Picture of Design and Build a Full Tang Knife
Building your own tools can be a great thing and knives are no exception. From the caveman times to Bear Grylls, knives have been an essential part of outdoor survival and just basic utility and around the house use. This Instructable is a basic guideline for making your own unique survival tool that will be suited to your use and designed to your specifications. Also, if you use recycled materials like I did, your knife should be practically free! This is obviously not the only way to make a knife. There are many other tried and true techniques, but this it what i have found to work best. If you don't find all parts helpful, pick and choose. develop your own basic style and make it work best for you. This could take one knife or it could take ten, but keep at it. A tool that you have made is truly a joy to behold. And just because I don't want to get in trouble is people hurt themselves: Knives are tools but also can be weapons. Treat them with extreme care and respect them. Making sharp pointy things has an inherent danger to it so use common sense. Also, dull knives are more dangerous than sharp ones. Forcing a dull knife will increase the chance of slipping and that's bad, even with a dull knife. Ok, I'm done ranting. On to the important part!
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Step 1: Designing the Knife: Materials

Picture of Designing the Knife: Materials
The first step in making most things is a design and the same holds true to knives. To design my knives, I use graph paper, a metal ruler, a French curve, and a normal pencil. Also, since I use found metal for my knives, I like to have the metal in front of me so I know what I have to work with.
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JohnR21 made it!2 months ago

My first attempt at a stock removal knife.

graydog1113 months ago

I bought this blade blank on eBay and cut the scales from some Osage Orange heartwood I had cut and seasoned for 5 years. This wood is one of the densest woods grown in USA and is really hard to work, but that's not nearly as difficult as making one completely from scratch

th3_v1k1ng4 years ago
hi, looks good.... but what you could have done was drill 2 holes thru both handles and metal.. then 2 small metal bars thru.. and round off the ends..
similar to two rivets....

Hi th3_v1k1ng

Some metal that can be used for blades is harder than drill bits. My grandson bought a Damascus blade blank on eBay. The vendor said he would send pin if buyer would ask. He didn't ask and the holes were an odd size, slightly under 1/8". He couldn't drill them bigger and had to sand 1/8" SS welding rod down to fit the holes, making for a lot of extra work.

Really a nice knife, atomicturkey27

Emsaid2 years ago
Great ible! Here's a picture of mine, I made them out of an old saw blade from a skill saw! They polished up great!

These knives look amazing! You really made those? They are beautiful and the shine is a nice touch too!

th30be Emsaid2 years ago
Wow. The shine is amazing. How did you do this?
Emsaid th30be2 years ago
Basically the same as atomicturkey27 did. But then used different grade sand paper to get the big scratches out and then finally a buffing wheel! I was surprised out how well they came out. Glad you like them!
th30be Emsaid2 years ago
It looks amazing. Honestly, I would love to buy one off of you I like it so much. With the sand paper, did you just keep going up in grade every time you felt it was necessary?
Emsaid th30be2 years ago
Thanks! dont know if I wanna sell them yet, maybe if I make some more! but yeah I just sanded it forever, making sure i go every little scratch out.
jonny379811 months ago
Please watch and subscribe. Thanks
lilchumy1 year ago
Looks really good and easy to make
@The Metal One: 1020 is "sub-par to worthless" for knives. You will be much better off with a steel that has a carbon percentage above 0.7%. The second two numbers in the 10xx series steels stand for the carbon percentage (1020 is 0.2% carbon, 1080 is 0.8%, etc.) also, the heat treat regimen you prescribe will harden only a few, if any, types of steel.
your knives will be sub-par to worthless unless you use a carbon steel (such as 1020 1/8 inch plate stock) and then heat treat it by heating the blade to 800 degrees for an hour then quenching in oil. otherwise i love your design, you did well with materials on hand. good work ;)
atomicturkey27 (author)  The Metal One3 years ago
For my more recent knives I've been using A2 or O1 tool steel. These steels contain elements like chromium that greatly improve wear resistance, which makes them a great choice for knives. Also, many of the exotic woods make really excellent knife handles. I've found that purpleheart works quite well, although it is difficult to machine.
How are you doing your heat treat? I am wondering as those steels (specifically the A2) are quite difficult to heat treat.
Ssosah952 years ago
Just one question, where can i get the steel for the knife?
I use 1084 from
Although your method will produce a serviceable knife, you will get infinitely better results if you start with a known steel (my favourite is 1085), file out your profile and bevels, and harden by heating to slightly above the point where a magnet will no longer stick and quenching in canola oil. The reason I use 1085 is because it is extremely simple to heat treat as it requires no soak.
hey! I made a knife like your!
here's photos of me making the knife and the finished image
sorry for my english , im brazilian
thanks for the tutorial! make more!
i cant send the images! fuuuu!
how i send it?
If you dont mind me asking, what steel is used? and would a dremel with a metal cutting wheel be able to replace the edge grinder?
I almost asked the same question, but then I looked at the pictures in step 4 more closely and it appears to be made out of a saw blade, which is pretty cool. I'm curious about how stiff the blade is. I know some saw blades are flimsy, but that one appears to be a miter or backsaw blade which is usually stiffer.

