I looked at other knives to see if there was anything out there with similar features to the Forester but with a carbon steel blade. Nope.
I looked out there to see if any clever cutlers are making retro-fit, aftermarket, Carbon-steel Scandi-grind Victorinox replacement blades. No such luck.
So, armed with some YouTube-learned metallurgy, and my Dad's garage (which is set up for metalworking, as opposed to mine which is set up for a band) - I hacked it.
This Instructable will work fine with most types of SAK although the method of mounting/hinging the blade and removing the scales might vary. If your SAK has a non-locking blade then the hack is MUCH easier since you don't need to worry as much about getting the "tang" exactly the same as the original - for the (locking) Victorinox Forester the tang has a "liner-lock" [wikipedia] which means the tang has to be very accurate for the locking mechanism to work properly, if at all.
Step 1: PLANNING! (I usually regard this as an optional step in my projects)
- STEEL - I measured the thickness of the existing blade: 2.4mm at the thickest bit. I couldn't get tool steel in this thickness so I settled for 2mm and figured I would have to use a washer/spacer. I got "O1 Ground Flat Stock" - about £10 from eBay, and I still have LOADS left to do other tools with!
- PIN - during dismantling you will remove the hinge pin which is a 3mm diameter brass pin which is caulked over (hammered) on both ends and has a little round ferrule around it (difficult to describe, and so small I couldn't really get a good picture, you'll just have to see for yourself) - when you remove this it will be useless so you will need some other 3mm diameter piece of metal - I used a 3mm diameter nail and it worked perfectly. It will rust but is probably stronger than brass.
- WASHER - as mentioned above I needed a small washer (see final assembly stages) which I had to make by cutting it out of a bit of 0.5mm brass sheet (cannibalised from the inner shell of an old carbon brush from a motor)
- general metal working tools - files, vice, hammer etc
- gas torch for heating metal to harden it (but note that this can actually be done using a charcoal fire - see the GreenPete Knife Making Video)
- domestic oven
- optional extras that make life easier - bench grinder
I found this great video a few years ago which shows how you can make a bushcraft knife out of an old file in the woods. This guy is great and I cannot thank him enough for putting this video together, it is quite incredible what he manages to do with virtually no equipment - I felt mildly embarrassed about the fact that I used something so unmanly as a gas torch for the hardening process!