Making Knives


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Mencius
September 24, 2010, 12:15 PM
Do many of you make your own knives? I saw a place, KnifeKits.com (http://www.knifekits.com/vcom/index.php), and thought about trying it out. This is the first time it has even crossed my mind, but I thought I could kinda get it just the way I want. And, it seems like something fun to have. After practicing with some of those I thought the next step would be to make my own blades even though I have never done anything like that all before.

Any thoughts?

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hso
September 24, 2010, 12:29 PM
Enthusiasts can become hobbyist makers that become part-time makers that become full-time makers. That's usually the path many part-time and full-time makers have taken.

A kit is a great way to start out.

BRad704
September 24, 2010, 02:13 PM
Welcome to my world from last week... :D

Looking back, I am glad I didnt go the route of a kit. I used an old machete blade to cut my first knife from and for what it is, I am totally pleased!

Flobert
September 24, 2010, 03:38 PM
It intrigues me. I like to make stuff.

I've heard old files can make good knives, for beginners starting out.

What holds me back is, I don't like getting cuts!

Valkman
September 24, 2010, 05:14 PM
Making knives becomes an addiction, once you start you won't be able to stop! LOL

Black Toe Knives
September 25, 2010, 11:25 PM
Kits are great way to get knifemaking. I started out little over two years ago. It all started when I seen a pair of Damascus hair cutting shears. I then research Damascus and seen Damascus Knives. I told my wife that day, I was going to make knives for a living. I sold my scissor equipment and bought knife equipment. It was history at that point. Six months later I quit my job and started making knives full time.

My first knife I sold. (Oct. '08)
http://i474.photobucket.com/albums/rr105/ke4ozo/HPIM0375.jpg?t=1285469785

This is my latest one. (Sept. '10)
http://i474.photobucket.com/albums/rr105/ke4ozo/SAM_1159.jpg
http://i474.photobucket.com/albums/rr105/ke4ozo/SAM_1160.jpg

BRad704
September 26, 2010, 07:53 AM
If you don't have anything laying around to make your first blades, then I would say the kits are great. There is SO much to truly making a blade out of raw steel that I have not even begun to learn yet! Plus the kits will at least get you thinking and once you finish one, you will already have your plans for the next 2 or 3...

Btw, I think we might have scared the OP away...

Flobert
September 26, 2010, 11:35 PM
Black Toe I have seen your stuff on here and .... incredible. Your work is outstanding.

I hope you are doing great, given how the economy is these days.

bikerdoc
September 27, 2010, 07:43 AM
Mencius and Flobert,

Go for it! It is fun and very rewarding.

Kits, old files, big blades to small whatever, just remember the three componants of a good knife, steel, heat treat, and geomety.

Mencius
September 27, 2010, 10:26 AM
Nah, I have not run away scared yet. My wife thinks I have enough "hobbies" as it is. I am just now getting into trapping and am trying to figure out a decent knife for skinning out raccoons and such. I am guessing basically the same thing as cleaning a squirrel, but when I clean hogs I like a different one.

I would like to go "start to finish" with a knife, especially with one of them purdy damascus blades, but I guess I gotta start with a kit until I can find someone with some steel working equipment. There is pretty much no way I will be able to get any myself at the moment.

Steel, heat treat, and geometry? Well, I once was pretty good at geometry...

cpirtle
September 27, 2010, 08:57 PM
I got started about 10-11 years ago by customizing factory knives.


Personally I like them better than kits because you can buy whatever quality you want and then turn it into a one of a kind item.


http://www.pirtlemade.com/images/customized/DSCF1104.JPG

http://www.pirtlemade.com/images/customized/DSCF1789.JPG

http://www.pirtlemade.com/images/customized/DSCF1757.JPG

surbat6
September 27, 2010, 09:57 PM
I make my own knives from files. I forge the blades and reharden them which avoids the big problem with file knives - brittle blades. I've seen knives ground from files that snapped when dropped on the ground or after the user applied a little side pressure. After forging, grinding, hardening and tempering the blades, I whack them HARD on the horn of the anvil. Any brittleness shows up real fast! My knives are essentially copies of a type collectors call American primitive knives.
Kit knives are a good way to start out, and if you like the result, you can try buying blades and other parts a la carte, or (in extreme cases) setting up a forge and REALLY starting from scratch.

