Instructables

How to make a knife

FeaturedContest Winner
Picture of How to make a knife
I love to design and make things – it’s my passion! One day at work by boss showed me a picture of a kitchen knife he made completely from scratch and after that, I knew I had to make one. He said it was “one of the most rewarding things you can make!” – He was most definitely correct!

I had such an enjoyable time making this knife that I felt I should share it with you guys and hopefully persuade some of you to have a go yourself! Be warned, that this process is time consuming (took me about a month of on and off work)! However if you put the time in, you will most definitely see the reward!

Thanks for looking and I hope you find this useful! For further designs please check out my other Instructables and my website – www.philreillydesigns.com

All the best,

Phil
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Design the knife (sketching)

Picture of Design the knife (sketching)
IMG_0950.JPG
IMG_0951.JPG
knife drawing.jpg
The design of the knife is probably one of the most important stages of this process. Remember you are going to spend many many hours making this thing perfect so it is definitely worth spending some time planning what you are going to make! It is a lot easier to change the design on the paper as opposed to altering the steel! The better you plan and decide what direction you are going to go from the beginning, the better your knife will be! For my first knife, I decided to design and make a pretty standard hunting knife. I didn’t want to try anything too elaborate at this stage as I wanted to make sure I could master the basics first! I believe that a ‘simple’ knife made to a high standard is a lot better than an over-ambitious knife done to a medium standard but this is personal preference (being a perfectionist!). Design for whatever interests you; whether it is cooking, hunting or fantasy (as you are going to be the one making it)!

At this stage, as well as designing how the knife will look, one of the main decisions that you need to make is how you are going to attach the handles to the knife. There are three main ways of accomplishing this; a full tang, a partial tang and a through tang. The knife that I decided to make has a full tang – the handle has the same profile as the tang, with ‘slabs’ fastened to each side by means of pins, screws, metal tubing, bolts, epoxy etc. A partial tang extends partially from the blade and is completely hidden within the handle body. A through tang is similar to a partial tang but extends all the way through the handle and is secured on the other end of the knife by a nut or rivet. You can decide which one you wish to make although this set of instructions will be covering the full tang method.

Once you have decided what design you wish to make, draw a 1:1 scale side profile on paper and cut it out, ready to be traced onto the steel. I have attached my drawing if anyone fancies having a go at that!
1-40 of 67Next »
bakdrft2 months ago

Nice WORK!

how do download CAD onto your computer

Wow amazing job! I've been wanting to make a knife for a long time! now this will help me Thanks!

clockworkfish4 months ago

Great classic looking knife! Also holy cow those sketches! As soon as I saw those I asked myself if you were a product designer and sure enough your website confirms it. Regardless awesome work!

joey566 months ago
Weldone
Mattseo6 months ago

Really nice Instructable! Thanks for sharing.

I'm a knife nut myself and will be sharing a link to this on my blog (bestpocketknifetoday.com)! Nice choice of steel too...I fear the D2 would have been a little too hard.

Good job!

mbuchert6 months ago
I think a dremel with the right attachments would speed up the process a lot
roysh16 months ago
nice knife man, can you send me the sketch?
I would like to make a knife like this one.
thats a real nice blade.
cub1696 months ago
Great job! I very much appreciate your ability to explain each and every step along the way in great detail, and why each is necessary. Again, great job!
8steve886 months ago
Great project, good choice of steel.
Could I add something though. If anyone is a bit daunted by the blade, heat treating, shaping finishing. There are many places selling ready made blades for you to put the scales on and finish yourself.
There is also a great range of man made scale materials, G10, Micarta, C-Tek as well as naturals like wood.
The ready made blades still need finishing and sharpening and making your own.
Another option is to use the fixing bolts without epoxy so you can have a variety of scales as your mood changes.
Thank you for your very instructive 'ible, more people should carry a knife and learn proper skills and how to work safely with edged tools.
Phil Reilly (author) 6 months ago
No worries jackamo! I got mine from here http://www.knifebargains.co.uk/acatalog/01_Tool_Steel_Knife_Making_Blade_Blanks.html
Wow thanks man you've been really helpful, I can't thank you enough!
Skysurfer_uk6 months ago
Very nicely done. I made a diving knife, and finished it around four years ago. Size? Well, let's just say that it wouldn't be out of place in a Roman's scabbard!
Time? I started it around 1990, so it took about 23 years! It's had a hard life, but as you say, it's worth it. Stainless steel blade (316) with rosewood handles, and 14" long. No tip (needed to undo screws), as that's a chipping tip, too.