If you're just using the dremel to cut out the shape of the blade it should work as long as the metal you're using for the knife isn't too thick. It will take a while though, and you might go through quite a few cutting wheels.
You can save a lot of cutting wheels if you only cut half way through the metal, then clamp it in a vice and whack it with a hammer. If done right it should snap apart! This makes it go a lot faster but only works with higher carbon metals.
notwally2 years ago
I don't think some of the people here understand that your metal is already heat treated. "This blade was made from an old backsaw blade" . This metal was already heat treated (tempered) at the factory when the original tool was made.

This is the reason knife makers *use* old saw blades, files, leaf springs, and the like to make high quality carbon steel blades. The heat treating has already been professionally done.

As for the handle finish, atomicturkey27's method seems to work for him. If you want something different, go for it. "Your mileage may vary".

You don't *have* to finish it at all. If you use it regularly, your natural hand oils will eventually give it a finish.

Personally, I'm partial to Tung Oil. Quick, easy, and forgiving. I use it on all my hand whittled walking sticks because it really brings out the look of the wood without covering it up.

But you could just dunk it in some "Tool Dip".

BTW atomicturkey27, Great Instructable. Thank you.
I'm re-designing a knife (an old cheap machete cut in half long ways. Super Pig Sticker!) and your info showed me how to properly put on the handles. I was spinning wheels until now. Thanks again!
If this was a truly functional knife, you would harden the blade before fitting the handles, thus making it almost impossible to drill through.

Ideally, drill the holes in the "tang" before hadening. Then harden, anneal, glue on one scale and drill the hole through from the exposed tang. Then glue the second scale on and drill through from the first scale.
woodNfish4 years ago
Very nice knife. My grandfather made knives out of old saw blades too. Tool steel takes a nice edge. I see one problem though and that is using danish oil with polyurethane. The oil never truly dries and I am fairly certain that will prevent the poly from fully curing. Poly alone should be enough.
atomicturkey27 (author)  woodNfish4 years ago
I gave the oil 24 hours to set, which was the time recommended on the can. It said that you could follow up with wax or poly to achieve a nicer finish. Also, the main purpose of the oil was to darken the wood. I found that it gives the wood a nice rich color and brings out the long grain that is present in oak.
Doesn't the oil also help prevent water from permeating the wood? That's why i 'mineral oil'
my kitchen cutting boards, salad bowls, etc ..

and ya, 'pharmacy-grade' mineral oil is edible, but never give it to someone who has difficulty swallowing: if it gets into the lung: big big problems!
atomicturkey27, You can get poly in various shades that will stain the wood if you like. Minwax has quite a variety, and poly brings out the grain too.

tktkj: Poly seals the wood against moisture. You use mineral oil on cutting boards because it is non-toxic. It doesn't have to be "pharmacy-grade" which is something I've never heard of and is probably a marketing gimmick. You should not use polyurethane, varnish, and other finishes on cutting boards.
ya but there really is a need for a 'pharmacy grade' mineral oil .. Ya see, it's used medically as a laxative, but there are a bunch of issues that must be explained to any patient to use it safely. Having a 'USP' (US Pharmacopea) formulation lets users or care-givers to be able to read the label. Misuse can kill a patient!
And i do say 'formulation' not simply 'packaging' cuz the USP offering contains a 'stabilizer' (Vit. E , actually) ... If you've the interest i can send ya the medical info. I also doubt that the users of the 'paint store' variety would be concerned much were there to be some infectious agent or two in the batch. Knife handles need not be sterile .. Cutting boards should not be contaminated so i'd strongly advise people to use the USP version in the kitchen where food contact occurs .. including the lubricating of blender blade bearings!
Honestly tkjtkj, I don't think it makes a difference. I buy my mineral oil at the grocery store. The hardware store doesn't carry it.
Ok, fair enough .. but please do understand that many people could do that only with grave danger to themselves or others. One could even propose that a prescription should be required, so important are the warnings on the drug store label!
One can easily die by not having read them.
My prescription suggestion is based on fact that so many elderly (who do have more intestinal problems) can't even read the small print on the pharmacy formulation... it can be life-saving for them to be told by some practitioner how mineral oil is to be used and how misuse can result in a very very bad thing.

As far as we know, death is a one-way street.
Apparently enough professionals recognize these issues and do require that at the least, a USPharmacopia version of the product be available.
"Then let them die, and reduce the surplus population", Ebeneezer Scrooge.
too much rhetoric!
Okay tkjtkj, but what's your point? You can find info about food safe finishes in any woodworking magazine and plenty of online woodworking sites.

>>Apparently enough professionals recognize these issues and do require that at the least, a USPharmacopia version of the product be available.

No they don't. I'm telling you - it is a marketing gimmick, nothing more. I'm sure they charge you more for the same product too. Sorta like shampoo from the olcal market versus shampoo from a beautician. The beautician will overcharge you every time.
More B.S.!
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