This isn't exactly another knife making I'ble.
It's about a journey to build a knife different from the others.
It's about a knife with a story. A knife I built just for myself, with a lot of scrap, filling spare time in my previous job.
I'll show you - again - that knifemaking is not a reserved playground for forgers & selected craftsmen - with all the respect I owe for those - but in the reach of everyone with basic tools.
To me, the aim of knifemaking is not about making the perfect blade. It's about having some good time building YOUR knife, or to build a knife for someone special.
This knife will be your knife. Custom.
Step 1: New life to old blades
Flee markets are the perfect hunting ground fo find cheap & good blades. For a few bucks you'll buy an old machete, butchers' axe or sawblade. No matter how uggly it is, you'll make it better.
It all started with an old carbon steel machete I bought a few years ago. Manually forged, it had probably spent a lifetime in the vineyards of south France. I paid it half a dollar and it stayed untouched until the day I used the largest part of it to make a wood carving drill (the Lazy Carver, you know).
Looking at the uggly piece of scrap that remained I decided to make a new knife of it. Just for fun, just for myself.
Better use some spare time in the working day nicely than hangin' around . A few minutes here, half an hour there.
Step 2: Shaping the blade
Reshape the blade, paying attention to avoid the steel from 'burning'.
Cool the blade regularly in cold motor oil, all the time. This will preserve temper.
After reshaping you can rawsharp it on a flatsander, mounted upside down.
Make regular moves to have a proper cutting edge.
Depending on the blade you found you'll have two options:
- or to make a 'full tang' knife (the blade is sandwiched between two handle plates)
- or to make a 'rooted knife' (the blade ends in a smaller part that is fixed in the handle)
Full tang knives are more solid than rooted knives. I found actually no difference in building difficulty.
I decided to build a 'rooted' knife. The old machete was cut down and I payed attention to have a perfect alligned 'knife base' (where the blade will touch the guard).
Use a file to have it right.
Make some grooves into the root, this will anchor it better in the next step.
Step 3: Real steel to the guard
There are many ways to build a guard.
There are many materials to make them from: plastic, wood, brass, steel etc.
This is how I solved it.
Use a piece of blanc steel and cut it in two equal pieces.
Make a groove in one of the two (with a file works best), with the same depth & height as the base of the knifes root.
Weld the second piece of steel to the grooved first one & shape it with the sander.
Slide the root into the guard and adjust until it fits perfectly to the blade.
Step 4: Knock on wood
Don't drill straight through, just as far enough.
Use a flat drill bit.
Fill the hole with a hard-curing glue, epoxy or concrete anchor & slide the root in place.
Let it harden.
I used an old log of olive, full of holes from woodcarving insects - more than good enough to me.
Step 5: Sanding
Use angle sander & flatsander (mounted upside down).
Give it the shape you want. I chose for the 'embedded hand' style - the knife can not move while you have it in your hand.
It's the kind of handle often used for bigger 'bush' knives & machetes.
Before the shaping I drilled a hole in the top of the handle and inserted a steel spacer to make a rope hole.
Step 6: Lucky lips of steel
Wanted something special, yak-proof, original, customized, no-nonsense etc.
During the process a client asked me to build a metal cage to protect an airconditioning system in his workshop. I build it with perforated steel sheaths and that was the moment I realized it could be great fun to make my knifes sheath with this as well.
- Cut a strip of perforated steel sheath a least twice as long as your blades lenght and twice as large
- Cut exactly between the holes. You'll get a series of sharp 'lips'.
- Fix the strip in the vice and round the lips with a hammer
- Ply the strip in two & take care to get the lips of the two sides precisely one to another
- Weld all the lips together to get a solid 'cage'
- Use sander to clean up the welds & polish the whole
Step 7: No hope without rope
Paracord will save you.
I used it to reduce the inside space of the cage at the top of the blade (A) and at the base (B). This is when the advantages of the perforated steel start playing a big role.
Take the A-part rope large enough to obtain a leg-lace.
Same thing for the B-part because this will serve a 'clips' to hold the knife in place (C).
The idea of this closing is simple: two loops with a sliding fisherman's nod (see pics in the next step).
Step 8: This knife is YOUR knife
Or almost. You know there's already one knife like that, somewhere in Belgium...
Hope you like it. Best of luck building yours!!!