So you want to make a knife?

I'm not here to dissuade you (rather, I'd like to encourage you), but let me first get this out of the way: knife making is a slow, delicate, painstaking, multi-faceted, sometimes frustrating process. It requires skill in metalworking, woodworking and design, patience, attention, and general levelheadedness. You have to take your time if you want to do things right, otherwise your experience will be sub-optimal. Even I have trouble with this sometimes, as this project will, itself, show you, and some of my past projects will blatantly scream...*wink.* Don't be frustrated if your first project doesn't come out the way you want it. All good things take practice, and you may make several knives--or several dozen--before you make one you really, truly have no beefs about. But it's good fun, too. You can do it. Don't worry.

Okay, so you still want to make a knife. Read on.

Step 1: First thing's first...design the blade!

The design of your knife is the single most important element of its construction. In my designs I try to find the best compromise between functionality and looks. I abhor inefficient fantasy designs and have a profound dislike of Persian-style blades--you know, the kind shaped like a banana--but if you like a specific design, go for it.

First, plot out the blade and handle shape on graph paper. Try to get it as close to actual-size as you can. The less changing you have to do to the design once it's on the steel, the better.

Now you need to decide how to attach the handle to the blade. There are three common methods of doing this: a full tang, a partial tang, or a through-tang. A full tang has the same profile as the handle of the knife, and the meat of the handle is formed by two slabs of wood (scales) to either side of the tang; most good knives are made this way. The knife I'm making here is a full tang knife. A partial tang is the most inconspicuous of the three and, in my view, the hardest to make. In this design the tang is a rod that protrudes back from the blade and is completely hidden inside the handle, secured with a rivet or two. Japanese swords and sushi knives are made this way, though the latter is secured with a cuff rather than rivets. A through-tang knife is similar to the partial tang except that the tang extends all the way through the handle to be secured by a nut or by peening on the other end. Ka-bars and most turned-handled knives are made this way. Choose whatever best suits your project. There is plenty of info on the web if you're not going to make a full-tang knife, though I recommend it for a first project.
<p>Is regular charcoal okay to use to heat treat the steel? does it have to be blacksmithing coal?</p>
<p>Plain mining coal are excelent for preheating the knife blade, As blower to charge the fire, borow your wifes hair drier or buy your own at the Pawn shop. </p>
I used lump charcoal. brickets will not get hot enough. if you are going to forge the knife instead of cutting the blank you really need to use the smithing coal.
<p>Charcoal works fine, all you really need is a fire with some sort of blower to make it hotter, wood can work, but I don't recomend it.</p>
<p>Yes, the important thing is the right temperature. I find using charcoal just burns faster than coal.</p>
<p>Multi usable knife is very strong for its work. It's made with <a href="http://marnsteel.com/" rel="nofollow">steel structure</a>. So we can use it easily daily life. </p>
well, I promised to post a Pic (or 2) when I had finished, so here goes! Loki.
<p>Basta, I needed to come on Instructables but couldn't remember my Username so came back to yours to find out, see, you're still being useful after all this time.....</p><p>Loki.</p>
Wow, that's beautiful! Very nice brass fittings, and the polish on the handle looks absolutely incredible. I find it hard to believe you've never tried anything like this before. I hope you continue making knives--you have talent. By the way, I can't tell from the pictures...did you end up using bone as the grip, or is that wood?
Basta, it's Hickory, I got fed up of waiting for the Venison, impatient more like it! I wanted to see it finished..... The first thing I made, early this year, was the Knights Templar in my Image Icon BUT believe me, the Knife wouldn't have turned out as good without your Instructable! I have spent a lot of hours on it and have learnt a lot and there are things that I wouldn't do again, all in all a big learning curve. I have worked out easier ways to put it all together without going through the pain barrier again, something struck me, as I was putting the finishing touches to it, that would of made my life a lot easier, live and learn........ I will make more but I have got to make a Furnace before I do, the Wife isn't too impressed with me ruining the Kettle BBQ, HO Hum...... I'll make the Furnace out of a Gas Bottle and see how I get on. Cheers, Loki.
<p>I haven't made a knife from scratch in 60 years but back then, we used spring steel from old junk cars. That spring steel seemed to work well. </p>
<p>nice instruction!</p><p>Informative and entertaining read.</p><p>thanks</p>
I have made several Knives. I like A2 or O1 tool steels. the biggest thing to remember is keep the steel HOT when you are working it. But if you hit wielding heat (2500&deg;) you can also ruin the blade by having too course of a grain structure. Here are some of my knives. I don't cut the blanks I Forge them out from stock. mainly because I don't have a bandsaw yet. the biggest thing is don't get frustrated if you mess up be willing to adapt your design if you need to. and if you find a good steel provider see if you can get cheaper rates for scrap instead of paying for cuts. <br>
<p>I screwed up because I forgot the sock, no sock thing. Im sorry I have disobeyed you.</p>
<p>Do you have to put oil on the sharpeing stone?</p>
How long was the overall length of the knife (handle and blade)
Hello, can i use my BBQ with some blowers next to it for more air as forge? Can i make the knife hot enough?
I know that using motor oil is most common but can you use olive oil instead or is the whole point to let the carbon from the motor oil soak into the blade as it is changing state? <br>great instructible by the way!
