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The knife. Where would we be without it? One of the singularly most useful tools in existence. Sure you can buy a relatively inexpensive beautiful knife that will last a while, but...where's the fun in that?

Handcrafting mankind's most basic tool to fit your unique style and your hand can bring great joy. Other men will marvel at your manliness. Woman will hide their children and give you questioning glances. But fear not, you too can produce a beautiful knife that will make men weep with just a few basic tools and some elbow grease .

Step 1: Tools

You can go super basic here or use a bunch of power tools.

I went basic because I had to.

Tools

-I bought a $30 angle grinder to do most of the cutting and shaping. Of course you can just use a hack saw too but that's a lot of work. I used a metal cutoff disc for the rough cutting. For the profiling of the blade I used a backer plate with grinding sand paper shown in the pic. Buy them in a few grits starting at 60 grit. Or you can just get a few flap discs as shown in the pic.

- Files you'll want a variety from rough to fine and some either round or rounded on one side.

- Sand paper Get a variety of waterproof sand papers in a variety of grits from about 120-1000.

- Clamps I have a few quick clamps and a c-clamp to hold the knife as you work on it.

- Drill You can use a hand drill but it's easier if you have a drill press and some bits for drilling through steel

- Dremel Not essential but they come in handy for some of the detail grinding.

- Grill To heat treat your knife

- Coping saw

Materials

- Steel I bought a piece of CRA 1095 steel from Admiral Steel 5/32" X 1 1/4" X 96" for under $30 with shipping. Good blade steel for the price. 5/32" is nice and thick, good for a survival or hunting knife.

- Handle Material You can use a ton of different materials for your handle; wood, bone, micarta even horn. I prefer wood because I'm a carpenter by trade and love it. I bought a piece of Cocobolo for the scales (handle material) from Owl Hardwoods because I was nearby for a job.

- Pin StockYou can buy this online from knife making suppliers or just go to an Ace hardware and browse their brass or stainless steel bar stock. In the hobby section usually. I bought a variety of both.

- Epoxy 30 min. 2 ton. Don't try the 4 min. because you may need a little bit of work time.

- Linseed oil You can use this to finish the wood handle or you can put some polyurethane on it.

Step 2: Make a Pattern

First draw two parallel lines on a piece of printer paper that represent the width of your blade steel. Mine is 1 1/4". Design your knife in between these lines. Once you are satisfied with your design glue it on to a piece of 1/4" ply and cut it out on a band saw or with a coping saw.

Now's the time to make sure you like the shape and feel of your knife. Hold it how you would use it normally and see if anything needs to be changed. Remember too that the handle will be a little wider when you add the scales. Once you are truly happy with your shape transfer it to your steel with a steel pen or a sharpie. I made four patterns and made small variations of each one.

I was able to get 10 knives out of my 8 ft. piece of steel.

Step 3: Make Some Sparks

With your angle grinder and some cut off discs go to work cutting out your blades. Take your time and be safe. Gloves, respirator, safety glasses!!!

I got a sliver of aluminum in my eye once while siding a house. Not fun. Wear glasses.

Cut close to, but leave the lines if they aren't too thick. You'll grind them down to the final shape later.

Step 4: Shape Profile

I took a scrap piece of 1/2" ply and cut a slot in it the width of the steel. This allowed me to grind the edge of the blade by clamping it in the slot as shown in the pics.

Work all the edges you can keeping the grinder as flat as you can.

Step 5: Drill Holes

I don't have any pics of this step but it's pretty basic.

With your hand drill or drill press (preferred) and your steel cutting drill bits, drill the holes for your pins. Put some extra holes in it if you want to skeletonize it at this time. this cuts down on the weight a bit. I would have done more but my bits got too tired by then. Drill smaller holes first and then enlarge with bigger bits. Use some oil to keep bits from over heating and take your time.

Step 6: Grind Bevel

There are different kinds of knife bevels that you can do so I choose to do a variety of these.

Before you start grinding mark a center line on the edge of the knife blade that shows you the center of your bevel. Using the angle grinder and the flap disc shape the bevel. Don't shape to a fine point yet but leave the blade edge about 1/32" thick. If you don't your knife may warp when you heat treat it.

Step 7: File Bevel

Using a rough file continue to shape your bevel then switch to a fine file. Still leave the edge about 1/32" thick. Once your bevel is shaped then use waterproof/automotive sandpaper to start to smooth out the file marks on the blade and anywhere it will be exposed. Start with 80 grit and move up to 120 then 180 then 220. This will help prevent stress cracks in the blade during the heat treating.

Step 8: Heat Treat

You can use a small grill and some hardwood charcoal to heat treat your blade. You don't really need a forge to do this. I used a piece of cardboard to fan the fire and get the coals super hot. It would have been easier with a hairdryer and a pipe but I was lazy to go get that stuff. And it might have made my wife too happy.

