Another newbie question

Discussion in 'Blades' started by kevinh, Jun 6, 2010.

  1. kevinh

    kevinh Monkey+

    I was thinking that I don't really want to grind away at the blades I buy already for handle treatments, so I've been building up my work bench, I now have a grinder and drill press to go with the belt sanders (thank goodness for Harbor Freight!) and would like to progress from making handles to shaping blades.

    What about going to say the farmers market/auction and buying old steel tools and blades to shape into knives?

    Can the steel be usable as is? Like an old mower blade? I'm not looking to create sellable items necessarily but would like to make something that's usable.
    I'm quite certain I'm not the first to ask this, but I haven't found that info yet.

    Any suggestions, comments and or warnings?
  2. Valkman

    Valkman Knifemaker Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Things like old mower blades are supposed to make good knives, and if you never get it hot enough to change color you won't ruin the heat treat.
  3. kevinh

    kevinh Monkey+

    Excellent, then I have a place to start, since I just happen to have an old mower blade.

    Any recommendations on what to stay away from?
  4. Bear

    Bear Monkey+++ Founding Member Iron Monkey

    Here's a good link for you...
    Blacksmithing and metalworking FAQ from

    click on
    "Junkyard Steel Chart" its near the bottom of the link.. to get a good idea of the steels you may be working with when using recycled materials...

    Anvilfire is a great resource and can the other links maybe of help as well... if you decide to get into heat treating etc...

    Good luck!
  5. kevinh

    kevinh Monkey+

    Thanks Bear, looks like a good site already and I've barely scratched the surface. I started working with an old mower! That's a lot of work just to get a basic shape. So far so good. Biggest problem with mower blades is the twist that limits the usable section of metal. It's all good though and I don't mind a little extra work.
  6. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Kev, you could try annealing the blade, and flatten it while still hot. Life gets easier that way. Normally, lawn mower blades are not hard to start with so they don't break when the average home owner hits a rock or scalps a high spot. It's good steel, just not hard. Like as not, you'll find blades made of mower blades won't hold an edge too well, more heat treatment will be needed. Which, of course, is why annealing it to start doesn't hurt, and well might ease the cutting and shaping.

    Now, I don't make blades, so we'll let the knife guys tear me up or tell you the best way to do the annealing.
  7. kevinh

    kevinh Monkey+

    More good info

    That's good to know Ghrit. For now I'm working on learning
    to shape with the belt sander. Thank goodness for vise grips.
  8. Bear

    Bear Monkey+++ Founding Member Iron Monkey

    Nothing wrong with what you said IMHO...

    Heat treating is just something to learn later as your passion grows...

    I've been cut more times with sharp metal that didn't have a lick of treatment... than metal that did... [lolol]

    If you have an angle grinder with a cut off wheel... cut that sucker so it's straight steel and grind some bevels with the same wheel, shape a handle to your liking and voila... great first tool and knife... slap some handles on it with basic rivets or get some stand offs and screws from the hardware store if you want to be fancy.... and epoxy that together... sand it down to your liking from there...
    Your first knife will be done in an afternoon and you will have learned great basics without worrying about stuff like heat treating....
    Then make your second... it will be better... then make your third and that will be better than the second... and so on and so on...
    Go for it and have fun.... worry about heat treating later.... JMHO...[boozingbuddies]
  9. kevinh

    kevinh Monkey+

    Well, I don't know about an afternoon, but I get your point.

    I will acknowledge that I am getting to the point where I don't want to just make knives from kits.

    I think the blade I'm working now out of the mower blade is going to become a lesson in when to stop but it's a learning experience and a good way to block out the rest of my day for a little while. I suspect that if I keep at it for awhile I will probably buy some stock material and start grinding/shaping my own. Then will be the issue of finding someone local to do the heat treating. I have no idea what that will entail, but I'll worry about that then.

    The knife I carry everyday is not one of the prettiest, but I like the feel of it. And all the scratches and rough spots remind of where I want to be with this.

    Because of where I work carrying a fixed blade is asking for trouble and in fact they get edgy about larger "aggessive" looking folders. This includes anything in a sheath or with a clip that alludes to its size (I have to hide my leatherman skeletool...scared em it did!). The kit folder I use is just under 5" open with a combo blade. All I did is make the handle (olive mycarta) and reshape the body and blade a little. I had a great time doing it. I've put together and shaped several blade/handle kits so far which presents a new problem, what to do with all of them!!

    I really appreciate all the feedback. Books and websites are good, but talking with people with experience can't be beat.
survivalmonkey SSL seal warrant canary