Cleaver project - long & pic heavy


April 11, 2009, 05:52 PM
As some of you know I like to tinker with knives and I'm about to get into making some knives from scratch. I've been spending my time learning by trial and error and I think I can probably put together a user. Nothing that I'd sell. At least not 'til I'm happy with the results and have heat treating arranged.

For now its been customizing existing blades. Its a slow process as I have to grind away on hardened steel and be careful not to wreck the existing heat treat.

This is the results of a project that I was asked to take on by our own Alaskanativeson. He sent two cleavers that he scored on ebay to have turned into some rather unique blades. They're modeled after a cleaver I reworked for myself. That one was inspired by a knife made by Dan Koster, a custom knife maker.

The two I did for ANS are clip-point style knives as opposed to the "nessmuk-ish" lines I put on the first one.

While I'm happy with the overall results, I'm not sure I like the sand scratch on the larger of the two so I might have some more work to do on that one before sending them off.



Stay tuned...

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April 11, 2009, 05:55 PM

The smaller of the two had a well worn handle. I tried to clean it up but one of the brass rivets came apart on me. I cleaned it up best I could, added some counour to the grip and wrapped it in 550 paracord for the time being.

Its still 100% functional but just not as pretty.

Thanks for looking,


April 11, 2009, 06:23 PM

I like 'em. A lot.

Could I get you to post a picture with them next to a ruler or tape measure?



April 11, 2009, 07:45 PM
Can do J. I'll get some tomorrow. The large one has a 9" blade and a handle long enough to almost get a two hand grip on. The Swiss knife in the pic is a 91mm Vic Farmer if it helps.

April 11, 2009, 08:42 PM
Nice work Chris!

April 11, 2009, 09:04 PM
Wow that was a lot of heavy steel removal, and doubly hard to do without getting it too hot. The finish could use some polish but that's some good work!

April 11, 2009, 10:03 PM
Super work! Just a thought on the disintegrating rivet. You can pick up replacement rivets from a number of online retailers. Two off the top of my head would be Texas Knifemaker Supply and Dixie Gun Works. Then again the cord wrapped handle works too. Once again, great job.:):)

April 12, 2009, 12:11 AM
Thanks everyone.

Wow that was a lot of heavy steel removal, and doubly hard to do without getting it too hot. The finish could use some polish but that's some good work!

I used a die grinder/cut-off wheel to do the initial shaping. Leaving enough metal to insulate the area that would end up being the edge.

Here's the embarrassing part. I hit one of my knuckles on the 40 grit belt while sanding. After seeing the mild injury, my wife asked why I wasn't wearing gloves like I usually do when working in the garage.

I had to explain to her that working bare handed was how I kept the steel from getting over heated. I can feel the temperature change so I know when to set things down and let 'em cool off. Its a pain to move from the task at hand to something else then back so I don't wreck the heat treat but, like I said, I'm learning. I can't wait to lean into some annealed tool steel :p.

Thanks again everyone,

April 12, 2009, 12:25 AM
now those are cool
wish i had the skill to do metalwork like that great job

April 12, 2009, 01:23 AM
Here's the kicker: He won't let me pay him for all this great work he's doing for me. We did a little dealing, but it didn't involve money.

Chris, the knives look great. For another school year I'm going to be out here on the coast of the Bering Sea, but I plan to get in to the Wasilla area eventually. I'll have a place that is suitable for entertaining guests. You'll have a standing invitation to come up to Alaska and have a guide who can show you why this place is called The Last Frontier.

April 12, 2009, 02:47 PM
Now those are two hard working blades you'll never break! Great work.

April 12, 2009, 04:48 PM
No one wears gloves in knifemaking - it's dangerous to do so plus you lose the "feel" you talk about. Take those belt hits as badges of honor, I know I've had plenty of them! :)

April 19, 2009, 08:55 AM
Just a "heads up," I was on e-bay last night and they had several cleavers of the type you are using. The prices were very reasonable as well. Much cheaper than buying the stock steel... and you already have a handle! Wife and I were out perusing the early garage sales yesterday and I picked up a Universal cleaver in super shape for $5! You have a great idea for adding a new lease on life for some knives that may have seen better days and need a little lovin'!:)

April 19, 2009, 09:11 AM
When using any spinning or rotating, heck, any tool that could grab me I get the creeps wearing gloves around them.

I was shop forman in a metal shop at one time and had to take an employee to the special ER we had in the huge industrial complex. The complex had about 40 companies making all kinds of things. When there I saw 3 people who had horrible injuries from the machines grabbing sleeves ties or whatnot. The industrial area kept a very high tech free standing ER with 9 trauma beds and one operating room with 4 doctors very busy.

One thing that made a very big impression is wear safety glasses even if you just need them for 5 seconds. It is worth the 30 seconds it takes to find them and put them on.

Oh, nice knife work.

April 19, 2009, 11:15 AM
nice knives - what is the indended use for these? looks like a heavy chopper/brush knife sorta thing... are they delicate enough to clean game and the like?


April 19, 2009, 11:39 AM
Just a suggestion about gloves -

Would fingerless gloves work? I'm not handy at all with tools, but If I'm understanding you correctly you need to feel the steel heat up but took a hit to the knuckles from a sander.

A quick google search and I found these. (

It looks like they'd protect most of your hand but leave three fingers out for sensitive work.

Edit: Oh yeah, excellent looking blades. I like the 550 cord handles a lot, it fits the reworked knives so they no longer look like kitchen knives.

April 20, 2009, 01:10 PM
No, not even fingerless gloves.

Gloves or clothing of any kind need to be kept as far from rotating equipment as possible. While they'll keep the belt off your fingers, they can also ensure the loss of an entire hand rather than just a nick, if they're caught in the moving bits.

Gloves are good to wear around hand tools and welders and hot work. Just not near moving machine pieces.


April 20, 2009, 02:12 PM
I had a belt sander break a belt in a factory I worked in when I was 18 or so. I was knocked silly and someone had to pull me away from the machine or it would have just kept hitting me over and over again. Lost a lot of skin that day.

I like your cleavers. Keep up the good work. One of my early large knives was a "banana knife" which was razor sharp. Used to use it as a short machete.

April 26, 2009, 10:49 AM
This is probably a dumb question from someone who knows nothing about knife making - If you're concerned about cutting too fast and getting the steel too hot, couldn't you just heat treat it again after final shaping?

April 26, 2009, 02:57 PM
That, or just keep a bucket of water near by and swish the blade around in the water every time it gets hot to the touch.

That's what I did when I reworked my Turkish M1935 bayonet

April 26, 2009, 11:56 PM
I like the water idea, then you can feel all medieval blacksmith-ish.

And, maybe Ronnie James Dio will drop by and ask for a blade. That would be SUPER badass.

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