Making Of A Knife

Discussion in 'Blades' started by Valkman, Aug 8, 2005.


  1. Valkman

    Valkman Knifemaker Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    This is how I make a knife in my garage/shop. First, I lay out the steel to be used. I used to buy 4" wide steel and then had to spend hours on the metal bandsaw. Now I buy 1 1/4" wide steel, and just mark out the knife and start profiling. See I can learn! :idea:

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    I clean it off with brake cleaner spray as it has grease on it, then spray it with blue layout fluid. Then I lay my blank on there and etch the outline in with a carbide scribe.

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    Next I go to the chop saw and separate the two knives on each piece, then grind the outline. This is called "profiling" the blade. When you're done it looks like this:

    [​IMG]

    Next is drilling the handle holes and tapering the tang - nowadays I use the drill press for this but I used to use a drill until I found out how important it is to have these holes straight! Using the drill press I also drill up to 16 extra holes just to remove steel and lighten it up. 8)

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    Next I install the flat platen on the Bader grinder and taper the tang if I'm using 3/16" steel, which these are. I mark the end of the tang with blue layout fluid, then using calipers put marks 1/3 of the thickness of the caliper and grind to those marks. Otherwise the knife is way to handle heavy. This is a pic of the grinder with the flat platen installed - I also have a 10" wheel for hollow grinding and a small wheel attachment and 5/16" and 1" wheels.

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    Now we grind - after profiling I mark the edge with blue layout fluid and using calipers etch lines in the middle of the steel .030" apart. This will be my edge before heat treat - any thinner and it can warp or crack. Using an old 50 grit belt and the 10" wheel I start the bevels and grind down to the caliper marks and also set the plunge cut. Then I switch to a new 50 grit belt and continue the hollow grind - if you use a new belt at first the square edges of the steel will ruin it. The new belt cuts the hollow grind pretty quickly, and I don't try and grind it all the way to where I'm going to want it. 70% of where I want it is fine. Then I switch to a 120 grit belt and grind some more, getting all the 50 grit scratches out in the hollow grinds and on the edges. This is important prior to heat treat. Now the blade is about 80% ground and is ready for heat treating.

    Now it should look something like this, although this one didn't get the tang tapered.

    [​IMG]

    Now I get out the refractory cement and out some along the spine of the knife, staying away from the tip. This one has way more cement on it than I use now, and it's too near the tip.

    [​IMG]

    Then we heat treat in my little 2-brick forge heated by a MAPP gas torch.

    [​IMG]

    These are the "tongs" I use for heat treat - small vise grips on the knife duct taped to 3/4" hollow steel bar. Works great and I still do it that way!

    [​IMG]

    I heat the blade up until it's non-magnetic, then quench it in olive oil. This causes the knife to become hard - way too hard to be a knife in fact, so now it goes in the toaster oven for an hour at 400 degrees. This will "draw" the hardness down to where it'll make a good knife, about 60 Rockwell hardness.

    This is what the knife looks like after heat treat:

    [​IMG]

    All black and nasty - it went through alot of stress with the quench and the tempering really helps it relieve alot of that. I buff off all the black stuff and look to see if it made it through ok - I haven't had one crack yet but it happens.

    Then I grind the knife again, taking the edge down to just before it gets sharp and making the hollow grinds just the way I want them.

    [​IMG]

    Now I cut out the handles - could be wood, micarta, G10. I usually use red liners so I cut those out too and use the drill press again. Holding one side of the handle against the knife I drill the handle holes through the tang into the handle material, then repeat with the other handle. I do the same with the red liners. Then I cut the pin material and use that to hold the handles and liners together while I grind the front of the handles to their final shape on the 4"x36" flat grinder. These edges won't be available to work on once I get these bonded on so they have to be finished now. I also flatten the tang side of the handles. This is how it looks when I work with it:

    [​IMG]

    When that's all done I rough up the tang surface with sandpaper and do the same to the inside of the handle material. Then I mix epoxy and blob it on, put on a red liner, then more epoxy and a handle and the put the pins in. All the extra holes I drilled will help the epoxy to hold on to the handles. Flip the knife and repeat. Then I clamp everything with quick-clamps (making sure I line up the patterns if I used mosaic pins) and let it set overnight. I use DevCon slow-setting epoxy because it dries clear and is waterproof. The quick-setting stuff is not waterproof so it's not good enough!