Pete D.
September 27, 2010, 10:34 PM
These are not fancy beautiful specimens like those knives above but I like them. Made them for myself. Three utility knives:
Two inch dropped edge with Osage orange scales and brass bolsters;
http://i492.photobucket.com/albums/rr287/PeteDoyle/Osagehandleknife.jpg

one and a quarter inch Utility with Mt. Laurel root scales;
http://i492.photobucket.com/albums/rr287/PeteDoyle/uteknife.jpg

four inch blade - from an old circular saw - Mt. Ash scales;
http://img.villagephotos.com/p/2004-3/661868/IMG_1772b.JPG

Pete

Valkman
September 28, 2010, 12:14 AM
Welcome Pete, and nice work!

nevermas
September 28, 2010, 08:29 AM
Spyderco is releasing a new mule on the 1st of October, damascus VG10. Those interested can buy it and craft custom handles/scales for it.

Limited to 600 to 1000 pieces.

StephanFowler
September 28, 2010, 08:55 AM
Another oft overlooked option is to look up knifemakers in your area (you'd be surprised how many of us there are) and give em a call.

I know many many many knifemakers (myself included) that are more than happy to have a new guy come over and start learning.

If your in the Atl Ga area consider this an invitation...

Mencius
September 28, 2010, 09:14 AM
Stephan - Damnit, I was just in Atlanta a couple weeks ago and could have easily worked in stopping by. That is a good idea to just look around and find a knife maker around to give me some tips.

The pics on this thread are pretty awesome. Hopefully I can come up with something even half as nice as some ont his thread. In one aspect I like the idea of modifying a knife already made, but in the end I want to make as much as possible. I know this is pretty stupid, but I would even like to go find some raw iron, mix in some nickel, etc. to make some stainless and start from there.

I have a question for ya'll, though. If I was concerned with nothing else but functionality for skinning/cleaning game what handle material would you use? I want something that does not get too slick if I get a little blood and/or water on it, ultra-durable, and I could leave it outside in the dirt for a week and see little to no effect. I don't plan on leaving it outside or anything, but want something as durable as possible. Price, however, is an object to me so perhaps not a $1000/sq inch material developed by NASA last week.

CoastieShep
September 28, 2010, 09:52 AM
Cord wrapped handle maybe Mencius?
Wrapped the handle of a fillet knife with some cord once, had a much better grip when covered in fish slime. Just had to make sure you washed it out really good though.

StephanFowler
September 28, 2010, 12:18 PM
Cord wrapped handle maybe Mencius?
Wrapped the handle of a fillet knife with some cord once, had a much better grip when covered in fish slime. Just had to make sure you washed it out really good though.

you could even pot the cord with thin superglue or thinned epoxy

cpirtle
September 29, 2010, 12:34 AM
If you use cord wrap be sure to follow Stephan's advice, blood soaked paracord would need replaced and at a bare minimum seriously sterilized.

The best material for grip when wet is going to be paper Micarta, followed by linen or canvas Micarta. Paper is a little less durable but not so much that you'd notice, for a novice it's slightly easier to work as well.

Wet Micarta almost has a sticky feel but when you dry it out it goes right back to normal. Almost impervious to heat and cold, won't shrink or check the way natural material will. It's pretty amazing stuff.

Mencius
September 29, 2010, 09:33 AM
Micarta looks like a good material.