Run a piece of bailing wire (not galvanized) through the handle to make it easy to pull out of the fire. Put the blade right in the hottest part of the coals once you have it going strong. Let it get bright orange (critical) non-magnetic. You can test this with an big old magnet like from a old speaker or something. Stick it back in the coals for a minute or two more. Then pull it out again and immediately dunk it in some oil to cool it (olive, vegetable, motor, transmission etc.) It's better if the oil is a little warm to prevent the blade from cracking.

Don't drop it at this point cuz it will break like tempered glass.

To take some of the brittleness out of the blade (also reduces the hardness a bit) you need to temper the blade. Just stick it in the oven on the middle rack at 350 degrees for an hour. After an hour just turn off the heat and let it cool in the oven. Repeat.

Step 9: Remove Scale

So your blade should be all black and gross at this point. You need to sharpen the blade edge as this was left a little thick in a previous step. Get out your files and sandpaper again and file and polish that baby up. It will be a more difficult to file the edge now that it has been hardened but this helps you to know that the heat treat worked.

When your blade is all pretty again wrap some cardboard and tape around the blade. This will protect the blade and you.

Step 10: Shape Scales

If you bought your scales online then they should already be a suitable thickness. I had bough a 1/4" piece of cocobolo that had to be surfaced down a bit because I was using 5/32" steel. Didn't want the handle too thick. Clamp the blade to one of the scales and drill the pin holes. If you have a drill press do it on that. That way your holes will be perpendicular. You can then put some pin material through the holes so it registers correctly and draw around your scales. Cut them out leaving the line with a coping saw or a scroll saw. Finish any of the edges that will be tight agains the blade and won't be able to be sanded later as shown in the last pic. I cut out a small section for a lanyard hole in this particular blade.

Step 11: Epoxy Scales

Cut your pins slightly larger than your finished handle dimensions. Dry fit your scales and make sure it will all go together easy once you have the epoxy mixed. Put the pins in one of the scales and epoxy it. Slide the knife onto the pins and then epoxy the other side and pop the other scale on. Put a bunch of clamps on and let it sit overnight.

Side note. You can make your own mosaic pins using brass or stainless steel tubing with different diameter rods of same or contrasting materials. The last pic shows some simple mosaic pins I made with 4 small brass rods in a small brass tube. Fill the tube half way with epoxy and shove the rods into the tubing and presto!

Step 12: Finish Handle

Once your epoxy is set take off the clamps and shape your handle. You'll first want to file your pins till they protrude from the scales just a hair. Then slightly peen your pins to help hold the scales on.

You can use a rasp, sandpaper and a dremel with a sanding drum attachment. If you are real careful you can use your angle grinder again to shape the handle as I did. Once it is fully sanded rub some linseed oil on it and let it dry in the sun. Repeat a few times. Or you can just polyurethane it. I like the feel of the oil.

Remove the tape from your blade and strop it. I use a piece of veg tanned leather and some jewelers rouge.

There you have it. A work of useful art that you can pass on to your son... or daughter.

Step 13: Make a Sheath

Well for this step go to this instructable

Cheers!