    [​IMG]

    The next day it's just a matter of grinding down the excess handle material and shaping the handle. Then I sand it to the finish I want and put a coat of Waterlox sealer on it if it's ironwood. Now the knife gets the sheath made, and when that's done the final polish is done and then it's sharpened.

    Hopefully they wind up looking like these:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Hope you enjoyed this tour, and I hope you have broadband! :D

    turmeric-root-curcuma-longa.
     
    Hanzo, GOG, NotSoSneaky and 5 others like this.
  2. Bear

    Bear Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++ Founding Member Iron Monkey

    Awesome set up!!!!!!.........

    Hey I just made an "offer you can't refuse" over in "getting started".... Hope you don't mind.... I also offered your help for people to get started in this awesome hobby.....

    Bear
     
  3. TLynn

    TLynn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I honestly thought about it Bear - but if you saw how many times I can cut myself you'd realize that would be the first and last mistake I ever made.

    Besides I like fire way too much.
     
    sgt peppersass and beast like this.
  4. Bear

    Bear Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++ Founding Member Iron Monkey

    Hey a fellow "Pyro" !.... "Flame On!!!!!"..... b:: that's half the reason why most folks get into forging.... besides.... you can cook hot dogs, drink beer and roast marshmellows when you're done..... [beer]
    Go for it!.... hey I recently had an unfortunate mishap and got stitches to the face and lip.... ouch!.... pain goes away and cuts heal.... just stay away from arteries and vital organs.... safety first.... [peep]
    Besides.... I'd love a blade made by a woman.... saw that scene in Lord of the Rings where in the middle of the great battle, the princess kills that flying beasty thing that "no man could kill" just after she informs him that she was a woman..... made me think.... might not be a bad idea to have a blade forged by a woman.... never know when you're gonna have to go up against some headcase evil type that thinks that the only threats are men or man made.... :idea: How's that for a challenge????.... I'd love to have your first blade.... Hear that Valkman?.... I got dibs........ :D
     
  5. TLynn

    TLynn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    lol, I still haven't even built my shop yet!!! And there's no room in my garage (of course I could remove have the stuff out of it - since I've already moved a bunch of stuff as it is - can't convince mom to remove the wheel chair ramp even though she doesn't use a wheel chair - ah well). Interesting idea. Cement doesn't burn does it? It's worth a try.
     
  6. Bear

    Bear Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++ Founding Member Iron Monkey

    I can make it really easy for you on the first step into knifemaking.... :D I have a Busse Drop Point, heat treated INFI steel, black coated in unfinished form.... all you have to do is put on the scales (G10 if you like tactical or I have some very nice stabilized wood (finish is built in... sand and buff and it shines like crazy) if you like natural), some strong epoxy and brass pins or stainless 303 tube pins to your liking (Valkman has some fancy mosaic pins on his)... some sanding and sharpening is all you have to do to make and finish your first knife..... or I have a Branton Hunter (if you like larger Blades) heat treated and ready to go in unfinished form.... same thing..... this offer is good only for you.... cause you're so special... :eek: (actually because you're such a chicken)..... ;) I'll try to get some pics of the blades up later..... That way you can work and finish your first knife up on the kitchen table if you like.... no fire (boring) and no hard core grinding (boring).... just sanding, gluing and sharpening... which actually is the real hard work of finishing a knife but very satisfying....(actually this is really the fun part) [beer] then you can decide if you wanna go further.... Hey I gotta talk some female into knifemaking if I ever wanna get my "Nazgul" killer made by an "Eowyn".... b::
    Bear
     
  7. TLynn

    TLynn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I already sent you a pm bear - I'm game to try it - the knife making. And actually I don't mind grinding and such. I've worked in machine shops before (okay so it's been over 26 years but hey who's counting). Used to do a lot of stuff with cars and such as well.