I've used canola oil before, so yes. I've heard people talk about carbon leeching during the quench, but I really don't see a difference. With the correct steel gaining or losing a little carbon (if this even occurs, which I'm not sure of) will not noticeably change the blade's properties. Using oil is more about controlling the speed of the quench than altering the chemical properties of the steel.
What do you use to save the blade from rusting? Does the polish prevent it?
I don't think polishing will help. Blueing the steel with polish or keeping it lightly coated with oil is definitely better. My friend uses petroleum jelly on his blades.
You are correct when you say the quench is more about controlling the rate of cool down. The carbon leeching is negligible. Peanut oil, motor oil, transmission fluid, those are all good quenchants. On a side note, most of these oils should be preheated to around 120 degrees so they are thin enough to release the vapor that is created by the work piece, this allows the fresh quenchant to stay in contact with the piece to cool it down at the rate needed. If you start off with a good steel and control your heat you shouldn't lose enough carbon during forging to decrease the stability of the steel. Msg me for more info.
So I know this guys says to use carbon steel over stainless, but carbon steel doesn't have a lot of tensile strength, and can be snapped with somee pressure. It would still work, but I would suggest 400c stainless to make a knife.
<p>Hey, just to drop a note on this for anyone reading, carbon steel (or rather high carbon steel, since all steel has carbon to some degree) is ideal for knifes. Yes it can snap, but that's if you don't do some tempering on it. Quench the blade once the shapes done and then clean it off a bit. Drop in in the oven on 400-450 for 45-90 minutes. Allow to cool and that should do it.</p>
<p>Problem with that is a) 400c is really not a good knife steel, but I'll presume you meant 440c, and b) stainless steels require a very complex heat treat process which is, generally speaking, not doable at home.</p>
<p>Nice job! And hey, you're local! :) Nifty! I'm going to make some knives down at the Open Bench Project (at Thompson's Point) this spring and summer! </p>
ok.... I've made knives swords tools, I'm an engineer... if you want a usable blade to chop skin dig etc use a leaf spring... work it.... aneal it, quench it....
<p>Anyone thinking about making a knife should view this hands down the best tutorial I have found. Thank you! </p>
used th is ible as a guideline and got this.
<p>Please check this link:</p><p><a href="http://www.terasrenki.com/en/prod-cate/knife-steels-blank-blades-materials-for-knives/carbon-steels/" rel="nofollow">http://www.terasrenki.com/en/prod-cate/knife-steel...</a></p><p>I'm from finland and I'm gonna make a knife, can you tell me which of those steels in that site would be the best? Is any of them the 01?</p>
<p>very nice, and an excellent finished project</p>
<p>Wait a second. IS THAT HOMEMADE I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!!! that is awesome. if i saw that at a knife shop i would think it was made by a very large company like Olson Knives. wow just amazing. :)</p>
<p>Not bad. It seems easy enough. I have got a few throwing knife sets but I think making my own is the way forward. I guess I can make <a href="http://deadbullseye.com/reviews/bladesusa-throwing-knife-reviews/" rel="nofollow">something like this</a>, doesn't seem very complicated.</p>
<p>hi! im just about to finish my knife,</p><p>i made it from an old car's suspension and used your guide as reference</p><p>its not as good as yours but im really happy with the outcome!</p><p>(the pic is badly taken srry for that)</p>
<p>Awesome job, man! It looks really good.</p>
<p>Thanks!</p><p>there are certain parts that could be better but for my first knife using terrible steel i think its pretty good..</p><p>im glad the master aproves!:D</p>
<p>very nice, im making one from a steel cable (forge welded into Damascus steel) with a bloodwood handle.</p>
<p>I sometime make my own throwing knife. It is pretty easy because my throwing knives are<a href="http://deadbullseye.com/reviews/gil-hibben-throwing-knives-review/" rel="nofollow"> full-tang structure</a>, meaning the blade and the handle are made with one single piece of metal. The important thing is the steel. Spend a bit more on a better quality steel and your knife will last long.</p>
purple heart aint cheap 9.80 a board foot
Where did you find the carbon steel sheet?
<p>Really nice article. I just found out that you can build a knife with a 3D printer as well. Maybe the next <a href="http://www.bestmultitoolreview.net/best-folding-knife-guide/" rel="nofollow">best folding knife</a> will be done by a 3D Printer. :P</p>
This is definitely one of my favorite instructables. And I've been looking around for an 01 stock still but I was just going to ask, about how much should I look to play for the steel?
<p>We got a 2&quot; x 36&quot; length of the 1/8&quot; O1. We got quite a few knives out of it. </p>
truly a god amongst men
<p>Something I would like to tell you, and I am a complete knife knut :) is that you have really nailed the concept of the &quot;organic&quot; handle. So many VERY EXPENSIVE knives have the worst handles, some with protrusions that are ridiculous, that I would imagine &quot;look&quot; good but in actual use are worse that useless :( In my opinion, and I have used and owned MANY knives, the handle should be simple, as you have done. Now, you have also made it beautiful, but someone could use your knife for hours of hard work and not have any &quot;hot spots&quot;!!!</p><p>Well done</p>
How long did u make your knife
im trying to build a throwing knife and could realy use some tips you can get me at facebook or at yahoo look me up at wisephillip@yahoo.com. I've drawn up alot of designs and have constantly tryed to build knife after knife i could realy use the tips so if anybody has any ideas could u please get ahold of me.
socks very important to making a good blade
Thank you. I purchased a knife blade recently at a gun show and have been looking for a decent set of instructions for how to grind ans shape it, This instructable has a lot of good information.

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