<p>You've convinced me, I'm making one. Well done instructable!</p>
<p>Go for it! It's a pretty straight forward project. I was a little leery about making my first knife, especially the heat treat process. But after reading a lot of forums and such I just did it. Post a pic here when you're done!</p>
<p>I've already created the 1/4&quot; pattern, I've had a piece of tool steel laying around for a while, so I guess I've started!</p>
<p>Nice! Get cutting!</p>
<p>Cut, grind, belt sand, drill, hand sand... now going to throw it into the fireplace this weekend and get it HOT!</p>
<p>Looking good! I'd say use a hairdryer to get some oxygen into the coals to get it hot enough. I did it outside and used a piece of 1/4&quot; ply and just fanned it, but it made a mess.</p>
<p>we have a fireplace insert, I left the door open slightly and easily got the knife up to a glowing orange. Twice so far in the oven and cooled and this morning went to Berkshire Products for some burled red maple. I can't wait to finish!</p>
<p>DONE! Came out nice and now I have a new sgian dubh! Thanks for a great instructable!</p>
<p>Ok...all these pics with the craftsman literally backing the work is awesome. Going to give it a shot this weekend. Might even have my mug in the background. </p>
<p>Turned out great! Feels good to hold such a great tool that you made with your own two hands, ehh?</p><p>What kind of wood did you use for the scales?</p>
<p>That is a nice try...I also tried but i was not so fortunate with the tools needed...</p><p>fullcracks.net</p>
<p>I made them! </p>
<p>beautifull work... congrats</p>
how long is the knife overall?
<p>thanks for the great idea, I plan on making one. Finally a nice and simple knife. Thanks mate!!</p>
Love it! Do you have the pattern available or did you make it up?
<p>I just made it up. I looked at some patterns online and sketched it. You can cut it out of card board to get an idea how it feels.</p>
By repeat do you mean heat at 350 for an hour again, or re-do the entire quenching process?
<p>Great work, inspired us to give it a try. One problem we are having is getting the bevel right with the angle grinder and flat disc. One side is OK, but the other is sloppy with no clear line. Any suggestions?</p>
<p>Best way I can find to get the bevel right is to angle the knife and to try and keep the grinder on the level. Also by marking the width of the cut across the blade you can ease some of the pain for yourself. Another tip would be to make a small jig which you could probably do with a couple of bent forks which you could use to hold the knife at the angle you want against a bench grinder etc.</p>
<p>Hi I'm sure there's a million ways to do this but my preferred method is to mark out a rough bevel then I take the same amount of passes on each side of the knife blank up against the grinder held upside down in my bench vice you can always keep an eye on how much material you have left to remove by colouring in the soon to be cutting edge with a sharpie </p><p>Here's a couple I'm working on at the moment made from what I have lying about :)</p>
Is there any way you Could post the HTML from admiral steel so that I could just order the same steel you did?
<p>Nice knife mate.You gave me the inspiration to do something this weekend. Really easy to follow instructions, can't wait to get started</p>
<p>When you say &quot;put the knife in the oven at 350&deg;&quot;, you mean Farenheit, right? Or is it Celsius?</p>
He meant Fahrenheit, because 350 degrees Celsius would be 11,830 degrees Fahrenheit not your typical oven temp range
350C = 662F
<p>Yeah Fahrenheit. This is to slightly anneal the steal. It's just to relieve the stress in the blade from bringing it up to critical or non-magnetic. When you do that it makes the steel hard but brittle. so when you put it in the oven you replace some of the softness or spring in the steel.</p>
Great job what is the hardness of your steel after hardening
<p>Nice knife AND sheath!</p>
<p>Thanks! I have another instructable on making a sheath but it's pretty basic.</p>
<p>This is a really outstanding instructable. Thank you.</p>
<p>Thanks for taking a look and commenting!</p>
<p>How did you peen the pins?</p>
<p>Sorry for the late reply. But..</p><p> I just cut the pins a hair longer than the width of the handle. Once the epoxy was dry I laid it on a plate of 3/8&quot; steel that I use for setting rivets and such on my leather work. I then carefully used a peening hammer to hit the center of the pins to make them mushroom slightly. I didn't want to crack the wood and my holes were very tight so it was a very slight peening. Then I filed them flushish and sanded until the shined. </p>
<p>Nice. I've been contemplating a knife build. I have a variety of steel. I'm figuring a leaf spring, would make a great blade. It would need to be hammer forged, though, as it's too thick. </p>
<p>I do eventually want to make a forge. I just haven't yet because I don't have anything to use as an anvil. I read somewhere that not all leaf spring steel is good for blades. I don't remember what the qualifier was but something like 'American made before a certain year'. You can spark test it to get an idea what kind of steel it is though. Google...</p><p>Thanks for the look and comment!</p>
<p>I cheap and easy anvil could be a piece of railroad rail, rounded on top and very durable. Not sure where you could get one but if you are near the tracks where they are working you might get lucky.</p>
<p>Northern Illinois? Nice looking knife for hunting, like the drop point and the cocobolo for the scales. It gives nice contrast to the steel. </p>
<p>Great looking knife!</p>
<p>Great job! Thank you for the tips. I need to make one too!</p>
<p>Awesome! </p>
<p>Wow. Beautiful knives. Way to simplify the process for everyone. Your pictures of the process are fantastic, and the write-up is well done too. I really want to make my own knife now. Thanks for sharing.</p>
<p>That is some fantastic work. I really like the one with the mosaic pins. That little detail makes a huge diference.</p>
<p>Is there anyway you could post a template of the design for the knife that doesn't have a lanyard attached? I would love to make this, and that knife seems perfect. Would it have been easier to build a small forge to treat your knives? Nighthawkinlight has a pretty nice instructable on building one I believe.</p>
<p>the hole and the lanyard were kind of last minute additions. That's just a mater of adding a hole before heat treat or not. Maybe I'll post a pattern later. </p><p>Thanks for viewing!</p>
<p>very awesome!! Now I'm going to make some too</p>
<p>Does this mean the scales should be the same thickness as the material used for the blade?</p>
<p>Not necessarily. The blade steel I used is on the thick side (5/32&quot;) but good for a survival type knife so the scales need to be thinner. You can get thinner steel and then you probably would want thicker scales. On these knives it came out that they were pretty much the same thickness. </p><p>Thanks for the view!</p>
<p>You did an amazing job! great work. </p>
<p>love your craftsmanship . I will try to make some and thanks for sharing.</p>

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