After thinking about this some I remember a knife guy I met once saying he used some material that is also used for, I think I remember correctly, power pole pieces that keep the wire off of the cross beams. The material looked kinda like a canvas type thing with some bare threads through it. I have completely forgotten what he called it, but he claimed it was really strong and durable. Any idea what he was talking about? Think it could be this micarta material?

cpirtle
September 29, 2010, 11:14 AM
Sounds like canvas Micarta. Micarta (phenolic) in general was primarily designed for insulating electronics.

Here's some green canvas.. (http://www.texasknife.com/vcom/product_info.php?cPath=587_826_841_613&products_id=1311)

P.shooter
September 29, 2010, 02:38 PM
Jesus Hernandez has some nice pictorials on his site, showing the process he goes through when making steel & blades:

http://www.jhbladesmith.com/

Mencius
September 30, 2010, 09:44 AM
Ok, micarta sounds like the stuff to use then. Thanks for all the tips and inspirational pics and the tutorial links. Now time to gather the stuff...

BRad704
September 30, 2010, 09:49 AM
since Jim put up one of his first, I'll put up my first and second... just for more motivation for you. :)

http://lh4.ggpht.com/_6ce8QbxRhf4/TJ51tpZLJ3I/AAAAAAAABlY/-9ej7XyLH7g/s912/2010-09-25%2009.55.13_Memphis_Tennessee_US.jpg

http://lh6.ggpht.com/_6ce8QbxRhf4/TKOntoKAU3I/AAAAAAAABmE/nBy0UUP8BwA/s720/2010-09-29%2015.50.07.jpg
http://lh6.ggpht.com/_6ce8QbxRhf4/TKOnt9ZDGEI/AAAAAAAABmI/Mk9fEZhd1yM/s912/2010-09-29%2015.50.36.jpg

highorder
September 30, 2010, 10:22 AM
I'd posted this before, but I hope people enjoy it again. :)

My inspiration:
http://i102.photobucket.com/albums/m117/highorder/tracker.jpg

My stock:
http://i102.photobucket.com/albums/m117/highorder/11.jpg

The process:
http://i102.photobucket.com/albums/m117/highorder/22.jpg
http://i102.photobucket.com/albums/m117/highorder/33.jpg
http://i102.photobucket.com/albums/m117/highorder/44.jpg


The finished product:
http://i102.photobucket.com/albums/m117/highorder/555.jpg

Mencius
October 1, 2010, 07:55 AM
Those are some sweet, inspiring knives ya'll got going on there. Btw, Highorder, what is that handle made of?

I have one other quick question, how do ya'll heat treat the steel? I understand that just the words "heat treat" seems to indicate you just heat it up, but I am guessing there is more to it than that...

Black Toe Knives
October 1, 2010, 10:39 AM
I have one other quick question, how do ya'll heat treat the steel? I understand that just the words "heat treat" seems to indicate you just heat it up, but I am guessing there is more to it than that...

Nope it is pretty much you heat it up. There are different recipes for different steels. Carbon steel you pretty much heat it up til it non magnetic then quench in different mediums. Stainless steel is more complicated, they require ramp time, hold times and different cooling methods. It is an art in itself.

highorder
October 1, 2010, 11:06 AM
The handle scales are canvas micarta. (http://www.knifekits.com/vcom/product_info.php?cPath=40_218_309&products_id=663) I attached the scales with 10-32 flat head machine screws so they can be removed for cleaning, etc.

I heat treated that beast in peanut oil and tempered with a torch. It takes a lot of heat to get that much mass up to 1500F+ I wish I would have had a small furnace, instead a big rosebud tip for the oxyacetylene rig.

cpirtle
October 1, 2010, 11:14 AM
It is an art in itself

AMEN!


You can make a decent useable knife with very basic methods but to get the most out of the steel it gets pretty scientific.

IMO, You should know exactly what type of steel you are using and learn the specifics for that steel. This is one of the reasons I don't advocate using scrap steel for knife making.

If you heat treat O1 the same way you are supposed to heat treat 1084 you could experience catastrophic failure.

