be ready for the hot oil to flash.

    I'm getting way too wordy here. PM me if you want. But listen to what every one else here tells you. There are many here far better than me at the craft.
     
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  8. Vpetrell

    Vpetrell Scout

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    If I could offer anything....I was in the same bot with you with the desk job....is start by hand. It’s a lot easier to screw up on the belt sander. I did my first blade on the belt sander from hf and ended up fixing all my mistakes with the gough jig.

    I found that for the moment, until I’m out of my apartment, I enjoy doing the whole process by hand. It takes a bit longer but the process is enjoyable to me, but that’s just me

    I can’t offer advice on the ht tho, fire pits are frowned upon on the 3rd floor balcony....


    VP
     
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  9. halo2

    halo2 Supporter Supporter

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    I've gone back to primarily hand tools also. It's slow but you're correct. I make smaller, more correctable mistakes.
     
  10. Thortek

    Thortek Tracker

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    Excellent advice guys! I am no opposed to hand tools at all, and it is far cheaper! Thanks everyone!
     
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  11. Madwell

    Madwell Supporter Supporter

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  12. Roamer

    Roamer Guide

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    If you haven't already, I suggest you start by modifying an Old Hickory knife. Get one from an antique store, shape a new blade profile, put on a new handle. This will give you a good introduction to some of the basic skills and help you figure out if you like it before investing lots of money in tools. Can do the same by buying a blade blank. Good place for that is Jantz Supply.
     
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  13. mtnoutdoors

    mtnoutdoors Prov 27:17 Supporter

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    Looks good. Prov 27:17
     
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  14. Seahunter

    Seahunter Scout Bushclass I

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    You don't need much to make a knife. I have made a few knives with just a hacksaw, a few files, and a drill. I have a small stationary belt sander. It is handy for contouring the handles and scales. I used the belt sander for the bevels on my first knife and honestly I think a fresh 12" mill bastard file is faster.

    I did my first heat treatment in a hardwood charcoal fire built in a hole in the ground. I used a hair dryer and black iron pipe to supply air to the fire. I used a magnet to check the temperature of the steel and then went a shade of color hotter. I quenched the knife in preheated canola oil then tempered it in the oven. That knife is made from 1084 high carbon steel which is easy to heat treat at home. It holds an edge well and is still my go to knife.
    heat treat.jpg
    1007171117.jpg

    I have made a few knives out of old carpenters handsaw blades. They are thin, but make pretty nice knives and don't need to be heat treated. Since they are thin you don't need to remove a lot of material to put an edge on them. I have batoned wood with them without a problem so far. The band saw material that MrFixIt has would be great. At one time Mors Kochanski would lend homemade knives made out of band saw and handsaw blades to students who needed a knife.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2018 at 1:50 AM
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