You've done a beautiful job, keep it up!
DIY knife.jpg
jackamo986 months ago
Sorry to be asking so many questions, but where did you buy the steel? I can't find any 4mm online.
Great Job! You've designed a good, solid, classic knife, and chose an excellent steel. Your craftsmanship is very good, and the only critique I can offer is to the heat-treat: 01 is a very forgiving steel, perfect for the beginner, but you erred in the choice of Rc value: 01 offers (arguably) far greater/optimum performance at Rc 58-60. Some believe that the higher the Rc value, the more brittle the steel (and increased chance of breakage), or harder to sharpen; with some steels this holds true, but 01, if heat-treated and tempered right, will hold up and perform better at Rc 58-60. Keep up the good work, I hope to see more!
(here's a place to get some info on heat treating) 
HEAT TREATING - Newt Livesay Combat Knives
caruncles6 months ago
Good instructions and a handsome design. However, you left off one step in the sharpening. Work the blade on a leather strop just like the barber does. I use a wide leather belt. If you look at what you think is your sharp blade under a microscope, you'll see that the sharpening process creates small hairs of metal protruding at an angle away from the edge. Stropping lays those hairs down and will make the blade much sharper than you thought it was.
thinkpadt306 months ago
Very nice 'ible! I especially liked the sharp pictures and the very detailed steps. I made a knife almost identical to it using a premade blade blank. It is one of my favorite knives. Very classy design. I've made handles for premade blades for quite a few years. An excellent source for high quality 440C blades is Premium Knife SuppIy, You can find their store on ebay, too. I don't have the ability to make my own blades, unfortunately. I've found a very pretty and durable material for handles that is easy to work with is Corian counter-top material. You can find cut-offs on ebay quite inexpensively. I bought about 12 sq ft of a mix of bright white 1/4x1x12" and 1/4x4x12" for $35, but you can buy much smaller quantities. I've made 16 knives and 2 knife holders from it, and have over half of it left. Another source of it would be contractors who install counter-tops, who may give it to you for free. I've also used moose antlers and water buffalo horn to make quite nice handles. I was trying to post pictures, but can't seem to get Instructables to accept them. I've found that Mother's Mag and Aluminum Polish works excellently to shine any non-porous material very quickly and to a high shine. An extremely small dab goes a long way. An amount the size of what you would put of toothpaste on your brush would do probably 5 or 6 knife handles. I am still using the original jar I bought in 1985, and have half of it left. It sells for about $4. I rarely use sandpaper finer than 280 grit, sometimes going to 400, and rarely 600. The polish will put on a mirror shine in short order. Again a very well-done 'ible.
Tangski6 months ago
Very nice project. I wish I had a way to heat treat knives. Anyway, here is another step to add to the blade. High polish it with 1500 grit wet/dry with oil, then use a buffer to get the steel to mirror polish finish. For sharpening the blade to be even better (as then the blade has a smooth 'edge' to it, use the honing china white clay block or round bar used for fine carving knives and chizels. The edge becomes as good as found on any razor. That way, your kitchen knife will have a blade that will cut that delicate foods and fish to a fine degree of excellence. The regular steel sharpening tool has a really rough edge in reality and dulls faster.  The mirror finish will also not rust as quickly and is much easier to keep clean, but then I do recommend the stainless steel for kitchens. For the handle I would also suggest maybe a hard water based coating over the handle, which again will help the wood last much longer.  Oil finishes tend to not last as long after a few washes, nor as sanitary. Coating the brass will help it keep that high brass polish look too, and not turn green. Just some ideas:) You did give me the right steps for refinishing an old blade I am restoring. It is about 100 years old and I have polished it back up and just needed to know how to do those darn rivits! Thanks!!!:) The knife I am working on reminds me of the womans knife in Dances with Wolves. Same shape. Needs new handle....I just need to find the right antler to do it up in.
Have a great day! Thanks for the lessons! 
muddog156 months ago
It must of took hours... I would have got PO'ed and grapped the angle grinder.
srilyk6 months ago
This is fantastic! As a knife lover, I really want to do this.
andywolfs6 months ago
really really cool!!
MikeB0096 months ago
When I make my first knife it will be by hand like yours. It'll take longer but have more meaning. You made the perfect hunting knife. It also resembles some of the expensive bushcraft knives. Nice work!
Xthinker7 months ago
When I first saw your pizza oven, I thought to myself, "This would make a great forge!" Apparently I was right.
Awesome knife, sadly I do not have the skill, patience, or means to make one as nice as yours! Keep up the great work!
Phil Reilly (author)  Xthinker6 months ago
Thanks Xthinker! Glad your a fan! Thanks for the support!
Captain Greg7 months ago
Phil, This is inspiring. I have several friends/family that could use one of these for birthday/you-mean-a-lot-to-me-dude presents. Thank you for a good, simple to follow instructable!
Phil Reilly (author)  Captain Greg6 months ago
Pleasure! Thanks for your message!
cautious327 months ago
Phil, Great instructable.
About 20 years ago I made a knife from an old broken bastard file. I got the idea to make it into a knife because when it broke, it broke in a "rounded to a point shape" similar to a knife but it still took me over 8 hours to grind down the file to shape and to get an even edge. I still have it and I have only had to sharpen it about 2 times over the years.I don't have your skill or patience so it is no where near as presentable as yours but it is the best knife that I have ever had.