1084, 1080 & W1 are among the easiest steels to HT and can be purchased inexpensively online. (1084 is pretty hard to find but I think Admiral Steel still had some on clearance last I checked)

highorder
October 1, 2010, 11:40 AM
This is one of the reasons I don't advocate using scrap steel for knife making.

Don't be too quick to discount "scrap" steel. Many fine knives have been made from saw blades, files, and old truck springs. For a beginner, I do recommend starting with a known entity. Flat ground O1 is a great place to start.

cpirtle
October 1, 2010, 12:13 PM
I didn't discount it completely, many parts are made from standard steel grades and you can make educated guesses as to what it is.

What I did say was that in order to get the most out of heat treat you need to know exactly what type of steel it is. There's not really a grey area there.

You can't heat treat O1 the same way as W1 and expect good results, the same goes for the reverse of that.

O1 can be challenging to heat treat properly with basic tools because it requires a soak time once it's brought up to solution, pretty tough to do acurately without an oven or forge with good temperature control. This is well documented by every manufacturer of O1.

The other steels I mentioned do not require a soak time or not as much of one so you can pretty much get them a bit beyond magnetic and quench for a basic heat treat.

Don't take anything I'm saying personal but there's nothing metaphysical about heat treating. Everything that needs to be done for proper heat treat is well documented and available to anyone who wants to study it.

Black Toe Knives
October 1, 2010, 12:14 PM
Real Charcoal, not briquettes and a forced air source. You have no problem getting 1/2 thick piece of steel up to 1500 degrees in less than 20 Minutes. I have used a small fan and last time I used a hair dryer for my force air supply.

highorder
October 1, 2010, 03:46 PM
O1 can be challenging to heat treat properly with basic tools because it requires a soak time once it's brought up to solution, pretty tough to do acurately without an oven or forge with good temperature control. This is well documented by every manufacturer of O1.

I'm no expert. I was taught knifemaking by an old ABS member/HS shop teacher. He started people doing stock removal from .125" O1 ground blanks. We heat treated and tempered with an oxyacetylene torch. Perhaps he instructed with great skill, but O1 came off as forgiving and easy.

We did some O1 and 1095 forging as well. That was humbling.

cpirtle
October 2, 2010, 12:38 AM
Me neither, but I don't think anyone is ;)

I've forged quite a bit of O1 and it's very unforgiving (to forge).

Like I said earlier, I'm not knocking anyone. Especially the old timers who have been around the block a few hundred times and I listen to everything they say when they talk because it's amazing what you can learn.

When it comes to heat treating I prefer to listen to the manufacturers and then tweak to fit my application.

Here's a good link to O1 technical data. (http://www.nessteel.com/o-1tech.htm)

Hardening:

Pre-heat slowly to 1200F - 1250F, then soak steel thoroughly. Increase heat more rapidly to quenching temperature of 1450F-1500F.
Hold steel at quenching temperature for one half hour per inch of greatest cross section.
Surface protection: pack hardening or controlled atmosphere furnaces.
Quench in oil-bath (Oil temperature should be 150F).


Most importantly, have fun and stay safe!

bikerdoc
October 2, 2010, 08:32 AM
I am a forging failure, and therefor stick to stock reduction. I find you guys that forge facinating to learn from.

BRad704
October 2, 2010, 09:27 AM
I think I now have a better grasp on terminology, so I wasn't planning on forging anything from that wrench, but doing stock reduction to make something...

Redhorse
October 2, 2010, 01:59 PM
I sent pm...I build custom knives and tomahawks for 28 years.
e-mail is redhorse4@hotmail.com

Mencius
October 8, 2010, 01:57 PM
Let's just say, hypothetically, you get one type of steel and heat treat it the way another type should be. What kind of harm will be done, most likely? I guess, how much damage can you do by heat treating the steel incorrectly?

hso
October 8, 2010, 02:10 PM
Too hard and breaks, too soft and won't hold and edge OR too long at too high a heat and your burn out the carbon.

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