    Doesn't hurt to get back into it and I do have a nice cement slab out back (don't dare do anything on the Italian tile we had put in for mom's patio - she'd kill me especially considering what it cost). But the 15'x15' of concrete is all mine to play with. And I've already managed to get it stained (waiting to get motor oil on it next - watch me I'll do it by winter - just got to park the pickup correctly).
     
  8. Bear

    Bear Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++ Founding Member Iron Monkey

    You got it !!!!!! woo hoo!!!! b:: Hey Valkman.... I think we may have our first female bladesmith here!!!!! [beer]
     
  9. Valkman

    Valkman Knifemaker Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    That would be neat TLynn - you need some kind of a grinder to do this unless you're going to jump into forging. I hope to try forging some day but for now stock removal is where it's at - get a piece of steel and grind away everything that doesn't look like a knife! :)
     
  10. TLynn

    TLynn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Well Valkman I needed an excuse to set up the grinder that's been sitting in the box for 3 years. This looks to me to be a good enough excuse (yes I'm a tool junkie and buy tools for absolutely no reason).
     
    Bigfoot1986 likes this.
  11. Valkman

    Valkman Knifemaker Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I'll tell ya, even though I had stuff I barely knew how to use them. Drill press, chop saw, all this stuff I never used but now use them almost on a daily basis. Pretty soon I even knew what I was doing! Kinda. :rolleyes:
     
    Bush Monkey Knives likes this.
  12. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Wow, good tutorial. Nice work.
     
  13. TLynn

    TLynn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Wait I need a chop saw? Will my miter saw work instead?

    Dang I just knew I should of bought that shop drill press last year. Guess I'd better start pricing them now.

    Wait a minute - you're a guy...I thought all guys knew how to use tools like that? Dang you must of been deprived as a kid.
     
  14. Valkman

    Valkman Knifemaker Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    You need something to cut the steel as close to the shape you want as you can, so there's not alot of excess grinding. You can do it with a hacksaw (tough), a metal bandsaw, a chop saw or even a hand-held peanut grinder with a 4" blade. Wood saws won't do it. If you need stuff and don't want to spend alot look at Harbor Freight bandsaws and chop saws.
     
  15. TLynn

    TLynn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

  16. Valkman

    Valkman Knifemaker Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Nope, that's a wood saw. Gotta get a metal-cutting saw. What I do now to save lots of time on the bandsaw is buy steel 1 1/4", which is just wider than the knife I make. I buy it in 18" lengths so I draw 2 knives on and then just chop saw them apart and get to grinding. Should be able to get a chop saw pretty cheap.
     
  17. TLynn

    TLynn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Ah hon, it's the blades that determine what the saw cuts, not the saw itself. I have metal blades for it and have cut metal bar (not huge metal bar admittedly). Of course on the other hand I could always use it as an excuse to go buy a new one.
     
  18. Valkman

    Valkman Knifemaker Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    You can try it, but I've never heard of anyone using a miter saw. Hey if it works it works! It is the blades but also how much power is available.

    But there's the crappy steel at Home Depot and there's O1, which is much harder to cut and work with, even in it's annealed state.
     
  19. TLynn

    TLynn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I won't argue with you there Valkman (about the speed part). As for the Home Depot part - not the kind of metal I was cutting but I agree with that. Still it might be interesting to see what happens (after all it's not like it cost me much and I can always but a new one).
     
  20. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Moderator Moderator Founding Member

    OK,
    I've taken Craig up on his offer, I should already have most of the supplies I need to make my first knife (or will have when my package arrives :D ). Now, what is refractory cement? and where can I get it?

    Oh yeah, and does the type of magnent and placement on the blade matter? I have several rare-earth magnents that I salvaged from hard disk drives.

    Thanks
    Ryan
     
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