Phil Reilly (author)  cautious326 months ago
Thanks a lot! Yeah I can imagine! I definitely this this one will stay around for a while!
spylock7 months ago
Any man would love this as a gift,its a nice simple,but well made blade,it would be a right fair fighting knife too,being on the beefy side,a fine knife.
Phil Reilly (author)  spylock6 months ago
Thanks spylock, much appreciated!
dagordon7 months ago
Totally awesome instructions. I'm impressed with how easy you made this look. This is just what I have been looking for. Thanks!
Phil Reilly (author)  dagordon6 months ago
No problem!! Thanks
EmcySquare7 months ago
Very nice knife, very good process. One of the best knife 'ibles.
I can hardly believe this can be one of your first. And you did that without an angle ginder or belt sander? get one and keep on!! you got talent for this
Phil Reilly (author)  EmcySquare6 months ago
Thanks very much! Yes, as this was my first knife I wanted to make it completely from scratch with only hand tools! When I make another I will definitely be using some kind of machinery!!
tkjtkj7 months ago
A most-excellent 'structable!!! So clearly written, photographed, and referenced for extra learning !! Congratulations! Your 'perfectionist' talents extend much further than in how you manage tools .. you are a gifted teacher .. Thanks!
Phil Reilly (author)  tkjtkj6 months ago
Many thanks for your kind words!
erik2377 months ago
440 c Hacksaw, file, sandpaper. I heat treated it in a campfire with the help of a mattress inflator. Tempered in the oven at home.
Great Instructable, by the way. You are a great artist.
gunsword_by_erik237-d38fjv6.jpggunsword_2_by_erik237-d38fk8u.jpg
Phil Reilly (author)  erik2376 months ago
Pretty serious bit of kit!
tkjtkj erik2377 months ago
erik , i can't see the grenade-launcher .. Is that an optional feature?

haha...
Good!
veeguy erik2377 months ago
This looks positively deadly as in, If you pulled that on me, I'd laugh myself to death. This is an "April First Special", correct?
1-40 of 67Next »